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It’s common to praise socialism. It’s rarer to define it.

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16.02.2019

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”

— Karl Marx

Norman Thomas was not easily discouraged. Running for president in 1932 — three years into the shattering, terrifying Depression, which seemed to many to be a systemic crisis of capitalism — Thomas, who had been the Socialist Party’s candidate in 1928 and would be in 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948, received, as this column previously noted, fewer votes (884,885) than Eugene Debs had won (913,693) as the party’s candidate in 1920, when, thanks to the wartime hysteria President Woodrow Wilson had fomented, Debs was in jail.

In 1962, Michael Harrington, a founder of the Democratic Socialists of America (it succumbed to a familiar phenomenon: Two American socialists equals three factions), published “The Other America.” It supposedly kindled President John F. Kennedy’s interest in poverty, which had not escaped his attention while campaigning in West Virginia’s primary. Harrington, like “democratic socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders today, thought socialism should be advanced through the Democratic Party.

Today, socialism has new, angrier advocates. Speaking well of it gives the speaker the frisson of being naughty and the fun of provoking Republicans like those whose hosannas rattled the rafters when the president vowed that America would........

© Washington Post