When Principle Collides with Reality and Common Sense: Socialist Alternative’s Enthusiastic Non-Endorsement of Bernie Sanders

“We will be campaigning with Sanders supporters against the corporate politicians while politically arguing for Sanders to run all-out through the November 2016 election, as a step toward building an independent political alternative for working people.”

This is the conclusion of Socialist Alternative’s wide-ranging and enthusiastic article about Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run. Although it’s a welcome break from the vitriolic sectarian humbug about Sanders peddled by the likes of Black Agenda Report and Socialist Worker, the article doesn’t actually endorse him!

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How American Socialists Fought for Labor Using Control over Local Government

ballot“Socialist administrations were most often elected in small or medium-sized railroad, mining, or industrial centers. Where the worker was not a worker or trade unionist himself, others in the administration often were. In Butte, Montana, the Socialist mayor was a minister; the police judge and city treasurer elected with him in 1911 were miners. In Lackawanna, New York  where a socialist mayor (occupation unknown) was elected in 1919, the two Socialist councilmen were trade unionists. Similarly in Davenport, Iowa, which elected a Socialist doctor to the mayoralty in 1920, the Socialist city clerk was a machinist. Continue reading

Communist Power and Influence Inside the American Political System

“The Communists also discovered that they could exert political power through local Democratic (and sometimes Republican) parties far better than they could in their own name. The American political system’s amorphous character, its direct primaries, and the absence of a really cohesive national party made this possible. Thus, in Minnesota, the Communists could parley with the Farmer-Labor governor, Floyd Olson, without embarrassment; they were instrumental in achieving the fusion of the Farmer-Laborites and the Democratic Party in that state. In Washington and Oregon, it was the left, including publicly known Communists, who built the ‘Commonwealth Federations‘ that became powerful ginger groups within the formal Democratic structure. In Philadelphia, the Communists connected themselves through local reform movements based on the citywide C.I.O. councils (whose flexibility and autonomy of action the Communists were quick to appreciated and exploit) in such a way as to exert powerful leverage on the Democrats. So successful was this strategy that the Party’s ideological opponents, both the Social Democrats and the Trotskyists, tried the same tactic, in the Michigan Commonwealth Federation for example. Continue reading