Friday, February 24, 2017

Michael Harrington: democratic socialist

Edward Michael ‘Mike’ Harrington, Jr. (February 24, 1928 – July 31, 1989) was an American democratic socialist, writer, author of The Other America [1962], political activist, political theorist, professor of political science, radio commentator and founding member of the Democratic Socialists of America.”
* * *

“People speak of socialism. We should speak of socialisms. There is an amnesia about the socialist tradition that abandons entire definitions of that ideal made by serious mass movements. [….] What is needed, if socialism is to find a new relevance for the twenty-first century, is some sense of its enormous diversity and complexity. [….] 

It was no accident that utopian socialism was rediscovered in the 1960s and had a significant impact on important political movements in the West a century and a half after it began. […..] Utopian socialism also took on a new incarnation in ‘African’ socialism. And it pointed toward a new history of the nineteenth-century past in which the long-forgotten struggles of artisans suddenly came to life because scholars now lived in the age of the computer.” — Michael Harrington
* * * 

The Atlantic (August 2000)

By Harold Meyerson 

“From the mid-1950s through the late 1980s one of the high points of life on the American left was a Michael Harrington speech. For thousands of listeners, in fact, a Harrington speech marked the starting point of their own life on the left. Harrington was a more accomplished and prolific writer than either Eugene Debs or Norman Thomas, his two predecessors in the role of America’s pre-eminent socialist, but like Debs and Thomas, he won the majority of his converts through the power of the spoken word.  

A Harrington speech was both a tour de force and a tour de horizon—an argument, invariably, for the moral vision and practical advantages of democratic socialism, tailored to the causes and controversies of the moment, buttressed by a scholarly consideration of social trends and statistics, strengthened by Harrington’s habit of entertaining opposing arguments before dispatching them. He provided listeners with something that was none too easy to find elsewhere on the left: a sense of historical context, of how their own activism fit into a larger pattern they might otherwise have trouble discerning, of where they stood, broadly speaking, in the flow of history. And he provided them with one thing more: an overwhelming sense of the moral urgency that underlay his critique of capitalism.” [….] Please see the entire article here.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home