Bernie Sanders, Immigration, and Progressivism

Sanders has recently abandoned his populist position on immigration for the progressive agenda—eliminating CBP and ICE, halting deportations, and reviving amnesty for those here illegally—promoted by the class entities Sanders until only very recently had condemned. It is a disappointing development. I explain why in this blog (or you can listen to my podcast on the matter posted below). For an overview of Sanders plan, see John Washington’s “Bernie’s Immigration Plan is Good,” published in The Nation.

Bernie Sanders, Immigration, and Progressivism

“Nothing shows the class bias of American media like the way we talk about immigration. We almost always talk about it from the point of view of the employer seeking to pay less for labor, rarely from the point of view of the displaced or undercut employee.” —David Frum.

The first thing I consider in thinking about social class matters is choice of comrades. With whom do I ally? Do I side with the capitalist class? Or with the working class. For me, it’s the working class. Working class Americans. Working class Swedes. Working class English. Working class French. Working class Germans. I ally with workers in the West because the West has produced a culture that rests on the norms and values that have created the greatest prosperity and justice in history—these are humanist, liberal, rational, and secular norms and values. Enlightenment values. It is vital for the sake of progress that we defend these values while advocating for workers. And the way to defend them is by defending the integrity of the modern national state.

My thinking about the interests of workers is two-fold. First, I consider the material conditions of their existence. What are their life chances? Are they able to feed their family? Are they able to pay the rent? What is their standard of living? Are the able to pay it forward? Pass their affluence to future generations? Do they live in safe, stable, and rewarding social environments—environments rich in common interests and communal solidarity? I oppose those things that threaten these things. The second thing I think about is their political and cultural situation. What are the necessary conditions, the necessary political and legal machinery that will afford the working class the means to effectively fight for and secure their interests? Again, I oppose those things that threaten these things.

Because of my theoretical frame and knowledge of social dynamics and human history, I know that the working class, even if most workers don’t know it, is in a epic struggle with the capitalist class. The evidence is clear: the capitalists have been busy dismantling the political and legal machinery and the cultural and social conditions that workers need to organize for their interests. The capitalists have been transforming culture and society through globalization, exporting capital—industrial and agricultural production—to foreign lands to exploit cheap labor over there, while importing cheap labor from foreign lands to work the machines and the farms over here. American and European workers are losing their jobs to foreign workers overseas and they are losing their jobs to foreign workers in their own countries. They are losing their standard of living and their nations.

Domestically, half a trillion dollars is transferred from the native-born working class of the United States of America to the capitalist class in wages annually, wages that otherwise would have been paid to workers to meet their needs. In other words, what workers should receive in wages is appropriated by the capitalist class by exploiting immigrant labor. That’s money the capitalists saves using cheap foreign labor domestically. Wages lost by production being taken overseas is a vast amount on top of that figure. The working class is thus being fucked over in two ways, ways celebrated by the power elite in the halls of business, government, the corporate media, and, bizarrely, by many on the left, which I will come to later in this entry.

Workers are fucked once again by subsidizing the capitalist deployment of cheap labor in their country with the public infrastructure and public services they provide with their taxes. They pay these taxes after having had a vast amount of surplus value appropriated by the firms for which they labor—thus tens of billions more dollars are extracted from the working class to facilitate the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars from one social class to another social class, from the class that produces value to the class that doesn’t. Workers are subsidizing the very mechanism by which their standard of living is being undermined.

To facilitate all this fucking, the class that is at war with the majority of people in this country and their cultural managers have manufactured and deployed an ideology of radical multiculturalism, an identitarian politics that fetishizes diversity while thwarting equality, which they have pushed down into the masses using their control over the means of ideological production. As polls indicate, the masses have largely accepted the propaganda, internalizing values and interests that are not organic their social class location, and thus have come to take the position of capitalists. They have been deceived. They are falsely conscious. They don’t think through or about things in the right way because they lack the theoretical tools to do so, the result of indoctrination in public schools and by a vast culture industry. Workers are taught to take pride in virtue signaling support for immigrants. Cultural pluralism, different values and norms, different languages, different religions—workers do not see these as elements of a strategy to fuck the working class. They have been taught to see them as enlightened and superior moral values. And when they do complain they are accused of nativism, racism, and xenophobia.

This was not always true. The working class organized in the early twentieth century and restricted immigration, a move that began a long march towards democratic socialist ends—not through revolution, but through evolution. Cultural homogenization, national integrity, and rising affluence raised expectations and helped form class consciousness. The West pursued social democracy wherein unions flourished. But the ruling class got wise and, in the 1960s, opened borders to the free flow of capital and labor, to the detriment of the Western standard of living and its popular political organizations. The elite disordered national cultures and confused the working class.

What we see in the aftermath is a disconnect between productivity and wages. Prior to globalization, successive generations did better than their parents. My parents were able to retire on their pensions. But the situation is different now. Capitalists did this to restore high rates of profit. With national economic development, the capitalists had seen declining rates of profit. One-third of workers in the Untied States belonged to unions. Union power kept workers’ wages in line with productivity gains. Ordinary Americans became affluent. They had a national culture and an understanding of their national interests. These developments sparked the civil rights, feminist, and environmental movements. Capitalists were compelled to meet their popular demands at the cost of profits. When they finally had enough, and when world socialism collapsed, the capitalist crushed the organizations of the working class through globalization and ideological manipulation.

Tragically, in what can only be described as a spectacular propaganda achievement, we see progressives demanding more globalization. They demand more immigration and more cultural disorganization. The left has lost the thread of class struggle and the fight for sexual equality. They embrace instead regressive ideologies like Islam, while trashing the truly progressive values of the West—the values of the Enlightenment. The latest causality of the power of the American political establishment is Bernie Sanders, who this week announced his embrace of immigration. I lavished praise on Sander’s for his views on immigration only a few months ago. Now it appears that the last leftwing populist figure has been lost to the rot of progressivism.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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