Friday, August 17, 2018

The Revolution Needs To Go Way Beyond What Bernie Sanders Proposes

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While the wave of victories for Bernie Sanders-backed candidates that’s now happening around the country is a positive event, we can’t be satisfied with the agenda these leaders are offering if we want to have true economic justice. This is because to end systemic inequality, we need to end capitalism. And this is not something that Sanders or most other prominent progressives are aiming to do.

This fact about the Sanders movement has been not just acknowledged by its leaders, but used as a way to appeal to people who are hesitant about socialism; a democratic socialist is not a socialist or a communist, states a popular Occupy Democrats meme, but is a capitalist who “seeks to restrain the self-destructive excesses of capitalism.”
This line of thinking made sense to me, until I looked into these details about what capitalism and socialism mean:
-Capitalism is defined as a system where trade and industry are controlled by private entities for profit. In my view, the injustice of this system is shown by intuitive logic. When society is controlled by profit, this means that a dominant class will use the system to gain more resources than they would have been able to
gain through their labor alone. Capitalism is when the wealth that the workers create is disproportionately siphoned to those running the businesses.
-“Reformed” capitalism still lets this dynamic exist. And it lets the restraints that are occasionally put onto capitalism disappear over time; the postwar American period of regulated capitalism was replaced by our current unrestrained version of capitalism because as long as capitalism existed, the ruling class had ways to expand its control. We don’t need to make the dominant class less powerful as the democratic socialists propose. We need to completely get rid of the class system.
-There is a way to accomplish this, and it’s as simple as making the means of production, distribution, and exchange owned by the community as a whole. There are varying ideas about how this should be done, but it’s the only way to get rid of poverty and exploitation. It’s no wonder why this system has been demonized, marginalized, and underhandedly sabotaged for the last several centuries by the people in power; as the historian Thomas Macaulay said, “If the law of gravity were unfavorable to any substantial financial interest, there would soon be no lack
of arguments against it.”
This isn’t to say that Sanders hasn’t improved the political situation overall. But if we want to end class oppression, we’ll need to force a genuine socialist agenda into the mainstream. To do this, we’ll need to build a socialist movement from outside the co-opting influence of the Democratic Party, and use that movement to push forth our goals.
A good place to start is by building socialist organizations. The Democratic Socialists of America are a good ally, but there are more radical options; the Socialist Equality Party has candidates to vote for in 2018, and there are signs that it’s growing. (This is just one of the many socialist organizations that can be joined.) As we grow this movement, we need to advance our agenda the same way that past socialists have.
This is by relentlessly pressuring the more moderate strains towards making the dismantling of capitalism complete. In 1850, Marx and Engels warned in their address to the Communist League that Germany’s democratic party didn’t aim to defeat capitalism, but to save it through social reforms. Their solution was to keep the workers mobilized for as long as possible, while always proposing policies that were more radical than what the democratic party had to offer. Through this dynamic, they hoped, equality would be achieved.
We can apply this approach by always pushing forward goals more radical than what the mainstream progressives represent. When they propose breaking up the banks, we propose nationalizing the banks; when they propose imposing a maximum wage, we propose capping income so much that class hierarchy can’t exist. And so on, until systemic inequality is made a thing of the past.
Polls are showing that support for socialism continues to grow. Around the world, record economic inequality and an ongoing recession are making workers and young people around the world radicalized. There’s an opportunity right now for an upending of the class system, and we need to take it.

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