Bernie Sanders' Democratic Party vis-a-vis the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn
June 11, 2017
So-called political analysts/commentators, especially in the USA - like David Doel on The Rational National and Jimmy Dore on The Jimmy Dore Show - have compared Jeremy Corbyn (Labour Party in Great Britain) to Bernie Sanders (Democratic Party in the USA). Comparing the two is like comparing the proverbial apple to the proverbial orange. We all know that an apple is not an orange is not a strawberry, and so on and so forth. First, it would normally take longer than what I have in terms of attention-span allowance to communicate what are the differences in an election for a district seat in Parliament as a representative of the Labour Party in Great Britain, and an election to win the Democratic Party nomination for presidential candidate in the USA, respectively. But, bear with me - just as you bear with the David Doel's and the Jimmy Dore's - and allow at least 5 to 7 minutes of reading for me to discuss the differences. It's very important to understand this!!
Second, the governmental structure in the USA is different than in Great Britain. Simply put, in Great Britain, you have a parliamentary system that has a "constitutional monarchy" in which the head of the government is based in parliament - not in the "monarch" - and is the leader of one or the other political party. It has been said that classes rule and parties govern. In Great Britain, that statement is played out in a Parliamentary system by which the party that governs is the one that wins the most seats in Parliament. In Great Britain, that governing party has its basis in class relations - either a party representing working class interests or the party representing capitalist class interests. Essentially, the leader of that governing party is the Prime Minister in Great Britain; the "constitutional monarch" is the figure-head. In contrast, in the USA we have a republic, in which power - that is governing power - is held by individuals elected in congressional district elections who, supposedly, are to represent the interests of that individual district. These individual representatives are not representing a class party, like the Labour Party or Conservative Party in Great Britain. Additionally, they are not elected to represent class interests - although the party in which they hold membership DOES represent the interests of a class, the capitalist class. Instead, these representatives are sent to Congress as individuals representing individual districts. Very confusing, and it gets even more confusing when these individuals are not even bound by a platform that represents a class interest. So, they get elected to Congress to represent who? Themselves? Wow!!
The rub and major difference between these two forms of governing is that one, Great Britain, is based in class parties and the other, USA, is based in individual members of this or that capitalist party. Big difference!!
I must also speak to the fact that a Jeremy Corbyn, running for a district seat in Parliament, is not the same as a Bernie Sanders running for the Democratic Party presidential candidate nomination. It's hard for me to explain, but the easy way is to say it is apples and oranges again. In Great Britain, when the Labour Party - based in representing the interests of the working class, the laboring class, in Great Britain - wins the majority seats in Parliament, then, the leader of that party can become the Prime Minister. The President of the United States is selected by the Electoral College. There is no equivalent in the USA because we have no Labour Party in the USA that purports to represent the interests of the laboring class. Another big difference!! Therefore, to compare Jeremy Corbyn - a candidate in a party whose history is based in representing working class interests in Parliament - to Bernie Sanders - a candidate in a party whose history is based in representing some strata of interests in the capitalist class in Congress - is, again, like comparing apples to oranges.
Third, the difference in political elections in Great Britain and elections in the USA is based in a correct understanding of terms. For example, a so-called political analyst/commentator can say that this or that party or member of a party is liberal or conservative. However, we must have a common understanding of terms - that is, common definitions of liberal and conservative (and even radical) - to understand what the so-called political analyst/commentator is saying. In the world today, we communicate based on words and common understanding of the definition of those words which are communicated through language. To have this basic understanding of terms - there is no such thing as "alternative facts" - we must take the time to, at least, look up the definitions to share a commonality in terms and to effectively communicate. We are not communicating if we do not understand what is being said.
Finally, we must be critical thinkers and think about what is being said instead of accepting or agreeing with what is being said without a clear understanding of terms and class interests. A few basic terms to understand when listening to one of the political analysts/commentators in the USA are:
1. Liberal (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online): … [t]he principles of political liberalism … [i.e.] associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives. Note: this is talking about individual freedoms, not about class interests. In Great Britain political discussion, reference is made to the Tories (the Conservative Party in Great Britain) as opposed to the Labour Party. In political discussions in Great Britain, the most common references are made to class interests, vis-à-vis party, and not to individuals per se.
2. Liberalism (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online): a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition [and] the self-regulating market. Note: here, again, the concept of individual interests and not class interests. The bottom line is that we are not an island unto ourselves - we live in a society that connects and mediates individual interests vis-à-vis class interests. I maintain that the interests of the laboring class, the working class, should be primary since that class is the majority in society and is the class that creates all wealth.
3. Populist: (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online): [historically] a member of a U.S. political party formed in 1891 primarily to represent agrarian interests and to advocate the free coinage of silver and government control of monopolies. Note: here we see that a term that is attributable to a party in 1891 has, today, been coined to mean "for the people." We cannot just make up our own terms - again, there is no such thing as "alternative facts"! In 1891, the Populist Party might have been "for the people," because the society was based in agrarianism. Today, society is based in a laboring class that gains its income (livelihood) from wages, not from working a plot of land. There are no populist interests today; there are working class interests vs. capitalist class interests. Period.
4. Working Class (from Wikipedia—this a very, very general definition of this term but might help us at least begin to have some common reference in understanding): [T]he working class (also labouring class and proletariat) are the people employed for wages …. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most service-work jobs. The working class only rely upon their earnings from wage labour, thereby, the category includes most of the working population of industrialized economies, of the urban areas (cities, towns, villages) of non-industrialized economies, and of the rural workforce. … includes all workers who expend both physical and mental labour (salaried knowledge workers and white-collar workers) to produce economic value for the owners of the means of production (the bourgeoisie in Marxist literature). Since working-class wages can be very low, and because the state of unemployment is defined as a lack of independent means of generating an income and a lack of wage-labour employment, the term working class also includes the lumpenproletariat, unemployed people ….
Okay, I'm done. We can now intelligently discuss Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders and the Labour Party and Democratic Party, respectively. Thank you for your indulgence.
LabourPartyPraxis discussion - subscribe