W. E. B. Du Bois’s Socialism

Philosophical Topics 48 (2):23-49 (2022)
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W.E.B. Du Bois’s socialism has provoked debate for decades. His democratic theory and critique of political economy supports democratic socialism. In this article, I offer a philosophical reconstruction of the normative foundation of his democratic socialism in three steps. First, I argue that his philosophy of the modern democratic state supports the people’s advance of the principle of free and equal citizenship or civic equality. Next, I present his critique of the modern American welfare state, which asserts the fair value of political liberty and democratic control over productive activities. Finally, I introduce the method of the excluded groups from Darkwater as an ideal procedure for guiding democratic deliberation in a profoundly nonideal public sphere. The method foregrounds the voices of excluded groups to correct asymmetrical relations of practical power and to infuse democratic reason with practical intelligence, namely, new content and values that can lead to the development of a democratic socialist state.

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Elvira Basevich
University of California, Davis


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