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While Marx and Engels had seen the industrial working-class as the only potentially revolutionary force within capitalism, this was not because of something essential to industrial labor. Suppressing the revolutionary radicalism of these groups would drain the resources of the imperial powers.

While the economy of the United States in the 21 st century is built on finance and service rather than on industrial production, a growing number of Americans have been pushed to the margins, unable to recognize the system as one that works for them. As is always this case, those on the margins are disproportionately people of color, women, and LGBTQ. Increasingly however, the economically marginalized are likely to share another demographic trait: age.

The most viable long-term strategy almost certainly involves some combination of pressuring elected Democrats and working from the ground up to replace those Democrats who continue to resist that pressure.

'Be realistic, demand the impossible!'

This is not so for the young Left of today. Indeed, though faced with the grim reality of unified Republican rule under Donald Trump, and in spite of the best efforts of the Democratic Party, there are encouraging signs. Despite low name-recognition and almost no institutional backing, the Sanders campaign received the votes of more young people than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.

Whether or not there is significant fallout from this intransigence remains to be seen.

Een dialoog over utopisch denken

What is less open to debate is that, regardless of whether young Leftists organize within the Democratic Party, or outside of it in organizations like DSA , short-term success will be measured largely by the sort of pressure we are able to put on elected Democrats: a strategy that we have seen work in the early weeks of the Trump administration, as corporate Democrats like Cory Booker are forced to answer for their ties to pharmaceutical companies and for-profit schools.

Marches, rallies, and town halls have played a major role in pressuring Democrats, who by instinct tend to prioritize defending norms over winning power, to take a hard line against Trump nominees. This newly impassioned electorate may have played the key role in stopping the Republicans from destroying the Affordable Care Act. Whether the abolition of slavery, or the passing of Social Security, major reorganizations of American political, social, and economic life often seem utopian until the very moment that they became reality.

He can be contacted here and followed on Twitter at ItsBenFeldman. Based on research first featured on The Activist History Review , the twelve essays in this volume examine the role of history in shaping ongoing debates over monuments, racism, clean energy, health care, poverty, and the Democratic Party.


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Together they show the ways that the issues of today are historical expressions of power that continue to shape the present. Also, be sure to review our book on Goodreads and join our Goodreads group to receive notifications about upcoming promotions and book discussions for Demand the Impossible! We here at The Activist History Review are always working to expand and develop our mission, vision, and goals for the future. These efforts sometimes necessitate a budget slightly larger than our own pockets. If you have enjoyed reading the content we host here on the site, please consider donating to our cause.

Each actor makes choices and the market values commodities based on these choices.

Thus, the market is not only supremely rational, but is the promoter and the protector of individual agency; billions of choices made by self-interested individuals working neatly together to determine the precise value of all things. Neoliberalism is the belief that an unrestrained, unencumbered market, free from government intervention and oversight is, and always has been, the chief source of human liberty.

In pursuance of the goal of market liberalization, those operating under the neoliberal umbrella including a number who eschew the label follow a broad group of policies, including: destruction of artificial barriers to trade, deregulation of government, and lower taxes. When that order collapsed under the weight of stagnant growth, rising inflation, and high unemployment during the s, the logic of market fundamentalism rushed in to fill the void.

Rodgers, Age of Fracture. Cambridge, Mass. The Democrats saw their share of the electorate drop from The percentage of eligible voters who stayed home or otherwise rejected both major party candidates rose from Pingback: Pragmatism v. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.


  1. Be Realistic: Demand the Impossible | Boston Review.
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  4. You are commenting using your Twitter account. The French student protests of May were indeed about producing a national catharsis in the context of a rapidly changing world. As such, the slogan that best captures the spirit of the May protests was the one that first appeared mainly on the walls of Paris and read as follows: "Be realistic, demand the impossible. A few days after the Night of the Barricades, millions of workers walked off their job and joined the nation-wide strike.

    The French Communist Party and its allied labour union organisation, the Confederation Generale du Travail, did their best to keep workers apart from students and to block any potential path to a revolution. To the surprise of many at the time, the May protests ended in early June when the trade unions accepted a government deal which included generous wage hikes and a shorter work week.

    Soon afterwards, the student protests also fizzled out. For starters, the rage behind the protests led to an end of Gaullism, a highly conservative, state-oriented ideology, and converted the country into an open, tolerant and secular society. Thanks to the spirit and the aims of the May '68 protests, women became socially liberated before, French women could not even wear pants at work and had to have a husband's permission to open a bank account , while worker militancy secured better conditions of life and work.

    It is of little surprise therefore that conservative political leaders in France and elsewhere continue to this day to blame the legacy of May for the overthrow of conservative norms and values. This spirit of change and openness, however, has not really survived to present times. Today's France has turned inward, resisting change and embracing xenophobia. French democracy has plunged into crisis. Students and workers remain politically active, but they lack the rage of their predecessors and are in need of a new vision for the future. Does this mean then that the legacy of May , like that of the Bolshevik revolution of , is now just a memory?

    But the course of history has fooled us before, and it can fool us again. In a world of dire need for radical change and social justice, the May revolts of could still become a source of inspiration. All that it takes is a new generation of rebellious spirit, bold enough to say "Be realistic, demand the impossible! The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.

    To Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible: Toward a Visionary Left | Tikkun

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes. Since March , Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19, air raids across Yemen. The fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion remains as politicised as ever, 28 years on.

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    Be Realistic: Demand the Impossible

    They were spontaneous, explosive protests of rebellious spirits that changed fundamentally the political, social and cultural landscape of entire nations, although no revolution ever occurred The May '68 protests had the most dramatic impact in the country that had experienced one of the greatest social upheavals in western history, the French Revolution. And it all started, as most challenges to the status quo do, by the youth. Europe France History. Have your say. Give us feedback.