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Current Affairs

A Magazine of Politics and Culture

What Does It Mean To Be A Socialist?

An address to Texan Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) members.

On Jan. 25, I gave a speech to the Austin Democratic Socialists of America local convention. They had asked me to offer my thoughts on how socialists should approach organizing. These are those thoughts. The actual words I spoke departed a little bit from the written text, you can watch a video here

I write a lot about socialist values and socialist ideas. The magazine I run, Current Affairs, is dedicated to trying to articulate the arguments for leftism. I have just written a book called Why You Should Be A Socialist, and the whole thing is basically the case for why we’re right, why the democratic socialist way of looking at the world is the best way to look at the world, and why people should agree with us and then all come and join us. I am used to spending my time showing that socialism gives you a clearer understanding of how society works and a compelling vision for how things ought to be.

But because the people in this room share that understanding and that vision, and do not need to be told that you are right—since you know that already—today I have been asked to help us think about the next step: Once you believe in socialist values, what do you do with your beliefs? What does socialism mean in practice? When we ask the question “What does it mean to be a socialist?” we might typically answer by describing socialist convictions. But that doesn’t fully answer the question. What does it mean to be a socialist? What do you do? Each of us in this room is a person moving through the world, not just an abstract set of ideas floating in space, and so we have to figure out how to behave, how to actualize our politics, how to put socialist ideals into action. And that part, in many ways, is much, much harder than the part where you become convinced that leftist politics is intellectually or morally sound. Proving that socialism is a good idea is the easy bit. Building a more socialist society, knowing what each of us is supposed to do in order to make it work, that is the nearly impossible task we have once we are committed to the cause.

I cannot hope to answer this question definitively, but what I can offer is a few things that I think should be on our mind as we figure it out together.

1. Unity Without Compromise

In many ways, all of the historic tensions on the left have been because the question of “what is to be done” is such a hard one. Those who have marched under the banner of socialism have shared a common aspiration toward a society without class divisions, where exploitation disappears, people relate to one another on the basis of equality and a spirit of comradeship, and the world is not owned and operated for the benefit of a few. We have been torn apart, however, over what we ought to do to bring it about. Revolutionary socialists have been skeptical of what can be accomplished through the existing political system and predicted that whatever small gains you might make will soon be wiped out, while more reformist and Fabian socialists have felt that the achievement of socialist ends is destined to be gradual. Then there’s the anarchist-Marxist divide: More decentralist tendencies of socialism believe that centralized state power will inevitably produce authoritarianism and prevent democracy, whereas more centralist tendencies have believed that you can’t get anything done unless you are willing to take and wield power. The DSA, because it is a big tent organization that welcomes socialists of all stripes, often sees debates of this kind. 

And one of the reasons that the antagonism between different factions of socialists has been frequently so fierce is that all of them are right. Those who think that if you get into government you will probably become co-opted and accomplish little can certainly find examples that prove their point. Those who believe armed revolution is destined to end in bloodshed and chaos also certainly have plenty of history to point to. What the DSA is trying to do now is to somehow take many seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints and resolve them, to incorporate the best parts of each different socialist tendency. What people in this organization realize is that if we do not figure out some way of bringing everyone together, of healing factional rifts within the socialist movement, then we are guaranteed to fail. And with a planetary emergency facing us, we cannot afford to fail.

I think everybody in this organization already knows that. I was in Atlanta last summer for the DSA convention, and it was a very powerful experience. It was contentious, and there was a lot of debate, and many people were frustrated by different things that happened. But on the whole it felt like there was more unity than we have seen on the left in a long time. There was a real sense of common purpose, of solidarity, of being in this together no matter what our differences are. There are always going to be arguments, often very difficult ones. But the question is whether these arguments are going to destroy our movement, and I came out of that feeling strongly that they weren’t going to. 

So lesson one for how we do socialism together is: We have got to get along, because so many leftists throughout history have ended up divided against one another. Personally I try to avoid getting in any bitter disputes with fellow leftists, because I realize that all we have is each other. And the DSA has already made incredible steps toward showing that you can in fact have a functional left organization that can incorporate everyone from anarchists to hardcore Leninists to social democrats, and that allows different groups to pursue different strategies in different places. Considering that you are trying to do the impossible, which is to achieve unity without compromise, you are doing a pretty good job of it.

2. Looking at History

But we are trying to do much more than just get everyone in a room together and all agree that socialism is good. We are trying to making political change, real political change that consists of more than just the word “change” on a poster. And after so long being shut out of the political system, of having the left be completely on the fringes in this country, now that people are starting to come around and appreciate our ideas and think of us as serious, we have to act quickly to seize the opportunity.

It is worth reflecting on just how critical and unique our current political moment is. For most of my life, when you were on the left, it has meant that you were destined to lose. In fact, for most of history, being a leftist has meant getting used to failing over and over again. Bernie Sanders spent several decades in Congress basically alone, speaking to an empty House floor and being a lonely dissident. It wasn’t until he was a very old man that people started to listen to him, started to think that maybe he’d been right all those years. 

When we look back at those who came before us, the people whose torch we carry, we see thousands upon thousands of incredibly committed individuals who struggled and often died trying to create a better world. They were often repressed violently. In fact, as difficult as what we have to do is, it is nothing compared to what others in previous generations have faced. Labor organizers have been murdered, they have been shot on picket lines. Antiwar protesters at Kent State were gunned down by the National Guard, the heroes of the civil rights movement and antiracism struggles like Martin Luther King and Fred Hampton—both socialists—were assassinated. They gave their lives to make the path easier for us. And so many of them remain nameless and anonymous to us: They are workers who fought their bosses, women who took to the street to demand the vote, LGBT people who took on the police at Stonewall, prisoners who have staged strikes that never get talked about. Right now, the people of Iraq are out in the streets of Baghdad demanding an end to the U.S. occupation. Their fight isn’t really in the news, you’re not going to be told their names, but they are people who are daring to take on the powerful. 

So I think a second point we need to remember as we figure out what to do as socialists is: understand our context. Read about the socialists who came before us. How did they navigate the situations they found themselves in? What did they do that succeeded and what did they do that did not succeed, and why? Which of their defeats were the inevitable result of being crushed by a power larger than them, and where were there strategic choices that could have been made differently?

Because there have been important leftist victories. In the early 1900s, socialists held 1,000 elected offices around this country. They had socialist mayors and socialists in state legislatures, and they got things done. In fact, often what would happen is that the socialists would propose something, and it would become hugely popular and then the other parties had to adopt it, and then the socialists didn’t sound radical anymore. That’s sort of what’s happening now.

The people who came before us won us the right to weekends, eight-hour days, child labor laws, and workplace safety legislation. It was not easy, and many things they gained, like unions and pensions, have been taken away. In fact, we like to say we have the eight-hour day and the weekend, but we don’t really. We won’t have those things until every person in the world has them, which they don’t.

Unfortunately, the socialists of the early 1900s were crushed. World War I was a big part of it; war fever can really make a nation lose its marbles, and Americans were told to hate Germans instead of the owning class. We can’t let that happen this time around. This time we need to win.

3. Thinking Strategically

In order to win, we have to think strategically. As you grapple with the question about how to be a socialist, one of the most important things you can do is start analyzing the world in terms of who has power, how they retain their power, and what it would take to change who has power. A friend of mine is a labor organizer who worked on the successful campaign to unionize the dining hall workers at Pomona College, and he told me that the way they thought was: The administration does not want a union. But there are other things they don’t want, too. They don’t want to have their board meetings disrupted, they don’t want the students to be in open revolt against them, they don’t want to have people banging pots and pans outside the president’s house at 3:00 in the morning. How do we make it so that their desire not to have a union is overridden by their other desires? And that’s what they did. They made life hell for the administration until they gave in. That’s what you have to do. You have to say: How do we get in the way of what powerful people want? 

Here’s an example of strategic thinking. Amazon is notoriously exploitative, as we know. And Bernie Sanders introduced a piece of legislation called the STOP BEZOS Act, that was designed to shame Jeff Bezos. It would have required the company to pay for the costs of the government benefits its workers received. And the act itself was criticized by wonkish types, who said that it would not have the effect Sanders wanted. But it did have the effect Sanders wanted: Soon after, Amazon announced that it was raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. What the wonkish types didn’t understand was that the act was never supposed to become a law. It was a device for creating a P.R. headache for Amazon, which it did: It drew attention to their low wages and the fact that their workers were on food stamps. Amazon has a reputation to preserve: They’re proud of the fact that they’re one of the most trusted brands in the country. So you take the thing the powerful want, and you figure out how to fuck with them so that they give you what you want. 

