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Projection Is A Hell of a Drug

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The Just Not This Woman crowd did not like Elizabeth Warren’s plan to close the racial wealth gap:

To be Scrupulously Fair, Warren did give a recent speech in which she repeatedly endorsed timorous neoliberalism like “making capital accessible to small businesspeople of color” rather than the full nationalization of the means of production Bernie favors:

Are you truly free when you spend half of your limited income on housing, and are forced to borrow money from a payday lender at 200 percent interest rates?

Are you truly free if you are a mother or father with a new born baby but you are forced to go back to work immediately after the birth because you lack paid family leave?

Are you truly free if you are a small business owner or family farmer who is driven out by the monopolistic practices of big business?

Ugh, running Warren could basically be Bill Clinton 2.0. It sounds like she favors some kind of mere regulation like a “Consumer Financial Protection” bureau and some welfare state reforms and, even worse, thinks all small businesses should not be immediately expropriated by the st….[touches headpiece] oh, my apologies, this was all from Bernie Sanders’s speech defining what he means by “socialism” (i.e. New Deal liberalism) earlier this week. These excerpts were even cited by Bernie’s leading teen fanzine!

Obviously, I don’t consider “New Deal liberal” an insult, for people who do think “liberal” is an insult to project something different onto Bernie in contradiction to decades of words and actions to the contrary because of the label he’s used to demonstrate his independence from the TWO PARTY DUPOLY is really silly. As Stepped Pyramids put it in this excellent comment:

What always stands out to me is that the S-word stans are always ready to quote things Warren has said about markets or capitalism, but they very rarely have similar quotes from Sanders that are critical of markets, private industry, capitalism, etc.

If you look at the transcript of Sanders’ recent speech on democratic socialism, he consistently uses the term “unfettered capitalism”. He never once refers to “capitalism” without that adjective, critically or otherwise. He uses the word “market” only once, in the term “stock market”. The word “private” appears in “private monopolies”, and “privatize” does not appear at all, nor does “nationalize”, for that matter. He uses the word “class”, but in a way that is familiar in populist politics: “working-class people”, “millions of middle class and working people”, “the billionaire class”, “ruling class”. One of his uses is even quoting FDR referring to “class antagonism”.

Sanders has consistently spoken like this, for many years. He does not attack capitalism in principle. His rhetoric is not anti-capitalist. He advocates for government action to defend the weak from the powerful, to break up concentrations of private power, and to protect individuals from privation. These are all commendable goals. They are also goals that both liberals and socialists have agreed on for longer than Sanders has been alive.

He does¬†not¬†endorse or even hint at beliefs that truly distinguish socialists from liberals. He doesn’t have a class analysis that goes beyond “wealthy elite vs. working masses”. He doesn’t talk in terms of giving the working class political power and economic control, but in terms of equity and fairness. He certainly doesn’t question the need for private markets, for profit, for the wage system, etc. There is no radicalism here. And, again, that’s fine; a genuine radical leftist could not be elected president and would have no hope of accomplishing anything if they were. But people need to stop pretending that Sanders is a secret radical in deep cover as a New Dealer. If he was ever a radical, that ended decades ago.

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