Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 8, 2008

Progressives for Obama: still intoxicated

Filed under: Obama,parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 9:26 pm

Now that the intoxication of the Obama victory is over (or should be over), one wonders how long it will take the pro-Obama left to wake up to a hangover. For the last few days, news reports should have given them an Excedrin-sized headache. Instead of ushering in a new New Deal, Obama seems to be all about ushering in Bill Clinton’s 3rd term but in this case we are dealing with America’s first real Black president rather than the claim made on Clinton’s behalf by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in 2001 that he “took so many initiatives he made us think for a while we had elected the first black president.”

First and foremost, Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel is a clear indication that he will promote DLC type politics of the sort that characterized the Clinton-Gore years. While some liberals are surprised by this choice, they should remember that Obama came to Connecticut to back Joseph Lieberman in 2006.

On the economics front, the possible choice of Lawrence Summers as Secretary of the Treasury is just as disgusting. When he was president of Harvard University, Summers became notorious for claiming that women did not succeed in science and math careers because of their genes. He also called African-American professor Cornel West on the carpet and lectured him about how his scholarship was not up to snuff, thus convincing West to find work elsewhere.

But perhaps Summers is being considered for the job because of his experience as chief economist of the World Bank. If so, Obama is obviously insensitive to the rights of his fellow Africans in light of the fact that Summers once proposed exporting pollution to poor African nations stating “the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that”. For all of the talk about Obama being the second coming of Martin Luther King Jr., I doubt that King would have ever had anything to do with the Lawrence Summers of the world.

None of this seems to have made any impact on the “Progressives for Obama” blog, a home to a number of 1960s radicals including former SDS leaders Tom Hayden and Carl Davidson, as well as Bill Fletcher Jr., a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the past president of TransAfrica Forum, and former education director of the AFL-CIO.

Fletcher, who is African-American, is an occasional contributor to Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a group that emerged out of the Maoist “New Communist Movement” described by Max Elbaum in “Revolution in the Air”. Most of the leaders of this movement came out of SDS, including one Bob Avakian.

It is important to understand that the Maoists of the 1960s, while rejecting the “revisionist” CPUSA, grew to accept many of its key ideas, including working in the Democratic Party. Irwin Silber, who is a bit older than the SDS radicals but who wrote for the SDS-aligned Guardian newspaper (the American radical weekly that went out of business some time ago-not to be confused with the British daily), helped to form a New Communist group called Line of March. As its principal spokesman, Silber wrote a series of articles directed to the CPUSA that could only be described as love-hate. He had the seemingly impossible task of convincing the party to return to its revolutionary roots, which is tantamount to asking the Republicans to become the party of Lincoln once again.

My first contact with this milieu occurred shortly after joining Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador in 1981 when I ran into an African-American member of the Communist Workers Party, a number of whose members were shot by the Klan in North Carolina 2 years earlier. Ron had gone to work as an assistant to a Black Democrat in Brooklyn, an act that struck me as rather disjoined from his ultraleft politics at the time. The CWP eventually folded and many of its members simply continued as Democratic Party activists.

Turning to the first of the post-November 4th blog entries at Progressives for Obama, you can find Tom Hayden explaining why Obama’s campaign marks the beginning of a new New Left:

I haven’t heard any of the Obama grass-roots supporters proposing that we expand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extend NAFTA or tinker around with global warming. They are our newest best hope for creating the climate and the pressure necessary to achieve social change, and we need to listen, follow and work with them. A new New Left is at hand, and we need to avoid the irony of becoming the Old Left.

Unlike the activists in the New Communist Movement, Hayden went straight from SDS into the Democratic Party without passing go. He ran as a Democratic candidate for Senate in California in 1976 and never looked back. Currently he serves on the board of the Progressive Democrats of America alongside ex-Demogreen Medea Benjamin and a host of other left liberals.

Unfortunately, all those years in the Democratic Party have served to eat out that portion of Hayden’s brain that might have memories of the real New Left. SDS was a genuine radical movement that challenged capitalist injustice across the board, while the people who went out to canvas for Obama had much more in common with the Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy campaigns of 1968 that were designed to get young people off the streets into safe, acceptable, time-wasting electoral operations.

