Weekend at Bernie’s
August 24, 2015 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Weekend at Bernie’s by jurassic marx (Jake Verso) Bernie Sanders has frequently identified himself in interviews speeches etc. as a “socialist.” When pressed as to what this means, he usually mentions something about Sweden and/or sticks the “democratic” moniker in front of it, presumably to be less scary. Yet Sanders is deliberately appealing to something bigger and more powerful than what is normally found within the bounds of typical political rhetoric. ...I’m going to examine and critique some of the assumptions underlying his appeal and then briefly look at just how meaningless Sanders conception of socialism really is.
posted by Golden Eternity (94 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I find it both weird and scary that the mere mention of the words "socialism" and "communism" are still very effective cudgels in 21st century America, despite my belief the majority of Americans have no idea what those ideologies/words actually mean, but rely on the Potter Stewart definition of obscenity: "I know it when I see it."
posted by Kitteh at 5:23 PM on August 24, 2015 [20 favorites]


I'm sure Bernie is happy to be attacked by the Communists.
posted by tommyD at 5:33 PM on August 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


This guy reminds me of Thalmann, refusing to work with the SPD...or for that matter, most of Orwell's diatribes in 'Homage to Catalonia'.
But there's always that hard edge of the left, that will prefer a fascist like Trump, out of some apocalyptic fantasy that 'finally the system will get so bad that it will collapse'. But that ignores history. Barring external pressure (WWI, Franco-Prussian War, famine prior to French revolution), proletariat revolutions do not prevail.

It's funny that I have to roll out "The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good", which is usually the resort of the Hilary camp. But the fact is that even tepid Keynesianism is preferable to the rolling GOP Clown Car of fathomless hate.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 5:51 PM on August 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh lord. someone created a tumblr about all this. How much time do you have? Also, a counterpunch!
posted by eustatic at 5:54 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


The know-nothing, hate filled insanity that the GOP has become renders all of this left-wing handwringing meaningless to me. The republicans have succumbed to a point that voting against them is an existential issue, the democrats at the point could wheel their worst out of retirement and I would be compelled to side with them.
posted by charles148 at 5:57 PM on August 24, 2015 [21 favorites]


I like Sanders because I want America to become more like Sweden. I want democratic socialism, not the USSR. If that means I am am not a "true socialist" by the standards of the Communist League of Tampa, I guess I will just have to learn to live with myself anyway.
posted by foobaz at 5:59 PM on August 24, 2015 [88 favorites]


As a bleeding-heart liberal socialist, if there's ONE FUCKING THING that drives me nuts about the far left, it's that they can be just as ideologically blind to pragmatism as the people on the far right. The second thing that drives me nuts about the far left is how bad they are at getting their shit together to impose any of their ideology. FPP: Case in point.

Organizing liberals is like herding cats with ADHD through a forest of wild catnip and laser-pointer plants.
posted by SansPoint at 6:00 PM on August 24, 2015 [67 favorites]


Joseph Stalin was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Joseph Stalin. (thank g-d)
posted by benzenedream at 6:01 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


But does Bernie or Joe (or even together) have one tenth the charisma to take on The Donald in the general election?
posted by sammyo at 6:02 PM on August 24, 2015


The know-nothing, hate filled insanity that the GOP has become renders all of this left-wing handwringing meaningless to me. The republicans have succumbed to a point that voting against them is an existential issue, the democrats at the point could wheel their worst out of retirement and I would be compelled to side with them.

I'm right there with you. I'll vote for Carrot Top, if they nominate him.
posted by thelonius at 6:04 PM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


But does Bernie or Joe (or even together) have one tenth the charisma to take on The Donald in the general election?

The news articles about Biden and Warren meeting this weekend are giving me that ole Chris Matthews "thrill up my leg." The rumor was Biden is going to announce he's running for one term only (if he runs at all). So what if he brings Warren along from the start, with the plan for her to run in 2020 after getting a term's worth of experience as a strong, involved VP?

That combo could take on The Don, his hair, and his fancy new hat.
posted by sallybrown at 6:14 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


A few months ago, I tried to register sanderswarren.com but it was already taken.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:25 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find it both weird and scary that the mere mention of the words "socialism" and "communism" are still very effective cudgels in 21st century America

Some people find eight-digit body counts a little off-putting for some reason. I blame Fox News.
posted by officer_fred at 6:32 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Communist League of Tampa (oddly I know at least some of the people behind this) aren't Stalin fans*; they're Left Communists, the people who Lenin thought were too far to the left. This is in response to a flood of rather dull nonsense that's been flooding in from Sandernistas defending "socialism" as aggressive Keynesianism and government spending, as opposed to, you know, workers taking control of the means of production and running the economy for use rather than profit. The USSR as it wound up is about as relevant to that vision as, I dunno, Bernie Sanders.

* Ironically, the old pro-Moscow Communist Party, who were Stalin fans, has wound up to the right of Bernie Sanders and is in "defeat Republicans at all costs" mode.
posted by graymouser at 6:33 PM on August 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Rick Perry's "smart glasses" vs Trump's "pay no attention to my hair" hat. HOpe with a das capital O, is what I get from Sander's soft Socialism, and tough speech. The speech is, of course, what I hear through all sorts of filters. The Republicans have nothing, but all the wherewithal, and media wherewithal to shove the most electable clown forward, on a greased rocket sled of capital to the capitol.
posted by Oyéah at 6:33 PM on August 24, 2015


But does Bernie or Joe (or even together) have one tenth the charisma to take on The Donald in the general election?

He beats the shit out of Trump in all the general election polling I've seen. It might seem surprising, but Millenials tend to love him. Seriously, he's damn near a rock star on reddit (check out /r/circlejerk if you don't believe me). The reddit thing could be a liability but he's also the only candidate I see anyone talking about on tumblr, either. Bernie even recently passed Hillary Clinton in likes on Facebook, for whatever little that means. To have this much enthusiasm from young people this early in the campaign for what should be (according to the media) a totally doomed effort is pretty amazing.

Besides his policies, the strongest argument for Sanders as the Democratic candidate is that he polls SO much better than Clinton with independent voters. Independent voters now make up the majority of registered voters, so being popular among Democrats is no longer sufficient. Sanders's history of moderation on gun control could also be a huge boon in states like mine (Montana), which are trending more Democratic but still have a very strong rural gun culture.

