Berned Out: Why we socialists don’t support Bernie Sanders for President



Despite the fact that the Democratic Party is, along with the Republican Party, one of the twin pillars of U.S. imperialism, much of the U.S. left is looking for ways to accommodate—if not support—Bernie Sanders’ campaign to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States.[1] Some of these groups support liberal Democrats like Sanders as a matter of policy.[2] Others need a special candidate to campaign for.[3] In Bernie Sanders, many would-be left and socialist organizations seem to have found a candidate that will allow them all to capitulate to the Democratic Party. In either case, their support for Sanders—both as an elected official with a track record of complicity with imperialism and as a member of the Democratic Party—represents the abdication of their responsibility to build a left-wing, working-class alternative to the U.S. ruling parties and to oppose imperialism at every turn.

How do they justify this?

For many of these leftists, the fact that Sanders’ campaign is enjoying a certain amount of success in his race against Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton despite his self-identification as a “democratic socialist” means that the U.S. masses are beginning to develop a revolutionary consciousness.[4] They argue that, even though Sanders makes it extremely clear that he is in no way an anti-capitalist candidate, Sanders’ popularity demonstrates that the label “socialist” is no longer the absolute stigma that it was during the Cold War and the period after.[5] Ergo, some form of “socialism” is back on the agenda for the United States.

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Statement of the Left Party against the ongoing deportations of the Obama administration

Statement of the Left Party, United States

On Monday, January 4, 2016, as part of the implementation of the Obama Administration’s immigration policies, the United States Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) boldly announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) had arrested 121 people over New Year’s weekend, people who will shortly face deportation. These raids mark the initiation of a concerted national effort on the part of I.C.E. to rid the U.S. of Central American refugees—mostly families with young children—who have crossed the southern border since May of 2014 in flight from violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. The removal of recent immigrants who have been denied refugee status is one of the three priorities of Obama´s Priority Enforcement Program. At present, the Salvadoran government refuses to accept the return of 22 deportees, demanding that they receive full due process for political asylum in the U.S. It is worth noting that of the first batch of immigrants returned earlier this year—many of them teenagers— some were executed.

These raids, despite the relatively low numbers involved, have also rippled through the race for President of the United States. Donald Trump, the anti-immigrant bigot who is the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, was quick to take credit for these increased attacks. As part of his continuing effort to prevent voters with moderately progressive tendencies from deserting the Democratic ticket, Democratic Party Dark Horse and nominal socialist Bernie Sanders condemned the raids. Meanwhile, presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton acted through a spokesperson of Mexican descent to distance herself from the Obama Administration in order to shore up the vote amongst Latino voters, while leaving open the possibility to adopt a more reactionary immigration policy when she needs to pander to racist voters later this year. In other words, there are no real friends and plenty of bitter enemies to the immigrant community in both parties of big business.

Quite understandably, a wave of terror is sweeping through the immigrant community at large in the U.S. Refugee-seeking immigrants have been subject to the “rocket dockets”, a Obama Administration judicial innovation, self-heralded as a more humane approach to immigration proceedings, that guarantees immigrants who have been detained that face deportation speedy processes, which have placed children who are as young as six years old who don’t speak English on trial before judges on video screens without legal representation. Another “humane” alternative to detention applied by I.C.E. has been the widespread use of ankle bracelet monitoring in order to force immigrants to attend their hearings. The bracelets are not only de-humanizing, they also have proven to be health risks for people who have skin inflammations from having them put on too tightly.

The widely announced raids against refugees with removal orders announced at the end of last year were meant to prove to the world that the U.S has a functional system of immigration control. However, the raids have provoked wider panic because the immigrant community knows that the Obama administration, despite having lowered the number of deportations, has already deported millions of non-criminal immigrants in the last eight years.

There is a great fear of I.C.E. agents performing community raids, applying their predilection for racial profiling to stop people who look like they could be immigrants, snatch them from the streets, and deport them. The grapevine is rustling with many reports of such raids, all of which have thus far been denied by I.C.E. While this campaign of terror is unlikely to do much to stem immigration from Central America, it has certainly terrorized Latinos in the U.S., immigrants and citizens alike.

