The Socialist Manifesto

The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality


By Bhaskar Sunkara

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A “razor-sharp” introduction to this political and economic ideology makes a galvanizing argument for modern socialism (Naomi Klein) — and explains how its core tenets could effect positive change in America and worldwide.

In The Socialist Manifesto, Bhaskar Sunkara explores socialism’s history since the mid-1800s and presents a realistic vision for its future. With the stunning popularity of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Americans are embracing the class politics of socialism. But what, exactly, is socialism? And what would a socialist system in America look like? The editor of Jacobin magazine, Sunkara shows that socialism, though often seen primarily as an economic system, in fact offers the means to fight all forms of oppression, including racism and sexism. The ultimate goal is not Soviet-style planning, but to win rights to healthcare, education, and housing, and to create new democratic institutions in workplaces and communities. A primer on socialism for the 21st century, this is a book for anyone seeking an end to the vast inequities of our age.


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IT’S OBVIOUS THAT things are changing. When I was in high school and I told people I was a socialist, they looked at me as if I were crazy. When I tell people I’m a socialist today, they just nod and go about their day—not a hint of physical revulsion.

I discovered socialism largely by chance. My parents immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago with four children shortly before I was born. My mother worked nights as a telemarketer, my father, a declassed professional, eventually as a civil servant in New York City.

After hopping around for a bit, they rented in a suburban town with a good school district. Even though we didn’t have much, I had enough—a decent home, a great education, basketball courts, and a public library where I spent way too much of my youth. My life was far more comfortable than the world my parents were born into, or even that of my older siblings. It was clear to me why—certainly the tireless efforts of my family, but even more than that, the environment around me. And that environment wouldn’t have been possible without the state.

We have social democracy in the United States—but it’s exclusionary and funded by regressive property taxes (renting, in my parents’ case, was a bit of a loophole). Even at the age of thirteen, I saw the difference that access to quality public goods made and thought of myself as a committed liberal, in the best American sense.

My turn to socialism may have been organic, but it certainly wasn’t an awakening. Like many a middle-class kid before me, I found radicalism through books. My local library had heaps of socialist literature, most of them donated by red diaper babies and Jewish cultural associations. By chance, I picked up Leon Trotsky’s My Life the summer after seventh grade, didn’t particularly like it (still don’t), but was sufficiently intrigued to read the Isaac Deutscher biographies of Trotsky, the works of democratic socialist thinkers including Michael Harrington and Ralph Miliband, and eventually the mysterious Karl Marx himself.

I hear from people who say they’re socialists in their hearts but, growing pragmatic with time, moderate liberals in their heads. I might have been the opposite. I saw the importance of day-to-day reforms and was myself the beneficiary of those victories—Marxism, though, was in my head. The 9/11 attacks and the subsequent “war on terror” only reinforced these tendencies, as I and many people of my generation were introduced to mass protest through the antiwar movement.

Marxism provided a framework for understanding why reforms won within capitalism were so hard to sustain and why there was so much suffering in societies filled with abundance. I eventually combined my social-democratic heart and my still inchoate Marxist brain into the politics I espouse today: a radicalism that is aware of the difficulty of revolutionary change and, at the same time, of how profound the gains of reform can be.

What follows is a book I wanted to write when I was 68. I’m writing it forty years too soon, and I may one day want to revise much of it. What I am certain about is that we live in a world marked by extreme inequality, by unnecessary pain and suffering, and that a better one can be constructed. That conviction won’t change, unless the world does—which is to say, unless we are able to change it.

Our current politics don’t seem to offer much of a future at all. The choice before us appears to be between, on the one hand, a technocratic neoliberalism that embraces the rhetoric of social inclusion but not equality and, on the other, a right-wing populism channeling anger into the worst directions. To be a socialist today is to believe that more, not less, democracy will help solve social ills—and to believe that ordinary people can shape the systems that shape their lives.



