Bernie Sanders

Why Bernie Sanders' Communist Misadventures Still Matter

Sanders no longer favors government takeover of "the major means of production." But his four-decade quest for political revolution continues.

|

HD Download

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) has spent his entire career explaining away the inevitable downsides of massively increasing the power of the state over the individual.

Sanders once identified as a socialist who, with reservations, admired the economic achievements of Cuba under Fidel Castro, of Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, and of the Soviet Union right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Running for office as a candidate for the Liberty Union Party in Vermont in the 1970s, Sanders sought a top tax rate of 100%, saying "nobody should earn more than $1 million."

Sanders wanted to stop businesses from moving out of their original communities, arguing that the ultimate solution to protect workers was national legislation that would "bring about the public ownership of the major means of production." He favored the government seizure of "utilities, banks, and major industries," without compensation to investors or stockholders.

Shortly after he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981, Sanders told a room full of charity workers, "I don't believe in charities," because only the government should provide social services to the needy.

He traveled to Nicaragua in 1985 to meet Sandinista leaders, who had installed a socialist government after overthrowing an American-backed dictator. Sanders attended the sixth-anniversary celebration of the Sandinistas' revolution and praised Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.

In 1988, he visited the USSR, three years before it collapsed. After his trip, Sanders praised the Soviets' social and cultural programs, saying American leaders had much to learn from the communist system. In 1989, Sanders traveled to Cuba to seek a meeting with Fidel Castro—though he ended up settling for the mayor of Havana.

Today, Sanders calls himself a "democratic socialist" and has become a millionaire. He favors single-payer health care, free public college for all, and a $15 minimum wage. And he has distanced himself from some of his former positions in support of the Sandinistas and Castro, pointing instead to Nordic countries as examples to follow.

But one thing has remained constant as Sanders has shifted his focus from Nicaragua, Cuba, and the USSR to Denmark, Finland, and Sweden: In all of these countries, he's misled his followers about the political and economic realities on the ground.

Produced and edited by Justin Monticello. Graphics by Joshua Swain. Audio production by Ian Keyser. Music by Silent PartnerJingle Punks; Topher Mohr and Alex Elena; Jimmy Fontanez, Doug Maxwell & Media Right Productions; The 129ersSir CubworthMK2; and Riot.

Guiton Sketch by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100473

Artist: http://incompetech.com/

The Great Unknown by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Artist: http://audionautix.com/

Guess Who by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100214

Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Bushwick Tarantella by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1300002

Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Firesong by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100598

Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Photo credits:

Havana food line, 2014: Jakub Szypulka [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

Sanders in 1991: Geoff Hansen iPhoto Inc./Newscom

Sanders with reporters, 2015: Flickr / Michael Vadon

Man carrying sack in Cuba: Mark Hertzberg/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Sandinistas as a group: SIC Notimex/Newscom

Ortega in Spain, 1985: Photos/Newscom

Ortega swearing in: Chicho96 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Ernesto Cardenal profile: Roman Bonnefoy, www.romanceor.net. [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Soviet housing, 1975: Thomas Taylor Hammond (1920-1993) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Yaroslavl theater performance, 1964: Thomas Taylor Hammond (1920-1993) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Yaroslavl terminal: A.Savin, WikiCommons

Volkov Theater: Alex 'Florstein' Fedorov [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Soviet-era housing block: flickr / young shanahan

Moscow subway 1: Punxutawneyphil and the architects Л. В. Лилье, В. А. Литвинов, М. Ф. Марковский, В. М. Доброковский [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Moscow subway 2: W. Bulach [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Castro 1: flickr / Marcelo Montecino

Castro 2: Luis Korda [public domain]

Modern Cuba 1: ALEX GARCIA/TNS/Newscom

Modern Cuba 2: Sandrine Huet / Le Pictorium/Newscom

Modern Cuba 3: Sandrine Huet / Le Pictorium/Newscom

Modern Cuba 4: Sandrine Huet / Le Pictorium/Newscom

Denmark 1: hbgbild / MEGA / Newscom

Denmark 2: picture alliance / paul mayall/Newscom

Denmark 3: Francis Dean /Deanpictures/Newscom

Denmark 4: Francis Dean /Deanpictures/Newscom

Denmark 5: Francis Joseph Dean /Deanpicture/Newscom

Denmark 6: Gonzales Photo/Kim Matthai Lelan/Gonzales Photo/Avalon/Newscom

Denmark 7: Francis Dean /Deanpictures/Newscom

Denmark 8: Gioia Forster/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

Denmark 9: Francis Joseph Dean /Deanpicture/Newscom

Denmark 10: Francis Dean /Deanpictures/Newscom

Denmark 11: Francis Dean /Deanpictures/Newscom

Denmark 12: Francis Dean /Deanpictures/Newscom

Norway 1: Noe Falk Nielsen/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Norway 2: A. Farnsworth/agefotostock/Newscom

Norway 3: Dominic Byrne/robertharding/robertharding/Newscom

HD Download

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

40 responses to “Why Bernie Sanders' Communist Misadventures Still Matter

  1. Do worry about Bernie, he’ll be dead soon.

    1. Too bad the good die young and not the bad.

    2. I hope Comrade Bernie lives a few years more.
      I could use the laughs.

  2. Sanders only calls himself a “democratic socialist” because he knows “Communist” doesn’t poll well. He’s a red diaper baby who shows no sign of having shrugged off his early indoctrination.

