Category Archives: Socialism

Quote of the day: An old American tradition

Dr. Cornel West, speaking to the Story County Democratic Party annual fall barbecue in Ames, Iowa, via Esquire:

“Brother Bernie [Sanders] and I come from a great tradition,” West continued, his tone rising and falling in the familiar cadence and modulation of the pulpit. “The tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Albert Einnnn-stein. The tradition of Helen Keller and Ella Baker. The tradition of John Dewey, who is the founder of pragmatism, but he was a democratic socialist, too. Reinhold Niebuhr! And my dear brother, one of the greatest folk I’ve ever met in Iowa, his name is Reverend Gil Dawes, who’s a Methodist minister, who has been struggling for fifty YEARS and still on fire for justice! The point is that, you see, democratic socialism is not some kind of alien element. It’s organic and indigenous in the history of this nation. Don’t allow the ‘ism’ get in the way of the love of poor people, the love of working people, the love of people of color, the love of gay brothers and lesbian sisters, the love of the elderly and the children and the physically challenged. It’s a question of what kind of human being do you want to be.”

Bernie Sanders: Not a real socialist, but. . .

Socialism means the social ownership of the means of production, and by that standard, Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t a real socialist.

Sanders instead belongs to that strain of Western European politics we might call ameliorism, in which the state creates institutions designed to protect the weakest from the worst ravages of unrestrained predatory capitalism.

“Social democracy,” as the political movement is called, arose as a compromise between the pulls of radical socialism and anarcho-syndicalism on the Left and nationalistic capitalists on the Right.

A key role in its formation were the events in Germany at the end of the First World War when socialism split as revolution swept the country after the deposition of Kaiser Wilhelm I. German socialism was doomed the moment Social Democratic President Friedrich Ebert called in the military to repress the workers and soldiers of the Left, granting the military impunity for their subsequent violent repression — including the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.

Ebert’s moves both doomed the German socialist movement and paved the way for the subsequent rise of the Nazi Party.

Modern European social democracy took form in the wake of the Second World War, and was created, in part by and with the active assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency, which sought to create an alternative Left to counter the influence of the Soviet Union.

Bernie Sanders is an exemplar of the American version of social democracy, best exemplified by the programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who convinced his friends in the economic elite that without social relief programs, Americans might well opt for communism over the brutal conditions of daily life in the Great Depression.

That said, the Roosevelt version of social democracy is far better for most Americans that the frankly oligarchic and theocratic mischief peddled by most GOP and Democratic Party candidates.

Which brings us to this discussion from the Left of the politics of Bernie Sanders.

Featured are Paul Jay of The Real News Network and Doug Henwood, a widely published writer, founder and editor of the Left Business Observer, and host of KPFA’s’ Behind the News.

From The Real News Network:

Sanders Defines his Social Democracy

Program notes:

Doug Henwood and Paul Jay discuss the speech by Bernie Sanders explaining his vision of what social democracy means in the U.S. today.

Richard D. Wolff: An antidote to capitalism

Economist Richard D. Wolff [previously] emerged as a leading voice from the left during the Occupy Wall Street movement, a cause that fused his passion for workplace democracy with the years of classroom podium experience he’d gained during his years teaching at the State University of New York and currently at the New School in Manhattan.

An eloquent, passionate, and concise speaker, In this address Wolff address an audience at the University of Washington in Seattle, giving a superb account of the nature of modern capitalism, the boom/bust cycles inherent in its very nature, and its long history of suppressing rational alternative modes of organizing society.

From TalkingStickTV:

Richard Wolff – Economic Justice, Sustainability and Transition Beyond Capitalism

Program notes:

Talk by Richard D. Wolff on “Economic Justice, Sustainability and Transition Beyond Capitalism” recorded October 27, 2015 at the Communications Building, University of Washington, Seattle.

A radical take on the Democratic debate

The Bay Area’s own Abby Martin, who hosts a weekly series for Telesur English produced by Paul Jay of The Real News Network, assembled a panel to provide a critique from the left of the Democratic presidential debate.

Much of their commentary focuses on the contrasts between Hillary Clinton, the hedge fund manager’s candidate of choice, and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The most notable dissent from Sanders’ take came to his declaration that he would support whichever Democrat emerges victorious — though all agreed that Sanders’ rise points to a growing rank-and-file disaffection with the business of business as usual.

From The Empire Files:

Debate The Debate: Post-Democratic Debate Panel with Abby Martin

An excerpt from the program notes:

Abby Martin, the renowned U.S. journalist and presenter of teleSUR’s The Empire Files, hosted a live analysis of the Democratic Party debate Tuesday on teleSUR . You can watch it below if you missed it. Here is our round up of both the presidential debate and our post-debate analysis.

To dissect the five candidates battling it out for the Democratic nomination for presidential candidate, Martin was joined by politician Jill P. Carter, who represents Maryland’s 41st legislative district of Baltimore City in the Maryland House of Delegates; Jared Ball, assistant professor of communication studies at Morgan State University, who is also a host and producer at the Real News Network; Kamau K. Franklin, the South Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee who has also helped develop community cop-watch programs; Bhaskar Sunkara, the founding editor and publisher of Jacobin Magazine; and journalist Sarah Jaffe, who co-hosts Dissent magazine’s “Belabored” podcast.

