Sanders is the Death Star

Sanders is the Death Star


Every purportedly progressive candidate run for election at any level of office has faced criticism for their policies from the left. Even the recently elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was pretty easy to write-off due to her nationalism. Sanders, on the other hand, has apparently faced very little left-opposition, at least none that I find to be very damning or convincing. As far as can be told, he is what he appears to be. The only two criticisms that can be leveled at him are the rather tired, “he isn’t doing enough,” and his position on rather stringent gun control. We will explore these two criticisms and their very real significance and impact later. For now, we will content ourselves with assuming these criticisms are minor points and that Sanders is genuine in his various commitments and what it means for the working-class.

Lets just say it upfront. Sanders is the Death Star. One photon torpedo in to the exhaust port and it’s all over. All that effort and money spent to bring Sanders to power would be utterly wasted if he lost the primaries, general election, or got assassinated after taking office. What did the working-class learn and gain from the effort? Do we really need to go through the electoral motions again to re-learn the same lessons that you cannot simply vote away the problems of capitalism? Did the effort to elect Sanders result in any fighting organizations of the working-class capable of striking out on their own to make their own solutions? You might say that at the least Sanders put socialism back in to a positive light and made curious people go and read about socialism. I. Don’t. Care. People have been reading about socialism and have been sympathetic to socialism for decades. How many of them have gone beyond this? How many of them have attempted to canvass their workplaces and build organizations intent on action? How many have a writhing, frothing, foaming hatred for the bourgeoisie that simply will not sit still and remain sympathetic? All Sanders is managing to accomplish is convince people that socialism is a matter for the ballot box, something that we can achieve safely, anonymously, on the way to work in the morning one fine election day. Sure, people may realize that Sanders isn’t a full blown socialist, but he’s close so why could not a socialist simply be elected next time?

When Trump was elected, he empowered and inspired thousands and perhaps millions of far-right racists and bigots of all stripes. The time surrounding his election saw a spree of hate crimes spread like wildfire. This was not simply limited to one-off attacks either, the forces of the far-right were able to organize and enforce a street presence which had various degrees of success in intimidating, harassing, assaulting, and murdering members of the working-class. This insurgent white supremacism had to be put down at the cost of time, effort, money, and lives. The working-class was capable of organizing in response to the rampant hate to more or less disrupt the ability of the far-right to organize on the streets. The far-right has since been relegated to mostly one-off terrorist style attacks.

If Sanders is elected, do you anticipate a spree of workplace struggles, of factory occupations, seizures of vacant houses to shelter the homeless, spontaneous disarmament of the police, confiscation of food stuffs to feed hungry strikers, release and rehabilitation of the millions of prisoners, or any other spontaneous or organized expression of working-class resistance to capitalism? The simple fact is that Sanders, unlike Trump, has a flaccid base. If Sanders is elected and demands the abolition of ICE, ICE can simply say “make us, you and what army?” Can you truly envision the racist American police force responding to commands from a socialist (for them Sanders is) like they would from Trump? Sure, the supporters of Sanders would go along with his gun control policy and surrender their weapons, but this is simply the further disarmament of the proletariat, the enemies of the proletariat would retain their weaponry. The American state would sooner undergo a coup d’etat than allow some of the policies of Sanders come to fruition.

And if the working-class takes Sanders seriously, if they heed the call to abolish ICE and seek to abolish it themselves when ICE refuses Sanders orders? Then the working-class will face opposition from both Sanders and the institutions they seek to overthrow. For the working-class to be capable of abolishing ICE on their own would require them to go far beyond simply abolishing ICE, much farther than Sanders is willing to go. For simple starters there is Sanders’s policy on gun control. The abolition of ICE by the working-class would require an armed and insurgent working-class which Sanders is decidedly against. Any trust the working-class might have in Sanders would either instantly evaporate as they push well beyond him, or else lead them in to a slaughter akin to that which Allende led the Chilean proletariat in to.

Allende’s biggest mistake was not giving us weapons. A lot of people even women, would have fought”

Chilean housewife, quoted in New York Times, September 24, 1973.

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