Thursday, March 24, 2016

Interview: Sanders is not a socialist. Stop calling him one.

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I can understand why so many young people are attracted to the Sanders campaign. Many of the issues he talks about we should support. Free education, healthcare for all, addressing climate change and so on. And like other liberal or left Democrats, he talks a lot about inequality.

Then there’s the older supporters; I can understand them too, but to a lesser extent. Those who have had a permanent home in the left wing of the Democratic Party, once the party of the slaveowners, or drift in and out of the Greens and the Democratic Party when it suits them, I have little time for and I would certainly ask that they please stop calling Sanders a socialist.

Sanders is a dishonest politician and an opportunist. It was sickening to listen to him in this interview above. Sanders claims he is a socialist yet I don’t think the term was used once in this interview. I don’t recall the term “capitalism” being used either. He attacks the “billionaire class” as always, but never suggests that we have to end the system that creates them.

He tells Cenk Uygur in this interview that he’s not “in to being a leader”. He’s been active in bourgeois politics for 30 years mind you. Sanders asks if the Democratic Party is “going to let the working class in” and he has a “radical” suggestion, one of many, for accomplishing that. “They should bring Senate Democrats in to a football stadium” and hopefully they can fill it with 100,000 people that can interact with them. Then maybe the politicians can learn what people want.

He wants to make the Democratic Party the “Party of the people instead of one of just campaign contributors.” He is hoping that some of his policy positions might be adopted by Clinton and the party. He’s talking about a $15 an hour minimum wage, health care for all, a massive program to rebuild the country’s infrastructure as well as taxing speculation to pay for free education and dealing with climate change.

When asked if Clinton says she will support these policies does he believe her, Sanders, party loyalist that he is, refuses to answer, he won’t “speculate as to her intentions”. That she, like Obama, is in the pocket of Wall Street hasn’t convinced him that she’s not a woman of the people. He even quotes Tom Donohue, the head of the US Chamber of Commerce, one of US capitalism’s legal gangs, who said he wasn’t worried about Clinton that she switched to opposing the TPP only because of her challenger Bernie Sanders, “If she were to get nominated, if she were to be elected, I have a hunch that what runs in the family is you get a little practical if you ever get the job,” Donohue said.

Sanders knows what she is. He moved quickly to point out that we must “create a movement that holds elected officials accountable.” He repeated his mantra, “We need a political revolution which starts electing people who are accountable to the working families of this country.”

He says little about the murderous and globally de-stabilizing US foreign policy. He agrees Israel has a right to exist and is a 100% supporter but Gaza is a tragedy. He thinks there are “awful people on both side,s” but-----“there are decent people on both sides” and is certain that “they can get along.” Good luck with that strategy.

Like Obama, Sanders is good on the platitudes. He says more than once that “we need a political revolution”. He sees the beginnings of this in this campaign he says, which can only mean that more young people are being drawn in to the Democratic Party. It is “imperative” that young people and the working class “…participate in the political process and they demand a government that represents all of us not just the few.”

Sanders the socialist doesn’t mention socialism. He doesn’t mention capitalism. He doesn’t stress that part of a political revolution would necessitate the building of an alternative to the two parties of Wall Street, a party of workers and youth based in our communities and grass root community organizations as well the trade unions and other workers’ organizations.

He is clearly a supporter of US foreign policy and he, unlike Jill Stein of the Greens, makes no mention of talking the dominant sectors of the economy, energy for example, under public ownership. He calls for the breaking up of the banks rather than the nationalization of the banks.

In this interview, Sanders confirms that, as Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report stated, he is sheepdogging for the Democratic Party, bringing in new recruits. He has a right, as his supporters do, to believe that the crises we face in society can be resolved through the Democratic Party. They are wrong. But he doesn’t explain that. He doesn’t deny he is a socialist when asked when he knows he’s not. He condemns the rigged economy, the rigged political process and attacks Republicans but not the Democrats. The Democratic Party is also a partner in the vicious war against workers and the poor. The Democratic Party is also supporter of US capitalism’s austerity agenda and its foreign policy.

He is basically asking people to elect Democrats in to office not enter the party and try to change its undemocratic and fraudulent internal life. He didn’t from day one condemn the superdelegate system and warn his young supporters especially that he cannot win as this is how the power in the party maintains it.

He talks about a movement but has been in politics for over thirty years. It’s taken him a long time to realize that more has to be done and even then, he is not calling for an independent direct action mass movement. He wants more people to vote and to vote Democratic. He is a left Democrat at best.

The building of an alternative political party of the working class, and a direct action mass movement, is crucial if we are to change the balance of forces in society. One will not be built before the election. On this blog we have shared our view, an alternative to Sanders and the Democrats.

No, Sanders is a fraud. Many of the young people that have taken his message seriously will be disillusioned as he supports Hillary Clinton if she’s the nominee which is still most likely despite Sanders popularity. Unlike many of us older workers, the youth have not experienced the ongoing betrayals of the Democratic Party, the graveyard of social movements.

George Stephanopoulos to Bernie Sanders:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the Democratic nominee?
SANDERS: Yes. I have in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to run as an independent?
SANDERS: No, absolutely not. I've been very clear about that.


Richard Mellor said...

I wanted to say more in this commentary above so I'll make a comment here about other thoughts on this. In my 30 or so years of political activity one lesson I have learned is that the liberal middle classes, the left petty bourgeois if you like, gravitates toward any force that appears to offer a lifeline, a glimmer of hope that might loosen the grip, end the dictatorship the capitalist class has over our economic and political life. In the unions it is toward the left wing of the bureaucracy that they turn or at times they are the left wing of the bureaucracy. But rather than mobilize the power of the ranks in opposition to the ruling clique, they end up being a left cover for them.

We see the same in politics as hope is pinned on the likes of Democrats Robert Reich, or Elizabeth Warren. And we see it as the liberals, the disenfranchised of the Democratic Party flock to a new savior, Bernie Sanders. It is understandable that the petty bourgeois, (or people with this world view), as a class should behave this way. The only alternative is having an orientation to the working class. But in order to do that, one must believe that the working class will move in to struggle, will try to resolve the crises we face and is, due to its position in production, the force that can confront capital and change society.
As not generally from the working class or really an active part of the working class it’s hard for these elements to see the working class as the class with the most revolutionary potential and that it will be forced, by events, to move in to struggle and through struggle will attempt to change the objective situation. This is not to say that individuals from the middle class will not play a huge and important role in the struggle to change society. They have in the past and always will.

It’s especially difficult in times like these, when the working class, or the heavy battalions of the working class as we used to say, are pretty dormant, and class consciousness so low, to consider that this class will rise up. The failure of the trade union leadership to organize any resistance at all and the absence of a mass movement and radical groupings that were active among the working class in the 1930’s and the 50’s and 60’s has also contributed to the delay of a national mass movement against austerity and the capitalist offensive.

Richard Mellor said...

Allen, I didn't publish your comment as it was simply abusive language and name calling and doesn't really contribute anything politically to a debate about this issue. If you want to try again, this time explaining what it is you disagree with and why, it would be nice to hear from you.