Category: Recent Publications

Recent publications by faculty, students, and alumni.

Juan Cruz Ferre – Four Strategies for Socialism

Juan Cruz Ferre wrote a piece titled “Four Strategies for Socialism” in the Left Voice online magazine.

How can we beat capitalism? A comparison of reformism, autonomism, Maoism, and revolutionary socialism.

A new socialist movement has taken off in the U.S. with tens of thousands joining political organizations to fight against capitalism. Some of them understand socialism as more or less what Nordic European countries have, that is, not really socialism, but capitalism with a comprehensive welfare system. Yet many new socialists are actually fighting for a qualitatively different economic system, one in which there is no longer exploitation of the majority for the accumulation of wealth of the very few, a classless society. That is the meaning of socialism.

The question is, How do we get from A to B? What paths are there available for those of us fighting capitalism? Socialists have debated strategy for over 200 years, and history provides us with valuable lessons.

Toward the end of the 18th century, utopian socialists were convinced that sheer will and collective agreement was enough to begin building a socialist society. It was Marx and Engels who, based on the understanding that class struggle is the real engine of history, identified the working class as the leading agent in the fight for socialism, the revolutionary subject.

For socialists, the question of strategy is just as important as the question of program (what we fight for). This was evident in the writings of those Marxist theorists who were also party leaders, political militants waging themselves the war against capitalism. But as Perry Anderson notes, Marxism became increasingly divorced from political practice after the 1930s. The defeats of revolutions in Germany, Italy, and Spain pushed the discipline away from strategic debates. Marxism found asylum in academia, and the topics it analyzed mutated accordingly.

It is for this reason that the works by Marx and Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Gramsci, and Trotsky, among others, still contain so many valuable lessons — they represent the high point of Marxist strategic thought.

A new generation of socialists is having its first experiences with party politics, electoral campaigning, and state repression. It is important for young socialists to study, learn, and debate strategy because a failed strategy can squander decades of organizing, resources, and lives. I will discuss four strategies that, in one way or another, have some traction on the U.S. left today.

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Andrew Anastasi – The Weapon of Organization: Mario Tronti’s Political Revolution in Marxism,

Andrew Anastasi

Edited and translated The Weapon of Organization: Mario Tronti’s Political Revolution in Marxism, an anthology of texts by Mario Tronti, an Italian political philosopher whose work has been widely influential among critical scholars and activists for decades, but who has remained obscure in English until recently. In addition to translations, the book also includes a substantial critical apparatus (introduction, notes, appendix) to open the work up to a wider contemporary audience.

James M. Jasper – Protestors and their Targets

James M. Jasper (Faculty) edited Protestors and their Targets (Temple University Press, 2020) with Brayden King

The strategic interactions between protestors and their targets shape the world around us in profound ways. The editors and contributors to Protestors and Their Targets—all leading scholars in the study of social movements—look at why movements do what they do and why their interactions with other societal actors turn out as they do. They recognize that targets are not stationary but react to the movement and require the movement to react back.

This edited collection analyzes how social movements select their targets, movement-target interactions, and the outcomes of those interactions. Case studies examine school closures in Sweden, the U.S. labor movement, Bolivian water and Mexican corn, and other global issues to show the strategic thinking, shifting objectives, and various degrees of success in the actions and nature of these protest movements.

Protestors and Their Targets seeks to develop a set of tools for the further development of the field’s future work on this underexplored set of interactions.

Contributors: Edwin Amenta, Kenneth T. Andrews, Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Sarah Gaby, Pablo Gastón, Frances Fox Piven, Gay W. Seidman, Nicole Shortt, Erica Simmons, Katrin UbaKim Voss, and the editors