News & Politics

Bernie Sanders Calls for International Progressive Movement in Searing Op-Ed

The Vermont senator implores the planet to "wrench power back from the billionaires."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Photo Credit: Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com

Monday, January 15, marks the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and true to the civil right icon's socialist philosophy, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has issued a call for a new international movement to eliminate income inequality. In a searing op-ed for the Guardian, the Vermont senator implores readers across the globe to "wrench power back from the billionaires," lamenting that "the six richest people on Earth now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population."

"Not only that, but at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, people all over the world are losing their faith in democracy—government by the people, for the people and of the people," he adds. "They increasingly recognize that the global economy has been rigged to reward those at the top at the expense of everyone else, and they are angry."

Without ever mentioning Donald Trump by name, Sanders excoriates the president and other aspiring authoritarians for exploiting people's feelings of resentment and helplessness, "fanning the flames of ethnic and racial hatred." As he sees it, the only antidote is a truly global progressivism.

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"A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations," he continues. "Such a movement must overcome 'the cult of money' and 'survival of the fittest' mentalities that the pope warned against." In addition, Sanders writes, "it must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people—from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change."

Sanders offers at least one concrete proposal. The Tax Justice Network estimates that the planet's wealthiest individuals and corporations have stashed between $21 and $32 trillion in offshore tax havens, and that by eliminating this abuse, we could end world hunger and generate hundreds of millions of jobs, among countless other possibilities. Ultimately, Sanders believes these kinds of measures are not just the "moral thing to do" but a "strategic geopolitical imperative."

"Research by the United Nations development program has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support right-wing extremism and violent groups," he continues. "When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem."

"This is a pivotal moment in world history," he writes. "With the explosion in advanced technology and the breakthroughs this has brought, we now have the capability to substantially increase global wealth fairly. The means are at our disposal to eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy, and create an inexpensive and non-polluting global energy system."

Surely, Martin Luther King Jr. would agree.

Read Bernie Sanders' column at the Guardian.

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Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.