Ed Hudgins

Bernie Sanders, Socialism, and the GOP

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Bernie Sanders, Socialism, and the GOP

By Edward Hudgins

July 19, 2015 -- It’s more than ironic that as socialist economies, led by Greece, collapse, Democrats in America are infatuated by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the presidential candidate who caucuses with the Democrats but is an avowed socialist. The starry eyes for this supreme statist reflect an ignorance about our own collapsing regime to say nothing of moral failings that Republicans—and everyone else—should take seriously.

Bernie Sanders: The anti-Hillary

Let’s start with the positive reason that Sanders is attracting large, enthusiastic crowds while would-be president Hillary Clinton has trouble filling venues. Sanders does not hide his socialist convictions. Hillary has backed many of the same policies. But she hems and haws about her basic principles, posing as a pragmatic progressive simply looking out for the middle class. Her campaign is managed and faked, from supposed “random” meetings with ordinary voters to her rare press interviews given only to sycophant pseudo-journalists. She is disingenuous, whether about Benghazi, erased emails, or Pacific trade. She just hopes voters will not care.

Attraction of authenticity

To understand Sanders’ appeal, consider that young voters in 2008 were enthusiastic about Barack Obama, seeing him as an idealist who would transcend politics as usual. While they still voted for him in 2012, they were disillusioned at his failures, many seeing him as just another politician.

Young people were the most enthusiastic supporters of libertarian Republican Rep. Ron Paul during the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Paul was an idealist and straight talker who didn’t spin his beliefs for the crowd de jour. And while Donald Trump doesn’t offer anything like a set of principles found in Paul or Sanders, part of his popularity is that he says what he thinks.

Young people are far more cynical about politics and the world than their elders, but they clearly thirst for authenticity and ideals, which is what Sanders seems to offer.

Socialism polls

But there is more to Sander’s popularity than a bad taste for Hillary.

A Pew survey found that 50% of Americans had a positive reaction to the word “capitalism” while 40% reacted negatively. But only 46% of young people under 29 years old had warm and fuzzys for the word while 47% found it cold and hard.

By contrast, 60% of the population responded negatively to the word “socialism” and only 31% positively. But that word only harshed the buzz of 43% of young people, while a full 49% got good vibrations. Worse, the word “progressive,” a preferred label for many who promote socialist policies, garnered a 67% positive response. Ouch!

Voters don’t simply pull the lever for labels. Indeed, the growth of independent voters, which includes 50% of those under 29, shows that both “Democrat” and “Republican” mean less and less. So what else is behind this benign view of socialism?

Democratic to dictatorial

Fundamentally, the current political battles reflect conflicting visions: government as protector of our individual liberty, leaving us free to live our lives as we will; or government as the benevolent parent that helps us helpless people directly.

Many Sanders supporters rightly see Hillary as the Queen of Corruption. She and her foundation with ex-prez hubby Bill suck in cash from big bailed-out bankers, politically-connected companies, and foreign governments, while denouncing Wall Street and posing as the enemies of privilege. Most of Sanders’ support comes from donations of $250 or less. Sanders’ socialism, which purports to put “the people” in charge, seems to many the alternative.

But Sanders’ supporters fail to understand that the crony corruption they loathe is a manifestation of our current system in which government helps people directly.

For the democratic form of socialism, political power is the coin of the realm. As government redistributes wealth, the punished producers either produce less wealth or play the political game, seeking special favors and handouts. The only way socialism can overcome the resulting war of all against all is to become anti-democratic and dictatorial. A strongman promises to “transcend politics,” to use his pen and his phone to govern arbitrarily without regard to law.

Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama become Il Duce.

The only alternative to cronyism and Big Brother: a system in which individuals live their own lives and pursue their own dreams, producing goods and services to trade with their fellows based on mutual consent, with government confined to protecting rights.

Will Republicans be able to overcome their own complicity in cronyism—and sometimes in Big Brother—and articulate this ideal? If they can’t or won’t, Sanders might lose but the only open question will be which future dystopia Americans will suffer in.


---

Hudgins is a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.

Explore:

*Edward Hudgins, “After the Elections: The GOP Civil War.” November 13, 2014.

*Edward Hudgins, editor, The Republican Party Civil War: Will Freedom Win? 2014.

*Edward Hudgins, “Obama's Grab-Bag Socialism.” April 4, 2009.

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Sanders made a remark some years ago that women got female cancers because they did not achieve orgasm enough. To me, that sounds like a yokel Okie congressman's remark. Or Bill Cosby's court testimony.

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. To me, that sounds like a yokel Okie congressman's remark.

Or, your post above?

Nice sourcing on the Sander's quote...oh wait, there was none.

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Saucing the goose, sourcing the gander Sander:

In a 1969 essay for the Freeman called "Cancer, Disease and Society," Sanders, then 28, contended that conformity caused cancer by breaking down the human spirit and inflicting emotional trauma. He quoted liberally from Reich's 1948 book, The Cancer Biopathy , which, he noted, was "very definite about the link between emotional and sexual health, and cancer,"

Then Sanders got to the point: "The above references, in no uncertain terms, state that you might very well be the cause of cancer." He continued:

What do you think it really means when 3 doctors, after intense study, write that 'of the 26 patients (who developed breast cancer) below 51 (years of age), one was sexually adjusted.' It means, very bluntly, that the manner in which you bring up your daughter with regard to sexual attitudes may very well determine whether or not she will develop breast cancer, among other things.

And there was more:

How much guilt, nervousness have you imbued in your daughter with regard to sex? If she is 16, 3 years beyond puberty and the time which nature set forth for childbearing, and spent a night out with her boyfriend, what is your reaction? Do you take her to a psychiatrist because she is "maladjusted," or a "prostitute," or are you happy that she has found someone with whom she can share love? Are you concerned about HER happiness, or about your "reputation" in the community.

