Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Berning Out?

To be on the Left is to believe in economic equality and in international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends.

In the struggle for the universal good that is economic equality, the leading role belongs to those who suffer most by its absence, namely the working class, and the leading role within the working class belongs to the trade union and co-operative movements.

In the struggle for the universal good that is international peace, the leading role belongs to those who suffer most by its absence, namely the working class and the youth. 

Each of those struggles has always been fundamental to the other, and it always will be. The anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggles have always been fundamental to each and both of them, and they always will be. All other identity issues are subordinate within this, if they can be, or they are precluded by it, if they cannot be.

Holding these views, I rejoiced at the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as a serious candidate for the Leadership of the Labour Party in 2015, ending a 21-year period during which Britain had had no political debate as such. Both economic policy and foreign policy had been off the agenda, and that despite the widespread unpopularity of the catastrophic economic and foreign policies that had been pursued as if they had been self-evident.

But what of Bernie Sanders? He, too, has opened up the debate. But by his siding today with the "intelligence community", with the Deep State and its military-industrial complex, against President Trump's pursuit of détente with Russia, he has indicated either a fundamental lack of understanding of the relationship between inequality at home and war abroad, or the most outrageous opportunism. I strongly suspect the latter.

For Sanders, who would have been the Democratic nominee for President in 2016 if the Democratic National Committee had not rigged the process against him and who would then have beaten Donald Trump, has transformed the party that he did not join until he was 73, and whose candidate he has beaten every time that he has ever been elected to anything.

His position would broadly have been the bipartisan consensus by now if Ronald Reagan had never happened, and it still could be within 10 or 15 years. By 2020, it will look like the middle of moderation next to the last neo-Dixiecrat Clinton supporter ever to run, and someone from much further to the left who was only in active politics at all because of Sanders.

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