Sunday, June 28, 2015

Caleb Maupin — Bernie Sanders: Anti-Russian Propaganda and “Vermont Socialism”

The presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders — an anti-Russia, Israel-supporting politician from Vermont — revives an archaic feud among leftists. The old debate about “sewer socialism” is back.
In the early part of the 20th century, there was a broad movement of people in the United States who advocated the overthrow of capitalism. Among them were many revolutionaries like Eugene Debs, William Z. Foster, Lucy Parsons, and Paul Robeson.
However, there was another current of people who called themselves “socialists” but had no interest in revolution. They were called “sewer socialists.” The term originated in reference to Victor L. Berger, a “socialist” who ran on a platform of improving the city’s sewer system and eventually became the mayor of Milwaukee. The sewer socialists did not want to overthrow capitalism, but simply to be elected to local public office and improve government policy. They wanted to make a global system built on exploitation of people all over the world a little more comfortable for those living within the western economic centers.
The battle between these two poles of the left movement – with the revolutionary and anti-imperialist wing of socialism on the one hand and the “sewer socialist” wing on the other — played out on a global level. Commenting on the debate, Russian socialist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin described the trend this way: “The bourgeoisie of an imperialist ‘Great’ Power can economically bribe the upper strata of ‘its’ workers by spending on this a hundred million or so francs a year, for its superprofits most likely amount to about a thousand million… this little sop is divided among the labour ministers, ‘labour representatives’… labour members of War Industries Committees… labour officials, workers belonging to the narrow craft unions…”
In the modern United States, it isn’t sewer socialism but “Vermont socialism” that plays the role of the ‘Labor Ministers.’ US Senator Bernie Sanders is running for president, and openly describes himself as a “socialist.” Despite using this word to describe himself, with many well intentioned anti-capitalist activists supporting him, Sanders’ platform in reality articulates a strategy for strengthening global monopoly capitalism and its expanding militarism....
Crony capitalism and sewer socialism. I love it. Bernie is one of those "leftists" that mean well, but are centrists at best when it comes down to it.

New Eastern Outlook
Bernie Sanders: Anti-Russian Propaganda and “Vermont Socialism”
Caleb Maupin

1 comment:

Jonathan Larson said...

I don't have a lot of interest in debates about what constitutes "real socialism" from Marxists. After all, NONE of their efforts were remotely successful (Great Leap Forward, agricultural collectivism, Ladas anyone?) So a guy like Sanders tries to portray himself as a Scandinavian-style "socialist." Of course, he is nothing of the kind.

My grandfather was a Swedish style Social Democrat. He immigrated to USA / Chicago in 1899. He spoke in hushed tones of Hjalmar Branting, the real founder, statesman, philosopher king of the Social Democratic Party . Because of Branting, the Social Democratic Party would run Sweden for over 50 consecutive years and would turn their land into one of the most admired and copied on planet earth.

Branting made a huge deal out the difference between the Social Welfare State (which he favored) and the socialism of the Marxists who believed that the ultimate objective of socialism was to mutate into full-blown communism (which Branting thought a terrible idea.)

In this Branting was subscribing to a philosophy embraced by Otto von Bismarck when he introduced Social Security to Germany in 1889. Krupp, the Essen steelmaker had written to Bismarck with a sentence that would utterly baffle the typical Merikun's lack of political sophistication. It read, "We must have the social welfare state for the prevention of socialist error." And so Germany got Social Security 45 years before USA. In North Dakota filling up with German and Scandinavian pioneers, they chose Bismarck for their state capital in recognition of this amazing achievement when they became a state in 1889.

Sanders clams he wants to copy the best elements of the Scandinavian experience. So the question should be asked, "Does Sanders actually understand those thousands of hours of debate that produced a socialism that was light-years better than anything dreamed up by the Bolsheviks?" My answer is, probably not. I like Bernie but when it comes to this subject, I would give him a grade of, at best, a C+.