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Stephen Shenfield

The ‘Democratic Socialism’ of Bernie Sanders

To a socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is far and away the least distasteful of the current contenders for the American presidency. He seems decent and sincere. Although he is running in the Democratic Party primaries, he has a long history as an independent politician, starting with his election in 1981 as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He is not corrupt – that is, beholden to specific capitalist interests in the way that Hillary Clinton (like Obama) is beholden to Wall Street or the Bushes were to Big Oil. And despite efforts of interviewers from the corporate media to get him to comment on the latest petty scandal he talks seriously about serious social issues of vital concern to working people – growing inequality of wealth, poverty, unemployment, healthcare, education, decaying infrastructure, the environment, climate change.

Obituary: Vladimir Sirotin

We were shocked to hear that our comrade Vladimir Sirotin has died in Moscow at the age of 50.

Vladimir was born in Kharkov (Eastern Ukraine). His lecturer parents encouraged him to think critically. In a sketch of his life he wrote: ‘I was very interested in the question of the nature of Soviet society. I realized early on that it was not socialism of any kind. At first I thought that the USSR [was] a special formation, a new class society. . . Later, during my student years, I came to the conclusion that it was state capitalism.’

Vladimir graduated from the Institute of Culture. For a brief period in the late 1980s and early 1990s he was able to publish his work openly in Moscow News and other periodicals. Then the door to official publication was again closed to him and he was able to obtain only irregular employment.

Book Reviews: 'Marxism in a Lost Century - A Biography of Paul Mattick', & 'Social Class in the 21st Century'

Council Communist

'Marxism in a Lost Century: A Biography of Paul Mattick', by Gary Roth. Chicago. Haymarket Books, 2015

This biography will be of special interest to many readers of the Socialist Standard. While Paul Mattick (1904–1981) never joined the World Socialist Movement (WSM), his views were sufficiently close to ours for him to be a major contributor of articles and book reviews to the Western Socialist, journal of the World Socialist Party of the US, from the late 1940s to the late 1950s.

The Middle East War: A Letter to a Kiev Cousin

Dear K,

I know that this letter won't reach you. Only if I were to express myself in subtle allusions might such a letter pass the censorship of the State Capitalist Russian Empire. But what I have to say must be said loud and clear. You may not hear me, but others will.

At last you hold an exit permit in your hand, your ticket to the promised land. In struggling for it, you were thrown out of your job by your bureaucratic bosses, who then sent you to labour camp for a year on a charge of parasitism. It goes without saying, as they say, that you were guilty of being without a job — innocent people are not arrested in the Soviet Union, which has no unemployment anyway — as is well known! But tomorrow you board the train for Prague — destination Jerusalem.

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