The strategy of Bernie Sanders has spawned an ambiguous jargon about ‘revolution’ and even socialism. This may be a clever indirection that escapes me, and it might help to suffer the ambiguity in a fellow travelers mode. But in the end we might learn from Sanders that he could use the term socialism and get a response from a huge sector of frustrated people who have seen through the charade of current politics.
But why not take up a real socialism, a real project for a new politics and economy taken as both an electoral option, but with a revolutionary potential in the background. The platform of Sanders evoked a strong response: would that persist in a rendering of real socialism? If not we have betrayed the terminology and taken away the option of those who are the real socialists. That changes the discussion in an ugly way and becomes a cooptation of the real thing.
We may just as well misjudge the situation by demanding a coherent platform where a contingent of the desperate are figuring an angle that is clever if not consistent.
It is interesting that while Marx is considered the revolutionary par excellence he and Engels, after 1848 entered a mode of conventional politics. And likewise we can adopt an evolutionary path, but that requires an actual socialist or communist orientation. I fear we are being sidelined then by the Sanders type of language and after an immense come on we are left without the ability to use the term ‘revolution’. I predicted than last spring in a cautiously interested take on Sanders.
I don’t think the damage done is all that great: all we have to do is point out the issue and at this point anyone who can do anything needs support. But in the end a Sanders victory would not have produced any socialism. Still, I think the time is coming when a Sanders type of campaign will replicate the mirror image of Trump in the revulsion at what has come about: a committed socialist platform might be online in a government that has control of Congress and Senate: what would be possible then?
A lot of confusion would arise at that point: we would end trying to recreate the New Deal in the midst of a now corrupt system that is run from a deep state, is imperialistic, with the drug rackets and covert agencies in the background. How would our Sanders deal with that, or with the spectre of Israel?
We of course lost such a moment with Obama in 2008, but of course he was no socialist.
We need a prefab model dealing with all such issues given a rendering in a complete package and we confront the reality that our political system is not likely to escape the clutches of the vultures of capitalism, the covert agencies, its legacy of imperialism and the persistent murder of many lefts.
As the saying goes, don’t let me stop you. But a real socialism in a Sanders-style movement is what those who responded to his message were really hoping for. We don’t know what betrayal of circumstance would have, might have, overtaken a Sanders moment.