Sanders Nomination

December 22, 2015


As I have stated repeatedly the left has no voice. In terms of national politics, there has been no discussion, even mention, of a socialist alternative for 50 years. In its successful struggle against Wall Street, Occupy Wall Street gave us the term and the concept of the 1% and made it a part of the national discussion. But we did not have an agenda for an alternative perspective and we did not have and did not articulate any specific agenda. In many ways, Occupy Wall Street saved Obama’s presidency. By exposing and focusing on the unfair concentration of wealth, the attacks on Obama became irrelevant given that Romney was the alternative.

I have taken a position for many, many, many years that the concentration of wealth that Capitalism causes is the single driving force for the injustice that Capitalism creates. That is why Bernie Sanders nomination is so important. With the Republican party on the track for self-destruction, the 2016 Democratic candidate has a great opportunity for victory. That is especially true of Sanders. He alone can attack the reason for the Republican dissolution into hate and greed. They are the puppets of the 1%.  Of course, Hillary can also probably win but she is closely tied to a section of the ruling class and that will hurt both in her campaign and especially when she wins. We still live with the nightmare that Obama appointed Larry Summers and Tim Geithner to shape economic policy.

Sanders victory would make a contribution to limiting identity politics which the ruling class uses to divide sections of the working class. By focusing on the injustices that capitalism creates because of the concentration of wealth, we can aid in uniting the working class. Admittedly, this will be a complicated process. But the economic oppression precedes the ethic and sexual oppression. With resources, we can address many issues that now divide the class. It is clear that a Socialist perspective is far better than anything presently being discussed.

In addition, the counter revolution has already begun. I am not sure how many people have noticed, but there is a rash of books described by the New York Times review of books as follows:

“New books asked whether economic inequality is the real problem – or whether our preoccupation with it distracts from more fundamental problems.”

My position is that there is no more fundamental problem. But, more importantly, that is exactly how the ruling class operates. First, they reframe the issue. Then, they get adherents either through persuasion or purchase. Then, by control of the media, the ruling class makes it “commonly accepted belief”. Then, the ruling class proceeds to marginalize all other positions. Finally, the ruling class tightens control by implementing political power and legislation.

Sanders election will at least stem the tide and force a more substantial discussion.

In addition, Sanders election would allow for a change in the economic agenda. One of the most important positions that the left has to promote is the necessity for a 2% transaction tax. A transaction tax is a sales tax imposed on the sale of stocks and bonds. Because of 2% transaction tax would produce a trillion dollars a year, we could address universal healthcare, rebuilding the cities, child care for workers and on and on. Sanders does propose a transaction tax. It will be incumbent upon the left to then move that to a 2% transaction tax. Importantly, it would become a part of the political debate. By that discussion we could address the types of reforms that are necessary to unite the working class. Such a tax would benefit all workers.

Joseph M. Schwartz has an excellent article in “In These Times” (1/16). He does not discuss precisely Sanders deft combination of Socialism and revolution: it is neither frightening nor does it appear impossible with his candidacy. As a result, Schwartz states:

“For us, even if Sanders’ platform isn’t fully socialist, his campaign is a gift from the socialist gods. In just six months, Sanders has received campaign contributions from 800,000 individuals, signed up tens of thousands of campaign workers and introduced the term “democratic socialism” and a social democratic program to tens of millions of Americans who wouldn’t know the difference between Trotsky and a tchotchke. Since the start of the Sanders campaign, the number of people joining DSA each month has more than doubled. In These Times (1/16) P. 21”

There will be no revolution until the working class develops and accepts class consciousness. Identity politics: ethnic identity or gender identity or sexual identity can but usually does not include or encompass class identity. An excellent interview of Nelson Perry in July of 2015 entitled On Syndicalism: An Interview with Nelson Perry includes these perceptive remarks:

“And of course the minorities also fought back also on that basis. They fought back as Blacks, as Puerto Ricans, as this and as that, rather than as workers. So the struggle against these syndicalist hangovers was, and is, of extreme importance.

There is going to be a meeting next week in Cleveland of Black Lives Matter. Of course, Black lives matter. Certainly mine does. But how are you going to win a battle, win this war, if we fight it out on the basis that one tenth of the population is going to exclude nine tenths? The first law of war is that you have to concentrate the maximum amount of force at your enemy’s weakest point. People don’t have to love each other, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you’re going to exclude nine-tenths of the population. There are tons of Latinos, Anglos, whatever, who are just thoroughly disgusted with this slaughter of Blacks that’s taking place.

If I could use Jesse Jackson as an example of syndicalism. He has 43 million dollars in the bank.  He formed PUSH when he was flat broke. Today he has 43 million dollars. How did he get the 43 million dollars? He wanted a good job for his oldest kid. A good job in Chicago back then was to be the head of a beer distribution area. So Jesse goes to Budweiser and says you’re going to have to have a Black for head of distribution in this area. Budweiser says: “We’ll make the decision. You don’t make that decision for us.” Jesse said “If I put ten thousand Blacks on a picket line around this building, you’ll determine it.” So his son became the head of distribution for an area and became a multimillionaire overnight. This is the way he got that money, and this is the reason there are such strong syndicalist tendencies within the Black movement.

The common Black is begging for unity. They understand very well that one-tenth of the population can’t defend itself against nine-tenths. You can’t allow a potential enemy to consolidate. These questions of syndicalism and opportunism are very closely united and interwoven. How we’re going to do it, I don’t know. (Emphasis added)”           

His analysis is excellent. His admission: “I don’t know” is important. In many ways, none of us know. We certainly do not have a stellar track record over the last 50 years. The objective conditions for a leap forward are there if we have the skill to utilize the contradictions that now exist in the political landscape. Schwartz describes them well:

“Today, Democrats are divided between affluent, suburban social liberals who are economically moderate – even pro-corporate – and an urban, youth, black, Latino, Asian American, Native American and trade union base that favors more social democratic policies. Over the past 30 years, the national Democratic leadership – Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz – has moved the party in a decidedly pro-corporate, free-trade direction to cultivate wealthy donors. Sanders’ rise represents the revolt of the party’s rank and file against this corporate-friendly establishment.

Successful Left independent or third-party candidates invariably have to garner support from the same constituencies that progressive Democrats depend on, and almost all third-party victories in the United States occur in local non-partisan races. There are only a few dozen third-party members out of the nearly 7,400 state legislators in the United States.  Kshawa Sawant, a member of Socialist Alternative, has won twice in Seattle’s non-partisan city council race, drawing strong back from unions and left-leaning Democratic activists (and some Democratic elected officials). But given state government’s major role in funding public works, social democracy cannot be achieved in any one city. Schwartz, In These Times (1/16) pp. 22, 23.”

Without repeating my article on Strategy and Tactics for the left, one must conclude that Sanders willingness to challenge the pro-corporate wing of the Democratic Party is a success, not just for Sanders but for the entire working class. The left can build on that success if it can overcome its rigid and narrow ideological perspectives. Our voice is powerful if we can make it heard.


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