This article was posted on my Facebook timeline. I responded but then decided I should share it via my Blog. So, read the article and then read my response below.
Know Thy Enemy: a Classier Take on Class Warfare by Sable Levy In case you didn’t know it, the ultra-rich are widely vilified—particularly within movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the political campaign of Bernie Sanders, which has captured the…Read more ›
Well , it all depends on what battle we are talking about. Class warfare is only one of the many battles we all are engaged in. There’s the battle between good and evil… and that can be described as existing on different levels in itself. There is the battle against evil out in the world. Rape, murder, enslavement, ethnic cleansing, and so on. This is the realm of politics, diplomacy, and the military.
There is also the battle between good and evil in ourselves. This is largely the realm of religion. It is the jihad that Islam speaks of, the battle with our lesser selves, the struggle to be good people. Or as Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.
There are lots of battles. But few of these battles are not impacted by the class battle. Marxism may not have been a great way to run an economy… Capitalism, at least in some mixed economy form, has proven to result in better economic results. But if you want to understand who is getting screwed in a society, then Marxism is pretty good about telling you that. That’s why the Right never wants the dialogue framed this way. because if people really understood how the deck is stacked against them, they’d throw those suckers out (which of course has happened a number of times in history).
Of course poor people can be both good and bad, just like rich people. Domestic abuse, rape, theft, and so on are not at all defined by class lines. Rich folks commit them just as frequently as poor folks. But if you want to understand who is more likely to get a fair trial when accused, you better understand how class divides effect that. A rich executive is likely to get a lighter sentence for a more serious crime than a poor one for a less serious crime, especially if he or she is a minority. That’s just a fact.
If you want to understand how our military adventurism around the world affects our own society, you damned well have to consider class. The rich get richer when we fight these wars. It is the poor and working classes who fight them. That is also just plain fact. The only really democratic war in US history was WWII in which the sons of the rich, like George Bush senior, JFK, and Teddy Roosevelt III, fought out on the front lines. All of the rest of our wars were fought by the poorest of our poor, all the way back to the Revolution.
If you want to understand why, when we have already agreed that both rich and poor can be good and evil, that they each commit crimes, that neither group is more or less moral than the other, we have the largest percentage of our population imprisoned than any other country in the world and that these people are largely poor and dis-proportionally minority, well, class warfare addresses that and your model above does not at all.
While it is certainly a mistake to impute some sort of Rousseau-ian romanticization to the lower classes it is also a mistake to not address the fact that any given society is largely set up to benefit the wealthiest members at the expense of the poorest members. While we should all remain cognoscente of the fact that rich folks are both good and bad, some mean well and do great things with the wealth and others are not much better than pimps and predators and do huge harm, they still tend to vote along with their own self interest.
Class-ism is almost impossible to avoid in any society. So, in any attempt to have a society which is a just society, in which equal opportunity exists for all, in which the playing field is actually close to being level, then you had better be using the class war model to evaluate what is going on because the other models for the battles we face will not tell you anything about how a society falls short of its stated values and how to go about addressing that.
I read this article which was shared by a friend on my Facebook timeline. I think it highlights some real issues concerning the future of the movement and how it proceed in the face of increasing likelihood that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.
Once again, the age old argument about whether it is better to work within the system or in opposition to the system comes to the fore. The 2016 election presents a particular problem for progressive activists and making the right choice about how to proceed. If their candidate of choice can’t win the nomination, and they try to mount a third party challenge, write in a different candidate, or simply not participate in the voting, we could easily have a repeat of the Bush / Gore election when Ralph Nadar broke ranks and ran as a third party candidate. That decision gave the election to Bush and the result was eight years of, not just not progressive administration and policies, but eight years of undoing years of progress.
The tone of this article is that the “establishment” Democratic Party is the enemy. It describes how the “centrists” co-opt the agenda of the Left and then somehow hold the Left hostage (hence the Stockholm Syndrome illusion). Personally, I believe this is the source of the ineffectiveness of the Left in moving its agenda forward. The activist movements, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, etc are important. But what drives change is the movement of the center.
