Editorial Note: “Extreme Competition” or International Solidarity?

Now that the symbolic first 100 days of President Biden’s administration have passed, it’s time to start taking stock of what’s happened and what lies ahead. In his first address to Congress, Biden defined the main task of his administration in fairly stark terms: “We have to prove that democracy still works – that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.” In that speech and in his policy pronouncements, Biden has framed his agenda around a program of reform at home and increasing competition with China and other powers to “win the 21st century.” Indeed, these two sides of the Biden program are deeply intertwined and reflect a recognition among US elites that they are dealing with a major crisis of legitimacy, symbolized above all by the far-Right riot at the Capitol on January 6.

The Biden administration’s surprisingly expansive domestic agenda, including its explicit support for unionization and collective bargaining, points to a possible revival of Cold War-style liberalism for the 21st century. In this situation, the task of democratic socialists and the broader progressive movement is to break the new impulse for domestic reform from the administration’s policy of “extreme competition” with China, which could set the world on course for unnecessary and destructive conflict. With deadly pandemics and the climate crisis bearing down on all countries, we need more international cooperation and solidarity, not less.

This issue of Socialist Forum tackles a broad array of topics, from the current state of domestic politics, to reflections on the legacy of late AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, to the historical relationship between sexuality and capitalist development. We also call readers’ attention to two illuminating interviews, one with three current members of DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC) and one with two members of Milwaukee DSA on their recent experiences in the electoral arena. As always, we invite readers to submit responses to any of these articles to our inbox: socialistforum [at] dsausa.org.