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Book Review: The Case for Socialism by Alan Maass

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In The Case for Socialism, Alan Maass attempts to lay out the rationale for replacing the existing capitalistic system in America with one based on socialistic principles. Naturally, the title alone will raise the ire of many and will prove to instantly turn off readers to the principles carried within.

The book starts with the phrase “Capitalism isn’t working” and goes on to convincingly lay out the case to support the statement. Of course, laying out a case for the evils of capitalism in our world of scandals and war and starvation and pollution is relatively easy ground to cover. Maass does so eagerly and gleefully.

He stacks up statistics to the ceiling and vigorously rails against the Obama Administration page after page, deconstructing the Democrats and Republicans alike. But the problem, Maass assures us, lies not with the particular political parties themselves but with the system that handcuffs even the most idealistic of leaders. The “ruling elite,” the author argues, sits at the core.

Unfortunately, Maass ultimately fails in presenting socialism as a viable alternative.

The Case for Socialism lacks real answers and real substance, sadly, and Maass stumbles quite often on his way to any sort of grand point. The book appears to be put together like a series of pamphlets or even blog posts and it lacks cohesion, leading to an awful lot of repetition.

Sure, Maass flirts with substance here and there. He’s quick to replicate basic Marxist talking points, for instance, and repeats the basic understanding of socialism that anyone with even a passing interest in the subject would understand. In terms of making any actual case for it as a viable alternative to the current corrupted system run by the ruling class elite, however, the author fumbles the pass.

That’s not to say that Maass isn’t passionate about the subject, of course. Alas, his zeal often leads him down roads that have no way back. He often comes across as a regular politician making a stump speech, relying on broad concepts instead of specifics and making the reader chase down references themselves instead of providing sources. Maass explains his lack of references in the back of the book: “…that’s the writing style I’ve used for this book.”

The book, in its Third Edition, also contains a fair share of simple spelling mistakes that prove distracting as well. This, combined with a rather unsophisticated presentation of socialist principles that only briefly and brusquely provides historical context, makes The Case for Socialism a less than enthralling piece of work.

Fortunately, the book concludes with an afterword by the late and great Howard Zinn about Eugene V. Debs and his contributions as a “lovable radical.”

Maass simply doesn’t convince in his case. As optimistic and keen as he is, it’s the lack of essence and context that ultimately hurts this Case for Socialism. In the end, readers would be better off reading the many books the author courteously recommends in his “What Else to Read” section.

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About Jordan Richardson

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    IN LIGHT OF ORIGINAL MEANING

    WE THE PEOPLE…unite as one common people, as the leader, in a position of rule and strength, to serve for a noble and generous condition pertaining to be a free people united, living with others, in one body, open to all in the community, to preserve and to watch over the public interest, in action and practice for sharing the common duties to save and guard our position as a free people, and to be not affected by a given influence, nor subject to an obligation imposed on others.

    Now if this sounds like a reasonable description of the meaning for the ideal principles upon which The United States of America was founded, and you agree to the general meaning of this statement, you are then agreeing with the following words and their original root meanings:

    unite
    state
    democracy
    republic
    liberal
    conservative
    corporation
    communism
    socialism
    capitalism

    Here are those words and their original root meanings as sourced with Dictionary.com and Online Etymology Dictionary.com

    Unite: L. unitus, unire, unus, “to unite”; “one”

    State: L. status, “position, condition”

    Democracy: L. democratia, Gk. demos, “common people” and kratos, “rule, strength”

    Republic: L. respublica, “public interest, the state”; public: L. populus, “people, open to all in the community”

    Liberal: L. liberalis, “noble, generous, pertaining to a free man”; from liber: “free”

    Conservative: L. conservatus, “conservation”; conservare, “to save, preserve, to watch over, guard; con- “with, together”; serve, L. servire, “to serve”, “to attend to”

    Corporation: L. corporationem, corporatus, corporare; “form into a body”, “united in one body”

    Communism: L. communis, “sharing common duties”; com- “with, together”, -immune, “exempt, protected, not subject to an obligation imposed on others; not affected by a given influence”; -ism, suffix denoting “action or practice, a usage or characteristic”

    Socialism: L. socialis, “united, living with others”; -ism, “action or practice”

    Capitalism: L. capitalis, “of the head”, “capital, chief, first” (see “head”) > head: “chief person, leader, ruler”

    It should be noted, that the only word in this list that places a single individual as a “chief person, leader, ruler” over other people, thus becoming subject to the temptations of either “good” or “evil” leadership or rule over people, is the word “capitalism”.

    The United States of America: The Grand Experiment, of the People, by the People, and for the People, in Unity through Diversity, Harmony through Conflict, the Golden Rule of Right Human Relations, and Equal Understanding for the One and the Many.