Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders won’t align with Venezuela out of fear of being labeled “authoritarian” by the ruling elite.
President Donald Trump expressed horror regarding socialism’s popularity among sections of the U.S. population at his latest State of the Union address. He vowed that the United States would “never be a socialist country.” Beneath the optics of Trump’s address and Nancy Pelosi’s “shade” clap is the stark reality that all sections of the U.S. capitalist oligarchy are at war with socialism at home and abroad. The social democratic and self-proclaimed “socialist” camp behind Bernie Sanders remains largely excluded from the halls of Washington and the ruling class certainly has no plans for that to change anytime soon. Oligarchs in the Democratic Party have flooded the 2020 primary with corporate candidates or faux-liberals who are more than willing to obey the dictates of neoliberal capital.
Then there is the fact that the U.S. has escalated its war on the socialist country of Venezuela. U.S. sanctions have already cost the Venezuelan economy tens of billions of dollars. This is set to increase now that the Trump Administration has further tightened the U.S sanctions regime. The U.S. has lifted its veil to openly stage a coup against a sovereign nation.Trump and his minions have attempted to give imperial teeth to the strategy of the racist and oligarchic national bourgeoisie in Venezuela. The U.S. is hording the nation’s resources to facilitate an economic crisis and create the conditions for regime change.
U.S. imperialism will likely make life more difficult for working class and poor Venezuelans, but its goal of regime change appears to have already failed. Juan Guaido and his supporters represent only a tiny minority of the Venezuelan population. The opposition is heavily divided, as evidenced by the fact that the Guaido faction decided not to elevate Henry Falcon–the opposition politician who lost in the 2017 presidential election that the rightwing labeled a “farce” and subsequently boycotted. The U.S. corporate media and the rightwing media in Latin America refuse to cover the massive demonstrations in support of president Nicolas Maduro.And while conditions in Venezuela are dire and the progress of the Bolivarian revolution threatened by U.S. intervention, the working-class and poor of Venezuela and Latin America as a whole understand just which political force is willing to build millions of homes for the poor and provide healthcare to the sick, and which political force wants to bring the nation back to the status of impoverished lackey to U.S. imperialism.
Socialist democracy remains strong in Venezuela. The Venezuelan military has rejected the coup attempt of the United States. Socialist democracy doesn’t exist in the United States. Social democratic “socialist” politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have been hostile to the socialist government of Venezuela.They have ignored the words of Jimmy Carter, who in 2012 said that Venezuela possessed the most democratic electoral system in the world. They have also ignored the fact that no amount of imperialist war-mongering can erase the gains that the poor have made in Latin America as a result of the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela, gains that extend beyond the “bread and butter” issues of poverty and into the realm of dignity obtained through worker control and democracy.
Of course, it is difficult to even consider this fact given the cacophonous anti-Maduro and anti-socialist banter of the corporate media. Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders won’t align with Venezuela out of fear of being labeled an “authoritarian” leader by the ruling elite.This once again reveals the central weakness of so-called social democracy in the U.S. and its imperialist friends in the West. Socialist-leaning sentiments are growing in the U.S. due to the unending attack of capitalism on the living standards of workers, most of whom are now poor or near poor by the economic measures of the ruling elites themselves. Social democrats like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez speak about improving the conditions of the masses, but only so long as U.S. imperialism’s “democratic” institutions are not transformed to mirror the “communist” and “dictatorial” regimes of the Global South. Yet there is no better time than now to counter the anti-communism of a generation ago with the reality that none of demands put forward by Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez are possible without a massive transformation of society, not unlike the one that occurred in Venezuela nearly two decades ago.
It is thus up to the people to make America a socialist country, especially Black people who have historically supported socialist arrangements more than any other section of the population. Bernie Sanders and the rest of the democratic socialist camp in the Democratic Party can be useful toward this end. Radical and revolutionary socialists share a common foe with the social democrats in the Democratic Party. That foe is the two-party duopoly—the political arm of the ruling class. The two-party duopoly wants nothing more than to prevent the reemergence of the Sandernistas in the 2020 race. Those of us who want to make the United States a socialist country should double down on efforts to expose the corporate Democratic Party. This will increase the likelihood that the Sandernista voting base is further pressured to abandon efforts to reform a political apparatus that has long been under the full control of the lords of capital.
Alignment with Sanders against the banks and the imperialists does not mean that we should be under any illusions about what Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez represent. The birth of the United States as a race-based arrangement has prevented European-style social democracy from ever taking hold in the U.S. state. U.S. capitalism is thus of a “special breed,” an “exceptional” model of the fruits that enslavement and genocide can bring to the owners of property if they arrange their society based on the foundational principle of whiteness. While European capitalists had to grant concessions to united working class movements and the pressures of the Soviet Union, the U.S. was able to weaken the working class from the beginning by rallying most whites under the umbrella of imperialism so long as the boss shared a bit of the plunder of dehumanized African labor and indigenous land.
Social democrats in the U.S. have yet to address the racist core of U.S. society and have proven more than willing to collaborate with imperialism whenever it is convenient for their survival amid hostile corporate forces in Washington. This explains why Sanders has been so critical of Venezuela’s Maduro even when U.S. military hostility south of the U.S.’ colonial border destroys any hope of instituting his domestic program. The same goes for Ocasio-Cortez’s silence on Venezuela and the rest of the leftish Democrats puny defense of Ilham Omar, who was left nearly isolated by her comrades after she was ruthlessly attacked by the Zionist lobby for tweeting about AIPAC’s influence over Congress.
Social democrats in the United States are politically to the right of the Second International, whose call to “defend the Fatherland” during the first imperialist World War still haunts the colonial world. The Sandernistas seek to bring back the “Golden Age” of capitalism through a 21st century New Deal. The refusal of Sandernista politicians to confront the issue of war and peace means that their New Deal will inevitable be a raw deal for the vast majority of the world’s people living in squalor because of U.S. imperialism. Furthermore, U.S. imperialism and its racist state have made it quite clear that austerity is the only item on the menu that it is capable of cooking. Black America has suffered most from this arrangement, with capitalist exploitation and mass Black incarceration ensuring that nearly one-third of all Black men (and more and more women) have spent one-seventh of their working lives in prison.
Black America has historically been the most pro-peace and pro-socialist section of the U.S. population. That was temporarily halted by the madness of the Obama-period, which tightened the grip of the Black political class and its white liberal benefactors over the political narrative of the Black polity. Trump has challenged the so-called democratic socialists in Washington by calling them out in the State of the Union address. However, Trump is the least of their worries. The likes of Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Party establishment are gearing up to smother the democratic socialists in their crib during the 2020 primary. The Sandernistas must keep the democratic socialist spirit alive, if only to be crushed by the Democrats thereby creating more friendly space for revolutionary socialists to make Trump’s nightmare a reality.