Our Cities Need Socialism

Remember in 2016 when the McResistance told us that fighting for progressive causes was getting put on hold while all effort would be focused on blocking Trump? Then, predictably, Democrats ended up confirming virtually all of Trump’s nominations and cabinet picks. Alleged maverick and new liberal darling John McCain voted for every one of them, but he’s dead now, so who’s counting?

Of course, we knew the ‘Resistance’ would really be performative outrage at Trump while actually blocking the Left’s platform of progressive, socialist policies. Anyone with half a brain in politics knows the way to fight authoritarian shitlords like Donald Trump is by pushing insanely popular programs like Medicare for All, free public college tuition, and living wages.

Call it crony capitalism, call it plain ol’ regular capitalism, whatever. The fact is nowhere has the divide between rich and poor been so grossly exacerbated and celebrated as in our cities. People in the heartland need healthcare, but it’s in cities where the cost of living is skyrocketing, mostly because of real estate speculation and a monopoly on location goods and services.

Social geographer professor David Harvey has spent his career applying Marx to modern urban life, rightly recognizing the struggle of labor extends into all manner of city existence today:

“Urban development since the 1850s has always been speculative. Whole economies of dispossession and predatory exploitation are no longer confined to the workplace. Wage gains for workers can be stolen back by the capitalist class: by landlords, by credit-mongers, bankers, and financiers. How then, can progressive forces organize [against] these problems?”

How then indeed?

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Cynthia Nixon’s policies for fixing the subways:https://t.co/ojY0qIg3hv#FixOurSubway #NYGov #CynthiaNixon #Cuomo #subway pic.twitter.com/J8gc9Ftkol

Answering that question is an armada of democratic socialist candidates surfing the wake of Bernie Sanders’ so-called ‘political revolution’ that itself was the first major political campaign to harness the energy of the social revolution that was Occupy Wallstreet.

Candidates like Cynthia Nixon, James Thompson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Julie Salazaar, Sara Smith, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Abdul El-Sayed, and Zephyr Teachout are just a handful of brilliant candidates essentially running on a Right to the City platform committed to democratic socialism.

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We need a democracy that guarantees a more equitable and just society. That gets us closer to the American promise.Join us ? https://t.co/I0usBd90QnVote for #TeamIlhan on August 14th. pic.twitter.com/fSQB70fA4F

The Right to the City movement is about more than just housing as a human right or a guarantee of clean drinking water, it is a fundamental right of citizens, not developers, to shape the direction and function of our urban landscapes for the good of the people.

It is a movement Harvey describes as,  “The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”

Or as French philosopher Henri Lefebvre put it, Right to the City is simply “demand…[for] a transformed and renewed access to urban life”.

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Our future Congressional rep just came on a #BikeQNS adventure to talk #safestreets in the district and ride on our amazing #protectedbikelanes! @Ocasio2018 #SaferSkillman #FixQueensBlvd #Safer111 pic.twitter.com/VJopzH3Ppt

Beyond just Bernie’s usual framing of $15Now, Medicare for All, and tuition-free college has been a true embrace of public transit as a major national political issue. Cynthia Nixon especially came out swinging against MTA-money czar Andrew Cuomo, making it clear that she’s been a lifelong NYC subway rider fed up with Albany controlling the subterranean transit system of America’s densest city for decades.

Not to be outdone, Ocasio-Cortez elicited much love from mainstream bike wonk circles for doing a much-photographed group ride with several   activists. As I’ve written many times before, there is simply no greater every-day tool of rebellion against capitalism and our climate crisis than the humble bicycle.



Some of the candidates endorsed by Justice Dems and Our Revolution have already lost, but will surely run again. Others, some outspent ten to one, overcame the odds to achieve landslide victories against entrenched, monied incumbents.

They did this by running on a grassroots, working class platform that recognizes the need for a new set of rights for working people that has been ignored by the Democratic party since FDR. They have recognized the key to victory is energizing the disenfranchised, the dejected, the understandably apathetic voter who has grown tired of two corporate parties who do not represent them.

Marx and Engels understood that it would not be intellectuals, but the workers who would define the time, place, and shape of revolution. And it was Harvey and Lefebvre who observed that revolutionary movements frequently, if not always assume an urban dimension.

Right now, perhaps thanks to a vast majority of young educated workers living in cities, the political revolution is a socialist one. And that can only be a good thing.

See you at the polls.