Over and over again I see leftists online repeating that the Sanders campaign is really opening up space for “radical/leftist/socialist [insert any other once useful term that media has sucked meaning out of] politics”, that this is momentum that needs to be seized upon to nudge more people in accepting redistributionist policies. It is abundantly clear that many others feel the same. The more careful observers who do their best to preserve memory recall the bashing the “far left conspiracist flakes” received over the summer that was yet another indicator of things to come. The presumed “holdouts” are going to be continually marginalized during the rest of the year for not joining in the chorus.
Naturally I have many complaints, and as the meaning of “complaint” has eroded as well this is transforming into blaming the so-called “far left” for holding back everyone who really wants change. Already I have been accused of not caring about those whose lives may be marginally improved with a Sanders presidency, as if the abstention of my vote or whatever support I can voice online is going to be the direct cause and not media owned by the ruling class that has framed the “national conversation” in the first place that the more hopeful or optimistic (in my opinion, more delusional as I will go on to discuss) believe “we” can shape. In this short post I will put these complaints and concerns in bullet point format, and then in a follow-up I will relate some of my personal experience during the runup to Obama’s selection. If there is anything that is shocking me, it’s the leftists who have, presumably, conscious memory of Obamamania not seeing the same factors at work in this cycle.
- “We”, as far as I can tell, are minor “thought influencers” involved with machine democratic-party labor organizing whose vertical organization has a fascist history that was meant to stifle and violently suppress labor in the global south, particularly South America as US imperialism installed dictators and gave military aid and training to the forces of collaborating leaders. Through these channels, there is little chance that a national labor struggle will expand to the international struggle with the global proletariat as they are meant to contain american labor to a global hierarchy that benefits the ruling class.
- The people I’ve observed the above named having influence on are those who believe that a “realistic ideology” is somehow pushing the democratic party further left. This is not much different than the successfully infiltrated CPUSA’s regularly scheduled call to “defeat the far right” in supporting already bought and paid for candidates (how else one would get there in the first place, I’m not sure) or those who have a track record of blood curdling imperialism. In recent years, leaders of the party have moved to drop Leninism from its even nominal approach and have declared marxism as a “soft science”. Some sources have estimated that by the 50s approximately 30% of “active members” were FBI informants.
- That Sanders is opening up space for the laboring masses and not vice versa so that he even has a marketable brand is a complete inversion of material reality. The working class are well aware that on an immediate level their dollars buy less, they pay more rent and receive increasingly shoddier services, and that they have to settle for stultifying jobs to get by. False numbers we are told that signal a “recovery” still mean that the working class are living on food rationing with 1 in 7 needing food stamps to survive. Marx put into plain language the realities of capitalism, and it is totally possible to have these conversations with those who haven’t even read him to put our collective material reality into perspective — I’ve done this for years myself. What has gotten in the way is the spectacle of aestheticized politics mediated by the owners’ media, and redirecting that energy toward the Sanders campaign is not a divergence from the status quo, considering:
- The Pentagon will see a 50% increase in its 2017 budget from 2016 numbers. The non sequitur that I often see in response to criticism of Sanders is something along the lines of “well we have to start somewhere”. This is not a start; this will obviously be a continuation of imperialism no matter who is selected. Despite his gruffness, reliance on “small campaign contributions”, and “relatable” unkempt hair, Sanders has a solid track record of hawkishness that is simply insane to ignore in the name of “redistribution”. Although many “critical” supporters claim that this momentum goes well beyond Sanders the individual, there is a massive problem with predictable responses from full-on supporters who have higher visibility at the slightest questioning about his support for war and misery. Anti-imperialism is clearly not a major focus among the supporters of the “movement” as they have repeatedly watered these concerns down to “foreign policy” matters. Those claiming to be on the side of the working class should have no desire to influence such policy; they should be seeking to destroy it.
- To try to further conversations dictated by the spectacle without having material influence on them is not strategy. Serious people who work to develop a far-sighted view of struggle, tactics, and strategy should not be swayed with how the wind blows or where they are told their attention needs to be by the owners. Independent organization is needed, and this includes determining on an immediate level how to take back resources that impact communities as has been painfully put on display with Flint’s poisoning. This includes but is not limited to understanding geography, how energy is distributed, where food supplies come from, weaknesses in infrastructure, and how to win over sympathetic people with influence throughout the existing proletarian hierarchy to the side of the toiling and oppressed masses. The actions of Flint citizens are proof of this in real time, and they deserve much more credit in dedicated struggle than Sanders and his acquiescent supporters ever will.