Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 41 Share on Twitter 5 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 9/17/20

'Socialism,' Trumpite Red-baiting, and Bernie Sanders

Follow Me on Twitter     Message Steven Jonas
Become a Fan
  (20 fans)


Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders
(Image by Gage Skidmore)
  Details   DMCA

"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)



The Trumpites are now clearly running on a very simple, actually simplistic, platform, what I call the "Four R's and an F:" Racism, Red-Baiting, Repression (of the vote), Red China, and Fear. Of course they have to do this because they certainly cannot run on their record of totally failing to deal with the Trumpidemic 2020Â , the Crashed Economy (resulting from the Trumpidemic2020[C]), and vigorously, now violently, opposing the "Black Lives Matter" movement at every turn (see Trump's support for an accused murderer at Kenosha and calling the Federal Marshalls' murder of an apparent anti-fascist in Oregon "retribution"). And Trump is actually adopting policies which make it worse every day, even while, as Bob Woodward has told us (and certainly contrary to what I have thought all along), Trump knew exactly what the nature of the pandemic was.

Considering the "Red-Baiting" element of the Trumpite Quintet and what the truth is (that is the true-truth, not some alternative truth), we can turn to a short essay Bernie Sanders recently published, on "socialism," what he means by the term, and what the Trumpites actually do to turn Bernie's meaning totally upside down. Bernie's essay is reproduced below. But first a few introductory comments.


"Socialism" is a term with many meanings. Common to most of them is the economic concept of the collective/"social" ownership of the means of production, exchange, finance, and transportation, intended to provide broad benefits for the population as a whole. It is a system of ownership that is intended to succeed the capitalist mode of ownership, which of course is private, with its primary benefit being the accumulation of profits for both the personal benefit of and the ability for continued private reinvestment of the capitalist owners of the means of production, etc., commonly called "the ruling class."

To maintain its control over the economy the ruling class establishes control of the apparati of State Power, that is the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. They may be separated to a greater or lesser extent, in some form of parliamentary democracy, or they may be under unitary control, as in some form of what is commonly called fascism. To a greater or lesser extent, depending upon the goals of whichever ruling class sector happens to be in control of the State (and ruling classes generally do have sectors), social benefits may or may not arise from the capitalist system.

Historically, socialism has been meant to replace capitalism as the means for organizing a society. Since the concept of "socialism" was first invented in 19th century Europe there have been numerous attempts in various countries to replace capitalism with it. One form has been revolutionary socialism (see e.g., the Soviet Union). A few of these have succeeded, at least for a time (see again the Soviet Union). Most have been overthrown by one or more of the major capitalist powers (usually the United States).

Another proposed pathway has been through "democratic socialism," intended to achieve a socialist society through peaceful, parliamentary, democratic means. This has never succeeded overall, although in certain countries in Europe collective ownership of certain elements of the economic system has been achieved, but often then is eventually rolled back, as a result of the very strong opposition from the capitalists and their political parties in those countries.

Of course, when the Trumpites use the term "socialism" none of the history or different forms of socialism come into the conversation. They are simply using it as an epithet, associating it with the color (red) that for one reason or another has been associated with most of its promoted variants since their beginnings in the 19th century. It is in this context that Bernie Sanders offered the following observations (in quotation marks), and also uses the term to describe what a totally inverted version of it Republican policy is most focused on. The Trumpites (and their predecessors, the Republicans) would never admit it publicly, of course. But as Bernie clearly demonstrates their version of "socialism" is a perverted system which would, if ever implemented, produce the exact opposite of what historical socialism has been designed to produce.

It is very important to note that when Bernie uses the term "democratic socialism" in his statement below, he has made it very clear elsewhere that he is not referring to a system with the collective ownership of the means of production, etc. He is rather referring to a capitalist system which, while being based on private ownership, through legislation, taxation, regulation, and government/"social" spending, spreads the benefits of production more evenly throughout the society than it does at present. Bernie's concept is often called "social democracy." I have often referred to what Bernie is proposing as "The New Deal on Steroids." But now let us turn to his statement.

Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Recent Statement on "Socialism"

"If you watched the Republican National Convention, and I am sorry if you have, you have probably seen speaker after speaker accuse Joe Biden and the Democratic Party of being SOCIALISTS who, if elected, will carry out the agenda of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar.

"If only that were true"

"But while they scream 'socialist' as an epithet in their videos and from the stage, what everyone needs to know is that Trump and the Republican Party just LOVE socialism a corporate socialism for the rich and the powerful [emphasis added].

"And let's be clear. Their brand of socialism has resulted in more income and wealth inequality than at any time since the 1920s, with three multi-billionaires now owning more wealth than the bottom half of our nation. Their socialism has allowed, during this pandemic, the very, very rich to become much richer, while tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs, [and] their health care, and face eviction.

"While Trump denounces socialism, let us never forget the $885 million in government subsidies and tax breaks the Trump family received for a real estate empire built on racial discrimination.

"But Trump is not alone.

"The high priest of unfettered capitalism, Trump's National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, spoke in a video last night [that is, 8-25-20].

"And who could ever forget when Larry was on television [in 2008] begging for the largest federal bailout in American history for his friends on Wall Street some $700 billion from the Treasury and trillions in support from the Federal Reserve after their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior created the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression.

"But it is not just Trump and Larry Kudlow.

"If you are a fossil fuel company, whose carbon emissions are destroying the planet, you get billions in government subsidies including special tax breaks, royalty relief, funding for research and development and numerous tax loopholes.

"If you are a pharmaceutical company, you make huge profits on patent rights for medicines that were developed with taxpayer-funded research.

"If you are a monopoly like Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in America, you get hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives from taxpayers to build warehouses and you end up paying not one penny in federal income taxes.

"If you are the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, you get massive government subsidies because your low-wage workers are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive all paid for by taxpayers.

"This is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he said that 'This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor [emphasis added].'

"And that is the difference between Donald Trump and us.

"Trump believes in corporate socialism for the rich and powerful.

"We believe in a democratic socialism [sic] that works for the working families of this country. We believe that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights.

"So yes, progressives and even moderate Democrats will face attacks from people who attempt to use the word 'socialism' as a slur.

"There is nothing new of that.

"Like President Harry Truman said, 'Socialism is the epithet they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years " Socialism is what they called Social Security " Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.'

"Our job in this moment is to stay focused.

"First priority: defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history and defeat him badly.

"Then on Day 1 of the Biden administration, we will mobilize the working families of this country to demand a government that represents all of us and not just the few. We will fight to ensure that every American has a right to a decent job that pays a living wage, to health care, to a complete education, to affordable housing, to a clean environment, and to a secure retirement and no more tax breaks for billionaires and large corporations.

"The one percent in this country may have enormous wealth and power, and they will use it to try and stop our agenda. But they are just the one percent. And if the 99 percent in this country stand together, defeat Trump, and go on to fight for the values we share, we can transform this country.

"In solidarity, Bernie Sanders"

(Article changed on September 18, 2020 at 15:17)

Must Read 2   Well Said 2   Valuable 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Steven Jonas Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author, he is a Senior (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Pope Francis and Change in the Roman Catholic Church

Limbaugh, Santorum, Sex, and the Origins of the Roman Catholic Church

The "Irrepressible Conflict" and the Coming Second Civil War

Gay Marriage and the Constitution

The Republican Party and the Separation of Church and State: Change Does Happen

What the Gunners Want: What's in Rick Perry's Pocket, Unlimited

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend