Chatham House Primer: Democratic Socialism

Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs, argues that democratic socialism is an innovative and moral political ideology that champions an emotional reaction to injustices in the world.

Members event, Lecture Recording
13 February 2020 — 6:00PM TO 7:00PM
Chatham House | 10 St James's Square | London | SW1Y 4LE

Contrary to the facades presented by liberalism and neoliberalism, democratic socialism can support genuine transformative social, political and economic change.

Socialism has many iterations, but some experts contend that selective views of its historical applications have dominated its reputation. Furthermore, they argue that the tendency to focus on the lexical semantics of words and phrases associated with socialism can undermine nuanced discussions on its merits as a political ideology.

In reality, socialist principles can be found in varying degrees across institutions and political systems. As demonstrated by figures such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Jeremy Corbyn, radical socialism is being mainstreamed in western politics, reflecting changing public priorities. If all ideas are ‘radical’ until they are deferred legitimacy through political consensus, how should we understand socialism in the 21st century?

The talk covers:

  • Is socialism radical?

  • What does democratic socialism entail and what does it mean to be a socialist?

  • How can we distinguish democratic socialism from other leftist ideologies?

  • How do we ensure socialism remains democratic?

  • Can socialism offer solutions to problems created, exacerbated and unaddressed by market economy-driven capitalism?

About Chatham House Primers

The Chatham House Primer Series is a unique programme of talks designed to bridge the gap between introductory level subject knowledge and a more advanced understanding geared towards practical application, higher-level discussion and policy debate.

With each talk hosted by a leading expert, the Primer series aims to provide the audience with a solid grounding in topics of academic curiosity, key international affairs concepts and the issues behind the news.

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