WHOEVER thought the word ‘socialism’ would have been part of the campaign vocabulary for a Presidential Election in the citadel of global capitalism in the 21st Century?
Whoever thought an elderly anti-establishment American politician preaching ‘democratic socialism’ would have attracted such support across America from young and old white and black, native and Latino, mainly poor and disenchanted men and women for his unrelenting campaign against Washington and Wall Street?
And whoever thought one of America’s most rapacious, reactionary and bold capitalists would have been sticking his middle finger to his peers and those who want to stop him in the Republican hierarchy and the US mainstream media like we’re seeing happening today?
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump trumped the naysayers everywhere who counted them out early. Sanders is burning the Democratic establishment’s preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. Trump has moved from being seen as a wild card to having the Republican trump card. And between the two, they stand a good chance of turning America on its head for the same reasons, even though in different ways.
Trump continues to railroad his way into a reluctant Republican nomination. He seems sure to survive the plots by CEOs and politicians from both major parties to stop or block his nomination.
Sanders hasn’t backed Mrs Clinton into a corner like Trump has done on his side, but his pitch for his brand of ‘democratic socialism’ has ensured he’s been able to attract enough support across America to last long enough to be counted as being strong enough to attract similar Democratic plots, including use of the ‘Super Delegates’ mechanism as a preferred road block.
Socialism has been offered in different forms at different stages in world history – from the scientific Socialism of old preached by Marx and Engels and implemented after the 1917 Russian Revolution and Lenin’s creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) to the variations that have lasted to this day from 1949 in China and 1959 in Cuba. After 66 years, China, under the Communist Party (CPC) is successful building its ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ (even though not without its challenges). After 56 years, Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC) has been able to adjust the process of preservation of the revolution in the post-USSR period without at all reversing its major socialist principles. In Vietnam, the Communist party there in January went through a crucial congress in which the party opted to stay on its traditional socialist path instead of opening Hanoi’s gates to a flood of American capital.
In the Caribbean too, we’ve also had our fair share of socialist experimentation. Socialism was practised in different policy forms and levels in this region the third quarter of the 20th century — from Michael Manley and his People’s National Party (PNP) practicing ‘Democratic Socialism” in Jamaica in the period from 1976 to the ‘cooperative socialism’ offered by Forbes Burnham’s People’s National Congress (PNC) in Guyana after 1980.
Socialist policies of a more scientific type also underlined much that happened during the brief Grenada Revolution (1979-83). And ‘Bolivarian socialism’ has been the buzzword in Venezuela ever since Hugo Chavez took over at the turn of the century.
Every movement anywhere that espouses ‘socialism’ reserves its right to define the shape and form of its process. But there are some basic common factors that underline most or all of the processes.
Socialists are all committed to improving the lot of the workers, the poor and needy, the marginalized, those discriminated against, those who suffer by law or custom due to no fault of theirs but as a result of the effects of naked capitalist policies that put profits before people. Unlike all others, genuine socialists can be seen more than heard, their works felt and their commitment sustained over time in the fields where they work.
Socialism is seen as having taken a beating at the recent polls in Venezuela and parties that touted various forms of socialism have won and lost elections in these parts in the past two years in Argentina and Brazil, Guyana and Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. But not all agree that socialism’s success or acceptance is based on the results of general elections where socialism was not a major campaign promise. (Part 2 Next Week)