To the Hillary Supporters

Marxists expressed that sometimes members of the ruling class — or the bourgeoise in his words —  will speak the rhetoric of the socialist leadership, show empathy for the plight of the proletariat and will even say that they are compelled to join the rank-and-file of a socialist uprising; but, historically speaking, when the shit gets real, when the real threat of danger seems to close to home or upon the realization that the socialist ideology aims to dismantle their power, the weak-minded and heartless bourgeoise abandon the working class and retreat back to the protection of money and power.  This person — in Marx’s language —  is the petty bourgeoise and they are not to be trusted.  This is Hillary Clinton.

The fact that the Democratic establishments top candidate is a former board-member of the single largest exploiter of the working-class in the United States (Walmart), is emblematic of why the democratic party happens to be at an all-time membership low (29%).  You can only smile to the cameras and equivocate about equality and justice — as you simultaneously make tacit compromises with corporate America —  for only so long before everybody stands up and screams “enough is enough”.  This is, in the truest sense, a fucking scam.

The Hillary supporters who toss the inflammatory language of fascism towards the populist republican front-runner are, as they say, grossly overplaying their hand.  The populist uprising of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in concert with the depleting democratic base is of no coincidence. I do not condone the explicit xenophobic underpinnings of Trump’s policy position, but it would be foolish not to note that the definition of fascism, as inscribed by the father of fascism (Giovanni Gentile), is the merger and concentration of corporate and state power for the sole purpose of  elevating the power of the state.  Fascism, like Hillary, promotes pragmatism, action as a tacit implication of progress, dismisses principles for obstinate political expediency and believes ardent idealism reflects a dangerous disconnection from reality and is, subsequently, politically irrelevant for creating progress.  The unapologetic championing of American capitalism is, in essence, an empirically verifiable version of nationalism and exploiting a political monopoly to create concentrated corporate and political power is to implicitly champion an elusive and modern revision of fascism — creating nationalistic bonds from currency rather than identity.  You may find it unfair and disingenuous for me to make such radical accusations — and to make sure we are on the same page, yes I am calling Hillary Clinton a fucking fascist — but, maybe when Hannah Arendt said that in the shadow of the totalitarian states of the past, the totalitarian states of the future will wear the mask of the opposition, maybe she was right and maybe this is that.  Maybe a democrat flinging the charges of fascism at Donald Trump is the kettle calling the pot black.  And maybe the explicit racism of mass deportation and the implicit racism of Hillary’s “debt free college pact” are two sides of the same coin.

The political revolution Bernie Sanders is advocating is not of the hollow political slogan, nor of the dance dance variety.  This is not a catch phrase or an empty promise. For a revolution to be successful — so says Karl Kautsky, the social revolution theorist — it must rise from the bottom with unrelenting persistence and popular critical mass.  For the Hillary supporters that rolls their eyes at the idealistic Sanders agenda and say, if Obamacare barely passed, how will he ever pass single-pay healthcare, I respond in-kind and say a revolution is not enacted by filling in a bubble and dropping it in a secret box.  A revolution will not be won in a single election with a single candidate in November.  A revolution is taking responsibility for the fate of our democracy and disempowering the cowardly petty bourgeoise that refuse to honor the will of the people.  If it is improbable for Bernie Sanders’ idealistic agenda to succeed under the current conditions of reality, then DO NOT question the idealistic agenda, rather, question the conditions of reality and, a fortiori, fucking change them— this is your freedom and this is your battle!  Otherwise, the day you stop fighting for your own freedom precedes the day you acquiesce to the bondage of the path of least resistance.

