on December 28, 2004
I first read this book back in 1992, and it started a transformation in me that continues today. Harrington put a human face on socialism, tearing it away from the widespread Stalinist stereotype and reclaiming it for those of us who believe socialism is fundamentally democratic. Mike put the complexities of Marxism and socialism into terms the average American could understand. For me, this sparked a critical rethinking of everything I'd been taught previously about economics and class - an evolutionary educational process that continues in me today. No other book has ever had such a significant impact on me. Readers of this book should also check into the Democratic Socialists of America, the organization Mike founded.
on May 11, 1998
At the end of the century, the late Michael Harrington's works remain the definitive works on socialism for the American Left. Socialism: Past & Future is his last book, and offers a clear picture of not only what democratic socialists believe, but also how socialists propose to deal with the problems of today's society.
on July 19, 1998
Michael Harrington's Socialism: Past and Future is yet another example of Socialists' misconception of the common man. Many socialist writers, namely Marx and Engels, assume that the reader knows about socialism already, and has studied basic economics. This assumption was an integral part of the text. The book uses the vocabulary of a college text-book, refering to writers that nobody knows or cares about. This book, however, is not as poorly written as some of the older socialist texts. Another disease common to socialist texts is avoidance of certain issues, like the Third World, advancing technology, and basic human greed, but this book is different. Chapters are spent on subjects that Marx neglected, making this book better than the average of socialist books. Michael Harrington died of cancer shortly before the fall of the USSR. He predicts the fall of the communist powers in Asia, and most of his prophecies have come true, or are coming true.! The early chapters show the reader the world from the eyes of a socialist, and by the later chapters, the reader seeks knowledge of socialist theory and practice. Two things, that are, sadly, delivered abstractly, over many chapters.