Bernie Sanders Info Wanted

Guy Yasko guyy at
Wed Mar 1 04:43:22 MST 1995

In message <950228170913_35138384 at>  writes:
> Living in a country dominated by the likes of The Newt I believe we should be
> a bit cautious when bashing the few progressive voices we do have in public
> life.  I agree that Bernie was wrong to vote for the crime bill but he has
> consistently fought for a progressive agenda on other occasions.

"consistently fought for a progressive agenda on other _occasions_?"  Doesn't
sound terribly consistent.

> Also I believe the left can learn from Bernie's ability to articulate a left
> agenda in a fashion which ordinary workers can comprehend and then get them
> to vote for him.  A few more Bernies, even with flaws, would be a great step
> forward for us.

Why, precisely?  So Mr. Sanders and his ilk can share cocktails with the rich
and powerful?  So we can feel good about having "our people" in Washington?  We
need to be more specific as to the economy of gains and losses in parliamentary

More importantly, this model of the production of political discourse turns
workers into passive consumers of political speech.  Mr. Sander's supporter has
not argued that Mr. Sanders has brought workers into a political conversation,
only that he has successfully sold them a pre-fabricated message. In terms of
the production of political discourse, such "populism" differs little from the
present arrangement which shuts all but a privileged few out of the key process,
the creation of political discourse.   What is the difference between such a
politics and Pepsi's claims to be more authentic than Coke, or Budweiser's
claims to be more authentic than Heineken?  I fail to see how this is leftist;
left-ish maybe, but in that it keeps workers in their place, how can you call
this socialist?  It would be better to talk about politicians less in terms of
authenticity and more in terms of practical issues.

> Cockburn's various bashings have yet to accomplish anything positive, except
> perhaps to make him and the ultra-left like the Sparts feel superior to
> everyone else.

I disagree.  I think Mr. Sander's leftist critics are asking a practical
question about the validity of the social democratic project in today's world.
To refuse to even consider the question and insist on Mr. Sander's essential
progressiveness turns what claims to be a pragmatic socialism into dogma.
Without making a specific case for the benefits of Mr. Sander's approach, one
must assume that Mr. Sander's progressiveness stems from the eternal validity of
social democracy's methods.  One might cling to a desperate hope that the same
formula will retain its efficacy in a changed world, but I am not so optimistic.
Even in purely parliamentary terms, that is, as a method of gaining votes in
plebiscites, social democracy has been losing its powers.  Perhaps social
democrats will find a way out, but this won't happen unless they are willing to
open their theory to debate.

With the right arguments, someone might convince me that Mr. Sanders deserves
our support.  However, I'd like to see someone make a case for the Japanese SPD.
I doubt that even the most hard core social democrat could make a case for these

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