Dolack offers a review of Michael Lebowitz's latest book entitled The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now. The "Gotha" in the title refers to Marx's critique of a particular working class party based in Gotha, Germany in 1875. This critique was the last great contribution that Marx made to socialist and communist ideology.
Lebowitz's views of socialism has also been strongly influenced by ideological and organizational developments in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez's reign as president. From my observations based on a visit to Venezuela in late 2005 and subsequent readings, I think that these developments were more ideological than successful, really-existing socialist forms. From my readings by knowledgeable people and direct observations, I think that the socialist organizations were used more to serve the political purposes of the Chavez government than the bottom-up, theoretical orientation. This truncated form of socialist practice was no doubt due to the delicate control that Chavistas had over a state in which a large and powerful segment of capitalists existed and backed by the US Empire.
Lebowitz concludes his review with this summary statement:
No blueprints are offered in the book; properly so as pre-conceived conceptions are useless. It would have been useful to have had more concrete examples in a book that is sometimes a little too abstract, but it does provide a thorough grounding in why the salvation of humanity and Earth itself rests on a transition to a rational, democratic system, one based on human need and not the profits of a privileged few. The form of that system will be different from 20th century systems that called themselves “socialist” and necessarily vastly different from any form of capitalism. We have a world to win, a goal for which Michael Lebowitz has given us an inspirational guide.