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What It Means to Be a Socialist, Socialists do not sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable, especially children, on the altars of profit.

22 Sep

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And the measure of a successful society for a socialist is not the GDP or the highs of the stock market but the right of everyone, especially children, never go to bed hungry, to live in safety and security, to be nurtured and educated, and to grow up fulfill his or her potential. Work is not only about a wage, it is about dignity and a sense of self-worth. If you will not dismantle our empire and bring our soldiers and Marines home you are not a socialist. Posted on Sep 20, 2015 Truthdig By Chris Hedges

 

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We live in a revolutionary moment. The disastrous economic and political experiment that attempted to organize human behavior around the dictates of the global marketplace has failed. The promised prosperity that was to have raised the living standards of workers through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources, exploits cheap, unorganized labor and creates pliable, corrupt governments that abandon the common good to serve corporate profit. The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. The citizen has become irrelevant. He or she can participate in heavily choreographed elections, but the demands of corporations and banks are paramount.

History has amply demonstrated that the seizure of power by a tiny cabal, whether a political party or a clique of oligarchs, leads to despotism. Governments that cater exclusively to a narrow interest group and redirect the machinery of state to furthering the interests of that group are no longer capable of responding rationally in times of crisis. Blindly serving their masters, they acquiesce to the looting of state treasuries to bail out corrupt financial houses and banks while ignoring chronic unemployment and underemployment, along with stagnant or declining wages, crippling debt peonage, a collapsing infrastructure, and the millions left destitute and often homeless by deceptive mortgages and foreclosures. A bankrupt liberal class, holding up values it does nothing to defend, discredits itself as well as the purported liberal values of a civil democracy as it is swept aside, along with those values. In this moment, a political, economic or natural disaster—in short a crisis—will ignite unrest, lead to instability and see the state carry out draconian forms of repression to maintain “order.” This is what lies ahead.

We will, as Friedrich Engels wrote, make a transition to either socialism or barbarism. If we do not dismantle global capitalism we will descend into the Hobbesian chaos of failed states, mass migrations—which we are already witnessing—and endless war. Populations, especially in the global South, will endure misery and high mortality rates caused by collapsing ecosystems and infrastructures on a scale not seen since perhaps the black plague. There can be no accommodation with global capitalism. We will overthrow this system or be crushed by it. And at this moment of crisis we need to remind ourselves what being a socialist means and what it does not mean.

First and foremost, all socialists are unequivocal anti-militarists and anti-imperialists. They understand that there is no genuine social, political, economic or cultural reform as long as the militarists and their corporatist allies in the war industry continue to loot and pillage the state budget, leaving the poor to go hungry, workingmen and -women in distress, the infrastructure to collapse and social services to be slashed in the name of austerity. The psychosis of permanent war, which infected the body politic after World War I with the internal and external war on communism, and which today has mutated into the war on terror, is used by the state to strip us of civil liberties, redirect our resources to the war machine and criminalize democratic dissent. We have squandered trillions of dollars and resources in endless and futile wars, from Vietnam to the Middle East, at a time of ecological and fiscal crisis. The folly of endless war is one of the signs of a dying civilization. One F-22 Raptor fighter plane costs $350 million. We have 187 of them. One Tomahawk cruise missile costs $1.41 million. We fired 161 of them when we attacked Libya. This missile attack on Libya alone cost us a quarter of a billion dollars. We spend an estimated $1.7 trillion a year on war, far more than the official 54 percent of discretionary spending, or roughly $600 billion. If we don’t break the back of the war machine, profound change will be impossible.

We have been at war almost continuously since the first Gulf War in 1991, followed by Somalia in 1992, Haiti in 1994, Bosnia in 1995, Serbia-Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, where we have now been fighting for 14 years, and Iraq in 2003. And we can toss in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Syria, along with Israel’s proxy war against the Palestinian people.

The human cost has been horrendous. Over 1 million dead in Iraq. Millions more are displaced or are refugees. Iraq will never be reconstituted as a unified state. And it was our war industry that created the mess. We attacked a country that did not threaten us, and had no intention of threatening its neighbors, and destroyed one of the most modern infrastructures in the Middle East. We brought not only terror and death—including the Shiite death squads we armed and trained—but power outages, food shortages and the collapse of basic services, from garbage collection to sewer and water treatment. We dismantled Iraq’s institutions, disbanded its security forces, threw its health service into crisis and engineered massive poverty and unemployment. And out of the chaos rose insurgents, gangsters, kidnapping rings, jihadists and rogue paramilitary groups—including our hired mercenaries, like [the current army of] Iraq. Gary Leupp in an article in Counterpunch titled “How George W. Bush Destroyed the Temple of Baal” got it when he wrote:

 

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Bush destroyed the law and order which had permitted girls to walk to school, heads uncovered, in modern western dress. He destroyed the freedom of physicians and other professionals to go about their work and caused masses of them to exit their country. He destroyed neighborhoods whose residents were forced to flee for their lives. He destroyed the Christian community, which dropped from 1.5 million in 2001 to perhaps 200,000 a decade later. He destroyed the prevalent ideology of secularism and ushered in an era of bitterly contested sectarian rule. He destroyed the right to broadcast rock ‘n roll music, or sell liquor and DVDs.

He destroyed the stability of Anbar province by sowing the chaos that allowed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to establish—for the first time—an al-Qaeda branch in Iraq.

He destroyed the stability of Syria when “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” (now ISIL) retreated into that neighboring country during the “surge” of 2007. By creating power vacuums and generating new chapters and spin-offs of al-Qaeda, he destroyed Yazidi communities and their freedom from genocide and slavery. By hatching the forerunner of ISIL, he destroyed the prospects for a peaceful “Arab Spring” in Syria three years after his presidency ended.

Through his actions he destroyed the border between Syria and Iraq. He destroyed the Tomb of Jonah in Mosul. He destroyed 3,300 year old monuments, the glorious art of the Assyrians, in Nimrud. On August 23 while sitting in his home artist’s studio in Crawford, Texas, he destroyed the 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria.

The most complete structure in that gorgeous pearl of an ancient preserved city, a mix of Roman, Syrian and Egyptian artistic influences, is now a pile of rubble.

