Earth & Conservation

Why Long-Time Socialists Don't Really Agree With Bernie Sanders

Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist, but many long-time socialists say his platform doesn't mesh with their ideals.

<p>Photo: Reuters</p>

Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. He's running for president on a far left-leaning platform, one that is harshly criticized by Republicans. Sanders supporters say he's the only candidate brave enough to put forth a socialist agenda, one that includes things like attacking big money for dominating our political system.

However, many socialists, people who have identified as socialist for years and have worked tirelessly for the cause of the party, don't believe that Sanders has a true socialist agenda, reports The Atlantic. The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) even issued a statement last August that rejected the notion of Sanders' platform as socialist.

The statement said: "He does not call for nationalizing the corporations and banks, without which the reorganization of the economy to meet people's needs rather than maximizing the profits of capitalist investors could not take place ... He is clearly seeking to reform the existing capitalist system."

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Eugene Puryear, a long-time socialist activist, is running for vice president on the PSL ticket, which is expected to appear on ballots in several states this election season. Puryear said he was excited that Sanders had rallied thousands of very progressive people across the country who actually call themselves socialist, but ultimately he said he thought that Sanders' plan lacked substance.

"Our economy as it's currently constructed cannot possibly provide enough decent employment for the number of people being born every single day," he told The Atlantic.

Rather, he thinks we should take the total product of society's labor and divide it equally among everyone.

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Sanders has said that he sees democratic socialism as something similar to the systems in Denmark and Finland, but Puryear sees those systems as just a more progressive form of capitalism, and the point of socialism is to move away from capitalism completely.

He said "...the ultimate goal is not Finland. It is a fully classless society in which the state has withered away to nothing."

Yet Puryear does still appreciate what Sanders has done for the socialist movement. He said he thought that if Sanders did not win the democratic nomination, there would be a plethora of voters who crave a more liberal form of politics than Hillary Clinton can provide.

Enter the PSL. If Sanders loses, Puryear and other PSL members plan to appeal specifically to Sanders supporters, which could help them gain more votes than they've ever had before.

Top Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the crowd during a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 21, 2016.