In a speech today Bernie Sanders articulated his vision of democratic socialism for the empire: “the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes”, that “democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy”. That these are the tenants of mainstream socialism is striking for they do not envision a society beyond capitalism but merely seek to reform capitalism. Socialism has sought to critique capitalism, yes, but it presents a positive vision for the future, true nation-building, not of the variety of obliterating a country with bombs or trade deals and having an occupying force of contractors starve the people of what is left through crisis capitalism. No, socialism is about presenting a true alternative to capitalism, not merely to lessen the pain of its erratically “efficient” swings. Socialism is about minimizing the differences of class and ending mans’ alienation from his natural capacities for supposed efficient production. To this end we must come to an economic order where not just the owners of the means of production decide how to allocate the surplus, but also the workers, the producers, the toilers.
Sanders is not offering a socialist vision, he is making the case for a social democracy, not a democratic socialism. We do need to come back to the ideology of social democracy as a means of first addressing neoliberal capitalism, but we must start calling his position what it is, lest we forget that there is a true alternative to capitalism. The journalist, activist, and philosopher Chris Hedges has hypothesized that in announcing that he would support the eventual nominee, Sanders’ campaign is a ploy by the Clinton campaign to get dejected leftist voters to support her when the time comes and he folds, after her incredible fundraising network (the Washington Post published an investigation today revealing that the Clintons have collectively received $1 billion in political contributions over their forty years of politicking, which is insane if you reflect on it) buys her the nomination. And yet the point that he misleadingly is calling his ideology something that it is not should also be troubling for the Left. Far from just leading the Left towards Clinton, in not showing them a true alternative, he is keeping the American people bonded with Capitalism.