[Marxism] Marxism [Pen-l] Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist Capitalist

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Wed Oct 21 01:52:06 MDT 2015

Louis Proyect wrote 

(Barro is a rightwinger but he gets this right.)

NY Times, OCT. 20, 2015
Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist Capitalist
by Josh Barro

Yes, true enough but this calls for an “on the other hand” response which is not necessarily an endorsement from somebody, so it’s me:

He may have a poor track record on foreign policy from a socialist point of view, he may be pro-Israel, his statements on domestic policy may be just about where a liberal Democrat might have come down 50 or 60 years ago, he may waffle on gun control and he may endorse Hillary if anointed through sheer force of power brokering; he runs with the Democrats, caucuses with them, voted with them 98% of the time and is running for nomination on their ticket.

However, look at where he is coming from, according to the documented record. He got elected first as mayor of Burlington, then as Congress member and then, running for a second term as Senator in 2006, he got 71 % of the vote, in the poorest state north of the Mason Dixon line, known as 'the Mississippi of the North', a historically conservative, rural state. The other Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, who has held office since 1975, was long labeled as the only Democrat Senator Vermont had ever elected. 

Vermont voters preponderantly advocate gun control and other typically backward rural views. Bernie's a descendent of a family destroyed in the holocaust, his base is in part among wealthy liberal Jews in his home town of New York City, so his position on Israel, while muted is not unexpected. Vermont is the recipient of some impressive defense contracts (the only county without military presence is Essex), the aerospace and aviation industry operates largely “under the radar screen” much of the time, a source of sustenance in a state with very meager resources, generating around $2 billion in economic activity a year http://vtdigger.org/2012/05/28/vermonts-defense-industry-grows-under-the-radar/; he runs with the Democrats because otherwise he would be virtually without clout in the Congress as an independent, he plays the game well enough to keep his head above water and otherwise couldn't deliver zilch to his constituents - he’d be dead meat.

Sanders is, on the other hand, known as a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, banking reform and campaign finance reform. He rose to national prominence following his 2010 filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts. He is also outspoken on civil rights and civil liberties, and has been particularly critical of mass surveillance policies such as the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA surveillance program, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. He has long been critical of many aspects of U.S. foreign policy, and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War (all quoted and annotated from Wikipedia).

Commentators have noted the consistency of his views throughout his career. In his student days he was an organizer for CORE, YPSL (yes, pale leftism) and SNCC,  He focuses on economic issues such as income and wealth inequality, raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare, reducing the burden of student debt, making public colleges and universities tuition-free by taxing financial transactions, and expanding Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on all income above $250,000. Sanders has become a prominent supporter of laws requiring companies to provide their workers paternity leave, sick leave, and vacation time, noting that such laws have been adopted by almost every developed country. He also supports legislation that would make it easier for workers to join or form a union. Sanders advocates bold action to reverse global warming and infrastructure investment, with "energy efficiency and sustainability" as a prominent goal. He is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Sanders has advocated for more democratic participation by citizens, campaign finance reform and the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC. He has denounced institutional racism, called for criminal justice reform to reduce the number of people in prison and advocates a crackdown on police brutality and abolishing private, for-profit prisons. He is an advocate of comprehensive financial reforms and favors breaking up "too big to fail" financial institutions and restoring Glass–Steagall Legislation. Sanders was a strong opponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has been critical of a number of policies instituted during the War on Terror, particularly mass surveillance and the USA PATRIOT Act. He takes a liberal approach to social issues, advocating for LGBT rights and lobbying against the Defense of Marriage Act, and maintains a pro-choice stance on abortion, opposing the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Through his candidacy and his presence in the debates, he is getting the word to countless voters who otherwise would not have access to his leftish views given the other Nanderthal candidates in both parties, the kept media (including the NYTimes, publishers of this article deriding sanctimoniously his un-socialist, pro-capitalist postures on many issues) and the general state of the political and social discourse in the US. He is getting an unexpected and positive response, even from conservatives, who recognize their own situation in what Bernie describes http://washingtonspectator.org/bernie-sanders-populist-movement/, and he is obviously outdrawing Hillary in significant areas of the country. 

No, this is all not coming from a radical socialist, certainly not a Marxist by any means, and he may not move the other candidates very far toward his positions (we’ll see), but in this sorry climate, completely dominated by the two parties of Wall Street, what more could we really hope for? Where is an alternative public figure with anything like his exposure, with his message? Where is anything to the left of Genghis otherwise on the US scene?

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