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The Populist Uprising Isn’t Over—It’s Only Just Begun


The Populist Uprising Isn’t Over—It’s Only Just Begun

Robert Borosage

The summer ends with a growing lament among progressives. Tom Frank’s cutting voice sums it up:


I've often pointed out that everyone views reality through their own preferred prism and that everyone has at least one major glaring blind-spot.

Reading Mr. Borosage I am struck by how confident he seems to be in this idea that collective reality will move at the same pace it's always moved at.

His chronicle of the would-be Revolution and events apt to contribute to the political climate suggest that he's blissfully indifferent to, or oblivious to these serious qualifiers:

A. The global economy is in free-fall. The lower oil prices have turned Fracking operations into "no profit zones" and key nations have invested in weapons rather than their own citizens' betterment or the infrastructure that would support their constituents' lives.

B. The global trafficking in weapons: take the Saudis... anxious to show off their new multi-billion dollar investments, they now let this firepower loose on Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the world. And these types of regional conflicts armed with explosive weaponry are expanding.

Amy Goodman had important guests discussing what's going on Yemen (on her show today).

C. Earth Changes, climate unrest, global warming: Situations like recent floods both in Texas and Louisiana and massive fires in Canada and California are just the tip of the iceberg... the costs will not just be relegated to dollars and sense.

As time goes by, more and more of these events will thwart shipping and the capacity of communities to see their needs met.

The earth has reached a tipping point and there IS (as related by the Guru, Yogananda to an audience at the U.N. back in l949) a direct relationship between organized violence (war) and what he termed dissolution: in the form of earthquakes, activated volcanoes, massive storms, etc.

This ain't business, neither politics as usual. The Rubicon has been crossed... people just don't realize it yet.

Watch for falling debris.


While Sanders' capitulation did indeed "discredit populism" as Frank observed, Clinton's highest priority during her first hundred days as POTUS will be to "discredit populism for years to come" by providing poison pills for every plank that was in Sanders' primary platform. Any upstart energy that actually manifests under Borosage's "Energy" bullet point #2 will be met by the Clinton Regime with action that sends an unequivocal message that future populist candidates and actions will not last a year like Sanders' did, they will be neutralized much faster than Obama neutralized Occupy Wall Street (OWS) .


The Revolution? Stick a fork in it, it's done. The masses are all lined up behind the republican choice: Hillary.


The number of "new generation" voters who cast their votes for Jill Stein in November will determine how accurate Borosage's "New Generation" bullet point #3 is in forecasting change. A significant number of Sanders' young primary voters following his lead and voting Clinton in November will be viewed by Clinton as a mandate for continued corporate control of the Democratic Party, leading to harsh treatment of future populist candidates and actions.


I suspect that Borosage is correct, the populist uprising will continue.
I say that because there is little reason to believe that Clinton would do anything to seriously restrain the neoliberal polices that caused the uprising. After all, she and her husband are part of the upper crust that benefits from neoliberal policies.
At best we would get "incremental" changes that would do nothing to stop the neoliberal project of building up the corporations and tearing down the government.
Clinton is a reactionary candidate. She stands in opposition to the tremendous public desire for a change in course from the policies that are making life unbearable for everyone but the upper crust.
I am not optimistic about the future. The upper crust is showing that it is not interested in serious reform. That is the meaning of the Clinton campaign, the first Democratic presidential campaign to seek to lower our expectations, not raise them.
The uprising will continue, and I fear a violent and ruthless effort to suppress it by the 1 Percent and its militarized police and the military itself. We are without options. Sanders has sold out, leaving his followers adrift and Stein offers no real alternative.
But if we refuse to participate in the dead political system and take our dissent to the streets, the militarized police will be waiting.


This article disaubsed me of any belief that Stein offers a genuine alternative, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/08/19/gree-a19.html


It seems that most Stein supporters here, many formerly Bernie supporters, want a savior who will magically transform things on a fundamental level. As a socialist, I never thought of Sanders as anything but a Social Democrat in the European style. I think that would be an improvement over what we have now, but it doesn't change things at the core. Having National Health doesn't make England a socialist nation, after all.


No, it doesn't.
The long-term problem in the U.S. is that we have not been offered genuine alternatives. The system won't allow it.
The ghost of Eugene Debs hovers over this election. But how many Americans even know the name?
Not many because the system kills off alternatives.
The situation is similar to the fall of communism in the Soviet Union. At some point it became obvious that the system was failing but the communist state had stamped out all alternatives and so the country was handed over to billionaires.
There has been no genuine Left in the U.S. since the red scare that followed the end of World War II. As a result there was no Leftist alternative at hand when the economy nearly collapsed in 08.
This failure of the Left is the only reason why corporatist militarist politicians such as Hillary Clinton can show their faces in public, because there is no alternative.
We are in a gray area. The old order has discredited itself but a new order has yet to arise.


Clinton is unlikely to be elected for the reasons that the people have been pointing out all along. They rejected the Clinton agenda as far back as during Bill Clinton's administration. They rejected it in 2000, rejected it again in 2008, and even more reject it today.