Anyway, he obviously isn't a capital-s Socialist; that should be obvious to anyone who has engaged with American politics on any serious level for even a second. He's what Americans would call a democratic socialist, or a social democrat in the more common European parlance. That we consider unions and basic social safety net programs to be "socialism" now says a hell of a lot more about how far right this country has swung over the last 40 years than it does about Bernie Sanders. Honestly, criticizing Sanders as insufficiently left-wing on economic issues in a Presidential election seems like the epitome of circular-firing-squad lunacy to me. How can anyone watch the obscene farce of the Republican party right now and decide that Sanders's impure socialism is the problem here?
posted by dialetheia at 6:43 PM on August 24, 2015 [61 favorites]


The USSR is a perfectly reasonable subject to bring up if you are talking to people who actually espouse Communism, since it's the biggest example of what happens when a bunch of Communists took over a world power and were given essentially carte blanche to implement their vision. You don't get to No True Scotsman that one away, any more than someone championing Corradinist Fascism would get to just brush off Italy and Germany (or, to keep it in the contemporary US context, a bunch of rednecks hoisting the rebel flag get to say that it's "not about slavery"). If you want to stand under that banner, by all means do so: but you get it with all its historical baggage. It is frankly too insulting to the legions of intelligent and largely well-meaning people, worldwide, who supported the early USSR (setting aside the people who actually died), to say -- as many modern leftists do, too often -- that it just wasn't done properly.

So it's understandable that Sanders doesn't want to get near the political 'C-word'; it's toxic and deserves to be, although that doesn't mean that elements of the ideology can't be assembled together to build something less likely to produce quite so many basement executions, and which reasonable people can support. But that something is going to have a different name, and probably a lot of other differences besides. It seems that Sanders is trying hard to build that, perhaps successfully, perhaps not, but the idea that his problem is that he's not a Communist is ridiculous.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:58 PM on August 24, 2015 [16 favorites]


How can anyone watch the obscene farce of the Republican party right now and decide that Sanders's impure socialism is the problem here?

This is responding to some debates in the Marxist left that Sanders has made extremely acute. Some people – notably Socialist Alternative, who are at least ostensibly Trotskyists – are supporting Sanders, to some extent. Others are critiquing either his participation in the Democratic Party primary, or the act of voting in elections at all. The Communist League of Tampa, as an organization generally in the "Communist Left" tradition, is generally against participating in elections, period. The less-extreme position is that Sanders is running as a Democrat and that we won't get anywhere until there is a break from the Democrats as a party. (The latter is my own position.)

But if Sanders represents a vision of socialism very different from ours, and we are opposed to his strategy of working with the Democrats (and this has been a major theme), why wouldn't we want to clarify the differences? There can be more than one problem at a time, and one doesn't go away because of the existence of the other. To the extent that the Republicans are a threat, electing Democrats isn't really a solution.
posted by graymouser at 7:01 PM on August 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Bernie is a social democrat. So are most on the left of the Democratic Party. Yes, all those people are capitalists. It seems to work pretty well in Northern Europe.

I'm on the reddit Bernie sites. If Hillary gets the nomination, many of those there won't vote for her. Many of those will vote GOP. They say, if I'm voting for evil, I may as well vote for authentic evil.

Me: But Hillary and Bernie agree on nearly all of domestic policy and a lot of foreign policy. And the constraits of Congress mean their administrations would probably look a lot alike. There is no overlap between the GOP and Bernie. (I proceed to set out agreement on various important issues.)

Them: she's evil and full of scandal.

It's clear to me there is a cult of personality around Bernie among the young bigger than any I've seen before. It's often about him and his authenticity. So someone like HC who shares largely his vision won't get those votes.

I'm a huge Bernie supporter. We have a generation of voters too young to remember how fucking awful a GOP president is. And I suspect they would continue to get worse--GWB is more moderate than the current crop.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:07 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I agree that any Republican president = imminent doom, so I guess this thread is as good as any to debut my bumper sticker idea for the week:

             VOTE BUSH
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM
posted by uosuaq at 7:08 PM on August 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


and/or sticks the “democratic” moniker in front of it

Uh... This is Socialism 101. Democratic Socialism, or Social Democracy, is Socialism brought about by the democratic process, rather than via the revolution advocated by Revolutionary Socialists.

Maybe they'll cover that in the author's second week of Poli Sci.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:09 PM on August 24, 2015 [18 favorites]


And, please, socialists and communists, disown Bernie loudly. And all social democrats while you're at it. Thanks!
posted by persona au gratin at 7:11 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


From the article: Bernie Sanders has frequently identified himself in interviews speeches etc. as a “socialist.” When pressed as to what this means, he usually mentions something about Sweden and/or sticks the “democratic” moniker in front of it, presumably to be less scary.

Besides, this piece is fundamentally dumb because they base the entire article on the premise that he's dissembling when he self-identifies as a democratic socialist, then when he acts like a democratic socialist instead of the socialist they want him to be, they upbraid him for ... being a democratic socialist. Why not just take him at his word? He's a democratic socialist. It's not Sanders's fault that doesn't mean what they want it to mean.

The Communist League of Tampa, as an organization generally in the "Communist Left" tradition, is generally against participating in elections, period.

Great. I'm sure they're going to be very effective in achieving their political goals. My wallet and I really look forward to this movement achieving broad support for a $15 minimum wage, single-payer health care, unionization protections, and college for all Americans.

So someone like HC who shares largely his vision won't get those votes.

Well, but does she share his vision? It's not a given. She has no interest in changing things in the banking world, just for one example, which is pretty clear given that much of her funding comes from financial services companies - I mean, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her appoint Larry Summers the head of the Federal Reserve, for christ's sake. I mean, she sat on the board at Wal-Mart - it's not like it's just a branding difference between them.
posted by dialetheia at 7:12 PM on August 24, 2015 [22 favorites]


Wait, there's communists in Tampa?!
posted by photoslob at 7:12 PM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Larry Summers has had a real change of heart since 2008 and is singing a totally different tune.

She wants to tax carried interest as normal income. She wants to change the bonus system for execs.

Now, none of us know how much of this sincere. But with the Senate, de facto a BS or HC administration would look very much the same on that issue.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:16 PM on August 24, 2015


Leftier-than-thou-ism is a hell of a drug.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:18 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Let me also say: I think it's clear that Bernie would like to be tougher on banks, yes. There are real differences in intent there. But both (from what they say) think that the current state of things is too lenient on banks.

