I find it interesting that many people accuse Bernie Sanders of being a communist when he is merely advocating the expansion of many of the ‘socialist’ programs that these same people take for granted—Social Security, Medicare, reduced college tuition—while at the same time these people seemingly have little problem with the policies they should really be associating with communism: the intrusion of the security state into their private lives; the merger of corporatism and government; the expansion of the gulag called the prison system; the harassment, roundup, detainment, and expulsion of the political underclass; the utilization of terror and fear to promote policy. All in the name of freedom and the flag, of course.
All autocratic regimes have certain characteristics in common, whether the underlying philosophy is based on communism, dictatorship, aristocracy, technocratic rule, fascism, or any other system where a ruling elite seeks to impose and perpetuate its will on the masses. The one thing these regimes fear above all is change, and the natural enemies of the state are those who seek to change it, whether they exist within the state or outside of it. This, of course, is anathema to true democracy and democratic government, which require that the regime bend to the will of the people.
Thus, if we examine what the accusation of communism really means, it is not the living arrangement where a government executes policies designed to improve the general welfare of its people, but the arrangement where a government considers its people to be public enemy number one. It is an arrangement where a government feels the need to overtly and covertly spy on its people to ferret out those who challenge it; it is an arrangement where the government harasses and detains those who speak up; it is an arrangement where a government seeks to divide the people into those who are with it, and those who are against it; it is an arrangement where a government holds itself outside the rule of law; it is an arrangement where a government promotes fear instead of calm; indeed, an arrangement of fear and repression.
When has Bernie Sanders stated that he would advocate for any of the above? Obviously he has not. But those who accuse of him being a communist have. When Donald Trump states that “we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago” what he is promoting is a policy of fear and repression. When Ted Cruz advocates utilizing militias to round up and detain immigrants, he is promoting divisive policies designed to enlist citizens to harass an underclass with no power to fight back. When Jeb Bush advocates utilizing the Justice Department to crack down on divisive free speech, he is promoting policies by which the government attacks those who seek to change it. And while they would vehemently deny that they are communists, these are certainly policies very much aligned with the autocratic side of communism. If they want to know who the real ‘communists’ are, they should look no further than themselves.