Bernie’s Refolution

I am a political scientist and I have studied revolutionary ideologies, parties and movements for more that three decades. Among other things I’ve learned is that revolution and evolution are not necessarily incompatible. Timothy Garton Ash memorably coined the concept of refolutions, a combination of genuine reforms and peaceful revolution. I am fully aware of terrible errors in Mr Sanders’s past assessments of Leninist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua. I have never minced my words in exposing the human rights abuses of those dictatorships. But I think that we ought to notice the truly impressive political mobilization of the millenials. We ought to scrutinize their motivations, we ought to acknowledge their idealism.

I re-read, these days, Hannah Arendt’s take on the counter-culture in the late 1960s. It’s not enough for me to say that I value Arendt as a great political thinker, one of my favorites indeed, I try to think in Arendtian way about what’s been going on hic et nunc. I think that the millenials empathize with Bernie ‘s attempt to rejuvenate political discourse beyond the superannuated cliches used and abused by the other candidates. In the same vein, it’s, perhaps, the first time that two topics have been brought into the mainstream debate: free health care and free education. This sounds utopian to many, I myself have doubts about many of Mr Sanders’s proposals, but I cannot deny one point: he has revolutionized the horizon of American political imagination and has made the public space less predictable. And he has done this as an outsider who observes the rules of the democratic game. Unlike the insider Donald Trump who has brought us to the point of legitimately wondering whether this is Weimar America…


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