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Why You Should Be a Socialist

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  697 ratings  ·  123 reviews
A primer on Democratic Socialism for those who are extremely skeptical of it.

America is witnessing the rise of a new generation of socialist activists. More young people support socialism now than at any time since the labor movement of the 1920s. The Democratic Socialists of America, a big-tent leftist organization, has just surpassed 50,000 members nationwide. In the fa
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published December 10th 2019 by All Points Books
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May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A helpful and accessible guide to socialism that I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about class, labor, and socioeconomic systems. I come from the field of Psychology and grew up in a relatively wealthy area and family, so while I’ve grown to endorse things like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, I struggled to really understand the specific definitions of terms like neoliberalism, socialism, democratic socialism, etc. Why You Should Be a Socialist is a friendly and intell ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book should have been titled Why You Should Be an Eccentric Social Democrat. Nathan Robinson does a good job of gently convincing the reader to leave behind the worst of American liberalism. Unfortunately, the book has fundamental shortcomings: it’s ideologically closer to social democracy than actual socialism, uses terminology in confusing ways, leaves out large swaths of important anti-capitalist analysis, and reduces socialism to a kind of moralizing philosophy rather than a movement gr ...more
Ryan Boissonneault
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ll admit that there was some uncertainty before reading the book as to whether I might call myself a socialist or not. I have not traditionally labeled myself as such, although I support left-leaning candidates like Bernie Sanders and generally subscribe to liberal policies.

It’s true, as Robinson points out, that it is only the left that seems to have any solutions. When you’re ideologically wedded to the market—as the right is—and it is the market that is creating the problems in the first p
Dec 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Never mind the Gulag, they never understood Socialism well. Robinson promises the Heaven on Earth, probably after you die, but it's for a good cause, right? ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I love Nathan Robinson, I am even subscribed to his magazine, but this book is frankly just embarrassing.

The CORE of a good introduction to socialist politics is in here. Nathan uses some of the same basic arguments and explanations that managed to turn me into a fellow traveler, if not quite a "socialist" yet. (I used to be a generally apolitical/soft libertarian sort of guy.) But this decent core is surrounded by unnecessary cruft. The introduction made me cringe, even ignoring the unfortunate
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readable if rambling introduction to socialism in the context of 2020 America, with a theme of why Bernie Sanders is the presidential candidate who best represents what most Americans want. It clarifies how "socialism" means all kinds of different things to different people, but the core substance of the concept (fire departments, sidewalks, libraries, etc.) does not have to be scary. It's useful for people on the left who need counter-arguments to the standard talking points of the right. It mi ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Accessible introduction to socialist ideas, I highly reccomend it.
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
this is aimed at the skeptic but as someone who already identified as such and has just So Many center-of-right family members, it's a great aid in organizing previously jumbled thoughts so i don't sound like an inarticulate mess when politics comes up at holidays

all in all very accessible, offers great jumping-off points to further reading
Jul 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Absolute garbage. Robinson's brand of Harvard Dandy Socialism is puke worthy. ...more
Luke Zoromski
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you do not understand why Bernie Sanders has such a movement, I recommend this book. If you want to feel hope and will to fight for a better world, I recommend this book. If you despise our current state of politics and the "lesser of two evils" mentality, I recommend this book. If you feel that politics is not worth your time because nothing will change, I recommend this book. If you want to understand the perspective of many young leftists, I recommend this book. If you are curious on what ...more
Aug 03, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Being a openminded crititical thinker and capitalist I decided to read this book to see what the other viewpoint was written by someone with that viewpoint. Sadly I only got 10% through before I could go no furthur as time is too precious to spend more of my life finishing this.

Throughout the beginning I found myself seeing where this guy was coming from finding high exaggerations here and there. But as I started this chapter the gross exaggerated examples were occurring more and more often to
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
I'm a big fan of Nathan J. Robinson's work and of Current Affairs in particular, and I think this is a great introduction and summation of the kind of democratic socialism that so many Americans have recently - myself included - begun to advocate for and believe in.

I don't imagine that this will convince many people who recoil at the very title, but I can see this being a great way to introduce people to your (if you're such a socialist) way of thinking, and perhaps turn a progressive liberal o
Mark Plaid
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of course socialism is still provocative in America these days despite Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others mainstreaming "democratic socialism." Personally, I was already sold on the idea of democratic socialism before I read this book. However, I approached Why You Should Be a Socialist to learn more about how I could communicate it better to "skeptics" of it, which is exactly author, Nathan J. Robinson's, intention for readers of the book. I came away from it not only learning ...more
Okay, so I am once again giving a longer review and being harsher in my criticism on a book I overall liked, but I've always got more to say when a book is neither absolutely awful not absolutely perfect.

First off, this book is already horribly out of date. I don't even mean the recent pandemic, I mean page 12 where Robinson writes "It's no longer considered fantastical to think that Corbyn might one day be the U.K. Prime Minister" which earned a big guffaw from me right out of the gate. The ele
David Scheckel
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Good! Not too much in here that I didn't already know or thought already but it's clearly aimed at skeptics. Nathan's optimism is really motivating. ...more
Charles Wagner
Jan 04, 2021 rated it liked it
It’s a great time to be a socialist/ We should all be skeptics

Robinson makes clear that Hillary’s platform offered solutions to problems rather than being a polemic against the Trump contingent. He claims democratic socialism has become more popular in the last few years, which does not explain why Biden ran from being labeled a socialist.

