“Optimism is back,” proclaimed William Greider at the recent gathering of the Democratic Socialists of America in Chicago. Greider, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, spoke before the crowd to explain how to better understand today’s government by examining our political history.

Looking back one hundred years, Greider draws parallels between the political realities of today and the challenges labor activists, socialists and civic reformers mounted against US capitalism in the Populist-Progressive.

Greider notes that given the current reality of inequality and repression, US capitalism is at a critical point in history: the system will either have to change or fall apart. “The catastrophes are liberating the mind,” he told the audience. Greider stressed the need to go back to the voices of Debs, Gompers, Thomas and Harrington because “Those messages, with a little dusting up and revision, fit our situation today.”

Watch the full 35-minute talk on CAN TV (Chicago’s Public Access Television).

—Roz Hunter