Home | About | Donate

Movement Builders Should Listen to Bernie Sanders — Focus on Mass Action, not Candidates



The model Daddio7 requests existed between 1935 and 1975 when the New Deal's modest social programs, regulations on corporations and higher taxation on the 1% enabled one of the more egalitarian societies the world has seen.

Historically socialism has not worked much better than fascism or other right wing extreme models.
Supporting socialist candidates and socialist values may push the national agenda leftward (an agenda that has moved to the extreme right during the past 40 years). The strategy of demanding centrist action during the past 40 years has accomplished nothing other than enabling the Democrats and GOP to move the agenda rapidly rightward.


Historically socialism has worked much better than fascism or other right wing extreme models increasing longevity, education, worker's and especially women's social conditions, reducing infant mortality and disease. That said, Sanders isn't that much a socialist as a populist in the American tradition. He is the best candidate running that can be in the debates. He is right that we need to build a movement rather than focus on candidates. The difficulty is getting those of us on the left to agree to agree rather than be nit-picky sectarian idealists.


Your caricature of what a movement is, is your caricature.

"Opining and tweeting" are not a movement.

Read your Zinn and Chomsky to get an understanding.

Of course you DO understand, but are only riding one of your favorite hobby-horses.

But just to offer a capsule: a movement causes trouble, makes demands, imposes costs, interferes with business as usual.


Bernie Sanders is not talking about socialism but about the glaring problems of most Americans. Those who think that leadership is not important and that we should work only on movements rather than a candidate should remember the last great period of social progress in our country: the New Deal and the derivative administrations. Without Franklin Roosevelt's leadership and the support that the people gave him, that great period would not have happened. Supporting Bernie is critical to building a movement for real change.


Matt, I agree that we need to be actively, preferably decisively, involved with electing our officials ... i have heard this rhetoric about "build movements, forget politics" for a good 20 years or so - if nothing else, it pleases TPTB, as it leaves the electoral field to them - and while we have been forgetting politics, the LOTE meme has "progressively" put more and more right leaning, of not overt right wing, candidates in office - officials who have the power to make and enforce laws, set and fund policy, engage in war - squeezing us more and more ... Reminds me of a verse from Send in the Clowns" - "just when i stopped opening doors, finally deciding the one that i wanted was yours, making my entrance again with my usual flare, so sure of my lines, no one was there ..."

Where I disagree, however, is backing another "progressive" Dem, even one with ostensible "socialist" trappings - as a supporter of Kucinich for some time, the scales fell from my eyes when he did a 180 on health care - we can "elect" prog Dems, but any Dem invariably is dancing with the devil - (s)he can jitterbug a bit, but if/when (s)he steps on his toes, (s)he will, literally, have the devil to pay ...

We need to make a clean break with the duopoly ASAP - we have needed to do that for decades, and the longer we fool around with trying to "tweak" them - the deeper doo-doo we mire ourselves in ...

Now, if Bernie were for real - why didn't he run as an indy? Oh yeah, i know, the debates and all that - but have you forgotten that Kucinich was kicked out of them after 1 or 2 - and of course, when he loses the primary (the machine will make sure of that), he will fall in line with, at best, the LOTE meme. Meanwhile all that time, energy and money that could have been invested in a real prog indy, like Stein, will have been wasted ... But if you want to know the real reason Bernie didn't choose the indy route, ask him - he has openly stated that he doesn't want to act as a "spoiler" - iow, to upset the Dem applecart ...

Bernie is playing a familiar role - keep the progs "in the fold", convince them there is "hope" (sound familiar?) for the party - we don't need our own, we can find a "home" in the Dems - a velvet prison cell ...


On what basis do you list China as "socialist". It's more capitalistic than the US!


Here's how the oligopolists' playbook works:

Progressives can typically be separated into three groups, depending on where you and your media empire want to draw the lines.

  1. There's always an outer fringe, the people who tell as much of the truth as they dare. This entire class of progressives, according to the playbook, are to be demonized, are to be oppressed, are to be hurt, are to be neutralized, are to be all rounded up and killed in some cases.

  2. Right behind the outer fringe is a larger class of people, most of whom will run for their lives if credibly threatened. If they run away, and especially if they join you in demonizing the outer fringe, let them live.

  3. Behind the crypto-fringe people are many collaberationist liberals. These people for the most part want to preserve their own personal power and place in any society. Again, demand that individuals in this group demonize the fringe as a loyalty test and threaten them if they don't join the demonization. However, throw this group a bone.

This system of dividing the progressives and owning them almost always works. Once you have seriously neutralized most or all of the #1 fringe group, you can then make the #2 group the fringe group to be demonized, the #3 group becomes the new runaways and the moderates in your society are the #3 group. Once all of the bomb-throwing anarchists have been eliminated from a country, round up the nuns.

The net effect of such demonization of people's beliefs is that the term "socialist" shall become entwined with only evil intentions. In time nobody at all will be a socialist. Then, the term "librul" shall become entwined with only evil intentions. To think otherwise automatically makes you someone to be neutralized.

