By Michael Lind, Tablet
Was Bernie Sanders America’s Corbyn? How labor, socialism, and wokeness splintered into entirely different movements and exploded a traditional left coalition.
Was Bernie Sanders the American version of Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn? In the aftermath of Super Tuesday and the Michigan primary, the answer is yes—and no.
The parallels are striking: Both the 78-year-old Sanders and the 70-year-old Corbyn are living fossils of the left of the 1960s and ’70s. Both were marginal figures in politics for decades—Sanders as the only self-described socialist in the United States Senate, Corbyn as a backbencher in the Labour Party of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Both combine support for social democratic reforms including the socialization of major industries—nationalization of rail in Corbyn’s case, nationalization of health care in the case of Sanders—with a reflexive (though nuanced in the case of Sanders) opposition to U.S. military intervention abroad. In foreign policy, Corbyn has more of a Third Worldist ideology than Sanders, despite the latter’s praise for Fidel Castro’s allegedly wonderful literacy programs in Cuba—a ritual talking point of the fellow travelers of the Cold War era—along with the supposed virtues of now-defunct communist worker cooperatives in Yugoslavia.
Both Sanders and Corbyn had a chance to emerge as national leaders only after the Great Recession had discredited the bipartisan establishment with its shared vision of market-driven globalization under American/Western military domination. In the United States and Britain, as in other Western democracies, the failure of establishment centrism made viewpoints on the left and right that were formerly considered extreme seem more credible to many citizens than the exhausted neoliberal consensus.
Categories: Left and Right