Current Affairs Politics

Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And The Democratic Socialists of America

I suspect that few people in Ireland will have heard of the Democratic Socialists of America or DSA, arguably the most important political grouping to have emerged over the last four decades from the hive of minor left-wing organisations in the United States. In recent years, especially in the wake of the post-2007 recession in the US, the DSA went from ad hoc support for the Green Party of the United States, the Socialist Party USA or the Democratic Party, to pursuing a more coherent entryist strategy with the Democrats. That has paid dividends in terms of some influence for DSA members within the political mainstream, raising the profile of “democratic socialism” even among the habitually antipathetic American press. From The New Republic:

Future historians may well portray the second decade of the twenty-first century as the moment when American socialism returned from the dead. The collapse of the Soviet empire in the early 1990s had supposedly sealed the overarching terms of political dispute within the confines of the “end of history”—the abrupt cessation of ideological hostilities stoked over the long Cold War, and the wan triumph of liberal capitalism throughout the globe. Socialism, at least on the American political scene, seemed destined to join antiquarian curiosities in the annals of left-leaning political agitation, somewhere alongside the transcendentalists’ failed commune at Brook Farm, agitations over the Single-Tax, and the temperance movement.

No longer. As the trend-spotting brain trust at New York magazine bewailed in a cover story steeped in elite befuddlement: “When Did Everyone Become a Socialist?” Their predictably glib answer seemed to be that it all had something to do with Brooklyn millennials.

Louis Proyect does a good job of parsing this sudden media interest with the very mild version of organised socialist politics found in the United States, especially among the young metropolitan hipsterish types. Which of course stands in contrast with the equally youthful, urban and hipster-driven enthusiasm for the alt-right in the US.

25 comments on “Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And The Democratic Socialists of America

  1. gendjinn

    Also worth checking out are Black Socialists of America & Lee Carter, a member of the Virginia Assembly.

    The DSA are overwhelmingly white. Already the obvious problems are starting to crop up.

  2. Sanders and Cortez two frauds. Enough said.

    • Oh, so you’ve met them both? Don’t make idiotic comments without a full understanding of their position. Every time I’ve commented on Irish politics I’ve been told “you don’t understand, you don’t live here” by Irish people who have the grammar and intelligence of a 9 year old; I think I’m much more well read and intelligent than they are. And I’m an Irish citizen as well, even though I was raised in America, as well as planning on moving home this year. So tell me, as somene who has met them, know their histories, attended their rallies, spoke to their allies, and seen what they’ve done at the local and state levels, gauged their support levels in the street, what convinced you they’re “frauds”? Or are you just another sad west brit suffering from that massive inferiority complex and takes every chance they get to bash Americans? Because that makes you quite pathetic.

      • Ooooooh feisty one you are! Seeing as you ‘know’ them better than us mere plebs can you tell me how much Bernie is worth? Being a socialist and all that. Can you explain why this socialist Bernie condemned Hugo Chavez and indeed Maduro for having the audicity to manage their country’s own affairs? I recall he called Chavez a ‘dictator’. Which is kinda ironic as Venezuela has one of the most stringent and internationally observed electoral systems in the world. His willingness to support arch criminal Clinton demonstrated his true colours and indeed his reason for standing. As for Cortez? Her utterances about Palestinians was cringe and did the Palestinian people a disservice. I was embarrassed listening as she squirmed and basically said she didn’t know much about illegal settlements etc. A total limited hangout is she. Btw, her rags to riches story is a fraud. But thanks anyway for your concern.