Politics does not work according to the Schoolhouse Rock theory where you introduce a bill and then there’s a polite debate about it and if you win the argument it becomes a law. Politics is a game of power. Nancy Pelosi has mocked the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, she’s said that she doesn’t support them. Now, you’re not going to persuade Nancy Pelosi that they’re good ideas. The arguments for them are solid. The way you would get Nancy Pelosi to support these things is if there is a credible threat to her political career if she doesn’t support them. That’s why it’s so exciting that DSA member Shahid Buttar in California is challenging Pelosi. He’s trying to make it so that it is politically costly to stand in the way of progressive policies. 

This is why primary challenges by socialists are so important. We are making sure there is a cost to powerful people for not supporting our agenda. And it pays off. In 2016, because Bernie Sanders came close to winning the presidential primary, he had a lot more influence in the party. The party platform in 2016 ended up being a very radical document, very focused on the rights of workers, because the left had proven itself to be so organized. Our work, even when we don’t win, pulls people to the left; this is why Heidi Sloan’s opponent has to say she supports Medicare For All, and why so many of the Democratic presidential candidates this year have to pretend they’re leftists. 

We need to be very careful that we are always asking the question: How is what we’re doing going to lead to benefits for working people’s lives? Adolph Reed Jr. says that the left often lapses into what he calls “cargo cult politics.” Now the phrase cargo cult refers to certain groups of remote South Pacific islanders who saw planes landing on other islands and bringing cargo. And they assumed, and this was quite reasonable, that the cargo came because there were airstrips and towers on these islands. So they built towers and they built airstrips. But no cargo came. Planes don’t land just because you have a thing that looks like an airstrip, and what Reed says is that in politics we can tend to make a similar assumption. We go out and wave protest signs on a street corner because previous movements have waved signs. But they also had a theory of how particular protests were supposed to create particular kinds of pressure to move particular political actors. Every action we take needs to be based on a theory of what it is supposed to get us, what the path toward victory is. 

I’m sure many of you have read Jane McAlevey’s books, and they’re very useful for starting to get into this mindset. She introduces you to some of the important intellectual concepts developed by labor organizers, like how we understand the distinction between actual organizing and mere mobilizing, that is between building the movement by bringing in new people and just turning out the people we already have. The majority of people are not yet socialists, even though we speak of a mass movement, and so it’s our job to ask the question: How do we change that? How do we take the people who don’t agree with us and change their minds? With every person we bring on board we become more powerful and take another step toward making socialism rather than neoliberal capitalism the dominant political consensus. 

It’s actually kind of funny because the left is often criticized as impractical, but I think we think about these questions far more than many liberals do. I was on Ezra Klein’s podcast recently and his big thing is asking: Well, how are you going to get things like Medicare For All through the Senate? And the reason that baffles him so much is that liberals have no understanding of organizing. If you look at Ezra’s recent endorsement of Elizabeth Warren, it doesn’t talk at all about the role of the public in politics. Popular participation is completely absent from the discussion. It just says, well, Elizabeth Warren is smart and she understands regulation. You can see this in the New York Times endorsement of Warren and Klobuchar as well. There’s no discussion of how they are going to build the kind of social movement that can pressure politicians to do things. They’re just highly qualified individuals.

My colleague Luke Savage has written an excellent article on what he calls the “West Wing view” of how politics works, namely that politics works pretty much the way it does on Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing. On the show, all these highly-credentialed Ivy Leaguers strut down hallways to nowhere having intense conversations about policy. But you never see voters. They only show up at election time. Their job is to put the intellectuals in power, and then the intellectuals sort out the country. But notice that in all seven seasons of the show, even in this liberal fantasy world, the administration accomplishes nothing of any transformative significance.

The left’s view of change is very different. We recognize that political changes have always come because there were bottom-up social movements pushing for them. This is what Bernie Sanders means when he’s talking about his whole “organizer in chief” notion, and using the phrase “not me, us.” You can’t just elect Bernie Sanders president and then expect him to fix the country because somehow he’s so smart that he can single-handedly solve politics. No, what Bernie is going to do is use the power of the presidency to help build activist organizations and the labor movement, and cultivate new leaders at every level, and their pressure is going to be what moves the country. And once you have organizations behind you, you have some power. If a Senator won’t vote for Medicare for All, then the president is going to campaign for their primary opponent, and raise money for that opponent, and send their army of volunteers out for that opponent. And the flipside is: If a Senator gets on board, you get the volunteers, you get the fundraising apparatus, you get the president by your side. Bernie Sanders is happy to let you do your photo ops with him if you adopt his policies: Andrew Cuomo promised New Yorkers free college, and so Bernie Sanders let Cuomo pretend that Bernie was his friend. You are already seeing that the organizing theory works from the fact that it has already changed American politics. Because the Fight For 15 organized, we have a $15 minimum wage in more and more states. That doesn’t come from just voting for someone who understands regulations. 

In fact, it may be easier to get politicians on our side than we assume. When critics say: Well, none of the senators agree with you, they kind of assume that senators are highly ideological creatures. I don’t think they are. In fact, most of them are just purely self-interested. They care about their own prestige and power. They’d vote against Medicare for All if it got them nothing, but if they were being pressured by their constituents, if the voters were angry at them for not supporting it, then you’ll see them come around very quickly. The whole idea of looking at “how many senators support Medicare For All” right now is completely backwards. You don’t look at that now, because we’re not at that stage now. Right now, the task is to build public demand for the policy, to create the consensus that it is needed. And then when you have that demand, then you start pressuring politicians and making it “worth their while” to agree with you, or throwing them out of office if they don’t. So the ultimate answer to “How do you get it through the senate?” is “by having different senators.” And our job is to think strategically about how to make that happen. 

The bounds of political possibility might not be what people say they are. People who assume that you can’t get something done are treating current political reality as fixed. But it isn’t fixed. We know that, and we know it in part because the DSA has been proving it all around the country, including here in Texas. A few years ago, Houston was the “capital of capital punishment,” now you have a socialist criminal court judge, Franklin Bynam. You did what people thought was impossible. You showed that conventional wisdom about what can be done is wrong.

When I went to the Atlanta DSA convention last summer, one of the most incredible things I saw was a gathering of dozens of DSA elected officials from all around the country. And they were not just in the “blue states.” There was Ruth Buffalo in North Dakota, who unseated a Republican, and khalid kamau in South Fulton, Georgia. They were everywhere, from Mik Pappas in housing court in Pennsylvania to the socialists on the Chicago Board of Aldermen. Those who downplayed AOC’s victory said “Oh, well, it’s a deep blue district, that’s why,” but you’re showing here in Texas that actually, red and blue are not what matters, what matters is do you represent working people or do you represent the owning class? And it’s so exciting to see campaigns like Heidi Sloan’s here in Texas fearlessly rejecting the conventional wisdom.

4. Experimentation and Diversity of Tactics

One important aspect of our current moment to remember is that we are in the middle of an experiment. In many ways, we do not know what we are doing, because we cannot know. We are trying things that are in many ways untested. There has never been anything like the Bernie Sanders campaign, for instance. Can it succeed? We don’t know. But we’re trying. 

One great thing about the DSA is that because you are a federated organization, different chapters can try different things and then we can learn from one another. New Orleans pioneered the brake light clinics: changing people’s brake lights for free as a way to both help them avoid pretextual traffic stops and also start organizing conversations and bring in new people. Here you campaigned successfully for paid sick days. In Chicago we’re going to see what you can get done by being in the city government. 

We don’t know the right answers yet, because in many ways we are reconstructing a movement from scratch. The left was dormant for many years. Even though we have seen an inspiring wave of teacher strikes recently, union density remains at record lows, so people are having to try to figure out anew how to do organizing in very hostile conditions. We’re trying new things and some of them will fail and some of them will succeed. For example, Kickstarter’s workers have been trying to unionize for a while now, and at Current Affairs we worked with several other magazines to try to give them a boost. We realized that if the creators of Kickstarter projects started threatening to pull out, that would give the workers some leverage, and we got hundreds of hundreds of projects, people who had raised over $50 million on the platform, to say that they opposed any effort at union-busting by the company. 

Now, Kickstarter’s workers still haven’t got their union, and it remains to be seen if they will. But by getting all the project creators on their side, we are hoping it makes it just a bit easier for them, and a bit harder for the company to be overtly anti-union, lest they lose revenue to Indiegogo or GoFundMe. Kickstarter’s workers don’t know how this will end. But they are part of this great experiment to see if it just might be possible to rebuild worker power after it has eroded for so long.

5. Clarity of Vision

I’ve said that accepting socialist ideas is the easy part and putting them to practice is the hard part. But I also think we do need to continuously return to thinking about what it is exactly that we stand for, refining our vision of what would constitute success, daring to imagine the “better world” and what it would contain.