I have seen no hint of a populist uprising. "Populist" refers to the proverbial masses -- poor and middle class, workers and the jobless. In the US, we're 20 years deep into a hell of a war on the poor. The middle class demanded, "Not a crumb for the poor!" The middle class are now less than 50% of the population. They would love to have an uprising, but obviously can't risk losing their jobs. There's nothing to fall back on. We currently have an abundant surplus of job-ready people who are absolutely desperate for any job at any wage -- grateful for the chance to replace you for less than you are paid.


Revolutions aren't waged by those with full bellies, scheduled for days off from work. America's left were effectively shut out between the 1980s and 1990s. Trust me, the liberal call to Stand in Solidarity to maintain the status quo of the better off alone, the middle class, reflects solidly right wing ideology. If the US had a left of any size, they would have been shining a spotlight on our poverty crisis as proof of the failures of our deregulated capitalism.


Zimmy123 wrote: "There has been no genuine Left in the U.S. since the red scare that followed the end of World War II. As a result there was no Leftist alternative at hand when the economy nearly collapsed in 08."

Very true. The Left, such as it is, seems to spend most of its time arguing with itself about philosophical doctrine than anything else, at least in my experience. The slightest disagreement and people are off to form another group to add to the alphabet soup of parties out there. With no successes to speak of, being a big fish in a tiny Leftist pond may be all that remains.

Few remember Debs, I would guess. Few remember Harrington or have ever heard of the Monthly Review (which had a really good article comparing what happened after the fall of the USSR and the primitive accumulation Marx talked about). Still, I think it's important to keep at it. Perhaps Lenin had a point about a vanguard, for had there been one in the US in '08, it's possible things might be a little better now. Not that different, but a little better.


If none of the fools voted then that would be a revolution


The proof of the pudding is in the eating...so far any social movement with the exception of BLM is in catatonic inactivity until supposedly after the election where we are led to believe there will be a metamorphosis...The Sanderistas meet and talk but little if anything has been done...No, resistance will be undermined by those who will say give her a chance...then give her second term...don't give ammunition to whoever the next greater evil will be...


The hippies had the right idea. Tune in, turn on, drop out.


If "none of the fools" did not vote for Clinton or Trump (voting for Stein would be fine) that would really send a message to the masters that the candidates who have been vetted and are acceptable to them are no longer acceptable to the voters. That's what I'd love to see happen, but it won't.

Too many people have decided they hate and will vote for Clinton over Trump because she's running on the issue of how bad he is and how awful his ascension to the presidency would be. An equal number of people share Trump's oft expressed loathing of Clinton because they feel the same way and will express their views on election day.

So one of the other of them will be sworn in and sworn at come January. This situation is not promising with regard to dealing with the many problems that are coming at us,


I am glad Obama is pushing the lame duck session of Congress to pass the TPP, just before he stops being the self-styled 'transformational president'. At long last, those who would never look beyond his skin color to see the man lurking beneath have run out of excuses. History at least, will mark his presidency as one which hoodwinked a generation of young Americans who, concerned deeply about the downward slide of the country under Bush, believed Obama's call for 'change'.


No, it's not, and never could be. Russia/USSR has a millennia-long culture of authoritarianism. When one system falls, that culture does not look for or know what to do with a populist uprising. Still fairly early in my academic career in Russian/Soviet studies and sociology, I was lolling in a summer camp outside Kiev in 1974. Another US student overheard (and in fact misheard) a Voice of America broadcast about the impeachment fallout to Watergate. As our group tore about, trying to find out what was happening at home, our Ukrainian friends, much as they resented their millennia of Russian domination, asked us why we cared 'who was stabbing who in Washington,' and btw, 'explain this "impeachment,"' for which there is no word in Russian or Ukrainian. They do not have the concept. They accept the eternal rollover of one form of royalty to another. They do not look for an alternative. As long as their standard of living is inching forward just that much, they are satisfied.

OTOH, the US is all about rollover, change. Ours is a revolutionary culture. Right now we just can't quite agree on which revolution it should be or how it should come about. What we see in the Bernie populism is that young Americans get this and expect it. As they live a revolution in communications and information, they are falling in with and calling up the very real left establishment that has been working on diverse issues all this time. When I was leading a left-theological umbrella group in the Presbyterian Church USA, some of "our Presbyterians" asked why we couldn't be as strategically focused as the "other Presbyterians" who were boring in so effectively on the central issue of LGBTQ rights. My answer was to point to the 8 issue groups in our coalition. In the church we talk about "call," and it was not only unfair but impossible to ask the environmentalists to set aside their concerns and put their energies into LGBTQ. Yes, it's a bit of herding cats, but the real problem is herding passions. Dedication will out. That's the American revolutionary spirit.


You're talking in circles. Where do you think the term "99%" came from?


I've seen that light shining very brightly in, of all places, the mainline Christian denominations, and among progressive-to-secular Jews. We've been hard at work for some time. Bernie is a shining example, and like Bernie until he took on the primary battle, we're not all that visible as individuals, partly because we're too busy with the work.