But, still. If you care about banking reform and proper SEC regulation and Dodd Frank implementation, how could you not choose HC over Bush or Walker?
posted by persona au gratin at 7:20 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Democratic Socialism, or Social Democracy, is Socialism brought about by the democratic process, rather than via the violent revolution advocated by Revolutionary Socialists.

That's plastering over a lot of history and debate with a very reductionist view. Social Democracy, before World War I, meant the entire Marxist wing of the socialist movement: Bernstein, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Pannekoek, Hardie, Jaures, Debs, Berger, Kerensky, Lenin, Trotsky – the whole lot. It was when the social democrats threw in with the imperialists in Germany, France and Britain that the split that led to the Communist parties happened. The idea that social democrats are nice and democratic was put to the lie when "violent" revolutionaries like Rosa Luxemburg and Wilhelm Liebknecht (who never lifted a gun) were shot and thrown into a river. The social democrats could have resisted the war, but they went along with the whole bloody slaughter. Social democracy has never blinked at a good deal of bloodshed, as long as it's the right people. Bernie Sanders fits right in, by the by; he has consistently voted for the Democrats' wars, and for funding the military-industrial complex.

But, you know, you can keep painting social democracy as the shiny happy democratic version of socialism. I mean, killing in imperialist wars doesn't count, it only counts if those dirty revolutionary socialists do it. (Nota bene: if you want to have a full on USSR discussion, you'll have to at least buy me a beer.)
posted by graymouser at 7:25 PM on August 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


I actually enjoyed this read. I think the author gets a lot of the historical analysis right but, as is typical of the red/pinko left, is unrealistic with respect to the possibility of change oriented with their goals. (Not to mention that it's highly unlikely that a stateless and unclassed society will ever come into being. Ever.)

My sophistimacated analysis is to rewrite the headline, paying homage to another famous Sanders: "Fuck it, buy a bucket."
posted by CincyBlues at 7:30 PM on August 24, 2015


Well if we can't have proper socialism, maybe we can get Mojo Nixon to un-retire and record "There's Communists in Tampa" as a one off.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:49 PM on August 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was generally unimpressed, but there were a couple of good points in amongst the usual more-left-than-you-so-there garbage:

This skillfully and self-servingly reduces structural economic problems to a question of political leadership, and from this standpoint, it makes sense to expect that the United States could return to “peace and prosperity” through the policy decisions of elected officials. Unfortunately this picture does not conform to the reality of the last forty years or capitalism in general

I think that it's definitely true that the whole story isn't just greedy rich people. There are massive global alterations in flows of trade and manufacturing over the past thirty years, and it's going to take more than Keynesianism to handle them. The wealthy, in the US and elsewhere, used those changes to crack open the ediface of a weakened American economy in the late '70s and early '80s and sucked out all the sweet marrow, but the weakness was nevertheless quite real. We're not going to be able to just dial things back to the early '50s or whenever, especially with global warming coming down the pipe. We need new solutions, just not the new 'solutions' the neoliberals have been systematically applying these past thirty years. (And not the antiquated pseudo-scientific bullshit of the old school Marxist set, either).

I think that efforts to clamp down on the wealthy, re-energize the labor movement and extend the social safety net are necessary to give us the breathing space to find those solutions. Sanders could give us a shot at that, Clinton might give us a shot at it, if the pressure was maintained after the election.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:13 PM on August 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


VOTE BUSH-THIRD TIME'S THE MARCH (HARE) AGAIN! I'm late, I'm late for WWIII, still some food on the table, we'll see about that, my pretty! Hah! He must be running with the Wicked Which, of the West? I can only entertain absurdity when contemplating the other twenty of the Presnutdenchul candiassidates.
posted by Oyéah at 8:38 PM on August 24, 2015


Besides his policies, the strongest argument for Sanders as the Democratic candidate is that he polls SO much better than Clinton with independent voters. Independent voters now make up the majority of registered voters

You're accidentally conflating two things there, in a way that people in political science actually know something about. These almost always come from survey questions* where they ask the respondent whether they usually think of themselves as Democratic, Republican, independent, or what? Then, if you're a Democrat or Republican, they ask whether you think of yourself as a strong or weak one, and if you're an independent they ask if you lean towards either party. This makes the classic party id variable, a scale running from 1-7 or 0-6 depending on the outfit -- strong Democrat, weak Democrat, Democratic leaner, pure independent, Republican leaner, weak Republican, strong Republican.

But here is the thing: a large majority of people who identify as independent -- usually around two-thirds -- are leaners. And leaners are almost exactly the same as weak partisans. It's interesting that there's this bunch of people who are reliable Democrats/Republicans but who don't want to admit it, but the fact remains that when we look at them they are behaviorally and attitudinally almost entirely indistinguishable from self-described partisans.

The remaining third, pure independents, are mostly dipshits. While no doubt there are some few intelligent and well-informed people there who've ascended beyond partisanship, overwhelmingly pure independents are people who have yet to rise to the level of basic partisanship. Pick any measure of civic virtue -- education, political knowledge, interest in politics, intention to turn out, anything -- and there are very good odds that pure independents will be at the bottom. Basically the seed out of which Idiocracy will grow.

Anyway, when survey outfits poll people, they know this, so USUALLY ANYWAY voters they report as "Democratic" are people who identify as Democrats *and* notional independents who lean Democratic. In this context, when they say "independent" they don't mean the 40%+ of respondents who identified as independent, they mean the ~10-15% of respondents who are pure independents. And there's little point thinking about who they support or why, because (a) they're overwhelmingly not going to vote, (b) if they do, they would mostly wander into the voting booth and paw blindly at the little levers if we still used those machines, and (c) their opinions about political matters are mostly just incoherent mush anyway.

*They kind of have to, since in some states there is no party registration to rely on.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:08 PM on August 24, 2015 [24 favorites]


The know-nothing, hate filled insanity that the GOP has become renders all of this left-wing handwringing meaningless to me. The republicans have succumbed to a point that voting against them is an existential issue, the democrats at the point could wheel their worst out of retirement and I would be compelled to side with them.

So, the dixiecrats?
posted by Going To Maine at 9:28 PM on August 24, 2015


There is way too much sugar coating on them GMO corn puffs. Oh wait! You mean this isn't the way too puffed up cereal thread? I am glad the algorithms and political scientists have us down so pat. So, with all this said, please tell me who our next Presnutdent will be? Bernie and Hillary? Donald and Chrissy Hynde? Marco and Whose that girl? Honestly with all that is at stake, I can't even watch the trainwreck, mainly because I turned my TV into a planter, well and I generally avoid despair. Bernie sure sounds good, eh? Maybe a little sleight of hand Biden/Warren, sudden double down, action?

Is this thread implying Bernie doesn't understand Socialism well enough to self identify properly?
posted by Oyéah at 9:32 PM on August 24, 2015


But, still. If you care about banking reform and proper SEC regulation and Dodd Frank implementation, how could you not choose HC over Bush or Walker?

Well, I don't really get it either - I'd still vote for Clinton over either of them in a heartbeat. But everyone draws their line differently, and these are the kinds of policies that are going to cost her those folks' support (and conversely, that's largely what they find exciting about Sanders). At least according to their sources (I could have sworn she'd held off on even having an opinion on some of these), Clinton supports Keystone XL, voted for the Iraq war, supported the bailout, supports TPP, supported the Patriot act reauthorization, &etc. They aren't just minor issues.

On further reflection, I don't even disagree with a lot of the points the author made in this piece, but I think Sanders is running precisely to challenge the author's (and many others') assumption that the Democratic party cannot be wrested back from its corporate donors and their interests. What would happen if he actually got the nomination? Would he turn down Goldman Sachs' money? I don't know, but Clinton already accepted it, so I don't have a lot to lose.

You're accidentally conflating two things there

Fair point, and I'll keep that in mind when I look at polls. There's a really good explainer here from Pew comparing the behavior of leaner independents and registered party members. My only problem with that analysis is that it seems heavily reliant on breaking people down on a single axis of liberal and conservative, which doesn't seem likely to capture the nuance of what registered independents believe and why they left the parties.

I'm really surprised that the conventional wisdom is that the plurality of people now being registered in neither major party has little to no importance in voting activity, though. Whether they vote for Democrats or not when they bother to vote, it surely seems important that people are abandoning both major parties in droves when you look at their voter registration. At the very least, it seems like it would affect turnout, motivation, or reliability.

The increase in independents also seems to have become an important wild card in primaries, where the voters who decide in the primaries come from the increasingly narrow slice of the electorate that is still registered within a party. Party affiliation is a weirdly neglected indicator in US political commentary and most people I mention this to are pretty surprised that 39% of registered voters are registered independent, 32% Democrat, and only 23% Republican. Certainly Democrats don't usually know that we have a structural advantage of 10% in party affiliation (and a 10% advantage among leaners, to boot). That only 23% of voters are even in the Republican party would really seem to go a long way toward explaining why their primary process is in the shambles that it's in today.
posted by dialetheia at 9:50 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm on the reddit Bernie sites. If Hillary gets the nomination, many of those there won't vote for her. Many of those will vote GOP. They say, if I'm voting for evil, I may as well vote for authentic evil.

And they say Trump appeals to the dumbest Americans.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:59 PM on August 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


In Utah, you can't vote Republican unless you are registered Republican. Democrats allow anyone to vote for them. Kind of interesting. So you can register Republican if you think you can influence a primary, then vote as you please in the general. Maybe it is that way everywhere. I think all kinds of media manipulation, opinion swaying, opinion purchasing will go on, right up until the election is bought. If I believed in the Devil then politics would be my religion. The world just can't take us beating it up with our big stick anymore. I will go with peaceful intent, Sanders.

I am not too interested in a candidate who reduces women to beauty queens, and talks ugly about less privileged human beings on a regular basis. The world economy bubble has some slow leak, I want our next president to be concerned about what is inside our borders. I want our next President to make nice with the world, regardless.
posted by Oyéah at 10:19 PM on August 24, 2015


My only problem with that analysis is that it seems heavily reliant on breaking people down on a single axis of liberal and conservative, which doesn't seem likely to capture the nuance of what registered independents believe and why they left the parties.

That's my problem too, although I worry that the pollsters know better than I do about how voters behave. On the other hand, we in Alberta just voted out our 41-years in office Conservative party and elected the nominally democratic socialist NDP. The polls said they were neck and neck, it's going to be right down to the wire... it was a rout. I don't know whether to not believe the polls because there's still enough chaos in elections that they can't really claim certainty, or because they're beholden to various political entities and the media.
posted by sneebler at 10:43 PM on August 24, 2015


comparing the behavior of leaner independents and registered party members

Independents and partisan identifiers, not registrants. Too many people live in the 20 or so states without party registration for that to be useful in national surveys.

At the very least, it seems like it would affect turnout, motivation, or reliability.

Without wantinhg to be flip or snarky but on a stupid fone keyorad... Yeah, youd think so, for reals. But it just keeps not making much if any of a difference to pretty much any overt political behavior.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, thank God for the bailouts. I say this as a social democrat and Bernie partisan. They just didn't bail out homeowners enough. I don't think some in the left realize those bailouts kept us from Greece-style unemployment numbers here in the U.S.

And HC is waffly on Keystone. Though she supported Obama's rejection of the GOP attempt to force him into it before.

I mean, I'm not a huge HC fan. But I suspect she'd be slightly worse than Obama is as president. Though that's contingent on foreign policy realities. And I think Obama had been a good president. He could have been great.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:06 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Communists and libertarians really deserve each other, don't they? Stop bothering me about forests! Can't you see I have these trees to deal with? Trees? What trees? This is clearly a branch and twig issue! No, I don't smell any smoke, why?
posted by 1adam12 at 1:57 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't think a self-described socialist could have had a shot at winning the American presidency at any time between 1950 and 2014. But after Obama was elected, the GOP worked hard to redefine "socialism" to mean any program funded through taxes that benefits ordinary citizens. Suddenly, millions of people decided socialism was pretty swell.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:23 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


But there's always that hard edge of the left, that will prefer a fascist like Trump

I think "After Hitler, Our Turn" is now a widely-discredited political strategy among the Left. Even Stalin disowned it in transitioning to the Popular Front era from the Third Period when that line was used.

(By the way, Trump is not a fascist. He certainly has unsavory aspects, but all these misplaced accusations of fascism around election time have the transparent intention of driving people towards the Democratic Party.)

The know-nothing, hate filled insanity that the GOP has become renders all of this left-wing handwringing meaningless to me.

God forbid anyone aspires to social goals more noble than "Meh, at least we're better than the Republicans."

As a bleeding-heart liberal socialist, if there's ONE FUCKING THING that drives me nuts about the far left, it's that they can be just as ideologically blind to pragmatism as the people on the far right.

