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Socialism . . . Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  724 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Opinion polls show that many people in the U.S. prefer socialism to capitalism. But after being declared dead and buried for decades, socialism has come to mean little more than something vaguely less cruel and stupid than what we have now. That's not exactly going to inspire millions to storm the barricades.

Danny Katch brings together the two great Marxist traditions of
Paperback, 182 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Haymarket Books (first published August 9th 2015)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Cody Sexton
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Socialism has never once, in its history as an idea, been “proven wrong.” Every attempt to institute socialism has been met with brutal and bloody repression by capitalists. Which does not prove that socialism is wrong, it merely proves that capitalism is violent.
I’ll also point out that nobody learns about socialism from a book. We're all born socialists and then become indoctrinated into capitalism. Don't believe me? Go ask a 7 year old if we should give homeless people houses, hungry people f
Adriano Contreras
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Are you tired of the same old dry and fact-filled 200 pager about why the system sucks and why socialism is the only solution? Danny Katch's "Socialism... Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation" is the antidote.

Don't get me wrong. I've read a number of great books making the case for socialism (Maass's "The Case for Socialism", Callinicos's "Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx" and stuff by Hal Draper) as the alternative to a system built off of profit expropriated from working people's labor
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
*Closes book*


*Mentally awards Danny Katch grade of A ++++++++++ á la Miss Shields in "A Christmas Story*
Jose Moa
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Yet the Word socialism is a tarnished Word by a series of histhorical sins,Tha autor think ,develops and explains,with enthusiasm , that this concept has yet some to say in the today world,a world where the democratic values are in serious risk,where the most of wealthy is year after year concentrated in fewr people,where the supreme value is the fast and gratest profit without have accoun of people,nature or the planet itself,wher the market is the new god ,the only god and as such is worshiped ...more
Mackenzie Brill
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Required reading for anyone disillusioned by our current political and economic system, but isn't quite sure if there's another viable option out there. Consciously humorous (as a part of Katch's politics, which I find to be just as alluring as the content itself) and accessible to those of you who may not be intimately familiar with either the theory or history of socialism. Katch isn't blindly calling for a revolution that will fix all our problems; conversely, he's honest about the struggle t ...more
B Sarv
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What interested me the most about this book was the fact that I have lived my whole life, spent my entire educational life and my life as a parent without anyone ever giving me a clear picture about Socialism. To say the United States education system is all about indoctrination is an understatement. The propaganda against Socialism was and still is irrational and unrelenting. So to become educated about socialism - and really about capitalism too - is a constant struggle. I am trying not to dra ...more
Kyle Minton
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Being from the Midwest, I think the ascendancy and eventual victory of Donald Trump came as less of a surprise to me than many people on the coasts. Michigan was an absolutely essential victory for the Donald and he carried it exactly the way I predicted he would; losing the wealthiest/most diverse counties and sweeping everything else.

I called this victory in Michigan, not from luck, but because this is exactly how Sanders took the win from Clinton in the primaries. Almost county by county. Cl
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not so seriously. With recent events I wanted to learn more about socialism and why it appeals to so many. It's been years since I had to read 'The Communist Manifesto' and other similar works for school so I knew I was going to need something that was going to be a foundational, basic primer (or close to it). This sounded like a good fit: relatively short, supposedly funny and an approachable read for background.
The author takes the reader though what socialism is, what are the failure of capi
Eileen Ying
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5: Concise, readable, and illuminating introduction to socialism -- but I just couldn't stand Danny Katch's humor. Props to him for providing sufficiently in-depth observations and explanations without being over-intellectual, though.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Socialism. What is it? Should I support it? Didn’t it kill billions of people? What do these young radicals think they’re doing?

I really liked reading this. As a currently practicing leftist I didn’t have any life-changing insights reading it, but I absolutely recommend this is as a primer, or the second/third book after whatever was your primer. It includes a rundown of the wrongs of capitalism, some socialist/communist history, a concise explanation of what socialists and communists actually
Mark Gomez
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The writing style is at times over the top silly and then there are moments, perfectly placed that underscore the gravity and possibility of really dedicating one’s self to the pursuit of a socialist movement. The later chapters seemed to increase in the level of seriousness but not too much. In the midst of a global pandemic, the brief histories and suggestions in this book are perhaps more timely than ever. Thanks to Haymarket books for making this volume available for free download in these t ...more
Nichole Dinato
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good intro to socialist topics but very basic. Didn't appreciate the author's condescension towards anarchism, but that's the anarchist in me! Was an easy read and gave my book club a good foundation to move onto more dense material.
Sean Guynes
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: scholarship, 2019
A good introduction to socialism that will appeal to just about anyone who isn't already familiar. Katch isn't nearly as funny as he wishes, and his numerous digs at anarchism are useless—especially when there's plenty from anarchist history he could have discussed. Still, this will serve as a solid and accessible intro to socialism for just about anyone.
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Socialism... Seriously" might be a small book, but boy is it powerful. Unfortunately , ever since I decided to bone up on my Socialist/Communist/Anarchist literature I've had to piece together the basic idea of each movement from various other books by various other authors. I'm still looking for that perfect Anarchism and Communism book that lays it all out and I can recommend to friends, but for Socialism, I think I've hit the jackpot with "Socialism... Seriously." We all have, actually.