    But, yes, thankfully he’s a frustrated red diaper baby, who thankfully will never live long enough to see his revolution plant his hobnailed boot on the people’s collective neck.

    I’d rejoice in that more if his present popularity didn’t indicate that somebody younger could pick up that bloody banner and still have time to accomplish something.

    1. Bernie was so distraught when the USSR fell apart.

    2. I think Bernie doesn’t call himself a communist because he’s realized that government doesn’t have to own the means of production; with the modern bureaucratic state they can just micromanage business to the point where the government controls the business – “in the public interest”, natch – while technically allowing the business to remain privately owned. This is of course known as “fascism”, not communism or socialism.

      1. I was going to say, reading your text… that sounds like ‘fascism’ to me.

        Remember, the left always projects. It’s Sargon’s law.

      2. fas·​cism | \ ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
        1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
        2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control early instances of army fascism and brutality

        There is a line between regulation and ownership and control of the means of production.

        Just because Mussolini called his movement Fasciti does not make it any less Socialist. He wanted his movement to stand out and be more Nationalist of Italy, so he called it Fascism.
        The Italian Origin of Fascism

        The English words fascism and fascist are borrowings from Italian fascismo and fascista, derivatives of fascio (plural fasci), “bundle, fasces, group.” Fascista was first used in 1914 to refer to members of a fascio, or political group. In 1919, fascista was applied to the black-shirted members of Benito Mussolini’s organization, the Fasci di combattimento (“combat groups”), who seized power in Italy in 1922. Playing on the word fascista, Mussolini’s party adopted the fasces, a bundle of rods with an ax among them, as a symbol of the Italian people united and obedient to the single authority of the state. The English word fascist was first used for members of Mussolini’s fascisti, but it has since been generalized to those of similar beliefs.
        Merriam-Webster definition: Fascism

        1. While we can debate your idea that Fascism should be one thing and Socialism another, we all know that Commies and Socialists try and distance themselves from the horrors of those types of tyrannies. This is usually accomplished by denial and changing the meaning of words.

          To Americans Commies and Socialists, Hitler was considered a great Socialist for offering peace with the USSR in 1939 and then a fucking Fascist when Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.

          1. “…Hitler was considered a great Socialist for offering peace with the USSR in 1939 and then a fucking Fascist when Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.”

            This is very true, but you won’t see this fact very often in US history books.

  3. In all fairness, a 1979 millionaire would be a 5-millionaire today, so you can’t hold that against him.

  4. By far the most problematic political statement Sanders has made is his ridiculous assertion that “Open borders is a Koch Brothers plot to import cheap labor and depress wages.” That’s why he’s never been in my top tier of 2020 Democrats.

    However, if he ends up with the nomination, I’ll proudly support him over Drumpf or any other Republican.

  5. “nobody should earn more than $1 million.”

    Proceeds from book sales notwithstanding.

    1. Hey, at least he admitted that people were earning the million dollars rather than just expropriating the wealth of the proletariat. It’s rare to hear a commie not insisting that the rich are rich and the poor are poor simply and solely because the rich stole all the poor’s money.

    2. Obama said something similar along those lines when he uttered roughly “at some point….how much is enough?’

      Then the vapid yapper went ahead and signed a $65 million book deal.

      How much is enough indeed Barry?

      Amazing stuff. They have no qualms telling others what they feel is enough but act differently when it comes to their own lot.

      Evil, projection and presumptuous rabble rousers they are.

      1. What kind of individual buys these books? Let me guess– no, or very few individuals. Perhaps publicly funded universities buy in bulk for their grievance study departments and hand out to the entire student body and/or certain social bureaucracies in the federal government or NYC and California.

        1. Pretty good way to launder money…

  6. So….the only capitalist in the Dem aisle is Joe Biden? Not very shocking, considering all of the other candidates back enviro-grid mandate totalitarianism.

    1. Seems like you are correct. Biden appears to be the most captialistic and Bernie is the worst in the current basket of deplorables…or at least somewhere near the bottom. Actually, maybe not. The whole thing is a rotten fruit basket.

    2. Hick spoke fondly about capitalism (and against socialism) in SFC and got booed.

      1. It appears to be out of fashion to be a capitalist, while speaking in a global capitalist city, as a Democrat. Its crazy.