I think people are really missing the point of this article. It's not trying to advise people on a political strategy. I'm sure the author will be voting for Bernie along with his starry-eyed supporters because that is the best option for progressives in the presidential election at this point. "Pragmatism," or lack thereof, has nothing to do with this article.

The point of this article is to establish a conceptual demarcation between what Sanders represents and what a revolutionary conception of socialism would entail. And also to explain what the nature of the Democratic Party is and why revolutionary politics are not, have not been, and could never be part of its platform. Frankly, all of these points strike me as relatively uncontroversial, if possibly unfamiliar to a mainstream or liberal audience.

Honestly, criticizing Sanders as insufficiently left-wing on economic issues in a Presidential election seems like the epitome of circular-firing-squad lunacy to me.

In the Black Lives Matter thread, it seemed a consensus that protesters had a moral right, if not a duty, to critique Sanders from the Left (whether or not they were doing that is another story). Why does it create a "circular firing squad" when someone does the same on another issue?

By the way, thanks to graymouser for introducing some nuance into this thread. It's disappointing that half of Metafilter seems to opt for the "lol Stalin" line whenever discussion of left wing politics comes up.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:50 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


(By the way, Trump is not a fascist. He certainly has unsavory aspects, but all these misplaced accusations of fascism around election time have the transparent intention of driving people towards the Democratic Party.)

Trump's whole thing so far is a right-wing populist appeal centered around a "reclaiming lost glory" narrative, with white nationalism, hatred of women, and refusing to condemn racist violence done in his name. Does he literally have to start talking about how conflict is beautiful and necessary for the hygiene of the people before it's acceptable to call him a fascist?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


So, the dixiecrats?

Are running on the Republican ticket these days.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:17 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


How about:

- rounding up political dissidents, trade unionists and racial minorities
- advocating an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy
- declaring himself supreme ruler
- shutting down democratic institutions

Is Trump advocating any of these? No, at least not to a greater extent than, say, Obama and/or Hillary is.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:24 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: Uh... This is Socialism 101. Democratic Socialism, or Social Democracy, is Socialism brought about by the democratic process, rather than via the revolution advocated by Revolutionary Socialists.
Maybe they'll cover that in the author's second week of Poli Sci.


Did you flunk Poli Sci? Those terms are not nearly so clear cut.

Social democracy implies state intervention for the public good within a capitalist framework. Democratic socialism suggests an ultimate goal of ending capitalism, either by revolutionary means (the democratic is there to distinguish it from Stalinism), or by gradualist, reformist means (the democratic is there to mean non-revolutionary). Or democratic socialism can also be a synonym for social democracy. Both social democratic and democratic socialist parties can be part of the Socialist International, which spans several flavours of the above.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:29 AM on August 25, 2015


How about:

- rounding up political dissidents, trade unionists and racial minorities
- advocating an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy
- declaring himself supreme ruler
- shutting down democratic institutions

Is Trump advocating any of these? No, at least not to a greater extent than, say, Obama and/or Hillary is.


Oh okay so only successful fascists are fascists, got it, the only fascists who ever existed were Mussolini, Hitler, and whatever other particular fascist leaders you've personally heard of.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:39 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Trump is not currently a fascist. His bellicose nativism is finding a troubling echo within the dregs of the white nationalist sentiment in the US, and requires careful watching. It's possible he will break with the GOP and found a party, which given his platform could be the basis for a fascist movement, and which would have to be opposed as such. (I am a "no platform" / "¡No pasarán!" type when it comes to fascists, which requires you to be really careful before slapping the label.) He's not there yet – there are rallies, but not a coherent movement.
posted by graymouser at 6:25 AM on August 25, 2015


Democratic socialism suggests an ultimate goal of ending capitalism, either by revolutionary means (the democratic is there to distinguish it from Stalinism), or by gradualist, reformist means (the democratic is there to mean non-revolutionary). Or democratic socialism can also be a synonym for social democracy.

The term "democratic socialism" is used by a lot of different folks to mean a lot of things. I like Hal Draper's characterization of Eugene V. Debs's politics as "revolutionary-democratic socialism" to distinguish that both from social democracy on the one side and Stalinism on the other. (I think there's a lot to appreciate in both Debs and Draper.)
posted by graymouser at 6:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interesting polling out of New Hampshire today showing Sanders leading Clinton 42%-35%, with some interesting details about whether it's only hardcore leftists who support him (spoiler: it's not):
The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with
the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion; that
makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party's voters.
Meanwhile Hillary Clinton's favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was
at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she's at a 63/25 spread.
The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead
with 'somewhat liberal' voters (45/32), 'very liberal' ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36)
alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men
(44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines: Clinton
is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone
under the age of 65.
posted by dialetheia at 7:12 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the Black Lives Matter thread, it seemed a consensus that protesters had a moral right, if not a duty, to critique Sanders from the Left (whether or not they were doing that is another story). Why does it create a "circular firing squad" when someone does the same on another issue?

Because economic issues are already the centerpiece of his campaign. The BLM critique was that it was entirely too easy to be a Progressive leader without meaningfully addressing racial justice, and that if he's running for President, he needs to be solid on those issues too, not just economics. There was a perception that he had been basically ignoring racial justice issues. But in this case, he's already staked out by far the farthest left positions in the election on economic issues. He's built his entire campaign - not to mention his career! - around these issues. And his policy solutions are already about as radical as our national politics will allow, not a bunch of incremental placating bullshit. It's one thing to say "hey, you are not addressing this vital issue at all", but in this case he's already centering those issues in his campaign and addressing them with the most radical policy solutions our hidebound politics will probably allow - he just isn't going as far as some might like in a perfect world.
posted by dialetheia at 7:24 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, the dixiecrats?

Are running on the Republican ticket these days.

Alas! That was my attempted joke.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:04 AM on August 25, 2015


God forbid anyone aspires to social goals more noble than "Meh, at least we're better than the Republicans."

Yes, because while you're patting yourself on the back for your nobility and purity and loftier ambitions, if the Republicans do take power things will get much, much worse for many people. Have your noble goals, but live in the real world where very often the best possible option is "Meh, at least we're better than the Republicans."

