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Citations Needed

Sep 19, 2018

With recent primary election wins by candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, James Thompson, Julia Salazar and others, the terms “socialist” and “democratic socialist” are everywhere. Media outlets across the political spectrum - from The Washington Post andBusiness Insider to NPR and MSNBC to Jacobin - have rushed to publish explainer articles, demystifying the tenets of socialism and its variations for a mass American audience.

But one thing missing from the bulk of these explainers – many of them written by high-profile Democratic Socialists themselves - is a robust account of foreign policy and the role America’s massive imperial footprint would play in any future Democratic Socialist America. Instead, descriptions of socialism stick primarily to domestic issues.

Similarly, the wave of recent democratic socialist explainers are quick to distance their brand of Democratic Party-friendly socialism with the scary brand in the Global South, namely that of Venezuela. Highlighting instead the virtues of white-majority countries like Sweden and Denmark, many socialist whisperers dismiss out of hand the Bolivarian Revolution with the dreaded “authoritarian” label.

In this episode, we discuss the pros and cons of this approach and how to know the difference between good faith critiques of socialist systems in the global south and quick and cheap fetishizing of Scandinavian countries – none of which have had to grapple with the complexities of colonialism.

We are joined by two guests: Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and Shireen Al-Adeimi, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University.