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Sanders is an important step to full-blown socialism and 'huge leftward shift,' say leading leftists

'We want to become the majority'

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

If there was ever any doubt as to the true intentions of democratic socialists, then look no further than a sobering article in Salon written by two of the movement's most prominent leaders.

In their piece, which is an adaptation of a forthcoming book, writers Micah Uetricht and Meagan Day of Jacobin, a socialist publication, argue that Sen. Bernie Sanders is merely the first step in a broader strategy to push the United States to the far left.

Uetricht and Day posit that the Vermont democratic socialist's presidential campaign is the tip of the spear of what they describe as "a new socialist movement." The two make a case for manipulating "democratic structures and processes" to march the country toward full-scale socialism.

A new socialist movement is cohering in the US, thanks in large part to the popular class politics of Bernie Sanders. But as that movement grows and progresses, it is bound to run into dangerous obstacles and thorny contradictions. The new US socialist movement is without a single "line" or monolithic political position. That's a strength of the movement, since none of us has all the answers. Still, many people in the movement, ourselves included, feel strongly about certain approaches to strategy. One approach we feel strongly about is what we call "the democratic road to socialism," or the idea that we need to make good use of the democratic structures and processes available to us (and to improve and expand them) in order to advance our cause.

While the two note that the American system is inherently designed to work against their cause, to achieve "revolutionary change," Uetricht and Day call for eroding "the power of the capitalist class."

We can accomplish that by, for example, imposing capital controls—measures that stop the free movement of capital in response to changing social and economic conditions.

In other words, they call for systemic changes and a "fundamental transformation of the political economy," through a series of economic reforms that would bring the economy under their control and the control of their ideological allies. "To replace capitalism with socialism," an author the pair cites wrote, socialists must achieve the following two goals:

(a) socialists should fight to win a socialist universal suffrage electoral majority in government/parliament and (b) socialists must expect that serious anti-capitalist change will necessarily require extra-parliamentary mass action like a general strike and a revolution to defeat the inevitable sabotage and resistance of the ruling class."

The two also warn that the type of "revolution" they call for could result in bloodshed, though they do not openly call for violence. "To pull off a revolution in our circumstances," Uetricht and Day write, "that popular support would need to be mobilized both inside and outside of government."

Additionally, they caution that though they do not know "the precise sequence of events that will lead us to socialism," achieving "socialist governance" will require "both a mass movement of workers and the formal power to stop capitalists from undermining that movement as it engages in class struggle."

To get there, Uetricht and Day insist on winning elections. "[I]t's not enough for socialists to be a tiny minority in the House of Representatives, or run inspiring but failed campaigns for president, or hold only 10 percent of seats in a city council," they write. Adding, "We don't want simply to fight against some other political majority—we want to become the majority."

In other words, the two seem to caution fellow socialists to put intra-socialist debates aside and focus on winning the presidency. By electing Sanders to the White House, the duo imply their socialist movement will be in a much stronger position to then launch a much broader, full-scale assault on the American free market system and way of life.

One last thing…
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