Someone will be elected President in 2016. It will be a Democrat or a Republican. You don't get Nobility Points for losing but remaining pure of heart.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:19 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's plastering over a lot of history and debate with a very reductionist view. Social Democracy, before World War I, meant the entire Marxist wing of the socialist movement: Bernstein, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Pannekoek, Hardie, Jaures, Debs, Berger, Kerensky, Lenin, Trotsky – the whole lot. It was when the social democrats threw in with the imperialists in Germany, France and Britain that the split that led to the Communist parties happened. The idea that social democrats are nice and democratic was put to the lie when "violent" revolutionaries like Rosa Luxemburg and Wilhelm Liebknecht (who never lifted a gun) were shot and thrown into a river. The social democrats could have resisted the war, but they went along with the whole bloody slaughter. Social democracy has never blinked at a good deal of bloodshed, as long as it's the right people.

I'm not really sure what your point is. You're conflating the particulars of Russian history with German history, for one thing. And like: The bloodthirsty Bolsheviks split from the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, therefore modern Social Democracy is equivalent to Stalinism? A revolutionary conspirator was killed by a panicked Social Democratic government under siege by revolutionaries a hundred years ago, therefore modern Social Democrats are murderers? The best thing to do when a World War breaks out in your country is to lie back and take it?

What? How is any of that remotely sensical, let alone relevant to the modern Social Democracy movement?

(Also, what was that about Wilhelm Liebknecht, founder of the Social Democratic Party, never lifting a gun? Apparently he was killed by his own party by weaponized old age? You mean his son, Karl, but I got a giggle out of that.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


What? How is any of that remotely sensical, let alone relevant to the modern Social Democracy movement?

The amount of blood on the hands of social democrats (starting with 1914 and continuing to the Arab Spring, when the National Democratic Party in Egypt and the Constitutional Democratic Party in Tunisia, both members of the Socialist International, were overthrown) means that I scoff at any characterization of revolutionary socialists as "violent" and social democrats as "democratic." It's really quite simple.
posted by graymouser at 8:33 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Someone will be elected President in 2016. It will be a Democrat or a Republican. You don't get Nobility Points for losing but remaining pure of heart.

Simple basic fact. If Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, from the perspective of a socialist, it will be necessary to oppose her from the left. Reality says that people don't vote for someone and then turn around and protest them. It's not how people work. That is the crucial problem in every lesser-evil argument ever presented. I view opposition as more important, so I'll vote socialist. Debs said: "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it, than for what I don’t want and get it."
posted by graymouser at 8:37 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Communist League of Tampa, as an organization generally in the "Communist Left" tradition, is generally against participating in elections, period.

Great. I'm sure they're going to be very effective in achieving their political goals. My wallet and I really look forward to this movement achieving broad support for a $15 minimum wage, single-payer health care, unionization protections, and college for all Americans.


I'm guessing that anyone far enough to the left that they consider the act of voting itself to be irrevocably corrupted by capitalism probably also wouldn't consider any of the things you listed to be remotely valid goals either. These folks aren't in the business of making life a little bit (or even a lot) better for some struggling Americans, or really doing anything else that might mitigate the coming Revolution. They're certainly not in the business of taking small steps that still maintain the existing capitalist relationships between workers and their employers, the healthcare industry, their fellow workers, or educational institutions.
posted by Copronymus at 9:24 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is the crucial problem in every lesser-evil argument ever presented.

No, it's not, it's a misunderstanding of the argument.

If Hillary loses, the alternative isn't socialism. It's the Republicans. If socialist voters somehow managed to fracture the Democratic vote enough to make Hillary lose, the President would be a Republican.

That's the simple basic fact, and what people mean by "the perfect is the enemy of the good". You have to deal with this reality, which is that you can't get exactly what you want. That's not an option. What is an option is either getting something of what you want, or at least preventing what you definitely don't want, which is what a Republican Presidency would be.

Debs said: "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it, than for what I don’t want and get it."

Good for Debs. In the meantime, while you congratulate yourself on purity, President Bush or Cruz or Trump are doing their damndest to strip homosexuals and minorities of their rights, crush all "illegal" immigrants, and continue to stomp on the poor.

Maybe you should rather vote for what you can realistically get, rather than throwing away any possibility of helping anyone because you can't get everything you want.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:26 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree that any Republican president = imminent doom, so I guess this thread is as good as any to debut my bumper sticker idea for the week:

VOTE BUSH
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM


Something something this time a Bush might actually get voted in?
posted by Aizkolari at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


If Hillary loses, the alternative isn't socialism.

Ha, if only. Unfortunately I didn't say or imply that at all. Just that you can't build a movement in opposition to the Democratic Party while voting for it – which, it happens, is true.

the perfect is the enemy of the good

For that to be the problem, one of the sides would have to be good. From where I stand, both the Democrats and Republicans are actively bad. After all, that's why we call them the "lesser evil" argument and not the "weak good guy" argument. Democrats are still imperialists, still in favor of free trade and neoliberalism, still in favor of austerity, still in favor of the carceral state – there's just too much that takes both parties off the table. "Settle for taking less poison" is not a good argument. And liberals will stay chained to this horrible party until you guys understand that.
posted by graymouser at 10:11 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reality says that people don't vote for someone and then turn around and protest them.

a. Are you kidding? This happens all the time. That's why the line from Citizen Kane has such resonance:
For forty years, appeared in Kane newsprint . . . no public man whom Kane himself did not support or denounce. Or, support -- then denounce.
2) It's perfectly aligned with human behaviour and well within democratic best practice to vote for a leader and then protest those of their actions or proposals that you disagree with.

This is the very practice of mediating and insisting upon a cordial handshake between the Perfect and the Good.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:11 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are you kidding? This happens all the time.

That's why 2009 was dominated by left-wing protesters arguing for a radical solution to the bailouts, right?
posted by graymouser at 10:15 AM on August 25, 2015


That's why 2009 was dominated by left-wing protesters arguing for a radical solution to the bailouts, right?

Perhaps it wasn't dominated by that because people didn't care about it as much as you suppose.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding? This happens all the time.

That's why 2009 was dominated by left-wing protesters arguing for a radical solution to the bailouts, right?


There was, at least in my area, a lot of overlap between 2008 Obama voters and 2011 Occupy Wall Street protesters, and OWS certainly dominated a lot of news cycles. Framing this in terms of '2008 to 2009' and 'one particular issue in 2009' is not particularly illuminating -- people do consistently make pragmatic voting choices while also protesting idealistically. This is a real thing that happens at every American election, and it's very much a byproduct of the electoral system.
posted by cjelli at 10:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


President Bush or Cruz or Trump are doing their damndest to strip homosexuals and minorities of their rights, crush all "illegal" immigrants, and continue to stomp on the poor.

Heighten the contradictions!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:51 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Settle for taking less poison" is not a good argument.

