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Political Ideologies In Action: Socialism: Home

A guide created for John Hultgren's Political Ideologies in Action: Socialism in the United States (POL4241.01)

Course Information

In his 1906 work, “Why is there no socialism in the United States?,” German sociologist Werner Sombart famously mused that American socialism had been ship-wrecked “on reefs of roast beef and apple pie.” While the relative affluence of American workers certainly impacted Leftist organizing at that time, there is a storied history of socialist thought and practice in the United States that nonetheless warrants attention. Grounded in the writing of American socialists, but opening a window into international socialist praxis, this course will explore the shifting grounds of socialist thinking and activism from the mid-19th century to the present. We will engage with a wide-range of debates over: political strategy (e.g. ‘reform versus revolution’); the emergence of fascism; the revolutionary agent(s); the linkages between oppression and exploitation; the relationship between production and social reproduction; the nature of the state; and the realities of imperialism and colonialism. By the end of the term, we will aim to provide an updated answer to Sombart. Or, perhaps, to reframe his question.

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