In politics as in medicine, excessively mild remedies are typically based on overly placid diagnoses. Look, for example, at the highly esteemed Columbia University historian Eric Foner’s recent letter of congratulations and advice to Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in The Nation. As I have argued in a previous CounterPunch essay, Foner’s missive failed to correct Sanders on the candidate’s incredibly tepid and watered-down definition of democratic socialism as little more than a Scandinavian welfare state. It sent Eugene Debs spinning in his grave when it argued that “socialism today” is about “the need to rein in the excesses of capitalism.” Those were the exact same words used by Hillary Clinton in the first Democratic Party presidential debate, reflecting on what she feels is occasionally necessary to preserve the profits system and what she felt should never be confused with socialism.
There’s one part of Foner’s letter that I forgot to mention in my previous essay even though it is intimately related to his alignment with milquetoast radicalism and Hillary’s fake-progressive corporatism. It comes at the beginning of the letter’s sixth paragraph, when he says that contemporary socialism seeks “to empower ordinary people in a political system verging on plutocracy.”