corbyn and bernie sanders
© Getty Images / Christopher Furlong; Getty Images / Bill Pugliano
Med Keir Starmer som erstatning for Jeremy Corbyn som leder af det britisk Labourparti, og Bernie Sanders, der suspenderede sin kampagne i USA, er bølgen af ​​demokratisk socialisme, der syntes at kunne omforme både USA og UK, aftaget.

Der er fire hovedårsager til det: grænserne for hvordan sådanne bevægelser kan udvide deres base , timing og begivenheder, ideologisk ufleksibilitet i lyset af kritik, og forsøg på at bevæbne den politisk korrekte dentitetspolitik sammen med deres mere mainstream-kolleger, som i offentligheden øje blev undergravet af modsigelser som skandalen omkring antisemitisme i Britisk Labourparti og den modbydelige opførsel af hos nogle af 'Bernie's Brødre' i USA.

I slutningen af ​​2019 var Storbritanniens oppositionsparti Labour, ledet af en selvidentificeret demokratisk socialist, på niveau med regeringen i valgmålingerne. Et par måneder senere i USA syntes en selvidentificeret demokratisk socialist, der førte en inderlig, velfinansieret og velorganiseret græsrodsbevægelse at være klar til at fange den demokratiske nominering til præsident og presterede godt i hypotetiske match-ups i Nøgletilstander mod de etablerede. Et øjeblik så det ud til, at både USA og UK måske blev transformeret af socialistisk-påvirkede administrationer.

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Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the UK Labour Party in September 2015. He supported a higher rate of income tax for the wealthiest in society, advocated for re-nationalisation of public utilities and the railways, a less interventionist military policy, and reversals of austerity cuts to welfare and public services. In education, he put forward a policy to scrap all tuition fees.

When asked if he regarded himself as a Marxist, Corbyn responded by saying: "That is a very interesting question actually... I haven't really read as much of Marx as we should have done." Similarly, defending John McDonnell's statement that there is "a lot to learn" from Karl Marx's book Das Kapital, Corbyn described Marx as a "great economist."

In the 2017 general election, Labour increased its share of the vote. The result was so impressive that it forced the Conservatives to form a minority government. As late as August of 2019, Labour was running about even with the Conservatives in the polls. In October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an election, to be held just before Christmas. Labour received its lowest number of seats since 1935. The result led to Corbyn's announcement that he would stand down as Labour leader. Now, with Keir Starmer's election as leader, the party is set to return to the center.

In the US, former Vice President Joe Biden was the nominal front-runner for the Democratic nomination for all of 2019. A string of average debate performances, the entry of Mike Bloomberg into the race, the division of the center lane as the party cast around for an ideal candidate, all combined to allow the democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, already well financed and well organised, to emerge as the frontrunner, seemingly poised with irresistible momentum, after early victories, to gain a huge haul of delegates on Super Tuesday. As late as 24 hours before that major string of contests, he was leading in delegate-rich states, and seemed about to rack-up something close to an insurmountable lead. A last-minute coalescing of the establishment around Biden turned the tables, with Biden now the presumptive nominee. The democratic socialist, having pushed centrist Hillary Clinton hard in 2016, and having reached the same limits of coalition-building as then, dropped out last night.


Comment: To be fair to Bernie Sanders, in 2016 he would have been the Democratic nominee if not for the Clinton machinations and strong-arming of the DNC to force Bernie to stand down. A big reason why Donald Trump was elected is because people who would have voted for Bernie, voted for Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton. So there's more going on here. It's the DC power brokers who rejected Bernie's ideas more than the people of the US.


Either Corbyn or Sanders winning power would have been socially transformational; especially in the UK, where the government is not burdened by the Senate filibuster. Either major economic powerhouse may have had the government take charge of the means of production, in some approximation of a command economy. The US would have seen an attempt at a multi-trillion-dollar reshaping of the healthcare system - one sixth of the economy - to the eradication of all private healthcare. Both would have seen a once-in-several-generations redistribution of wealth.

They failed for several reasons. The first is that, with Sanders vs Biden being, in many ways, Sanders vs Clinton redux, we are seeing again the limits of movement politics, the extent of expansion, the pre-eminence of the establishment, and the ability of the establishment to move with facility and cohesion to supervene at critical junctures.


Comment: Those limits exist primarily within the Deep State. All indications are that a large majority of Americans support democratic socialist policies. But the establishment has the media in their pockets, so its ability to defeat Bernie is less about "facility and cohesion" than in being able to manipulate the American electoral system.


Secondly, ideological obstinacy is a double-edged sword. As leaders of pure ideological movements, the likes of Corbyn and Sanders often have a blind spot where they confuse inflexibility with authenticity. In Sanders' case, this manifested itself as an inability to recognise any danger in failing to qualify his praise of aspects of the Castro regime, at a critical time when vast numbers of observers and voters were becoming increasingly anxious about Sanders' rise. Thirdly, such movements are vulnerable to, and not particularly agile at, adapting to major events: in Corbyn's case, Brexit became a complicating and overshadowing saga, which he responded to in an ambivalent way. When it became the dominant issue, requiring an emphatic response, movement politics became a secondary priority to the public.

In Sanders' case, ideological purity became secondary to the chief consideration registered by Democratic voters in polls: the need to defeat Donald Trump. Lastly, these progressive movements have hypocritical contradictions: an undertow of anti-Semitism in the UK Labour Party, the occasional misogynistic tendencies of some of the 'Bernie-Bros,' combined with 'woke' identity politics that can, and have attempted to, vindictively suppress opposing views through 'cancel-culture.'


Comment: Anti-semitism in the UK Labour Party was an idea thought up and manifested by Corbyn's enemies. A similar situation occurred with the so-called Bernie Bros. If you want a movement demonized, just use provocateurs to infiltrate and then espouse extreme views to tar and feather the whole group.


The vast numbers who follow Bernie Sanders will not disappear; but Sanders has been a singular figure: unerring in his message, and amassing support over decades. There is no obvious successor. The UK Labour Party, languishing under Corbyn, and alienating its working-class base with identity politics, will not be returning to the far-left for the foreseeable future. The notion of a Transatlantic ascendancy of democratic socialism, radically reshaping the US and the UK, seemed a realistic proposition for a whole year. That high tide has now receded.
Nicholas Sheppard is a journalist, opinion-editorialist, who has written for Politico, The Federalist, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, and authored the novel Broken Play.