Foreign battlefields are laboratories for the architects of industrial slaughter. They perfect the tools of control and annihilation on the demonized and the destitute. But these tools eventually make their way back to the heart of empire. As the corporatists and the militarists disembowel the nation, rendering our manufacturing centers boarded-up wastelands and tossing our citizens into poverty and despair, the methods of subjugation familiar to those on the outer reaches migrate back to us—wholesale surveillance, indiscriminate use of lethal force in the streets of our cities against unarmed citizens, a stripping away of our civil liberties, a dysfunctional court system, drones, arbitrary arrest, detention and mass incarceration. The tyranny empire imposes on others, as Thucydides reminded us, it finally imposes on itself. Those who kill in our name abroad soon kill in our name at home. Democracy is snuffed out. As the German socialist Karl Liebknecht said during the First World War: “The main enemy is at home.” We will destroy the engines of endless war and shut down the war profiteers or we will become the next victims; indeed many in our marginal communities already are its victims.

You cannot be a socialist and an imperialist. You cannot, as Bernie Sanders has done, support the Obama administration’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and be a socialist. You cannot, as Sanders has done, vote for every military appropriations bill, including every bill and resolution that empowers and sanctions Israel to carry out its slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, and be a socialist. And you cannot laud, as Sanders has done, military contractors because they bring jobs to your state. Sanders may have the rhetoric of inequality down, but he is a full-fledged member of the Democratic Caucus, which kneels before the war industry and their lobbyists. And no genuine grass-roots movement will ever be born within the bowels of the Democratic Party establishment, which is currently attempting to shut down Sanders to make sure its anointed candidate is the nominee. No elected official dares to challenge any weapons system, no matter how costly or redundant. And Sanders, who votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time, steers clear of confronting the master of war.

Sanders, of course, like all elected officials, profits from this Faustian pact. The Vermont Democratic Party leadership, in return for his deference, has not supported any candidate to run against Sanders since 1990. Sanders endorses Democratic candidates, no matter how much they push neoliberalism down our throats, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. And Sanders, carrying water for the Democrats, is the primary obstacle to the building of a third party in Vermont.

There is a reason no establishment politician, including Sanders, dares say a word against the war industry. If you do, you end up like Ralph Nader, tossed into the political wilderness. Nader was not afraid to speak this truth. And it is in the wilderness, I am afraid, that real socialists must for the moment reside. Socialists understand that if we do not dismantle the war industry, nothing, absolutely nothing, will change; indeed, things will only get worse.

War is a business. Imperial wars seize natural resources on behalf of corporations and ensure the profits of the arms industry. This is as true in Iraq as it was in our campaigns of genocide against Native Americans. And, as A. Philip Randolph said, it is only when it is impossible to profit from war that wars will be dramatically curtailed, if not stopped. No one sitting in the boardroom of General Dynamics is hoping peace breaks out in the Middle East. No one in the Pentagon, especially the generals who build their careers by fighting and managing wars, prays for a cessation of conflict.

 

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War, wrapped in the cant of nationalism and the euphoria that comes with the giddy celebration of power and violence, is used by ruling elites to thwart and destroy the aspirations of workingmen and -women and distract us from our disempowerment.

“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. … And that is war, in a nutshell,” the [five-time] socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs said during World War I. “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.”

Debs, who in 1912 received almost a million votes, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for saying this. The judge who sentenced him denounced those “who would strike the sword from the hand of this nation while she is engaged in defending herself against a foreign and brutal power.”

“I have been accused of obstructing the war,” Debs said in court. “I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose war if I stood alone.”

Debs, who would spend 32 months in prison, until 1921, also delivered to many a socialist credo at his sentencing after being found guilty of violating the Espionage Act:

“Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

The capitalist class and its doppelgängers in the military establishment have carried out what John Ralston Saul calls a coup d’état in slow motion. The elites use war, as they always have, as a safety valve for class conflict. War, as W.E.B. Du Bois said, creates an artificial community of interest between the oligarchs and the poor, diverting the poor from their natural interests. The redirecting of national frustrations and emotions into the struggle against a common enemy, the cant of patriotism, the endemic racism that is the fuel of all ideologies that sustain war, the false bonding that comes with the sense of comradeship, seduces those on the margins of society. They feel in wartime that they belong. They feel they have a place. They are offered the chance to be heroes. And off they march like sheep to the slaughter. By the time they find out, it is too late.

“Modern totalitarianism can integrate the masses so completely into the political structure, through terror and propaganda, that they become the architects of their own enslavement,” wrote Dwight Macdonald. “This does not make slavery less, but on the contrary more—a paradox there is no space to unravel here. Bureaucratic collectivism, not capitalism, is the most dangerous future enemy of socialism.”

“War,” as Randolph Bourne wrote, “is the health of the state.” It allows the state to accrue to itself power and resources that in peacetime a citizenry would never permit. And that is why the war state, like the one we live in, has to make certain that we are always afraid. Constant violence by the war machine, we are assured, will alone make us safe. Any attempt to rein in spending or expanding power will profit the enemy.

It was the militarists and the capitalists that at the end of World War II conspired to roll back the gains made by workingmen and -women under the New Deal. They used the rhetoric of the Cold War to cement into place an economy geared towards total war, even in peacetime. This permitted the arms industry to continue to make weapons, with guaranteed profits from the state, and permitted the generals to continue to preside over their fiefdoms. The incestuous relations between the corporatists and the militarists see retired generals and officers offered lucrative jobs in the war industry.

The manufacturing of weapons systems and the waging of war is today the chief activity of the state. It is no longer one among other means of advancing the national interest, as Simone Weil pointed out, but has become the sole national interest. These corporatists and militarists are the enemy of socialists. They bankrolled and promoted movements in the early 20th century that called for reforms within these structures of capitalism—that spoke in the language of the “politics of productivism,” that eschewed the language of class conflict and talked only about economic growth and a partnership with the capitalist class. The NAACP, for example, was formed to lure African-Americans away from the Communist Party, the only radical organization in the early 20th century that did not discriminate. The AFL-CIO was [later] fed CIA money to help crush and supplant radical unions abroad and at home. The AFL-CIO, like the NAACP, is today a victim of its own corruption and bureaucratic senility. Its bloated leadership pulls down huge salaries as its dwindling rank and file is stripped of benefits and protections. The capitalists no longer need what they once called “responsible” unionism—which meant pliable unionism. And once the capitalists and the militarists killed off the radical movements and unions they finished off the dupes who had helped them do it. And that is why less than 12 percent of our country’s workforce is unionized and why we have such vast income disparities and chronic unemployment and underemployment. Surplus labor, desperate for work and unwilling to challenge the bosses to retain a job, is the bulwark of capitalism.