It is a fact that the majority of our citizens exist at just Left and just Right of the center of our political spectrum. Now that center moves over time depending on circumstance. In recent years, it has definitely moved Right. But it is still the case that the majority of voters are moderate and will normally support the establishment of their chosen political Party.
What is perhaps unique in 2016 is just how polarized things have become. Both political Parties have found themselves dealing with serious insurrection within the ranks. The GOP has completely lost control of its membership. None of the establishment picks for the GOP nomination received more than token support. The two candidates left standing are both outsiders who are far to the Right of what the establishment party leadership is comfortable with. The fact that it was their 8 year barrage of extreme anti-government, anti-Obama propaganda that caused this situation is neither here nor there. They are now stuck with resorting to trying for a contested convention to try to stop Donald Trump.
The Democrats are in marginally better control of their membership and it looks almost certain that Hillary Clinton will prevail and be the nominee. But far from being the automatic nominee that was predicted, she has struggled, barely staying ahead of Bernie Sanders in the delegate lead and showing huge weaknesses in voting blocks that she will need in the general election. While Hillary Clinton’s great strength exists with African American voters and, not surprisingly female voters, Bernie Sanders has destroyed her with younger voters and the independents that will be crucial to win against the Republican nominee.
This situation has provided leverage for the progressives that we haven’t seen for years. It represents an opportunity to move the progressive agenda forward and get buy in from the establishment “centrists”. But it remains unclear whether the activist Left will take advantage of this situation or, in a pique of righteous outrage refuse to support the Party nominee. In my opinion this would be a disaster and would almost certainly result in a victory for the GOP. It would, in my opinion, be an example of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”.
The only way things are really going to change in the country is to move the center. Yes, activism is important, but the Civil Rights Movement did not prevail until Lyndon Johnson threw the weight of the Federal government behind it. The Anti-Vietnam War movement didn’t really accomplish much until it put a million people on the mall in DC. Those weren’t the hard core activists, those were the very centrists that the activists disdained as “limousine liberals” etc.
There has been a movement away from the center towards the extremes by a large number of people on each side of the political spectrum. This fact is the direct result of a government that, for many years has failed to deliver to its people. The Left and Right activists have basically driven the discussion for a number of years leaving the majority centrists feeling like the whole political discussion isn’t addressing their concerns and isn’t being conducted as they would wish.
With the GOP looking like it will certainly nominate a candidate with abysmal national approval ratings, a unified Democratic Party looks to win and win big. But can it and will it unify? Hillary Clinton is a tested and experienced candidate. Yet, she is as unpopular with the extremists on the Left as she is with the folks on the Right. Many committed Progressives have actually said that they will not vote for her or support her, no matter what.
I find this attitude appalling. It smacks of hubris. It says that for the sake of being “right”, for the sake of feeling “righteous”, they would be willing to sink the whole ship rather than have a captain they didn’t like. This despite the fact that this political ship is the only hope of moving the ball forward towards a progressive future. It is a fact that, if this ship sinks, the ship captained by the other guys wins the race and it is also a fact that that they are absolutely committed to, not only preventing moving that progressive ball forward, but actually undoing decades of progress.
Activists always have the dilemma of pushing a society in ways that are uncomfortable. But often they are out of sync and push harder or faster than the society will move. That can even create a backlash that can be counter productive. This is a unique time. The establishment Democrats absolutely need the support of the progressives who are at the Left side of the Party. Because of the tremendous showing by the Sanders supporters, the Sanders Progressives have a tremendous leverage to get Hillary Clinton to commit to progressive policies that she might other wise not champion. But, if these folks refuse to unify with the Party, they lose all chance of effecting the outcome in anything but a disastrous way. We could find ourselves with the Anti-Christ (from a progressive / liberal standpoint) as President and a bunch of self righteous activists bitching about how corrupt the “system” was. This just strikes me as a sort of suicide wish among people who purport to be acting for the benefit of all the people. It certainly will not benefit anyone if this happens except the very people who are the real enemy.
