Anti-Capitalism, Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic Party
While interviewing Bernie Sanders on "Meet The Press" on October 11, 2015 Chuck Todd asked the following question: “Are you a capitalist?” Bernie answered “No. I’m a democratic socialist.” To properly understand his answer, it is helpful to go back 104 years to the candidacy of Eugene V. Debs who, in 1912, ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket. In that election, there were four candidates for President: William Howard Taft (Republican), Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive), Woodrow Wilson (Democrat), and Eugene V. Debs (Socialist).
On some of the platform planks, there was an overlap between the Socialists and the Progressives. Because of that overlap, in recent years, the left-wing communist and socialist hard core of the Democratic Party began calling themselves “Progressives,” as part of the grand scheme of cultural Marxist dissembling whereby they lay claim to the all-American idealism of Theodore Roosevelt. The idea is to appear fair-minded and to pretend that one does not identify with the International Workers of the World or the extreme goals of Eugene Debs and other traitors.
But Progressivism, even in 1912 was far from the same as Socialism. For example, Roosevelt wanted direct election of senators by the people (which eventually came into existence as the Seventeenth Amendment). But the Socialists wanted the abolition of the Senate which had, since the 1890s, been called by some in the press “the rich man’s club.” Roosevelt was a conservationist, but when the word “conservation” appeared in the Socialist Platform it was in reference not only to land as with Roosevelt, but applied to “The conservation of human resources, particularly of the lives and well-being of the workers and their families.” This movement of the language of progressivism into a different context in order to gain plausibility (e.g., “invest” in education is often used by the left today) is typical of the left’s attempt to manipulate public opinion. Also, both Roosevelt and Debs wanted the curbing of court power to issue injunctions in the event of a strike. And both wanted the creation of a Department of Labor. Both opposed child labor, and saw a need for a minimum wage. These points of agreement might superficially lead one to think they were both on the same page. However, Debs wanted a radical overhauling of society and the role of “labor” in society that was far from the thinking of Roosevelt.
What is that radical overhauling he envisaged? First of all, the Socialist Party, completely bought into the Marxist interpretation that there were two classes in society: the capitalist class and the working class. Power and control for the Socialists had to shift from the former to the latter. Their platform stated, “The Socialist party is the political expression of the economic interests of the workers. Its defeats have been their defeats and its victories their victories. It is a party founded on the science and laws of social development. It proposes that, since all social necessities today are socially produced, the means of their production and distribution shall be socially owned and democratically controlled… In the defeat or victory of the working class party in this new struggle for freedom lies the defeat or triumph of the common people of all economic groups, as well as the failure or triumph of popular government.” Using the Saul Alinsky tactic of insinuating oneself into the minds of those who would normally oppose one’s views, we see Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all speaking about the “middle class” being dispossessed in the struggle with the “top 1%.” This switch from speaking about the struggle between the working class and the capitalists (stereotyped as the top 1% instead of portrayed properly as the vast numbers of small businesses that are the true examples of the blessings of capitalism) is a sleight of hand designed to get the populace to bite the hand of capitalism which feeds the prosperity of the American people.
In fact, the Socialist Party platform of 1912 begins with the specific statement: “The Socialist party declares that the capitalist system has outgrown its historical function, and has become utterly incapable of meeting the problems now confronting society. We denounce this outgrown system as incompetent and corrupt and the source of unspeakable misery and suffering to the whole working class.” Bernie is, was, and always has been an adherent of this position. That is why he calls himself a Socialist. What else could he mean? Yet, he wisely does not harp on these ideological underpinnings because time has proved that a different rhetoric is needed to penetrate the American psyche.
Obama and Clinton have the exact same idea; but they have, along with Bill Clinton, tried harder than Bernie to keep up the masquerade of being mainstream, loyal Americans who are working within the context of “American ideals.” But their real left-wing commitment has paved the way for the candidacy of Bernie with his unashamed self-designation as socialist. In her senior thesis at Wellesley, Hillary warmly applauded Saul Alinsky for being identified with such reformer/culture heroes as Eugene Debs. And those who have studied Obama’s ideological history realize he is cut from the same stone as Debs and even empathizes with some individuals more radical than Debs (e.g., terrorist bombers such as Bill Ayers or the rabble-rousing ignoramous Al Sharpton). For example, Obama says he is “pragmatic,” and says that instead of holding to an ideological position about capitalism vs. communism (as in Cuba), we should be pragmatic and just see what works or what doesn’t work. This thinking means only that if you can practically take steps to implement communism within a capitalist context, you take those “pragmatic” steps until the “revolution” is realized. Anti-capitalist views permeate the Democratic Party, and in their purist form are represented by the radical Marxist misanthrope Bernie Sanders.