        • Yes, which is why the European Union called the last Venezuelan election a “fraud”, so, you being in the EU, why don’t you check on that? The United States has literally NO reason to be involved in Venezuela, nor other places as well. As for how much Bernie is worth, he wrote a best selling book, last year, and it’s not his first. This is, for better or worse, a capitalist society, and if he can make money writing a book (as opposed to building casinos like trump, or charging 3 million dollars a speech like Hillary) more power to him. As for supporting war criminal Hillary, that was more out of getting people out to vote against Trump, nothing else. And AOC? She’s brand new, and just starting to get her feet wet; I’m sure your insightful, advanced political opinions and many position papers were fully formed and written at 29. What Govt office were you elected to at that age? Exactly, I didn’t think you had been. As for the Palestinians, it’s not a major issue in the US. It should be bigger, just as it should be smaller there, as Ireland particularly has bigger fish to fry than commenting on some other place while ignoring Partition, the damage of past mass emigration, new immigration coming from Africa and the ME, the homeless crisis, the hospital crisis, the status of Gaeilge agus Acht Anois, and the broadband issue amongst others. But no, let’s do what post Catholic Ireland does best, let’s deflect and get our anti semitism on and hate the Jews!!!! They’ve accomplished everything we haven’t, you see, from reclaiming their homeland and reviving their language as their primary form of communicaton. Their actions against their neighbors are indeed criminal as of late, but that’s why we have a UN, where this issue needs to be resolved once and for all. Personally? As a NYer who watched with my own eyes when the Towers came down (I didn’t need a tv, I was there, thank you very much) and later to see the people in the Palestinian villages of Nablus and Jenin dancing in the streets celebrating the deaths of 3,000 innocent people (which my Palestinian neighbors here apologized for), while Israel (like Ireland) shut down for a day of mouning? Yea, no contest as to who I see more in tune with civilzed thinking there. I believe in women’s rights and stand against misogyny, while you hypocritically sympathize with a society and religion that condones honor killings against girls. Deflect and get jealous alot, or is this just your regular mode? More tomorrow, grma.

          • Lol you have a lot to learn despite your age I.e to say the US has no reason to be involved in Venezuela is jaw dropping hilarious. And the EU being the US lickspittle doesn’t mean diddlysquat

            As for Cortez and her writings? As I have already stated her entire rise to prominence is a fraud. Anybody can be groomed to be a star or in her case a showbiz politician, so long as the right people are opening doors for you. If you don’t understand that then more fool you. As a funny aside, the claim that MIT named an asteroid after her for coming 2nd in some high school science fair is laughable but a nice feel good tale nonetheless. She was so advanced in microbiology field that she ended up at Boston uni studying international relations and economics! Lmao
            Just like millionaire champagne socialist Bernie, Cortez comes from wealthy family and is certainly no working class hero. Thanks all the same.

    • In what way are they fraudulent? I mean, by European standards their socialism is pretty watery but they are definitely of the Left.

      • It’s not fraudulent or watery at all. They are actually proponents of a nationalized mixed economy. They are pretty clear about what they are promoting. There’s a divide between people who are using “socialist” or using “progressive” to describe policies that don’t differ much. The biggest difference is that the progressives tend to be more straightforward about the fact that “This is going to carry a tax burden, but it’s still the right thing to do.” Those who call themselves socialist like to claim that it can all be provided while having lower taxes than we’ve had since WWI.
        The truth is that these themes simply aren’t new in American politics. The image of the US as being this either glorious or hideous bastion of unfettered capitalism is for the most part a stereotype:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_System_(economic_plan)
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bank_Act
        This has always been the dominate mode of US political debate over the economy. Prior to The Russian Revolution nobody had any problem talking about “the Whig theory” or “American system” as they were called at different times and by different Presidents. Once political theorists of the 20th century began to assume that ANY mixed economy of any kind was just a half-way house between capitalism and socialism and often that socialism itself was just a “gateway”.
        Since the early US had pretty much accepted a mixed economy as a more or less permanent norm while Britain and much of Europe went down the road of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Americans after the Russian Revolution largely ended up talking about concepts the vast majority still supported in increasingly euphemistic and to most European ears confused ways.
        Indeed the fact that the most well known and vocal Socialist in American history Mary Harris aka “Mother” Jones was a refugee of The Great Famine and the biggest prophet Laissez Faire Capitalism Ayn Rand (born Alicia Rosenbaum) was came fleeing from the USSR was no accident.

    • Confusing the likes of Nigel Farage and Co then, enjoy the trolling

  3. In actuality that main reason these guys differ much at all from more traditional American progressives, is in their terminology. Historically Americans have in most places reserved the term “socialist” for people who in large measure accepted the tenets of Karl Marx and wanted a Soviet Style mixed economy.