Karl Kautsky also expressed that sometimes members of the working class — or the proletariate in Marxist vernacular — will find it very easy and comforting to throw their support behind a petty bourgeoise — like Hillary Clinton — that pays sympathetic lip service to their plight.  They will say repeatedly that they agree with the sentiment of the proletariat leader — like Bernie Sanders —  but believe supporting the revolution is a risky proposition that will most likely shift power into the hands of the bourgeoise (republicans).  The people who are unwilling to fight, unwilling to join the revolution and unwilling to radically assert that their freedom and democracy are worth fighting for and taking risks for, are — in Marxist language — the lumpenproletariat.  When revolutions are lost, when totalitarianism rises above all else, when fascism exercises it’s will to power and when capitalism takes precedents over justice, equality, democracy and freedom; it is not because the revolution lacked merit or efficacy, or because the proletariat lacked electability or sensibility, or because it is a reasonable argument to assume an oligarch will eschew power just because they said they would; but, rather, it is because the revolution lacked an unrelenting persistent critical mass.  It is because the cowardly and waffling lumpenproletariat is unwilling to fight for their own freedom and would rather be on the wining team than actually win.

Is it feasible that a vote for Sanders in the primary will curtail the democrats chance for beating Donald Trump?  Perhaps, but so what.  Is there virtue in choosing one brand of fascism over another because they have a pleasant proclivity towards platitudes?  No.  If November becomes Trump versus Clinton and I abstain from voting by refusing to accept a lose-lose or the- (slightly)-lesser-of-two-evils as an acceptable compromise and this manifests into a Trump victory I will not apologize.  I will not now, nor ever, bow my head in shame for voting with my conscience.  I will not now, nor ever, stop fighting for the ideals I believe in.  Or, to quote the socialist philosopher Christopher Hedges, “[r]esistance is not about what we achieve, but it is about what it allows us to become.  In the end, I do not fight fascists because I will win.  I fight fascist because they are fascists.”   I will now, and always, vote with both my heart and my mind; because to vote otherwise is to incredulously and despondently dance on the graves of every man, woman and child whom believed in the exigency and necessity— to which Emmeline Pankhurst eloquently spoke — “[to] put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death”.

The lumpenproletariat qua Hillary supporters espouse that the progressive politics of FDR were only possible in the wake up the disaster of 1929 and I respond to this meaningless historical speculation in agreement.  However, isn’t the lesson of the great depression that we shouldn’t sit on our complacent hands and await disaster as a catalyst to respond meaningfully?  Shall we continue to provide evidence to validate the profound statement Hegel spoke from his death bed, “ [that] the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history”?  But, maybe I am overtly and naively idealistic.  Maybe we will never learn from history.  Maybe we will not recognize that it is possible to willingly and democratically bond ourselves to slavery; and, more importantly, realize that the key to our own salvation is clutched in our fist awaiting to be actualized and asserted.  But, if disaster is what it takes to wake the lumpenproletariat from their peaceful slumber, then I rather bring about the bombastic and quick-to-the-point disaster of Donald Trump, over the slow incremental disaster of Hillary Clinton. Or, in other words, I rather drop America in boiling water and watch the fervor of a radical awakening, than set the stove to simmer and watch our democracy decay like a train-wreck in slow motion.

I hear all your arguments to the contrary: the super delegates, the black vote, a Trump judicial nomination, the reductionism to economics and so on.  And, if yelling excuses in the wind helps you sleep better at night, then I apologize for audaciously assuming that I can disrupt your sleep.  Does a Clinton victory over Trump rationalize your cowardliness?  Because you know, as Madeline Albright reminds us, there are “special places in hell” and, as Jean Paul Sartre reminds us, there is a special place reserved for the coward.  Was that too harsh?  Did I hurt your feelings?  Should I temper my tone with political-double-speak and tell you exactly what you want to hear and then hobnob with my campaign financiers at your expense?  It is, you know, quite common for the oppressed to mimic the actions of the oppressor and assume it’s the path to liberation.

Of course, if you meticulously and objectively read all of Hillary’s policy positions and after comparing them to Sanders, Trump and Cruz you decide with both your heart and mind that Hillary is the best possible candidate — then vote for her.  If you think her vision for America is the America you want and you think the path she has spelled out in detail on her website is the best possible path — then vote for her.  As long as you do not use phrases like, I agree with Sanders on every issue, but….  as this is code for, my freely acted will prefers candidate X, but instead of actualizing my freedom I am going to hand over this decision to a handful of aristocrats and ideologues; this way I am not burden with the responsibility of having to make a free choice and if this Hillary thing completely backfires I can at least take solace in knowing my poor choice was the poor choice of the majority. 