The unions, which are filled with dues-paying members who are immigrants, have only made a few tepid promises to “support” efforts to prevent deportation. As for the immigrants’ rights organizations and the faith organizations, those who are either paid to stand up for immigrants or do something every now and then to preserve an image of moral uprightness, are decidedly absent from the debate. Sure, there may have been a press conference here, or a call for the creation of sanctuaries there, perhaps even a petition or a postcard campaign or two. However, as for the organization of mass actions to stop the raids and the deportations, there is nothing. We demand them to take the lead in the defense of the immigrant workers and their families and carry out specific actions to protect the community from all I.C.E. raids, and not just this particular operation. It is time to take a stand and stop ICE from carrying on with its usual business of targeting undocumented immigrants. Obama or whoever succeeds him will likely build on his inhuman immigration enforcement policies, and we need to show that they will face an organized and active resistance to counter any more repressive measures against immigrants as the economy and social conditions continue to deteriorate. All of this, after 30 years of waiting for immigration reform that never came. Intentionally or unintentionally, the operation has provoked a lot of fear among immigrants that could result in immigrant workers being less willing to fight, or in immigrant workers deciding to fight back.

• We stand with all undocumented immigrants and their families and demand their right to be here. We repudiate all I.C.E. raids that are terrorizing the immigrant community.
• We call for an immediate end to all deportations and the release of all immigrants currently held at detention centers.
• We call San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and mayors and other municipal governments across the U.S. to immediately stop any type of collaboration with I.C.E. and become true sanctuary cities for all persecuted refugees.
• We call on churches to open their doors and offer unconditional sanctuary to all persecuted refugees. We call on unions to defend these churches and block all I.C.E. actions attempting to arrest any undocumented immigrant and on the immigrant rights organizations to organize a city, state and federal resistance to protect these refugees.
• We call on those not those not impacted by these attacks to participate in actions stopping deportations.
• We call on the immigrant community for full unity and solidarity with the more vulnerable members of our community!
• No one should be taken!
• Full human and civil rights for all immigrant workers and their families!
• Nobody is illegal! Papers for All!



What Now? After Ferguson, 6 Ways To Confront the War On Black Life

ferguson photo

when my father was a little boy, my grandmother instructed him to bite down on his lower lip, so it wouldn’t grow too big.

maybe she believed that big lips were ugly. maybe she was trying to keep him safe by muting the africa in his face. maybe some of both.

more than sixty years later, some things have changed. i can clearly see that black is beautiful.

but i still don’t know any bodily contortion that can keep a black boy safe.

*     *     *

i don’t know about you, but i’d say that the courage of the people of ferguson in standing up to a militarized, racist occupation has helped break another layer of the national spell of submission. with the local police force driven out, things are starting to look up.

for a “post-racial” society, america (well, the darker parts, at least) still seems pretty unshy about confronting this particular form of racism: the racism that declares state-sanctioned open season on young black men. from the oakland rebellions for oscar grant, to a nation cloaked in hoodies for trayvon martin, in recent years we’ve seen huge mobilizations for the many (too many; way too many) black people murdered by police and vigilantes. 

howard don't shoot

Contortions. After Mike Brown’s murder, students at Howard University say “hands up; don’t shoot.”

but for all the electrifying power of unity and resistance, by now we’ve seen it play out enough times to anticipate the plateau. to realize that the spontaneous, luminous camaraderie of black folks (or of the 99%; or of “the people”), focused on the temporary lightning rod of a common opponent (police; a dictator; the 1%), will not automatically coalesce into something lasting. will not automatically blossom and root into an organized political force capable of challenging these devastating, brutal banalities in a sustained and serious way.

the question always remains: what next?

i ask this not to be a downer, not to minimize the brave activities of people in the streets, and not to be pessimistic.

quite the opposite.

i ask because i believe in black liberation. and as a black mixed-race woman, i believe in the importance of studying black freedom struggles in order to build upon them.

what is it that we want to be different, after the dust settles in #Ferguson? how do we want to change and evolve our struggles?

i hear people calling for white allies to educate themselves about systemic racism and structural violence.

fine, okay.

i hear people organizing for nonviolent actions and continued protest, demanding justice.


