Sep 19, 2015 by


By William Kaufman, CounterPunch  VIA TRUTHDIG

    A crowd listens to Sen. Bernie Sanders at a town hall meeting in Phoenix, Arizona held in July. (Gage Skidmore / (CC BY-SA 2.0))

This piece originated at CounterPunch. It appears here with the kind permission of the author.

In this presidential summer of our discontent, the radical left has been fighting hard—not chiefly against capitalism and its galloping calamities, it seems, but against . . . Bernie Sanders. Scarcely a day passes without an ominous recitation of Sanders’s manifold political shortcomings—Sanders exposés (read examples here, here, here and here) seem to have become a thriving cottage industry for the far-left commentariat.

It should come as a startling revelation to no one that Sanders is not and has never aspired to be the next Lenin or Trotsky or even Bob Avakian. We readily concede that his record will not pass every litmus test of anti-imperialist and revolutionary probity—no need to belabor this point any further. But then what are we to make of Syriza, Podemos, Jeremy Corbyn, or even Jill Stein—and other assorted leftish flavors du jour—all of them seemingly quite palatable to these same ideological arbiters of the radical left? These other examples and Sanders are cut from essentially the same political cloth: left social democrats or democratic socialists inclined to challenge entrenched corporate interests through established political institutions rather than overthrowing them from without. Then why the radical cheers (however mixed and muted in some cases) for these other leftish types and jeers for Sanders, even though they all represent essentially the same political impulse?

The answer lies in a hallowed, inviolable principle of the U.S. far left, in fact its most revered first commandment: thou shalt not support, endorse, or even smile at a Democrat. This prohibition is not merely a mindless ideological reflex—it arises from the hard truth that the national Democratic Party is as much a subsidiary of the corporate class as the GOP. Obama’s crass subservience to the interests of the one percent has erased any doubts about this institutional fealty except among hardened neoliberals, tribal Democrats, and the entire on-air lineup of MSNBC. And there is no doubt that past left-talking presidential primary challengers such as Jackson and Kucinich have functioned more as safety valves than catalysts for popular unrest, dissipating it and re-channeling it into the manageable confines of the two-party arena of mock combats. The question, then, is this: Is there something different about the Sanders campaign that warrants support from radicals who have rightly spurned previous forays into the Democratic Party?

This key question immediately begs another, even more fundamental one: How to awaken tens of millions of people from the entrapments of mass hypnosis, prostration, and indifference and into the first halting steps toward recognition and self-emancipation? The quandary is as old as the parable of Plato’s cave—that mythic netherworld of darkness and illusion inhabited by us fallible mortals. The solution—the way out of the cave into the liberating light of knowledge—is as stubbornly elusive now as it was then. But simply naming the problem of the “false consciousness” that stymies the oppressed—as endlessly and vehemently reiterated by the legions of the far left for a small eternity—does not by itself yield a solution, as the long history of leftist impotence and isolation attests. It is understandably frustrating for the leftist sects and sages to have all the answers except that most important one: how to lead the “masses” out of the darkness of ignorance and ideological deception into enlightenment. The leftist groups—with their obscure tomes of theory, their blogs, their conferences and meetings, their tinker-toy bureaucracies, their streams of manifestoes and critiques, their insular feuds and splits and fiery excoriations of left, right, and center—are self-declared leaders without followers, generals with an invincible plan for battle who lack only one small detail: an army.

Ten parts bellowing grandiosity to zero parts real influence, the far left fails a litmus test more important than any it applies to Bernie Sanders: Marx’s call not merely to interpret the world but to change it. So we must ask: at this moment of gathering darkness for our species and planet, in this pivotal presidential campaign season, who is making greater strides toward triggering the mass enlightenment that is the key to empowering the oppressed: Sanders or his left critics? If politics is the art of communication, then Sanders must be judged the winner, hands down.

In fact, the Sanders campaign represents a breakthrough for progressive “messaging” of remarkable scope and impact. Sanders, with his calls for political revolution against the billionaire class, is not just another standard-issue, forked-tongue, feel-your-pain Democrat; at each MSM-covered appearance he blasts out piercing alarms about the radical inequities and irrationalities of the status quo, along with sorely needed solutions—primal truths that would otherwise lie dormant and buried in the scattered isolated islets of far-leftdom.


1 Comment

  1. As this articles intones, it is frankly ludicrous that any ideologues “left of left” would go after Sanders given the almost miracle that Americans are even listening to him. Their failure or refusal to see that Sanders is the best thing that the Left could ever have hoped or imagined for is confirmation that these far left proponents live in a reality where the same group of people have been talking to themselves for years without having ever convinced anyone else to join them in their extremely uncommon cause.

    It is not whiff of “Democrat” that motivates them to attack Sanders, it is Envy…tinged with the loneliness of their

    failure to win over any hearts or minds to their cause.

    And by thus, ensuring with final certainty what most people long knew or suspected and which is the fact that

    theirs is a cause that has no effect and is a lost cause.

    In fact, it’s worse than that and would argue that there isn’t even enough grounds to suggest that there was ever a cause in the first place.

    At least not outside their heads where fervent hopes are Born, and which History and current Reality suggest will also Die, having never seen the light of Day.


  1. ‘Wonder Woman’ vs. The Frackers! Daily Frack – Sept. 19-20 - […] THE FAR LEFT NEEDS TO GET A HOLD OF ITSELF AND SUPPORT BERNIE SANDERS This piece originated at CounterPunch.…

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