Even if you don’t agree with the specifics of this proposition, that everything that’s happened in our society indicates that we ought to have a national discussion or debate about it. I am very confident — you give half a chance for this idea to go out there and everybody will be blown away by all the support. 

Richard Wolff lecture, “Capitalism Hit the Fan, So Now What? Economic Democracy and America’s Future” | Rescheduled for Wednesday, April 23 at 6:30pm | Talbot Lecture Hall, University of Southern Maine, Portland | Free | usm.maine.edu

A SENSE OF HOPE

 feat_socialistbook_main

IMAGINE LIVING IN A SOCIALIST USA |
Edited by Francis Goldin, Debby Smith, and Michael Steven Smith
| Harper Collins, 2014 | 320 pages | $15.99 

“Imagine what life would be like if you were secure,” says Harriet Fraad, a New York City psychotherapist, feminist, and founder of the journal Rethinking Marxism. “If you could plan to have a child and not have to spend over $100,000 year because you had childcare, because you had free medical care, because if you were a single mom, you would get subsidies. What if they were taken care of? Life would be easier. People could relax more. What would that be like if you had days off together? If you didn’t have to worry about money all the time?”

Fraad, who will speak at USM this April (and who is married to Richard Wolff; I would love to be a fly on the wall for their radical dinner conversations), is interested in the personal implications of economic crisis. Just last month, she contributed the essay (with co-author Tess Fraad-Wolff) “Imagine...Personal Emotional and Sexual Life Without Capitalism” to the anthology Imagine Living in a Socialist USA (Harper Collins); in it she explores how products and coindications of capitalism such as exploitation, entitlement, and rage have ripple effects in our familial, platonic, and sexual relationships. 

She describes four “legs of a table” that comprise our sense of self and security: intimate personal relationships, involvement with a larger social circle (like a book club or bowling team), connection with a broader community, and “a sense of hope for the future.”

“All those legs are shaking or broken in the United States,” she says. “There’s very little hope for the future because young people are in debt peonage if they get an education and if they don’t they’re facing a very bleak future. Things are closing down on young people. All those things would be changed in a socialist country. It wouldn’t be that some people make obscene amounts of money and others make nothing and are homeless.”

An early activist in the women’s liberation movement, Fraad laments that the goals of feminism and Marxism diverged when “class consciousness was lost” as a major tenet of the former, leading to “a push for [gender] equality in a system of ever-widening [income] inequality.” In other words, while some women (those with the advantages of wealth and elite educations) have made great gains, the majority don’t have the opportunity to “lean in,” as Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, the supposed new face of the feminist movement, has encouraged us to do.

“What she doesn’t mention is that she had nine servants,” Fraad says, which leads her to this point: “If corporate women lean in and support each other, they support each other at the expense of other women.”

Harriet Fraad lecture, “The Great Recession’s Hurricane Swath Through Intimate Life: Social and Personal Transformation in the U.S. Since the 2008 Economic Crisis” | Rescheduled for Thursday, April 24 at noon | University Events Room, University of Southern Maine, Portland | Free | usm.maine.edu

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