One day after Hayden’s piece appeared, Fletcher weighed in with a call to lend “critical support” to Obama. One imagines that the need for criticism of any support must have been prompted by the spectacle of the President-elect’s DLC trajectory. Fletcher admits:

With regard to foreign policy, this is extremely complicated and quite troubling. While Obama has emphasized the need for negotiations as a first step in international relations, when confronted by forces to his Right, he has tended to back down and often suggest highly questionable military and crypto-military options in handling crises, e.g., unilateral attacks on Al Qaeda bases in Pakistan. Some people around Obama seem to be advocating a get-tough approach toward Iran, which itself could lead to hostilities.

Fletcher also suggests that “there will more than likely be outreach to Africa, though the character of that outreach is as yet to be determined.” Well, perhaps with Summers as Secretary of the Treasury, we might see toxic radioactive waste being shipped to Africa. After all, there will be a need to deal with such material if Obama’s pro-nuclear appetites are satisfied over the next four years.

Fletcher tries to fill in the details on what “critical support” means:

President Obama will need to be pushed on many areas, including foreign policy; healthcare; housing; jobs; and in general, the need for a pro-people approach to addressing the economic crisis. Taking this approach of critical support means, tactically, pointing out what has NOT been accomplished in the Obama agenda on the one hand, and, on the other, challenging the new Administration when it advances policies that are regressive, e.g., threatening Iran or Cuba and compromising with the insurance companies on healthcare.

One cannot be exactly sure what Fletcher is referring to when it comes to the matter of “compromising with insurance companies on healthcare”. There is not a single post on the Progressives for Obama blog analyzing Obama’s inadequate healthcare proposals or calling for single-payer, a solution adopted by the Nader campaign. I suspect that any criticisms of Obama’s healthcare proposals will be offered hat in hand, as is typical of the pro-Obama left. With a general absence of criticism during his campaign from Hayden and company, one would be hard put to imagine much of it taking place from now on. What you are likely to see is the sort of thing found on Huffington Post and Air America, stale barbs directed at Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.

28 Comments »

  1. Once again, Louis, you haven’t a clue as to what we’re doing at the base and the gains we’re making–and you haven’t a clue as to what to do yourself, save for writing erudite film and book reviews, a few of which I enjoy.

    Comment by Carl Davidson — November 8, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

  2. Beautiful. Those are great things to keep in mind as we enter the “new world”.

    Check out our new Artist/President!

    http://fullbodytransplant.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/president-obama-the-artist/

    Onward!

    Comment by fullbodytransplant — November 8, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  3. The task is to hasten the coming of an independent mass workers party. Telling anyone a vote for “more troops to Afghanistan” Obama is going the wrong direction, period.

    Comment by Clifford — November 8, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

  4. Tom Hayden: We must coddle the “Obama grass-roots supporters” because this is the way to “create the climate and the pressure necessary to achieve social change.” Carl Davidson in a comment apparently agrees.

    Is there any program acceptable to any President that achieves meaningful social change? Those days are over for capitalism. There were such programs under FDR, even under LBJ. No more.

    Comment by Polly Konomi — November 9, 2008 @ 12:41 am

  5. Fletcher suggested that “there will more than likely be outreach to Africa, though the character of that outreach is as yet to be determined.”
    Actually there are some things known about what to expect about an Obama Africa policy. He is a proponent of AfriCOM. Obama uses ‘war on terror’ talk to explain his advocacy of the project: “There will be situations that require the United States to work with its partners in Africa to fight terrorism with lethal force. Having a unified command operating in Africa will facilitate this action.”
    Nunu Kidane wrote a description of what AfriCOM means for the continent and US policy that can be read here: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/kidane071008.html

    Comment by Tim — November 9, 2008 @ 12:58 am

  6. So apparently Carl Davidson and his Progressives for Obama ilk are the only ones who have any clue what is happening on the left and the “base” around Obama. It seems that whenever someone on the left writes a piece critical of Obama, Carl Davidson pops up with a comment chastising the author for his failure to see some critical element of the movement of progressives seeking to push Obama to the left.

    And it always ends with a cheap shot at the author, so here is mine:

    Wipe your mouth Mr. Davidson.

    Comment by Eric — November 9, 2008 @ 1:13 am

  7. Carl: Everyday Obama will make appointments, and pass laws to make him farther away from his base of support.

    I heard Hayden speak in Minneapolis. He drew two intersecting circles; one circle was bureaucracy and the other the movement. He is where they intersect.

