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Joe BidenCongratulations to our presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden!

Response to GulfCoast66 (Reply #21)

Mon Mar 9, 2020, 02:24 AM

26. here is my full explanation, including Bernie disavowing actual socialism


I think at one point in his early life, he likely was an actual socialist, but I think he realised that it was never going to work out (nor happen) here in reactionary, hyper-capitalistic America.

The very definitions of social democrat and democratic socialist are fundamentally divergent. I do so wish he would stop with the semantic games. Then again, the irony is his false labelling finally turned around and bit him in the arse. Let us ALL hope that it doesn't hurt us that much in the general.

Socialism's end goal is state/societal control of the means of production (at large levels, not mom and pop businesses under most forms, although some truly radical socs even want to do away with that level), ofttimes via nationalisation or collective ownership. I can assure you that that is not the endgame in ANY of the social democracies on the planet.

Some (NON DU) Sanders supporters are actual socialists (as stated before, parts of the DSA, the Jacobin magazine group, etc), but they cannot try and say that is the same as bog standard social democratic forms of governance and economic ordering. They can come here to Sweden (I am doing post grad studies in Stockholm and we may well stay here for years as we truly adore it) and try and tell them they live in a socialist nation. They will laugh at them, just as they would laugh at a RW American saying the same thing (albeit the RW says that for different reasons.)

Sweden has a very robust capitalist system as one of its fundamental organising principles, they just do a far better job at regulation and steering the outcomes of it, especially in terms of income inequality, which is the most important overarching and interlocking statistic that determines the well-being of a nation state.

Bernie's stubbornness in terms of false self-labelling (as a democratic socialist) via to his futile attempts try to change close to 200 year old, pervasive, globally accepted (at both academic levels and in everyday informal parlance) political/economic definitions is not only suicidal electorally speaking, but has the spillover effect of doing great damage to our Democratic Party as a whole. It feeds into bullshit RW messaging that falsely smears us all as socialists and thus (in the reactionary and woefully brainwashed USA) the even more false and loaded term, 'commies.'

now, here is Bernie in his own words:

What socialism is — according to Bernie Sanders

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has been calling himself a democratic socialist since the 1960s.
Bernie's use of the word "socialist" has attracted both love and ire from the left.
His definition of socialism is vague, but is the basis for many peoples' understanding of the concept.



Luckily for us, Senator Sanders explained his political philosophy in a speech he delivered at Georgetown University in 2015. (The entire speech can be viewed here.)

He begins by referring to the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt and pointing out the good that it did for a country in the depths of the Great Depression:

"He saw one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. And he acted. Against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty and restored their faith in government. He redefined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our country. He combated cynicism, fear and despair. He reinvigorated democracy. He transformed the country. . . . And, by the way, almost everything he proposed was called 'socialist.'"

The senator then muses on several issues facing the United States, income inequality, unemployment, high rates of childhood poverty, the high cost of medical care, and a declining faith in our political system, among others, and decides that the concentration of wealth and power is both the root cause of them and the key reason why we have failed to solve them. His solution, of course, is "socialism." It is then that he gives us his conception of what that is:

"Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt."

He goes a bit into the particulars of policy and explained that his conception of socialism would require — this is what it would look like — universal health care, total employment, free college education, more public spending, a living wage, environmental regulations, and a robust democratic culture to come into existence. He flatly denied any interest in nationalization, telling the audience:

"So the next time you hear me attacked as a socialist, remember this: I don't believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal."

The contents of this speech were very similar to other statements he has made about socialism across his entire political career. The entire speech could have been summed up neatly in a quote he gave to the Associated Press back in 1997:

"To me, socialism doesn't mean state ownership of everything, by any means, it means creating a nation, and a world, in which all human beings have a decent standard of living."

Wait a moment, praise for the New Deal? No interest in nationalization? That definition sounds a lot like capitalism!

You might have noticed that this program focuses on making capitalism work better and not replacing it with an entirely new system based on social ownership. This has made his definition of socialism a matter of contention.

While "socialism" is a system based around replacing private ownership of the means of production with social ownership, which generally means having the workers own and operate them instead — either through cooperatives or the state — Bernie hasn't shown much of an interest in using the government to promote this change.

Bernie's explanation of "socialism" is, in fact, closer to what political philosophers refer to as "social democracy." This is a capitalist system, since the means of production are still privately owned, where the state heavily regulates the economy and has an active welfare system in place to correct for the worst problems inherent to capitalism like inequality, cyclic instability, or the profit motive encouraging people to do things against the public interest.


FDR went out of his way to say no to socialism, so it is rubbish for Sanders to claim that the New Deal was democratic socialism

What FDR Understood About Socialism That Today’s Democrats Don’t

He ruled at the height of government activism, but saw ideology as something to fear, not embrace.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in characteristic style: beaming, from the back seat of an open car. He had earned this smile. It was June 27, 1936, and he had just been re-nominated by acclamation in the smoke-filled Philadelphia Convention Center a few blocks away. It was, arguably, the high-water-mark of his career. Thanks to the monumental initiatives of Roosevelt’s first term, it was also a moment of transcendent significance in the nation’s history, though none of the 100,000 people sweating in the yellow-brick football stadium realized it. This was the pinnacle of American socialism, by that or any other name.

