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No, Bernie Sanders Isn't a Socialist

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/11/no-bernie-sanders-isnt-socialist

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Very concise and well written piece. Not enough people will read it to dispel the imagined evils of democratic socialism, nor identify Bernie as an Independent.


The advent of the Trump Era is what has enabled Bernie Sanders. After all, the old scare about a Socialist in the White House has lost a good deal of it’s scariness, after seeing the mess Trump has made of things. Say Bernie DID do the worst things a Socialism-Phobic thinks he would (but WON’T) do… so Bloody What? Could it POSSIBLY be worse than Trump has shown himself to be? No, it could not.

Seen that way, Trump has Set Us Free! Free to be who we really are, free to vote FOR our consciences for a change. Don’t waste this chance to get what YOU want for a change, or you will regret it…

The author fails to actually define what capitalism is or what socialism will be.

“A system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of society as a whole.”

One political party that has a clear definition is not the DSA or the Socialist Alternative but the World Socialist Party of the United States.

“A man who has not understood the present state of society may be expected still less to understand the movement which is tending to overthrow it.” - Marx


Actually “Socialist” is a rather mild, generic term unless you are a Marxist. “Democratic” is a much more radical idea, historically speaking, from the term “Democratic Socialist.” “Socialism” was given negative power in the 1950’s by McCarthyites who used it to describe the “hidden enemy.” Oh, scary! Bernie de-mystifies the word by speaking it openly.


Nothing like a philosopher to set the record straight. Social democracy still has capitalism as its underpinnings. If corporations were dissolved and shares in the corp were distributed to all the workers in the company then socialism is occurring. Bernie isn’t near so rash. Exxon would still be under capital control, that is, the holders of shares still are the owners of the company. If Exxon was broken into pieces and ownership was transferred to all the employees, management and field workers alike then we have socialism. Same with banks. Something FDR didn’t do. I belong to a credit union and avoid the vampiric practices of commercial banks. Which would be a good thing in my opinion; the banks have way, way, too much power as they exist today. Go Bernie, he’s the best we have for now.


Tomorrow morning, have the authorities call a press conference in every state of the nation to report that all socialist policies and departments that exist as such will be no longer available to the American people.

Effective immediately, the Police and Fire Department will no longer exist. Social Security too will never send out another check to anyone, and even if they did, there will be no mail service as the Post Office no longer exists.

How long would it take the “socialist” bashing forces to complain that this cannot happen?

How long would it take the American people to take revenge on those responsible for destroying their lives?

How long would it take for the average American who supports the two corporate controlled war parties every single election their entire life to finally realize how they had brought this on themselves?

My guess, who gives a rat’s ass.


In some ways this is a good idea. And as much as some would say the people won’t understand it, I think the politicians and MSM would twist it into an evil Russian plot to destroy our “Lego ®” democracy.

People are not stupid. Just ignored.

Edit to add: Those that control the discourse, write the history of it. And define the reality we are told was true many years down the line.

the platforms of the two candidates are virtually identical

To be fair, Sanders’ foreign policy platform is noticeable further left and honest than Warren’s.

“the platforms of the two candidates are virtually identical” . . . When I hit that statement – backed up by no less an authority on Left politics than the Wall Street Street Journal – I stopped reading (briefly). Anyone who can characterize Warren’s Green New Deal, for example, as “virtually identical” to Sanders’s – though it has technically lesser and later goals, is funded at a fraction of Sanders’s, foregrounds foreign aid force-fed back to US companies, and lacks Bernie’s all-points attention to justice issues – is not engaging substance but riding a hobbyhorse. In this case, a narrow definition of “socialism.”

This is an unusually gentle purist essay, and I’m glad that the author will vote for Bernie, but it is a purist essay nevertheless. In purism, wedges aren’t allowed edges. Socialism is either introduced en bloc or must “wait”; beginning from where we actually are with what we can actually do isn’t the real deal. A US politician who seriously hopes and intends to become President is not a real socialist if their policy proposals would not qualify as really left . . . in Europe. Only the impracticable can be authentic.

A huge omission: in this piece, it’s all about Bernie. If the author considered the possibility that “not me, us” is an authentic principle, something that is actually happening, he might have to consider whether truly-socialist-socialism is finding a path forward in the movement – including who Bernie forwards, empowers, delegates to, entrusts, and brings into the play of power and politics in a way that is explicitly intended to transcend, outgrow, and outlast him personally. The answer might be more complex than “Bernie’s not a socialist” – perhaps even threatening to capitalism.


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Sorry…must disagree. Not ALL but a helluva lot. Why? Too lazy to stay awake and sleepwalk through life believing what they are told without evidence.

Im here to be convinced.

How does Bernie achieve things like healthcare, and education without a centrally planned economy? Lets say taxing the rich works once, but it needs to work year after year with costs undoubtedly rising. How is that sustainable?

Who decides for example, what people will be allowed to study? We cant let everyone go to school for free for a profession thats not needed. How much medicine can be sold for, how much medicine to make, etc.

People also like to talk about socialism, or in the case of Nordic Model (Bernie) capitalism thats heavily taxed, like its simple math. Completely ignoring human nature.

Marx, Lenin, Che, Castro, all stress the importance of the necessity and the human evolution alongside socialism. “A mans greatest incentive should be moral not material.” How do you convince a country as divided as the USA, who has lost its common culture, to put their individual needs aside for the common good of all? As a replacement for enriching the individual, making his capacity for helping the common good greater?

Wealth distribution on a scale Bernie is suggesting, or outright socialism. Either seems to have way to many moving parts to work, history has proven that.

I also think the majority of the american populace has been hoodwinked into believing the middle class wont be taxed.

What Bernie book should I read to change my mind?

you guys must be mentally unstable i think you had to much crack up your ass. Capitalism is what made the USA.

trump 2020 ???

“I am not a Marxist” – Karl Marx

A belated reply but one deserving of an answer

Chas, it helps if you provide the context in which he happens to make that comment - he is actually distancing himself from those who claim to be representatives to his ideas

First thing to know is that Marx never said it but it is from Engels relating Marx’s opinion in private letters,

“Now what is known as ‘Marxism’ in France is, indeed, an altogether peculiar product — so much so that Marx once said to Lafargue: ‘Ce qu’il y a de certain c’est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste.’”

  • Letter to Bernstein, 1882.

“And if this man has not yet discovered that while the material mode of existence is the primum agens [primary agent, prime cause] this does not preclude the ideological spheres from reacting upon it in their turn, though with a secondary effect, he cannot possibly have understood the subject he is writing about. However, as I said, all this is secondhand and little Moritz is a dangerous friend. The materialist conception of history has a lot of them nowadays, to whom it serves as an excuse for not studying history. Just as Marx used to say, commenting on the French “Marxists” of the late [18]70s: “All I know is that I am not a Marxist.””
-Letter to Schmidt, 1890.

Engels also references it here:

“We have never called you anything but ‘the so-called Marxists’ and I would not know how else to describe you. Should you have some other, equally succinct name, let us know and we shall duly and gladly apply it to you.”
-Letter to Lafargue, 1889.

More on the actual context here


And again here