Is Bernie Sanders a communist?
| August 28, 2015 | 7:47 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Is Bernie Sanders a communist?


By James Thompson


The Bernie Sanders campaign has ignited a great deal of excitement among people of conscience in the United States. Many people are impressed with his progressive ideas suggesting that the US needs to narrow the gap in income between the wealthy and poor working people. Many people are impressed with Sen. Sanders’ support of unions and his position on reducing the military budget. Many people are impressed with Sen. Sanders’ support of expanding and strengthening the social network in the USA.


Do these left leaning positions mean that Sen. Sanders is a communist? Many people are asking this very question.


In order to answer this question, it is important to do some clarification. Although it is widely assumed that the term “communist” implies a monolithic ideology with little or no deviation. Nothing could be further from the truth.


It turns out that communists have historically been involved in never-ending internal ideological struggle. This struggle usually revolves around how much capitalism should be tolerated in a socialist system. In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin advocated that very little capitalism should be tolerated. On the other hand, Leon Trotsky advocated more inclusion of capitalism.


Many European countries currently could be characterized as “Social Democratic.” Left parties within these countries call themselves “socialists.” Social Democratic parties within these countries typically do not oppose capitalism, or imperialism. They generally advocate for a strengthening and expansion of the social network. This is a concept which is met with tremendous hostility in the United States. However, in Europe, once in office, Social Democratic Parties are as harsh as their Conservative Party counterparts and typically advocate stark austerity for working people. It is important to note that they never advocate any austerity for the bourgeoisie.


Mr. Sanders is not opposed to capitalism or imperialism. He does advocate an expansion of the social network and a narrowing of the income inequality in the USA. He is positive about unions and wants to reduce the military budget. No one knows whether this will play in Peoria.


Although many communist parties around the world have embraced social democracy, to many communists this is a perversion of what communists stand for.


Clearly, Sen. Sanders falls in the ballpark of the European Social Democrats. To many people on the left, his views are a breath of fresh air. There is no doubt that his positions are very different from the likes of George Bush, Donald Trump and other right-wing demagogues. However, he does not advocate austerity for the bourgeoisie nor does he advocate an end to imperialist wars.


So the answer to the question “Is Bernie Sanders a communist?” is an unequivocal “NO!”


One defining feature of communist ideology is the goal of raising the working class to the status of the ruling class. Communists believe that the current bourgeois democracy in the United States should be replaced with a workers’ democracy. Communists are opposed to imperialist wars and the oppression of any sector of society. These are not positions that are advocated by Sen. Sanders or any other bourgeois politician.


However, some communists are not fools and realize that the bourgeoisie has been very effective in minimizing the political power of working people in the United States of America. Communists typically realize that not even working people advocate the elevation of their class to the position of the ruling class in the USA.


Many communists are in agreement with Mr. Sanders on narrowing the income gap, expanding the social network and reducing the military budget. However, this does not make Mr. Sanders a communist. Many communists recognize that the reforms that Mr. Sanders advocates would reduce the misery of the working class. Since communists are the indefatigable allies of the working class, we are happy when reforms are implemented which help working people. However, we recognize that reforms do not solve the plight of working people.


So, the reforms advocated by Sen. Sanders, although considered radical by many on the right, would only provide temporary and limited relief for the working class. These reforms might elevate the culture and society in the USA so that it would be closer to that achieved by European countries. However, these reforms could in no way be considered “communist” or even “socialist.”


It is important to remember that there is no viable Communist or Socialist party in the United States. Lenin urged the working class to engage in political struggle in all its forms. Electoral struggle is one means of struggle readily available to working people. Many communists are supporting Bernie Sanders because they realize that at this time he is the most progressive candidate among those who have any chance of winning the oval office. Although some members of the Houston Communist Party support Bernie Sanders, this is an individual decision. The Houston Communist Party does not and will not endorse Bernie Sanders for the office of President of the United States. However, we won’t shed any tears if he wins.


Bernie Sanders Update: Plan for Enormous D.C. Rally Gains Steam (excerpt)
| August 28, 2015 | 6:45 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
      Comment          Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.16.22 AMEnough is Enough Rally Facebook group. (Photo: Screenshot/ Facebook) Here is the latest news about the Facebook-driven grassroots movement proposing a huge march on Washington this fall to support the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): I wrote in a column on Monday that advocates for the D.C. rally planned to present the idea to the Sanders campaign when their Facebook page collecting RSVP’s for the event reached 100,000. The number of Sanders supporters who RSVP’d rose from 87,000 on Monday to 100,000 by mid-week and by Friday morning had climbed to 108,000. The grassroots activists spearheading the D.C. rally proposal formally presented the idea to the Sanders presidential campaign in a conference call late Wednesday. After the conference call, Charlie Ryan, a leading organizer of the movement to hold the Washington rally, told me: “I thought the call went well. There was interest in learning what the vision for the event is, what benefits we see from such an event and enthusiasm for our efforts but they weren’t in a position to make any commitments.” As this column is published Friday morning the Sanders campaign has not yet signed on to embrace the proposal but movement organizers are optimistic and the 100,000-plus people who have already RSVP’d to attend the rally have good reason to be excited. Attendance would almost certainly rise well into six figures which would make this rally the largest campaign event, by far, for any candidate running in 2016.
Bernie’s foreign policy bad for everyone concerned
| August 28, 2015 | 6:39 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention

There’s an old joke about two elderly men at a Catskill resort. One complains: “The food here is horrible.” The other vigorously agrees: “Yeah, I know — and the portions are so damn small!”

Several writers have noted that Bernie Sanders has been scant in terms of his foreign policy — small portions.

But a thornier problem is that the little that he has articulated in terms of foreign policy — the foreign policy issue that he’s been most passionate about really — is extremely regressive and incredibly dangerous. That issue is the role of Saudi Arabia. Sanders has actually pushed for the repressive regime to engage in more intervention in the Mideast.

In discussing ISIS, Sanders invariably has talked about Saudi Arabia being the solution. It’s couched in language that seems somewhat critical, but the upshot is we need more Saudi influence and intervention in the region. In effect, more and bigger proxy wars, which have already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands in Syria and could even further rip apart Iraq and Libya.

He’s said this repeatedly — and prominently. In February with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

“This war is a battle for the soul of Islam and it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.”

What? Why should a U.S. progressive be calling for more intervention by the Saudi monarchy? Really, we want Saudi troops in Syria and Iraq and Libya and who knows where else? You’d think that perhaps someone like Sanders would say that we have to break our decades-long backing of the corrupt Saudi regime — but no, he wants to dramatically accelerate it.

Even worse, after the Saudis started bombing Yemen with U.S. government backing earlier this year, killing thousands and leading to what the UN is now calling a “humanitarian catastrophe,” and suffering that is “almost incomprehensible,” Sanders continued. In another interview again with Wolf Blitzer in May, Sanders did correctly note that as a result of the Iraq invasion, “we’ve destabilized the region, we’ve given rise to Al-Qaeda, ISIS.” But then he actually called for more intervention:

“What we need now, and this is not easy stuff, I think the President is trying, you need to bring together an international coalition, Wolf, led by the Muslim countries themselves! Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world they’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.”

Progressives in the U.S. are supposed to look toward the Saudi monarchy to save the soul of Islam? The Saudis have pushed the teachings of the Wahabism sect and have been deforming Islam for decades. This actually helped give rise to ISIS and Al Qaeda. It’s a little like Bernie Sanders saying that the Koch Brothers need to get more involved in U.S. politics, they need to “get their hands dirty.”

But if your point is to build up the next stage of the U.S. government’s horrific role in the Mideast, it kind of makes sense. The U.S. government helped ensure the Saudis would dominate the Arabian Peninsula from the formation of the nation state of Saudi Arabia — a nation named after a family. In return, the Saudis had the U.S. take the lead in extracting oil there and favored investing funds from their oil wealth largely in the West over building up the region, what the activist scholar Eqbal Ahmed called separating the material wealth of the Mideast from the mass of the people of the region. Saudi Arabia buys U.S. weapons to further solidify the “relationship” and to ensure its military dominance.

The Saudis and other Gulf monarchies deformed the Arab uprisings, which transformed oppressive but basically secular and minimally populist regimes into failed states, giving rise to groups like ISIS and allowing Saudi Arabia to largely call the shots in the region. What has happened in the Mideast since the ouster of Mubarak and the so-called Arab uprisings is that the Saudis have been strengthened. Both the Tunisian and Yemeni dictators fled to Saudi Arabia. Mubarak himself was urged not to resign by the Saudis, and the Saudis are now the main backers of the military regime in Cairo.

Why is Sanders doing this? Is there a domestic constituency called “Americans for Saudi Domination of the Arab World”? Well, yes and no. It would obviously play well in the general public to say: “We’ve got to stop backing dictatorships like the Saudis. They behead people, they are tyrannical. They have a system of male guardianship. Why the hell are they an ally?”

But Sanders is unwilling to break with the U.S.-Saudi alliance that has done such damage to both the Arab people and the American people. Now, we have a full-fledged Israeli-Saudi alliance and it must be music to the ears of pro-Israeli journalists like Wolf Blitzer for Sanders to be calling for U.S. backing of further Saudi domination.

Some have argued that Sanders’ candidacy is very valuable — that win or lose, he’s putting the issue of income inequality front and center. But if the candidacy is to be lauded for raising issues of economic inequality, educate the public and galvanize around that that, it’s fair to ask how the candidacy is also deforming public discussion on other crucial issues. If the position of the most prominent “progressive” on the national stage is for more Saudi intervention, what does that do to public understanding of the Mideast and dialogue between people in the U.S. and in Muslim countries?

If the U.S. further subcontracts the Mideast to the Saudi regime, the setbacks and disappointments for peace and justice in the Mideast during the Obama years will be small potatoes in comparison. If the Mideast continues to deform, largely because of U.S. policies backing Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel, all the other things Sanders is talking about regarding economic inequality are arguably out the window. He himself has noted that “wars drain investment at home.”

Or does Sanders think it’s all good if he can set up a scheme whereby the Saudis pay the bills and use their own troops for Mideast wars that the U.S. government backs? Martin Luther King in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech referred to the wars taking funds from the war on poverty as a “demonic destructive suction tube.” But he also referred to just looking at the funding as a “facile” connection, listing several other, deeper, reasons based on other moral grounds for opposing war. But Sanders rarely touches on those other reasons. It’s as though we’ve learned nothing about blowback since 9/11.

Contrast Sanders’ call for an escalation in Saudi Arabia’s proxy wars with what insurgent Jeremy Corbyn — who’s campaign to lead the Labor Party in the UK has caught fire — is saying. He’s been challenging the British establishment about arming the Saudis: “Will the Minister assure me that the anti-corruption laws will apply to arms deals and to British arms exports? Will they involve forensic examination of any supposed corruption that has gone on between arms sales and regimes in other parts of the world rather than suspending Serious Fraud Office inquiries, as in the case of an investigation into the Al-Yamamah arms contract with Saudi Arabia?” See a section on Corbyn’s website on Saudi Arabia and video of his remarks at the House of Parliament just last month, with Corbyn relentlessly raising questions of human rights violations by the Saudi regime.

Instead of adopting Corbyn’s human rights perspective, Sanders has used Saudi Arabia’s massive military spending to argue that it should further dominate the region. Unexamined is how it got that way. Unexamined is the $60 billion arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that Obama signed off on in 2010. The BBC reports, Saudi “Prince Turki al-Faisal called for ‘a unified military force, a clear chain of command’ at a high level regional security conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.”

So Sanders and Saudi planners seem to be working toward the same ends, as though war by an autocratic state in a critical region can be expected to breed good outcomes. Sanders doesn’t seem to take money from Lockheed Martin — though he’s backed their F-35, slated to be based in Vermont — but his stance on Saudi Arabia must bring a smile to the faces of bigwigs there.

The Black Lives Matter movement has moved Sanders to “say the names” of Sandra Bland and others who are victims of police violence. Those striving for peace and justice around the world need to do the same regarding Sanders and U.S. foreign policy.

Sam Husseini is founder of the website

Will China Save the Global Economy?
| August 27, 2015 | 12:58 pm | Economy, political struggle | No comments
Understanding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) constitutes a formidable challenge to every Marxist. Of course it’s not a challenge based on some racist notion of “oriental inscrutability” or even the task of unraveling the obstacles presented by size, diversity, and complexity. Instead, it is the perplexing doctrine of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” that confounds many of us. While no one can contest that the Chinese Communist Party is the leading force in Chinese society, some see the Party as leading the PRC in the wrong direction– along the path of capitalist restoration.
That capitalist relations of production exist and and have grown in the PRC is unquestionable. Both domestic private corporations and multinational capitalist enterprises have gained far more than a toe-hold in the national economy. Nonetheless, it is pointless to engage in the popular parlor game on the left of declaiming the PRC as socialist or capitalist. The more pertinent and useful question is: “Where is the PRC headed?”
I raised that question in an essay– The Chinese Puzzle— in December of 2011. Despite many reservations about the deceptively dubbed “reforms” accepted by the Chinese leadership, my judgment was that the socialist underpinnings of the economy, while dangerously weakened, were still intact: the state sector, relative to national annual product, was still five times greater than a typical European social democracy like France; the financial sector was predominantly state owned; and the planning mechanism was weak, but functional.
At the same time, I was fully cognizant of the many problems wrought by capitalist “reforms”:
The entry of capitalist features into the PRC economy has plagued it with the maladies that arise from the anarchy of markets: imbalances, speculative fervor and bubbles, inflation, labor unrest, grey and black markets, and labor market chaos. In the spring and summer of 2010, workers rose against low wages and working conditions in many areas. Again, this year [2011], there were significant actions for better pay, working conditions and against layoffs. In the fall, the PRC’s sovereign wealth fund was forced to buy shares in major Chinese banks. Despite the fact that private investors own a quarter or less of the country’s biggest banks, a sell-off by foreign investors caused a near panic met by the sovereign wealth funds’ intervention. Today, inflation, a construction bubble, and over reliance on exports weigh on the economy. (my emphasis)
But the PRC’s economic stability during the worse years of the global economic crisis demonstrated, in my estimation, the existence and value of the remaining socialist base.
I concluded on a note of caution:
The country’s participation in global markets could present problems that even its remaining socialist tools cannot overcome. Moreover, it is not clear if the PRC will strengthen these safeguards or jettison them, as its leading Communist Party shapes this awkward mix of socialism and capitalism.
A Right Turn
Four months later, alarms sounded with the publication of a joint World Bank and the PRC State Council’s Development Research Center report that urged an acceleration of privatization, deregulation, financial market liberalization, and openness to foreign corporate penetration. Of course this prescription is the conventional wisdom promoted by the World Bank. But most alarming was the endorsement of this agenda by such a prominent PRC body. The report urges:
In the financial sector, it would require commercializing the banking system, gradually allowing interest rates to be set by market forces, deepening the capital market, and developing the legal and supervisory infrastructure to ensure financial stability and build the credible foundations for the internationalization of China’s financial sector.
The study, China 2030, clearly represented the manifesto of the rightist “capitalist roaders” in the PRC leadership. As I noted at the time (The Battle for China’s Future, 3-06-12), “…the leadership [walks] the thin, risky line between emerging capitalism and the remaining socialist institutions. But, clearly, The World Bank and its Chinese allies are determined to influence that direction. And there should be no doubt which direction China 2030 is intended to push those leaders.”
With the subsequent ascendency of the Xi Jinping leadership group, it became clear that further “reforms”– economic liberalization– were forthcoming. Xi sought to unleash market forces, diminish the power and size of the public sector, and court, in various ways, foreign capital and corporations. Keen to minimize the rampant corruption that accompanied the expansion of the private sector, the government also mounted an aggressive campaign to investigate and prosecute the most flagrant abusers. They hoped that this would dampen public resentment of economic inequities that invariably comes with the expansion of private profiteering.
Clearly, PRC’s new generation of leaders have accepted the market dogma that further growth was threatened by regulation, a prominent public sector, and financial restraint. Clearly, they have been persuaded by liberal ideologues that more capitalism and less socialism is the order of the day.
And clearly, they have not foreseen the dangers lurking on that path.
The decision to go forward with liberalization was felt dramatically in PRC equity markets. PRC leaders urged investors to enrich themselves. Beginning in November of 2014, regulations against leveraging– margin buying– were relaxed, interest rates were cut, and international access to stock markets was expanded, resulting in the rapid advance of an already hot market. Initial public offerings (IPOs) multiplied; market capitalization increased five times in one year; margin loans doubled in six months, reaching 2.27 trillion yuan; individual investors surpassed 75 million, with even 31% of college students playing the market. The PRC leaders had unleashed a stock-market frenzy, resulting in Chinese combined equity markets, at their peak, becoming the largest in the world after the New York Stock Exchange.
The stock market “miracle” drove the benchmark Shanghai Composite index to a new high in mid-June of this year, reaching 5166 from 3334 at the end of last year.
But then the market collapsed. Less than a month later, $3.5 trillion in nominal value disappeared, with the market dropping to 3507. By late August it had further eroded to 3210.
Government measures to stem the crash were ineffectual. Despite suspending IPOs, suspending trading on many stocks, restraining margin buying, and allocating $19 billion to a market stabilization fund, the market continued to falter. Twenty-four million investors left the market, presumably after suffering large losses. To put a perspective on the losses, they were over 14 times the GDP of Greece.
Unlike in the past, the PRC had no socialist tools in their tool box (or they chose not to use them). Unlike in 2008 when the PRC leaders swiftly injected public funds into public enterprises and public projects to propel the economy away from the private folly of the global economy, the PRC leaders were overwhelmed by market forces that they were so eager to unleash.
In their enthusiasm to embrace markets, the leadership had pledged in February to allow the yuan’s exchange rate against other currencies to float and remove controls on capital flows. Despite four quarters of capital outflows, the government freed the yuan exchange rate on August 11, unleashing a devaluation that promises to accelerate capital outflows. In the face of a collapse of the PRC equity markets, the leadership chose to answer with further market “reforms.” Moreover, Western commentators (see Paul Krugman, for example) bizarrely blame the rout on too few market reforms rather than the aggressive liberalization that overheated equity markets, an endorsement of a demonstrably failed policy. Capitalist bromides brought the PRC economy to this juncture. Will the PRC leaders continue to embrace them?
Global Turbulence
The current chaos in world-wide equity markets has made the PRC a convenient whipping boy. The commentariat sees economic problems in the world’s second largest economy as dragging the global economy down. While China’s economy is moving in the wrong direction and, consequently, contributing to the enduring capitalist crisis, it is far from the efficient or final cause of the painful throes of the capitalist system. Long developing, deeply embedded processes are working to undermine the capitalist system (see my The US Economy: A Midyear Report Card, 6-12-15).
But it is important to stress, nonetheless, that the Chinese economy– even with its remaining socialist features– is no longer able to rescue the global capitalist economy as it did, in part, in 2008. As Lingling Wei and Mark Magnier wrote in The Wall Street Journal (China to Flood Economy with Cash, 8-24-15):
Beijing’s struggles this summer have spooked many investors into viewing China as a threat to,
 rather than a rescuer of, global growth. During the financial crisis of 2008 and early 2009, China, with a colossal stimulus plan, acted as a shock absorber. Lately, it is China that is providing the shocks.
This is a stark and candid admission of the abandonment to the market of important, critical elements of the socialist economy by PRC leaders. One can only hope that they will come to their senses before they join others in trying to manage the unmanageable.
Zoltan Zigedy
I went to a Bernie Sanders rally to ask fans why they ‘Feel the Bern.’ Here’s what they said.
| August 26, 2015 | 8:09 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
SOURCE: Jewish Journal
Two weeks ago
Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was in rally mode at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Aug. 10 and the scene was, well, pretty wild.
When the doors opened at 6 p.m., thousands of people were lined up outside hoping to get in before the arena filled to capacity, which it eventually did. Sanders told the crowd that more than 27,000 people were inside the arena and watching on big screens outside. Give or take a couple thousand, that’s totally believable, because it was packed.
The crowd looked mostly young (18-35), but there were plenty of middle-aged folks and senior citizens sporting some combination of Sanders pins, shirts, hats and signs. One older man even had his massive, beautiful dog decked out in some turquoise Sanders getup. The whole thing felt like a mixture of a neighborhood block party and a sports event (and not an L.A. sports event — they tend to be dull and cheerless).
There was a man in a Manning/Snowden ’16 shirt, a veteran who suggested he would support Rand Paul if Sanders weren’t in the race, and even more unkempt beards than you’d see on a trip to Seattle or Portland. Interviews with folks in the crowd were constantly interrupted by the screams that circled the arena as the “wave” made its way around a dozen or so times.
So, why is this grizzly 73-year-old senator from Vermont drawing the largest crowds so far of the 2016 presidential race? Two themes that came up again and again were that he’s not indebted to corporations and that Hillary Clinton isn’t a sufficiently genuine progressive. Asked how they view the “socialist” label attached to Sanders (in the Western European, democratic socialist mold), and whether it would hurt his chances in a general election if he became the Democratic nominee, here’s what some members of the crowd had to say:
Arrah Stamatakis, 27, singer-songwriter
“I’m excited to vote for a real progressive candidate. He offers authenticity more than Clinton does, and I want a single-payer health care system. I want free higher education.
“Hillary voted for the [Iraq] war, and she’s changed her position on many things.”
Brian Petras, 41, entrepreneur
“I feel Hillary has trust issues. I feel like there’s a little bit something that she’s hiding. Bernie’s very direct. He says what he wants. He’s not vague in his positions.
On the socialism label: It’s not socialism. He’s a democratic socialist. He still believes in democracy. He just has [elements] of socialist things that help the population, like health care and expanding Medicaid. He’s not against free markets or anything.”
Jamie Throgmorton, 54, drove 90 miles to attend
“I like him more than Hillary because he’s an outsider. He’s willing to speak truth to power, and I don’t think Hillary really is. I feel like she has a very kind of scripted, polished method that’s safe within the existing political structures.”
On the socialism label: “I think that’s one of the big challenges. You see people throw around that label and it’s, like, just a nasty word, and people don’t even stop to think. They don’t know what it means and we don’t define our terms very well, so I think that’s potentially one of the issues he has to educate people on. What does it really mean? What does he really stand for, and why is that not the right label to throw on it? Or maybe that is the right label, but the label itself kind of has a bad connotation.”
Zoe Raven, 18
“I came because I think Bernie Sanders is at least for my demographic, being a black 18 year old girl, he’s the best candidate to help me and the people that I know become successful and live in a country that’s unified.”
Patti Hollis, attended with her husband and daughter
“I think Hillary’s attached to corporate money.”
On the socialism label: “I need to understand what that word means, what it meant, what it means now, if it’s different.”
Kevin Eden, 27, protein scientist at UCLA
“I like that he’s a populist … Hillary hasn’t really showed that she has any populist agenda so far.”
On the socialism label: “I think a lot of people don’t actually know the definition of socialism and what it means to be a socialist, so the more he talks about what the agenda is of socialism, I think the more people agree. That’s why so many people are here.”
The actual rally began at 7 p.m., with various activists (including comedian Sarah Silverman) pumping up the crowd and making their case for Sanders based on a litany of progressive issues they hope will drive youth voters and the base to the polls during the primaries. #BlackLivesMatter, climate change, immigration, labor, corporate greed, single-payer health care — all were on the table even before Sanders took the stage. When he came out, the primed crowd went nuts — and stayed nuts throughout his nearly one-hour speech.
How much do these rallies really tell us? Polls and primaries will reveal whether they’re indicative of broad enough support for Sanders to truly challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic candidacy. Howard Dean drew big crowds in 2004 and then fizzled out quickly. But, while standing in the middle of a Bernie Sanders crowd, it feels like the Clinton camp should be at least a little concerned.
The music of Malcolm X

The Music of Malcolm X

The evidence keeps pouring in: Capitalism just isn’t working
| August 25, 2015 | 12:40 pm | Analysis, Economy, political struggle | No comments

The Evidence Keeps Pouring In: Capitalism Just Isn’t Working
Published on
Monday, August 24, 2015
by Common Dreams

Paul Buchheit

(Photo: Jonny White/cc/flickr)

To followers of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan, and to all the business
people who despise government, ‘community’ is a form of ‘communism.’
Even taking the train is too communal for them. Americans have been
led to believe that only individuals matter, that every person should
fend for him/herself, that “winner-take-all” is the ultimate goal,
and that the winners have no responsibility to others.

To the capitalist, everything is a potential market. Education,
health care, even the right to water. But with every market failure
it becomes more clear that basic human rights can’t be bought and
sold like cars and cell phones. The pursuit of profit, when essential
needs are part of the product, means that not everyone will be able
to pay the price. Some will be denied those essential needs.

Common Dreams needs you today!

Global Failures

Capitalism hasn’t been able to control runaway global inequality. For
every $1.00 owned by the world’s richest 1% in 2011, they now own
$1.27. They own almost half the world’s wealth. Just 70 of them own
as much as 3.5 billion people.

Capitalism has not been able — or willing — to control the “race to
the bottom” caused by “free trade,” as mid-level jobs continue to be
transferred to low-wage countries.

Nor has capitalism been able to control global environmental
degradation, with trillions in subsidies going to polluters that
don’t even pay their taxes, and with corporations ignoring any
semblance of social responsibility as they seek ways to profit from
global warming.

Job Creation Failures I

With or without globalization, middle-class jobs are disappearing,
even higher-end positions in financial analysis, medical diagnosis,
legal assistance, and journalism. Artificial intelligence is making
this happen. Millions of Americans have had a role in the great
American productivity behind this technological takeover, but
capitalism allows only an elite few of us to reap the disproportional

Reports of job recovery are based on low-income jobs, many of them
part-time. Layoffs are cutting into the military and technology.
Gallup discounted Wall Street’s job-creating ability. As noted by
former Wall Street Journal Associate Editor Paul Craig Roberts, the
US rate of unemployment is 23 percent when long-term discouraged
job-seekers are included. That’s close to the unemployment rate of
the Great Depression.

Job Creation Failures II

Closely related to employment woes is the collapse of corporate
investment in new product R&D, from 40 cents per dollar in the 1970s
to 10 cents now. CEOs are choosing instead to spend almost all of
their profits on buybacks and dividends to enrich investors.

Health Care Failures

The capitalist profit motive allows the cost of a hepatitis pill that
costs $10 in Egypt to sell for $1,000 in the United States, and the
cost of a blood test to range from $10 to $10,000 in two California
hospitals (a 100,000% markup at the second hospital).

Patent abuse is one of the factors making this possible.
Pharmaceutical companies can tweak a drug with a minor change to
create a “brand new” drug with a new patent.

Another health-related scam that affects most of us is bottled water.
According to Food & Water Watch, about half of it is filtered tap
water with fancy names, as evidenced in one case by an actual “tap
water” label on a company’s product. Yet with the demise of community
water fountains, and the barrage of advertising for “safe and pure”
drinking water, unsuspecting Americans pay dearly: for the price we
pay for a bottle of water we would be able to fill up that bottle a
thousand times with tap water.

Housing Failures

Because of the “invisible hand” of the free market, in just 35 years
the investment wealth of the super-rich has gone from 15% of
middle-class housing to almost 200% of middle-class housing.

Education Failures

A remarkable story of privatization failure is told in the story of
charter schools in Florida, where Jeb Bush still holds dear to his
delusions of free-market educational success.

That’s just one example. In general, charters are riddled with fraud
and identified with a lack of transparency that leads to even more
fraud. Since 2001 nearly 2,500 charter schools have been forced to
close their doors, leaving over a quarter-million schoolchildren
between one bad business decision and the next. A report from PR
Watch summarizes the billions of dollars spent on charters without
accountability to the public.

Disposable Americans

Chris Hedges wrote: “Human life is of no concern to corporate
capitalists. The suffering of the Greeks, like the suffering of
ordinary Americans, is very good for the profit margins of financial
institutions such as Goldman Sachs.”

People become meaningless in a successful capitalist system.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share
Alike 3.0 License

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut
Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational
websites (,,, and
the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and
Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at