By: Trevor Loudon
Everybody knows that Bernie Sanders, the grandfatherly Independent Senator from Vermont is a socialist. He’s made no secret of it over the years, proudly proclaiming to anyone who will listen. To most people it’s no big deal: “at least he’s honest,” they’ll chuckle. Most people seem to imagine that Grandpa Bernie’s socialism is benign, owing much more to Sweden than Cuba, much more to modern West Germany, than to the old German Democratic Republic.
But is Bernie Sanders really being honest? What if he is actually more of a communist? A believer in class struggle? Of crushing the free enterprise system?
Does it matter? The man is a US Senator. His vote could decide the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice, or ratify a gun banning treaty with the United Nations. He is even seriously exploring a presidential run on the Democratic ticket. Damned right his real views matter.
Firstly, I want to present evidence that Senator Sanders is not truly an Independent. That he is in fact, a member of a semi-secret political organization. Secondly, I want to prove that that organization, in spite of labeling itself ‘socialist,’ is in fact, a communist grouping – with all the negative connotations that it implies.
For years, Bernie Sanders has been closely associated with Democratic Socialists of America, the country’s largest openly leftist organization. Senator Sanders has keynoted several DSA conferences, numerous DSA fundraisers have raised money for him, DSA backed his 2006 Senate campaign and now, the group is actively encouraging him to run for the White House in 2016.
But, as far as I’m aware, there has never been any evidence that Sanders is actually a DSA member.
Until now: Madison Democratic Socialists of America has confirmed Senator Sanders’ long suspected DSA membership on page one of their Fall 2014 newsletter (though getting his state of origin incorrect).
Equally important, we featured a petition to encourage Bernie Sanders – the independent Maine Senator and DSA member – to run for president, collecting over 75 signatures.
Though they may be graduates of Common Core geography, there is no reason to believe that the Madison DSAers were either lying or mistaken about Senator Sanders’ DSA membership status. Membership status is a big deal in leftist organizations. Dues-paying membership elevates one to the elite ranks of the Progressive movement. Formal “paid up” Party membership is not taken lightly. Clearly Sanders’ DSA membership is not for public consumption. Probably the “cheesehead” socialists believed that only sympathizers would ever bother to read their little newsletter.
After all, what’s a little secret between trusted comrades?
So, now I’ve established that Senator Sanders is probably a closet DSAer, why is that of concern?
My contention is simple. Despite using the word “socialists” in its name, DSA is, for all practical purposes, a communist organization. Because most DSAers are also active Democrats, or Green Party activists, the “socialist” label doesn’t meet the degree of resistance, that the more honest description “communist” would.
DSA works very closely with three of America’s leading communist groups – the Maoist leaning Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the “old guard” Communist Party USA, and the CPUSA spin-off Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. The four groups have even seriously considered merging in recent years. In June 2013, “The Future of the Left – A Conversation on Socialist Unity” was convened in New York City by the four groups, where the idea of eventual unification was discussed in depth.
Orange County California DSA acknowledged the organization’s debt to Gramsci in its February 1984 newsletter.
“Antonio Gramsci was a founder of the Italian Communist Party. He developed theories on “open ended Marxism” and independent Euro-Communism. His writings have remained influential among European parties of the left for several decades. They have also formed a vital part of the ideas that brought about the formation of today’s DSA.”
In an article in DSA’s Democratic Left, Spring 2007, DSA National Political Committee member David Green of Detroit, wrote in support of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) or “card check.”
What distinguishes socialists from other progressives is the theory of surplus value. According to Marx, the secret of surplus value is that workers are a source of more value than they receive in wages. The capitalist is able to capture surplus value through his ownership of the means of production, his right to purchase labor as a commodity, his control over the production process, and his ownership of the final product. Surplus value is the measure of capital’s exploitation of labor
Green went on to write:
Our goal as socialists is to abolish private ownership of the means of production. Our immediate task is to limit the capitalist class’s prerogatives in the workplace…
Communist enough for you folks?
Bernie Sanders is no European style social democratic “socialist.” He is a Big “C” communist and he should have the integrity to be honest about it.
Trevor Loudon is the author of The Enemies Within:Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the US Congress.