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Documentary Examines US Politics’ Most Controversial Term—the “S” Word

By Cliff Durand

Bernie Sanders inspired a generation—but who inspired him?

The film American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs is the culmination of five years of research and production to answer that sort of question. Its inspiration was the use of the word socialist as a political epithet.

Director Yale Strom wanted to define and contextualize the term. Most people in America do not know that the contemporary political movement to address income inequality began over 100 years ago with Eugene Victor Debs. This film traces the history of American populism, using as a touchstone the man who inspired progressive ideas—from FDR’s New Deal to Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign. This is an objective but passionate history of the movement as championed and founded by Eugene Victor Debs, a movement that continues to have an impact on our daily lives today.

Socialism has become a keyword in the current US political campaign. Republicans accuse Democrats of all being “socialists,” whatever they mean by that. Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who proudly embraces the label, defining his democratic socialism in terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights, which he offered as the next stage of the very popular New Deal. The Right attacks big government as socialist, ignoring the fact that the biggest part of government is the Pentagon. The Left often points to the 2008 bailout of the banks as socialism for the rich and the abandonment of homeowners as capitalism for the poor. This film tries to explain the bewildering array of uses of this word

The Center for Global Justice seeks to cut through the the “S” word’s bewildering array of uses. We invite you into our discussion, “What is Socialism Today?” Share your insights and questions. Our panelists, Cliff DuRand and Betsy Bowman, will try to help us sort it all out.



Center for Global Justice presents

American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs

Wed, Jul 24, 11am

Teatro Santa Ana

La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A

70 pesos


Discussion and panel

“What is Socialism Today?”

Cliff DuRand and Betsy Bowman

Thu, Jul 25, 11am

Sala Quetzal

La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A

70 pesos



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