        1. In their defense, given what a shithole SF is, if they think that is what capitalism brings, I can get the disappointment.

          Just have to make sure they know that SF is abnormally bad — and that Communist states are several levels worse.

    3. Actually a couple of the ones not getting much play are pro capitalism. There are still like 11.7 sane people in the Democratic party ya know!

      I actually watched Tucker tonight and he showed a clip of some Dem, I THINK he is running for pres, his name may have been Delaney or something… Anyway, he said socialism doesn’t work… And the room erupted in boos. He said medicare for all won’t work. Same. I think the 11.7 sane people in the Dem party will be leaving it for the Rs soon, whether they go of their own accord or get forced out.

  7. Bernie Sanders – Choice of shoes and deodorant are to blame for children starving

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8hAJ2IdNDE

    1. Classic Bernie Sanders – 1988 Interview – Individuals with Money Dominate the Political Process

      Bernie discussing women inequality in pay and how its Reagan’s fault big Democrat run cities don’t spend their money on roads and education to avoid being shitholes.

      No wonder Lefties want to control the internet. All this old historical fact about the Democrats cannot be stopped by the gate keeping media.

  8. “I don’t believe in charities,” says a lot about him as a man; a human.
    Truly a despicable individual. People who vote for this idiot are useful idiots. Fin.

  9. Sad to think that the old fool on the left and the young idealist on the right have the exact same misapprehensions about the way the world works and haven’t learned a single goddamned thing in 50 years.

    1. Who is the young idealist on the right?

  10. And there’s always a place for the angry young man
    With his fist in the air and his head in the sand
    He’s never been able to learn from mistakes
    He can’t understand why his heart always breaks
    His honor is pure, and his courage as well
    He’s fair and he’s true, and he’s boring as hell
    And he’ll go to his grave as an angry old man.

  11. I have no problem with Bernie running as a hard left socialist if he is honest and up front about it. He could run as a communist for all I care. You can do that in America.

    Where I have a problem is where he tries to appeal as a moderate left of center if he is not.

    I also do not care about his personal wealth so long as he discloses that. The voters can see it and then decide. He does seem honest about that much.

  12. There were anti-communist socialists – people like George Orwell, Sidney Hook and others – who believed in, as they viewed it, a type of socialism that would create a fairer society that ensured decent living for the poor and elderly but also knew quite well that Soviet or Cuban or “X” brand of communism was a horror. And then there were anti anti-communist socialists like Sanders who not only didn’t condemn these failed systems but openly praised them. Nothing indicates that over these years that Sanders realizes now that the former, the Orwells and Hooks, were right and he was wrong. Indeed, he doesn’t even begin to admit that he was wrong in any way.

    1. “There were anti-communist socialists – people like George Orwell, Sidney Hook and others – who believed in, as they viewed it, a type of socialism that would create a fairer society that ensured decent living for the poor and elderly but also knew quite well that Soviet or Cuban or “X” brand of communism was a horror.”

      These are the people who assume, with the right people in charge, you *can* have your cake and eat it too!
      They are (or were) full of shit.

      1. In all fairness, as much as I personally oppose it… The reality is you CAN have a moderate welfare state without completely collapsing. BUT there are huge tradeoffs that they rarely like to admit.

        You can have welfare, socialized medicine, etc. You simply have to accept that everybody in your country, including your working poor, will be far poorer because of these programs, and basically the only ones coming out ahead will be the ones too lazy to even work.

        I personally think such a system is immoral, and dumb. But one can see Europe for examples of such systems in action. They’re poorer than the US, but also do alleviate some issues for their poor people. I just can’t stand that politicians lie and pretend you can have all the free stuff without the costs.

        1. Not only do welfare systems make everybody but the direct recipients poorer in the present, they tend to lower growth rates so that everybody including the recipients ends up poorer in the future.

          The cumulative effect over time is pretty awful.

          1. Yup. When you take resources away from the intelligent and the productive, AKA the ones who will invest in the future, and give it to slackers to meet todays needs… You must retard future growth. Investing energy in a new tractor today instead of free bread yields more and cheaper bread for all in the future.

            Socialism gives away too much free bread today at the expense of the future.

  13. Still better than Kamala Harris or Kristen Gillibrand.

  14. Comrade Bernie is the epitome of progressive thought in the US.
    Basically, the progressives want (but won’t admit to) a totalitarian socialist slave state with all its failed economic and political policies.
    The proggies will only be happy when the masses here in the USA are repressed as the progressives do the oppressing.

  15. I mean, what can you say? Sanders is a Stalinist. When I was in college I knew people who said they were Maoists. But they weren’t U.S. senators. Blame the Vermont voters.

  16. Sad when your entire legacy is worth less than a 12-piece bucket from colonel Sanders.

Please to post comments