Political Ideologies in Action: Socialism in the United States (POL4241.01)

John Hultgren

In his 1906 work, “Why is there no socialism in the United States?,” German sociologist Werner Sombart famously mused that American socialism had been ship-wrecked “on reefs of roast beef and apple pie.” While the relative affluence of American workers certainly impacted Leftist organizing at that time, there is a storied history of socialist thought and practice in the United States that nonetheless warrants attention. Grounded in the writing of American socialists, but opening a window into international socialist praxis, this course will explore the shifting grounds of socialist thinking and activism from the mid-19th century to the present. We will engage with a wide-range of debates over: political strategy (e.g. ‘reform versus revolution’); the emergence of fascism; the revolutionary agent(s); the linkages between oppression and exploitation; the relationship between production and social reproduction; the nature of the state; and the realities of imperialism and colonialism. By the end of the term, we will aim to provide an updated answer to Sombart. Or, perhaps, to reframe his question.

Learning Outcomes:
-practice "close reading" of dense theoretical texts
-enhance your understanding of 20th century history
-examine the intricacies of socialist political ideologies
-write several essays that require you to contextualize and stake out a position in intra-socialist debates

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Previous coursework in SCT. Please email 1-2 paragraphs on 1) why you want to take this course, 2) how it aligns with your interests, and 3) why it furthers your plan to johnhultgren@bennington.edu.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Politics