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The American Socialist Revival


#1

In the past few years the US has seen a small but promising resurgence in socialist politics. First Bernie Sanders, who espoused a number of socialist policies, came close to the Democratic nomination for president, and then a few months ago Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a self-described “democratic socialist,” defeated a ten-term incumbent to win the Democratic nomination in a key Congressional district in New York. At the same time, the Democratic Socialists of American have enjoyed a spike in enrollment, especially among young people.

In the New York Times, journalist Michael Tomasky writes that capitalists have only themselves to blame for this shift towards socialism. In the US, skyrocketing inequality coupled with a litany of intractable social problems suggest that for the vast majority of the population, capitalism simply doesn’t work. Hence the growing appeal of an alternative system. Here’s an excerpt from Tomasky’s piece:

Back now to our 28-year-old. She was born in 1990. She will probably remember, in the late ’90s, her parents feeling pretty good about things — median household income did go up under Bill Clinton more than they had under any president in a long time, even more than under Ronald Reagan. But ever since, the median income picture has been much spottier, hardly increasing at all in inflation-adjusted dollars over 18 long years. And those incomes at the top have shot to the heavens.

So if you were a person of modest or even middle-class means, how would you feel about capitalism? The kind of capitalism this country has been practicing for all these years has failed most people.

Yes, it’s given us lots of shiny objects to gush about. A smartphone that can display slow-motion video is a wonder. But an affordable college education, though perhaps not a wonder, is a necessity for a well-ordered society. So is a solution to a national drug crisis in which 115 people die every day, as well as a lot of other problems that the capitalism of our era has simply ignored.

Image of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez via Meet the Press.


#2

The rarely-omitted staple of a times op-ed: the equalizing of the “horrors” of bolshevism, Hitler, and Reagan/Thatcher supply-side economics to justify a backwards defense of “centrism”


#3

But such impressionistic “socialist dreaming” and “wishes for a better future” will continue to face dismay, confusion and bitter disappointment all the time that the leaderships of such “socialist” forces stay with bourgeois-democratic illusions and run a million miles from Leninism.
Bernie Sanders is not a socialist - he wants to defend capitalism in the imperialist USA with import controls; this just feeds the nationalistic, warmongering frenzy in America and carries the same “America First” threat as Trump.
Oh, how “lovely” it sounds that the world will be renewed by “democratic socialism”, where the party itself is sweetness and light, and the forces opposing it will “play by the rules” or be so utterly overwhelmed by the reasonable arguments of the “democratic socialists” that the right-wing, fascists and capitalist state forces put all their guns, missiles and torture equipment away and we can all have a picnic in Central Park.
Does the murderous and militarised US police force not give you a clue? Does the endless shooting down of poor people across America and throughout its history not give you a clue?
Do all the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the state and revolution and the charade of bourgeois democracy and the vast, dirty, sneaky history of “democratic socialists” (ie Mensheviks) not give you a clue?
However much such people mean well, unless they take the essentials of Marxism and Leninism to heart they will only ever make themselves a death-trap for workers and progressive people by failing to explain that only revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat will do when it comes to truly fighting capitalist state forces and winning the struggle for socialism (to end exploitation, international imperialist tyranny and the threat of WW3 because of capitalist “over-production” crisis).
Where do the “democratic socialists” stand on the history of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European workers states? Are they still ashamed, disdainful or contemptuous of such essentials as firm state power? Conversely, are they such worshippers of Stalin that they can’t see where he departed from international Leninist revolutionary struggle and debased that struggle into “popular frontism” and “permanent peaceful co-existence” that so beat down any ability to think in Leninist terms in the party that it eventually collapsed in the Gorbachev liquidation of 1989-91?
I’m really glad that people are turning towards socialist thinking, and really hopeful that sooner or later a “centrist” (revolutionary in words, but reformist in practice) movement emerges.
Perhaps out of this, or splits from this, a truly communist movement can emerge.
The greatest battles of all will be for the spread of revolutionary THEORY - about what went right, and what went wrong in the workers movement. Anti-Soviet Trotskyism has to be seen through and rejected; dunder-headed popular frontism (ostensibly sometimes pro-Soviet but full of class-collaborating and legalistic illusions) has to be seen through, too.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), which has thousands of supporters across America, gets a lot right in its articles, for example, - but is it building Leninist cadres? Hardly.
Its articles have carried useful exposes of the lies told about China over Tianenmen, for example, and it has wide coverage of all the workers struggles going on in the States - but its whole approach reeks of the promotion of popular frontism (eg support for Maduro in Venezuela without warning of the danger of Allende-ism) and there is no effort to train its followers in Leninism. Is the theme of revolution and proletarian dictatorship central to its articles? No, not a bit of it.
Perhaps, sadly, there will a lot of misery, exploitation and much workers’ blood will be shed until the mass movement returns to Bolshevik traditions to end capitalism, its slaughter of our fellow workers around the world and the menace of a third (nuclear) world war.