I wrote six articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) about the Bernie Sanders campaign during the 2016 primary. As everyone keeps saying, Bernie is a paragon of consistency, so my understanding of him stands unchanged. The political situation in 2020 is, however, significantly different, and has opened up new possibilities for the Sanders campaign. On the eve of the first primary vote in Iowa, let’s consider what those possibilities are and where this campaign is taking its constituents and the Democratic Party.
The class struggle in the United States is in limbo. So many Americans are struggling amid declining living standards and are angry at the system, yet they aren’t rebelling like the people in France, Chile, and other deteriorated neoliberal countries have recently been doing. Where are the mass protests? Where are the general strikes? Understanding why an American class revolt still hasn’t manifested is key to understanding how it can be brought about.
“99% of the radicals are divorced from the masses. They attend rallies and protests but lock their doors when driving through oppressed neighborhoods. They don’t know how to do mass work, how to agitate and organize. They think it’s their opinions that matter, that they fulfill their political duty by expressing them. Whereas, they need to create a presence on the street, amongst the oppressed workers and nationalities, and time is of the essence.” — Kevin Rashid Johnson, New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter
For thousands of years we’ve endured wars, poverty, and other cruelties, all unnecessary. And now the madness is about to kill all of us with a climate apocalypse, which is coming much bigger and faster than most people realize. These problems can all be traced to a practice that we have long accepted as normal: the practice of not sharing with our cousins. Trade increases inequality, making corruption and plutocracy inevitable. Competition makes us insane. To avoid extinction we’ll need two revolutions.
When America next experiences an economic downturn, it won’t be like the relatively small recessions that the country used to regularly undergo before the 2008 crash. It will be a collapse of such magnitude that the global economy won’t ever be able to recover, like it eventually did after the Great Depression. It will likely be the end of the growth period of capitalism, and the beginning of an unprecedented contraction that leaves civilization dramatically changed.
“As the environmental crisis worsens, thinking of war as a tool with which to address it, treating refugees as akin to military enemies, threatens us with the ultimate vicious cycle. Declaring that climate change causes wars misses the reality that we human beings cause war, and that unless we learn to address crises nonviolently we will only make them worse.” — Martin Sheen
“One day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you’re raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.” — “Where Do We Go From Here?” Martin Luther King, Jr., Aug. 16, 1967
Your history textbooks may have you convinced he was a blind patriot and arch conservative. They were wrong. Martin Luther King was a socialist, and the following clips show him talking extensively about the need to redistribute wealth and “economic power”, the right to a job, and the dignity of the working class.
The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington—in which Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famed “I Have a Dream” speech—has recently won renewed attention from various print and electronic media in the United States. But the more attention given to King’s extraordinary speech, the less we seem to know about King himself, the less aware we are about the serious challenges he was presenting, challenges that remain urgent and ignored to this very day.