    FRSO led the demonstrations against the RNC, with the slogan “Defeat McCain.”

    Another Obama supporter is Mike Klonsky, leader of RYM2.

    OT: You must see “Slumdog Millionaire.”

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 9, 2008 @ 1:36 am

  8. Those of us who supported and voted for Obama at least will have achieved the lifting of the gag rule when he takes office, which is more than you and your fellow purists have ever or will ever achieve.

    Comment by Reality Bites — November 9, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  9. Oh oh, here we go, the old “purist” dismissal. I’ll be damned how any of us who’ve endured the domination of the “realist” left in labor councils, community meetings, cultural efforts and even the “democratic” party for close to thirty five years now could possibly be “purist”, but I’ll tell you this, I’m getting pretty bloody tired of watching every effort that’s been made get steered into the “democratic” party regardless of actual organizing possibilities that are routinely ignored by “realists”.

    The reality is just as Louis calls it, that you “Reality Bites” people are just a bunch of tiredass reformed maoist, stalinist, and doctrinaire trotskyist hangers-on who’ve learned absolutely nothing but how to backpedal for as long as I can remember now. You’ll gag yourselves as the President Elect drags us into yet another deeper and wilder war, and you’ll say nothing as the war of attrition on labor that has been turning shop stewards into foremen for the bosses continues to unfold. You have more faith in the warmongers and thieves who run this country then you do in mass political effort, and if that weren’t true, you’d stop steering everything into the “democratic” party. We’re purists? Hell, Reality Bites, you and your crowd are pure horse manure. Get off our backs, all of you, and take your craven clown show somewhere else.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — November 9, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

  10. Michael, you are not wrong to condemn unrelenting & invariable pandering to the status quo, but sometimes, unfortunately, compromise is necessary. Part of the problem is the GOP keep offering horrendous candidates: Bush/Cheney, McCain/Palin. McCain’s fellow Republicans come out and say things like, “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine,” and horror stories about his hair-trigger temper. That’s when you realize this guy has got to be kept away from the Presidency.

    No one should have any illusions about Obama, but it’s not true there are no differences between the parties. If that were true, we could skip all debate and encourage people to vote for third party candidates at any & all times. Unfortunately the temperament and psychology of the Prez/VP DO matter. Do you think it made no difference that Dubya has a completely warped sense of perspective, that he displays various sociopathic traits? That Reagan had fairly advanced Alzheimer’s during office? That McCain has a hair-trigger temper, violent rages, & Palin is a religious fundamentalist? You can realize the falseness of Obama’s halo while still being relieved he won.

    And if you are so frustrated, maybe you should ask yourself why the vast majority of ordinary people do not trust or admire Marxists. Marxists refuse to acknowledge the condescending, holier-than-thou vibe they give off when they argue a position – and they also have a tendency to close off exploration of alternatives. Ordinary people sense this. Mr. Proyect in his above article distorted the facts surrounding Lawrence Summers, Cornel West, and the scientific abilities of men vs. women. You don’t have to have any affection or admiration for Summers to know that he did not authoritatively proclaim women’s genes kept them from succeeding in math & science. He said innate differences MIGHT be ONE reason fewer women succeed. (He also mentioned sexism as a factor.) This is not mere hair-splitting. I think Summers is wrong, & we are going to see a time perhaps sooner than Summers thinks when women outstrip men in the sciences, but he wasn’t laying down the law, he didn’t inform his audience with a Bible-thumping declaration of gospel certitude, he cited research that suggested innate differences played a role in gender disparity when it comes to math. And the Cornel West issue is also more complicated than Proyect implies. West was busy producing rap CDs, Summers felt he should be doing more writing, not rapping. And Summers also wanted to combat grade inflation. Not the simple Snidely Whiplash vendetta-waging villain Proyect portrays. Do I want Summers to get the Treasure post? No. But he still deserves fair reportage of his positions.

    One reason radical politics don’t get very far in that their proponents, whether Leninist, Maoist, anarchist, whatever – tend to demonize and caricature their opponents to the extent that the general public dismisses them altogether, even when they have something important to say.

    Comment by Chris — November 9, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  11. “we could skip all debate and encourage people to vote for third party candidates at any & all times”

    If you were serious about fundamental, radical change ie. revolution, that is of course exactly what you’d do.

