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Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  31 reviews
An anthology of original essays that seek to right current misconceptions and fears about socialism by describing what socialism would look like in the U.S.A. and the better, more just society that could accompany it

Imagine: Living in a Socialist U.S.A. is an anthology of original essays that looks at what the United States could be if the capitalism collapsed and socialis
Paperback, 309 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Harper Perennial
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Zachariah With the West doing everything in its power to undermine any experiments in social restructuring, outside of those meant to benefit the capitalist cla…moreWith the West doing everything in its power to undermine any experiments in social restructuring, outside of those meant to benefit the capitalist class, I think it is hard to say what the true results of socialism could be. If every time a country tries to look out for its own interests, as opposed to lining up behind a well established and decidedly inequitable free market agenda, they get punished into submission, how can you say with any real certainty socialism is a failure?

You can't sabotage an invention and then conclude the technology just doesn't work.(less)
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Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Note: this is the review I wrote for the book on Amazon. I ask that if you find this book important that you please write a review of it and give it a high rating.

As a result of decades of anti-Communist propaganda and education, you can't even mention the word “socialism” unless it's used as a label to criticize Obama, who ironically is about as socialist as Adam Smith was a Marxist. So thankfully the editors of this book courageously use the word “socialist” in their title. There is no better
Apr 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: red, nonfiction, owned
Three and a half stars.

I picked out this book expecting to find a series of somewhat utopian essays from anticapitalist thinkers describing what their vision of a “Socialist U.S.A.” might look like. However, it was not really like that at all. Overall this is still a worthwhile and accessible anthology, but of essays that critique capitalism and the organization of society more often than conceptualize about a socialist version of it. Some absolutely do stick to the "imagine" theme and offer per
Jan 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Granted, I'm no socialist, but my moderate pro-welfare state capitalistic preferences don't lead me to think that this book sucks. The suckage of the book leads me to believe it sucks. This was really a collection of a bunch of horribly short essays that offered, at brief moments, decent critiques of America as is, but very little in the way of how to get to their preferred socialistic society, and what it would really be like if we ever got there. Also, they really REALLY fell for Occupy Wall S ...more
Camille McCarthy
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I really liked the idea behind this book - it is made up of a wide array of contributions from various socialists in the US and focuses on what socialism in the US might look like, in particular. My favorite essays were Ajamu Baraka's essay on socialism and human rights and the essay written by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Angela Davis about a justice system that is not based on capitalism but on community.
A lot of the book was repetitive and I wish there had been more essays with a vision for the futu
Adam Ross
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a great introduction to socialism for those who don't know much about it. The essays are short and to the point, exploring what a socialist America might look like, covering everything from food production to welfare, housing, immigration, drugs, sexuality, medicine, and education.
David Stephens
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Since there is no reason to preach to the converted, I keep wondering how this book might affect liberals, centrists, or even conservatives (okay, that's probably too much of a stretch). Would it be terribly persuasive or a lost cause? Could it even nudge anyone in a more leftist direction?

There are several essays that could easily be described as utopian, if not in the sense of how their economic mechanisms might work, then in the sense of how we might get there. Even the most determined leftis
Jen Walker
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This edited book contains lots of short chapters on various facets of society and "imagines" how they would look within a socialist system. Somehow the writers managed to keep them short while including a fairly high degree of complexity—in both the transition to a socialist system, various iterations of socialism, and the shortcomings that would remain.
This is a book consisting of a series of essays about a possibility of a socialist USA. It is divided up into three sections – why capitalism is bad, what a socialist USA would mean and how to get there.

The U.S. is more or less infamous for its anti-communism agenda; and for many, socialism is synonymous with communism. In a way, they are right as communism is a branch within the socialist tree. But because of the propaganda, mostly done in the 50's and 60's during the Cold War, most Americans v
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Imagine" is the key word here. Most of the essays are basic summaries of socialist principles as applied to certain aspects of life or government, like jails under socialism, socialist law, gender and equality under socialism. The jewels expanded upon these simple imaginings by applying more stringent analysis. "The Shape of a Post-Capitalist Future" by Wolff was one because it examined the make-up of companies, particularly the board of directors, and how they had failed under other socialist ...more
Dustin Mahurin
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very thought-provoking and well-rounded picture of "The Socialist" in contemporary America. As a self-proclaimed socialist myself, I enjoyed the views I read, and yes, I also dissented with a few. Commonly "The Socialist" is objectified in our society just as "African-Americans" (more appropriately titled Afro-Americans to distinguish a difference between the two), immigrants, or generally those that don't conform to the ideals of the "powerful majority," more appropriately those with [uncheck ...more
Noah Schumacher
May 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
For those more inclined to conservatism; you might loathe this book. For those inclined to liberalism; you'll enjoy this while being challenged in the fundamentals of your democratic platform. For those with simple curiosity seeking to read all sides of the political landscape (like myself) you will thoroughly enjoy this. For so long socialism has been mired in one stigma after another. Bringing up examples of China, USSR, and other countries practicing "socialism" We are led to think it equates ...more
Alex Lewis
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a good book, especially for beginners to socialism or any clueless capitalist who associates socialism with the end of the world. The best part of this book, in my opinion, was its broad attempt to display how socialism could theoretically solve numerous social problems, such as environmental destruction and mass incarceration.

