I Wanna Be Literated 185

I Wanna Be Literated 185

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Monday, 25 June 2018
BOOKS

Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People
by Danny Katch

Danny Katch had already won me over with his book Socialism…Seriously. Not just because of what he writes, but how he writes. When we reviewed this book last year, we made sure to note that Socialism…Seriously was important for how Katch was trying to communicate complicated and frequently misrepresented ideas clearly and simply to the masses. Also, with a dose of humor to lighten the mood a little bit. Whenever I’m with friends, I try to point it out, “That’s a good book.” Now, in a sequel of sorts, Katch tackles what might be an even more complex subject: what exactly happened in the 2016 elections.

I don’t want to write out the title of this book, so I’ll just call it “this book.”

This book took a surprising (but not too surprising) approach, which is to focus what the left did wrong during the 2016 elections. Now, that takes guts: trash talking your own audience. But Katch is right, much of what went wrong in that election was the left’s own fault: they chose an unpopular candidate (Hillary), undermined a serious challenger (Bernie), and underestimated the opposition. We bought into the idea that an establishment candidate could solve the problems with the establishment and forgot how powerful the appeal of an outsider can be: no matter what he says. Also, instead of blaming racism (which most certainly was a factor), Katch focuses instead of the lack of support the democratic party has given the working class and unions and their associations with large banks and corporations (that goes both for Clinton and Obama). So, though it’s shocking to contemplate, Sarah Palin was onto something when she asked workers “How’s that hopey changey stuff working out for ya?” This book is really a brief dissection of the shortcomings of the Obama administration (his escalation of war and his protection of the big banks) and the Clinton campaign, not just another retelling of just how “bad” the Trump campaign was.

So, instead of presenting the result as an unavoidable evil that happened to us contrary to our will, Katch’s book is a sobering realization that now, more than ever, we need to focus on organization and solidarity and change from below if we really want to see any change at all. And maybe its time, once again, to take Socialism seriously.

Get it from Haymarket.

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