Read the article below and see what you think…
The Democratic Stockholm Syndrome | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community
After weeks of hard and increasingly heated campaigning, Hillary Clinton scored a decisive victory over Bernie Sanders in last night’s New York Democratic primary. Despite losing a majority of the state’s counties, she won in huge margins in New York City and the popular vote overall.
A Facebook friend posted an article from a Right wing publication supposedly demonstrating the predicted disaster for our lowest wage workers if we institute the $15 minimum wage. I felt a detailed response was called for.
To the folks that think that the lay off of these workers is the result of an unsustainable minimum wage:
The Berkeley Layoffs
First, I will point out that the requirement to cut the work force was a university wide mandate to cut the budget by ten percent. It was not specifically targeted at the minimum wage earners. And I would maintain that this is the result of our chronic under-funding of education not a demonstration that the minimum wage is untenable. But that is the subject for other Blogs.
The question here is who will do those jobs. Has the University decided not to have clean floors? Will they not have people serving food at the dining halls? I strongly suspect that, with some budgetary re-prioritization, that these jobs will be replaced soon. Or are they going to have the grad students cleaning the floors?
The $15 minimum wage effects only the most low level jobs. These are jobs that the folks who can’t do any better do. It is a fact that, in most urban ares in the US, one can work two full time minimum wage jobs and still not cover what would be considered the most essential expenses of a family.
Much of our country’s original growth was based on unpaid labor in the form of slavery. We abolished slavery but managed to set up relationships between owners and workers, both in the agricultural sector and in the newly developed industrial sector that left the workers as virtual slaves. The tenant farmer system in the South, the company owned mill and mining towns in the industrial heartland are good examples.
It wasn’t until the successes of the Labor Movement that we, as a society, began to establish the idea that there was a basic standard of living, under which no one should have to live and work. Our history has been one of continuous movement towards better protections for our workers until the backlash against the New Deal occurred in the Reagan years. The Right has attempted to roll back the gains made ever since.
The Chancellor of US Berkeley makes a salary of just under half a million dollars a year as a base salary. The football coach makes 1.81 million! Yet, rather than pay a wage that would only provide a worker with the most margin standard of living in a city like Berkeley. they decide to lay off those workers. It is just another example of our society’s obscene wealth divide, our tendency to treat those at the bottom as virtually sub-human, our vastly misplaced priorities.
We are in serious trouble as a society… the robotics revolution is just around the corner. It will be upon us before I even pass away at the pave it is developing. Soon, most of these jobs will not be done by people, they will be done my machines. We need to be acting in anticipation of this revolution by investing heavily in education and providing enough financial support to the folks at he bottom that, at least their children will be ready for this new economy which is coming.
Robotics will eliminate most of these jobs.A failure to invest right now in the mass of folks who exists at the bottom rungs of our society, a continuance of the path that we have been on in which they fall farther and farther behind the rest of the country in terms of standard of living will result in the near future in an unemployable class of non-workers. The jobs that used to exist for the least educated and most unskilled will not even exist. They will be done by machines. If we don’t want a revolution, we had better start preparing these folks for the future, not letting them fall farther and farther behind.
The $15 minimum wage is just a stop gap measure to help people survive. This is the subsistence level of our society. Most of these folks already need public assistance to survive. It is a matter of where you choose to pay, not whether you pay or not. The next step down is living on the streets and starving. One has to ask the question whether it is morally justifiable for the rest of our society to depend on jobs being done that require workers to live a sub-standard life?
The $15 minimum wage hike in California has sent financially troubled UC Berkeley into decision making mode, and “the people who clean buildings, who work in food services or health clinics, says Todd Stenhouse, will be the ones without a job.
Dr. Jeffrey Sachs wrote this piece about the difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. It does a lot to explain how the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, while they may have championed progressive social issues, have avoided dealing with our wealth inequality issues in order to keep the support of the big money Wall Street interests. In return, Wall Street interests have provided the financial support they needed to get and stay in office. Hillary Clinton would be a continuation of this very same policy.