I’M WRITING THIS book in 2018, so if you’re picking up a dusty copy some day in the future, you should know that Jon Bon Jovi is the most popular and critically acclaimed musician of this era. With that in mind, let’s try a thought experiment.1

Say you’re a big Bon Jovi fan (and really, why wouldn’t you be?). You’re looking for a job, and you write Jon Bon Jovi a letter with your resume attached, and he’s kind enough to give you a reference to work for his family’s pasta sauce company. Now, as contemporary readers will no doubt know, Bongiovi Brand pasta sauce is widely regarded as the finest pasta sauce. You take your position there bottling such Italian American favorites as “Classic Curry” sauce with great pride.

You’re paid $15 an hour and work from nine to five every day. It’s not great, but you have bills piling up and weird hobbies to pay for. It’s certainly better than being unemployed and stealing Wi-Fi from your neighbor Fred, a twice-divorced pediatrician who cried at the end of The Blind Side.

Despite the unrivaled quality of their product, Bongiovi is still a small firm. You’re quickly trained in the most efficient way to bottle and seal pasta sauce. It’s mind-numbing stuff, but otherwise things are okay. You take a liking to your coworkers and make friends.

Over the months, you become better and better at your job. It might sound silly, but you take pride in the work. You believe in “Classic Curry” and its capacity to bring joy and satisfaction to people across the world. You also get along great with your bosses—it’s a pasta sauce factory, not some Dickensian sweatshop. When you look sad, your foreman asks you what’s wrong and tries to cheer you up. When you make a mistake, you’re not fired, but given some friendly feedback. Mr. Bongiovi even occasionally treats his employees to a Trenton Thunder minor league baseball game after work.

On your one-year anniversary at the company, you get to counting. You used to bottle 100 pasta sauces a day—now you average about 125. Proud of yourself, you tell your bosses. They say they’re aware of how great you’ve been doing and really appreciate your service. They even nominated you for Employee of the Month. You thank them, but suggest that maybe it would be fair if you got paid 25 percent more to reflect your increased productivity.

Your managers think about it and remind you that the economy is in a recession and many people are looking for work. They also invoke the company’s mission statement, about how innovative pasta sauce could one day change the world. Bongiovi Brand isn’t a food manufacturer; it’s a culture, an ethos, a creed, a way of life.

It’s hard to argue with any of that, and you’re willing to drop the matter and just get by with your current pay. But luckily your bosses end their spiel with a compromise: they’ll pay you $17 an hour, and if you keep up the good work, there’s a promotion with your name on it.

You can’t shake the feeling of elation. You’re so happy that your coworker Debra says to you, “Hey, you’re absolutely glowing!” And you tell her that’s because you just got a raise to $17 an hour. She hesitates for only a moment and then congratulates you—but something doesn’t feel right.

Later that day, you’re passing by the labeling department, and you see Debra crying. Everyone’s eyes at Bongiovi are always a bit watery as a result of the vast amount of curry incinerated on the premises, but this seems different.

“Hey, you didn’t happen to watch a 2009 sports drama written and directed by John Lee Hancock and featuring a gut-wrenching performance by Sandra Bullock?”

“Yes, but I’m actually crying because I’ve been working here for three years, and I only make $13 an hour.”

Bottling sauce was no harder than labeling it—you’re outraged by the disparity. You promise you’ll talk to management about it.

The next day you do just that, saying, “Listen, I know I’m kind of a favorite around here on account of my personality, but it’s really unfair that Debra is paid so much less than me for doing basically the same work.” Your bosses tell you that, actually, you aren’t a favorite—in fact everyone thinks you’re kind of weird. They explain that the difference in pay is based on the fact that Debra’s old job gave her $7.50 an hour, so she was started at $11 here, which was still a big improvement. Plus, she’s never asked for a raise the way you did.

All that information seems accurate, so you go ahead and ask if she can also receive a raise. Your managers say that they’d love to do that, but times are tough, and to be honest, Debra isn’t as productive as some of her coworkers. They can’t give everyone a raise. You learn that a big corporate rival has been winning market share by cutting labor costs and lowering the price of their sauce. “The best thing we can do for Debra is to make sure she has a job for years to come.”

