Global Independent Analytics
Danny Haiphong
Danny Haiphong

Location: USA

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

No, Bernie Sanders Cannot “Save Capitalism”

US capitalism has made up for the loss of profits by forcing US workers to work longer, faster, and for less pay.

Max Schindler argued for GIAnalytics that Bernie Sanders’ proposals make sense from a capitalist, free-market perspective. He labels Sanders' politics more closely aligned with a "New Deal" reformist orientation than a revolutionary, socialist one. But this analysis is limited. One cannot focus only on Sanders’ politics and the US bubble while ignoring the concrete conditions of global capitalism. We are facing a global stagnation and therefore a need for deadly wars.  The means of production are more concentrated today in the hands of finance capital than at any other point in the historical development of capitalism. When V.I. Lenin spoke of imperialism, he referred to the beginning stages of finance capital wrestling control over capitalist production from industrial capital. This necessitated a competitive war between capitalist countries over colonial possessions. 

Capitalism is at a different stage of development than when Lenin wrote about imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism. When US capital became the driving force of global imperialism, it was able to utilize the wealth stripped from the former colonial possessions of Europe to subsidize social welfare benefits to a portion of its working class. But this is no longer the case. The global downsizing of US capitalism and the decline in wages experienced by US workers must be analyzed objectively. Liberals often speak about the last thirty years of capitalist development as a "right-wing" backlash but completely leave out the objective conditions driving the system's race to the bottom.

In the 1980's and 1990's, US capitalism violently expanded as the socialist bloc weakened. This expansion consolidated and rapidly accumulated profits for US firms. However, growth also carried the seeds of stagnation and crisis. US capitalist production was becoming more costly as technological advances began to permanently replace capitalism's primary source of profit: labor. Europe recovered from post-WWII devastation to compete with and emulate this phenomenon. China and soon Russia after suffering from post-Soviet shock therapy emerged onto the world scene to provide a viable alternative to unipolar, US capitalist domination. These developments have caused a general slowdown in production and placed the rate of profit into a free fall.

US capitalism has made up for the loss of profits by forcing US workers to work longer, faster, and for less pay. This has also been a worldwide development wherever capitalism exists. Austerity and privatization have been instituted on a global scale as nothing more than a temporary measure to subsidize profits and fuel capitalist expansion. But eventually, these measures lead to a capitalist crisis as well. Technological advances under capitalism mean fewer workers and thus less profit over time. This also means increased poverty and a larger reserve army of unemployed that is incapable of absorbing the flood of commodities brought on by higher productivity, i.e., the very definition of capitalist crisis.

Bernie Sanders cannot "save capitalism" because capitalism cannot be saved. The social welfare systems of the West cannot be applied to the US at this stage of capitalism. Capitalism's lust for profit compels it to place social welfare in corporate hands. If it did the opposite and funded social welfare, the schemes that currently subsidize profits would be exposed for the frauds that they are. Capitalist competition is thus secondary to the extraction of surplus value from labor in this period of monopoly capitalist crisis. It is high time to release our hopes in saving capitalism and place them into the struggle for a new socialist system altogether.

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