Premature Democratic Socialists: Reasons for Hope and Change

In the United States there was a time in the previous century when a political campaign was waged against “premature antifascists,” namely against members of the socialist left who warned and fought against fascism well before World War II.

In the wake of that war, the leading career politicians also worked within a corporate consensus of capitalist triumphalism. The New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of LBJ were the two pillars of Democratic Party social policy that came closest to basic social democracy in the European sense.

Under the “centrist” turn of the Democratic Party, evident in the policies of the Clintonistas and the Democratic Leadership Council, important elements of social welfare were scaled back or simply ditched. Notably, Bill Clinton presided over a program of corporate deregulation that would have raised earnest criticism from some liberals had it been conducted by a Republican administration. Thus Clinton became the more effective partisan enforcer of economic regression.

By the time Obama campaigned on promises of hope and change, the bipartisan assault on the left wing of the labor union movement had already paid high dividends for the ruling class, and class divisions grew wider and faster.

Premature democratic socialists never aligned ourselves with full loyalty to the Democratic Party. How well we remember “progressives” committed to vote by rote electoral politics, and to the managerial agenda of their chosen party and career politicians. They would roll their eyes and change the subject when we suggested a radical reform of the Democratic Party, or even outright opposition to both big parties of capitalism.

A presidential candidate such as Bloomberg is one of the desperate symptoms of Very Late Capitalism, since Bloomberg’s campaign is plainly waged as much against Sanders as against Trump. Even Warren is regarded by the ruling class as too “extremist” in her calls for a reformed capitalist system.

As the Axios poll results below demonstrate, Sanders is the leading candidate among college students and among the more class conscious young people in this country. Sanders has promised a political revolution, though that promise will remain utopian without an ongoing revolution in economic relations between classes. For premature democratic socialists, there are good reasons now for hope and change.

As Rosa Luxemburg noted, every revolution is necessarily “premature,” in the sense that every class conscious movement of popular resistance works with the given problems and possibilities of our time. No friction, no traction.