You don’t see them budging, so you drop the matter and tell Debra you tried your best.

But what happened to Debra becomes a catalyst for change at Bongiovi. First, employees meet together after work to talk about how much they’re paid and what conditions are like at the plant. They care about the company, but they want to receive benefits like paid sick days. The meetings snowball, and eventually workers form a union.

The union helps things for a while, but the next few years are tough for the curry-flavored pasta sauce market. Competitors in India—a land of curry, tomatoes, and cheap labor—are well positioned to disrupt the industry. There are rumors of the company being sold or jobs getting outsourced, but management says nothing. Finally, Mr. Bongiovi addresses the speculation: we’re in it for the long haul, we believe in pasta sauce, but more than that we believe in people.

Things would have to change to restore Bongiovi Brand to profitability, but the union contract limits Mr. Bongiovi’s options. He loves his employees, but it’s sometimes necessary to saw off a leg to save a life. Without the freedom to unilaterally lay off redundant workers, Bongiovi thinks up another plan: he gets a line of credit from his son Jon and uses it to upgrade machinery in the factory.

At first you welcome the development—bottling pasta is hard work, and the new system will be semi-automated. If you turned out a hundred jars an hour before, you figured you could do two hundred now. But instead of making your life easier, the changes make your job more difficult. Your bosses are as friendly as ever, but they’re under tremendous pressure themselves. They say everyone needs to produce two hundred fifty jars an hour for the sauce to be priced competitively, then three hundred jars. The company even tries to find more time for you to bottle sauce—first by cutting lunch breaks and then by extending the workday an hour.

The union stops the latter, but the employees want to avoid disruptions and prove how productive American labor can be. Plus, it would look terrible for union leaders if a shop closed down just a few years after being organized—imagine how many workers at other companies would be discouraged from doing the same!

The result is that you feel helpless. Even before the more demanding work regime, you felt as though you didn’t have a say in how things were run and you got sick of being told what to do every day. You know your company is in a precarious position, but you also know that those in charge are getting paid fifty times more than you. Are they really doing fifty times the work? Couldn’t you figure out how to do their jobs too?

At the end of every day you’re physically and emotionally exhausted and unable to do the things outside of work you used to love: write, swim, take out loans in the name of Fred’s cat. You think about quitting, but without family or savings to rely on, it’s impossible.

Who put you in this situation? Jon Bon Jovi? Those curry-loving Indians?

THE ANSWER ISN’T who, it’s what: capitalism. Capitalism isn’t the consumer products you use every day, even if those commodities (wet wipes, tobacco, hair wigs) are produced in capitalist workplaces. Nor is capitalism the exchange of goods and services through the market. There have been markets for thousands of years, but, as we will see, capitalism is a relatively new development.

The market under capitalism is different because you don’t just choose to participate in it—you have to take part in it to survive. Your ancestors were peasants, but they weren’t any less greedy than you. They had their little plot of land, and they grew as much crop as possible on it. They ate some of it, and then they gave a chunk of the remainder to a local lord to avoid getting killed. Any leftover product they often took to town and sold at the market.2

But you, pasta sauce proletarian, face a different scenario. You might’ve said that you’re into locally sourced, sustainable food on your Tinder profile, but you don’t own any land. All you have is your ability to work and various personal effects that I originally listed here in great detail but have since been removed by my editor.

Now that’s not nothing. You’re an above-average student, a hard worker, and capable of thinking creatively and solving problems. But those skills aren’t enough—they don’t provide you with the stuff you need to survive. That’s where Mr. Bongiovi comes in.

By virtue of owning a place of work, a boss has something any would-be employee needs. Without land to sow, your labor power by itself isn’t going to produce any commodities. So you rent yourself to Mr. Bongiovi, mix your labor with the tools he owns and the efforts of the other people he’s hired, and in return receive a wage, which is really just a way to get the resources you need to survive.