The Empire Files: America’s state religion

America’s state ideology, argues Abby Martin, is capitalism, and political movements from the left challenging the unfettered power of capital over labor and the poor have been treated as heretics, with leaders and defiant workers and activists imprisoned or worse.

In the latest edition of The Empire Files, Abby Martin’s new weekly web-and-telecast from Telesur English, Abby is joined by socialist activists to challenge the official ideology and the history it has created with the complicity of mass media and politicians of both parties, going back to the suppression of the Industrial Workers of the World and socialist parties during and after World War I:

The Empire Files: America’s Unofficial Religion, The War on an Idea

Program notes:

The Empire has a range of weapons to maintain its power: from its courts to its military. But it also has effective ideological weapons.

Everyone in the United States knows that “socialist” or “communist” is considered a bad word. How did things get that way?

Abby Martin explores the history of anti-communism in America, and the heavy repression of an idea that became an unofficial religion.

Abby Martin’s swan song: An insightful look at Cuba

Abby Martin’s final week at the helm of RT America’s Breaking the Set with an insightful look at Cuba, offering a rare, and comprehensive, look at the people and its political, economic, and agricultural systems.

In the face of overwhelming opposition and subversion from Washington, fueled by the Cuban exile dominance of the electoral votes of Florida, the small island nation 90 miles from U.S. shores, and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union, its main base of support, Cuba faced enduring struggles, yet endured.

In the process, it has created revolutions in healthcare and agriculture, becoming the only nation in which cities provide most of their own food from intensive and organic neighborhood gardens and educating a cadre of physicians who have provided much, often most, of the total global response to medical emergencies around the world.

The outstanding examples set by Cuba in these fields have made a mockery of the enduring U.S. embargo against the island nation, leaving Israel Washington’s only ally in opposition to full normalization of relations.

In these three segments, Abby Martin demonstrates the skills she has honed during, first, her years as an unsalaried journalist at Berkeley Community Television, then during the three years at the helm of her RT America news magazine.

So sit back and enjoy a remarkable work of journalism.

From Breaking the Set:

Cuba Part I: Revolution, Sabotage & Un-Normal Relations

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin highlights BTS’ eight day trip to Havana, Cuba, starting with a historical look at the tensions between the US and Cuba that have led the two countries to the negotiating table to normalize relations. Abby then discusses the major areas of contention when it comes to these negotiations and where they currently stand. BTS producer, Cody Snell, then speaks with members of the largest delegation of peace activists to visit Cuba since the normalized relations announcement, highlighting the role of grassroots diplomacy. BTS than talks to average Cubans both in Havana and in Miami about their views on the state of US-Cuban relations. BTS wraps up the show with an interview with Kenia Serrano, a high ranking Cuban parliament member and President of The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, about everything from internet access to the crackdown on free speech in the country.

Cuba Part II: Ebola Solidarity & Castro’s Daughter on Gay Rights

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin highlights part II of BTS’ eight day trip to Havana, Cuba, starting with an interview with Cuban doctor, Katiel Llorente Izabelez, who explains how Cuba has managed to maintain such a high life expectancy rate, despite the lack of access to up to date medical supplies. BTS producer, Cody Snell, then speaks with students at the Latin American School of Medicine, an international medical school set up by the Cuban government that provides free tuition to low income individuals that want to become doctors. Abby then discusses how Cuba managed to send the largest contingent of doctors to fight the ebola crisis in West Africa, and how this is just the latest example of the country’s medical internationalism. Abby then goes over the US programs meant to encourage Cuban doctors to defect and how this undermines international health efforts. BTS wraps up the show with an exclusive interview with Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President, Raul Castro, and director of Cuba’s sexual education program CENESEX, about the biggest challenges facing Cuba’s gay community.

Cuba Part III: The Evolution of Revolution

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin features the third installment of BTS’ trip to Cuba, focusing on reforms to the country’s economic and agricultural models. Abby first gives an overview of how Cuba’s organic movement evolved and the challenges of the country’s food subsidy system. Abby then speaks with agricultural co-op founder, Miguel Angel Salcines Lopez, about how Cuba’s cooperative and food system works. Abby then talks to Ernesto Blanco, owner of La Fontana restaurant in Havana, about the difficulties of operating a private business in Cuba and how entrepreneurs are being impacted by recent economic reforms. Abby then speaks with Ricardo Alarcón, Cuba’s former minister of foreign affairs and president of the People’s National Assembly of Power, about the normalization process with the US and the biggest hurdles still remaining in the negotiations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Brookings Institution

The s only democratic socialist in the U.S. Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders has also been the only voice consistently calling out for a toppling of the system of tax loopholes, international trade agreements, and financial deregulation which has looted the wealth of the nation and is systematically endeavoring to impoverish the elderly and weaken the working class.

In this address to the Brooking Institution, Sanders begins with the story of his own political rise, the systematically rips into the corruption which has enabled a handful of families to amass as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Sanders has tapped into a vein of outrage which flows beneath the rotten surface of American politics, and his voice deserves to be heard.

And while we disagree with him on a number of issues, starting with Israel, we can see no other figure on the political horizon who is so relentlessly on target, including Elizabeth Warren.

He’s worth a listen.

From his YouTube channel:

Sen. Bernie Sanders at The Brookings Institution