Bernie’s Socialism — A New Deal?
So apparently socialism is back, embodied by Bernie, endorsed by Dr. Cornel West and millions of American youngsters, who have managed to pierce through the mountains of misinformation and deceit spouted by the bizarre phenomenon which is FOX ‘news’, for whom ‘socialism’ represents all that is evil and ‘un-American,’ a veil for their real agenda: to keep America divided along class and racial lines, whilst camouflaging and protecting the extreme wealth inequalities for which the US is famous worldwide.
As a European, I struggle to take it even slightly seriously — the openly ideological bias and contempt for ordinary people is almost surreal. How can an old, white and (surprise, surprise) conservative Australian billionaire (Murdoch) yield so much influence, selling poisonous, divisive hatred, whilst celebrating testosterone-driven capitalism — embodied by the cartoonish Charlatan-in-Chief, who possesses all the vices the network sells as virtues.
Cornell gave an electrifying speech in the wake of Bernie’s New Hampshire victory, in which he stressed how his movement could overcome the divisions that run so deep through American society.
FOX ‘news’ is in a panic. Bernie Sanders is now the democratic front runner. And not just that. He seems well positioned to defeat the Charlatan-in-Chief in November’s election, carrying with him the cross-sectional support that FOX news so fears, but that represents America so much better than the narrow white male supremacy championed by Rupert Murdoch’s epigones. They have, of course, resorted to the playbook they know so well — calling Bernie a communist or a socialist, not realizing this might no longer be considered such a smear.
Never mind Bernie’s program is a far cry from actual socialism. Sanders hasn’t pushed for nationalization of industry or banking, let alone worker’s control over production. White, conservative America is terrified of Bernie for a different reason. Under a Sanders administration, the real America might start clawing back some of the wealth and the political freedoms which always feature in the propaganda of the official narrative. Corporations and capital have roamed so freely over the past decades, they have made America one of the most unequal societies in the history of humanity, whilst simultaneously destroying the planet by turning it into one large market place, commodifying society in the name of profits and economic growth. American elites have in fact enjoyed the spoils of a very peculiar form of socialism, one which Martin Luther Jr. recognized and described some time ago: the rich have enjoyed an unconstrained, free flow of wealth, whilst the poor remain locked in a struggle for survival, being sold the narrative of ‘rugged individualism,’ which claims that all government interventions are threats to our freedoms. Never mind the tax breaks for the very rich, or the use of the American military to secure foreign markets on behalf of American companies. That doesn’t count.
In Europe, we would recognize Bernie’s program as social-democratic. He proposes some minimal provisions to protect the most vulnerable, wants to reign in the greed of the most powerful corporations and individuals, recognizes the climate emergency which he wants to confront with a ‘Green New Deal’ and finally, he has said he will take on the stranglehold of the wealthy over the American political process. His movement is genuinely grassroots and herein lies Bernie’s true revolution: finally, America’s voiceless have a chance of being represented on a mainstream platform. This is significant, because for anyone who hasn’t read Howard Zinn’s epic ‘People’s History of the United States,’ America can often seem like such a destructive, backward place, a real sh*thole country, in the words of the revered Charlatan-in-Chief, who embodies so much of the old America. How fantastic would it be to finally see a progressive ticket, taking on the Charlatan this November. And whilst white, male America has effectively sealed off the highest offices of the nation to youngsters (one has to be at least 35 to run for vice-president), would it not be great if Americans could vote for Sanders-Cortez ticket in November?
Let’s hope Bernie survives until then ;)