Hammer, Sickle and Four logo
The Internationalist
  December 2015

ISO: “Fresh Air Fiends”
of Class Collaboration

Now you may think it’s easy to sell out. But if you want to pretend to be a socialist, it takes a little fancy footwork to tell people they should support or sympathize with a capitalist politician. You can’t just tell them to press the “like” button on the candidate’s Facebook page. You have to be a little bit more sophisticated (sneaky) than that.

Since they’re constantly doing it, the different opportunist groups come up with their own stock formulas for class collaboration. The stylebook for the International Socialist Organization’s Socialist Worker, for example, favors such phrases as a “welcome change,” something different from “mainstream politics,” and above all, it’s a “breath of fresh air.” 

We print here a sampler of the ISO’s comments on Bernie Sanders, plus some tidbits of their earlier “likes.”

“Sanders’ campaign is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dismal 2016 campaign” but Sanders should be more like the “incorruptible” Ralph Nader.
“Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and self-described socialist, has helped bring the leftward shift in political consciousness into the normally intelligence-free zone of mainstream American politics….” Etc.
“Sanders’ response was a breath of fresh air from typical Democratic politicians who run screaming from the ‘s’ word…”
“On the one hand, we should welcome Sanders’ praise for ‘democratic socialism’ and his frequent appeal to the virtues of Scandinavian social democracy. This is certainly a breath of fresh air compared to the patriotic, pro-capitalist chest-beating we’re accustomed to getting from most Democrats and Republicans when anyone questions American capitalism.”
“There’s truth in that point. For sure, it’s a breath of fresh air and a fantastic opportunity for everyone on the left when a major political figure in the national spotlight calls himself a socialist, whatever his limitations. Sanders is energizing millions of people with his advocacy of basic left-wing positions--people who want to see fundamental change and have concluded it won’t come from the status quo in either mainstream party.”

And now for some blasts from the past in the ISO’s “Fresh Air” greatest-hits album:

“Thus, for many New Yorkers, the de Blasio campaign was a breath of fresh air simply because de Blasio set himself apart from Bloomberg.”
“Obama is proposing a $50 billion emergency plan to ‘save 1 million jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, repairing our schools, and helping our states and local governments avoid damaging budget cuts.’
“For those of us sick to death of the dominance of neoliberal dogma, all that sounds like a breath of fresh air.”
“Obama is a breath of fresh air compared to the misogynists in the last administration, and he’s definitely a liberated man in many ways.”
“[C]ompared to George W. Bush (who denied that global warming existed for most of his presidency), and John McCain and Sarah Palin (with their ‘drill, baby drill’ campaign chants), Obama seems like a breath of fresh air.”
“In the face of a severe economic crisis, the Obama administration is seeking to reverse many of the tenets of the previous era. The budget outline proposed by the White House would raise taxes on the rich, place greater restrictions on corporate power, increase spending on social programs and set a goal of ‘universal’ health care coverage....
“For anyone who hated 30 years of Republican ascendance in Washington--and the retreat of liberalism at every turn--this is a breath of fresh air.”
“After 30 years of Republican ascendance in Washington and the retreat of liberalism at every turn, Obama’s willingness to draw the line and promise a fight for his priorities is a welcome blast of fresh air.” (That was when Obama presented the largest military budget since WWII.)
“The enthusiasm for Obama’s campaign has been a breath of fresh air after years in which the Washington system was run by Karl Rove’s attack dogs on one hand and the Clintons’ attack dogs on the other. Obama is also primarily responsible for the fact that millions of people are looking forward to the election and a new presidency with a sense of hope and expectations of real change.”
“By pressing on the idea that ordinary people, rather than political leaders, have made the difference in history, the Obama campaign is legitimizing ideas of struggle and grassroots mobilization.... this is a breath of fresh air.”
“To be sure, [Ron] Paul’s vigorous opposition to the war has provided a breath of fresh air during the otherwise stultifying presidential debates of both parties.”
“For opponents of the U.S. war, [the 2006 Democratic victory in congressional elections] was a breath of fresh air--and a complete contrast to the climate in mainstream politics since the Bush White House launched the U.S. “war on terror” following the September 11 attacks.”
“A few leading Democrats – most prominently, Al Gore and Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) – responded to these growing doubts by criticizing the administration. After the resolution passed, Byrd even called on opponents of war to ‘turn their attention to the President of the United States’ and keep up the pressure.
“Even mild criticisms of the White House are a breath of fresh air these days – and they gave genuine opponents of the war on Iraq more confidence to speak out.”