With regard to the schools that you send your children to, are you concerned that many of these institutions serve no other function than to squash the life, joy and curiosity out of kids. When a doctor writes that the cancer personality "represses hate, anger, dissatisfaction and grudges, or on the other hand, is a 'good' person, who is consumed with self pity, suffers in stoic silence", do you know what he is talking about, and what this has to do with children, parents, and schools.

Theories about psychological causes of cancer were widespread in the mid-20th century, but never accepted within the scientific mainstream. According to the National Cancer Institute, psychological stress can have adverse health effects, but "the evidence that it can cause cancer is weak."

[...]

Some of his rants bordered on libertarian. He referred to water fluoridation, dairy regulations, and compulsory education as perhaps well-meaning infringements on individual choice that were contributing to the overall deterioration of the human condition. "It is obvious that in the name of 'public safety' the State is usurping the rights of free choice in many domains of life," he wrote in a 1969 essay entitled "Reflections on a Dying Society." Such regulations had a depressing effect on the soul, Sanders contended, citing a condition Freud referred to as the global "death instinct."

His assessment of late-stage capitalism and American politics was grim. In another 1969 piece, he summed up modern life: "The years come and go, the suicide, nervous breakdown, cancer, sexual deadness, heart attack, alcoholism, sensibility at 50. Slow, death, fast, death. DEATH."

Edited by william.scherk

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You can work off the idea of stress being a catalyst for some cancers in some people, especially occupation stress. That you cause your own cancer is delimited in a way not supporting the proposition. For instance, smoking, chewing tobacco, diet and drinking hard liquor--these are out of this discussion loop. "Weak evidence" for psychosomatic causes of cancer? No evidence yet seems a stronger and more likely supposition to start with.

--Brant

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Some of his rants bordered on libertarian. He referred to water fluoridation, dairy regulations, and compulsory education as perhaps well-meaning infringements on individual choice that were contributing to the overall deterioration of the human condition.

Are you making a connection between being a libertarian and these positions?

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You can work off the idea of stress being a catalyst for some cancers in some people, especially occupation stress. That you cause your own cancer is delimited in a way not supporting the proposition. For instance, smoking, chewing tobacco, diet and drinking hard liquor--these are out of this discussion loop. "Weak evidence" for psychosomatic causes of cancer? No evidence yet seems a stronger and more likely supposition to start with.

I was surprised to see he had a soft-spot for some of the crackpottery of Wilhelm Reich. The Orgone Theory. I tried to hunt down Peter's remembered (or misremembered) instance of lack-of-orgasms-leads-to-female-cancer. This MJ story may not be the source of his remembrance, of course.

I tend to agree with you that arguments asserting psychological roots of cancer are specious. That doesn't stop the con-men from offering a million ways to fleece worried-well people with nostrums and bullshit ... I myself do not have a grand unified theory of cancer, however. No evidence is the rational take, to my eyes.

(I do have a fascination with Reich, though. I had his collected letters for a time. They were sad and indicative of once-great(ish) pioneer having gone down the lonely road of self-delusion. His end was tragic and unnecessary, to my eyes.)

Some of his rants bordered on libertarian. He referred to water fluoridation, dairy regulations, and compulsory education as perhaps well-meaning infringements on individual choice that were contributing to the overall deterioration of the human condition.

Are you making a connection between being a libertarian and these positions?

My name is not Mother Jones ...

More seriously, no. His young rants seem wholly idiosyncratic, a hodge-podge of progressive-ish non sequiturs and conspiratorial mouthwash.

You?

(are there libertarian arguments specifically against water fluoridation or dairy regulations? I mean as a particularly nasty thing besides simply being in a category of Things Government Should Never Do?)

I had no particular or interesting opinion about Sanders. Many young-ish radical-ish folks can believe odd things, and sometimes they write about them.

[Full-text (PDF) of the Sanders cancer article here]

Edited by william.scherk

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Bernie Sanders Says Trump Won Because Democrats Are Out Of Touch

"Look, you can't simply go around to wealthy people's homes raising money and expect to win elections," the Vermont senator said.

Bernie would rather have the government go to wealthy people's homes and demand money, using guns if needed, in order to redistribute it. In other words, he has the mind of a thug, but wants somebody else to be the thug(s).

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On 1/29/2016 at 8:21 AM, merjet said:
 
by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal
The link might not show the full article. But if you search for the title with Google, you can probably find the full article.

Yeah, right. Second life my ass. Zombie socialism.

Google does work on this.

Let's worry about fascism.

--Brant

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Wilhelm Reich resource ...

On 7/20/2015 at 10:18 AM, william.scherk said:

Saucing the goose, sourcing the gander Sander:

 

Mother Jones said:

In a 1969 essay for the Freeman called "Cancer, Disease and Society," Sanders, then 28, contended that conformity caused cancer by breaking down the human spirit and inflicting emotional trauma. He quoted liberally from Reich's 1948 book, The Cancer Biopathy , which, he noted, was "very definite about the link between emotional and sexual health, and cancer,"

Just found a useful site -- with an old-fashioned HTML look -- by a guy called Roger M Wilcox: A Skeptical Scrutiny of the Works and Theories of Wilhelm Reich.  I read a few years back (and promptly lost) a book called Fury on Earth, a biography of Reich containing his own notes and letters and diary/workbook entries. You can see the point of view of Reich when he had his dealings with Einstein.

Wilcox's work on Reich has a good critical overview of Reich's (and the younger Sanders') notion of 'cancer biopathy' ... http://www.rogermwilcox.com/Reich/cancer.html

 

 

Edited by william.scherk
Added link to the Amazon page for the Fury biography

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