It’s Okay to Be Angry About Capitalism

It's OK to be Angry About CapitalismIf you only have a vague sense of Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’s interests and policies (and know him from the grumpy looking mittens meme that flooded the web around the time of the 2020 US federal election, this book is a great place to learn what he’s about, explaining his political viewpoints and actions intended to undo the damage capitalism does.

He’s a natural successor to independent US politician Ralph Nader and filmmaker Michael Moore, both of whom have been cultural forces in calling out the corruption and unfairness inherent in market-based systems and how governments are essential for stepping in and curbing its worst excesses, but is too often in bed with them.

The bad news is that – while Sanders’ positions about publicly funded health care and education, trade unionism, the concentration of wealth into ever-smaller hands and several other hallmarks of the capitalist system are sound – the book repeats them a bit too often.

He applies statistics about poverty, healthcare, tax evasion by the rich and his other policy interests to chapters on several different aspects of American civic life, but they’re the same ideas repeated kind of ad nauseam.

By the end you’ll be intimately familiar with how many Americans are homeless or how much more the US spends on health care per citizen than other countries despite still falling short. It might have been better as a white paper, but that would of course never have the reach of a popular politics book.

The good news is that Sanders is the best hope for the broken American political system we’ve seen in a generation. Cynical readers will remind themselves he’s an idealist and will likely never realise his dreams of an American society transformed – many have tried and failed to promote working class interests, and the economic forces arrayed against them have been too entrenched for too long.

In fact, Sanders unwittingly admits as much when – every time he talks about a bill he’s introduced that would bring about real change for the people who need it – he goes on to lament how the monied classes and their lobbyists have rendered it ultimately ineffective.

But he rightly points out that American can indeed afford to make the changes it needs to put a decent living in everyone’s hands. It can indeed ask itself the difficult questions the powers that be would rather distract it from.

He’s not shy about putting the boot into the ubercapitalist class (calling them by name) for being worth unimaginable fortunes while their workers around the world are all on starvation wages and overworked to death.

He even includes a dig at political ally Joe Biden, writing about how the latter has summarily ignored a reminder Sanders has written him about a union-friendly election promise Biden made and hasn’t followed through with.

It’s galvanising reading and – while we spend most of our time fascinated with riches like billionaire space flights and the Academy Awards – it will indeed make you angry.