I write a lot about utopias and why they’re important. Historically, socialists have tended to be quite utopian, and I think that is good. When we think about what our ideal would look like it gives us a better sense of what direction we ought to be heading in. Don’t be afraid to be utopian. There is a certain utopianism captured in our great socialist demand, “bread and roses.” Bread is a difficult enough goal by itself. The bread is the fulfillment of basic material needs, just making sure that everyone is clothed, fed, housed, and given medical care and education.

But the roses go far beyond that. The roses mean that mere survival isn’t enough. We don’t just want housing, we want everyone to have beautiful housing. We don’t just want healthcare, we also want culture: access to music, literature, art, and adventure. Not just a full belly but a full soul. The reason it’s the rose rather than the loaf of bread that is the symbol of this organization is that the rose is what makes us truly ambitious. The rose says: We are proud of the fact that we dream of beautiful things and not just materially necessary things. 

But socialism is not just dreaming, it also has a very clear ethical core to it that is captured in that powerful word solidarity. And what solidarity means has never been better captured than in Eugene Debs’ famous quote: “while there is a lower class I am in it… and while there is a soul in prison I am not free.” You’ve heard the quote a lot I’m sure but if we really think about it, it is such a radical statement. It means that my freedom is tied up with yours, that all of our destinies are one, that I cannot be comfortable until you are comfortable. While there is a soul in prison I am not free. This is not just some plea for empathy, this is saying that until we have full prison abolition, I myself cannot feel fully free. 

That is what solidarity means: seeing other people as equally important to ourselves and being willing to fight for them as hard as we would fight for our own interests. You can hear echoes of it in Bernie’s great speech about being willing to fight for someone whose problems are not your own, an immigrant even if you are not an immigrant, someone with debt even if you have no debt, etc. It means we reject the idea that we are just appealing to people’s narrow desire to improve their own personal condition, we are seeing ourselves as part of one movement that serves all alike. That moving vision of collective struggle has always been at the core of socialism and it is important that we never forget it even as we work on small projects and muddle through the best we can.

6. Make Sure The Right Questions are Being Asked 

One important aspect of being a socialist is making sure to ask ourselves questions and critically interrogate our own assumptions. Not everything is obvious, and I think we need to be willing to admit that we have not yet managed to answer everything. In many ways, we still haven’t even reached the hard part. Getting into office might be easy. Then we have to govern. We actually have to deliver people real benefits, because if we don’t, we will seem like yet another group that promises change without following through. How do you actually get things done? How do you make sure you are effective and efficient in solving problems? That is the real challenge of our lifetimes. 

I think there is plenty that we do not yet know and are still trying to work out. A few questions come to mind as examples:

  • What does being a socialist require of a person? We know what’s wrong with systems, we know how social injustice affects people. But what does being a socialist require of each person on an ethical level? What does it mean to treat each other as socialists should treat people? Should we be more kind, neighborly, charitable? What do each of us owe each other? Is a socialist friend a better friend? I happen to think that being a socialist involves more than simply committing yourself to a political fight but also involves a change in the way we treat other people, because we have taken Debs’ philosophy seriously. But I also admit that the specific requirements are still murky and debatable. 
  • What lines do we draw about what we will tolerate in the name of pragmatism? There has been a recent flap on the left because Bernie Sanders promoted a clip where Joe Rogan said positive things about Bernie. Some people point out that Rogan has said horrendous things about transgender people and made racist jokes and done all manner of problematic things. Here we face a dilemma: We want to have a zero-tolerance policy toward transphobia and bigotry, and we also want to welcome every person to the movement, and not treat people as irredeemable. Organizing involves having to work alongside people who often have loathsome views, and there is a serious question about how you can work toward a common political end without seeming to legitimize or minimize harmful views. If you exclude people from your coalition you make it less likely that you win, but you also need to draw clear lines and I certainly understand why transgender people would not want to be on the “Joe Rogan left” if such a thing existed. I do not quite know how to resolve this, and I think it’s a genuinely difficult question. 
  • How do we become internationalist? This is another question we are only just at the beginning of figuring out how to answer. How do we make our fight for health justice in the United States and the Iraq people’s struggle against imperialism part of the same fight? Ultimately, this organization should not be the Democratic Socialists of America, it should be the Democratic Socialists of the World. How does that happen? How do we organize across continents, with people who are operating under very different conditions? We know we have to take seriously the imperative “workers of the world, unite.” But how

I have no doubt that socialists will resolve these questions. There are so many brilliant and committed people in this organization that we will make progress. But we need to start by figuring out what it is we don’t know, what sorts of discussions will be needed in order to help us move forward.