    Historically, people who might use the term socialist in England and much of Europe but weren’t orthodox Marxist-Leninists and didn’t want a full state ownership of all business, tended in the US to use terms like “progressive”.

    I personally believe that both “pure” Capitalism and Socialism are impossible. Both are idealized models that while useful for trying to understand society to a degree, just don’t work out in the real world. Trying to force real living and breathing societies to conform to the “Capitalist” or “Socialist” ideal is a predictable road to disaster and authoritarianism. The disaster happens because you are trying to force an impossible ideal on a real society, and the authoritarianism happens because people aren’t lemnings willing to be driven off a cliff so they tend to fight back and usually end up having to be forced at the point of a gun.

    Of course, these self-identified socialists don’t really want the government to 100% take over the business of making cars and solar panels or running the banks, so all they’ve really done is adopt a European convention of playing very fast and loose with the term “socialist”.

    In reality most of these “socialists” can be quite conservative on some issues such as wanting to keep The Electoral College untouched. Bernie Sanders even wants to keep the filibuster -a damn relic from British Parliament that is not in The Constitution and should have been gotten rid of years ago. Bernie Sanders as much as anything else has a very poor record for getting stuff done in Congress. And that’s one of the things that don’t make the press in much of Europe, where people tend to think simply using the world “socialist” is some big breakthrough- not really. It’s more so than anything a linguistic convention.

    • Ooops! Should have been a “Soviet style planned economy”.

      Another overlooked factor on why socialism per se was never big in the US: It never had Laissez Faire Capitalism in its history like much of Europe and of course Britain. Right after The Constitution was ratified Adam Smith’s “wealth of nations” was rejected in favor of an economic plan known as “The American System”, which was basically a sort of nationalized mixed economy. There was simply no way British Laissez-faire could have survivable given the “frontier” realities of much of the country, the solvency issues after The Revolution or above all the aftermath of The Civil War.

  4. Eugene James Kerr

    Two areas capitalism can’t deliver on: healthcare and education. There are others,(prisons) but start there.

  5. This is the result of decades of runaway vulture capitalism practiced here in the U.S., and the Democratic Party’s complete sellout of the American working class. I’m from NYC, and both Bernie and AOC represent commen sense, working class roots in their approach to government. Also, it’s all about the demographics; anyone over 50 will go with the chosen corporate hack like Hillary or Biden, while everyone younger, of all colors, lean more Progressively. I’m 51, and support both these candidates, and the Socialist platform they represent, completely. I’ve seen over the last 40 years what “business as usual” politics and corporate money involved gets you.

    • Lol. In case you don’t get the program I’ll spell it out for ye I.e the system is rigged. The spats between dems and reps is circus time for the public. Sin é.

      • You’re right, it is rigged, but the only way in the door for Socialists like Bernie and AOC for now is the Democratic Party. Personally, I think they should run on an independent (Socialist) platform, but that’s crediting Americans with too much intelligence. There is hope though; the only reason Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 was the third party run by Ross Perot, so Americans have already shown that a sizeable portion are fed up with the 2 party system.

    • It’s bull that the Democrats did any such thing. Everyone thinks they could have done a better job than Obama because he had the easiest-job-in-the-world, right?

      As for AOC, there aren’t many issues (at least economic ones) where she’s actually more liberal than The Late Senator Ted Kennedy. That’s not a bad thing in my book, but it does underscore the degree to which using the label “socialist” is more about rebranding certain policies, than this wildly radical change.

      As for Sanders, his biggest flaw is extreme mental inflexibility, and an irrascible temperament that probably wouldn’t serve him well as President.

      He has long mistaken hid inability to think outside the box for “sticking to his principles”.

      • Grace, if you mean “sticking to his principles” by voting against the illegal war in Iraq while everyone else including Hillary and Biden signed off on it? I’ll take that. I’ll also take a mayor of a small town in Vermont with a jewish background taking the time in 1980 to write a letter to Thatcher opposing her treatment of a number of young men on hunger strike in Ireland, when there was absolutely zero political capital to gain. And in this day of “business as usual” politics which translates into the democratic party screwing the very people (the working class) who made them a formidable political force in the first place? People like Bernie and AOC are a breath of fresh air.

