Revolutionary Socialists for Bernie SandersMASS ACTION editor, John Beacham
Jan. 19, 2020
I am a revolutionary socialist and I am supporting Bernie Sanders for president.
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So that there is no misunderstanding about my position from the outset, let me state clearly …. I believe that we need a revolution in order to achieve Socialism.
Socialism is a brand-new society based on planning, cooperation and justice in which the vast majority rule on the basis of a collectively owned economy that produces for people’s needs. Socialism is not a reformed capitalism with socialist characteristics in which the capitalist class retains power through its stranglehold on the planet’s wealth.
Bernie’s version of Socialism, Sweden, is not mine. MASS ACTION’s version of Socialism is more like Cuba.
Capitalism – the worldwide profit for the capitalist class before everything else system – is to blame for the environmental crisis, white supremacy and world war.
Capitalism, therefore, must be ended. Destroyed. Reforms are possible under capitalism, but, as a system, it cannot, ultimately, be reformed. The working class needs to overthrow the capitalist class in order for us to have the power (political, social and economic) to save the planet and the human race.
Again, for us to have a society for the 99 percent – for there to be any future at all – we need a revolution.
Whereas, we are not on the precipice of the revolution we need. Whereas, we are at the beginning of a great awakening as we head toward the Great Crisis* for the planet, revolutionaries must find ways – whatever the difficulties and hardships – of being with the masses when they are organizing in movements that present a challenge to the established order. The fact that the progressive Sanders movement is located in the elections – the virulently undemocratic U.S. elections – must be no impediment to any genuine revolutionary heart. There is no area of the struggle that is not a struggle!
The Sanders Movement
The movement behind Sanders is massive, youthful, progressive and increasingly being joined by people of color and other oppressed people. In fact, his campaign has become more progressive in many areas. The Sanders movement is also – in a very broad sense – a socialist movement.
Should revolutionaries join a progressive and socialist movement that is not revolutionary? The question answers itself. Of course, we should!
Sitting around or ignoring a major, sustained mass movement like Bernie’s army and waiting for a revolution to happen is not revolutionary. Attacking people in a movement for not being revolutionary is not revolutionary. Standing apart from a movement because it is not revolutionary enough is not revolutionary. Etc.
We must and will maintain our political independence from Bernie Sanders and the social democrats who are under the dangerous illusion that an oppressive system can be reformed, but we will do so in real solidarity with the electoral movement led by him.
Defense and Support of the Sanders Movement
That the new movement is “socialist” or proto-socialist – despite it being more liberal than socialist in its aims – is clear to the bankers, tech barons and media bosses who control society. That is why Sanders has and will come under fierce attack now that it is clear to all that his campaign is a campaign that can win.
The just aspirations that have crystalized around the Sanders campaign – the demand for a redistribution of wealth and justice for the poor and oppressed – represent, at this moment, the main mass challenge to the status quo. Wishing that the movement was more mature, more militant, more consistent, more revolutionary is understandable. But we cannot change this situation from without. We must be with the people when they are in mass motion for change and join the battle against our common oppressors.
Sanders very well could betray us whether he wins or not (history is replete with the capitulations and defeats of social democracy). He campaigned for Hillary and called racist war criminal John McCain a good man, remember. In the past, he has voted for wars. He has been shaky on immigrant rights to say the least. He voted for Joe Biden’s racist crime bill. He basically joined the imperialist campaign against socialist Venezuela. He has voted on numerous occasions to support apartheid Israel. Etc.
No one can be faulted for not wanting to tie themselves to Bernie Sanders. It is completely understandable for revolutionary socialists to run their own candidates. MASS ACTION is with all those who resist endorsing Sanders while standing on progressive ground and carrying out initiatives, protests movements and grassroots campaigns. This is precisely why MASS ACTION will retain its political independence and do the work of patiently and methodically exposing the incompleteness of non-revolutionary Socialism. Our main allies in the struggle for liberation and Socialism are doing the work of mobilizing street resistance.
Sanders is not only a social democrat, he is a parliamentarian first and foremost, not a genuine working-class leader who is on the front lines against war, racism and bigotry.
That does not change the fact that we must – despite Bernie’s inadequacies and contradictions – rally to defend the Sanders movement from the establishment as if we were risking our very lives to stop an infant from being strangled in its crib.
Reality: Sanders has a target on his head and must be defended from the ruling class assault.
Whether Sanders wins or loses the presidency, revolutionaries must be able to show workers, the youth and others that they were willing to be a part of trying to get him elected despite our many differences with his version of Socialism.
What if, for example, Sanders wins? We must be with the Bernie movement so that the tens of millions who supported a president Sanders for progressive reasons will know us, listen to us and turn to us when things get tougher and our analysis, strategy and tactics will need to be sharp as knives. The masses are unlikely or less likely to listen to revolutionaries who did not support or remained apart from the Sanders movement.
If we are not with the campaign, we will have lost an epochal opportunity.
Be clear my friends. It is an indisputable fact: the Bernie Sanders movement (along with other movements like BLM, #NoDAPL, the Teachers Revolts, and #MeToo) represents the historic reemergence of a progressive upsurge of the masses on the U.S. political stage. It represents – is a very new beginning of – the reemergence of Socialism in the United States.
All socialists, progressives, workers and oppressed people should support the movement behind him by supporting Bernie Sanders for president. This position, in fact, should not be controversial.
“But Sanders is running for the democratic party nomination and the democratic party is a capitalist party dominated by people who serve the interests of the white supremacist, imperialist U.S. capitalist class,” you say. That’s true. And it is something that needs to be in the very front of our minds.
Though Sanders is friendly, very friendly, with politicians of both parties and has been more than loathe to break with the democrats, he is no way, at least right now, a trusted part of the establishment. That is why he is the most popular politician in the United States, despite the fact that he bowed to the democratic party machine and stumped for warmonger, reactionary Clinton in 2016. Millions of people are seeking relief and change in the Sanders campaigns.
Maybe asking the question regarding the problematic of the democrats and the Sanders campaign in a different way will help us gain some clarity.
What if Bernie Sanders were black, running on a similarly progressive program and running for the democratic ticket? Or, what if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was running for president on the democratic ticket?
Under certain circumstances, revolutionaries can and even must support particular democratic party candidates. Think about it: what would it mean to say that one should never support a person running on the democratic party ticket in a racist, imperialist country in which only two parties are allowed?
The fact that Bernie Sanders is running for the democratic party ticket is a significant contradiction, but not a deal breaker. The democratic party leadership is going to do whatever it can to stop Bernie. This struggle may even break up the party (which would not be a bad thing). Shouldn’t revolutionaries be a part of this historic and mass struggle at this crucial juncture in history? Yes, they should!
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* The Great Crisis is made up of the planet endangering and intricately interrelated crisis we face: the environmental crisis, white supremacy, global capitalism, the immigrant/refugee crisis, World War III and more.