As it always has been, a few a dirt rich and most are mud poor. The dirt rich, of course, have no desire to level the living field. One of my cartoon chara
May 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
As someone who begrudgingly finds myself a member of the DSA I'm in search for writers that speak to why I joined their ranks. Robinson fashions himself, quite literally as he dresses often ridiculously, as a Oscar Wilde for the post aughts. Wilde famous for being a socialist because capitalism made poor people look ugly.

Clearly a utopian, I don't know what is actually viable about what is written here and what isn't. There's an undercurrent throughout this book of being skeptical of authority
Raymond Xu
May 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
This book had ZERO effect on my view on socialism.

And to be fair, I'm supportive of democratic socialism / the Bernie Sanders platform. I'm also open to socialism (perhaps even pro-socialism!), in a more general sense.

The book is split into three parts: what are the modern day problems with American society, what is socialism, and what are other political ideologies? To match this theme, I'm going to break my complaints down into three parts: not explaining how socialism would solve modern day
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s very refreshing and important that this book is published, especially in a time when we have democratic socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders, building a movement for progressive change in this country and using his platform to take the Democratic party in the direction is should be going in support of the working class.

Nathan Robinson is a very astute and well read writer, critic, and socialist who not only explains the various, often competing views of socialism, but he also makes very sou
C. S.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A boomer friend of mine recently asked me if "all you young people" really want a socialist society. I said I couldn't speak for several entire generations (I'm almost 30), but that personally all I was dead certain of was that "I'm real tired of capitalism."

In Why You Should Be A Socialist, Robinson approaches a topic that has the capacity to overwhelm, depress, confuse, and bore with an incredible amount of humor, compassion, and clarity. The arguments are levelheaded and cover and discuss sev
Alexander Tas
Jul 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a good primer if you're curious about the word socialism and one of the many ways it can be used. I enjoy Nathan J. Robinson's writing in general because he's accessible and generally tries to make arguments in simple terms, even if he tends to run on and on. This is less a book about arguing the finer details, or even really a material analysis, and more about the moral position. I think some people will find fault in that, and there is some legitimacy to those claims, but I think the a ...more
Kerry Pickens
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020
This book is a review of the current political and economic situation, and defines the terminology of democratic vs socialism vs all the other ideologies. I just don't think I am the right audience for the topic as I already drank the koolaid. The book would be better for a college or high school level student to learn more about current affairs. ...more
James Hendrickson
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a well reasoned, thoughtful overview of socialism. The author raises some good points that I hadn’t thought of before. I think the thought experiment of starting with what a utopian society should look like and then asking what can be done to get there was a different way to approach the world. When looking at it this way there are a number of things that can and should be done differently.

I also hadn’t thought of the small change to our election process of rank ordering your candidates
Winston Plum
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is good and I recommend it although I have to admit I have mixed feelings about Nathan J. Robinson at this point. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I don’t particularly respect his writing or his intellect anymore. I have canceled my subscription to Current Affairs and have stopped checking the website regularly. A tiny, barely visible red light used to go off when I saw pictures of him dressed as he is always dressed. I thought, Oh, he’s being a dandy in the tradition of Tom Wolfe ...more
Anthony Bertucci
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book that truly cemented to myself why I am a democratic socialist.

If you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wish I could give everyone I know a copy of this, whether committed socialist, skeptic, or on the fence. Nathan Robinson is easily one of my favorite writers out there. His argument in this book is directed more towards skeptics or those with questions, but I would equally recommend it for those already converted to socialism, in order to help strengthen your own arguments and know how to challenge skeptics around you. The book covers just about every argument out there that tries to discredit s ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute, easy to read, funny, basic primer on socialist ethics and general concepts.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
After disliking the very bad Why Not Socialism? I felt vaguely honor-bound to try to find a book that did a better job with a similar argument. This book is better but that's a pretty low bar. It just barely escapes a 1-star by rating by having some parts that are at least interesting and useful. Overall, though, it is nearly a complete failure.

I say it is a failure because it never tries to deliver on its title question. If the cover said "Why you should be a left wing Democrat?" you'd be close
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth the read

Nathaniel is accessible, which means he doesn't talk down to you. He cares deeply about our country and wants to make it better; he isn't afraid to show his cards, even embracing the label "bleeding heart." His book encourages everyone to wish for a world where they want to live and fight to make it a reality. 5 Stars
Cristie Underwood
Oct 08, 2019 marked it as kindle
This is a great resource for anyone that has questions about socialism and the impact it has. So many people have a negative view and don’t know much about it. The author really broke down the benefits of socialism in easy to understand language. Highly recommend!
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“Bakunin had a simple formula that captures the ethos of libertarian socialists: We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality. Liberty without socialism means rule by CEOs, socialism without liberty means rule by bureaucrats.” 2 likes
“The socialist project is not just to create better living standards, but to create collective joy. It is a response to the loneliness, alienation, and deep sadness that occurs when everything is commodified and people are left on their own, without communal ties or collective support, to satisfy themselves through the purchase of consumer goods.” 2 likes
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