Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sanders is no Eugene Debs

“It's gonna be different this time.”...oh, yeah...

But it won’t be. It's easy just believe the speeches, and when you're inevitably let down—yet again-- you can blame the candidate for lying instead of your own gullibility in falling for the same trick over and over and over again. Conceding the system cannot be made to work in our interests exposes many folk for not being all that serious about making a better world. If you think Bernie Sanders is the answer, you’re asking the wrong questions.

Hope can be positive by inspiring people into political action, but it can also be exploited by the ruling as a deceptive lure to catch the unwary. Obama, for example, fished for votes using “hope” as his hook, reeled in the voters and caught the presidency. The new messiah of hope is Bernie Sanders. Many are attracted to Sanders’ liberal, progressive platform. Bernie is proposing; universal health care and fully fund public schools, free college education, job creation, etc. However, be in no doubt, if elected, a President Sanders would abandon much of his campaign promises and “fall in line” as quickly as Obama did. The corporations would effectively vetoed the job and social programs that people would have enthusiastically voted for. Critiquing Bernie Sanders from a socialist perspective can be very lonely. People who see hope in the prospect of a President Sanders want cheer-leading no criticism because it might “hurt the campaign”. On foreign affairs Sanders has Afghan blood on his hands having voted for the invasion. Sanders may have voted “no” for the 2003 Iraq war, but he voted several times for the ongoing funding of the war/occupation. Sanders voted “yes” to support Gaddafi regime change, logically following his earlier support for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. He also acquiesces to the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Sanders was completely silent when Obama decided to funnel supplies to Syrian jihadists. We should not be at all surprised that Bernie Sanders is an American nationalist when it comes to defending American business interests abroad. When facts fail to dim forlorn hope, can we change minds and hearts? Socialists seek to understand the fears and anxieties which underlie people placing hope in the ideas of those who say they want change but yet campaign as a member of the duopoly, the Democratic Party.

The SOYMB blog doesn’t do prophesies but on this occasion this blogger will predict that the next president of the United States of America will be Hillary Clinton. It is all about lesser evilism. What the blog would like to point out is that the constraints the capitalist class are imposing upon politicians are so austere that only far-reaching system change, propelled on by people power, can change things for the better. To put it more simply the only solution is revolution. We argue that even if Bernie Sanders were actually to become President, it would hardly matter for constraints are too constraining and he too would have very little option but to accommodate the capitalist class and their agenda.

 Bernie calls himself a “socialist.” “Calls himself” is the operative phrase. If “socialism” means what people thought it did for roughly two hundred years — if it means that a society’s principal means of production are socially, not privately, owned — then Sanders is no socialist. He is only what the media call “liberal in spirit”. If he was elected there would be a number of cosmetic changes but the fundamental problem, capitalist property relations, would remain essentially unchanged. But even if he doesn’t mean the same as we do when he talks about socialism, the blog can thank him for at least bringing the term back into vogue, particular in America where it had disappeared from popular discourse since the days of Eugene Debs running for the Presidency. Perhaps we can re-claim the term “red” again for these days “red state” is one that is controlled by the Republican Party.

Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91 Percent. Was he a socialist? if you look to the three Scandinavian nations - Sweden, Norway and Denmark - that Sanders refers to as models for his particular vision of "Democratic Socialism" (which is not by any means a comprehensive state-run ownership of production or property), they are capitalist - not socialist - nations with a strong safety net. The Scandinavian governments might provide everything from health services to free college tuition to livable pensions (with variations among them), but their economies are not socialist; they are strongly capitalist. If one is an advocate of true socialism, the Scandinavian nations are not a good example of such a model. That is because they are economically structured as capitalist nations, although they allocate a greater percentage of the gross domestic product for services than the US does. These services address needs that individuals in the United States generally pay for out of pocket, with the exception of programs such as Medicare and Social Security (both of which workers and employers pay into with each paycheck). In this context, Sanders' "Democratic socialism" is a modified form of capitalism, one that reins in the most glaring excesses of capitalism, raises taxes and social accountability on the wealthiest, and offers a broad government network of public services for the common good.

 Norway - because of its vast wealth from North Sea oil - is particularly prosperous. According to the pro-corporate think tank, the Tax Foundation, "Denmark’s top marginal effective income tax rate is 60.4 percent. Sweden’s is 56.4 percent. Norway’s top marginal tax rate is 39 percent." The business-friendly Tax Foundation concedes that the Scandinavian nations are more tax-friendly to corporations than the US: While Scandinavian countries raise a lot of revenue from individuals through the income tax, payroll taxes, and the Value-added tax, they don’t really raise much more revenue than the United States from capital and business taxes and don’t have much higher marginal rates on capital income.... Marginal corporate tax rates in Scandinavian countries are around the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] average of 25 percent and much more competitive than the United States’ rate. Denmark’s corporate income tax rate is 24.5 percent, Norway’s general corporate income tax rate is 27 percent, and Sweden has a corporate tax rate of 22 percent. The U.S. marginal tax rate on corporations is much higher at 39.1 percent (average of federal and state). The Scandinavian nations spend much less of their national budgets percentage wise than the US does on the military, for example. This allows them more funds to be put toward benefiting citizens of the nations.

Some socialist groups are starting to support Bernie Sanders and are now arguing why it is important to support him even though recognizing that Sanders is no socialist himself. He considers countries such as Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway as models to emulate, all capitalist, albeit with strong social safety nets, but where the wealthy still enjoy a preponderance of political power. They have little in common with the socialism envisaged by Marx and Engels where the working class itself would be in control.

The Democratic Party is a party that embraces capitalism.  It calls for the reform, not the abolition of capitalism.  Sanders routinely supports Democrats when they run for office. He, in other words is only a reform capitalist candidate. He stands on the other side of the class line dividing the working class from the capitalist class. When Marx and Engels spoke of working class independent political action, they were thinking in terms of class independence. In other words, a political party entirely under the control of working people, representing their interests and their interest alone.

“The masses must have time and opportunity to develop and they can only have the opportunity when they have their own movement--no matter in what form so long as it is only their own movement--in which they are driven further by their own mistakes and learn wisdom by hurting themselves.” In his 1850 Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League, Marx firmly rejected supporting “progressive” bourgeois or “democratic petty bourgeois” candidates but urged workers to run their own candidates. “The democratic petty bourgeois,” he argued, “far from wanting to transform the whole society in the interests of the revolutionary proletarians, only aspire to a change in social conditions which will make the existing society as tolerable and comfortable for themselves as possible.”

Marx insisted that workers must “work for the creation of an independent organization of the workers’ party” and went on to explain:
“Here the proletariat must take care … that workers’ candidates are nominated everywhere in opposition to bourgeois-democratic candidates. As far as possible they should be League members and their election should be pursued by all possible means. Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled.”

Sanders campaign does not rest on an anti-capitalist platform or working-class movement, he does little to encourage the creation of such a movement. The Sanders campaign is about him getting elected and doing things for working people; he is not encouraging working people to do things for themselves. There was no thought given to building a real working-class movement but simply to encourage the unions and working people to remain an appendage to the pro-capitalist Democratic Party. The goal is not to create a socialist society for the working class but to encourage the working class to create socialism for itself.

No comments: