I had an online debate with a liberal union “reformer” about supporting Bernie Sanders. Here’s how it went:
- He started off by attacking me for my revolutionary politics. (Since most workers aren’t revolutionaries, they wouldn’t agree with me about not supporting Sanders and other liberals, you see.)
- This is not a matter of being convinced that socialism is necessary, that it’s the only way to resolve any of the problems we face. And if a worker is going to confine his or her political activity to simply putting a piece of paper in a box every two years (or touching a computer screen), then sure, it’s impossible to argue against voting for the candidate who will do the least harm. After all, as we are driven towards the cliff, who wouldn’t want to take the most amount of time possible before we get there and are pushed over it? Who wouldn’t want to live just a few minutes longer?But if you want to reverse course, then you need a movement of, by and for working class people. It needs to be organized in an organization that is completely independent of Corporate America and its two political parties. In other words, we need a mass, working class party, one that organizes workers and young people to fight on the streets, the work places and the communities, and also that runs candidates for office. All of US history has proven that it’s impossible to build such a movement – never mind such a party – while supporting the Democrats at the same time. That has been proven. (You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.)As to where such a mass workers’ party has to lead – whether it has to have a revolutionary socialist goal — that’s a related but also somewhat different question. But you don’t have to be convinced of it in order to see the need for such a movement and party.
- His reply: You are pedantic. Which is your first problem. You talk down to workers and it turns them off. Also this is a page for (union) members. Are you a (union) member. or someone looking for another outlet for their theories…. You might first try and explain to the average worker how socialism would improve their situation. Many union members are firmly co=opted into believing they are middle class. They own houses and maybe a few toys like motorcycles and boats. They don’t want the results of their hard earned money taken away from them for the betterment of all. Which is how they view socialism…. Incidentally I know that PJ McQuire (founder of the Carpenters Union) was a socialist. You are NOT the only one who studies history. In fact, I probably have a more extensive education on it than you.
Notice how this liberal completely avoids my points and, in his own way, engages in a subtle red-baiting. It’s the same old story: Debate with a liberal and they will end up attacking you personally, and putting down workers (who all have “middle class” values, etc.)
- As the debate went on, I added the following: “(This individual) wrote: “You might first try and explain to the average worker how socialism would improve their situation. Many union members are firmly co-opted into believing they are middle class. They own houses and maybe a few toys like motorcycles and boats. They don’t want the results of their hard earned money taken away from them for the betterment of all. Which is how they view socialism” This shows the sheltered life he’s been leading, among the elite of the elite of the working class. He seems to know nothing about the millions of workers who are struggling to make ends meet – just to pay the rent and drive an old beater. He seems completely ignorant about the experiences of black people – workers and otherwise – who are afraid to simply drive down the street or walk to the store for fear of being harassed, beaten or killed by cops. Or the undocumented immigrant workers who can be swept up and sent away at a moment’s notice. He seems ignorant of the millions of our bothers and sisters warehoused in the prisons for years on end, some for crimes they committed at 16 years old, others for crimes they didn’t commit. It’s the point of view of this elite of the elite of the working class that he’s expressing.”