To the great surprise of the Party establishment, Bernie Sanders has managed to mount a serious challenge to the Clinton campaign and has done so via massive participation of small contributors rather than the Super Pacs on which Clinton largely relies. This signals a serious revolt occurring in the Democratic Party. Large numbers of Democratic grassroots supporters are demanding real change. Large numbers of first time participants and independents are also flocking to the Sanders Camp, all supporters that Hillary Clinton will require to win against any Republican candidate.
While the Party establishment has engineered the primary process to favor their favored candidate, their dilemma is how to bring the Sanders supporters into the fold in their battle against the GOP in the general election. It is not by any means a given that Bernie’s supporters, motivated by a strong desire to see social and economic change in our country will turn out for Clinton.
Tuesday night’s primary results underscore that Americans want more than a continuation of the game that Bill Clinton played 25 years ago, says Jeffrey Sachs.
I read this stuff and just wonder what some folks are thinking. The idea that Bernie’s “hype” is somehow different than any other candidates “hype” is ridiculous. Criticizing a candidate’s stump speeches for being formulaic and simplistic is completely unrealistic and a professional commentator should know better.
Campaign speeches do two things. First, and most obvious, is to define the candidate relative to his or her opponents and generate enthusiasm for the candidate. This isn’t in any way an intellectual exercise, it is entirely emotional. It is about outlining what the candidate stands for in broad strokes, not about the details. Can you imagine what an analytical, fact based speech would look like? Well, we’ve already seen that… Remember Ross Perot with his charts and graphs? No, I didn’t think you did, because it was as exciting as watching paint dry.
In actuality, Bernie Sanders has been more specific about exactly what his plan is than any other candidate. Typically candidates try not to be too specific because it just opens them up to attacks from their opponents. The idea is to be as vague as possible about the hows and inspiring about the generalities. Certainly that was the Clinton campaign’s intention initially. Only because the Sanders campaign was so specific about his agenda has Clinton’s people had to talk more about the specifics.
If one wishes to see what Bernie Sanders proposes, just go to his website Bernie Sanders CampaignThis is not secret information but details like this do not belong in a stump speech… That would put people to sleep. Speeches are to people’s hearts not minds. They are all about why you should love me, why you should be scared of the other folks. No candidate doesn’t used this strategy.
Additionally, trying to pin down any candidate in the minute details of how they will actualize their agendas is also unrealistic. Sure, like Hillary Clinton, there will be areas on which they are real experts. No one in the 2016 is going to stand up to Clinton on foreign affairs. But the President of the United States is really a high level manager and big picture thinker. He or she is not the person who has to work out the details of how to do something. They hire experts for that. What they do is outlines the direction, they work out the big picture agenda and then find specialist who can help them work out legislative proposals to send to Congress. Even then, it isn’t the President who typically writes the actual legislation any more than the President actually votes on it. That’s the job of Congress. The President sets the direction and then, as leader of his or her Party, gets the Party members in Congress to make these proposals happen.
Bernie Sanders has been very specific about the initiatives his administration would take. More so than any other candidate… But his current team is about getting him elected. His eventual Cabinet will not be the same people for the most part. It’s a different set of skills. When so-called pundits sit back and take shots at the candidates with criticisms that are just unrealistic and actually distort an understanding of he real process, they reveal once again that it is about generating readership or viewership rather than doing reporting that enhances an understanding of the real issues. This article is one such report.
Here is the original article.
Why are some of us immune to the Bernie hype and not others? Here’s a philosophical examination.
Just to be clear… Bernie Sanders is NOT a Socialist. Bernie Sanders is a candidate who advocates for a mixed capitalist economy in which certain services are considered existing “for the public good” and therefore should not be controlled by privatized, for profit entities. Things like Health Care, Education, our Corrections System, etc. should be seen as a “public good” and should be operated as such, not for profit. So, they should be publicly funded. That’s what Bernie Sanders advocates. Not any kind of wild radicalism there…
Nowhere does he call for the end of private property. Nowhere is he advocating the nationalization of Ford Motor Company or any of the other major “means of production”. He’s fine with private industry but does feel strongly that they require government regulation to keep them on the straight and narrow given the inherent tension between what is best for the country and what is best for their stock holders. So, they get to do what is best for their stock holders, as long as it doesn’t against the public good. Now how radical is that?