Perhaps I have been too abstract, so let me speak more concretely, if Clinton’s policies have a higher probability of being passed in our current political climate, this does not mean they are better ideas, but, rather, it simply means her policies are (neo)liberal and conservative enough to make a donkey, an elephant and a bull all salivate in unison.  This is not a sign of progress nor leadership.  In one of the democratic primary debates Hillary criticized Sanders twice in the same debate for first being too dogmatically adherent to his ideals and secondly, for being too quick to compromise his ideals. That may seem obviously contradicting, but Clinton’s confusion is understandable and I am hoping she reads this article and gains some insight and on how she missed this seemingly obvious contradiction.  This is not an error of memory or logic, but rather a fundamental misconception on the concept of leadership and what it looks like in practice.  The most successful leaders in both the public and private sphere are, generally speaking, the unrelenting visionaries who understand that it is foolish to walk while fixated on the stars above, as you may trip and fall; but, it is also foolish to walk while fixated on only the grounding of your next step, as you’re likely to stray from the stars that guide you.  A leader needs to be both an optimist and a pessimist, an idealist and a realist, a speaker and a listener.  Hillary inadvertently accused Sanders of being both an uncompromising principled visionary and a compromising and pragmatic legislator and clearly neglected to realize that these seemingly contradicting qualities are actually what true leadership looks like.  Put simply, a leader has to find balance between seeing the trees within the forest, and the forest among the trees — this is no easy feat and so rarely exhibited in American politics that it’s understandable that Clinton can no longer recognize it.   All the meanwhile, Hillary has spent her career lost in a forest gravitating towards whatever tree the polls dictate and assumes that her ability to incrementally wander from tree to tree  — qua pragmatism — is a substitute for having the ability to see the forest as it is and the foresight to imagine what it can become.  How often did you hear Sanders say in the debate, “I agree with secretary Clinton” and how often did he concede to her on certain positions and how often did he defend her integrity?   Leadership is about admitting your faults, weaknesses and shortcomings.  Leadership is about building trust through humility and honesty.  Leadership is about finding harmony between the Machiavellian false dichotomy of being both feared and loved, or in Teddy Roosevelt talk, speak softly and carry a big stick.

It is for these reasons, and many others, that come June 7th 2016 I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the California democratic primary regardless of the results of the preceding primaries and caucuses and then, again, I will cast my vote for him in November.  I believe liberals, progressives, democrats and independents can all gather behind Bernie Sanders, as a leader who wants to inspire all of us to stand up and fight against the powers that be —  empowering us to take back our democracy from the hands of corporate demagogues. I know that this article is harsh, and perhaps even insulting, but I assure you it comes from a place of love and passion, and it is my hope that it is a shared love for the ideals and virtues that hopefully get us closer to the shared vision of a more perfect union.

Find out how to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary election for your state by clicking here.

Did this post make you less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton?   yes or no

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7 thoughts on “To the Hillary Supporters

  1. This is not for the sake of being nit-picky, but I believe it is important for the clarity of your writing. You have misused both “petty bourgeois” and “lumpenproletariat.” The petty bourgeoisie are not defined by their betrayal of the working class, although they very well may do so. They are defined by their relation to the means of production, like all classes. They are the owners of small amounts of capital, usually small shopkeepers, craftsmen, professionals. Marx often talked about how they vacillate between the big bourgeoisie and the working-class as their material conditions change, and how most of them are under constant threat of being made into proletarians when they are unable to compete with those who have more capital and more efficient means of production.
    Hillary Clinton is not petty bourgeois in her social position or politics. She is a political functionary who shares an ideology with the big bourgeoisie and is seeking to be the leader of one of their political parties.
    The lumpenproletariat are not defined by their willingness or unwillingness to fight for their freedom. Historically many people from the lumpenproletariat have shown a great willingness to fight, both for the working class or for fascism. They are defined however, by their relationship to the means of production. They are “de-classed” workers. People who have been driven down so far that they are no longer able or willing to perform wage labor. They are petty thieves, beggars, etc.
    And I would venture that the lumpenproletariat are hardly supporting Clinton, or Sanders for that matter. They tend to be the least politically involved of any group. Many unable to vote due to laws that disenfranchise convicted felons, and many more are just not interested in politics.

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    1. Kevin,

      I wrote this piece for rhetorical effect and was not intended to be a summary of Karl Marx’s work. However, after publishing this I realized I probably should temper some of the language, as to not misrepresent Marx and your comment reminding me that I need to do this. However, the tempering is simply changing the opening from “Karl Marx” to “Marxists”, because Marxist social philosophers have interpreted these terms as such. Karl Marx does only speak to their economic profile — in relation to means to production as you wrote — but Karl Kautsky speaks about their social profile and their attitude and disposition in the conditions of a social revolution.

      Yes the lumpenproletariat are disenfranchised and the ones ripe to follow a fascist dictator, and in the American electorate I think its fair to argue that the independents who have become disenfranchised through the corruption of the two party system could fall into this category. Not exclusively, as many lumpenproletariats may have never voted or never been active in politics or given two shits. The lumpenproletariats, if they are going to fight for a revolution may fight as purely an opportunist, but this is not necessarily their only path. As Kautsky states, the lumpenproletariat during a bid for a social revolution have a higher likelihood of pushing their loyalty to the bourgeoises who speaks empathically to the terms and conditions of what which disenfranchised them and Kautsky calls this leader who tries show a disconnect from their bourgeoise influence a petty bourgeoises. Kautsky never really speaks to any conditions like we have in our current electoral process, so I took some interpretable liberty in this regard. I think the Trump versus Sanders speaks better to the conditions Kautsky spoke of, as Trump’s anti-esablihsment has more of an appeal to the disenfranchised lumpenproletariat.

      I appreciate your comment and would like to your thoughts on the lumpenproletariat in a social revolution with Trump/Sanders…as it seems, when the lumpenproletariat get active in politics it is normally because the material conditions or social pressures have been overbearing and this is when the bid for a social revolution or a fascist uprising gains efficacy.

      -ns

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      1. Marxists, and non-Marxists for that matter, have made all manner of observations about the behavior of different social classes. But it is not their behavior that defines them. We know that large sections of the lumpenproletariat are likely to join up with fascist street gangs. But so may a few better-paid , skilled workers. That does not make the skilled worker a lumpenproletarian.
        Or more simply, we know that a bear shits in the woods, but it is not the act of shitting in the woods that makes him a bear.
        As for the political role of the lumpenproletariat in the US today:
        We know that some segments of the lumpen coalesce around fascist and racist hate groups. These groups have been quite vocal in their support of Trump. And historically the only role the lumpenproletariat has played is either that of the fascists shock troops or one of individual crime or a completely passive role. But they don’t really play any independent political role. They either follow the fascists or the follow the working-class.
        I think the far more important questions in this election are:
        1) How are the better off layers of the working class responding? We know that the union bureaucracy is supporting Clinton for the most part. But how are union members, and other better paid workers engaging with the election?
        2) Is Sanders campaign energizing the lowest paid workers to engage in politics? Fight for $15, OUR Walmart, the Domestcic Workers Alliance and other groups have shown that there is an increase in activism by low wage workers. Does that translate to politics? And how will they, and their allies and leaders, respond to the inevitable disappointment that comes when they realize that no matter who wins, they are not able to simply legislate their exploitation away?
        3) How do we engage with the workers who are supporting Trump as a result of their anger at a declining standard of living?