7. Seize the moment. Believe in ourselves. 

We need to fully appreciate just how monumental the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Joe Crowley was. Back around the time of Occupy in 2011, we were all very cynical, nobody thought you could beat money. She showed that this was false. In fact, you could beat a 10-term incumbent, a party bigwig, who had millions of dollars, and you could do it as a 29-year-old bartender who had never held office. Now, AOC is singularly talented in many ways, but her victory should also cause us to ask: If she can do that, what else can be done? 

This may well be our year. We are in a good position. We have a well-organized presidential campaign and vibrant pockets of socialist organizing around the country. But in order to seize this moment, we have to have confidence and determination, and we have to realize that political change does not occur unless we make it ourselves. When we see Bernie’s poll numbers change, when we saw him go from 5 percent to 15 percent to 40 percent in 2016, that didn’t happen because of magic and it certainly didn’t happen because of media coverage. It happened because thousands and thousands of people around the country were having conversations every day, talking to undecided voters, getting people to believe in Bernie. The poll numbers move because people make them move, so we can’t sit watching them and hoping, we have to actually generate the changes we want to see. 

So to sum up some of the important points I think we need to keep in mind as we figure out how to act:

  1. We have to build a movement, we have to all get along, but we have to do it without compromising our principles.
  2. Study those who came before us. Look at what they did, understand ourselves as continuing their work.
  3. Think strategically. Avoid cargo cult politics. 
  4. This is an experiment. We have to undertake the long, slow process of figuring out how to organize successfully. 
  5. Maintain clarity of vision. Constantly remind ourselves exactly what it is we are fighting for. 
  6. Make sure the right questions are being asked.
  7. Seize the moment. Believe in ourselves. 

One thing that is notable about the history of socialism is that it is a history of socialists being right. When Eugene Debs was thrown into prison for resisting World War I, he was right. When the New Left in the 60s called the Vietnam War a monstrous atrocity, and when the left in 2003 denounced the Iraq War, they were right. The IWW was right, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King were right, the DSA has been right, Bernie Sanders has been right. They haven’t always won, but history looks favorably on the socialists. In every generation for more than a century, you have had socialists pointing out the intolerable injustices in our society and refusing to accept them. You know, the scaremongering about the Civil Rights movement was that it was full of communists. But that was partly true. It was full of communists, because it has always been the radical left who have been most dedicated to the struggle against oppression. 

I think the DSA is the single most important organization in the country right now. It’s the only organization that has a powerful unifying vision that can incorporate simultaneously the struggles for economic justice, racial justice, immigrant justice, environmental justice, gender justice, and health justice. No one else comes close. The people in the DSA are some of the most kind and committed individuals I have ever met. This organization has the power to change the world. It has already helped change American politics completely. A poll was released today showing that a Democratic Socialist is firmly leading in the Iowa caucuses. Bernie is at 25 percent. Nobody else breaks 20. Unimaginable just a few years ago. You did that.

The question of why you should be a socialist is easily answered. The question of how to be a socialist is much, much harder. But all across the country, DSA chapters are coming up with very good answers. And we’re going to figure it out. It’s essential that we do, because the stakes are so high. And I think we can, because ultimately, we are radicals in that we depart so strongly from the political mainstream and the neoliberal consensus, but we are not radicals in that we have a vision that can appeal strongly to people all across the world. Socialist values are human values. They are the values of solidarity and freedom. We envision a world where people are not tyrannized over at their jobs, where they do not have to worry if they can afford to stay alive or keep a roof over their heads, where the natural world is cared for, where there is a vibrant commons of good public libraries, good free public schools, good free public colleges, good free public transit. We envision an end to the feudalism of billionaire rule, where who gets helped depends on whatever Bill Gates decides, rather than a democratic process. We have an exciting and beautiful vision of a much better world, and you all are the people who are bringing it about. It is not going to be easy, and I know that there is no harder question than the question of what to do next. But we have the people—compassionate, brilliant people—and we are in a moment of great possibility. Congratulations on all that you have done so far and good luck on all that you are going to do in the very near future. Solidarity forever. Thank you.

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