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Is Bernie Sanders destined to become the next Jeremy Corbyn? A second excerpt from the Jonathan Cook essay we looked at yesterday.

 

The Sanders threat

Sanders is one of those glitches. Just like Jeremy Corbyn was in the UK. They have been thrown up by current circumstances. They are the first signs of a tentative political awakening to power, sometimes dismissed generically as “populism”. They are the inevitable outcome of the ever greater difficulty power faces in concealing its self-destructiveness as it seeks to remove every last limit to its voracious acquisitiveness.

Once upon a time, those who paid the price of power were out of view, in disenfranchised, urban slums or far-off lands. But the accelerating contradictions of power – of late-stage, global capitalism, if you prefer a specific name – have brought those effects much closer to home, where they cannot so easily be ignored or discounted. Growing sections of western societies, the central locus of power, understand that there needs to be serious, not cosmetic, change.

Power needs to be rid of Sanders, just as it previously had to rid itself of Corbyn because both are that rarest thing – politicians who are not imprisoned within the current power paradigm. Because they do not serve power cultishly like most of their colleagues, such politicians threaten to shine a light on true power. Ultimately, power will use any tool to destroy them. But power prefers, if possible, to maintain its cloak of invisibility, to avoid exposing the sham of the consumption-driven “democracy” it engineered to consolidate and expand its power. It prefers our collusion.

The reason the Democratic party establishment is trying to bring down Sanders at the primaries stage and crown a power-functionary like Buttigieg, Biden or even Elizabeth Warren – or if it must, parachute in a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg – is not because Sanders would on his own be able to end the globe-spanning power of pathological capitalism and consumerism. It is because the nearer he gets to the main shadow play, to the presidency, the more power will have to make itself visible to defeat him. (Language makes it difficult to describe this dynamic without resorting to metaphors that make power sound fancifully human rather than structural and ideological.)

As the other candidates increasingly look unsuited to the task of toppling Sanders for the nomination, and rigging the primaries has proved much harder to do covertly than it was hoped, power has had to flex its muscles more publicly than it likes. So narrative is being marshalled to destroy Sanders in the same way that the antisemitism and Brexit narratives were used to halt Corbyn’s grassroots movement in its tracks. In Sanders’ case, the corporate media is preparing a readymade Russia narrative against him in case he gets nearer to power – a narrative that has already been refined for use against Trump.

(Trump’s relation to power could be the basis for an entirely separate post. He is not an ideological threat to power, he is one if its functionaries. But he is a potential Harvey Weinstein or Prince Andrew. He can be sacrificed if needs be. The Russiagate narrative has served two purposes useful to power. It has tamed Trump’s ego-based politics to ensure he does not threaten deep power by making it more visible. And it has created a compelling political drama that channels and dissipates the “resistance” to Trump, satisfying much of the left’s own need to feel they are doing something, when in fact they are simply strengthening Trump and deep power.)

Caught in a trap

Late last week, as the landslide in Nevada for Sanders was imminent, the western media uncritically reported claims, based on unnamed “US officials”, that the Vermont senator is seen by the Russians as an “asset”, and that the Kremlin is trying to help either him or Trump to get elected. No one making that claim was identified, no explanation was offered of how Sanders could serve as an asset, nor was evidence cited for how the Russians might be able to help Sanders win. Power doesn’t need facts or evidence, even when its claims are self-evidently disruptive to the democratic process. It exists chiefly in the realm of narrative and ideology. This is a story, just like Corbyn’s “antisemitism crisis”, that is made true simply through repetition.

Because power is power, its narratives can defy the most elementary rules of logic. After all, how could an unverified, evidence-free narrative about Russian interference on behalf of Sanders’ campaign be more important than actual interference by anonymous “US officials” intended to damage Sanders’ campaign? How could such undemocratic, unaccountable efforts to interfere in the outcome of the US election be so readily peddled by the media unless the entire press corps is incapable or unwilling to engage their critical faculties in favour of the democratic principles they claim to uphold? Unless, in truth, they are not there representing us, the people, and our interests, but are instead simply servants of what amounts to a power-cult.

As I have documented many times before, Corbyn found himself caught in a trap of the kind now faced by Sanders. Any supporter (including Jews) who denied that the Labour party Corbyn led was antisemitic, or argued that the antisemitism claims were being weaponised to damage him, was cited as proof that Corbyn had indeed attracted antisemites to the party. Concluding that Corbyn’s Labour party was not antisemitic, based on the evidence, was treated as evidence of antisemitism. But as soon as Corbyn agreed under media and party pressure to accept the alternative – that an antisemitism problem had taken root on his watch – he was also implicitly forced to concede that something about him and his values had allowed antisemitism to take root. He found he was damned either way – which is precisely how power makes sure it emerges the winner.

Systems, whether they be strictly social or political try to maintain a equilibrium, and to threaten that equilibrium results a great deal of unrest and turbulence as one of the first priorities of any system is the preservation of said system.  The tenor of so many articles in the American counter-culture media are about the obstacles Bernie Sanders faces, not only from his political opponents, but from his own ‘team’ and the supposedly friendly liberal media.  This excerpt from Counterpunch laments the multi-pronged attack Sanders faces, not only from his formal political opponents, but also from within.

The push-back Sanders gets from the liberal establishment is indicative that the policies Sanders stands for will upset the apple cart so to speak, and directly affect the status quo.  The fact that the current status quo in the US is geared to serve a the minority of the population is seemingly irrelevant.

Threats to the status quo are all consuming and most be defended against at any cost.  The Democratic primaries of 2016 would seem to bear witness to this as the DNC chose a candidate that was less likely to beat the republican candidate in an election, but if elected would have maintained the system as is.  The defeatist calculus was that it was better to lose to false populist cretin than have a president that would change the rules of the game toward a more people-centric political polity.

That same battle is being played out again with Sanders as not only must he contend with his actual political opponents, but he must fend off defenders of the status quo that are attacking him from within.

Finally, Sanders is a “radical,” they tell us, when only a “Centrist” can win. Funny, a centrist didn’t win in 2016. And in 2008 we all voted for a guy who promised “change,” even though he didn’t deliver. Does anyone seriously believe, with 40% of Americans near the Poverty Line, and most of the rest just one illness away from bankruptcy, with young people leaving college saddled with a lifetime of debt, few families able to afford a home without the debt of a mortgage, and many only getting by on credit card debt, that voters are looking for the status quo? If you do believe this, chances are you’re one of the comfortable few, maybe one of the top 10%, and you are not representative of most of the people in this country.

Liberal Media would have us believe that the country is evenly divided into Democrats and Republicans – well, in a way it is. According to Gallup, Democrats and Republicans are tied 27% of likely voters each. That leaves 45% of Independents and those are the people who will decide this election. They will not vote for a Democrat out of Party loyalty or even in many cases simply because they are not Trump. These are people who don’t want to be affiliated with either Party. This is a group that repeatedly repudiated the uninspired Party careerists like Gore (at the time, at least), Kerry, McCain, Romney, Jeb, Clinton and Biden. They will not have gone heavily for Sanders in polls and they elected Trump – many of the same people who voted for Trump said they would have voted for Sanders had he won the Nomination.”

Sander’s democratic socialism – the type of governance that we see in Canada and the Scandinavian countries –  is the real threat here and the structural backlash we are seeing speaks volumes to who the current US polity is designed to serve.

In the second part, start at 10:05 for that, if Bernie actually means this, then he should be the next President of the United States.

If he has an actual commitment to justice, and this isn’t just rhetoric… this may indeed be me looking to the east by light of the fifth day.

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