Economics/Class Relations

Bernie Sanders and his enemies to the left

It looks like the Sanders campaign might actually be exposing some cracks in the PC coalition, i.e. between the neo-liberal but culturally leftist Hillaryites, the social democratic labor leftist Sandersites, and the identify politics-intersectionality oriented far Left.

By Jack Ross

The Hill

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) historic socialist identity has been seen as anomalous and exotic by the media and worn as a badge of radical daring by his supporters. Yet the historic American socialist movement, however limited its political influence, played a vital role in the debates that shaped American liberalism throughout the 20th century.

The Socialist Party, in its Progressive Era heyday, offered a vital small-d democratic alternative to Roosevelt’s corporatism and Wilson’s war regime. Even after imploding in the 1930s, the party’s sainted leader Norman Thomas was still revered by many leading Cold War liberals who had been his youthful partisans as “America’s conscience” – referring far less to any economic program than Thomas’ well-earned reputation as a devout civil libertarian and anti-Communist. So it is only natural that a stalwart and (even by historic standards) unusually successful democratic socialist politician such as Bernie Sanders should play a starring role as such a debate is beginning anew.

Most consequential of all was the longtime party stalwart and godfather of the civil rights movement, A. Philip Randolph. Indeed, Bernie Sanders arrived in Vermont in 1964, just a short time after graduating from the University of Chicago, where he led the fight to integrate campus housing several years before Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement north. At Chicago, he was in the orbit of the Young People’s Socialist League, and in the wilds of Vermont preserved the more radical strain of the original egalitarian idealism of the civil rights movement, typified by the legion of fellow Freedom Riders from his native Brooklyn, untainted by black power or the Vietcong.


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