    • I think Biden would have beaten or come close to beating Trump in 2016. Not at all sure about 2020. My instinct would be for Sanders but I’m not sure that he will beat Trump, even after the last couple of years of madness. Realpolitik would indicate that the Dems need an electoral Trump-killer. I don’t see any candidates like that in the field just yet, though some could shape up that way. But do you go for the compromise win or do you risk the win by sticking to your principles? One could argue that this is the best opportunity for the left-wing in the US to gain real political influence since the 1920s. So there should be no compromises. It’s a dilemma.

      • Biden is a good man, but the fact is that ex-Vice Presidents have a notoriously bad track record for winning Presidential elections. Also it’s really a myth that there is this massive cohort, of working class voters who while they can’t stand Hillary Clinton, just LOOOVE Biden. People listen to some blue collar folks from Boston or Minnesota talking about how great Biden is, and presume because they are white and blue collar that this WILL transfer to Ohio or Alabama. The blue collar white dudes of Boston and Minnesota were OK with Hilary Clinton too- the notion that they must be “kind of the same”, as those in Alabama and copperhead sections or very religiously conservatives of the Midwest who happen to share their skin color and economic situation is frankly errant nonsense.

        As for Sanders, I am going to say straight up that he is NOT some great left wing hope. It’s simply not true that he actually is more left-wing than Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Warren, or Bullock. On some issues like wanting to leave the electoral college and fricking filibuster untouched Sanders is actually more conservative than Klobuchar or O’Rourke-who I would tend to go with partly due to relative youth.

        Sanders doesn’t represent my principles in any sense whatsoever. I assign him a larger slice of the blame for Trump than Putin. The fact is that the way he carried on even after he’d lost severely damaged Clinton’s campaign. He constantly said things that fed Trump’s narratives about Clinton. Am I’m finding that all extremely hard to forgive.

        Historically it was the case that people who were broadly in favor of a more egalitarians society in the US, but didn’t accept many tenets of Marxism and weren’t in favor of a state planned economy like the one in the USSR or PRC, have called themselves “progressives”. I think you are not in favor of Soviet style system either?

        The truth is that even AOC’s “New Green Deal” is in many ways a very modernized version of the “American System” adopted not long after the Constitution was ratified-basically a modernized version with a lot of solar panels, wind turbines, energy storage system, trains and light rails. FDR’s “New Deal” and Johnson’s “War on Poverty” also had elements of “The American System” as well. Trains and energy systems were parts of American System expansions and projects since
        the early 19th century. The difference now, is that “Green” is a major objective.

        • Grace, in what way do you give someone credit for being a “good man”? Biden is a segregationist, signed a racist police Bill, supported Iraq, dodged the draft, destroyed Anita Hill, etc. Really? This is what you think the Democratic Party should lead with? He’s your stereotypical old, white corporate DINO with absolutely no morals or convictions other than mouthing meaningless platitudes that will get him elected, and I for one am tired of it. Bernie 2020

          • Jesus wept. If you think creepy Joe Biden had the beating of Trump then you havnt been paying attention. In fact I bet Trump hopes Biden wins the primary ticket to run against him I.e get ready for all the creepy Joe videos that are available. If Trump was videoed doing what Biden does he’d be hammered for it.

  6. He’s better than Bernie who doesn’t get anything done but just wags his holier-than-thou fingers at everyone.

    Anyhow I doubt either Biden or Sanders is getting the nomination-And when Sanders flunks again I hope he knows when to shut up and not hurt the nominee’s chances.

  7. Anybody ‘on the left’ will realise Sanders is a limited hangout. Not forgetting his labelling of hugely popular Chavez he also wouldn’t mind seeing Maduro go for his tea: https://www.businessinsider.in/bernie-sanders-slams-nicolas-maduro-as-a-failure-but-wont-support-a-us-military-intervention-in-venezuela/articleshow/68897069.cms

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