Full Definition of socialism
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private propertyb: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
The 2016 campaign for the Democratic nomination has engendered wide spread discussion of how seemingly un-democratic the process is. A grassroots revolution in the Party has taken place and Bernie Sanders, not even an actual party member but an independent, is neck and neck with the hand picked, specially groomed, candidate of the Party establishment, Hillary Clinton.
Clinton was supposed to be a shoe in. The entire Part establishment is behind her. The Party has been preparing for this election for some time and it was just assumed that she would be the candidate. Most of the advance planning was geared towards winning the actual election against the Republican candidate.
Along comes Bernie Sanders. Starting behind in the polls by double digits his campaign has gained momentum. Without the many millions the Clinton campaign has taken in from super pacs, Sanders has kept up in fund raising , and has done so with massive support from individual, small contributors (a danger sign for the Clinton campaign).
So, as the primaries have gone on, Sanders has only gained momentum. He has won the last 7 caucuses / primaries and in terms of pledged delegates is only modestly behind Clinton. But the campaign has served to highlight the role of the super delegates, all Party faithful, and almost entirely going into the convention intending to throw their support behind Clinton.
This system has been the cause of outrage among Sanders supporters in states like Washington State where Sanders won the caucuses by a 70 / 30 margin, yet virtually all of the super delegates, many currently serving Democratic officials like the Governor, the Dem Senators and Congressmen, etc say that they will support Clinton. A concerted effort is being made to convince them to acknowledge the will of the voters and change their support to Sanders.
The whole process has led to accusations of Clinton stealing the nomination, the vilification of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, grassroots efforts to unseat Democratic officials by progressive candidates supported by disaffected Dem voters (Tim Canova is opposing Wassermann Scultz in Florida and is being supported by the Sanders campaign). In other words, the Democratic Party has a rebellion taking place that is similar to that which has caused havoc for the Republican Party which has been hi-jacked by ultra Right Tea Party activists Many feel that this has virtually destroyed the GOP.
So, I think it would be a good idea to look at the super delegate system closely, examine why it was created, and weigh the pros and cons. While I am quite firmly a Bernie Sanders supporter, and do wish my Washington State super delegates would publicly switch their support to the candidate clearly favored by my fellow Washingtonians, I am sympathetic to the reasoning behind affording the Democratic Party leaders, the seemingly out-sized role they have in picking the candidate.
There was a time when Party leaders pretty much just picked the candidate they wished to run. In 1968 the Party was being moved Leftwards by the anti-war movement. So, it was decided to reduce the control Party leaders had over the nomination process to make it “more democratic”. But the results weren’t good from the Party standpoint. George McGovern, a man with little support from Party regulars, ran a one issue campaign as the anti-war candidate. He won the nomination but manged to have one of the most ignominious defeats in electoral history, winning only two states and even losing his own home state in the general election.
Jimmy Carter later ran as an “outsider” candidate and won with Democratic supporters sick of Washington “insider” politics. But his Presidency was made difficult for him by the fact that he and his team were “outsiders” and really didn’t know how to get things done in Washington. He was widely perceived as ineffective and disappointed many Democrats and he was easily defeated in the next election after serving only one term.
So, the Party in 1982 revisited the process by which it chose its candidates and decided to give Party leaders more control, specifically to avoid inexperienced outsiders from hi-jacking the nomination by surfing some wave of grassroots support, perhaps engendered by a single issue like Vietnam, or a temporary economic downturn which had angered the rank and file.
In many ways this process makes total sense and I think it is wrong to vilify the people who support it. From the standpoint of the Party regulars, they are the ones who are there in the trenches day after day, year after year, doing the work of the Party. They try to spot up and coming talent, throw Party financial support behind them, bring them along and get them more experience with the goal being a strong , experienced, and tested candidate that can win a national election.
