Capitalism, military-industrial complex, and Democratic Party get a bye from Bernie. He is a fraud.
Sanders does not use the term “capitalism” when he discusses the nation’s sharp economic disparities and the problem of climate change. As far as I can tell from his campaign pitch, Bernie thinks that America’s stark class disparities and plutocracy and climate change are just the product of the Republican Party, FOX News, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, and the greed of “the billionaire class.” The deeper truth (something you can learn not just from radical anti-capitalist thinkers but also from the liberal and distinctly un-Marxist French economist Thomas Piketty) is that our planet-warming New Gilded Age is the consequence of decades of eco-cidal and sociopathic capitalism returning to its deeply inequitable and undemocratic historical norm.
One of the irksome things about the two Sanders talks I’ve heard in Iowa City this year – a previous one a local bookstore last February – is how reluctant he seems to mention the thoroughly corporatized Democratic Party as part of the problem.
Could a Sanders presidential run help us build the popular movements and weight that mater count most for those who wish to bring about substantive progressive change? I very much doubt it, for two reasons.
First, candidate-centered campaigns tend to pretty much soak up all or at least most of the political energies of their participants. There’s not much left for efforts to build and expand movements for deeper systemic changes beneath and beyond biennial and quadrennial elections.
Second, there’s the deepened sense of popular powerlessness that will be engendered when Sanders is defeated, as he almost certainly will be given the giant financial expense of presidential politics and the inevitable and powerful bias of elite campaign donors and “mainstream” (corporate) media against any candidate who calls himself a socialist (however vague and mild that candidate’s usage of that term may be) and runs against the over-concentration of wealth.