Socialism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 28 Jul 2005
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"well written and enjoyable to read." (Giles Bentley, Socialist Review)
About the Author
Michael Newman is Professor of Politics at London Metropolitan University, where he is also Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration Studies and Director of the London European Research Centre. His previous publications include Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left (Merlin Press) and Democracy, Sovereignty and the European Union (Hurst).
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Top Customer Reviews
References, suggestions for further reading and a 9 page index are included.
Newman does not hide the problems that socialists have had but neither does he fail to recognize the ways in which they might help.
The analyses of Cuban communism and Swedish social democracy were illuminating. Socialism may not have dominated, but it has not always been the failure that it is made out to be.
Newman claims "What can be maintained with confidence is that capitalism will not be able to resolve the problems and injustices that it causes...and that socialist arguments remain relevant". He notes the challenge, beyond whatever problems socialists themselves have in running an economy, that "At present, Washington is opposed to any international regimes that might limit its autonomy and is willing to use its power to thwart their development."
Unlike the literature I've read of many socialist parties, which tend to be simplistic and shallow in analysis, Newman does manage in this "very short introduction" multi-dimensional explorations of the challenges facing socialism. He continues to value the role of trade unions, the greens and feminists. The socialist effort is fragmented and it is not clear in what ways it can be effective. Like many socialists, Newman's moral concerns seem clear but Newman's openness and flexibility seems all the more valuable at a time when many socialist groups seem dogmatic and rigid.
Newman's "very short introduction" seems one of the best statements on what Socialism today has to offer.
There is also an interesting look at how "green" policies have influenced recent socialist thinking, explaining how this was a significant challenge to traditional socialism and communism, both of which took unlimited growth and industrial activity for granted. By contrast, the greens argued that the emphasis should be on managed growth, and that if this growth threatened the planet, growth should be stopped. Interestingly the greens believed that this was simply an extension of the socialist belief that whilst traditional socialists should care for society's members now, they also had a duty to look after the planet and thus take care of society's future members.
The author also examines how socialism has fragmented, with increasing attention being paid to gender and ethnicity, and less to class amongst more recent writers, a considerable break with tradition. One refreshing feature of the book is the author's honesty, and far from being a partisan rant, the author freely admits that his/her ideology has its flaws and that amending them is not going to be easy. All in all, a good introduction to the semi-interested reader, but more interested readers in the subject of socialism may need to read a more "deep" text.
"...poverty should be measured in relation to the wealth of contemporary society, rather than by historical standards." - p. 139
"Many believe that there was once a greater sense of shared values and think that crime, drugs, violence, and the constant breakdown of relationships have something to do with the excessive individualism of contemporary life. Yet this can also be a theme of the political Right, which calls for the restoration of traditional values. At its worst, this can be coupled with racism and xenophobia, with the argument that social breakdown and the loss of the old sense of community have been caused by migrants or asylum seekers." - p. 143
I wanted an overview, not a glorified pamphlet.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I feel this is quite a good overview of a broad and at times difficult to define subject; it does fall down in a couple of areas, I feel it let's Castro's Cuba off quite lightly... Read morePublished 5 months ago by DannyBoyd
A good way to get a global overview of socialist policies, from Marxism to social democracy and lots in between, though it doesn't focus much on British old Labour.Published 20 months ago by Luke Williams
I have always wanted to understand socialism and this book is the best.Published 21 months ago by Mr G Masauso
gives a good understanding of the topic, in plain language. Is clearly what it says, a short introduction to socialism and its roots.Published on 12 Mar. 2012 by bonnie
Any book about the successes of socialism is bound to be fairly short and this book doesn't disappoint! Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2012 by Cuffleyburgers
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