Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Bernie Sanders and the left

William Kaufman writes:

[A]t this moment of gathering darkness for our species and planet, in this pivotal presidential campaign season, who is making greater strides toward triggering the mass enlightenment that is the key to empowering the oppressed: Sanders or his left critics? ...

To dismiss these crucial inroads into mass consciousness as mere diversion, to deride his proposals as milquetoast Keynesian stopgap, betrays the old far-left allergy to the complexity and cacophony of the large stage of life, a debilitating preference for the safety and certitude of the tiny left echo chamber. ...

[I]t is only through the vehicle of his presidential campaign as a Democrat that these kinds of progressive issues and solutions can flood the airwaves and touch the tens of millions of desperate but ill-informed Americans who most need to think and hear about them — in most cases, for the first time. This is the unique and irreplaceable value of the Sanders candidacy: it is strewing seeds of mass consciousness around issues of class and inequality and the environment in a way that no other person or party could accomplish right now. Radicals need to ask themselves: How is that a bad thing? ...

So this is the audience the left must address: not the doughty, battle-ready proletariat of far-left daydreams, but the massively depoliticized and demoralized casualties of the culture industry and neoliberal piracy. ... Blind to these tactical exigencies, Sanders’s far-left detractors merely reinforce the political isolation that they seem to brandish as a badge of virtue; in reality it is a symptom of political debility, a fatal estrangement from the tactical challenges and possibilities of the moment.