© 2020

Reflections on Socialism in the Twenty-First Century

Facing Market Liberalism, Rising Inequalities and the Environmental Imperative

  • Claes Brundenius

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Claes Brundenius
    Pages 1-16
  3. Paul Singer
    Pages 149-153
  4. Fábio Sanchez, Fernando Kleiman
    Pages 155-165
  5. Ricardo Torres Pérez, Claes Brundenius
    Pages 167-188
  6. Kenneth Hermele
    Pages 189-197
  7. Michael Löwy
    Pages 199-210
  8. Judith Sutz
    Pages 211-228
  9. Rodrigo Arocena
    Pages 229-248

About this book


In this volume, the authors reflect on the question “what is socialism” as it pertains to today’s economy. There is particular emphasis on democratic socialism models as a potential alternative to classic authoritarian socialism. A number of topical questions are addressed such as: What is democratic socialism and is it feasible, or even viable? What can be learnt from existing democratic socialist experiences? What would an ideal democratic socialist society look like today? Under what circumstances, and where, could such a model emerge today? In exploring these questions, several themes arise within these chapters such as the role of socialist values and inspirations in capitalist societies; and how capitalism and socialism relate to the knowledge economy. 

The contemporary world is showing many contradictions with uncertain future scenarios that preoccupy mankind. The global capitalist system as we know it is in deep crisis—and some even predict its slow death, because of its inability to handle the environmental imperative. At the same time, classic socialism as experienced in the Soviet Union and its proxies is a stone dead alternative to capitalism today. So what options remain? The book considers this question as it examines a range of countries where socialism (in one form or another) has arisen, or where democratic socialism could be possible, including Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Sweden and the United States.


socialism capitalism communism social inequality democratic socialism Swedish welfare model possible socialism viable socialism feasible socialism socialist experiences social democracy real socialism socialist models socialism and the knowledge society knowledge economy Marxism

Editors and affiliations

  • Claes Brundenius
    • 1
  1. 1.Lund School of Economics and ManagementLund UniversityLundSweden

About the editors

Claes Brundenius is Professor Emeritus at the Lund School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. He is also Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT, Maastricht, the Netherlands. His research field is economic development and the political economy of science and technology. He has worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France and also for international agencies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He has written extensively on economic and social development in Latin America, Africa and Asia, especially on the role of science, technology and innovation.

Bibliographic information

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“As we contemplate the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change, yawning inequalities, and disturbing trends toward authoritarianism across much of the world, radical rethinking of economic and political governance is imperative, and indeed urgent. This timely volume sheds light on how various strands of socialism offer promising avenues for saving the planet while bettering the human condition. Combining balanced consideration of historical experiences with attention to the emancipatory potential of emerging strands of socialist thought, the book will be enlightening for readers from academe and the general public alike.” (Eric Hershberg, Director Center for Latin American and Latino Studies American University, Washington, DC)

“This interesting book investigates in depth “what a viable democratic socialism could look like,” combining universal access to social welfare, and liberal values such as freedom of speech, press and assembly, as well as social justice, fair income distribution and solidarity, all based on an environmentally sustainable economy. Brundenius’ introduction is excellent; there are country studies (Sweden, Brazil, Cuba, Chile under Allende, and the rise of U. S. socialism after 2016) as well as thematic chapters (socialism and the learning economy, eco-socialism, socialist technology). This is an important book that should be read by social scientists.” (Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh)

“Thoughtful surveys and reflections on historical experiences, current movements, and future possibilities of socialism.  A valuable resource for further serious thought on the topics.”  (Göran Therborn, University of Cambridge, Author of The Killing Fields of Inequality) 

“Readers, whether academic or more generally interested people, will agree and disagree with the essays published in this volume. But they will all undoubtedly agree that they are well written, provocative and address in a thoroughly expert fashion the problems and challenged faced by any socialism worthy of its name in the twenty first century. These topics, analyzed in a radical and democratic spirit, include the decline of the welfare state, growing inequality, climate change and the alarming deterioration of the environment.” (Samuel Farber, author of The Politics of Che Guevara. Theory and Practice)