Jonathan Huffman
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a charming and humorous "introduction" into the ideas of socialism. It's a very easy read and is over before you know it. It's more of a 3.5 than it is a 4, as it sometimes feels kinda scattershot, and because Katch's definition of socialism wiggles around like a wet noodle pretty frequently. At the end of the book, it proclaims you are a socialist now basically, but I was like, am I? Did Danny Katch define it well enough for me to be one? I dunno. I also think with how much communi ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great primer to hand to anyone. It's short, funny, and does a great job translating ideas to non-academic speech. I especially liked the section where the author narrates a bad day under socialism in the year 2051. It highlights the commonalities of today and the positive changes while making it seem achievable, so it was inspiring.

I listened to the audiobook, and the reading was great at capturing the sarcasm and familiar tone of the text.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent summary of the evils and absurdity of the capitalist value system and a down-to-earth introduction to the only real alternative.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Bloody awful. Hardly any references, just assertions and sweeping statements how bad capitalism is and how socialism will save the world
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
For the non-DSA political book club, folks were interested in learning a thing or two about socialism, because it's so hot right now. I am trying to read a lot of super intro-y stuff to socialism so I've got something to point people to when they show up to meetings or email the working group account asking for somewhere to start, because "Start with Das Kapital and then continue to read 100 years of primary sources" is usually not what people are interested in when they just want to get a litt ...more
Alex Shepherd
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars.
There's some things in here that Katch does quite well. Showing connections within capitalism, and the toll that this mode of production takes upon humanity, is explained succinctly, but effectively. We see the wrath that capital takes upon our existence in our daily lives through even the most boring of activities, but more often than not, many people simply don't see the connection between the many problems that plague them and capitalism. For an entry level
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book seems like a fine entry point for those that are interested in understanding socialism and some of the issues with capitalism but are coming from a cleaner slate. The author is clear in his explainations and his thought process and flow never feel broken or hard to follow which makes for a nice and easy read.

Personally I was surprised that I ended up learning more than I thought I was going to since some of my preconceived notions were wrong. I was also pleased to see some of the buzz
Iain Clowes
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Intro to Socialism for the CNN viewer. Obsolete if you spend about 45 minutes on r/latestagecapitalism, giving you all the same ideas with none of the snark.
Jesse Slater
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The author presents a good survey of their iteration of socialist thought. Perhaps most usefully, a good amount of time is spent on concepts of how a society may function in a non-capitalist socialist framework. Even explicitly defining the 'means of production' (in this case, being used to mean the capital behind production, not just the literal means itself) is a step better than many works at this introductory level. I've wanted to see more engagement with what Marxism looks like in a
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offers a brief but impassioned depiction and breakdown of socialism. I enjoyed the author’s precise and thoughtful takedowns of the logic of capitalism, filtered through the thoughts and ideas some of the greatest scientific socialists in history. I especially enjoyed the section on the Russian Revolution, and how it ultimately succumbed to counterrevolution and reactionary forces. While I recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the topic of socialism / anti-capitalism, I w ...more
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a really informative introduction to socialism and an easy read. The author's preference for a certain brand of socialism is clear and his critiques of a few other branches of socialism were a bit off-putting so it's important to read with a critical eye.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
In all, not bad. Perhaps it's my own bias coming through, but the book was effective in placing the reader against capitalism, yet not in advocating for socialism (in fact Marxism, which he admits to us nine chapters in).

The troubling thing here is that opposing capitalism is apparently not enough for these people (as nothing ever is, Search: 'Permanent revolution'), and they want to oppose literally everything that even resembles an institution. Are they all really that infected by the capital
Jamey Yadon
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
It's hard to rate a book like this. Specifically, I think it's mostly an excellent book with a few glaring flaws. First, Katch uses footnotes (I read the Kindle edition), but doesn't cite his sources, which casts a layer of doubt on everything he says. At one point, he provides terms to search if the reader wants to go deeper, but "Google it" is not an acceptable citation. Then at one point, he clarifies (in a footnote), "I'm trying to avoid citations." Why? I understand that lots of footnotes c ...more
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A common joke in those early years was that socialism had gentrified the jails because they had become so much richer and whiter.

(view spoiler)
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I pick this book up simply because the 4 star reviews this book gets and wanting to expanded my knowledge toward Socialism as a introductory book.

That being said, I would not recommend this book as introductory to Socialism at all as stated by other reviewers. or I should say this is rather dangerous book for someone who does not understand socialism at all.

Author obviously has very bias view toward Socialism and liberal. First chapter in, you can already see the author making several criticism
James Uscroft
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Through a mix of comedy and a straightforward tackling of the issues, this profound little book does a wonderful job of humanising socialism. Of reminding us that in the end, beyond all of the dense theories and economic models, it is all about ordinary people. And in light of the endless demonisation of Socialism at the hands of right-wing propagandists who insist that 'Big Government' inevitably leads to Stalinist tyranny, it also does an excellent job of reminding us that Socialism is not mer ...more
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162 likes · 30 comments
“Is my socialism a religious faith? That’s a longstanding critique, most famously expressed in The God That Failed, a book written by disillusioned former Communist Party supporters after World War II. I’m not sure why socialism was the only god singled out by the authors for failure. What grade did the regular God get in the wake of the Nazis and the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a C+?” 4 likes
“Capitalism is a bad idea. Imagine if we start a society on an uninhabited tropical island, and I propose that the people who do all the work will be paid as little as possible while the people who don’t do anything but own stocks will have more money than they could possibly spend in their lifetimes. You would all be looking at each other and shaking your heads. “Wait, wait, hear me out,” I might say. “We’ll also treat air, water, plants, minerals, and other animals as objects to be exploited even more ruthlessly than workers!” Now you’d slowly back away because there’s obviously something not right with me, even as I continue on: “Wait, don’t go! We can maintain peace by creating massively destructive weapons and violent prisons. Why is everybody leaving?” 4 likes
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