 

 

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The radicals, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or Wobblies, founded by Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood in 1905, were destroyed by the state. Department of Justice agents in 1912 made simultaneous raids on 48 IWW meeting halls across the country and arrested 165 IWW union leaders. One hundred one went to trial, including Big Bill Haywood, who testified for three days. One of the IWW leaders told the court:

You ask me why the I.W.W. is not patriotic to the United States. If you were a bum without a blanket; if you had left your wife and kids when you went west for a job, and had never located them since; if your job had never kept you long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if you slept in a lousy, sour bunkhouse, and ate food just as rotten as they could give you and get by with it; if deputy sheriffs shot your cooking cans full of holes and spilled your grub on the ground; if your wages were lowered on you when the bosses thought they had you down; if there was one law forFord, Suhr, and Mooney and another for Harry Thaw: if every person who represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to it, how in hell do you expect a man to be patriotic?

This war is a business man’s war and we don’t see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs that we now enjoy.

The Wobblies once led strikes involving hundreds of thousands of workers and preached an uncompromising doctrine of class warfare. It went the way of the passenger pigeon. The Socialist Party by 1912 had 126,000 members, 1,200 officeholders in 340 municipalities, and 29 English and 22 foreign-language weeklies, along with three English and six foreign-language dailies. It included in its ranks tenant farmers, garment workers, railroad workers, coal miners, hotel and restaurant workers, dock workers and lumberjacks. It too was liquidated by the state. Socialist leaders were jailed or deported. Socialist publications such as The Masses and Appeal to Reason were banned. The assault, aided later by McCarthyism, has left us without the vocabulary to make sense of our own reality, to describe the class war being waged against us by our corporate oligarchs. And it has left us without the radical movements that, as Howard Zinn made clear, opened up all the spaces in American democracy.

We will regain this militancy, this uncompromising commitment to socialism, or the system the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism” will establish the most efficient security and surveillance state in human history and a species of neofeudalism. We must stop pouring our energy into mainstream political campaigns. The game is rigged. We will rebuild our radical movements or become hostages to the capitalists and the war industry. Fear is the only language the power elite understands. This is a dark fact of human nature. It is why Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. Nixon was not a liberal [personally]. He was devoid of empathy and lacked a conscience. But he was frightened of movements. You do not make your enemy afraid by selling out. You make your enemy afraid by refusing to submit, by fighting for your vision and by organizing. It is not our job to take power. It is our job to build movements to keep power in check. Without these movements nothing is possible.

“You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it,” Malcolm X said.  “When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a ‘crazy Negro,’ or they’ll call you a “crazy nigger”—they don’t say Negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red, or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom. … So don’t you run around here trying to make friends with somebody who’s depriving you of your rights. They’re not your friends, no, they’re your enemies. Treat them like that and fight them, and you’ll get your freedom; and after you get your freedom, your enemy will respect you. And I say that with no hate. I don’t have hate in me. I have no hate at all. I don’t have any hate. I’ve got some sense. I’m not going to let anybody who hates me tell me to love him.”

The New Deal—which as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a charter member of the oligarchic class, said—saved capitalism, was put in place because socialists were strong and a serious threat. The oligarchs understood that with the breakdown of capitalism—something I expect we will again witness in our lifetimes—there was a real possibility of a socialist revolution. They were terrified they would lose their wealth and power. Roosevelt, writing to a friend in 1930, said there was “no question in my mind that it is time for the country to become fairly radical for at least one generation. History shows that where this occurs occasionally, nations are saved from revolution.”

In other words, Roosevelt went to his fellow oligarchs and said hand over some of your money or you will lose all your money in a revolution. And his fellow capitalists complied. And that is how the government created 15 million jobs, Social Security, unemployment benefits and public works projects. The capitalists did not do this because the suffering of the masses moved them. They did this because they were scared. And they were sacred of radicals and socialists.

 

NO WAR BUT CLASS WAR!

                                           NO WAR BUT CLASS WAR!

 

George Bernard Shaw got it right in his play “Major Barbara.” The greatest crime is poverty. It is the crime every socialist is dedicated to eradicating. As Shaw wrote:

All the other crimes are virtues beside it; all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole cities, spreads horrible pestilences, strikes dead the very souls of all who come within sight, sound, or smell of it. What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a theft there, a blow now and a curse then. What do they matter? They are only the accidents and illnesses of life; there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in London. But there are millions of poor people, abject people, dirty people, ill-fed, ill-clothed people. They poison us morally and physically; they kill the happiness of society; they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss. Only fools fear crime; we all fear poverty.

We must stop looking for our salvation in strong leaders. Strong people, as Ella Baker said, do not need strong leaders. Politicians, even good politicians, play the game of compromise and are too often seduced by the privileges of power. Sanders, from all I can tell, began his political life as a socialist in the 1960s when this was hardly a bold political statement, but quickly figured out he was not going to have a seat at the table if he remained one. He wants his seniority in the Senate. He wants his committee chairmanships. He wants his ability to retain his seat unchallenged. This was no doubt politically astute. But in this process he sold us out.

Jeremy Corbyn, the new head of the [British] Labour Party, offers another example. He spent three decades marginalized even within his own party because he held fast to the central tenets of socialism. And as the lie of neoliberalism, championed by the two ruling parties in Britain, became apparent, people knew whom they could trust. Corbyn never made an astute career move in his life. And that is why the establishment is so frightened of him. They know they cannot buy Corbyn off, any more than you could buy off Mother Jones or Big Bill Haywood. Integrity and courage are powerful weapons. We have to learn how to use them. We have to stand up for what we believe in. And we have to accept the risks and even the ridicule that comes with this stance. We will not prevail any other way.

As a socialist I am not concerned with what is expedient or what is popular. I am concerned with what is right. I am concerned with holding fast to the core ideals of socialism, if for no other reason than keeping this option alive for future generations. And these ideals are the only ones that make possible a better world.

If you will not call for an arms embargo along with the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, you are not a socialist. If you will not demand we dismantle our military establishment, which is managing the government’s wholesale surveillance of every citizen and storing all our personal information in perpetuity in government computer banks, and if you will not abolish the for-profit arms industry, you are not a socialist. If you will not call for the prosecution of those leaders, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who engage in aggressive acts of pre-emptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act, you are not a socialist. If you will not stand with the oppressed across the globe you are not a socialist. Socialists do not pick and choose whom among the oppressed it is convenient to support. Socialists understand that you stand with all the oppressed or none of the oppressed, that this is a global fight for life against global corporate tyranny. We will win only when we stand together, when we see the struggle of workingmen in Greece, Spain and Egypt as our own struggle.

 

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If you will not call for full employment and unionized workplaces you are not a socialist. If you will not call for inexpensive mass transit, especially in impoverished communities, you are not a socialist. If you will not call for universal, single-payer health care and a banning of for-profit health care corporations you are not a socialist. If you will not raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour you are not a socialist. If you are not willing to provide a weekly income of $600 to the unemployed, the disabled, stay-at-home parents, the elderly and those unable to work you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal anti-union laws, like the Taft-Hartley Act, and trade agreements from NAFTA to the TPP and CAFTA, you are not a socialist. If you will not guarantee all Americans a pension in old age you are not a socialist. If you will not support two years of paid maternity leave, as well as shorter workweeks with no loss in pay and benefits, you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal the Patriot Act and Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act as well as halt government spying on citizens, along with mass incarceration, you are not a socialist. If you will not put into place laws that prohibit all forms of male violence against women and criminalize the trafficking and pimping out of prostituted girls and women, while not criminalizing the exploited girls and women, you are not a socialist. If you do not support a woman’s right to control her own body you are not a socialist. If you do not support full equality for our GBLT community you are not a socialist. If you will not declare global warming a national and global emergency and divert our energy and resources to saving the planet through public investment in renewable energy and an end to our reliance on fossil fuels you are not a socialist. If you will not nationalize public utilities, including the railroads, energy companies and banks, you are not a socialist. If you will not support government funding for the arts and public broadcasting to create places where creativity, self-expression and voices of dissent can be heard and seen you are not a socialist. If you will not terminate our nuclear weapons programs and build a nuclear-free world you are not a socialist. If you will not demilitarize our police, meaning that police no longer carry weapons when they patrol our streets but rely on specialized armed units that have to be authorized case-by-case to use lethal force, you are not a socialist. If you will not support government training and rehabilitation programs for the poor and those in our prisons, along with the abolition of the death penalty, you are not a socialist. If you will not grant full citizenship to undocumented workers you are not a socialist. If you do not declare a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions you are not a socialist. If you will not provide free education from day care to university, and forgive all student debt, you are not a socialist. And if you will not provide free, state-run mental health care, especially for those now caged in our prisons, you are not a socialist. If you will not dismantle our empire and bring our soldiers and Marines home you are not a socialist.

Socialists do not sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable, especially children, on the altars of profit. And the measure of a successful society for a socialist is not the GDP or the highs of the stock market but the right of everyone, especially children, never go to bed hungry, to live in safety and security, to be nurtured and educated, and to grow up fulfill his or her potential. Work is not only about a wage, it is about dignity and a sense of self-worth.

I am not naive about the forces arrayed against us. I understand the difficulty of our struggle. But we will never succeed if we attempt to accommodate the current structures of power. Our strength lies in our steadfastness and our integrity. It lies in our ability to hold fast to our ideals, as well as our willingness to sacrifice for those ideals. We must refuse to cooperate. We must march to the beat of a different drum. We must rebel. And we must grasp that rebellion is not carried out finally for what it achieves, but for whom it allows us to become. Rebellion sustains in an age of darkness hope and the capacity for love. Rebellion must become our vocation.

“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career,” Vaclav Havel said when he battled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. “You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. … The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin—and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.”

 

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These neoliberal forces are rapidly destroying the earth. Polar ice caps and glaciers are melting. Temperatures and sea levels are rising. Species are gong extinct. Floods, monster hurricanes, mega-droughts and wildfires have begun to eat away at the planet. The great mass migrations predicted by climate scientists have begun. And even if we stopped all carbon emissions today we would still endure the effects of catastrophic climate change. Out of the disintegrating order comes the nihilistic violence that always characterizes societies that fall apart—mass shootings at home and religious persecution, beheadings and executions by individuals that neoliberalism and globalism have demonized, attacked and discarded as human refuse.

I cannot promise you we will win. I cannot promise you we will even survive as a species. But I can promise you that an open and sustained defiance of global capitalism and the merchants of death, along with the building of a socialist movement, is our only hope. I am a parent, as are many of you. We have betrayed our children. We have squandered their future. And if we rise up, even if we fail, future generations, and especially those who are most precious to us, will be able to say we tried, that we stood up and fought for life. The call to resistance, which will require civil disobedience and jail time, is finally a call to the moral life. Resistance is not about what we achieve, but about what it allows us to become. In the end, I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.

 

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Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt By Chris Hedges

 

 

 

Revolutions come in waves and cycles. We are again riding the crest of a revolutionary epic, much like 1848 or 1917, from the Arab Spring to movements against austerity in Greece to the Occupy movement. In Wages of Rebellion, Chris Hedges—who has chronicled the malaise and sickness of a society in terminal moral decline in his books Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class—investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion, and resistance. Drawing on an ambitious overview of prominent philosophers, historians, and literary figures he shows not only the harbingers of a coming crisis but also the nascent seeds of rebellion. Hedges’ message is clear: popular uprisings in the United States and around the world are inevitable in the face of environmental destruction and wealth polarization.

Focusing on the stories of rebels from around the world and throughout history, Hedges investigates what it takes to be a rebel in modern times. Utilizing the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, Hedges describes the motivation that guides the actions of rebels as “sublime madness” — the state of passion that causes the rebel to engage in an unavailing fight against overwhelmingly powerful and oppressive forces. For Hedges, resistance is carried out not for its success, but as a moral imperative that affirms life. Those who rise up against the odds will be those endowed with this “sublime madness.”

From South African activists who dedicated their lives to ending apartheid, to contemporary anti-fracking protests in Alberta, Canada, to whistleblowers in pursuit of transparency,Wages of Rebellion shows the cost of a life committed to speaking the truth and demanding justice. Hedges has penned an indispensable guide to rebellion.

