(Foreign Policy) -- Global inequality is surging at an unprecedented pace. According to Oxfam, the world’s 26 richest people currently have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion—down from 61 people in 2016. As the rich get richer, sea levels are rising, tribalism is flourishing, and liberal democracies are regressing. Even some of the wealthiest nations are plagued by job insecurity, debt, and stagnant wages. Ordinary people across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned that the system is rigged against them. Trust in public institutions is near an all-time low.
In response to these conditions, democratic socialism is enjoying a revival in the United States. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist, is currently polling ahead of and raising more money than all the other Democratic presidential candidates except former Vice President Joe Biden. His town hall appearance on Fox News was the most watched such event of the campaign season so far. With this surge of interest has come a renewed debate, often centered on historical and international comparisons, about what socialism actually means and whether it can succeed. Sanders’s efforts to distinguish himself from Sen. Elizabeth Warren—a progressive, policy-oriented candidate who has emerged as a close competitor, and who advocates for “responsible capitalism” rather than democratic socialism—has only deepened that interest.