The power imbalances are obvious when you enter into your employment contract. Though Mr. Bongiovi needs workers, he needs you as an individual employee less than you need grocery money. But that doesn’t mean that the arrangement isn’t mutually beneficial. Better to be exploited in a capitalist society than unemployed and destitute.3

You’re allowed to do almost anything you want on nights and weekends. Sure, you can’t break the law, but you’re living in a democracy and can theoretically influence those laws. But when you’re at the pasta sauce plant, you’re subject to the dicta of your bosses. They’re bound by state and federal labor regulations and even a union contract, but it still feels oppressive.

You endure, in part by telling yourself that reconciling yourself to authority is a necessary part of adulthood. But if you had a reasonable alternative to submitting to someone else’s power, wouldn’t you take it?

Your cousin Tito used to work at a Subway, but then he saved up and started a Hindu nationalist yoga magazine. Certainly, some people by virtue of chance or talent manage to go from workers to small business owners, who themselves employ labor. But that route can’t be taken by everyone—there would be no one left to hire! Without such luck or a trust fund to fall back on, you’re stuck subordinating yourself to capitalists who own private property and can make wealth out of your labor.

But that’s not to say that money is literally made from your sweat. Profit isn’t guaranteed—and entrepreneurial risk is one justification for capitalist profits. The pasta sauce you’re bottling has to sell for more than the direct cost of producing it, plus any overhead. After all that, if Mr. Bongiovi wants to stay competitive, he has to invest in new technologies and fix wear and tear on existing machines.

Under feudalism, it’s clear that a lord is exploiting a peasant—the peasant is doing all of the labor. Capitalism complicates matters: capitalists contribute to production as managers and conveners of labor, and their efforts are necessary to create new places of work. And, crucially, capitalists themselves are hostage to the market. Mr. Bongiovi is a nice man, and he wants to pay his workers double what they earn now, but he knows rivals will outcompete him if his labor costs are twice as high.

When he’s running his business, all the complexity inherent in Mr. Bongiovi—his compassion, his love of bird watching, his good humor—is necessarily subordinated to the pursuit of profit. But he also gets rich in the process, so don’t feel too sorry for him.

We can do better than this capitalist reality you’re stuck in.

IMAGINE YOU WERE born in Malmö, Sweden, instead of Edison, New Jersey. It is a slightly idealized version of Sweden, a mix of what social democracy actually accomplished in that country and what it could (or even should) have. The food is worse than in New Jersey—more preserved fish, less pizza. ABBA is no Bon Jovi. Your neighbor Frederick is naked a lot but otherwise seems okay.

When you were a baby, your parents were able to take paid time off work to take care of you. As a young person, you had access to a range of effective social services—free schools, great health care, affordable housing. After you finish university, you weigh your options. Should you do a PhD in art history (it’s free), apply for a state stipend to begin writing the Great Swedish Novel, or just find a job that seems interesting and see what happens next?

You pick up the Arbetet newspaper and read the classifieds. Unemployment is low, and there are many well-paid jobs to pick from. One, in particular, catches your eye. It’s an ad from a Swedish death metal band, which needs someone to keep its members fully stocked with spiked armor and goat heads for their next tour and to run its Twitter account.

You’re really good at social media—like, really. So naturally you get the job—20 euro an hour, 35 hours a week, with six weeks of paid vacation. You start working, and you find that things are okay. Your bosses are too busy making music to supervise you too much, so you have a lot of autonomy. Online ticket sales grow 12 percent in your first year, and you receive a nice raise, but you’re not really happy with the work. You quit.

In Sweden, unlike in New Jersey, more spheres of life are decommodified, meaning they’re taken out of the market and enjoyed as social rights. Even though you are unemployed—indeed, you would not have quit your job otherwise—you can rely on benefits, engage in civic life, and take some time to consider what to do next.

You could survive beyond a subsistence level on Swedish welfare, but you need an income to prepare for the next stage in your life: having a family, buying your own apartment, and so on. With that in mind, you take a job working at Koenigsegg, a high-performance sports car manufacturer.

After a few wildly successful quarters, Koenigsegg decides to expand into the consumer automotive industry. It builds a new factory, purchasing top of the line equipment. The company hopes it can win an advantage over its two main rivals, Saab and Volvo, by maintaining a smaller workforce and capitalizing on existing brand recognition among car enthusiasts.

Not one for physical labor, you apply for an inventory management position. You don’t earn much more than the assembly line workers, who are covered in the same industry-wide bargaining agreement. But you make 30 euro an hour, have plenty of vacation, and no longer need to listen to satanic mixtapes. It’s a good deal.

Your first year, the firm isn’t profitable, but it produces a well-regarded Volvo S60 competitor, and there’s hope that the company’s market share will grow. Your own morale wavers a bit. You don’t like your managers and what you perceive as a lack of freedom in the workplace. You’re paid well, and you have plenty of spare time, but spending sixteen hundred hours a year looking at spreadsheets isn’t exactly fulfilling.

At first, personal triumphs outweigh your professional malaise. You meet someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, and even though having children isn’t for you, you now have another reason to look forward to your frequent vacations.

Yet as you get settled at home, your work becomes more precarious. The company isn’t doing well—it produces quality cars, but there isn’t much consumer response. Management pours more money into marketing, but in doing so cuts into razor-thin profit margins. Kept alive by strong earnings from Koenigsegg’s traditional sports cars, the company decides to keep working toward a breakthrough in its mass-market operation.

You’re relieved, but the union contract that covers most of your workplace is about to expire. The agreement doesn’t only apply to your factory, or even Koenigsegg as a whole, but to much of the Swedish automotive sector. Even though Koenigsegg is struggling, other manufacturers are doing well, buoyed by export sales and favorable market conditions.

The national trade union federation takes an aggressive stance, basing its demands on the wages of a more efficient car manufacturer, Volvo. Equal pay for equal work is the federation’s principle. Saab and other, even more efficient companies than Volvo are easily able to pay the new wages and use the remaining profits to expand, but the increased labor costs spell disaster for Koenigsegg. You thought you were getting a raise; instead you can’t sleep at night. Sometimes it’s the thumping Eurodance coming from Frederick’s parties keeping you awake, but more often it’s your fears about your future.

Those fears are soon realized. Koenigsegg decides to halt production on its Volvo S60 competitor. The company survives, but it can’t accommodate its entire existing staff. Your severance is generous, but it’s only enough to keep you going for a year.

If you were a white-collar worker in America—much less a humble bottler of curry pasta sauce—you’d be in trouble. As a Swede, however, you land on your feet, owing to the generous welfare state. More important than the unemployment assistance, you and your other laid off coworkers are provided with state-funded retraining. The companies that survived the wage hike are investing in labor-saving technology, but they’re also expanding, meaning there are new jobs to fill.

What now? Maybe you end up working at Volvo, in a more senior position even. It doesn’t solve all of your problems; you’re not content with your life in every way. But you’re living in the most humane social system ever constructed. For a species that spent the better part of its existence hiding in trees from predators or huddled for warmth in caves, you could do worse than social-democratic, only partially fictional Sweden. But is there another alternative, one superior to our idealized social democracy?

IT’S HERE THAT you have to start using your imagination. Say you’re once again a pasta-sauce bottling New Jerseyan, and that the state is the epicenter of a radical political upheaval. Your problems can’t be solved through action at the Bongiovi plant alone, but there’s hope for change through a broader movement.

That struggle goes national with its rhetoric of democracy and fairness. Soon, a new left-populist movement fronted by Bruce Springsteen wins the presidency and a majority in Congress (Bon Jovi sticks to music, because he has too much respect for his craft). With the help of a rank-and-file resurgence in the labor movement, the president and Congress usher in the kind of reforms your doppelgänger in Sweden already enjoys. Health and education become social rights; child care and housing are made affordable.

Social democracy is so good that even Fred doesn’t mind working at a public hospital. But not everyone is pleased. A lot of people benefited from the old system—the corporate health care industry, for example, put up a mighty struggle when the US National Health Service was created, and is still trying to make a comeback by providing “personalized” outpatient services. And the economy is still driven by private enterprise. Capitalists resent the higher taxes they have to pay, don’t want to comply with new environmental regulations, and hate dealing with more empowered and restive workplaces.

Especially during downturns in the business cycle, capitalists can make a credible argument to voters: the whole economy only works if we’re making money, and we’ll only take risks in bringing new products and services to market if there’s a large enough reward to justify it. Plus, those bankers you keep handcuffing give us the financing we need to keep the whole machine humming.

Luckily, for most of the next decade, the new working-class political coalition—labor unions, feminist and anti-racist social movements, environmental activists—coheres a political program capable of beating back the capitalists. Still, there are divisions among Mr. Springsteen’s supporters. Some, like The Boss himself, want to preserve gains already won by making tactical concessions to capitalists. With a baseline of profitability protected, he and like-minded politicians argue, a segment of the elite can be persuaded that they benefit more by sticking with American social democracy than closing up shop or moving abroad. Others are less compromising, but though they push the system to its limits, they don’t believe it can be transcended. They settle for as much socialism as capitalism can take, supporting cooperatives and helping enlarge the public sector to mitigate the power of big corporations. Finally, there are radicals who want to break from capitalism entirely and create an even more democratic and egalitarian society.

These ideas and debates swirl around, while circumstances provide an opening for the radicals. Not only does a sizable minority of the nation make clear a desire for more left-wing reforms for ideological reasons (opposition to hierarchy and exploitation, even in a tempered state), but others come to support the socialists for practical reasons. You’re among the latter, believing that to even preserve the gains already made, capital flight and the continued political resistance of outnumbered but still powerful elites need to be taken on directly.

The nation is convulsed by strike waves matched in their intensity by owner lockouts. Social movements make heard long-muted demands for justice and equality, and people entirely new to politics hit the streets. Workplaces are occupied, and bosses are even kidnapped by radicalized workers. Even Fred finds a socialist group willing to have him (the six-member International Workers’ Committee for the Sixth International). Religious organizations and others concerned with the instability call for a return to law and order.


  • "An exciting and accessible text for young socialists attempting to forge a new political path into the 21st Century...With millions of youth flocking to socialist ideas and with politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leading the charge, Bhaskar Sunkara makes a convincing case that this time around we just might get it right."—In These Times
  • "An essential read for anyone curious about how the resurgent American left thinks."—Commonweal
  • "What Sunkara wants is a truly democratic, inclusive, egalitarian socialism...[He] is asking us to try to squeeze through the cracks of existing yet inadequate alternatives and dare to imagine something new...Even for those who harbor some doubts, Sunkara's point of view has many virtues."—Democracy Journal
  • "To read The Socialist Manifesto or any other major works of the modern left is to be immersed in a movement sure of its own moral worth, clear on what it believes in and willing to fight for it...This is what American liberals need to learn from."—Vox
  • "[Sunkara] puts his faith in a disciplined political movement advocating reforms that improve people's lives in the here-and-now while laying a foundation for ever-more aggressive challenges to capital...Rejecting the choice between a counterproductive politics of purity and a deflating acceptance of the status quo...he insists that socialists can be more than junior partners in a coalition dominated by liberals."—Dissent
  • "When it comes to the growth and appeal of socialism in the United States, Bhaskar Sunkara has played a tremendously important role...The Socialist Manifesto is important reading for our tumultuous and transformative present."—Pop Matters
  • "Smart...A bright, energetic, and politically sophisticated millennial, Sunkara clearly believes that now is the time for such a book...The Socialist Manifesto helps to explain...resurgent socialism, and this is a good thing."—Los Angeles Review ofBooks
  • "Sunkara's arguments are anchored in sturdy common sense...American political culture could certainly use more popularizations like The Socialist Manifesto."—The Progressive
  • "The book speaks to the reader in a straightforward, down-to-earth fashion...Impressive."—New Politics
  • "A smartly composed overture to non-socialists, illuminating both the movement's history and potential for those who may doubt, worry about, or even hate what they understand as 'socialism.'...Sunkara's vision is thrillingly non-utopian...He writes with clarity and light-heartedness...emphasis[ing] how socialism enables greater choice, leaves markets intact, is about participation and democracy, is created through reform, and is ultimately about freedom."—New Statesman
  • "Anyone doubting the arguments for socialism, should read Bhaskar Sunkara's The Socialist Manifesto."—Counterpunch
  • "Concise and intelligent...Sunkara is deep in conversation with his own side. And his take is acutely, and refreshingly, realistic."—Herald (Scotland)
  • "It testifies in no small part to Sunkara's achievement in Jacobin that left-curious American teenagers today would no longer find themselves as intellectually lonely as he (and, for what it's worth, I) once did,