Sure it is, and you're dodging it.

What about the issues that Republicans are demonstrably worse on? Gay rights, abortion and women's rights in general, minority right, helping the poor at all, minority voting rights, etc?

The Republicans, explicitly and by their own declarations, are set on eroding and destroying what they can in these areas. It's disingenuous to argue that the parties are exactly the same on things like this.

You seem to be saying that until you get the True Socialist who will bring down capitalism and tick all of your preferred policy boxes, you're okay with any damage a Republican leader would do because the Democrats aren't left enough.

You might say that leaving the capitalist structure in place trumps all, but again, someone will be President in 2016, so you do what you can to limit the damage. People have to live with the real, existing structures while they wait for the Revolution to overturn them.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:54 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Socialism is about desire, the desire for the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. The means are always open to discussion and revision.
posted by No Robots at 11:01 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's why 2009 was dominated by left-wing protesters arguing for a radical solution to the bailouts, right?

Eh? Is this meant to prove that voters never protest against leaders they've voted for?

Let's take an extreme case. The electorate not merely protesting a policy, but having a change of heart about the candidate as a whole. There are things called recall elections.

The system does not make it easy, but sometimes recall elections are successful. In order for this to be true, the candidate had to have first won a majority of votes to take office, then lost a majority of votes in the recall, within the same constitutency. I suppose mathematically it is possible for the winning majorities in the two elections to be non-overlapping, but it seems unlikely.

Is there a more robust protest available in a democracy than mounting a recall campaign and voting the bum out early?
 
posted by Herodios at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2015


If you think voting doesn't matter, ask yourself how eager you are to have JEB Bush appointing Ruth Bader-Ginsberg's replacement.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sanders didn't propose or sponsor any legislation. He was active on committees. He believes in the right stuff, but that's not all there is to it. He has caught fire because he's not at all corrupt, his beliefs are smart and right, he has integrity. Jimmy Carter was similarly a guy who is honest, has good beliefs, was an outsider, and he couldn't navigate the system to get stuff done. Obama's a terrific president, but the Oppositional Congress has stalled him. I'd enjoy a socialist in the White House. Imagine a Bernie Saunders Inauguration with no corporate sponsors. But I can't see it happening.

And here it is, over a year from the election. It's this volatile and unpredictable now, should be an interesting year, which, if I could, I'd spend someplace far away from the coverage.
posted by theora55 at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


You seem to be saying that until you get the True Socialist who will bring down capitalism and tick all of your preferred policy boxes, you're okay with any damage a Republican leader would do because the Democrats aren't left enough.

The Democrats are not left at all. I'm just going to leave it on this: the social movements that have gone into the Democrats and accepted your "lesser evil" logic have diminished and seen their modest gains slowly eroded away. I'm not willing to concede socialism to them.
posted by graymouser at 12:18 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is an important distinction between the socialist party and the socialist movement. The party is the electoral instrument of the movement. The movement is free to make use of the party or parties as it sees fit. The party is deaf, dumb and blind to everything but its own electoral success. It is the difference between the sword and the mind that wields it.
posted by No Robots at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2015


I'm not willing to concede socialism to them.

I don't understand what that means. Most democrats don't want to be called “socialists” because they know that to be labeled as such is to hurt your chances of election. Sanders has been pretty clear that he’s an independent running as a democrat, not a democrat per se. What Democratic party members are choosing to adopt that moniker? What Democratic party members want it?
posted by Going To Maine at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Clinton supports Keystone XL, voted for the Iraq war, supported the bailout...

Wait, do people really think letting the banks collapse would have been a good thing? I swear I'm starting to see this become part of the leftist narrative.

Krugman had particular issues with the bailout, but it wasn't over whether or not the government needs to step in. Same with Stiglitz.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/thinking-the-bailout-through/comment-page-2/
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/opinion/02krugman.html
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/2/nobel_laureate_joseph_stiglitz_bailout_wall

he just isn't going as far as some might like in a perfect world.

This is my problem with the BLM protests of Sanders. The issue, from my perspective, isn't that there's a horizontal line on which Sanders is to one side of the BLM movement. Sanders wants to address the same concrete issues that the BLM movement is concerned with. It's just that whereas the BLM movement approaches these concrete issues through a racial lense, Sanders does it through an economic one. To take what seems to me to be a theoretical disagreement and to politicize it into some sort of linear line of partisanship seems problematic.

Reality says that people don't vote for someone and then turn around and protest them.

Huh. Because I know a lot of people who voted for Obama and accepted his healthcare reform, even though they protested that it was far from adequate enough. You can apply this to an innumerable amount of other issues.
posted by Dalby at 2:49 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Socialism can come about only through the destruction of racism. As Marx wrote to Lincoln:
The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.
The first priority of American socialists is to complete Lincoln's work. To accomplish this, it is necessary to understand the ideological underpinnings of contemporary racism, particularly where they are buttressed by appeals to science. Indeed, the whole of biology must be reconstructed in order to root out its racist components.
posted by No Robots at 3:02 PM on August 25, 2015


Cornel West endorses Sanders as a "prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country."
posted by No Robots at 3:40 PM on August 25, 2015


Clinton supports Keystone XL, voted for the Iraq war, supported the bailout…

Wait, do people really think letting the banks collapse would have been a good thing? I swear I’m starting to see this become part of the leftist narrative.

I feel like I’ve seen this perspective around quite a bit; it seemed to be one of the big assumptions of Occupy Wall Street.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:55 PM on August 25, 2015


I don't think the argument is really that the government should have done nothing and just let the banks collapse (though some have argued that it worked well for Iceland), but rather that the way the bailout was handled was undemocratic, horribly shady, almost certainly allowed a huge cash grab by the banks, and came with insufficient strings attached - not even reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, much less criminal charges.
posted by dialetheia at 4:22 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, do people really think letting the banks collapse would have been a good thing? I swear I'm starting to see this become part of the leftist narrative.

I don't think that letting the banks collapse would have been a good thing. However, I don't understand how giving the money we spent to homeowners, who would have immediately given that money to the banks, would have made an economically worse situation. It seems to me that the bailout was designed to benefit banks only, and specifically structured not to help the regular person who was affected by the collapse.
posted by Quonab at 7:32 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I like Sanders because I want America to become more like Sweden."

Sanders isn't Swedish-style socialism.

