It is predictable that all the usual right-wing halfwits are screaming the accusation of “socialism” against Sanders – as if this means Marxism or Communism or a total command economy. It’s nonsense, of course.
Bernie is just a good old fashioned European social democrat in American form, as we can see in this video.
He rejects Marxism and Communism, and believes in a mixed economy with strong macroeconomic interventions and remedial programs to address the worst aspects of capitalism. That is in line with the finest tradition of John Maynard Keynes.
For Keynes, the most serious flaws in capitalism were as follows:
“The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.” (Keynes 1936: 372).Of course, we could add all sorts of other problems to this that are peculiar to the unusually harsh American version of capitalism: lack of universal health care, highly expensive college education, not enough social security, and so on.
Unfortunately, I think – on pragmatic grounds – that Bernie Sanders would really do better to call himself a Keynesian social democrat, not a socialist. It would communicate so much more effectively what he, in fact, is in political terms.
It would also make it easier to defend himself against charges of the sort we see in the video below.
Bill O’Reilly – shining example of right-wing American idiocy – obviously thinks immediately of Marxism and communism whenever he thinks of “socialism.” Quite possibly he thinks all of Western Europe is “communist” from the way he talks.
If your opponents are so stupid as to think in these terms, it would be better – simply on tactical grounds – for Bernie Sanders to defend his policy position as Keynesian social democracy, in the finest tradition of Roosevelt and Truman.
Keynes, J. M. 1936. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, Macmillan, London.