LBJ professor speaks about capitalism to Bernie Sanders supporters

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Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

As Super Tuesday results came out, supporters of Bernie Sanders gathered on campus to listen to a public policy professor speak about capitalism, one of Sanders’ biggest platform points.  

Raj Patel, research professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School, spoke about the origins and the coming end of capitalism to Students for Bernie Sanders. He outlined seven components of capitalism — nature, labor, fuel, food, debt, care and lives — that make up capitalism today. While Patel occasionally touched on aspects of Sanders’ candidacy, the talk looked beyond the immediate election season to delve into the nature of capitalism and how it has evolved over the centuries.

Patel said that debt ­— one of the prominent platform points of the Sanders campaign — is drilled into young people early on so they fall under the control of capitalism. 

“Debt becomes a way in which work is a control,” Patel said. “You are kept in debt so that you do not rebel.”

Patel said he supports a guaranteed minimum income, which would disproportionately benefit women typically under-recognized in the current system of capitalism. 

“Reproductive labor — the work of bringing up and caring for the next generation of workers — isn’t incidental to capitalism,” Patel said. “You don’t get these workers by magic. They are born. They are brought up in communities.” 

To mitigate some of the harmful effects of capitalism,  it will take more than one candidate to fix the system, Patel said.

“There’s no guarantee that fighting for Bernie is going to lead to a bright and wonderful future,” Patel said. “How could it? If there was a politician who could guarantee something, they would either be God or a fascist.”

During Patel’s lecture, the Associated Press announced Sanders won the Oklahoma Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders also gained 260 delegates Tuesday by winning Colorado, Minnesota and Vermont, while Hillary Clinton received 436 delegates by winning over Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Virginia. Clinton now has a grand total of 984 delegates while Sanders lags behind with 347 delegates. 

Asked about the results of the Tuesday primary, Katie Aplis, member of Students for Bernie and environmental science sophomore, said she feels “confident” that the Bernie Sanders group would keep on working phone banks to turn out voters in states that have yet to vote,  which are more likely to support Bernie. 

“We kind of knew going into this that [Hillary Clinton] was expected to win more states than he was,” Aplis said. “Regardless of what happens, this race is very much alive.” 

Sanders supporter Eli Barrish, Plan II and philosophy sophomore, said although it’s doubtful Bernie would win the nomination, the group would likely continue to support progressive causes, even if Sanders’ candidacy ends.

“The thing we are doing in this club is not just canvassing and campaigning for one candidate,” Barrish said. “We are trying to educate ourselves about issues, and those will extend beyond Bernie Sanders’ candidacy.”