Friday, March 13, 2020

My Friend Joe Biden

Image result for bernie sanders photo

- I have to give you credit, you did warn me about Bernie Sanders four years ago.*
- Remind me. What did I say?
- You were telling me about the anarchist theory that leaders in democracies tend to form class loyalties with other leaders, then act in their class interest and against the interests of the people who elected them. Bernie Sanders had just conceded defeat in the democratic primary and instead of disputing the election when the Democratic Party was caught cheating proven by leaked emails, or running as an independent, he threw his arm around Hilary Clinton and endorsed her for president. This 2nd time around, after a set of unexpectedly disappointing results the past week in the primary, but still only ten percent in delegates behind his principle opponent Joe Biden with again as many more delegates up for grabs, instead of changing his strategy to achieve his own surprising results he speaks as if defeated. In the comments to the YouTube video of his speech you can read Sanders' supporters' complaints about his failure to attack the reactionary positions of his rival, and confusion and dismay at the description of him as "his good friend". Biden has decades of history as a U.S. Senator in which he worked towards tax breaks for the rich, mass incarceration, mass surveillance, militarization of the police, bankruptcy protection for the rich but forbidden to students who've taken out loans, job outsourcing trade agreements, wars waged on false pretenses, subsidies to bankers who through financial fraud crashed the economy, elimination and privatization of social programs, the list goes on and on. What I have trouble understanding is why Sanders can't just be amiable with the people he has to work with without actually joining in a group with them and acting in the group's interest. 
- That is of course what Sanders would say he is doing.
- You think that he is serious that he really is friends with people like Biden who pursue policies destructive to the interests of the people and in the interest of his campaign contributors?
- I do. I think he is serious. I can't see any other way to explain his betrayal of his supporters four years ago and his betrayal in progress right at this moment. 
- But why? How can he make friends with someone who acts on such different beliefs about how life should be lived? Sanders believes in cooperation, Biden in winner take all. 
- Not just winner take all: first rig the game. The kind of friendship Sanders is talking about is that expressed in group loyalty: it has no specific content or rules of conduct other than violence is never to be used within the group or against the group, only against those outside the group. We find throughout human history a basic social technique of forming groups which use violence against those who haven't protected themselves by forming groups and not practiced in or willing to use violence. Joining groups of individuals loyal to each other and violent against everyone else is what I mean by rigging the game: you are almost certain to win.
- So you think that our leaders are rigging the game in this way against us, the led? 
- Don't you?
- I guess I do. Still, it's hard for me to accept that Sanders means by friendship warmth of loyalty to those in his group of leaders engaged in war against us.
- Then you tell me what you think he can mean. 
- That he is a naturally friendly guy and his ability to like those different from himself allows him to make deals and make political progress otherwise impossible.
- Then the question is, is that possible? Is it possible to be genuinely committed to reasoned cooperation, and also friendly with someone whose concept of friendship is mere loyalty, which loyalty involves violence against those not their friends? Does such loyalty-friendship, sometimes called 'bonding', necessarily involve animosity against those outside the group?
- I know that anarchist political theory says so. Group loyalty is a sort of tool that, once possessed, possesses you with an irresistible temptation to use it against those outside the group. 

Further Reading:
Philosophy And Science Of Betrayal
Leaders Who Betray

Bernie's Betrayal
Biden's Lies
* Spectacle & God