    “why the vast majority of ordinary people do not trust or admire Marxists. ”

    Leaving aside the debatable truth of that assertion, perhaps the constant hijacking of any left wing political action by the proponents of the democratic party wing of the ruling party has something to do with it.

    Comment by belgish — November 9, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  12. Belglish, maybe I am “unserious” and a “hijacker,” but weren’t you scared of a McCain/Palin presidency? I was.

    Read this from THE NATION in September:

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080929/ames

    Yes, the tone is alarmist, yes you can quarrel with parts of it, but what comes out of Palin’s mouth is frequently terrifying. Like it or not, compromise is necessary. It just isn’t necessary as much and as frequently as “Progressives for Obama” think it is. Do everything possible to hold Obama’s feet to the fire, but don’t dismiss the reasons people had for voting for him.

    Also, radical change can come without violent revolution. The most important cause of change is not physical revolution but mental. As William Blake put it, “Error is Created. Truth is Eternal. Error… is Burnt up the Moment Men cease to behold it.” The main cause of oppression isn’t “capitalism” per se, it’s the fact that most people, almost everyone in fact, receive no exposure to interesting, challenging ideas when they’re young. In school, they learn nothing but rote memorization of facts.

    A professor named Jean Anyon did a study as far back as 1980 demonstrating that your socioeconomic status determines what kind of schooling you receive:

    http://www-scf.usc.edu/~clarkjen/Jean%20Anyon.htm

    The key point to retain, however, is that the advanced methods employed by elite private schools to train the young don’t cost one cent more to implement than the disastrously ineffective, bordering-on-worthless methods employed in black ghetto schools. So why aren’t the same methods used, since it’s not at all hard to use the elite private school methods anywhere and everywhere without ANY increase in educational spending?

    Well, the answer is quite obvious, I think. The ONLY reason the ruling elites in fact do rule is because they learn how to make the world work for them. The ONLY reason the very poor stay poor is that they don’t learn much of anything of any value at all in school (much as the rudimentary education that used to be offered to women, irregardless of social class, used to keep women as second class citizens vis-a-vis men). If the poor or even the middle-class acquired the same knowledge base as the very rich have, you would see radical changes in society within a single generation. You simply wouldn’t HAVE a ruling class. Every powermongering elite throughout history has tried to severely limit educational opportunities and reading materials for the underclass. That was as true in pre-modern eras as it is under modern capitalism.

    Public education doesn’t have to be that way. The only reason it is is because it reinforces the status quo. This is why, despite decades of public outcry over the sorry state of education, nothing improves. No Child Left Behind wouldn’t help at all, but would actually make things worse.
    The children of the extremely wealthy SIMPLY AREN’T EDUCATED in remotely the same fashion as the rest of the populace is. They receive a true and extensive education, the masses don’t.

    Comment by Chris — November 9, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

  13. Any political development that postpones the development of a Bolshevik revolutionary party prompts heartache among those Debbie Downers that wasted so many years of their lives selling shitty Marxist newsletters.

    Obama’s victory significantly undermines the right-wing, white revanchist populist narratives that have dominated American politics for decades. His election has raised the American people’s expectations and sets the stage for a radical teaching moment, especially as the recession deepens and Obama fails to deliver the goods.

    The grinchy wanna-be Bolsheviks sneering and the cheering, dancing crowds on Nov. 4th. prove how tone-deaf and emotionally autistic the American left can be. People wanted to party. This country needed a party.

    Comment by Adrian — November 9, 2008 @ 10:54 pm

  14. The country chose this administration because they needed to have a party? Oh my. I guess it’s not after all the “wanna-be Bolsheviks” who grossly and insultingly underestimate the people. It is now an emotional victory, and the “emotionally autistic” bolshies are emotionally wrong. Well, that’s good, since this is a *political* issue, and not a psychological or emotional one.

    I expand my proposition in the last thread: to not call liberals names, but to address their confounded arguments with *burger metaphors* and in all seriousness while doing so. For nothing is more contemptuous.

