By Ingar Solty, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung
It was obvious that this was going to happen, but it is emotionally devastating nonetheless. I am heartbroken.
The defeat of Corbyn and the defeat of Sanders end an era.
This does not mean that, in very specific countries with first-past-the-post electoral systems, historically defeated working classes and eroded professional-managerial „middle classes“, the strategy of taking over bourgeois/centre-left mass parties from the socialist left and using them as a rostrum to help rebuild the working class in those countries from above was wrong. It was the only option. In fact, this option is not over. It’s only over for now and only over with its key figures in this particular historic moment.
I thank Bernie Sanders for everything he has done for the working class, for social justice, racial equality, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, ecological sustainability, climate justice, peace and the vision of a fully democratized, socialist society.
After six decades of unwaivering and principled struggle, Bernie Sanders is and will remain a heroic figure in the history of international socialism. His legacy will have been like the one that Bertolt Brecht ascribed to Marx and Engels, namely how, after 1848, they kept the idea of revolution alive even though capitalism was experiencing another two and a half decades of prosperity.
It will be similar also to that which has been ascribed to the Frankfurt School, namely functioning as a „message in a bottle“ which allowed Marx to survive during two decades of West German post-fascism, i.e. a society in which the historically strongest labor movement in the world had just been killed off by German fascism and the Golden Age of Capitalism created the illusion of a non-capitalist industrial and „levelled middle class society.“
Bernie Sanders has been defeated, yes. But Sanderism has not. Sanders‘ message in a bottle was to teach millions of workers and young people in the US the fundamental difference between progressive neoliberalism and socialism. Sanders was socialism’s fountain of youth in the United States and, given the U.S.’s nature as an empire, also worldwide. And in the U.S. millions of new Sanders’s, starting with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and all the other new socialists in and outside of Congress, are lurking in the wings to pick up where he left off.
No one ever said it was gonna be easy.
Nobody said rebuilding the working class was going to be done in a couple of years.
Think about the long trajectory. Think about where socialism and left theory and practice in the core capitalist countries were three or even two decades ago and where they are now.
We’re in this for the long haul.
It’s not over yet.
Not by a long shot.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons