“Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited.” — V.I. Lenin
Everywhere the people are exuberant, excited; the youth press themselves together and whisper in tones shielded from conservative parents: “Are you voting for Bernie Sanders? Have you heard? He’s a…SOCIALIST!” How dangerous, how freeing! Truly these newly minted radicals stand ready to storm the halls of Congress and Wall Street and take what rightfully belongs to the people!
Only…they aren’t. Instead they are voting for what has been strangely called “Democratic Socialism.” What is this new economic theory from the great Comrade Sanders?
“Although what European democratic socialists have advocated has varied, they have not generally rejected capitalist institutions so much as advocated taming them to be just as well as efficient. And they have embraced what Americans consider fundamental human rights.”
So it’s not Socialism as in “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole” or even the Marxist “transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.” It’s “socialism” as in “a Scandinavian Welfare state.”
The problem is Sanders will not be taking over Iceland or Norway, he will be a “socialist” grabbing the reins of an American Empire. His stance on Syria is the perfect example of this: he believes Saudi Arabia should lead the charge. Saudi Arabia, the same country funneling funds and weapons to ISIS? Are we then to draw the conclusion that US support of our CIA pet is to continue?
He’s either lying or is unaware of the wide-ranging coverage that the battle in Syria is nothing more than a struggle between powers for regional hegemony and we are funding the guys chopping people’s heads off. Cut out Saudi Arabia, what then? Drones?
So much for Internationalism! This is the “socialist” compromise Sanders advocates in opposition to “boots on the ground?”
Better still: We have seen the “groundbreaking” changes Obama brought: an insurance racket when the people clamored for Nationalized Healthcare. That was with the full support of his party! We are to expect the Democrats who rely on corporate donations and gifts from the wealthy to risk their political futures to fight for Sanders’ ideal?
And above all this, if in fact Sanders’ decrees COULD get voted in, are we to believe that the Capitalists will simply accept defeat? What’s to stop a capital strike or capital flight? We expect J.P. Morgan, who donated massive amounts of money to the NYPD retirement fund to ensure steady arrests and harassment of Occupy protesters to simply lie down and let this all come to pass? Look at how viciously these companies have fought any unionization (something Sanders has never mentioned). All that’s to end?
As I’ve written just recently:
“Even if State power is seized, if the old masters are cast out, the very throne itself acts like a cursed object and corrupts those that sought to destroy it. People who fought for the worker’s emancipation end up crushing strikes, Greens end up debating just how much depleted uranium to bury underground and how much to fire out of tanks, anti-austerity Leftists end up dispatching riot police to break up protests, the list goes on and on throughout history. The simple truth is you can take the most noble pauper and make him a king, and he may be a great king, but he must still maintain certain conditions(however unjust) by simply being king.”
Combine that with the TPP, which would allow multinational corporations to sue the American government if they adopted any ONE of his platforms; not only sue and stop it but force the US government to PAY THEM for damages. What will Sanders do then?
We’ve seen what “socialists” do in office: Look at France and Germany. Look at Syriza. Flown in on promises of change and anti-austerity only to bow down to the forces of capital because it’s “pragmatic.”
“However, less than a week after the referendum, the Greek government submitted a new proposal of financing to its creditors, tied to a package of austerity measures even harsher than the ones rejected in the referendum. After a weekend of ‘negotiations’, which revealed a rift among Greece’s creditors, a humiliating agreement was reached early on Monday, which all but turns Greece into a European debt colony.”
The problem is the Sandernistas are refusing to imagine a world outside of the capitalist ideological parameters. To quote Zizek:
“If, today, one follows a direct call to act, this act will not be performed in an empty space — it will be an act WITHIN the hegemonic ideological coordinates: those who ‘really want to do something to help people’ get involved in (undoubtedly honorable) exploits like Medecins sans frontiere, Greenpeace, feminist and anti-racist campaigns, which are all not only tolerated, but even supported by the media, even if they seemingly enter the economic territory (say, denouncing and boycotting companies which do not respect ecological conditions or which use child labor) — they are tolerated and supported as long as they do not get too close to a certain limit. This kind of activity provides the perfect example of interpassivity: of doing things not to achieve something, but to PREVENT from something really happening, really changing.”
Sanders will do nothing but introduce “Capitalism with a Human Face,” he will merely update Capitalism and make it just bearable enough to keep people from overthrowing it. And the so called “Scandinavian system” he so lauds?
There’s this joke on the Swedish left that everyone would want the Swedish model, and the Swedes would want it perhaps more than anyone. What’s considered to be the Swedish model peaked in maybe the late ’70s, early ’80s and has since gone through quite the same developments as the rest of Europe with the neoliberal wave.
Because Sweden started at a high level of wage compression and equality in terms of gender, it is still very equal compared to other European countries. Yet, at the same time, we have the fastest growth in class differences within the OECD.
When the Social Democrats turned rightwards in 1986 or so, a lot of the developments that had taken place in other European countries came to Sweden in a few swift blows. In just a few years, we had huge increases in class differences and this affected our universal welfare system.
The problem with “Democratic Socialism” is that it’s just as susceptible to commodification as anything else; that welfare state so adored by Bernie is quickly disappearing as Europe privatizes everything. Because, at the end of the day, it’s still just Capitalism. Capitalism-lite, but Capitalism nonetheless:
The ‘play’ is this:
• Return Europe -Germany in particular- to industrial competitiveness by internally deflating wages through the wholesale import of an already educated, overwhelmingly male workforce of ‘refugees’.
• Seize control of national borders at an EU/European level to finally create the Brussels-run superstate. This is already happening.
• End the high cost parts of European socialism that the secret powers have decided are too expensive: health care in particular, but also housing. The local populations are already clamouring for this: “we can’t afford it!” This is the other component in ‘returning competitiveness’.
• Use the inevitable civil unrest to roll out some really draconian, East Berlin style new laws, including ID cards, etc.
• Skin the cat that is Syria by another means: the creation of the much discussed ‘safe zone’ inside Syria. Which will inevitably have a Qatari gas pipe running through it and straight into Europe.
It’s worth mentioning you won’t have to worry about any of this because “Democratic Socialism” lacks the force to achieve anything on a national scale. Via Chomsky:
Suppose that Sanders won, which is pretty unlikely in a system of bought elections. He would be alone: he doesn’t have congressional representatives, he doesn’t have governors, he doesn’t have support in the bureaucracy, he doesn’t have state legislators; and standing alone in this system, he couldn’t do very much. A real political alternative would be across the board, not just a figure in the White House.
Doesn’t this all sound so…electorally focused to you? Isn’t it weird that as the Left explodes across the globe and people actually begin fighting for a new world, we are given a member of the Democratic Party who doesn’t talk about internationalism, the abolition of wage labor, hell, even unions? Just welfare state reforms? Democratic Socialism is just “New Deal” policies, essentially Keynesian capitalism.
The thing is these little social benefits don’t really change anything, they just keep the people complacent and happy. I am reminded of the Mexican immigrant laborer who is paid terrible wages, berated by his boss, and forced to exist with racist police policies. When asked why he doesn’t fight to change these conditions he says, “Like it or not, it beats Mexico!”
If I was a Democrat strategist I would have picked Bernie to oppose Hillary every time. Why?
- He allows for Progressive elements to remain within the Democratic party rather than looking outside it. Hillary is no progressive; rather than look elsewhere (third party) these voters can remain Democrats.
- Bernie can act as a “vent” for the progressives, allowing Hillary to monitor what policies she should press that seem to do well with progressives and make good talking points. She can freely borrow what sells and leave what doesn’t. This is lauded as “shaping the argument.”
- Bernie restores the “radical edge” to the Democrats after the failure of Obama, the only Nobel Laureate to bomb another Nobel Laureate. Rather than focus on the shortcomings of electoral politics OR the fact that the Democrats were more than happy to push more war, they can get a “fresh unknown” to counter Hillary’s establishment image.
- When the convention picks Hillary (who I assure you has already been selected to win) Bernie will get on stage and tell the radical, “socialist” youth of the party they must stand with this Pro-War, Pro-Big Business, Pro-GMO candidate to keep away whatever vile crackpot the Republicans field.
It’s classic “good cop-bad cop” and it happens every election.
“But we’ll take it,” the Sandernistas shriek, “it’s better than what we have! And besides Capitalism isn’t going away soon. It’s going to take generations!”
Well firstly that’s highly incorrect. This coming Monday I have a piece coming out at Gods & Radicals describing how we need not wait. But for now, in regards to the fall of capitalism being a slow progression this is not necessarily true. History goes through fast and slow periods. Fast periods (English Civil War, French Revolution, Russian Revolution) always arise during times of instability.
The American Empire is being challenged, the TTP wants to grant corporate “persons” the ability to walk the Earth unhindered, 3D printing is about to eliminate millions of jobs in the next 10 years, and we’re about to start colonizing another planet. If that isn’t instability I don’t know what is.
The next 50 years will determine the next 200. Rather than spraying Scandinavian perfume on the rotting corpse of Capitalism, it’s time to bury the body in the backyard and build something new.
“No. This must not be. To rebellion! Rise up, brothers, against all government, destroy the power of the bourgeoisie and do not allow the socialists and bolshevik government to come to life! Destroy all authority and drive out its representatives!” — Nestor Mahkno, “The Anarchist Revolution”
Dr. Bones is a writer at Gods & Radicals and a 8 year practitioner of the Southern occult tradition known as Conjure, Rootwork, and Hoodoo. A skilled card reader and Spiritworker, Dr. Bones has undertaken all aspects of the work, both benevolent and malefic. Politically he holds the Anarchist line that “Individuality can only flourish where equality of access to the conditions of existence is the social reality. This equality of access is Communism.” He resides in the insane State of Florida with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
Author’s Note: This is Dr. Bones’ first original article for Disinfo! Glad to be here! I’ve been reading Disinfo since I was a teenager, so it means a lot!
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