[Marxism] Mike Alewitz on Bernie Sanders

A.R. G amithrgupta at gmail.com
Fri Feb 5 14:17:11 MST 2016

> Bernie Sanders went on demonstrations in the early 1960s, but then took a
50-year break until 2014.So he skipped the anti-Vietnam War movement, the
women’s movement and the other critical social movements of his
generation.Now he supports working people, but thinks its ok to bomb them
in other countries.And he’s for democracy, but he supports monarchies and
Israeli apartheid.He’s for government transparency, but wants Snowden to
stand trial.He’s independent, but has always supported the corporate
Democratic Party candidates.He’s against police violence, but thinks the
police are a socialist institution.He voted against the Iraq War, but then
voted to fund it.He’s battling the Washington establishment, but he’s a
lifelong professional politician.He’s against Hillary Clinton, but has
pledged to support her after she wins the primary.He’s a democratic
socialist, but assures us he will not threaten capitalism.And he has
proclaimed that his vote in Iowa was the beginning of a Political
Revolution...So - he’s getting movement activists off the streets and
signing them up to strengthen the Democratic Party, a party that destroys
progressive movements, so he can lead the revolution that will end
Democratic Party politics, in order to move to a kind of socialism that
preserves capitalism?

I'll be honest, I've never completely understood this line of reasoning.
The guy is running in the elections of the American empire. Obviously he's
not a revolutionary.

But participating in a 4-year ritual and being "pulled off the streets" are
quite different things. It is in the nature of capitalism and its
institutions to attempt to co-opt resistance movements. Any movement worth
supporting will be able to survive Bernie Sanders.

But more importantly, how can anyone deny that having a Bernie Sanders on
stage challenging the Clinton aristocracy, its decades of Zionist/neocon
warmongering, neoliberal economic planning, and chardonnay liberalism is
not opening doors for us? Bernie is not a Communist or a socialist and his
credentials fail to deliver what we want, but prior to Bernie it was almost
impossible to have the discussion at all. The problem with these kinds of
assessments of mainstream political candidates is that they are applying
the measure we use as advocates, socialists, and so on to the way we
measure establishment representatives. There should be a different
calculus, namely whether or not Bernie's running will open doors for us.

In the event of a Hillary presidency the mere fact is that Bernie-like
candidates, whether they are members of the Democratic Party or not, will
force HRC to have to address her left flank (AKA us) and has made it clear
exactly how large that flank is. Moreover, whoever he endorses in the event
that he loses (something that isn't completely decided yet depending on how
much he can capitalize on the Iowa "coin toss victory" and the debate
performance), the simple fact is he injected "the war on the billionaire
class" into mainstream discussion.

I am not personally a fan of lesser-evilism. Lesser evilism is stupid, as
it ignores that within undemocratic elections, the issue isn't whether A is
a better candidate than B, the issue is whether A's differences from B are
outweighed by his/her similarities from B. I don't think anyone can deny
that Bernie's similarities with HRC are limited given the vast differences
they have in policy. Hence, Bernie is worth a vote even if it is
essentially a protest vote.

We need to divide the ruling institutions and their representatives while
consolidating revolutionary causes. Bernie performs the former role even
though he would be a complete flop if his function were the latter. For the
purposes of the latter, we need to organize in ways that will be highly
functional after the election regardless of who wins. *That *is how we make
sure "left-liberals" aren't "pulled off the streets" for Bernie. When
Bernie's campaign dies (if it does) we can still gather the remnants.

My $0.02.

- Amith

On Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 2:45 PM, Andrew Pollack via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> By "shunning" I wasn't suggesting that united front actions were
> impermissible with them. Granted, I didn't define who, how and when to shun
> them.
> What I meant was that on the level of political analysis, we have the duty
> to tell Socialist Action to stop supporting genocidal maniacs, and to
> educate potential recruits to SA about their bankruptcy. And to open a
> dialogue about what a principled antiwar/solidarity movement could look
> like.
> On Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 2:39 PM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> > On 2/5/16 2:31 PM, Andrew Pollack via Marxism wrote:
> >
> >> Good for Mike A.!
> >> Both in general, and for this in particular:
> >> "... those who support, directly or indirectly, butchers like Assad and
> >> Putin should be shunned."
> >> (This would mean, by the way, shunning Socialist Action... )
> >> See his book at:
> >>
> >>
> http://www.amazon.com/Insurgent-Images-Agitprop-Murals-Alewitz/dp/1583670343
> >>
> >
> > Shunning is problematic.
> >
> > I don't think that Syria can be a litmus test for left unity even though
> > the positions adopted, for example, by the Alan Woods sect are ghastly.
> >
> > For example, if there was a protest against fascists in Britain, you can
> > expect this sect, CounterFire, and other pro-Russian leftists to be
> > involved in the organizing. It, of course, is their contradiction that
> the
> > fascists are likely to agree more with Alan Woods than with them on
> Putin.
> >
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