    Comment by Antonis — November 9, 2008 @ 11:55 pm

  15. I’m plugging this post at my blog.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 10, 2008 @ 4:09 am

  16. It’s interesting that I didn’t say a thing about marxism anywhere in my post, but Chris automatically assumed I was defending marxist ideas. One of the main points that was raised by Proyect was that Obama supporters in way too many instances chose to ignore issues of imperial aggression that mean life or death to people in parts of this world that have fallen under that U.S. aggression. And as critics of Obama attempt to raise this point, they are dismissed with the cry of “purist” simply because there remain people on the left who are not cavalier about the right of the country to kill, maim, and force millions of people into exile with impunity.

    At no point did I say in my post that people should become Bolsheviks. In fact, I voted for Obama myself, not because I believe he is about what he says he is about, but out of deference to the mass energies of people which may or may not have been contained within his candidacy, and because I wasn’t going to sit back and indulge the Jim Crow-isms that the McCain campaign fired up in the last weeks before the vote.

    But since the issue for many of you “real” people is the condescending attitude of marxists, I must insist you’ve not had any real contact with the “democratic” party, which is only a hair removed from the patronizing snootiness found in marxist sects. A more doctrinaire set of true believers will be hard to find, and the fact that it is a mainstream party does not make it any less doctrinaire. I’m not sure why it is so many “realists” find the refusal to engage with abstract ideas that is found among so many “democrats” less offensive then the fetish around theory that is found in marxist sects, but I do believe it’s because “realists” haven’t been around mainstream politics long enough to recognize that most all “democratic” party activists also have a tendency to lay down their line as though their ideas are unquestionable fact, when in reality, all they have is another set of ideas, moreover, ideas that have demonstrated their bankruptcy repeatedly. They don’t learn, and they don’t care. I’ve worked with them since I was a boy of 14, and at 50, I know what I’ve seen come from them in a form that rarely varies in places as different as the Alaskan bush and the inner city in New York.

    As for Lawrence Summers and Cornel West or whoever, I don’t care one way or the other. The over arching fact Proyect put forth here is that Obama is surrounding himself with AIPAC and DLC cronies, and now is the time to talk about this nonsense.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — November 10, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  17. Obama’s win was a significant event for all. It is meaningful the country elected a black president, by overwhelming numbers. I would also go on to say Condi Rice and Colin Powell opened doors for black people.

    When Bush governed his team made the decision not to recognize voters who didn’t support him. His coalition of support was fragile and to some extent exagerated, for example the meaning of religious support. Obama will govern by giving in to the 49% who didn’t vote for him.

    Obama plans reforms immediately when in office, as with stem cell research. To find the meaning of the reforms don’t read Yahoo News, read WSJ.

    I support a labor party, and with Obama in power, the climate is better for it to be raised, rather than Bush, who pushes people to the Dems. A labor party in my lifetime is my 1917 Russia.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 10, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

  18. “A more doctrinaire set of true believers will be hard to find, and the fact that it is a mainstream party does not make it any less doctrinaire.”

    Yes, that’s a fair point, but I was trying to show why “purists” get dismissed in the first place. If you voted for Obama yourself, then you yourself are not what I consider to be a “purist,” and in fact what RealityBites said was, “Those of us who supported and voted for Obama at least will have achieved the lifting of the gag rule when he takes office, which is more than you and your fellow purists have ever or will ever achieve.” So by “purist” he did not appear to mean you. A purist to me is Belgish, when he/she tells me, “If you were serious about fundamental, radical change ie. revolution, that is of course exactly what you’d do [promote third party candidates at all times].”

    And why are you lambasting RB for “steering everything into the Democratic Party,” when you voted Dem yourself this election?

    “As for Lawrence Summers and Cornel West or whoever, I don’t care one way or the other.”

    You don’t have to care, but you do have to understand why distortion or elision of fact turns people off radical politics.

    I do not consider the views of Mr. Roger Kimball of the NEW CRITERION on the Summers/West affair to be less true than Proyect’s take. I probably don’t see eye-to-eye politically with Kimball on anything at all, but Kimball’s interpretation strikes me as at least as valid as Proyect’s. Maybe Cornel West’s scholarship WASN’T up to snuff (unless you think producing hip-hop albums is what profs are hired and tenured for). Proyect throws this out as if it were self-evident Summers was a philistine not to worship at the shrine of West. In fact a lot of people don’t. West saying, “Larry Summers strikes me as the Ariel Sharon of American higher education,” with this nauseatingly hysterical hyperbole gives a clue as to what Summers didn’t like about him in the first place:

    http://www.observer.com/node/45920

    Comment by Chris — November 10, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  19. I suggest we all pick a specific issue, or region and it’s issues, on wich to focus organizing efforts. Speaking as a Marxist, we need to realize an overly broad “manifesto” approach is ineffective in our historical moment. It is the accumulation of coordinated/linked efforts like union card check, single payer health, support for Bolivia, Venezuela, opposition to Colombia, Africom, etc in our communities that will be effective.

