Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA-Frances Goldin, Michael and Debby Smith
Our own co-host Michael Smith, his wife Debby and Frances Goldin have assembled and edited an anthology of powerful essays titled Imagine Living In A Socialist USA. Prominent thinkers, activists and artists have given their perspective of what the United States would look like through the lens of a socialist society. This new work is an important contribution to what we hope will be a broader movement. It includes an indictment of capitalism, an alternative U.S.A. and how to get there.
It was my brainchild because I wanted to accomplish 3 things before I joined by ancestors. One is everyone who lived in Cooper Square who had been fighting Robert Moses and saving their old tenements since 1959 its been a tremendous long struggle.
This is the only community land trust in the Northeast. The only one.
The next one is that I was really distressed at the direction our country was moving. Here I am 89 years old and all of a sudden North Carolina says that we’re going back to the old days where you had to bring in your right arm and read the Constitution without missing a word in order to vote. That plus spying on every American and continuing the wars.
It was just breaking my heart. I was very distressed that everybody thought that socialism was a dirty word, it was an undemocratic terrible way of life and they just didn’t have a clue as to what it really meant.
I thought it would be a great idea to pull together some of the greatest minds in the country and let them talk about health, education, welfare, homosexuality, every subject that effects American’s lives and explain how it would be different under socialism if it were democratically done, which is the only way it should be done.
Within one year, 31 leading brains in the United States for no charge, they did it free, wrote their essays on each one of these subjects. The book is in my hand, its finished and its beautiful and it makes me so happy. That’s my second accomplishment.
The third one is to see one of the leading intellectuals in the world free, forever free. Mumia Abu-Jamal.
I couldn’t do it alone, it was a great plan and so I leaned on to dear friends, Debby and Michael Smith.
I had to force Harper Collins into this, they really didn’t want to do it.
We were very lucky to hire an incredibly good editor, whose livelihood was editing for magazines and newspapers. If a sentence was too long, he cut it into 2 or 3 sentences.
Right now, the word socialism, people think of dictatorship, they think terrible things, they think undemocratic.
This is a simple instruction about how it would effect us with regard to health, education, housing, welfare, all of those subjects which make it so difficult for all of us to live.
It can’t be a dirty word, it happens to be the most democratic way of governing possible.
Get the workers to run the company. It’s happening in Spain, with dozens of corporations that have become worker owned.
It’s going to be the workers dividing the profits among themselves.
It will only happen when the workers are angry enough and informed enough to know that they can run the show.
Every penny of the royalties will go to free Mumia Abu-Jamal
We are not earning one dime from this book. It was a labor of love. It was a labor of activism.
It was a labor to change the world and make it a better place.
Guest – Frances Goldin is the President & Principal of Frances Goldin Literary Agency. Frances has worked in publishing for 63 years, as an agent and as editor-in-chief of a children’s publishing company; she founded the Frances Goldin Literary Agency and sold her first book in 1977. Authored by Black anthropologist Betty Lou Valentine and titled Hustling and Other Hard Work, the book continued to receive royalties for 32 years. One of the agency’s strengths is that many of its books continue to earn royalties long after publication. Reflecting Goldin’s radical politics, the Agency concentrates on literary fiction and serious, controversial, progressive non-fiction.
Attorney Michael Smith:
I don’t think its a dirty word, because people see what’s going on under capitalism and they don’t like it. The economic situation in this country ain’t gonna change, its only going to get worse.
Frances is quite an influential literary agent in this country.
What’s your definition of socialism? I said a democratic economy and political system, both where people from the bottom up control how we make a living, and how we live.
We’re having a book launch on January 27. It’s at 126 Crosby Street in SOHO at the book store called Housing Works.
In order to achieve the kind of socialism we’re talking about and that’s socialism from the bottom up you need a broad democratic movement of people.
All the left wing parties, all the movement groups, we gotta get together around a common program.
One of the chapters that I really like, and this isn’t to flatter you Michael Ratner, but you wrote a chapter on what I would do if I was US Attorney General.
Paul LeBlanc writes his chapter about the 3rd American revolution. Diane Feeley writes about that in her chapter. She’s an auto worker retired from Detroit.
Michael Zweig, the great sociologist, we reprint his speech from Occupy Wall Street where he talks about the 1 percent, the ruling class.
He says actually its 1/10 of 1 percent. Those are the people who are the top of the economy and different organizations in this country. He said, you gotta be very careful, because these people will kill ya.
In the second part of the book, we emphasize use your imagination. How do we organize the economy democratically?
How do you organize a corporation democratically? Rick Wolff wrote that chapter.
There are 31 chapters in the book. The last chapter suggests itself. How do we do it?
We’re not against leadership, we’re against undemocratic leadership but you need people who’ve had some experience and who can draw the lessons of the past.
Guest – Attorney Michael Smith is co-host of Law and Disorder, and a New York City attorney and author. His most recent book, written with Michael Ratner , is Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. He is on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Brecht Forum. He was educated at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, where he learned social history from the great teacher Harvey Goldberg. He has testified on Palestinian rights before committees of the US Congress and the United Nations.
Guest – Debby Smith is a long time socialist since going to college in Boston during the radical sixties. Debby worked full-time for the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Kent State Legal Defense Fund and in the feminist, union and socialist movements. She is also the wife of Michael Smith and participates in the anti-capitalist and pro-democracy movements that are growing rapidly in the United States and worldwide.
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