Bernie Sanders Info Wanted

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Fri Mar 3 14:09:51 MST 1995

Doug's remarks resonate with me, and I certainly disagree with Tim that
there's anything to be gained from supporting the Democrats or any hope in
taking them over in the way that the New Right took over the GOP. With
regard to the latter, it's not that the takeover project hasn't been tried
by the CP, the SP, DSA, etc. The Dems are happy to use socialists, who
tend to be good activists, and then discard them; currently, their
strategy seems to be to continue to flee rightward. Moreover, given their
institutional basis in finance, insurance, and real estate, some sections
of industrial capital, and business unionism, the prospects for weak,
poor, and relatively disorganized leftists to "take them over" seems dim.
I have argued this over the years in the pages of Against the Current if
people want references.

Still, I wonder about Doug's didmissal of a social democratic strategy
properly construed, however that might be. Would it be such a futile and
Quixotic effort to run candidates, starting, in the New Party manner, at
the local level, on platforms of better job security and wages, more
accessible and affordable quality childcare, environmental protection,
civil rights, universal health care, and other bread-and-butter social
democratic issues? Obviously the chance of getting these things at the
local level is pretty limited, but local efforts could acheive steps
towards them, pilot programs, etc. And the issues, potentially, appeal at
the ballot box. Even if they don't to start with there's the question of a
using electoral campaigns and ballot initiatives (not to forget these) as
a soapboax and using organizing the vote as a way of building up voter and
activist lists, organization, and suchlike, in a way that's not merely
protest politics. Obviously this would have be done in the context of
independent political organization--a New Party, a Labor Party, whatever.

Is that the NDP model? I don't know enough about the NDP to say. But I'd
like to hear Doug's critique.

--Justin Schwartz

On Fri, 3 Mar 1995, Doug Henwood wrote:

> At 5:24 PM 3/2/95, TimW333521 at wrote:
> >Generalized comments about the bankruptcy of Social Democracy are not very
> >helpful, particularly when applied to a country which has yet to build a
> >Social Democratic party. We have not yet had the opportunity to become
> >bankrupt!  We must also consider the bankruptcy of the left in general.  In
> >my estimation the most bankrupt section of the left is the ultra-left
> >vanguardist groups.  Bernie may impact the American scene imperfectly.  The
> >ultras do not impact it at all!
> I presume the remark that "We have not yet had the opportunity..." was
> meant ironically. It's amazing to me that Bernie-ites and New Partisans are
> all looking to Canada's NDP as a model, when the NDP is nothing less than a
> disaster. Why is SD in such terrible straits around the world? Shouldn't we
> be asking ourselves that question before pushing a SD project in the US?
> Yeah the sectarians are a shame, but those who write intellectual histories
> should also examine the disastrous heritage of the "mainstream" CP -
> popular frontism and the embrace of the Dems. That too, has been an
> intellectual and political disaster.
> Doug
> --
> Doug Henwood
> [dhenwood at]
> Left Business Observer
> 250 W 85 St
> New York NY 10024-3217
> +1-212-874-4020 voice
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