The Socialist Challenge Today

Syriza, Sanders, Corbyn

By Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin  

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In what direction should the left move in the 21st century?

The so-called ‘Third Way’ lacked realism as well as imagination. The social democratic embrace of neoliberal globalization now lies threadbare amidst multiple economic, ecological, and migration crises, while political institutions have been undermined in the process, from parties at the national level to the European Union itself. This has opened political space for the far right, with its ultra-nationalist, racist, sexist and homophobic agendas. Yet it has also restored some credibility to the socialist case for transcending capitalism as necessary to realize the collective, democratic, egalitarian and ecological aspirations of humanity.

Amidst a significant shift from protest to politics on the contemporary left, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin focus on some key recent moments, providing essential historical, theoretical and critical perspective for understanding the potential as well as the limits of the Sanders electoral insurgency in the USA, the Syriza experience in Greece, and Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party in Britain.

Presenting a powerful and inspirational argument for transcending earlier social democratic and communist practices, Panitch and Gindin stress the need for renewing working-class politics through new kinds of socialist parties. Most important, they insist, will be to foster the development of strategic and practical capacities to democratically transform state structures so as to render them fit for realizing collective democracy, social equality, sustainable ecology and human solidarity.

This is the central challenge for democratic socialists today.

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Contents

  • Introduction: From Social Democracy to Democratic Socialism
  • From Class to Party
  • Signposts Towards Democratic Socialism
  • Sanders and Syriza: From Protest to Politics
  • Syriza and the Problem of State Transformation
  • Corbyn’s Challenge: From Insurgency to Transformation?
  • The State and the Socialist Challenge
  • Notes

Authors

  • Leo Panitch

    York University

    Leo Panitch is a Distinguished Research Professor, renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register. He received a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in 1967 and a M.Sc.(Hons.) and PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984. He has been a Professor of Political Science at York University since 1984. He was the Chair of the Department of Political Science at York from 1988-1994. He was the General Co-editor of State and Economic Life series, U. of T. Press, from 1979 to 1995 and is the Co-founder and a Board Member of Studies in Political Economy. He is also the author of numerous articles and books dealing with political science including The End of Parliamentary Socialism (1997). He was a member of the Movement for an Independent and Socialist Canada, 1973-1975, the Ottawa Committee for Labour Action, 1975-1984, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Committee of Socialist Studies, the Marxist Institute and the Royal Society of Canada. He is currently a supporter of the Socialist Project.

  • Sam Gindin

    York University

    Sam Gindin is a Canadian academic and intellectual who served as research director of the Canadian region of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and later as chief economist and Assistant to the President of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union after the latter became independent from its American parent organization.

    Gindin is a graduate of the University of Manitoba. He worked as a research officer for the New Democratic Party of Manitoba and later taught at the University of Prince Edward Island. He obtained his MA in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but while working on his PhD dissertation in 1974, he took up the position of first director of research for what was then the Canadian section of the UAW. He rose within the union and served as an assistant to both Bob White and Buzz Hargrove, where he participated in major collective bargaining, the formation of union and social policy, and strategic discussions on the structure and direction of the union. He also wrote a book on the history of the CAW entitled The Canadian Auto Workers: The Birth and Transformation of a Union.

    In 2000, Gindin retired from the CAW. He joined the faculty of York University in the Political Science department as Packer Visitor in Social Justice, where he continues to teach.

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