    Intellectuals have a role in critique of capitalist structures, bailout,enviro destruction, poverty, etc. and highlighting links between issues but tearng down Obama or Democrats is counter-productive (and way to easy)Stress what should be done and let the people realize on their own what isn’t being done.

    Comment by troutsky — November 10, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  20. “He said innate differences MIGHT be ONE reason fewer women succeed. (He also mentioned sexism as a factor.) ”

    And I think innate differences MIGHT be ONE reason why fewer blacks succeed, though racism could be a factor.

    But I’m not racist, Summers isn’t sexist, and what the left needs now are people willing to spend more time defending the like of Larry and I than criticizing the obvious deficiencies of Obama. Kudos, Chris.

    Comment by Nik Barry-Shaw — November 10, 2008 @ 7:59 pm

  21. Hey Nik Barry Shaw why are u linked to a canada haiti action site? Its comments like urs which would make someone suspicious of the make up behind a certain group.

    Comment by genimal — November 10, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  22. Carl Davidson is still Right in Form and in Essence and is just using “mass” support for Obama as an excuse for his own opportunism. Anyone and everyone who knows Davidson’s politics knows that whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, a dyed-in-the-wool “lesser-evil” Stalinist like himself would support any Democrat who ran for office. The only difference is that this time around he could actually tell his followers to vote for someone as opposed to all those times he had to resort to the 1930’s Stalin slogan of voting against the Republican. Not that Obama actually stood for anything that John Kerry (or Hillary Clinton for that matter) didn’t. All of them want to win the “war on terror” for America’s ruling rich no less than Bush and McCain do, only Obama has been better prepared, packaged and presented by the mass media for the role.

    Perhaps I’m being a bit unfair to Carl, since he combines the worst of both 1930s CP-style “lesser evil” Pop Front reformism with the equally as unappetizing white guilt-tripping and identity politics that came out of his hey day in the late 60s and early 70s. In his book, Max Elbaum wrote how the sixties Maoists saw Stalin as a “bridge from Lenin to Mao.” In reality he was the bridge from Harold Washington to Barack Obama, with every other Democratic candidate for president in between thrown in.

    For his part, Davidson likes to pose as someone, who, when it comes to what he understands as “revolutionary” politics, has “been there and done that” before he learned the error of his ultra-left ways and came crawling back to the same “old-left” CP stalwarts that he was so down on in his SDS and More Mao than Thou Guardian days. As a summa cum laude graduate of the Stalin school of falsification and craven class collaboration, his bread and butter argument is to characature his far-left opponents as offering only “revolutionary” posturing as opposed to his tried and trusted “strategy” of diverting any and every movement into the dead-end of Democratic party pressure politics.

    Leaving aside the fact that this has been a complete and utter failure for over 70 years and has only served to ensure that there is no independent left or working class party in the US, what Davidson is rejecting above all else is his own political past rather than anyone else’s arguments. Far from pressuring any Democrats to the left, Davidson, Cagan and Co have only been pressured more to the right by the rightward moving Democrats that their world revolves around. As if Obama, or any other ruling class politician, is going to listen to the millions voting for them rather than their fellow millionaires funding them. Thanks to the likes of Davidson and Co., the Democrats take their votes for granted. And as Ralph Nader said, when you get taken for granted, you get taken.

    Davidson likes to present himself as an astute tactician, taking advantage of “splits” in the ruling class…in order to find some mythical “progressive” bourgeoise to tail after and subordinate himself to. As if either “side” in this latest ruling class row has anything positive to offer working people when both support the same thing: “redeploying” combat troops from one losing war to another one they still think they can win, all the while keeping control over Iraq and its oil. Anyone who has followed Obama’s meteoric rise can clearly see that by now the majority of the ruling rich, especially on Wall Street, have put their money where Obama’s mouth is as they see the need for a slick, smiling new face to clean up their empire’s act abroad and at home. In essence, the same act that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton played. While any Democrat could get the support of Davidson at any time of the day, could anyone other than Obama rally mass support for such a reactionary agenda?

    Who better to bomb dark-skined peoples overseas and who better to force feed austerity to them at home, especially to Black people, who will get the shortest end of an already shortened stick. Harold Washington did it in Chicago, Wilson Goode did in Philadelphia and David Dinkins did it here in NY. Now the ruling class is hoping that Obama can perform the same act on a national scale.

    Davidson, Cagan and Co. have already done more than enough to demoralize and demobilize the antiwar movement with their ABB antics in 2004 and their “Take Back Congress” crapola in 2006. Now they hope to ensure that, by electing Obama, there will be no antiwar (or any other) mass movements for the next four years (the same goal they pursued under Clinton) since that might allow the GOP to slip back in. That is their real “strategy” for the left.

    Far better to have supported Nader or McKinney and at least have tried to build an independent alternative to both bosses parties, so that when Obama’s deluded devotees finally wake up, they can have a better place to go than the “Me Generation” did. And that also means continuing to build an indepenednt anti-war movement tied to the other movements of the exploited and oppressed, not to the Democrats, party of the exploiters and oppressors. As for Carl, while he may think that he will be gaining admission to the ante-chambers of the White House the way Michael Harrington did in Kennedy’s Camelot, odds are he won’t even make it past the out house.

    Comment by MN Roy — November 11, 2008 @ 12:02 am

  23. “And I think innate differences MIGHT be ONE reason why fewer blacks succeed, though racism could be a factor.”

    Not a good analogy at all. There are genuine, observable biological differences between men and women, whereas there are none of significance anyone has ever shown between blacks and whites. (Racists desperately attempt to show it, but their attempts have all been refuted.) Skin pigmentation is a superficial difference, whereas the ability of one sex to carry a living organism inside her body, and give birth, and the other sex’s lack of that ability, is a genuine difference of some import. Women also have a thicker corpus callosum than men, suggesting a real basis for the myth of “women’s intuition.” By contrast, the brains of black men versus white men are not noticeably different in any way.

    Also, despite severe limitations placed on their education, a very large number of women have been literary geniuses (from Sappho to Austen to Dickinson to Woolf), whereas in all that time, there have been no great female composers, and great female mathematicians also continue to be quite rare. The question is still open, and neither Summers nor anyone else is obligated to adhere to a hard-line social constructionist argument. I’m sorry, but the scandal was absurd. Either a university is open enough to entertain controversial points of view, or it isn’t. Now, it would be quite different if Summers declared this like some Sermon on the Mount, and if he was maliciously trying to force female students out of math and science programs.

    Comment by Chris — November 11, 2008 @ 3:05 am

  24. Some fine freewheeling stuff, here. The badass Michael Hureaux was sensational, but then this hero votes for Obama? Here’s one little chirping from the side:
    1. According to Chris, very rich folks get a “true and extensive education.” Balderdash. With rampant militarism and terrible economic inequality accompanying the exponential rise of American higher education as a business, the obvious fact is that American higher education is a sham-mockery. Bard, Williams, Harvard, Yale, whatever – studding the neocon and neolib ranks for decades now – what a colossal joke.
    2. The third party choices this year were an embarrassment. Nader, McKinney, and Barr were no better than park-bench shouters. In a “safe state,” where the diversity king Obama was not threatened by the troglodyte McCain, I, as one nonentity in the supersystem, could not figure how to write-in Daffy Duck, so I voted for Roger Calero, whoever the hell he is.
    3. Are we raising funds for the Larry Summers defense fund here? These plutocrats can do or say anything and land on their golden-slipper’d feet. You think the right is fracturing – here on the alleged left we need to listen to either Cornel West’s corny god raps, Obamamania, or “effective” marxism?

    Comment by mjosef — November 11, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  25. Yeah, I voted for Obama. I caved on the vote. I haven’t wasted a ballot since Clinton ran the first time, but I occasionally have to vote for a “democrat” just to make myself feel crazy. But since I put what bread and time I have into helping build independent tendencies like McKinney’s campaign, I think it balances out. I know I’m not losing any sleep over it.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — November 11, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

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