Bernie-Style Socialism is Still a Hand-Out to Capitalists

Bernie Sanders’ campaign recently released a video with graphics explaining wealth stratification. It is, despite the odd background music, really good, very clear and straightforward. Capitalism trends towards oligarchy, and therefore, wealth and power concentration. This is not news, except to the well indoctrinated.

But you gotta watch Bernie. Listen to his rhetoric, which lacks any discussion of social class and class war. Listen to his solutions, which do not deal with unpaid domestic labor reproducing society, nor even attempt at rectifying economic development’s dependence on capital. It just seems like he doesn’t get the implications of what he is describing. Or maybe he just has been in Washington so long he forgot the slogan, “Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible!”

He is calling for raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. That is a pittance of what we are owed. Dude just described grand larceny committed against the American working class over the past 40 years. Legalized theft based on mugging the unions!

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.00.38 AM

After such a thorough thrashing of labor, $15/hr is begging to still be underpaid. If the minimum wage would’ve kept track with inflation and production, then $15/hr is still asking for $3.42/hr less than what economists say the minimum wage should be at around $18.42/hr. Bernie is telling us to accept the capitalists’ bullshit bargain.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.01.15 AM

He doesn’t mention the more sensible idea of a basic income, currently being experimented with in Denmark. A basic income becomes a floor, a livable stipend everyone gets for being alive. See, some people think it’s immoral to make the threat of starvation an incentive to work. Thus, a basic income would enable people to make more autonomous decisions about what they do with their time.

When does his political revolution become a call to organize and take the country back beyond elections? Or even through them? What about a national program to buy out businesses for worker collectives? Why must we continue to go to places every day that are highly authoritarian top-down places where we have zero decision-making power? Why spend most of our life in neo-feudalism?

Imagine, Bernie says we need a stimulus plan where workers can organize, develop business plans, and get money from the US Government to buy out their companies to run them democratically and cooperatively. That would be much more effective than a stimulus package that is a rehashing of Obama’s second proposed (not passed) stimulus package, one that even liberal economist Paul Krugman considers too small for the needed Keynesian effects.

By just raising the minimum wage, with no other qualifiers, Bernie makes wage hikes for the working poor almost completely dependent upon some oversized social movement each time they can’t take the stress of bare survival any longer. We should be demanding and implementing a new norm for a living wage that would have formal staying power, something that would make the Wall St. speculation tax an actual effective measure, rather than just another regulation to become another cost of doing business.

All in all, I am highly unimpressed with his level of fervor and populist rage. He should be laying out a strategy of reunionization based on cooperative expropriation of businesses with money gotten from a reinstitution of the progressive tax system thereby reappropriating the wealth the capitalists stole from the workers over the past 400 years, and then some. That strategy should then be connected to a stimulus package based on a reengineering of the American economy away from fossil fuels, militarism, and industrial agriculture, towards renewable energy, sustainable ecology, and work automation.

Otherwise, as far as socialists go, he isn’t one. Be realistic folks, and demand the impossible.

More articles by:

Andrew Smolski is a writer and sociologist.

July 23, 2019
Gary Leupp
Minnesota, White People, Lutherans and Ilhan Omar
Binoy Kampmark
Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and the Cold War
Richard Ward
Free La Donalda!
July 22, 2019
Michael Hudson
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
Evaggelos Vallianatos
If Japan Continues Slaughtering Whales, Boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mike Garrity
Emergency Alert For the Wild Rockies
Dean Baker
The U.S.-China Trade War: Will Workers Lose?
Jonah Raskin
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American Satirist 
David Swanson
U.S. Troops Back in Saudi Arabia: What Could Go Wrong?
Robert Fisk
American Visitors to the Gestapo Museum Draw Their Own Conclusions
John Feffer
Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Landscape of Anguish and Palliatives: Predation, Addiction and LOL Emoticons in the Age of Late Stage Capitalism
Karl Grossman
A Farmworkers Bill of Rights
Gary Leupp
Omar and Trump
Robert Koehler
Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Susie Day
Mexicans Invade US, Trump Forced to Go Without Toothbrush
Elliot Sperber
Hey Diddle Diddle, Like Nero We Fiddle
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
David Rosen
Say Goodbye to MAD, But Remember the Fight for Free Expression
Nick Pemberton
This Is Heaven!: A Journey to the Pearly Gates with Chuck Mertz
Dan Bacher
Chevron’s Oil Spill Endangers Kern County
J.P. Linstroth
A Racist President and Racial Trauma
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Julian Assange
Rose Ramirez – Dedrick Asante-Mohammad
A Trump Plan to Throw 50,000 Kids Out of Their Schools
David Bravo
Precinct or Neighborhood? How Barcelona Keeps Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Global Capital
Ralph Nader
Will Any Disgusted Republicans Challenge Trump in the Primaries?
Dave Lindorff
The BS about Medicare-for-All Has to Stop!