I support Senator Bernie Sanders in his candidacy to become the next US president. I would very much like to see him win, and I think he very may well. Now, some people will say, but Bernie Sanders is a self-declared democratic socialist. I see no problem with that. And 49% of Americans, and a larger percentage of people in most nations today, also have no problem with that. And the percentage who do have a problem with that continues to shrink, virtually every day. This is not 1955, and the McCarthy era is over. Let’s try to live in the 21st century.
Bernie Sanders, for a start, is no more socialist than the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. – whom the great majority of Americans revere, and rightly so. And he is less socialist than Jesus, whom the majority claim to revere. We should look at the contradictions here, and give them some serious thought.
Bernie Sanders has been called the second most popular socialist in America, after Jesus, and I think that is a fitting and accurate statement.
Bernie Sanders is not radical. Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist socialist philosopher, scientist, evolutionary biologist, and peer, or superior, to Darwin, was radical – radical in a positive sense, from the original meaning of the word, which is derived from the Latin, radus, meaning root, and meaning, to get to the root of. But Bernie Sanders is not radical. He is simply sensible. Let’s try to keep things in perspective here.
If Bernie had said, let’s take over all the factories and corporate farms in America, and turn them into worker owned democratic co-ops, through revolution, that would be radical. Seeking election to office in order to remove big money from politics, is not radical, it’s just sensible and honest politics – which is something we haven’t had for a very long time, so it seems shocking to some.
Supporting Bernie Sanders’ presidency should not be alarming; it should be a matter of common sense. What would be alarming would be to vote for any other candidate, and to allow the de facto corporate rule of the political process, the government and the nation to continue. That would be shocking, that would be alarming, and that would be unconscionable, as well as frankly insane.
Am I a socialist? Yes – an anarchist socialist, and one who would settle, in the short term, for democratic socialism, but yes, a socialist. Of course I am a socialist – what else would a thinking, feeling, person of conscience be? But first and foremost, I am a democrat.
I supported Ron Paul, though I disagree with him on major points, because he took a strong stand against the dominance of Wall Street over the political process and the government. I support Bernie Sanders for the same reason, and with the same qualifications. I don’t agree with either of these two men on everything, but I agree on the central thing, which is that the power has to be returned to the people, and taken back from the corporate elite who have stolen it and who have effectively taken over.
All the indications are that mixed economies work very well. The Nordic and Scandinavian countries are a good example. They have free markets and a capitalist economy, but they also have socialist elements in the society and the economy as well – such things as health care and education being publicly owned and publicly controlled, through the democratic process, and freely available to all.
In terms of key indicators, the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, with their mixed economies and democratic socialist traditions, lead the world in terms of meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals, and are far ahead of most nations. The US ranks near the bottom, along with Egypt, Chile, Mexico and Greece.
The US figures on homelessness, hunger, poverty and infant mortality also rank it with Third World nations. So something is clearly going wrong, especially considering the US is the richest nation in history, and yet, it lets its people go hungry and homeless, and go without proper health care.
There is something deranged, even pathological, with this picture. Yes, you are your brother’s keeper. The professed Christian values, along side a callous and cold-hearted set of policies, in numerous regards, and shocking levels of poverty and inequality, rapaciousness, violence, militarism and greed, materialism, narcissism, vanity and consumerism, simply appall the world. The people of the US need to be aware of this fact; and more and more of them are, and wish to change it.
Civilized nations, as leading trend analyst, Gerald Celente has said, have universal health care for all. Civilized countries have dikes to keep flood waters out, and serious disaster relief when disaster does strike, and exceeds our capacities to cope with it.
Civilized countries do not let their people die in the streets, from hunger or cold, or leave them to fend for themselves in the face of disaster, as the US government did, in the face of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
The US is in a disgraceful state, and most Americans know it, and want the situation changed. And this time, they don’t want hollow speeches about change, that amount to nothing.
In terms of human happiness, the global polls continue to show that the Nordic countries, with their mixed economies, their universal public health care, free education, several weeks of yearly paid vacations, much higher minimum wages, excellent pensions, paid sick leave and parental leave, rank as the best places in the world to live. And again, the US is far, far below. So clearly, there is much to be said for a mixed economy.
The lesson applies to the United States as well.
The United States is not a pure capitalist society. In fact, as Chomsky has pointed out, a purely capitalist society would disintegrate in no time, and is completely self-annihilating. There is a corporate welfare state that protects and serves and supports big business, as it has always done, but only more so in recent years. Instead of having the state intervene to benefit the rich and the corporations, however, the state could be used, through democratic means, to protect and serve all of the people, and not just the rich and the large corporations. This is what Senator Sanders is seeking to do.
For example, Bernie Sanders is proposing to bring in, not only universal public health care, but universal free education, up to and including college and university, and also, to re-invest in America, and rebuild the economy and the infrastructure, both of which are in tatters, and create jobs for all.
How would that be paid for? By making the richest 1% and the large corporations pay their fair share of tax. Right now, they pay little or no tax, which means a loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues a year. Add to this the massive subsidies, which total hundreds of billions of dollars more per year, and the bailouts and “stimulus” packages, which together have handed $20 trillion to the big banks from the Treasury and the public purse, and you can easily see how such programs that benefit the people could be funded: end the corporate welfare system, make the rich and the big corporations pay a reasonable level of tax, say 30, 40, or 60%, end the enormous subsidies to big business, and stop bailing out the “too big to fail” banks. If they’re too big to fail, then, as Bernie says, they’re too big to exist – break them up. The money is there. It is simply being misspent. Or rather, it is being stolen by the criminals on Wall Street, and their accomplices in the White House, Congress and the judiciary.
Bernie is here to cast the money changers from the temple. There are good precedents for that, and it is needed again today.
And as far as the US being a mixed economy, as I say, it already is, but in limited ways, and in highly distorted ways, due to the excessive corporate dominance over the political process and the government. But already, the US has many elements of socialism, and the great majority of the people like it that way: public schools, public libraries, public roads, sewers, bridges, water treatment, fire departments, colleges and universities – few people would want to do away with these things, and these things are socialist.
Other countries which are democratic and capitalist, also have mixed economies, but with higher levels of socialist elements within those capitalist-democratic societies. Britain, France and Germany, for example, have universal public health care, as does most of Europe. Bernie Sanders is simply proposing that the US enter the civilized world, and bring in universal public health care, like every other civilized nation, and is proposing relatively modest increases in the socialist elements that exist within the basic framework of US capitalist democracy. I do not think that is unreasonable. And more importantly, the great majority of the people in the US are in support of Bernie Sander’s proposed policies.
So we can put the Red Scare terror aside, because under a Sanders administration, the economy would simply become more fair, and would be rebuilt, but the basic framework of the capitalist-democratic system would remain intact.
The main thing that Bernie would help to accomplish, is to get big money out of politics – which is something that 78% of Americans, including the great majority of both Republicans and Democrats, strongly support. In fact, it is the single hottest issue in the nation, and Bernie Sanders is the only major candidate who is seriously addressing it – which is why he is so immensely popular, and why his grassroots support is rising exponentially, every day. We now even have the phenomenon of Republicans For Bernie Sanders. He is taking the country by storm.
I believe in democracy – which is to say, to be clear, constitutional democracy, and not simple majority rule, and constitutional democracy with guaranteed rights and freedoms for all people. And I believe, more over, that democracy has been evolving for a long time, and is still evolving. It was not born a finished work, but a work in progress.
Initially, only the rich, white, male land owners could vote or share in political power. Then women and people of colour won the right to vote. Now, we need to wrest democracy from the big money interests who have taken it over, and restore democracy.
And beyond that, once we have restored democracy, we can further evolve democracy. Part of that evolution of democracy is to apply it, not just to the political realm, but also the economic realm. If we believe in democracy, then we should also have economic democracy. This is the next logical step in the evolution of democracy.
But first things first: first we must recapture and reclaim our democracy from the corporate elite who have stolen and high-jacked it. It’s time to take the power back.
Right now, we have what is in reality, not democracy, but oligarchy. We have a plutocracy, or rule by the rich; or oligarchy, rule by the few. What we have is a neo-feudal corporatism, which, as Mussolini himself said, is the proper term for fascism, for it is the merger of business and the state. Now, you may say what you will about democracy, but it is certainly preferable to fascism, and it is certainly preferable to an oligarchy run by bankers and billionaires and other corporate elites.
Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here, or divide ourselves unnecessarily. We need to take our democracy back. That is step one. And that is something that Bernie Sanders can help us in doing. He deserves our support – whether we are socialists, anarchists, liberals, conservatives, progressives or libertarians, because the alternatives are far worse: Clinton and Trump represent Wall Street and the agenda of the billionaire class. Bernie represents the other 99% of the people. At this time at least, these are the only sides, and the only battle lines, that truly matter.
Democrats and Republicans alike, along with independents and Greens – and anyone who wishes to see power returned to the people, and Wall Street and big money removed from political power, should vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016. It is important, and I do believe he can win. More over, there is simply no other choice.
Don’t worry – Bernie Sanders is not going to abolish capitalism. Some will be angered by this fact, some relieved, but it is a fact. What a Sanders presidency would do, is to begin to restore the power to the people, within the context of a capitalist-democracy, and to make the system more fair for everyone, so that it is not just the top 1% who benefit, or who have power, but all the people. And while this is far from utopian, it is a good first step, and it simply needs to be done.
There are those who believe that Bernie cannot win, or worse, that no real change is possible. I say, let us avoid the iron cage of cynicism, which turns a great many otherwise intelligent people into functional idiots, and set aside, for a moment, our disbelief. If we do so, there is the very real possibility that we will be pleasantly surprised. But as Chomsky has said, if we assume that nothing can be done, then we have created our own self-fulfilling prophecy, and nothing will be done.
But above all, let’s be clear about the choices at hand. It’s Bernie or Wall Street in 2016. Let’s make the right decision.
Vote, and vote in your interests, not against them. Bernie’s got your back. Clinton and Trump want simply to be on it.
Follow the money. Clinton has the backing of Wall Street and corporate America, and is awash in their money – and that is because they know she is going to continue to work for them. Bernie Sanders has raised more money than any other candidate – and he’s done it through half a million small scale donations, averaging $31. This says everything.
The corporate media are clearly favouring Clinton and Trump, and grooming them for power. That should tell us all we need to know about who is the true ally and friend of the people. It is Bernie Sanders.
J. Todd Ring,
October 17, 2015
Chomsky on Socialism
Chomsky on the Soviet Union – which was anything but socialist
Naomi Klein on Neoliberalism and Mixed Economies
Tony Benn: A 10 minute lesson on neoliberalism, socialism and democracy
Big Ideas That Changed The World – The History of Democracy, with Tony Benn, BBC