but what will this change? even if the cop who executed mike brown gets put away for life, what will this change? will it stop black men from being murdered by police, security guards, and vigilantes on an average of one extrajudicial killing every 28 hours? will it reverse or even slow the militarization and high-tech stockpiling of terrorizing weapons within domestic police forces?

so far i hear anger, grief, and outrage, all of which are important and necessary. but i seldom hear tangible, material proposals for how to stop the rampant murder of black people, or the intense repression of black communities who dare to rebel against the killing of their children. (and why would we expect anything other than repression? the politically powerful in this country have long recognized the incendiary revolutionary potential of black people. recognized, feared, and attacked it — through bombings, infiltrations, assassinations, lockups, forced sterilizations, and more.)

given this dire circumstance, here are 6 concrete proposals for nonviolently confronting the militarized domestic war on Black life.

1) disrupt and prevent all police trainings and weapons expos (like Urban Shield), which serve as the testing grounds for “crowd-control” equipment like the war gear used in the Ferguson repression.

urban shield
for folks in the bay area, you can come out this weekend to a community forum preparing to confront the 9th annual Urban Shield, hitting Oakland streets September 4–8, 2014.

2) de-militarize police forces nationwide by removing and destroying high-tech military equipment like tanks and drones. militarization is heavy, but it can still be reversed through legal changes and creative direct actions.

“Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time.”

— Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief (quoted by CNN)

Police State_0

3) disarm all cops in the united states.

sound impossible? police in britain, new zealand, and south korea don’t carry guns. for those u.s. organizations committed to gun control: you can start with the officers, please.

ferguson police gun


And while we’re at it, how about disarming the rent-a-cops hired as “guard labor,” shoring up the rise in wealth inequality?

guard labor vs inequality

now let’s imagine this long-term, for a moment. even if we did somehow manage to disarm police, would it put a stop to surveillance, harassment, and violent protection of property over people? mmmmmmm probably not. can we ultimately envision disbanding police as an institution and replacing them with community mediation and safety teams? people who actually care for us (rather than viewing us as worthless criminals and animals), who develop expertise in promoting wellness (rather than cultivating seek-and-destroy mentalities), and who value life over property (rather than shamelessly trying to use petty theft to justify a young man’s murder)?

getting rid of police altogether sounds pie-in-the-sky, but it’s not totally abstract. in reality we are already practicing keeping ourselves and communities safe every single day, in large and small ways, without cops — through acts of wisdom, skillfulness, and reconciliation. this is long, deep work that needs expanding. but that’s a subject for another day.

4) seek support not primarily among “white allies,” but among your political allies, whomever they may be. if cuba could send troops to angola to fight racist south african forces (an act that earned cuba the personal thanks of Nelson Mandela), then we can also look to friends in the darker-skinned regions of the world for aid and support.

people in gaza and turkey have already been tweeting advice to protesters in Ferguson on how to deal with tear gas.

cuban soldiers in angola

Cuban troops in Luanda, capital of Angola

5) defund weapons production and military expenditures, and invest in health care, mental health services, housing as a human right, and free, creative, comprehensive schooling. and in the meantime, develop means of resilience and resistance on the cheap. if you’re a teacher working with oppressed youth, how about crafting interactive lessons on histories of policing, and how to collectively confront a domestic invasion? (including, of course, tips on managing tear gas.)

Discretionary spending in the U.S. government

Discretionary spending in the U.S. government


6) keep grieving, keep healing. it’s up to us to cherish ourselves and one another. privately and publicly. in company and in solitude. matters of life and death cannot be fully addressed if we don’t take sufficient time and space to mourn, to feel, to express, to show compassion and vulnerability, to be human together. as the poet karega bailey writes, “truth is, we are all one bullet away from being a #hashtag.” that is a level of collective trauma that cannot go unaddressed.

mike brown's mother

as we learn from these waves of loss and fury, i hope that our goals for combating police racism can become, on some level, quantifiable.

because losses like the life of mike brown are not.


Libertad a Los Niños Ya!

Un miembro del Partido de Izquierda llama a la unidad entre los inmigrantes centroamericanos y mexicanos y la comunidad chicana ante la crisis en la frontera.

English Translation

A member of Left Party calls for unity among Central American, Mexican, and Chican@ communities facing the current crisis of children detained at the border.

