[Marxism] Fwd: Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders’ Phantom Movement - Chris Hedges - Truthdig

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Mon Feb 15 12:16:52 MST 2016

Louis Proyect wrote

Bernie Sanders, who has attracted numerous young, white, college-educated supporters in his bid for the presidency, says he is creating a movement and promises a political revolution. This rhetoric is an updated version of the “change” promised by the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama and by Jesse Jackson’s earlier National Rainbow Coalition. Such Democratic electoral campaigns, at best, raise political consciousness. But they do not become movements or engender revolutions. They exist as long as election campaigns endure and then they vanish. Sanders’ campaign will be no different. 

full: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/bernie_sanders_phantom_movement_20160214

"Bernie Sanders, who has attracted numerous young, white, college-educated supporters in his bid for the presidency,"

If that is all he is attracting (that's the implication), of course why bother to support him. This is disingenuous.

"This rhetoric is an updated version of the “change” promised by the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama..." 

Also disingenuous. Obama promised "change" without content, let people wishfully fill in the blanks, theatrically equivocated, never got to any of the specifics of Sanders's campaign. Sanders is, to an extent that is recognizable by growing millions as his message gets out, filling in a large number of the blanks - enough to make the suits itch. Doing so with the bully pulpit of the Democratic Party debates. This is a successor campaign to one that fooled millions as to its content. Won't happen again? Maybe less so. Maybe we do learn from our history. We'll see.

"If Sanders is denied the nomination—the Clinton machine and the Democratic Party establishment, along with their corporate puppet masters, will use every dirty trick to ensure he loses—his so-called movement and political revolution will evaporate. His mobilized base, as was true with the Obama campaign, will be fossilized into donor and volunteer lists. The curtain will come down with a thunderclap until the next election carnival."

This may be true enough. But this is the system we have. What is the alternative that Hedges has in mind? Set up our barren remnant-camp out in left field with our little blogs and our collection of Monthly Review, Haymarket and Verso books? Where else is there an outlet, and a gauge, of mass dissent at the present, other than in this protracted, diversionary, quadrennial ritual designed to evince surrender of our sovereignty over all the major decisions affecting our lives to capital? We don't even have wildcat strikes, much less general strikes, so thin are the prospects of meeting mortgage payments, credit card and student loan interest, appliance and car payments, with no reserve funds remotely matching those of capital in tiding over a prolonged, solidarity-based movement? Not yet the inevitable “downward equalization of the wage rate” globally (ex: previous message - [Marxism] AI and robots threaten to unleash mass unemployment, scientists warn), so as to overcome the presently intractable division of labor. We have only “freedom of speech”, so long as it doesn’t upset the rule of capital. And no articulate vision of an alternative system – so far.

"I am all for a revolution, a word Sanders likes to throw around, but one that is truly socialist and destroys the corporate establishment, including the Democratic Party. I am for a revolution that demands the return of the rule of law, and not just for Wall Street, but those who wage preemptive war, order the assassination of U.S. citizens, allow the military to carry out domestic policing and then indefinitely hold citizens without due process, who empower the wholesale surveillance of the citizenry by the government. I am for a revolution that brings under strict civilian control the military, the security and surveillance apparatus including the CIA, the FBI, Homeland Security and police and drastically reduces their budgets and power. I am for a revolution that abandons imperial expansion, especially in the Middle East, and makes it impossible to profit from war. I am for a revolution that nationalizes banks, the arms industry, energy companies and utilities, breaks up monopolies, destroys the fossil fuel industry, funds the arts and public broadcasting, provides full employment and free education including university education, forgives all student debt, blocks bank repossessions and foreclosures of homes, guarantees universal and free health care and provides a living wage to those unable to work, especially single parents, the disabled and the elderly. Half the country, after all, now lives in poverty. None of us live in freedom."

That's fine, but it's not a revolution. Hedges doesn't appear to be able to make explicit in his concept of socialist revolution going the full route in a synthesis whereby we seize control of the whole she-bang, placing our full faith and credit in ourselves, taking all decisions about our lives into our own hands, rather than just going on about the half-revolution, the negation of the negation entailed in demanding "the return of the rule of law" and making it “impossible to profit from war." Seizing commanding heights, without complete destruction and replacement of capital as a system, which crabwise can claw its way back, is still only a short and insufficient distance from Sanders’s “revolution”.

That’s the goal, and the only conceivable historical agent of that transition is still the working class; the route is still appallingly murky, but it proceeds from where we are, not from some expostulatory fantasy-land. 

Short of barbarism.

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