A New York-based author recently applauded Jonathan Matthew Smucker, a Lancaster-based activist, for promoting socialist policies in Lancaster County while avoiding use of the term “socialism.”
Raina Lipsitz, the author of the newly released book, “The Rise of a New Left: How Young Radicals Are Shaping the Future of American Politics,” appeared on The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder on Dec. 17 discussing her book and the use of the term “socialist.”
When asked about the difference between the rhetoric of well-known socialists (e.g., Bernie Sanders) and local organizers seeking to advance socialism in rural communities, Lipsitz said that grassroots organizers are strategically avoiding the term.
“The best example of that probably was Jonathan Smucker who’s been doing a lot of organizing in Lancaster County, in Pennsylvania, which is where he’s from,” Lipsitz said. “And he is somebody who taught me a lot about organizing in that context.”
Smucker is co-founder of Lancaster Stands Up, Pennsylvania Stands Up, Common Defense, and Beyond the Choir. His 2017 book, Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a powerful, rigorous, and clear-eyed guide to building social justice movements.”
Lipsitz said many organizers like Smucker are “shying away” from using the term “socialist,” even though they are promoting socialism.
“Virtually everybody I talked to for the book actually is a socialist or had said at some point to me, ‘I am a socialist, but I don’t necessarily lead with that in my organizing,’” Lipsitz said. “And that includes even some socialists in New York City, who were trying to organize in communities like the Bronx and certain parts of Brooklyn, where they just felt like the word was not serving them and was not something that they could really meaningfully connect to the policies that they were promoting.”