The Prophet Farmed: Murray Bookchin on Bernie Sanders

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by Andrew Stewart
August 24, 2015

I want to talk to you about a socialist from Vermont. Born in New York, he was active in the anti-Vietnam and civil rights movements in the 1960’s before moving to the town of Burlington, where he spent the next several decades creating a new set of socio-political ideas that combined the basic outlines of old European socialist ideology with the harsh realities of modern industrial capitalism, as well as a powerful critique of the ecological havoc wrought by the global hegemony of greenhouse gas pollution.

But wait! If you thought this was the beginning of a stump speech for Senator Bernie Sanders, you are dead wrong. In fact I am referring to the late Murray Bookchin, a man who, in many ways, was the striking opposite of what Bernie Sanders is in every way. Bookchin was a scholar, activist, and writer whose polemics against capitalism but also cultish politicking on the far left and opportunism by people like Bernie Sanders make for great reading nine years after the man died in 2006. Having recently read the rather apologetic work by Patrick Walker and Paul Street’s discussion of the correspondence he is getting in response to his criticism of Sanders, I think it is time for someone to shake the Sandernistas out of their mass-delusion and tell them to wake up.

I have a sense of respect for those who support Sanders in his quest for the Democratic Party nomination. Or rather, I did. What has made me change my mind is the reaction of Sanders supporters to the direct action techniques of #BlackLivesMatter protestors in recent weeks, which seemed to gravitate between condescending and racist to religiously fanatical and racist. “Don’t these people realize Bernie is the best thing going for them in this campaign?” “Don’t they know that Bernie marched with Martin Luther King Jr.?” In my own praxis, I have a very simple rule: if someone is not going to do any real harm, I let them stick to their beliefs. It is not my place as a reporter to break the news story about how there is no Santa Claus because that would only hurt those who believe in Santa, individuals who have no capacity to cause serious damage to others.

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