Bernie Sanders: Marxist or Democratic Socialist?

The Truth is Quite Simple

Jakub Ferencik


The primary reason I believe Sanders has Democratic Socialist, rather than Marxist, political thinking is because of his emphasis on legal institutions, democracy, and civil society. Marxism instead stresses for revolution and drastic change.

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

I have written about Marxism and alienation, how Marx questions our reality, and what Marx thinks about political emancipation. Certainly, Bernie Sanders has benefited from the political philosophy of Marx. However, he is much more moderate and his insights rely on Democratic Socialism primarily.

Let me briefly show you how.

Sanders & Economic Productivity

Sanders argues that because of the economic productivity of the United States, each citizen should be given free health care, a free post-secondary education, and a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour.

These policies are not necessarily Marxist or Democratic Socialist.

In fact, many Reform Liberals could have similar inclinations. Nonetheless, Sanders has called himself a democratic socialist. The primary way democratic socialism differs from Marxism is that it rejects revolutions as a means of achieving an end for the proletariat.

So, when your friends conflate Sanders with Marx, you can explain this fundamental difference to them.

Indeed, if Sanders would have won the election in 2020, we would merely see more focus on economic rights.

For example, Sanders argues that Wall Street ought to pay off student debt with soft loans. Therefore, the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is clear: the bourgeoisie increases equality of opportunity by helping the proletariat economically.

Sanders’ policies that stress economic rights would be championed in line with Democratic Socialist political thinking.

This short blog post is a part of my brief series on political philosophy! I cover thinkers from Locke and Rousseau to Marx, Hegel, and even Bernie Sanders. You can check out some previous posts here if you are interested:



Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air,” “Beyond Reason,” & "Surprised by Uncertainty" on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | RA for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ articles with 1+ mil. views