Swedish-style socialism is driven not by political posturing, but by the rigorous use of statistics to drive policies. This created a government that focused on the needs of the people, from healthcare, to jobs, housing, etc. A progressive government and modern society, focused on the public good, not on appeals to anti-capitalism, nationalism, and anti-immigrant hysteria.

"We don’t live in Sweden. Tiden är vårt hem. Time is our home. We live in this time. Time is more important than place. Our values are not place-based, they are time-based. . . There is no such thing as Swedish values. Those are modern values."

In truth, Sweden is one of the most free-trade friendly nations in the world. Why? Because it makes economic sense. They are social democrats, but they also understand economics, and Sweden's government is about as pro-immigration as you can be... and, again, a large part of why they are is economic. You can't expect to have a dynamic democratic socialist economy, and be xenophobes at the same time. Despite the media focus on the far right, attitudes towards immigration in Sweden are improving, and the Swedish public keeps showing surprising acts of love and tolerance, in the face of xenophobia.

Contrary to Bernie Sanders' loud assertions, open borders is *NOT* a Koch brothers proposal... he's creating a fallacious strawman argument there, as the Koch's are just one of many groups -- including completely non-corporate human rights and civil liberties organizations -- that would like to see immigration reform and and end to the scapegoating of immigrants. He was caught in a similar deception, when he said that the goals of fwd.us was "completely opening up the border", a ludicrous assertion.

In truth, something closer to an open borders policy would be a progressive, economically, and statistically rational policy you'd expect from Sweden, where they provide immigrants a fair living wage and comprehensive social benefits.

In contrast, Sanders can be an anti-immigration protectionist, with a history for allying with rightwing nationalists in support of high tariffs, nodding along with Lou Dobbs, as he attacked "socio-ethnocentric groups" with "very little regard for the values of this country" -- a smear clearly targeted at the NCLR and other Latino-American civil rights groups.

As for a Swedish-style health system, he's had the opportunity to support one twice, and decided not to both times. He chose not to join the fight for real national healthcare... and he wasn't even willing to lead the fight in his home state for such a system, in order to make the argument that the cost more than justifies both the benefits and the savings to private citizens. Does he honestly think making the argument for bearing the costs of a socialized system in the US is going to be easier than in Vermont... or is he just paying lip service to this issue, while making a promise he knows he can't keep?

Keep in mind, we already have one candidate in this race who was brave enough to fight hard and make the argument for a real socialized health care system. Bernie hasn't shown that kind of bravery on this issue, as of yet.

Bernie Sanders does *NOT* get to arbitrarily declare that policies like immigration reform, real gun control, etc. are not progressive policies, even when they are abundantly backed up by statistical evidence that shows their benefits to society. He's not willing to accept the evidence that the great majority of Democrats and people in the progressive movement have, which shows that immigration creates jobs and grows the economy, with the biggest beneficiaries being US citizens. The idea of having an independent in the White House refusing to accept statistical evidence, while trying to enact "common sense" deals with the right that undermine decades of hard-fought efforts to move in a more rational, Swedish direction is very troubling.

Really, I *wish* Bernie was anything like a Swedish socialist. Instead, he's more of an old school protectionist unionist, from a school of thought that is frankly outmoded, as compared to modern, transparent, fact-driven democratic socialist states.

His policies, in truth, are more like the Sweden Democrats... but that is hardly a complement.
posted by markkraft at 10:31 PM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


Awesome smack-down, markkraft. Back to Clinton, I guess.
posted by No Robots at 5:42 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh thank god i thought we were all out of axes
posted by Kitteh at 5:47 AM on August 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bernie does have some interesting qualities...
posted by sneebler at 7:47 AM on August 26, 2015


"Bernie does have some interesting qualities..."

Jesus, however, wasn't anti-capitalist. He was merely anti-corruption.

Jesus wasn't inhospitable to foreigners. In fact, he was a Swedish socialist. He also encouraged his followers to go overseas and see the world.
posted by markkraft at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2015


I don't really give a shit if we call Bernie's somewhat left of center (by global standards) views socialism or democratic socialism or horseshit socialism if that means that we are ultimately trending the political conversation towards the left, and driving more acceptance of these ideas - and showing that there are views to the left of the center-right policies that we see being driven as "liberal" democratic policies.

Our political labels do not remotely mean the same things in the US that they mean elsewhere in the world, even the over-generalized "left" and "right." I can think of many worse outcomes than having "socialism" be accepted as left to how we see the democratic party today, but not matching the same definition of socialism elsewhere in the world.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:12 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Swedish-style socialism is driven not by political posturing, but by the rigorous use of statistics to drive policies. Sweden ... also understands economics.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. The Riksbank, just like bankers, everywhere puts the interests of creditors before the public. Their Calvinistic abhorrence to public debt is no different than George Osborne. Their insistence on raising interest rates in 2010, even in the face of high unemployment and very low inflation, led to a recurrence of deflation and employment misery. Their irrational fear of inflation is the very opposite of data driven policy.
posted by JackFlash at 10:13 AM on August 26, 2015


Jesus wasn't inhospitable to foreigners. In fact, he was a Swedish socialist.

Please do not do this.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jesus wasn't inhospitable to foreigners. In fact, he was a Swedish socialist.

Please do not do this.


Especially if you're going to use Leviticus, since it predates JC by seven centuries, and Ol' Soc and Ol' Siddh by two.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:15 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


In today's polling news, contra everyone who claims that Sanders can't do well with anyone but white effete liberals or whatever the dismissive smear of the day is, Sanders and Clinton are damn near tied in West Virginia: Clinton 36%, Sanders 32%, 32% undecided.
posted by dialetheia at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2015


The 538 dismissive smear is that he doesn’t do well with blacks & hispanics. Nate Silver points to this August 14 Alabama poll which has Hillary beating Bernie in that state, 78 to 10.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


In today's polling news, contra everyone who claims that Sanders can't do well with anyone but white effete liberals or whatever the dismissive smear of the day is, Sanders and Clinton are damn near tied in West Virginia: Clinton 36%, Sanders 32%, 32% undecided.

Doing well in West Virginia is not a counterexample that Sanders' appeal is heavily concentrated in whites; WV is one of the least diverse and most monolothically white states in the US. It's up there with NH/VT/IA.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2015


Doing well in West Virginia is not a counterexample that Sanders' appeal is heavily concentrated in whites

Nor did I claim it was. It is, however, a place that tends to be short on the "hypereducated hard-left affluent liberals" that everyone (or at least the media) is assuming comprise the majority of Sanders's support.
posted by dialetheia at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


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