Why Wall Street red-baits Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders remains Wall Street's worst nightmare. | CC

As the world dominance of U.S. imperialism fades and the social fabric of American capitalism disintegrates, Wall Street is beset with persistent nightmares and, as proclaimed in Marx’s Manifesto, continually haunted by the specter of communism. Its mouthpiece, The Wall Street Journal, tries to beat back the growing support for socialism by red-baiting people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others calling for reforms of its rotting system.

The latest example is a piece on Sept. 11 by professional anti-communist Joshua Muravchik, entitled “Sanders Praises Communist Capitalism.” Muravchik complains that Sanders in an August interview stated that China has “made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in human history.”

He also attacks Sanders for having made positive comments about Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Nicaragua. But he says that, unlike these comments, Sanders’s point about China bringing 850 million of people out of poverty since 1981 “has a basis in fact.” However, Muravchik claims this astounding achievement is the result of the capitalist, not the socialist sector of its economy. He would have us believe China has set aside the goal of socialism and now embraces capitalism.

That claim is debatable, and Muravchik does not explain why capitalism has not had this effect in other large and impoverished countries like India and Brazil. Furthermore, the Trump administration does not see China as a capitalist country. It is working overtime to pressure China to privatize its socialist sector, the real basis of its economy. That sector includes all land, natural resources, strategic industries, banking, and communications, which are owned by the government.

Trump and the ruling sectors on Wall Street are terrified by the fact that, according to the CIA and the International Monetary Fund, China’s economy overtook the U.S. in 2014 and continues to grow at triple the U.S. rate. Its annual rate of personal income growth is 11% a year. The Trump administration is imposing tariffs, fostering internal conflict, and even staging military confrontations, in a futile attempt to threaten China and stifle its development.

Having studied the counter-revolution that occurred in the Soviet Union, the ruling Communist Party of China is well aware of the potential danger of its capitalist sector and has taken steps to keep it from organizing politically. China keeps this sector under strict control and uses it, including that part under foreign ownership, to acquire the capital, skills, and technology needed for a successful socialist society. According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the party plans for China to have “a modern socialist society that is strong, democratic, cultured, and harmonious by 2049,” the 100th anniversary of the Chinese socialist revolution.

Muravchik also misrepresents the nature of socialism, whose “core difference” capitalism, he claims, is that it “focuses on how to distribute wealth,” while capitalism “is concerned primarily with how to produce it.” Again, this claim is refuted by the great disparity in U.S. and Chinese growth rates as well as the entire history of socialism. Every socialist country, when it has not been subjected to military attack or severe economic sanctions, has outperformed comparable capitalist countries. This was dramatically demonstrated during the Great Depression when the capitalist economies collapsed but production in the Soviet Union skyrocketed.

What Muravchik cannot understand or accept, as he tries to cover up “the core difference” between the two systems, is their conflicting class natures. That is their real distinguishing feature and consists of whether the working class or exploiting capitalists control the economy and the government with its means of coercion.

As the Manifesto says, the goal of Communists “is to raise the proletariat [i.e. the working class] to the position of ruling class, to establish democracy.” When a Communist Party is in power, society in all its social, economic, and political aspects is run for the benefit of working people, not private capitalists. It works for the establishment of socialism and ultimately for the abolition of class-divided society altogether—communism.


Rick Nagin
Rick Nagin

Rick Nagin has written for People's World and its predecessors since 1970. He has been active for many years in Cleveland politics and the labor movement.