Bernie Sanders — Socialist For President…




From Bruce Anderson
Anderson Valley Advertiser

Churchill usually gets the credit for the old saw, “Any man who is not a socialist when he’s twenty has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age forty has no head.” I’ve made it headless into my seventh decade, having been a socialist all my conscious days and, in my case, the consciousness light bulb fluttered on when I was about twenty from a combination of books and experience, inchoate as the dawning was. It’s surreal hearing ideas I’ve taken as obvious truth for fifty years being recited by Bernie Sanders on national television — not only being recited but resonating with millions of people, especially young people.

Sanders gets derided by the hard left as merely a “nominal” socialist, more of an FDR liberal than whatever the hard left means by a real socialist. Well, there he is, while the real socialists are still in the echo chamber checking each other’s credentials. Bern’s soft FDR-like socialism is much more workable here in our rapidly fraying country because his socialism is based on nothing more radical than a fair system of taxation. FDR taxed the shit out of the rich, hitting the greedy bastards at 95% on the big incomes, of which there were then a lot fewer. Bern’s proposals are at a positively wimpy 40%.

To this socialisr, almost all the left stuff I read seems dependent on theoretical models that leave out the catastrophic damage that an industrial-based society has parlayed into an iffy future for the planet itself. Substituting socialists as bosses of smoke stack economies is pretty much a lateral move. Which is why I’m drawn to James Kunstler, a libertarian doomer, who seems much more in touch with the social, eco-realities than, say, most contributors to CounterPunch. He’s also a very lively, funny writer. The left hasn’t had a lively, funny writer since Cockburn.

I suspect that a lot of socialist thinkers would like to see themselves in the big black limos, meaning them as the ruling class in place of the present one. Which is what happened in the Leninist models of socialism that took power in Russia and China. It said, “You people are obviously too goddamn dumb and irresponsible to rule yourselves so we’re going to run everything for you.” To hold on to power these socialists murdered the opposition. Bernie is not that kind of socialist, hence his attraction to the millions of Americans shut out of Clintonia. I think he’s this system’s last hope, and I know in my bones Hillary can’t be stopped, and I also know in my bones it’s all going to fall apart in unpredictable but predictably ugly ways.


You never know who can or can’t be stopped. We’ll either live and learn or go the way of other species (most a lot longer-lived than us) who didn’t stay in tune with the changes going on in their environment and adapt accordingly.

We hear you Bruce and agree that being a Socialist does not require the equivalent of donning saffron colored robes like a good Zen. But yet we doubt that Bernie has any intention of making our principle industries publi6cly owned – not even medical insurance, pharmaceuticals, banking or automobile manufacture. He might even privatize food stamps if he could find a way

I have been enjoying “Life and Death are Wearing Me Out” by Mo Yan, the Nobel prize winner. His subtle satire on the Maoist days and beyond confirms my experience during some 30 odd business trips to China over 20 years that socialism in practice makes but a modest dent in the human penchant for greed and suffering. Speaking of black limo socialists, I had lunch one day in a textile making towns with their labor boss. He drove a pure white ten-year-old Cadillac Coupe de Ville he had somehow imported from Taiwan. Few thought the worst of him, while most merely thought him a silly show-off. So it goes.

The first time I read the quote about ‘no heart/head’ I was uneasy with the dismissive cleverness, the facile implication that one was a fool to continue indulging in emotions rather than left-brain practicalities; that only an either/or choice was possible. Relying on head only–‘bottom line profits’ and expediency–is a dead-end street. Basing decisions on a balance of all aspects of our humanity, not left brain/right brain, male/female, differently able/temporarily able or the color of our skins, is the way of progress for all, not just the few. Bernie has long championed that belief.