Imagine how these folks feel when an outsider comes along and hi-jacks this process. From the standpoint of Party regulars, Bernie Sanders simply isn’t much different than the Tea Party folks who have destroyed the Republican Party. It is important to understand that, the seemingly more democratic process by which the GOP picks its candidates (no super delegates) has lead to the current situation in which they have suffered a total loss of control of the nomination process with the resulting debacle of the two front runners being virtually un-electable in the national election and candidates that no one in GOP leadership wants in the top spot.
The Democratic super delegate system was designed to prevent just this scenario. The fact that we progressives have finally found candidate who we feel can get elected and move the Party back towards what it once was, namely a Party that is devoted to bettering the welfare of the citizenry as a whole, while hugely exciting, doesn’t mean the rules change for us. I think it is hugely unproductive to treat our fellow Democrats who have done the work to date, given the constraints of a public that has moved top the Right, a GOP dominance of the legislative process which has created government gridlock, as the “enemy”. They are not the enemy. They are the folks we elected to represent us.
Yes, we have expected more than we have gotten. But from their standpoint, they look at us and say “where were you in the mid-terms? The lowest voter turnout since 1947! All these folks who have turned out for the first time in their lives and gotten involved supporting Bernie, “feeling the Bern” are wonderful… but where will they be tomorrow? Is this a REAL movement? One that can grow or develop into something powerful enough to really shift politics and the Party back towards the progressive side, as the Tea Party folks moved the GOP to the Right? Or is this just another flash in the pan? Like all those Leftie anti-war radicals from the 60’s who just ended up being yuppies making their fortunes in the tech boom.
Professional public servants, the ones that put in decade after decade working in the system, trying to do their best to move the ball according to the rules at any given time can’t legitimately be expected to suddenly abandon their Party establishment, the network of support they have developed, and simply jump on the band wagon of a guy who, from the Part standpoint, hasn’t paid his dues, may represent a change that is too fast for the public to digest, when they have a ready made candidate that is hugely qualified and is almost certain given the GOP melt-down, to win the general election. Why should they?
Rather than vilify people who we need to be our allies in this process, we need to be persuasive. We need to have a civilized discussion about why it is in the interests of the Party and the public to change their minds. The number one most disastrous course we progressives can take in this election is to turn this into a civil war within the Left. If our progressive program is truly valid it can speak for itself. The progressive message being out forth by Bernie Sanders is specific in how it addresses our nations issues in a way that no their candidate’s platform does. It is our job to “sell it”. First to the voters… the more the voters turn out for Bernie, the more the establishment Dems start to doubt that Clinton is the best choice. But we also have to convince the establishment Dems that the public is ready, will support, what represents a radical change in direction from what we have been doing.
I think there are sincere establishment Democratic leaders who would like to see things change but feel they have to be realistic about what is possible. After all, it doesn’t matter how good your program is if you aren’t in office. You have to be able to win, in Congress and in the Presidency, to be in the game and move the ball forward. Otherwise, you are just a spectator. It is our job to show them it is possible, that we are ready for change, that we will support them if they support us. Vilification, name calling, and divisiveness are simply not the way to accomplish what we want. We progressives need to co-opt our Party not destroy it as the GOP has.
Does this all sound familiar? Big money supports the use of banks of lawyers and bought and paid for politicians to bludgeon scientists and activists warning of a huge problem that industry wishes to deny? Remember the Tobacco industry, now proven not only to have known that its product was dangerous to the public health, but at the same time enhancing that same product to make it more addictive? Well, this is even worse than that.
The corporate executives who engage in this behavior and the dishonest, thoroughly co-opted, faux scientists who are the front men for this disinformation campaign, are morally no better than pimps. This has to stop so we can begin to take real action. The climate is at a tipping point. Waiting for another decade or two will push us past a point of no return. We need these people investigated and the truth to be broadcast to the public at every opportunity.
And thanks to their willingness to sucker the world, the world’s most vulnerable are now in great danger.
If you really want to understand why the war on terror isn’t “winnable” in anything like the way we are conducting this war, read this article.
I am in the strange position of knowing that I am on the ‘Kill List’. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again. Four times missiles have been fired at me. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be alive.
Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is generating lots of media attention, the word “socialism” is in the news. But few Americans know what it is or what Sanders means when he describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”