Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 3, 2014

“Socialist” Bernie Sanders funds scumbag Democratic Party campaigns

Filed under: parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 4:39 pm

This is the final paragraph of an article in today’s Daily Beast titled “Bernie Sanders Is Showing Us the Socialist Way to Run for President”.

The Vermont senator has given out more than $200,000 through his two PACs, Friends of Bernie and Progressive Voters of America. The PVA, in turn, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to embattled red-state Democrats like Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

When I saw the name Mary Landrieu, I nearly puked up the blueberry pancake that my sister-in-law had made me (her secret recipe includes a tablespoon of ricotta.) I am pretty familiar with the awful Landrieu but what about Begich and Hagan? Okay, let’s take a look at the three politicians that Bernie Sanders is funding.

Mark Begich

Compared to Sarah Palin and just about any Republican, Begich is a liberal but that is like saying that Mussolini was to the left of Hitler. In an April 4, 2013 McClatchy article on the former mayor of Anchorage who is now running to be reelected Senator, we learn:

In another breach of party protocol, Begich promotes expanded oil and natural gas drilling on federal lands, starting with opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration.

Begich also has strayed from Democratic dogma in voting multiple times against ending or reducing federal tax subsidies to oil and gas companies, helping to convince Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to drop such a move from the Nevadan’s budget proposal, and in voting for development of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Sanders says he is opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline but I guess his opposition is a sometime thing. To be fair, his “socialism” is of the Scandinavian sort where you leave your principles at the front door.

Kay Hagan

As a North Carolina senator, Hagan is just as protective of her state’s capitalist prerogatives as Begich is of his. In her case, it is big tobacco that has to be defended. When the European Union mandated that cigarette packages labeling consists of at least 75 percent warnings that the contents were carcinogenic, she and other politicians read the Europeans the riot act as CounterPunch reported:

On June 7, 2013, it was reported that Senators McConnell and Burr along with Senator Rand Paul (R. Ky.) and Kay Hagan (D. N.C.) had written to the European Union warning of dire consequences should the Union adopt the regulations on cigarette packaging it was proposing. The Senators said the proposed regulations would violate international trade rules and adversely affect trade relations with the United States. It’s good they explained. Otherwise one might have thought it had to do with all the money the cigarette companies pay them in order to preserve their friendship.

As far as the odious Rand Paul is concerned, I can’t imagine that his ties to the tobacco bourgeoisie will ever make much difference to those on the left who are so googly-eyed over his neo-isolationism. Love is blind, I suppose.

Just in case Hagan runs short of cash for those fucking TV ads that are polluting the airwaves everywhere including NY, another “socialist” can be relied upon to chip in. Like Sanders, he is also partial to Landrieu:

[Michael] Bloomberg, who is separately spending $50 million to back pro-gun-control candidates, has already given to the Harry Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC, and is backing endangered Democratic Sens. Mark Udall in Colorado, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Kay Hagan in North Carolina, all of whom voted for background-check legislation.

Okay, I sort of understand it. It balances out. 10,000 victims of lung cancer versus 100 from guns. Is my math right?

Mary Landrieu

This is the one that really sticks in my craw. If you’ve the slightest interest in how big capital rules politics in the USA, you have to start with Louisiana. This is a politician who when it comes to the power of oil companies, she is even more deferential than Begich.

I could spend all day documenting this dreary record but this from the March 6, 2013 Guardian should suffice:

Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu calls on government to lift EPA ban on BP

Ban imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency last November prevents BP from securing sensitive federal contracts

A Lousiana senator has called on the US government to lift the ban that prevents BP from securing sensitive federal contracts, even as the state sues the oil firm for the environmental damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Mary Landrieu said the moratorium, imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last November, amounted to “double jeopardy”.

The 2010 oil spill is the subject of a sprawling civil law case being played out in New Orleans. Louisiana is among the five Gulf states affected by the spill who are suing BP, alongside the Justice Department and local businesses and individuals.

In a separate development, the EPA cited the company’s “lack of business integrity” following the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Landrieu, a Democrat, told the Monroe News Star newspaper in Louisiana: “I’m furious and strongly opposed to the EPA’s authority for suspension and disbarment. I’m angry that this agency would put a business in a situation of what amounts to double jeopardy.”

Let me throw this in for good measure, an interesting contrast to Sanders frothing at the mouth over George W. Bush during his two terms:


  1. These elections are about getting kicked five times instead of seven. If you are the one getting kicked, I’ve no doubt it makes a difference. J.

    Comment by jeffreymarlin — November 3, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

  2. Sanders is leading progressives right into the Dems arms. Its capitulation to the idea that independent political action doesnt work. He’s positioning himself to be the Dems nominee by backing their candidates and getting folks to rally around the Dems.

    Comment by Jim Brash — November 3, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

  3. Yes, it grosses me out too, but there is a logic to thinking it’s better for the Dems to control the Senate (and the House, the presidency, etc.) and this follows it. It’s very depressing, but it may be right. Or not.

    Comment by dedelste — November 3, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

  4. This is a welcome expose. For a truly nauseating interview with Sanders, check out the Bill Moyers PBS program from a couple of days ago. Neither Sanders nor Moyers used the word “socialism” once, and Sanders came across as a rank (though articulate) opportunist and shill for the Democrat Party.. I regret sending him a check the first time he ran for Congress. If the class struggle and capitalist crisis ever get acute, I expect the ruling class could well put up a presidential candidate who actually bills himself or herself as a revolutionary socialist, but for now we get low-level opportunists like Sanders.

    Comment by David Thorstad — November 3, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

  5. So are the contributors to Friends of Bernie and Progressive Voters of America OK with this? Two organizations that are operating as money laundering operations to right wing Democrats?

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 3, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

  6. Nothing new. Read Marx:

    Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism

    A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

    To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems.

    The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.

    Sounds like ol Bernie to me!

    Comment by norb — November 4, 2014 @ 4:05 am

  7. @norb: Do you think this description fits all Social Democrats? I don’t, unless you mean only the programmatic part, in which case it is true by definition. I certainly think it fits some — I’ve met them. But many would be perfectly happy to see capitalism entirely overthrown and replaced with proletarian socialism: they don’t think it’s possible, think it’s in the distant future, and all sorts of other things. Many could be allies sooner or later. Insultingly comparing them to the creepy charitable rich is both inaccurate and counter-productive, IMO. I don’t know Sanders or enough about him to say to what degree, if any, the description fits him.

    Comment by Dan Edelstein — November 4, 2014 @ 3:25 pm

  8. This piece on Sanders is a timely reminder of the depths to which the political situation in this country has sunk, not that it had far to sink to begin with.

    Nevertheless, you don’t have to be Chicken Little to see that today’s Republican takeover of Congress would be–or perhaps I should say “will be,” since the election seems to be pretty well in the bag for the Rs–a bad thing as a result of which, as Jim Brash says, a lot of people are going to get kicked a lot more times than they would be otherwise.

    Where is the organization to defend the people–where has it been during all the years and decades of betrayal by the Democrats and the Republicans? Where does one sign up? How does one start a cell? Is it ISO, or whatever the WSWS crowd are calling their party? Is it the Communists? The unions? The Green Party? Occupy Wall Street? All political organizations in this country, it appears (except for the corrupt and treacherous unions) are mere debating societies, whether of the left or of the right. None touches the lives of the people except in corrupt ways. Everyone seems to be living in increasing fear.

    In the absence of this organization or credible elements of such an organization, if I could vote (I live in DC), I would vote for the lesser evil–fewer kicks for soon-to-retirees (like me) and for all the citizens and resident workers far worse off than I am who are being marched down into a hole in the ground from which, if the power structure has its way, they will never emerge. Everyone is living in fear, and the pressure of fear is slowly, steadily increasing.

    I urge everyone to give this alternative serious thought, however similar it may be to the thought one gives to eating a scorpion when stranded in the desert.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — November 4, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

  9. The “mere debating societies” phrase in the foregoing is actually quite wrong, and I apologize if anyone is offended by it. Obviously radical organizations have done and are still doing much more than that. The absence of a front or really coherent mass movement or party or whatever is not IMHO the result of people idly wasting time, as the phrase suggests.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — November 4, 2014 @ 6:23 pm

  10. The comments all reflect the imperative of creating a left and a left movement in the US. However, my many attempts in the past few years to discuss the theory and practice of a grassroots revolutionary movement rooted in a red-green synthesis of Marxism and the new sciences of life’s organizational relations have been almost universally, silently

    I might not be the brightest bulb in the light bank, but I might be the only one that is currently turned on. Did Marxism die along with Marx and Engels and the Russian Revolution? Are those who consider themselves of the left just going to complain tomorrow as the extent of the far right’s continued advance in the US becomes evident? The System rules and the human species is passing into capitalism’s dark night without any resistance, which is immensely sad as well as pathetic.

    Someone observed that when existence itself is called into question, one needs to be with one’s own kind. Well, where’s the left?

    Comment by Joe Barnwell — November 4, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

  11. Dan: yes, yes I do. Unfortunately the only visible movement calling itself “socialist” nowadays is bourgeois, like Sanders or the ruling party in France.

    But class struggle continues, outside of the ballot box as always. Every strike, wildcat, factory seizure represents the fight of the working class against capital and thus carries the seed of socialism. It was this real movement that Marx was trying to assist by helping it to clarify it’s goals. He wasn’t trying to get sloppy old reformers elected to capitalist states.

    Comment by norb — November 5, 2014 @ 1:55 am

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