The global crisis of capitalism has led to a surge of interest in socialist ideas all over the world.
Merriam-Webster reports that socialism was the third most searched-for term (“bailout” was #1) during 2008 in their online dictionary, which receives 125 million views per month, meaning millions of people were looking to find out what socialism means.
This surge of interest in socialism reflects the questions raised for many when confronted with the ongoing financial meltdown. The stunning breadth and depth of the meltdown, impacting on everyone from the richest to, most horribly, the poorest revealed the structural nature of the issues. It was so clearly a structural problem with capitalism itself that President Bush had to go on an offensive to defend capitalism as a system.
As reported by Dan Eggen in the Washington Post of November 14, 2008
Bush also argued that "the crisis was not a failure of the free market system" and that leaders should "not try to reinvent that system."
Sales of The Communist Manifesto have skyrocketed, with Amazon.com reporting a 700% increase since the banking collapse, according to the Times (UK) (11/9/08).
The Socialist Alternative article continued:
In Berlin, all copies of Karl Marx’s Capital reportedly sold out several months ago. According to Joern Schuetrumpf, the German publisher of Marx’s Collected Works, "Until 2004, we sold less than 100 copies of Das Kapital per year. In the ten months of 2008, we have sold more than 2,500 copies. It is clear that people are interested in learning what Marx has to say about why capitalism does not work.” (Inter Press Service, 11/7/08)
There’s even now a Japanese comic book version of Das Kapital, which sold 6,000 copies within a few days of hitting the shelves in December. Additionally, Kanikosen (“The Crab Factory Ship”), a Communist novel from 1929 about a group of workers rebelling against brutal working conditions on their ship, has experienced a resurgence, with sales of over 500,000 copies in 2008, up from an average of around 5,000 in previous years (Telegraph (UK), 11/18/08).
All this is evidence of the growing quest to understand the nature of the economic crisis. The coming years will provide ample opportunities to build the socialist movement as the failures of capitalism lead millions to search for an alternative.
There is a integral relationship between the real conditions of life for working people and our attempt to grapple with the questions that those conditions present us as to how we're going to live, raise our children, and meet our basic needs. The structural problems of capitalism present themselves at both the local and the global levels of life, most clearly in those areas where the two intersect. The global financial crisis through which we're all living now can't be written off as the result of too much greed alone. The environmental issues that impact all of humanity can't be written off as due to human nature and greed alone. The current wars can't be written off as too much greed alone. People are thirsty for better and deeper analysis of the problems in our lives, and sounds bites don't provide that analysis just as capitalism doesn't provide the jobs, health care, educational opportunities, housing, and food needed by billions of people world wide, and by many millions of people in the United States.
We are correct to ask fundamental questions and explore socialism. The current system is dysfunctional and destructive. Socialism provides the viable alternative that is required if we're to move forward together to meet the needs of the vast majority of the people, the working families in the United States and the world.
To find out more about socialism, please see other posts on this web site, Political Affairs online, and the People's Weekly World newspaper.