In the four years just past, Roosevelt had transformed the purpose of the United States government, making it a constant companion in the lives of Americans. The Social Security Act of the previous year was merely the crowning achievement. Roosevelt’s initiatives, meant to curb the misery brought on by the Great Depression, directly funded millions of government jobs, employing everyone from photographers to brush-clearing conservation workers. To pay for this, he raised the income tax—which hadn’t even existed two decades earlier—to 75 percent on the highest incomes. The rich were subsidizing the poor, and that was A-OK with FDR.

The giant crowd bristled with excitement to hear their hero defend these policies. What followed was his so-called “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech, which historians rank among the greatest of his career, a tall order from the man whose oratorical roster included “nothing to fear but fear itself,” and “a day that will live in infamy.” But while those speeches perfectly captured individual moments, Roosevelt’s “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech came far closer to revealing his inner theories and motivations: Never before or after would he lay out his vision in greater clarity.

That vision included one truly insistent message: He was not a socialist.

Though he never used the term socialism in his speech, Roosevelt’s anger at those who accused him of ideological motivations, of applying an economic theory that was anathema to the United States, exploded from the lectern. In line after line, the fiery president defended his actions as pragmatic responses to the real, glaring needs of a changing society. The rich who criticized him, who cloaked their greed in an affinity for capitalism, were dangerously missing his point. He knew the ideological threats of communism and of fascism were real, and were overtaking democracy in European countries. An etched-in-stone commitment to the status quo would be an invitation to extremists everywhere. By fulfilling the government’s obligation to assist its people, he was instilling confidence in the American system. He was vindicating the Founding Fathers.


“Is the New Deal Socialism?” by Norman Thomas

Norman Thomas was the most prominent spokesperson for the Socialist Party of America in the 1930s and 1940s. He ran six times for president on the SP ballot line. Recently, an article by Seth Ackerman of Jacobin magazine argued that Thomas acknowledged that President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs had socialist aspects and this, essentially, is why Bernie Sanders isn’t wrong to invoke the New Deal legacy when he uses the term “democratic socialism.” Nevertheless, the pamphlet from 1936 that we partially reproduce here makes it clear that Thomas didn’t think that the New Deal equaled socialism and that Roosevelt was no socialist.


Mr. Roosevelt and his followers assume that prosperity is coming back because of the New Deal. Al Smith and the rest of Roosevelt’s assorted critics assume that it is in spite of the New Deal and perhaps because of the Supreme Court. Mr. Hoover plaintively protests that the catastrophic depression of January – February, 1933, was due merely to the shudders of the body politic anticipating the economic horrors of the New Deal.

As a Socialist, I view the Smith – Roosevelt controversy with complete impartiality. I am little concerned to point out the inconsistencies in Al Smith’s record, or to remind him that in 1924 and 1928, when I happened to be the Socialist candidate for high office against him, more than one of his close political friends came to me to urge me as a Socialist not to attack him too severely since he really stood for so many of the things that Socialists and other progressive workers wanted.

But I am concerned to point out how false is the charge that Roosevelt and the New Deal represent socialism. What is at state is not prestige or sentimental devotion to a particular name. What is at state is a clear understanding of the issues on which the peace and prosperity of generations — perhaps centuries — depend. A nation which misunderstands socialism as completely as Al Smith misunderstands it is a nation which weakens its defense against the coming of war and fascism.

But, some of you will say, isn’t it true, as Alfred E. Smith and a host of others before him have charged, that Roosevelt carried out most of the demands of the Socialist platform? This charge is by no means peculiar to Mr. Smith. I am told that a Republican speaker alleged that Norman Thomas rather than Franklin D. Roosevelt has been President of the United States. I deny the allegation and defy the allegator, and I suspect I have Mr. Roosevelt’s support in this denial. Matthew Woll, leader of the forces of reaction in the American Federation of Labor, is among the latest to make the same sort of charge.

Roosevelt Not Socialist

Emphatically, Mr. Roosevelt did not carry out the Socialist platform, unless he carried it out on a stretcher.


If I were to vote in a presidential
primary today, I would vote for:
Joe Biden

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GulfCoast66 Mar 2020 OP
left-of-center2012 Mar 2020 #1
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Joinfortmill Mar 2020 #3
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showblue22 Mar 2020 #4
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Celerity Mar 2020 #12
GulfCoast66 Mar 2020 #13
Celerity Mar 2020 #15
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Celerity Mar 2020 #19
GulfCoast66 Mar 2020 #21
LineLineLineLineLineLineLineNew Reply here is my full explanation, including Bernie disavowing actual socialism
Celerity Mar 2020 #26
quakerboy Mar 2020 #25
Celerity Mar 2020 #27
DrToast Mar 2020 #14
Tarheel_Dem Mar 2020 #17
GulfCoast66 Mar 2020 #18
Farmer-Rick Mar 2020 #20
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