© 2021

Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism

Holding Utopia Accountable


  • Provides a clear interpretation of Bernie Sanders' democratic socialism and a comprehensive overview of left-wing politics in the United States

  • Includes incisive analyses of the American two-party system

  • Helps disambiguate such notions as "populism", "liberalism", "progressivism" and "socialism"


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Utopianism

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 3-24
    3. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 25-45
    4. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 47-62
  3. Realpolitik

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 63-63
    2. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 65-81
    3. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 83-101
    4. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 103-119
  4. 99 Percent

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 121-121
    2. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 123-141
    3. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 143-163
    4. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 165-184
  5. Democratic Socialism as Reparative Justice

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 185-185
    2. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 187-207
    3. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 209-231
    4. Nicolas Gachon
      Pages 233-252
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 253-265

About this book


This book provides a framework for understanding and analyzing Bernie Sanders’s democratic socialism, its origins, its maturation, and its evolution between 1972, when Sanders ran for the Vermont gubernatorial election for the first time, and 2020, when he made his second presidential run. The core argument is that Bernie Sanders’s characteristic brand of socialism evolved from the mould of late 19th century utopian radicalism to radical demands for state and corporate accountability in the 21st century, turning into a social movement for reparative justice that rose to national prominence in the wake of the Great Recession in 2008 and of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.

Nicolas Gachon is a specialist in US Politics and Political History at the Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, France. He has also held previous positions with the French Embassies in the United States and in Canada.


Bernie Sanders Democrat Socialism Democratic Socialism democratic American left social movements populism reparative justice Marxism Utopia reform progressivism local politics state politics national politics presidential campaign election left-wing politics liberalism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.American History and PoliticsUniversité Paul ValéryMontpellierFrance

About the authors

Nicolas Gachon is a specialist in US Politics and Political History at the Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, France. He has also held previous positions with the French Embassies in the United States and in Canada.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“Thanks to his in-depth knowledge of the history of left-wing movements in the United States, Nicolas Gachon has demonstrated how Bernie Sanders has managed to build his own political path, distinct from both European socialism and the centrism of the contemporary Democratic Party. In doing so, he successfully revived a long, and genuinely American, tradition of leaders fighting for the social and economic rights of every citizen of the United States.”—Françoise Coste, Professor of U.S. History and Politics at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France, author of Reagan (2015), a prize-winning biography of the 40th president of the United States.

 “Nicolas Gachon has written an engaging scholarly interpretation of Bernie Sanders’s view of democratic socialism. While Bernie Sanders's Democratic Socialism: Holding Utopia Accountable will not resolve the political debate surrounding Sanders’s radical vision, it offers a powerful point of departure for that discourse at a time when the US desperately needs a left alternative to the neoliberal embrace of both political parties.”

 —William F. Grover, Faculty Fellow in the Honors College and Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Montana State University, USA. He is the author of The Unsustainable Presidency: Clinton, Bush, Obama and Beyond (2014), and the co-author (with Joseph G. Peschek) of Voices of Dissent: Critical Readings in American Politics (2012).