Thank you to everyone for coming. This is a tremendous crisis for our community, here in San Francisco but obviously also in all states, throughout the country.

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Refusing the Role of Good American Immigrant

g9510.20_Immigration.coverNow that Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has been released after being detained near the U.S.-Mexico Border, he and other public figures are raising big questions about immigration, and what it means to be an American.

He writes,

I’ve been released by Border Patrol. I want to thank everyone who stands by me and the undocumented immigrants of south Texas and across the country. Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as getting on an airplane to go home to our family. With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: how do we define American?

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Venezuela February 12th

Bloody Clashes Between Government and Opposition.

Repression, Media Blackout and Crossfire of Accusations.

The History of a Revolution that Never Happened.


By Sebastian Robles

The students, mostly opponents of the Maduro Chavista-government, called for the February 12th demonstrations in Venezuela to demand the following things: the release of three students recently arrested in other protests, the end of the official government order that prevented private newspapers from importing paper for their production and circulation, and against the insecurity and rampant inflation in the country. Venezuela´s reality is reflected in its figures and these numbers were fuel for protest: 20,000 annual murders with firearms, 56 % annual inflation recognized by the government although other sources estimate it’s at 75%. This inflation has liquefied wages where the parallel dollar now is trading at ten times the official rate. Even the best paid workers are receiving about 8 million bolivars for their work, a seemingly huge figure but in fact, does not cover the needs of a decent living standard.

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Venezuela 12 Febrero

Enfrentamientos sangrientos entre gobierno y oposición.

Represión, bloqueo de las noticias y denuncias cruzadas.

Historia de una revolución que no fué.


Por Sebastián Robles

Los estudiantes, mayoritariamente opositores al gobierno chavista de Maduro convocaron a las manifestaciones del 12-F para reclamar, entre otras cosas, por la libertad de 3 estudiantes detenidos recientemente por otras protestas, apoyando a los diarios privados que se han vistos privados de la importación de papel por orden del gobierno y contra la inseguridad e inflación rampantes en el país. Venezuela se expresa en cifras y estas fueron el combustible de las protestas: 20.000 asesinatos anuales con armas de fuego; 56% de inflación anual reconocida por el gobierno aunque otras fuentes la elevan al 75% que licua los salarios; el dólar paralelo se cotiza a diez veces más que el precio oficial; los trabajadores mejor pagos reciben unos 8 millones de bolívares por su trabajo, una cifra que, por lo enorme, no debe ocultar el hecho de que no llega a cubrir las necesidades de una canasta digna.

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Statement by the International Left for the immediate acquittal for the oil workers of Las Heras

International Left and its component organizations, Organización de Izquierda Revolucionaria / Organization of Revolutionary Left (OIR-Argentina) and the Left Party (United States) are in favor of the immediate acquittal of the oil workers of Las Heras, some of whom have been sentenced to life imprisonment for exercising their inalienable right to fight for their rights and for acting in self-defense against the police repression that was executed for exercising those rights.

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How NOT To Lead A Strike: The Story of BART Unions, 2013

By Berta Hernandez and Federico Fernandez

The story of the 2013 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) strike is not a story of transit cars and rails — but of the workers and riders who animate them, imbuing cold steel with movement and meaning. It’s a life-and-death story, resulting in two workers being criminally crushed on the tracks, betrayed by union bureaucrats who ultimately let down thousands of militant rank-and-file members. BART workers’ demands were dispiritingly and quite publicly defeated — with their two-faced “allies” in the Democratic Party playing an indispensable role in the loss. The BART strike story is a cautionary tale: frightful, but full of lessons that workers from all industries can study and debate to prepare for future stand-offs. If our aim is to win, one way or another we have to learn: How NOT To Lead A Strike.



Two people lost their lives on Saturday, October 19, 2013, owing to the criminal negligence of the BART Administration and its Board of Directors. One of the people killed — crushed to death by a wayward train car — was a BART worker. The other, killed by the same car, was a contractor who crossed the picket line to perform an inspection of the tracks. Within less than 48 hours of the incident, the BART administrators produced what they had stubbornly refused to offer for the past seven months: a tentative agreement contract for BART workers.

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