ON BERNIE SANDERS: A Case for an Overenthusiastic Non-Socialist Populist
Bernie Sanders wrongly brands himself a 'Democratic Socialist' while, in fact, he is just a mild form of a 'Social Democrat' considering his policy on healthcare-for-all, free public college education, and raising minimum wage. He doesn't have any specific plan to turn the US into any kind of a welfare state such as those Nordic countries he admires. He is probably a democrat who embraces some 'populist' programs in order to win votes from American poor and lower-middle income class. By wrongly calling himself a 'democratic socialist' he has created his own socialist-witch-hunt.
A socialist is a "socialist". He or she adopts full "Marxist Socialism" as program of state to achieve a classless society where state is in control of socio-economic infrastructures and planning. In a socialist state means of production are equally shared.
A socialist who embraces democratic means to achieve his state socialistic goal is called a "democratic socialist" and his ideology "democratic socialism."
A democrat who embraces some socialistic idea to build a democratic state is a "social democrat." His state remains a "democracy"
To superficially understand the subject just simply follow the noun and its adjective.
Socialism is an old idea given a scientific life as a socio-political force recognised worldwide following the 1848 publication of "The Manifesto of the Communist Party" by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The early success of Marxism in Europe and later around the world made Marxism virtually a religion and Marx himself a prophet. Since then socialism has evolved into diverse manifestations including Sanders' despised "corporate socialism". Elements of socialism have been infused into various state systems. According to Karl Marx, fragments of unrelated socialistic idea can never become true socialism that unites proletarians of all countries.
For serious political scientist, the first must-reads include Marx's original works The Manifesto of the Communist Party (The Communist Manifesto)(1848), and Das Kapital (Capital)(1867).
For a general student of political science, the 1942 political science classic, 'Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy', by Joseph A. Schumpeter is a good place to start.
As for Bernie Sanders, he needs to read all the above and more before branding himself any kind of political ideologist. In the meantime he will just be my democrat with a populist program.
And for the American voting public? Who cares!
Free tuitions for public colleges, student loans cancellation, healthcare for all, and the minimum wage at $15 an hour - all sound good, socialistic or otherwise.
Populists of the world, unite!
A RESURRECTION OF SOCIALISM IN AMERICA?
2020 will be the year Americans learn more about socialism, its history, rise, and fall, and resurrection into American politics. In this frantic presidential election year where a leading Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders claims he is a socialist. Sanders' self-proclaimed brand of democratic socialism invites public discussion on the subject of socialism*:
What is socialism?
What are the modern interpretations of socialism as practiced in the world today?
Is socialism in any form suitable and possible for the United States?
Is Bernie Sanders ' brand of socialism worthy of him being elected the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party?
And will he win the presidential election?
Before Karl Marx, socialism was only a subject of academic interest. Following Marx's discourse on scientific socialism the world saw the rise of a revolutionary working class. Though things did not turn out as Marx predicted - Capitalism did not beget communism, and the Soviet communism finally fell along the Berlin Wall. Chinese Communism has transformed into 'state capitalism', as if historical materialism working in reverse. Only a handful of communist countries remain and they are all searching for a capitalist way out. It appears as if the world has no place for socialism no more.
Along comes Bernie Sanders and his confusing brand of socialism. Whatever kind of socialism Bernie Sanders has been talking about is still unclear from the academic vantage point.
Regardless, 2020 will be an exciting year for students of political science. At least it will be the year of good reading and stimulating intellectual discussion.
*On 8 April 2020 Bernie Sanders announced the end of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, ending our meaningful discussion on socialism in America for the time being. Obviously Socialism as a political ideology will live on in its various reincarnations.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ▼
● Foreign Policy: Winter 2020 Issue
FEATURE: Socialism: Why It’s Back and What It Means
● Paul Krugman/The New York Times: Bernie Sanders Isn't a Socialist
● Griff Witte / The Washington Post: In Cold War travels, Bernie Sanders found much to admire behind enemy lines. Now that’s a problem for his campaign.