On the other hand, this book is too shallow or not at all for someone well versed in Marxist economics, sociology, and/or philosophy. Many Marxist readers would d
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Current 2014. Imagine- enough people reading this non-fiction paperback- rather than looking at cute kitten pictures on their Smart phones while wondering how they will get enough money to pay the cell bill, rent...
The 31 short essays by well known individuals (well known-unless you only look at social media) present information many Americans experience daily but have no awareness how it impacts them. The 1% know, they would prefer we continue looking at the cute kitten pictures.
It is not al
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
I found the fact that chapters were written by different people a real stumbling block for me. I read a chapter that I found very good and idea provoking, exciting and then the next chapter would be slam on the brakes; I would trudge through it, finding it difficult to read. This, for me, made the book hard to read overall. And I'm sorry, but the chapter on legalizing marijuana and heroin, and playing with the idea of legalizing other drugs was dangerous. The marijuana thing I can swallow. Peopl ...more
May 16, 2014 added it
Covers a wide array of topics and how they would look and function in a socialist America: from economics, to criminal justice, to media and art, to food policy, to drug policy and race and LGBT issues. They are quick to point to the failures of past socialist experiments ( usually a lack of democracy and a one dimensional economy) and state that America is better situated for economic justice than most countries. A bit long on vision and short on specifics in a few places but overall a good rea ...more
Mike Zone
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A collection of over thirty concise and accessible essays on socialist philosophy, not just an indictment on the damage caused by unfettered capitalism resulting in the lack of a functioning democracy but a series of blueprints on how to evolve from where we are today toward a society that is genuinely equal and just. Analyzes various aspects of our society and is quite the eye opener. Also recommended is THE S WORD: A SHORT HISTORY OF AN AMERICAN TRADITION...SOCIALISM by John Nichols, EMPIRE OF ...more
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a fabulous book. In a democratic socialist alternative, everyone will live in ivory towers. If you have any sense of awareness of the world around you and you recognize the magnitude of social injustice and oppression that exists in America and the rest of the world, you understand why visions for a better world are needed. We must imagine a better way and work towards it. There is nothing utopian about this. This is all possible.
James Doyle
Nov 09, 2014 rated it liked it
The book is filled with numerous indictments of the capitalist system and proposals for its replacement. However, I had been hoping to read more about concrete strategies to overcome the propaganda machines and unite the 99% in favor of socialism in a country that is so much closer to embracing fascism and xenophobia as remedies to economic insecurity. Still a good read, but less than I'd hoped for.
Lauren Read
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays covers a range of topics, and the final section on the "how" is good and practical. Recommended as explanation of what's wrong and how to fix it -- and I do mean that in the most sweeping systemic sense.
J.W. Wexford
Jan 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In your dreams... Well, the people who want this sort of America have been getting their way, little by little, which is sad. Maybe people SHOULD read this book, to really see what's in store for them if they don't do something about evil's encroachment.
I really enjoyed all the alternate visions. Altho, there weren't as many as I'd hoped for. I first heard about this book when Amy Goodman reviewed it on Democracy Now. There is an interview with Francis Golden."
Felonious Punk
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
It's more of a mood piece than a how to, or a book of proposals. It's more of outlining the reasons why change is necessary and what might be different. But the last handful of essays gets more proactive and fiery.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
An anthology book of sorts, when this collection is good it's really good. When it's bad, it's nearly unbearable. Some of the essays are quite magnificent. Others are boring or uninformative.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Took off a star for Chapter 31, which is horribly trite. Otherwise, a semi-interesting, fairly current take on the issues.
Mills College Library
335.00973 I318 2014
Jacquelyn Fusco
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting. They have a chapter on so many different topics. There will be many things that almost anyone will find interesting. Quick pace too, because it's lots of 10-20 page essays.
Sasha Bannister
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Everyone read it! Democratic socialism for everyone. I will probably never be an elected politician because I sing this books praises, but oh well!
Justin Renquist
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful and should be required reading for ALl American progressive leftists. Wonderful collaboration and multiple points of view on many topics. Very impressive.
James Henry Thornton III
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was a great book. It started strong while losing a little steam at the end. it offer a new prospective Socialism ideas!!
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring gem of a book, lighting a path towards a sane and compassionate future for ourselves and our communities and planet. This book is the brainchild of longtime activist Frances Goldin and co-edited with Debby Smith and Michael Steven Smith. One of 88-year-old Goldin’s goals before she dies was to gather together important thinkers for the cause of considering what a socialist USA would look like and to produce this at the end of a long life filled with activism (the other goal was to f ...more
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