The Folly of Empire; “At times when the page is turning,” “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

16 Sep

Nietzsche on the State

 

The final days of empire give ample employment and power to the feckless, the insane and the idiotic. These politicians and court propagandists, hired to be the public faces on the sinking ship, mask the real work of the crew, which is systematically robbing the passengers as the vessel goes down. The mandarins of power stand in the wheelhouse barking ridiculous orders and seeing how fast they can gun the engines. They fight like children over the ship’s wheel as the vessel heads full speed into a giant ice field. They wander the decks giving pompous speeches. They shout that the SS America is the greatest ship ever built. They insist that it has the most advanced technology and embodies the highest virtues. And then, with abrupt and unexpected fury, down we will go into the frigid waters.

The last days of empire are carnivals of folly. We are in the midst of our own, plunging forward as our leaders court willful economic and environmental self-destruction. Sumer and Rome went down like this. So did the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Men and women of stunning mediocrity and depravity led the monarchies of Europe and Russia on the eve of World War I. And America has, in its own decline, offered up its share of weaklings, dolts and morons to steer it to destruction. A nation that was still rooted in reality would never glorify charlatans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Newt Gingrich as they pollute the airwaves. If we had any idea what was really happening to us we would have turned in fury against Barack Obama, whose signature legacy will be utter capitulation to the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex and the security and surveillance state. We would have rallied behind those few, such as Ralph Nader, who denounced a monetary system based on gambling and the endless printing of money and condemned the willful wrecking of the ecosystem. We would have mutinied. We would have turned the ship back.

 

The Robber Barons

 

The populations of dying empires are passive because they are lotus-eaters. There is a narcotic-like reverie among those barreling toward oblivion. They retreat into the sexual, the tawdry and the inane, retreats that are momentarily pleasurable but ensure self-destruction. They naively trust it will all work out. As a species, Margaret Atwood observes in her dystopian novel “Oryx and Crake,” “we’re doomed by hope.” And absurd promises of hope and glory are endlessly served up by the entertainment industry, the political and economic elite, the class of courtiers who pose as journalists, self-help gurus like Oprah and religious belief systems that assure followers that God will always protect them. It is collective self-delusion, a retreat into magical thinking.

“The American citizen thus lives in a world where fantasy is more real than reality, where the image has more dignity than the original,” Daniel J. Boorstin wrote in his book “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America.” “We hardly dare face our bewilderment, because our ambiguous experience is so pleasantly iridescent, and the solace of belief in contrived reality is so thoroughly real. We have become eager accessories in the great hoaxes of the age. These are the hoaxes we play on ourselves.”

Culture and literacy, in the final stage of decline, are replaced with noisy diversions and empty clichés. The Roman statesman Cicero inveighed against their ancient equivalent—the arena. Cicero, for his honesty, was hunted down and murdered and his hands and head were cut off. His severed head and his right hand, which had written the Philippics, were nailed onto the speaker’s platform in the Forum. The roaring crowds, while the Roman elite spat on the head, were gleefully told he would never speak or write again. In the modern age this toxic, mindless cacophony, our own version of spectacle and gladiator fights, of bread and circus, is pumped into the airwaves in 24-hour cycles. Political life has fused into celebrity worship. Education is primarily vocational. Intellectuals are cast out and despised. Artists cannot make a living. Few people read books. Thought has been banished, especially at universities and colleges, where timid pedants and careerists churn out academic drivel. “Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” “it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.” And ours have been destroyed.

 

 

Sensual pleasure and eternal youth are our overriding obsessions. The Roman emperor Tiberius, at the end, fled to the island of Capri and turned his seaside palace into a house of unbridled lust and violence. “Bevies of girls and young men, whom he had collected from all over the Empire as adepts in unnatural practices, and known as spintriae, would copulate before him in groups of three, to excite his waning passions,” Suetonius wrote in “The Twelve Caesars.” Tiberius trained small boys, whom he called his minnows, to frolic with him in the water and perform oral sex. And after watching prolonged torture, he would have captives thrown into the sea from a cliff near his palace. Tiberius would be followed by Caligula and Nero.

“At times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Céline wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The anthropologist Joseph Tainter in his book “The Collapse of Complex Societies” looked at the collapse of civilizations from the Roman to the Mayan. He concluded that they disintegrated because they finally could not sustain the bureaucratic complexities they had created. Layers of bureaucracy demand more and more exploitation, not only of the environment but the laboring classes. They become calcified by systems that are unable to respond to the changing reality around them. They, like our elite universities and business schools, churn out systems managers, people who are taught not to think but to blindly service the system. These systems managers know only how to perpetuate themselves and the system they serve, although serving that system means disemboweling the nation and the planet. Our elites and bureaucrats exhaust the earth to hold up a system that worked in the past, failing to see that it no longer works. Elites, rather than contemplate reform, which would jeopardize their privilege and power, retreat in the twilight of empire into walled compounds like the Forbidden City or Versailles. They invent their own reality. Those on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms have replicated this behavior. They insist that continued reliance on fossil fuel and speculations will sustain the empire. State resources, as Tainter notes, are at the end increasingly squandered on extravagant and senseless projects and imperial adventures. And then it all collapses.

Our collapse will take the whole planet with it.

It is more pleasant, I admit, to stand mesmerized in front of our electronic hallucinations. It is easier to check out intellectually. It is more gratifying to imbibe the hedonism and the sickness of the worship of the self and money. It is more comforting to chatter about celebrity gossip and ignore or dismiss what is reality.

 

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It is more pleasant, I admit, to stand mesmerized in front of our electronic hallucinations. It is easier to check out intellectually. It is more gratifying to imbibe the hedonism and the sickness of the worship of the self and money. It is more comforting to chatter about celebrity gossip and ignore or dismiss what is reality.

Thomas Mann in “The Magic Mountain” and Joseph Roth in “Hotel Savoy” brilliantly chronicled this peculiar state of mind. In Roth’s hotel the first three floors house in luxury the bloated rich, the amoral politicians, the bankers and the business owners. The upper floors are crammed with people who struggle to pay their bills and who are steadily divested of their possessions until they are destitute and cast out. There is no political ideology among decayed ruling elites, despite choreographed debates and elaborate political theater. It is, as it always is at the end, one vast kleptocracy.

Just before World War II, a friend asked Roth, a Jewish intellectual who had fled Nazi Germany for Paris, “Why are you drinking so much?” Roth answered: “Do you think you are going to escape? You too are going to be wiped out.”
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Evaluating the Sanders Candidacy; Progressives should take independent political action, break dependency on the Democratic Party and defeat the right wing.

4 Sep

 

Sanders’ anti-One Percent message is welcome. Nonetheless, “political independence inside the Democratic Party” is a dead end. Progressives should take independent political action, break dependency on the Democratic Party and defeat the right wing.

The yearning among millions of Americans for a change in politics as usual is evident in the enthusiasm for Senator Bernie Sanders anti-One Percent campaign. In late June, on ABC’s This Week, Sanders said he would win because Americans are “…sick and tired of working longer hours for low wages while at the same time 99 percent of all new income generated is going to the top 1 percent and the top one-tenth-of-one-percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” [1]

Those are fight’n words that have found traction among millions of voters. His message echoes Occupy Wall Street’s scrappy call to fight back against the greed and usury of the 1 percent. Those who see the need to build a political movement to challenge the two major parties should closely follow voters’ response to his campaign program, as it is a barometer of independent electoral opportunities.

In recent campaign appearances Sanders called for doubling the minimum wage, providing free college education, breaking up the largest banks, creating a universal health care system and expanding union rights. Hillary Clinton and the Democrat’s center-right leadership would not support any of these initiatives.

On foreign policy Sanders stands to the left of the Democratic Party’s imperialist center, but he is inconsistent. Sanders voted to authorize the invasion of Afghanistan, though he vigorously opposed the Iraq War. In 1999 he voted to authorize President Clinton’s use of military force and bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The first of many of U.S initiated illegal regime change adventures to come. Like most of his senate colleagues he refers to Israel as a key ally and friend. He publicly supported Israeli attacks on Palestinians.

He typically goes along with economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., for example, on Iran, Russia, Libya and Iraq before the 2003 war. Knowing sanctions are precursors to military aggression, his support is misguided. During the U.S. and NATO bombing of Libya in 2011, Sanders noted an interview his constituents were upset there was no debate in congress before Obama acted. Yet, when asked if he would support a resolution to authorize the war under the War Powers Act, he said, “We’ll see.” [2]

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

The “System” holds no future for the 99% – A Revolution doesThe “System” holds no future for the 99%  A Revolution does

 

In 2013, when Obama proposed bombing Syria, Sanders did not come out against the action, even after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly voted to authorize the campaign. Sanders said constituents calling his offices were nearly unanimous in their opposition, but he was going to continue to listen to the president’s arguments. [3] While Sanders does not have a war-hawk record like Clinton, neither is he an anti-war candidate.

What is curious about his otherwise radical sounding campaign is he seldom discusses foreign policy on the stump, in interviews or campaign statements. [4] The campaign website does not mention foreign policy, a critique of drone warfare or ongoing wars. Yet, it is quite clear from polling data that a majority of Americans are as tired of war as they are tried of Wall Street greed.

Could Sanders’ silence on foreign policy be to protect Vermont from losing military-related jobs? An air force base near Burlington, under review to be closed or downsized, was recently given a reprieve, when it was chosen to be the home base of the new, $400 billion F-35 fighter plane.  Sanders defended the plane and lobbied for it being located in Vermont. Vermont firms also depend on defense department engineering and manufacturing contracts. Sanders knows the political/military establishment is not above threaten critics with loss of contracts.

Perhaps his reticence to discuss U.S. imperialist aggression and interference in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine or closer to home, Venezuela or Honduras, is that it would mean Hillary Clinton would have to defend her hawkish record to a public tired of war. A reasonable question to ask is if his inattention to foreign policy is designed to avoid such a confrontation that could damage Clinton’s general election campaign. Or, does he agree with her, as his record in part shows? Many of Sanders’ supporters likely disagree with Hillary’s record. If so, they should begin asking their candidate some tough questions. – See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

The appeal of Sanders’ domestic program

No doubt on domestic issues Sanders program for a political revolution resonates with a sizable percentage of the electorate, perhaps approaching 30 to 50 percent depending on the issue. So what are his chances of his winning the nomination? As much as his domestic agenda appeals to the disenchanted among democrats and unaffiliated voters the odds are stacked against him for the nomination as discussed in more detail below.

National polling shows Sanders with a respectable 15 percent of the vote among potential voters considering he has no national organization in place to sustain a general election bid. Among Democrats in early primary and caucus states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, polls shows he may garner support from 30 percent or more. Crowds at campaign rallies continue to grow with an estimated 10,000 in Madison, WI, July 1 and that number again recently in Phoenix, AZ.

These results show there is a constituency around Sanders’ social equity domestic agenda on which to challenge to the two major parties. Politically, 2016 is ripe for an independent run for president on a program like Sanders’. Discontent runs high and 50 percent of voters want more choices than the two major parties. The wild card played by social media provides an inexpensive means to reach the public, especially among young voters. Might the response to Sanders been greater if he had to chosen run an independent campaign?

But running for president on a domestic program like Sanders’, without a host of like-minded congressional candidates, is strategically flawed. Voters are less likely to take it as a serious effort, see it as a spoiler or symbolic, a flash-in-the-pan campaign. A slate of congressional candidates running on the same program would mark a serious effort at a political revolution. This would attract more local media coverage and extend the organizational capacity of the congressional and presidential candidates without adding additional resources. So, far it appears Sanders has not recruited any sitting or prospective congressional candidates to take up his domestic program. This adds to skepticism about the intent of his campaign.

It appears from outside Sanders and his supporters had insufficient discussion with left, progressive, peace, labor, women’s and civil rights groups, immigrant rights and other forces before launching the campaign. Such a discussion even for a symbolic campaign to raise issues is incumbent on someone challenging the center-right, pro-war, corporate forces that control the Democratic Party.

These discussions might have concluded a more effective strategy would be to run as an independent left of center candidate. Even if this were not the outcome, discussions might have generated initiatives to run, left, independent or progressive democrats for House or Senate seats in 2016 and beyond. Sanders would also likely also have been confronted with demands he take a firm stand against the militarist foreign policy of interventions and war.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

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Why no critique of Democratic Party?

