By MARC McDONALD
Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics, a salute to left-leaning music that champions the cause of working-class people around the world.
The narrative of the Rich & Powerful and the corporate media was simple back in the day. When the Soviet Union died, we were told, socialism died. End of story.
In 1991, it was clearly time to bury Das Kapital in the landfill and embrace capitalism. The End of History, as Francis Fukuyama put it, was upon us.
However, a strange thing happened along the way to socialism's funeral.
First of all, decades of unregulated, brutal, dog-eat-dog "free" markets led to a spectacular growing divide between the classes. The Top One Percent saw its fortunes (and political influence) soar. The Middle Class pretty much died. And the poor grew vastly in number.
Once again, a lot of people started asking the question, "Is capitalism really the best system we can come up with?"
And the ideas of Karl Marx once again began to be debated. In fact, one of the surprise bestsellers of this year was Capital in the Twenty-First Century by French economist Thomas Piketty. It was an eye-opening book that basically served to update Marx's observations with current data.
Amazingly, for a relatively dry academic book, Capital soared to the top of the bestseller lists. Even the The Financial Times (hardly a lefty newspaper) had kind words to say about Piketty's book and admitted that he had raised important points.
It's clear that Piketty hit a nerve and raised important points about the failures of unregulated capitalism.
But wait a minute: haven't we already been through this whole debate before? Didn't socialism die back in 1991? Weren't we told that capitalism was the only way forward?
Well, actually no.
As British band The Mekons pointed out in their classic 1991 song, what was buried with the Soviet Union wasn't the real deal anyway. As The Mekons put it: "This Funeral is For the Wrong Corpse."
They're queuing up to dance on Socialism's grave,
This is my testimony,
a dinosaur's confession,
but how can something really be dead,
when it hasn't even happened?"