SEATTLE – The distance between Seattle and London is 4,800 miles, but in terms of political mood, the two cities may as well be in different solar systems.
Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron said K-12 schools and colleges need to start teaching the upcoming generation about the virtues of capitalismand its role in creating a flourishing society for all.
Cameron said his government is on a mission to rekindle “that typically British, entrepreneurial, buccaneering spirit” among its citizenry.
That contrasts sharply with the mood in the Emerald City, where voters recently elected Kshama Sawant, an avowed socialist, to the city council – albeit by a narrow margin.
In a new interview with Salon.com, Sawant – an economics professor and Occupy Wall Street activist – said her victory is partly attributable to “the fallout of the economic crisis” of 2008. She further explained that her socialist message resonated with young voters, who have come to view America’s economic system as benefitting only the wealthy elite.
“ … There is a hunger among people in the United States, especially young people, young working people. …,” Sawant said. “In reality, what has become a dirty word is capitalism. Young people can see that the system does not offer any solutions. They can see that a two-party system is not working for them. But what is the alternative? We have to provide the alternative. …”
Sawant cautioned that socialism in just a handful of countries won’t produce the intended results of economic utopia for all.
“But at the end of the day, it’s not possible to have socialism in one country,” she told Salon.com.
A truly fair and equal society, as Sawant sees it, requires “a fundamental shift” throughout the world.
For now, Sawant’s focus is on socializing Seattle – and maybe Washington State. To those ends, she supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the “democratic ownership” of Boeing and other factories, single payer healthcare, and adequate funding for public education.
And – surprise! – she’s an admirer of teacher unions.
Sawant seems realistic about the level of hard work that’s required to pull off any of those socialist “reforms.”
“The only way we can get … any of these demands to be fulfilled is if we have mass movements of workers and young people coming together in an organized way and demanding reforms. …,” Sawant told the news site.
So, while British school children may soon be leading that nation’s return to its capitalistic roots, Sawant and her fellow travelers in Seattle will by pressuring the city’s schools to raise the next generation of socialists and left-wing radicals.
Seattle schools’ legion of activist teachers is already doing that, of course. But Sawant’s election might inspire the radical educators to step up their game.
After all, there’s a global revolution to organize and win.