Sanders entry into the Democratic primary with little or no critique of the party raises concerns as well. Millions of U.S. workers see the Democratic Party as part of the problem, not the solution – a party solidly in the hands of big business and servants of Wall Street not the working class. The recent fight over Fast Track Trade authority reinforced this sensibility, especially among union workers. Front-runner, Clinton stonewalled aggressive AFL-CIO union leaders demands for her to speak out against Fast Track. Not surprisingly, she refused.

Sanders, on the other hand, vigorously opposed it. He deserves working people’s thanks. Still, he has not questioned Hillary on her rebuff of labor or her position on Fast Track. This is after all an issue for what Sanders calls the middle class. Since Sanders is running in the party that gave us NAFTA and is now trying to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership seems incumbent on him to challenge Hillary.

Aligning a domestic reform agenda like Sanders’ within the Democratic Party is to dance with corporate and political figures that categorically oppose that agenda. Furthermore many Democratic elected officials and their corporate backers supported policies that contributed to creating the health care crisis, wage inequality, declining union membership and rising tuition and student debt. The very problems Sanders’ program is designed to correct.

I concede the Sanders campaign for the nomination may move public consciousness left and it does resonate with the discontent with politics as usual. As such, it could open future opportunities for independent political action. No doubt, as Sanders concluded, it would be more difficult to reach an audience running outside the Democratic Party. However, it could have been more effective.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

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The deck is stacked and the game rigged

It is a bit naïve to think a candidate who opposes powerful interests within the Democratic Party [5] on major domestic issues can win the nomination. It assumes the entire the party apparatus, that is essentially owned and funded by wealthy donors, will be handed over to a challenger, in this case to a self-describe democratic socialist, whose platform would end private health insurers, raises taxes on the wealthy, support labor law reform and cut profits of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. [6]

The last time a non-establishment candidate threatened the Democratic Party, was when George McGovern’s anti-Vietnam War insurgency captured the nomination. What happened? Party organizations at many levels sat out the election. Some party benefactors and even officials formed and funded Democrats for Nixon and by covert and overt means subverted the McGovern campaign. After they defeated McGovern, they set about changing party rules so such a challenger could not again upset the proverbial apple cart. These rules have only grown more restrictive and under Bill Clinton and his partners the party rules tightened.

With this in mind, consider the following. The Democratic Party under Obama’s leadership kept the idea of single payer health care off public hearing agendas for fear the public might see it as a viable alternative to the president’s ACA legislation. In some cases officials had single-payer activists escorted out of hearing rooms or even arrested for attempting to participate. Why? Top party leaders are in alliance with the firms and financiers profiting from health care. These firms, ranging from General Electric, to Medtronic to United Health Care, are not about to support Sanders even if he were to win the nomination. Rest assured they are working behind the scenes to derail Sanders’ campaign with their ally Hillary Clinton and other party operatives.

In light of these factors one might wonder whether building an independent electoral organization to run in 2016 might have been a more fruitful and no less difficult. And more importantly, demonstrate a way forward i.e. a working class exit from the confines of the Democratic Party.

Too late in the game, why? If Sanders had signaled his intent even a year earlier, creating an independent campaign network would have been realistic, but in any case a better prepared primary run. Yet, in a Playboy interview, late in 2013, he said he was 99 percent sure he would not run. [8] This timing indicates Sanders late spring debate about running independently or as a democrat might not have been genuine.

His hesitation to break with the Democrats may simply be a practical one. Inside the party makes logistic sense for a politician who has no national organization to mobilize, as for example the Green Party does even though small in numbers. But then the question remains, given the prospect of winning: What is the reason to run? Especially, in the Democratic Party?

Is Sanders intent to influence Hillary’s position on the issues? This is as unlikely as changing Hillary or Obama’s thinking on TPP. The Democratic Party leadership and financiers? After eight years of experience with Bill Clinton and now Obama’s administration and the party’s congressional leaders the lesson should be quite clear. Influence the Democrats convention platform? It’s likely already agreed upon, and nominees routinely ignore any troublesome plank. Hillary’s commitments if elected president? Recall how fast labor unions’ signature legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, disappeared from Obama’s agenda. Or, the no NAFTA pledge of candidate, Bill Clinton, after his inauguration.

Yes, again, this last question assumes Sanders has no chance of gaining the nomination. He knows this, regardless of his fight’n bravado on This Week. Even if he had a majority of elected delegates at the Democratic convention he would not be nominated. The center-right party leadership constitutes about 20 percent of the delegate slots more or less ensuring only a pro-business candidate who supports an imperialist foreign policy can be nominated.

A revolution in politics without congressional campaigns? So, what’s the purpose of Sanders’ campaign? I find it difficult to believe a politician with Sanders decades of experience, is not aware his program has not a chance of succeeding without a congressional re-alignment. This would require building an electoral movement to oust dozens of incumbents, Democrats and Republican’s, but he is not advocating or encouraging such organizing for 2016 or in the future.

At the very least, to pass any part of his program would require electing 50 to100 new House members. House Democrats’ sponsorship of single payer health care legislation has not exceeded in gaining more than 60 to 80 firm commitments in a decade – nearly 200 votes to few. As for free college tuition, a 180-degree change in power relationships is required.

Sanders often mentions Scandinavian nations’ plethora of social benefits compared to Americans, yet workers in these nations won them by organizing unions and political parties that elected majorities in national governments to win their demands for free education, health care and paid parental leave. As well, the threat of workers opting for socialism applied pressure on big business and the wealthy to compromise.

Not to say such a sea change is not possible in the U.S., it is, but the Democratic Party will not be leading it. Given the discontent in the country if labor unions, civil rights and environmental groups and others united behind a domestic program like Sanders’,  it is possible to alter power relations or at least threaten to do so in as few as two or three presidential cycles, but not in 18 months, and not in the Democratic Party. Sanders could contribute to this even now, but so far he is not expanding his campaign to encourage independent action or candidates even to challenge GOP incumbents. Again, one has to ask why?

The good news is that the enthusiasm for Sanders domestic program shows the demands fit the times. Polling analysis indicates perhaps 30 percent of the electorate now supports such a broad economic justice agenda. This is enough support on which to begin building an independent electoral and political movement to garner the power to make it happen. Sanders could give this strategy a push by telling his supporters they will need to build a movement outside the Democratic Party to win his program of radical change.

