Does socialism have a future? This question has been asked for almost two hundred years, whenever “socialism” as theory and movement reached a critical period. There can be little doubt that socialism, both as a movement and a theory, is now living through one of its greatest trials. The increasingly blunt admissions by the ruling bureaucracies of Soviet-type societies that their long and, as far as human lives are concerned, expensive experiments have failed politically and economically threatens the socialist idea, however defined, with extinction.
Socialists used to invoke History writ large as their main witness. This witness is, however, neither just nor fair. This time it implicates those who were innocent of any crime: those socialists who were not responsible for Stalinist terror or economic fiasco, indeed the very ones who were the most outspoken critics of the tyranny and the unrealistic promises of a “planned society.” Mea culpas of religious fervor with “loyalty to the cause” as an excuse no longer suffice. This time, an honest bill of particulars is needed....
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