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Socialism

Past and Future

“Mr. Harrington is a sensitive, compassionate advocate of a just, humane, and civilized future. . . .  [Socialism] has a lively air of optimism and boldly challenges traditional ideas.”—New York Times

A Thoughtful, Compassionate Treatise on the Role of Democratic Socialism in Modern Society

On learning his cancer was inoperable, renowned intellectual Michael Harrington simply asked the doctors to keep him alive long enough “to complete a summary statement of the themes I had thought of throughout an activist life.” And they did. Socialism: Past and Future is prominent thinker and democratic socialist Michael Harrington’s final contribution: a thoughtful, intelligent, and compassionate treatise on the role of socialism both past and present in modern society. He is convincing in his application of classic socialist theory to current economic situations and modern political systems, and he examines the validity of the idea of “visionary gradualism” in bringing about a socialist agenda. He believes that if freedom and justice are to survive into the next century, the socialist movement will be a critical factor. This is the definitive text on the role of socialism throughout history which Publishers Weekly calls “succinct, readable” and the Los Angeles Times Book Review says is “magnificent . . . more than anything, this is a book about hope.”

In this passionate book, the late Michael Harrington draws on a lifetime of thinking and politicking to reject much that has passed for socialism and to define the new forms that will make it the only “hope for human freedom and justice” (Foreign Affairs) in the twenty-first century.

“Mr. Harrington is a sensitive, compassionate advocate of a just, humane, and civilized future. . . .  [Socialism] has a lively air of optimism and boldly challenges traditional ideas.”The New York Times

“Magnificent . . . more than anything, this is a book about hope.” Los Angeles Time Book Review

"Harrington is a nondogmatic thinker, and this succinct, readable synthesis of the various strands of his thought conveys a sense of urgency deepened by his struggle with inoperable cancer. His blueprint for a ``visionary gradualism'' deserves a reading." Publishers Weekly

"In this lively book, the late Michael Harrington draws on a lifetime of thinking and politicking to reject much that has passed for socialism and to define the new forms that will make it the only 'hope for human freedom and justice' in the 21st century. The new socialism, he says, has to be truly international (unlike most socialism in past practice) and must be democratic in more than a political sense, providing real participation in economic decisions. Scarcely any past socialists meet Harrington's standards, but he makes his 'visionary gradualism' sound pragmatic."Foreign Affairs

"Harrington is a lucid writer, able to say plainly and exactly what he means . . . A scholar of extraordinary diligence and depth."—John Kenneth Galbraith

"In a time when America and the world were moving rightwards, Harrington kept the socialist flame burning, and fitted the socialist idea to the global challenges of the twenty-first century."—Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of American Prospect

"Harrington has done us a great service by challenging us to roll up our sleeves to begin the struggle anew."—Philadelphia Inquirer