Those who own the Democratic Party, and it is not unions, civil rights or women’s groups, will not tolerate using the party to advance Sanders’ “new deal” for the working class and poor. Corporate and political operatives spent decades ensuring the party cannot stray from the neo-liberal agenda of free trade, complaint unions, financial deregulation, privatization and an imperialist foreign policy. They are not about to change course.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

 

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Breaking with the two-party horse race for president

Some will still say that despite these arguments Sanders’ run will create excitement about the election and rally voters. To do what? Vote for Hillary? Or, to vote for the Green Party? The Green’s candidate Dr. Jill Stein is running on a domestic program similar to Sanders, but calls for a 50 percent cut in the military budget, an end to support for Israeli occupation and a radical change in foreign policy. Which one will Sanders choose to support?

Objectively, it appears Sanders’ run inside the party, intentional or not, is a means to rally the progressive, left, civil rights and others to support Hillary as the lessor bad of the two major party candidates. So what’s a peace activist, or black lives matter or climate change activist to do? One might consider not spending time and money supporting Sanders and instead, challenge the two parties by taking independent political actions.

First, it is necessary to escape thinking about the two-party horse for president. In 2017 we will have an imperialist, pro-corporate, Wall Street president. Yes, there are serious differences on social issues between the GOP and Democrats, but these can be weathered and deterred, even if the GOP were to win the presidency and a majority in both the house and senate. The left and other forces for social change must jettison the fear of a bogeyman of right wing legislative coups or another Iraq war venture like that of G.W. Bush. This fear effectively makes independent politics and a challenge to the two-party monopoly impossible.

Recall that under Reagan and both Bush administrations, even when the Democrats control one or both houses of congress, anti-working class legislation and war measures passed. And for those worried about an actual right wing take over, whatever that might mean, it could take place with a democrat as president or any combination of majorities in power. It is a small handful of people who would make that choice and all but a few of the real democrats would fall in line. The left must convince other peace and justice groups and individual activists at all political levels it is time to break with the Democratic party. Not in 2018, but now. Even if just to take small steps.

Until the break is made, we cannot know how many people a domestic program like Sanders’ might inspire. Only a clear alternative political program will be seen as worth people’s time, energy and passion. Such a strategy is not a spoiler role if the goal is to build political force to challenge the two parties. At some point, the risk must be taken, in federal, state and local elections.

And, on the question of war and peace, the past few decades show the only risk is not having an honest, even if small, alternative to demonstrate a way out of the two-party monopoly. Candidates opposing U.S. imperialist foreign policy and backing a Sanders-like domestic program, even if they were to cause a defeat of a Democrat, are not playing a spoiler role. They are giving voters an honest alternative to politics as usual. Workers and youth, in particular, yearn for such a choice.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

 

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Making 2016 a referendum on war and peace

In 2016 what must be challenged is the endless march to war. If Bernie Sanders would, he might be worth investing time and resources, but so far he has shown no inclination to do so. This is the greatest threat to humanity, more so than global warming. Even unchecked global warming allows years for humanity to adjust, but an accidental or intentional nuclear war? Even a nuclear skirmish? No more needs to be said.

For this reason and this alone, the 2016 election must become a referendum on war and peace. All other issues balance on this task. Capitalism’s global imperial project is economically driven, but has ideological roots in white supremacy, disregard for the earth’s resources and environment, for human health, women’s rights and even joy in living. All these are manifest domestically.

Two fronts are needed, not just Sanders’ domestic front. The two parties of U.S. capitalism are not about to abandon their creator and benefactor. If the goal is to pass Sanders’ domestic plan of economic renewal and expand social benefits both of these institutions stand in the way. No doubt strong allies exist among Democrat elected officials at all levels, especially in minority and progressive caucuses, but they will need to defy the center and right forces to do what’s right.

Despair is not an option. Inaction is not an option. Instead of pouring resources and time into the presidential race, the more practical and effective strategy would be to focus on congressional races and challenging candidates and incumbents on the question of war and peace, global warming and racial justice. No candidate should be able to hold a fundraiser, rally or news conference without confronting a visible presence of those agitating for peace, equality and justice.

Nearly a year remains before filing deadlines to run independent, left or progressive democratic candidates to challenge pro-war, anti-labor or law-and- order incumbents. Imagine if 25 independent candidates in 25 House districts, including Green candidates, left and progressives, were run on Sanders’ domestic program for hope and change. This work would contribute more to a revolution in politics than Sanders’ run.

When he loses his bid for the nomination, will Bernie help lead such an independent movement for his “revolution in politics”? Would Sanders, his staff and progressive backers support such organizing? So far, Sanders has not encouraged such an initiative, yet it is clear a sea change in Congress is required to pass his program. Perhaps, when Sanders loses, he and his staff will support Hillary and the status quo?

That would be a dead end, no matter the strength of convictions, passions or noble ideas riding the Sanders’s wave.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

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Endnotes

[1] Benjamin Bell, 2015. “Sen. Bernie Sanders Predicts He’ll Win White House,” June 28, 2015 via This Week. URL: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/sen-bernie-sanders-predicts-hell-win-white-house/story?id=32083075

[2] Fox News 2011, Trish Turner. “Sanders Questions “War” in Libya.” March 28, 2011. URL: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/28/sanders-questions-war-in-libya/

[3] John Nichols, 2013 “Bernie Sanders: Billions for ‘Another War,’ but No Money for Needs at Home.” The Nation, September 6, 2013. URL: http://www.thenation.com/article/bernie-sanders-billions-another-war-no-money-needs-home/ .

[4] I reviewed several dozen such items since he announced and I found scant evidence of foreign policy. These included an extensive Nation interview by John Nichols, on July 6, 2015, where not one question was related to foreign policy and war. Foreign policy is also missing from his stump speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

[5] Consider a few industries that would stand to lose enormous profits by Sanders’s program: pharmaceutical, medical device makers, Wall Street firms and health insurers. Individual firms and their management are major players both parties.

[6] Add it up: free post-secondary education, single payer health care, expanding Social Security, etc.

[7] Source: http://www.playboy.com/playground/view/bernie-sanders-playboy-interview.

– See more at: http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy#sthash.f2Ri1de4.dpuf

 

 

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http://mltoday.com/evaluating-the-sanders-candidacy by ML TODAY

 

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