Sanders and Socialist Revolution

In 2016, Bernie Sanders wrote a book “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In”. He started a political action organization named “Our Revolution”. He updated the book in 2017, titling the new version “Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution”. Sanders is a socialist, he says a democratic socialist. It follows that he wants a socialist revolution to occur in America.

What does Bernie Sanders want his government to do to us Americans? What does a socialist revolution in America look like? In the past, Sanders said he admired Scandinavian socialism.

Socialist Revolution” spells out “The Program of the US Section of the IMT” (International Marxist Tendency). This is not an official or unofficial Bernie Sanders program. He hasn’t endorsed it. He may even say that he’s not that kind of socialist. None of that matters, because this program and that of Sanders both stand for the same kinds of things and their beliefs are rooted in the same fallacies.

Sanders’ socialism is much like that spelled out by Socialist Revolution. Bernie Sanders is Mr. American Socialism at this juncture. His ideas have the same roots in Karl Marx as the IMT. He, like they, speaks of revolution openly and of transforming America. Sanders has praised the world’s socialist countries.

Much of what Sanders wants also appears in the Socialist Revolution program, even if not precisely the same.

From Socialist Revolution: “For a twenty-hour workweek with forty hours’ pay and a national minimum wage of at least $25 per hour.” Obviously extreme, but it shows you how socialists think (or don’t think). Sanders is open to a 4-day work week. He wants a $15 per hour federal minimum wage.

If everyone is allowed to work only 20 hours a week, production will plummet by at least one-half (just to fix ideas). There will be far less of everything produced, from food to housing, and their prices will rise, at least double (again, just to fix ideas).

The only way that these kinds of results cannot happen is if the productivity of labor doubles. That will not happen in a socialist economy because socialism is anti-capitalism. Socialist Revolution: “The capitalist system is at the root of the poverty, instability, racism, violence, and humiliation we face everyday.” Sanders says the same kind of thing and he wants to alter the system radically, but he doesn’t come right out and say that he wants to fight capitalism.

Capitalism actually reduces all of the bads in the preceding quotation. Capitalism rests on freedom, including freedom to make choices in markets. Its incentives result in greater production, color (race) blindness, lower violence and rapid adjustment to factors that cause instability. Socialism will end these good results and produce the very things it wants to mitigate.

Capitalism invests in capital that raises productivity and pay, thereby producing more goods and reducing poverty. Socialism can’t lower the work week to 20 hours because it is against the one thing that can, which is capitalism. Any attempt by socialism to lower the work week by means of edict, votes, sharing the work, and sharing the wealth is going to fail. It’s going to cause hardship and lower production, rationing and anti-freedom measures of enforcement.

With production cut in half and capitalism disabled, how will people live? There is no non-violent or violent way under socialism to improve productivity even to get to a 20-hour work week, not yet. Those who are eating at fancy restaurants will be forced by law to go without and eat at home. Those with large dwellings will be forced by law to take in people who can’t afford the much higher rents and housing costs. Those with two cars will have to give up one to others who have none or who the authorities determine “need” two. The forced “sharing” of wealth will be the primary method of coping with shortages of everything.

Sanders favors sharing wealth. He’s for a wealth tax. He favors much higher taxes on people who have very high wealth. His is a gradualist approach to raising taxes eventually or in stages for a great many people who have above median wealth.

Here are more particulars from Socialist Revolution, and many of these mirror Sanders. “End the capitalist housing market…” “For a socialized health care system. Nationalize the health insurance, medical equipment, and pharmaceutical industries, the hospital networks and related clinics, to be integrated into a unified, democratically managed and administered public health provider.” “Fully fund and expand public schools, colleges, and universities. Abolish tuition fees and forgive student loans. Provide living grants and paid internships to all students. Nationalize the private universities and colleges and merge them into a united public higher education system. No to means testing, vouchers, charter schools, privatization, and corporate influence in the classroom.” “For public ownership and control over land, mining, logging, transport, oil, gas, and other energy and natural resources…” “Nationalize the food distribution and agrochemical giants…” “A democratic plan of food production…” “Nationalize the key levers of the economy: The major industries, banks, and corporations.” “Rebuild the labor movement with militant, class-struggle policies…Organize the unorganized. No to concessions and give-backs! Repeal all antiunion laws including Taft-Hartley.”

Sanders already has promoted some of these causes. Given the opportunity, he’d promote more of them. He’d nationalize key industries in one way or another. There are sneaky ways to exert government control by altering shareholder voting and boards of directors. There are ways to exert financial control.

For a source that addresses the promises of Sanders directly, see here. This article is about what a Bernie Sanders presidency would look like.

“… transform the US economy to stave off climate catastrophe…” “His Green New Deal would dismantle the fossil fuel industry and put a renewable energy system under democratic control…” “Sanders’s proposals go beyond piecemeal liberal solutions by targeting the unjust economic system that fuels climate change and pushing an agenda that simultaneously empowers workers and saves the planet. This agenda would help millions of workers join unions, give workers an ownership stake in major corporations, provide universal health care and tuition-free higher education, build millions of affordable homes, and protect (rather than target) immigrants.”

All of this is also in the Socialist Revolution program.

Also said of Sanders: “This disruption includes, critically, his plans to facilitate direct participation in decisions from our workplaces to our energy systems, shifting the balance of power in our society.” “…100 percent renewable electricity and transportation by 2030 with full decarbonization by 2050…” “Sanders pledges to introduce Medicare for All legislation during his first week in office.” “Building 10 million permanently affordable homes, investing in shared equity homeownership models like community land trusts, enacting nationwide rent control…”

There’s a lot of overlap in socialist proposals and those of Sanders. There is no doubt that Sanders is a bona fide socialist. He has carved out his position and shows no intention of moving to the center. He will always be pushing for the kinds of anti-capitalist and anti-freedom policies mentioned above in two different sources. Sanders and other socialists are making it clear what their socialism will look like in America if ever enacted.

The articles being written that question the socialist credentials of Sanders are misleading. They obscure the truth about Sanders, which is that he’s an uncompromising socialist and always has been. Even Sanders’ own statements about himself are often misleading.

Sanders claims not to be Marxist, but everything he proposes is consistent with what Marxists propose. Sanders is a full-out socialist. The only qualification that might be added is to call him a democratic socialist, which is a term he sometimes applies to himself. This makes no difference, because the program of the democratic socialists is anti-capitalist and anti-freedom too, and it’s still socialist. The DSA writes that its program is “one that puts people and planet over profit to build a more just and sustainable economy. We’re organizing in our workplaces, communities and schools to build the working class movement it will take to win.” Sanders too talks about power to the people or “real” democracy. Sanders’ ideas sound very much like those of socialist revolutionaries and democratic socialists.

The socialist program promises an easy material life for everyone. This is a promise that socialism cannot deliver upon.

Besides, the material life is not all that matters to people. When governments enforce society-wide measures in order to promote the equality of socialist material abundance, they interfere with the attainment of other goals that people wish to pursue that make them unequal. One’s own greater material improvement is often inseparable from another personal goal. A person may want to become a success at something and at the same time obtain distinctive rewards, material or other. Socialism stands in the way of ambition and invention.

There are numerous reasons why socialism has failed and will always fail. One is that most people aspire to goals of their own. This is inherent. They want to pursue their own lives freely. The uniqueness of each person’s aspirations cannot be accommodated in a socialist system of enforced equality. Socialism is incompatible with freedom, and freedom is inherent to human nature. Consequently, a lot of people become unhappy under socialism and then they seek changes in the system and imperil it. In other cases, they leave the country.


4:42 pm on February 14, 2020