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.