[Marxism] Fwd: Bernie Sanders is no Eugene Debs | Green Papers [was 3

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sun Apr 10 16:11:07 MDT 2016

Louis Proyect wrote 

On 4/8/16 3:41 PM, Ralph Johansen via Marxism wrote:

    Why is the Sanders campaign in toto vilified by parts of the left and
    regarded as unworthy of active support, while it lasts as a unique
    and possibly never-to-be-repeated phenomenon (capital as a metabolic
    system tends to close all effective avenues to an alternative) -
    unless it can be shown to be, on balance and with the foregoing in
    mind, harmful?

For the same reason I and most Marxmailers (except a handful of pro-Castro fanatics) lambasted Barack Obama in 2007 when he was being hailed as the Second Coming of FDR. This is not my first rodeo on DP saviors. I remember selling the SWP "McCarthy Truth Kit" in 1968--not about Joe but Gene. We put an RFK Truth Kit a bit later. There was the same kind of zealotry around the "peace candidates" in 1968 just as there would be for McGovern 4 years later. I don't believe in conspiracy theories but such campaigns function objectively as a way of keeping the umbilical cord connected to the ruling class's most trusted way of co-opting the left. 


Well, you’d agree that proceeding by historical analogy has limits, particularly as to the context – in this case, of ascending and descending capital. There are large differences. FDR was bailing out capital with the assent of its capital intensive/financial internationalist sector until capital could get the global pecking order re-aligned, as finally happened fatefully and catastrophically with WW2, and with post-war capital expansion; Eugene McCarthy was part of the Humphrey machine in Minneapolis (I campaigned with him in the Democratic-Farmer Labor office in the first Adlai Stevenson presidential campaign); he, the Kennedys and even McGovern were riding the crest of a productive, expansionary period in the US; their messages were not comparable to Sanders’s; and while the Korean and Vietnam wars were affecting many households they were not doing so in a way that seemed systemic and therefore not at all calling the entire system to account. Capital was in ascendancy. 

Barack Obama ran a sort of interim or holding campaign of expectation without content as many or most are now coming to realize, having been groomed and anointed through his networking first of all in his editorship of the Harvard Law Review and then as a compliant senator out of the Chicago Democratic machine, with the right credentials and an attractive wife and family, to be bankrolled as the first viable Black candidate. 

Capital is manifestly in descent by now, and differing times call up differing ways of seeing and valuing process.

Sanders on the other hand is naming names, calling out truths and attacking interests, in ways that none of your examples did, including (just to recite what may be obvious but helpful to recount) at a time of a collapsing environment with exposure of the depth of the problem or remediation of even the most inadequate kind opposed by the powerful energy giants, with no effective plan possible within the capitalist system; growing inequality; Wall Street’s increasing control and the corruption and distortion that this produces in politics and in the economy; the influence on health and pocketbooks of the medical industry; destruction of the welfare system; commodification and profit-taking in the educational system; failed, non-stop wars and insecurity; the attack on people of color on the streets and at the border, and on the working class generally; and an economy sustained by debt, force and deceit. 

Sanders is recognizing and capturing the resulting climate of resentment and calling all this out, while all the other candidates can have no response because the capitalist system itself which they represent has no response nor can it offer credible solutions. None are available in this prolonged period of stagnating economy, staggering indebtedness, declining prospects for profit-taking, wholesale, broad daylight theft and destruction of the human and natural commons and a centrifugal international climate of incipient revolt which cannot and will not, despite imperial capital’s vast monopoly of military force, diplomacy, trade and finance, knuckle under so as to ensure the orderly ravaging of planet and people . 

And Sanders in this context is going about it in such a way that submerged frustration is being vented in and through his campaign; Hillary has been forced as a result to atone and cavil but it’s very transparent. They may head Sanders off at the convention, but he’s giving it a helluva try topping his 45-year largely consistent career on the left of the American political spectrum. And if by some unexpected turn he should win the nomination and even the election, that could be a whole new experience, where he might be able to use the presidential pulpit to continue his attack on capital.

Or more likely, in attempting to manage capital from the left be one more failed social democrat apologist, which would of course be a mistake.                                                      

But I am supporting his campaign, giving as much as I can afford and volunteering because as I said, let alone the process in which it’s occurring he is “arousing the sleeping dogs of class struggle” and absolutely no one else is in the US. Which is sorely needed.

And whatever the outcome of the electoral process this time around the underlying antagonistic causes and symptoms will not abate, only accelerate, and the learning curve move inexorably upward. Or so I believe, despite trends and appearances; because to believe otherwise is to assume our stupidity and permanent impotence - and to capitulate.


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