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      2. Kevin,

        These are all very important questions and interesting ones, which I do not have answers to. In regard to question 3, I built a cloned parody website of Donald Trump’s site and I re-wrote his policy positions as if he was very matter-of-fact about wanting to turn America into a fascist regime. In my satirical writing on that page I tried to give it enough evidence of his fascist underpinnings to appeal to the choir — the left — and enough hyperbole and ambiguity to get attacked by the Trump supporters from the right. I did this, in hopes, that forcing both sides to the table I could get people to engage in the comments and talk about the future of our country… However, I am finding about 80% (from both sides) are responding from a position of hate and anger, about 15% showcase some decorum but argue from assumptions and stereotypes of “fascism”, “liberal” “marxist” etc… And, about 5% have been willing to engage in debate that is respectful and hopeful (but not necessarily fruitful). I am painting broad strokes, as I have received over 1k comments in a week and I don’t have the time to read all of them by any means. The lack of critical thinking skills in our political discourse — exempliefied in the GOP debates — I think is evidence enough that to ‘make america great’ requires some huge emphasis into education (inclusive of liberal arts and critical thinking) (as Sanders explicitly stated on the Senate floor in his critique of the Obama’s education policy) — rolling my eyes, as Stephen Hawkings declares to the Google folks that ‘philosophy is dead’….

        p

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  2. I’ll have to check out your parody site and the comments on it. It is not surprising that anger and hate are predominant. Most Americans have a lot to be angry about, and Trump actively stokes that anger. None of the political leaders or pundits attempt to direct people’s anger into actually productive political action, they merely point it at their opponents. And because the political development of most Americans is pretty low, many people’s inability to understand their opponents leads to frustration and name calling. One of the predominant themes of left-liberals over the last 15 years is that Republicans and the voters who support them must just be stupid. Which misreads the situation entirely, and also completely alienates a whole lot of people.
    Also not surprised that people have pretty vague and wrong ideas about what socialism, fascism, etc are. Both terms have been overused and misused so much that they have little meaning for those not well schooled in the history of both.
    While expanding education, including liberal arts education, is certainly a good thing, I don’t think it hold much of the answer for moving forward politically. Education is anything but politically neutral and it is almost always driven by the needs of the ruling class. Even the left-wing, so-called Marxist professors, of whom there are much fewer than before, effectively stripped Marxism of it’s vitality and it’s connection to workers and took the fight out of the streets and factories and replaced it with academic navel gazing.
    It is the experiences of people in their lives and jobs, combined with an example of how to build community and mass movement to fight and win that will allow people to become politically more sophisticated.

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    1. Kevin

      I had a long phone calls with one of my old friends / trump supporter last night. And he protests that people only vote for sanders/Clinton because of the promises of “free things” while, conversely, he votes for trump on principle or moral obligation. Whereas I can say the reverse, that trump only says what he says — inclusive of the anti political correctness — to pander to the anger of this alienated and frustrated working class. In reality we are both right and both wrong. Some people vote based on self interest, some vote on principle and some are easily moved by charisma of a powerful leader.

      Although personally it’s hard to argue that Sanders is pandering if he’s been making the same arguments for decades, even when his view was not popular.

      But I agree that the left’s portrayal of the right as stupid is a gross oversight and it only serves as counterproductive to progress. For the core differences, once you strip away the propaganda and ideology, are in their philosophical assumptions — or, Weltanschauung. And it is sometimes hard for people to get down to seeing their politics at this level, although it’s sometimes easier to discuss them when they do.

      On the education issue, you’re right that it is the victors of society that skew our education, and this will, with varying degrees, always be the case. However, I agree with John Dewey on the notion that democracy is dependent on education and not just any education. Rote knowledge and “teaching to the test” only objectifies knowledge and tries to substitute “understanding” for memorization. So although I don’t think education can ever be perfect, I certainly think we can improve it and our democracy.

      The parody site is http://www.makeamericafascistagain.com and the comments — to which I spoke — are not in WordPress but on the Facebook page for my blog titled “nothing’s sacred” Facebook group.

      However, if you were gonna read more of what I have written I’d much rather get your thoughts on a piece I did on the efficacy of education reform.
      https://sacredless.com/2016/01/14/on-the-efficacy-of-education-reform/

      Alas, I appreciate the comments and dialogue.

      Regards
      P

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