Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thoughts on Feel the Berne

 Now that Bernie Sanders is clearly not going to prevail, the moment may well be ripe to rally a people’s movement. It could be the turning point for making change.

Sanders ran as a DAMNOCRAT. Whether or not Bernie Sanders’ choice to run as a Democrat was ‘pragmatic’ depends on what his ultimate goals are. To his credit, Sanders appears to see himself more as a vehicle for re-emergent leftish politics as his motivation. No such movement is currently on the horizon, however. The Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, is the Party of Capital. Bernie Sanders said he used the Democratic Party to get media coverage for standing for president. He saw what happened to Ralph Nader in the past and how today the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, is side-lined by the news organisations. Are people voting for Sanders regardless of what party he is in? If so then where will their support go now that he has no chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for President.

Clinton is a wolf in sheep's clothing. She has been saying that she is a progressive for political expediency. Hilarity Clinton’s record is not one of someone who throws herself into passionate causes for social justice and human rights. Facing threats from climate change, she supports destructive practices like offshore drilling and natural gas fracking. She supported legislation for a border fence in 2006. She supported regime change in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, and the impact of regime change policies has been catastrophic. Clinton has taken money from lobbyists for private prison companies. She supports maintaining the death penalty. She supported the Patriot Act and Patriot Act reauthorization in 2006. She supported bailing out Wall Street. She has remained silent on key measures, like deferred action and criminal history ineligibility, which could greatly benefit migrants in the United States. She also clings to the Affordable Care Act, which represented a windfall for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as an adequate substitute for a Medicare for All system. Clinton’s track record goes against everything Sanders' activists have fought for in the past decades. The corporate media, a major part of the Clinton campaign funders, endorses her  “pragmatic” (lower your expectations) message that minimized the ongoing crisis felt by the millions left behind without health care, unemployed or stuck in low-paying jobs, facing mountains of student debt, and all the other pervasive disparities.

Without vibrant grassroots movements changing reality, the richest and most corrupt people in power will keep on trampling upon the livelihoods working class Americans. We need BOTH activism on the streets and on specific issues (demonstrating against grievances) AND we need effective electoral action for social change. A powerful socialist party should be the conduit for change.

Mass protests, sit-ins and shut-downs have often been targeting the wrong target. Occupy Wall Street understood they should target Wall Street not just government. That was a step in the right direction. We now need to go one step further. We need to target the mouthpiece propaganda arm of the plutocracy. We need to target the media. We need millions, not thousands. 

Socialists are “progressives”. We are not anti-development. We want development, but not at any cost. We want that every person should get equal education and healthy life. We want polluted rivers to be pollution free. We want wastelands to be turned green. We want that everyone should get clean air, water, and wholesome food. Technology should work in harmony and cooperation with nature. This is our model of development. Socialists seek to build unity for without unity, we cannot fight and we need to learn from struggles of others.  A socialist party is an organisation which can connect the dots between issues and movements -- from winning justice for workers to fighting for immigrant rights to interacting with global grassroots social justice movements. We cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which we must battle. Socialists seek to build a world socialist movement for without unity, we cannot fight and we need to learn from struggles of others. 

“Are demonstrations of any use, some ask, when resistance is so unyielding? Would the slower processes of legislation and law enforcement ultimately accomplish greater results more painlessly? Demonstrations, experience has shown, are part of the process of stimulating legislation and law enforcement. The federal government reacts to events more quickly when a situation of conflict cries out for its intervention. Beyond this, demonstrations have a creative effect on the social and psychological climate that is not matched by the legislative process. Those who have lived under the corrosive humiliation of daily intimidation are imbued by demonstrations with a sense of courage and dignity that strengthens their personalities. Through demonstrations, Negroes learn that unity and militance have more force than bullets. They find that the bruises of clubs, electric cattle prods and fists hurt less than the scars of submission. And segregationists learn from demonstrations that Negroes who have been taught to fear can also be taught to be fearless. Finally, the millions of Americans on the sidelines learn that inhumanity wears an official badge and wields the power of law in large areas of the democratic nation of their pride…Demonstrations may be limited in the future, but contrary to some belief, they will not be abandoned. Demonstrations educate the onlooker as well as the participant, and education requires repetition. That is one reason why they have not outlived their usefulness. Furthermore, it would be false optimism to expect ready compliance to the new law everywhere. The Negro’s weapon of non-violent direct action is his only serviceable tool against injustice. He may be willing to sheath that sword but he has learned the wisdom of keeping it sharp.” - Martin Luther King 

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