This is s fine little summary of the much longer discussion led by Bernie Sanders and joined by John Nichols (author one that fine book, "The S Word – A Short History of An American Tradition… Socialism") and Danny Glover (actor and activist). If you want to view the entire exchange – based around the new and impressive profile of Eugene V. Debs, you can go here:
(Note: This "guide" should help you get through the event - 36:13 Bernie Sanders intro. 43:52 Danny Glover intro. 47:18 John Nichols intro. 53:23 The Revolutionist. 1:50:14 discussion.)
Frankly, I was a little surprised that even this little summary was produced for distribution – by the semi-official “Friends of Bernie Sanders.” But, perhaps, I shouldn’t have been. After all, the spirit and message of Debs is probably one of the three foundational basses for Bernie’s view of an American “democratic socialism.”
As I see it, Bernie’s view of “democratic socialism” rests on these views he holds dearly:
1 The successes of Nordic Social Democracy as examples of what we might want to achieve… at least for starters
2 The principles of FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” as he proposed on 11 Jan 44 to be established “for all, regardless of status, race, or creed,” in his message to the Congress on the State of the Union. See here if you need a reminder:
3 The vision and standing of Eugene V. Debs as a leader and principled advocate of socialism.
These are the three elements he mentions again and again. (As for Debs, I think there is a real connection between the Debsian example for Bernie and Bernie’s insistence on, “Not me. Us!”)
If you can surmise a better foundation to explain the Bernie/socialism essentials, share away! But I think that’s the core.
Do I think that such a foundation is sufficient?
But it seems to work just fine for Bernie!
It has sustained him and his broad “movement” for some time, it has reached millions of folks almost subliminally, and at least two of the three are based on actual American experiences, not some exotic, imported, third-world vision. It’s also very welcoming now, two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall. By that I mean that it is not burdened by the “explaining” that older comrades had to go through years ago whenever the word “socialism” was uttered.
Are these three foundational sources enough to sustain Bernie's “movement”? Not necessarily. But who am I to say?
Yours for the Revolution,
Paul J. Baicich
Howard County, Maryland
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.