The Big Scary S Word
During the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders’s presidential primary run unleashed a national wave of interest in socialism. Since then, 70,000 people have joined the Democratic Socialists of America and millions more Americans have voted for socialist politicians. But socialism remains plagued by conflicting definitions. Is socialism dictatorship or democracy? Norway or Venezuela? Reform or revolution?
The main goal for this project is to give a mainstream audience the opportunity to evaluate socialist ideas, free of outdated Cold War stigma or fear-mongering. As this movement becomes a more potent part of US politics, there is an urgent need for an honest, accessible exploration of today’s socialist movement, its ideas, and their historical precedents. The Trump presidency and the extreme state of wealth inequality in our country have made it clear to the majority that our purported democracy is devastatingly undemocratic. Increasingly, Americans are wondering if capitalism itself is the problem. Might capitalism and democracy, the two faces of American exceptionalism, be at odds?
American history has been an often violent struggle between our founding ideals and the demands of the powerful, between the interests of the many and the profits of a few. This film traces that conflict from slavery through the labor union movement and the Red Scare, to the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement.
Weaving together hidden episodes of history, verité footage, expert interviews, and lively animated sequences, our film shows where American socialism has been, explores why and how it was suppressed, and imagines what a renewed American socialism might look like, directly from today’s leading left thinkers and socialists: Cornel West, Naomi Klein, Vivek Chibber, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Eric Foner and many others.