[Marxism] Fwd: The Sanders Phenomenon | Online Only | n+1
gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 14 03:29:22 MDT 2015
I thought Schlozman's was a brilliant article: indeed one of the best
written pieces on politics I have seen for a long time. Much of the
information in it was new to me and that was all to the good.
I place the Sanders phenomenon in the same category as the Corbyn
campaign. Both are old lefties who are left over from the time before
neoliberal ascendancy that is pre-1973/1979. Sanders is a latter day New
Dealer, and Corbyn is straight out of the era of Clement Attlee. They speak
magic words to the educated working class youth who have known only Reagan
and Thatcher and the shabby capitulations of Clinton and Obama and the
Blair and the Brown governments.
To say that Sanders is not a true Socialist and that Corbyn represents an
un-electable distraction is to miss the point entirely. They have a mass
following, and in these dark days of defeat after defeat that is almost
unbelievable. Ben Okri put very well the longing that drives those who
have flocked to Sanders and Corbyn:
Can we still seek the lost angels
Of our better natures?
Can we still wish and will
For poverty’s death and a newer way
To undo war, and find peace in the labyrinth
Of the Middle East, and prosperity
In Africa as the true way
To end the feared tide of immigration?
For many Sanders and Corbyn represent the only possibility of a new world.
Though I share that hope and certainly I welcome without major reservations
the Corbyn and Sanders phenomena, I would like to essay not a note of
caution, but one which endeavors to explain when Corbyn and why Sanders and
why not the Leninist Left.
Drawing upon Bhaskar's analysis of Hegel's master slave dialectic, in his
great book Dialectic: the Pulse of Freedom, I would say that what Corbyn
and Sanders represent is the dialectics of reconciliation between the
classes. What they offer to the elites is mutual love and forgiveness.
They offer a world where the bosses and the worker are friends. That, for
me, is the source of their strength. That, for me, explains their appeal
to those who are new to politics.
Now we revolutionaries,such as Bhaskar, seek a world without master-slave
relationships. We would abolish wage slavery and therefore abolish all
masters. But it is reconciliation that holds the appeal for youth.
By contrast with us and the following of Sanders and Corbyn, the
Clintons,Obama, the Blairites, and Shorten the Labor leader in Australia
all offer capitulation and that is why the youth have spat them out.
To sum up, we offer Revolution. Corbyn and Sanders offer Reconciliation.
Obama etc offer Capitulation. The big question: do we "Play the long game"
and wait until the Sanders and Corby phenomena founder? My feeling that is
that would be a tragic mistake. We must work along side those who seek
reconciliation. This is no time for lofty abstentionism.
My final comment is something of a disclaimer. I so wish we were faced
with the contradictions of a Sanders or a Corbyn here in Australia.
On Wed, Oct 14, 2015 at 12:31 PM, Gary MacLennan <gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com>
> Below is the link to the article on Bernie Sanders. It comes highly
> Most profiles of Bernie Sanders describe him as something like a
> “1930s-style radical.” They are correct, but underspecified. Sanders is
> neither strictly a New Dealer, in the lineage of those public-spirited men
> whom Felix Frankfurter sent down from Harvard to build the administrative
> state, nor a Popular Fronter. Instead Sanders still grapples, as we have
> not since, with the question of how much power the economic elite should
> hold in a democratic society. Sanders has spent his years in public life
> pushing against both the New Deal’s political settlement and its policy
> settlement. The former ardor has cooled. Sanders, like the right wing of
> the Socialist Party in 1936, has finally bowed to the inexorable logic of
> the electoral college and subordinated the third-party dream to the
> Democratic Party.
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