Living in such a society is schizophrenic. Everyone, powerful or powerless, must on pain of political revenge mouth the nationalistic jargon and must always act exactly as if they fervently believe the nationalistic cult. Entire fields such as economics are built for no other purpose than to please the powerful. If you want answers, just don't go there! Religion becomes a cultlike matter of fervently believing every word in the Bible on Sunday and then ignoring it on Monday. In the U.S. 2/5 of all adults say that they go to church every Sunday and only 1/5 of all adults actually show up. Right!


Daddio7: None of those states are socialist, they were/are fascist states posing as communist. Both Marx and Lenin considered socialism the great threat to communism. A true final Communism would be an off-shoot of anarchism,

Even the Soviet Union under Lenin and Trotsky was not communist, but was a intermediary step to communism, which Stalin hijacked and turned into a fascist state, not to dissimilar to Italy under Mussolini.

Socialism in it's many forms could be found in Pre-WWI Germany and post-WWII Germany; and can still be found in the Nordic Countries, Singapore, and even to a lesser extent, Hong Kong.


JonnyJames, you have asked the correct questions. Thank you.


Separate the issues from the personalities, except in this regard:
is the candidate likely to support a particular solution, based on his/her past?

America - and the world - need a new economic paradigm.
1) a basic guaranteed income, enough for food, medical care, education, housing.
2) the opportunity to earn more on top of that through sheer effort and ability.

This combination of socialism and capitalism would work very well for 99% of the people on Earth.

The 1% wouldn't like it much, though.


It seems that the true meaning of the word socialism is finally, slowly penetrating the American psyche.

As more of the working class understand the true meaning of the word, many might embrace socialism, but the media has been working feverishly for decades to equate socialism with the evils of the darkest of hells, and they have been amazingly successful. We should not expect them to back off now.

If we consider the enormous difficulty of the MSM's work in convincing the working class that the ruinous costs of education and health care in capitalist US are preferable to having these services provided for free under socialism, we can appreciate the slick efficiency of the psychological manipulation that is dispensed by the US propaganda machine.

Warren and Sanders are instrumental in breaking through this propaganda, but it is only when the MSM are forced to broadcast their words, at the cost of looking ridiculous if they do not do so, that we can expect the MSM to do so.

Our personal conversations can be an effective antidote to MSM propaganda.


That's what the MSM would like us to believe.

One definition of socialism is: government control of the means of production.

The Chinese government does maintain that control - it can allow varying degrees of capitalism (to affect economic growth) or reign in capitalism as it chooses.

Under pure capitalism, the government is not involved in the control of the economy - the 'free market' (i.e. self-seeking businesses) does the controlling.


Glad to see another call for building a mass movement as the primary way to hold elected (and appointed) officials accountable. Also glad that Bernie says the same thing. What's missing from the Kate Aronoff's article, and from all the comments, are ideas for HOW to build such a movement. I certainly don't have THE answer but I have some ideas and questions. First, organize, especially using the Ella Baker-bottom up model (although I greatly admire what young people of color are doing through social media to build the BlackLivesMatter movement and mobilize folks at the grassroots). Second, establish a coherent counter narrative to the dominant story that gushes from Bullshit Mountain (Fox and the MSM). Include an inspirational vision of the world we seek -- I try to stay away from labels such as "socialism", although I think of myself as a socialist, and instead lift up values and principles such as equity, democracy, sustainability, cooperation, accountability, solidarity, family, community, peace, dignity, etc. We should struggle to measure our policy and rule recommendations against these principles. Third, our movements need structures that are inclusive and flexible rather than dogmatic. We need to figure out ways to wage struggles within our ranks and hold our leadership accountable that do not end up diminishing our numbers or watering down our principles. We need to tap into our creativity, love, persistence, and humility. We need to listen, to dialogue, to share, to support each other rather than tear ourselves apart -- the oligarchs and their minions work over-time on this. We have to learn how to admit mistakes and let go of the baggage we've acquired living in the belly of the beast (okay, that last phrase really dates me). Another world is possible.


Under a more socialist system there wouldn't be a 1% anymore. Or they'd wouldn't be that wealthy anymore.


You are quite right: " The difficulty is getting those of us on the left to agree to agree rather than be nit-picky sectarian idealists."

So, what's to be done? Nothing short of a truly grassroots effort across the land can accomplish this. Does this country have at this time the soul, character, and commitment?

That is the question.


And don't forget about paleo-socialism. You know, cavemen sharing in the kill 'cause who can eat a whole wooly mammoth?


That's a tough request as conservative think tanks will attempt to poison any "word" used to describe a lifestyle/political/economic arrangement that doesn't maximize their corporate profit margins or tickle their fancies of racist supremecy. Personally, I think you are making a great progressive. its a shame that progressivism gets lumped with leftism. I prefer to think of progressivism as neither left nor right but rather forward and onward to something better. Progress in the human condition. Shouldn't that be what we all should strive for? My suggestion would be to try to correct them from that notion and offer the concept that progressivism is forward politics based upon evidence based policies, neither left nor right, and any naysayers from either side of the aisle is nothing more than an anchor holding the rest of us back. Being evidence based, we have no room for ideologies save for improving the quality of life. I like to remind people that Theodore Roosevelt was a Progressive and a Republican. Progressivism didn't originally come out of the Democratic Party but rather from Republicans way way back in the day. That should never be forgotten. Don't let the conservative think tank spinsters fool you into believing otherwise.