    and that the broad Marxist tradition no longer looks like such an antiquarian or specialist concern,"—Benjamin Kunkel, NewLeft Review
  • "Sunkara describes the socialist tradition from Marx to the present and outlines the benefits of a socialist society.... A sharp, hopeful, and useful primer."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "In this erudite call to action, Sunkara, publisher of Jacobin magazine, draws lessons from the history of various socialist movements to imagine how socialism could rise in the U.S..... His recommendations for today's socialists are logical and well-informed."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Accessible, irreverent and entertaining, Bhaskar Sunkara has delivered a razor-sharp guide to socialism's history, transformative promise, and path to power. This book also serves as an irresistible invitation to join in building that power, and in shaping the radically democratic future that is our best hope in these make-or-break times."—Naomi Klein, New York Times-bestselling author of This Changes Everything and No is Not Enough
  • "Thanks to the dysfunctionality of contemporary capitalism, 'socialism' has reentered the American political vocabulary, especially among the young. In The Socialist Manifesto, Bhaskar Sunkara gives us a lively account of socialism's history and current meanings, and makes the case for a genuine alternative to our deeply unequal social and political order."—Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, emeritus, Columbia University
  • "A brilliantly compelling vision of why the US is ripe for socialism in the twenty-first century, from one of the brightest stars of the American left. Essential reading for anyone who wants to build a new society based on people's needs, not profit for the elite."—Owen Jones, Guardian columnist and the author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class
  • "American politics is gripped by the worst kind of debate over socialism: one where everyone has an opinion, but few know what they're talking about. In this book, Bhaskar Sunkara, one of America's leading socialists, shows what socialism is and how it might work. Whether you consider yourself a socialist or just want to argue with socialists, this is the place to start."—Ezra Klein, founder and editor-at-large of Vox
  • "Through his work pioneering work with Jacobin, Bhaskar Sunkara has been one of the most important global voices provoking a new worldwide conversation about socialism for a whole new generation of people, drowning in wealth inequality and economic crises, who are newly receptive to its core precepts. In The Socialist Manifesto, Sunkara strengthens his arguments even more powerfully, offering not just a compelling economic case for socialism, but a deeply moral one. Written with the kind of urgency and clarity that can move people, while dispensing with much of the ossified academic jargon that has often plagued and crippled discourse around socialism, Sunkara's book is crucial for obliterating the myths and propaganda that have often drowned socialism, and instead illuminating its genuine virtues."—Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept and author of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

On Sale
Apr 14, 2020
Page Count
288 pages
Basic Books

Bhaskar Sunkara

About the Author

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founder and editor of Jacobin, which he launched in 2010 as an undergraduate at George Washington University. He has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, VICE, and The Washington Post. Sunkara is also the publisher of Catalyst and the UK-based Tribune. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Learn more about this author