Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 30, 2010

Obama: I am not a radical or a Bolshevik

Filed under: Obama,parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 9:02 pm

Perhaps nothing encapsulates the essence of the Obama administration better than his encounter with the Republicans in Baltimore yesterday where he tried to paper over his differences with the labor-hating and racist politicians.

Pressed by Mike Spence, the verbose Representative from Indiana who puts Joe Biden to shame, why he failed to adopt Republican-style tax cuts, Obama defended himself by referring to the key role of tax cuts in his stimulus package:

The package that we put together at the beginning of the year, the truth is should have reflected, and I believe reflected what most of you would say are common-sense things. This notion that this was a radical package is just not true. A third of them were tax cuts. And they weren’t — when you say they were boutique tax cuts, Mike, 95 percent of working Americans got tax cuts. Small businesses got tax cuts. Large businesses got help in terms of their depreciation schedules.

I mean, it was a pretty conventional list of tax cuts.

Do you see how he denied that there was anything “radical” about his package? This kind of pleading reminds me of nothing more than the ex-Communists testifying before HUAC or Senator McCarthy trying to establish their True American bona fides even though they signed a petition against General Franco in 1938. But that was never good enough for the witch hunters. They would only be assuaged if the hapless former Communist named names. In Obama’s case, the only way to save himself is to go the whole hog and adopt the Republican Party’s full program, something he apparently has embarked upon.

Even more self-abnegating was his performance before Marsha Blackburn, the Representative from Tennessee who complained about his sorry health plan that looks like it will die on the vine anyhow. He practically got on his hands and knees to beg the filthy right wing politicians to accept him as a True American:

The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year.

Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom — and certainly you don’t agree with Tom Daschle on much but that’s not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.

And so I’m thinking to myself, “Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist . . . “

No, look, I mean, I’m just saying — I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — it — it’s similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

What a pathetic display, trying to disabuse these Republicans of the idea that he is not a “Bolshevik” as if anybody outside of the deranged ideological universe of AM talk radio would believe such a thing. What does Obama expect? That these howling hyenas are going to lie down with sheep? That is the fundamental problem of American politics today after all. The Republicans want blood and the Democrats are all too anxious to bare their neck.

It is also obvious that this Columbia University and Harvard educated president does not have a very good grasp of recent American history. Holding up Robert Dole and Howard Baker to this mob is a complete waste of time since the Republican Party has mutated into an ultraright body that is bent on ridding itself of any vestige of centrism, such as the kind that Dole and Baker represented. It is like asking a serial killer to remember what a nice boy he was in kindergarten.

This Republican Party, with its bible-thumping, xenophobic, market fundamentalist base, is not the party of Richard Nixon. Indeed, we would be lucky if the Democrats were as far to the left as Nixon, whose Keynesian economics and support of affirmative action makes most Democrats look reactionary by comparison. As the Republican Party continues to shift to the right, we end up with Democrats trying to stake out a center that also keeps shifting to the right. It is as if liberal politicians in Weimar Germany tried to maintain the center during the rise of Hitler. Come to think of it, with all proportions guarded, that is what we are up against today.


  1. “As the Republican Party continues to shift to the right, we end up with Democrats trying to stake out a center that also keeps shifting to the right. It is as if liberal politicians in Weimar Germany tried to maintain the center during the rise of Hitler. Come to think of it, with all proportions guarded, that is what we are up against today.”

    That’s about the best 2 sentence encapsulation of American politics I’ve ever read!

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 30, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  2. It’s always perplexes me, Democrat defeatism. It is so out in the open, as they have a massive majority in the house and the senate and yet they don’t hesitate to publicly capitulate to the lowest Republican loudmouth demands.
    It appears as if they have something to gain out of this whole play in victimhood. They know whose party has got the all around corporate backing of politics and it’s not theirs. I’ve been particularly curious about this since the Kerry campaign, it seemed like the dems felt like they “had” to run but were disinterested in taking over the house during that period of the war.
    They have to drive at the center because having “the people” on your side means little in having power in the US of A.

    Comment by Michael T — January 30, 2010 @ 10:20 pm

  3. Obama is much like any other elected Democrat – non-ideological to the core. They don’t stand for much other than working to stay in office AND going out of their way to avoid confrontation with Republicans. The Dems should be renamed the Technocratic Party.

    Comment by Fred — January 31, 2010 @ 12:04 am

  4. Ah, but their prosecution of every major war over the last 100 years has been pretty ideological. After all, the essence of American foreign policy is Liberalism.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 31, 2010 @ 12:59 am

  5. Obama is a progressive. The only difference between a progressive and a marxist is one believes in bringing about change through evolution (moving away from or molding the Constitution to meet their needs) while the marxist believes in bringing about change through revolution. Both are epic fails.

    Comment by bassackwards — January 31, 2010 @ 7:03 am

  6. Moving away from the constitution? well then I guess Bush must’ve been a progressive, talk about epic fails btw.

    Comment by SGuy — January 31, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  7. The only difference between a progressive and a marxist is one believes in progression and the other doesn’t believe in much at all.

    I think Obama has demonstrated quite clearly that he’s not a progressive anyway.

    Comment by johnobrow — January 31, 2010 @ 11:40 am

  8. So he’s a Marxist, riddle solved.

    Comment by Michael T — January 31, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  9. And the Pope is progressive.

    Comment by Michael T — January 31, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  10. Bassackwards has it backasswards as nothing has proven to be more of an epic failure than the perfidious neocon politics of the imbecile known as Dubya Bush.

    Obama is simply Dubya’s 3rd term so the premise that he’s a Progressive is as absurd as arguing that Bush was a Conservative.

    Backasswards doesn’t know shit from fat meat.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 31, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

  11. Karl, Bush was a progressive as well. I never said he wasn’t. Read some history. Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican and a progressive as well. Progressives just don’t have a D next to their name. Some have R’s.

    So… you don’t know sh*& (or history)

    Comment by bassackwards — January 31, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

  12. And for your viewing pleasure… straight from the mouth of Obama’s right hand man (and lest you be concerned about the source, it’s MSNBC):

    Comment by bassackwards — January 31, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  13. Bush eliminated Habeus Corpus. Obama has done nothing to reverse that Great Writ. So that means they’re both Progressives? By your definition of “moving away from or molding the Constitution to meet their needs” I suppose that’s true, but that would mean the Weimar Republicans should have viewed Hitler as Progressive.

    Are you one of those lurkers on Alex Jones’ website or merely a Ron Paul campaigner?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 31, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

  14. A bit of a break from the rad right AM radio dittohead spamming know-nothings..

    I did follow the interesting thread on MarxMail concerning U.S. electoral tactics and “strategy” – this latter generally missing from the discussion. Once I finish moving and adjusting to my new corporate plantation master, I’ll write a more detailed reply than the deliberately high-level and muffled one I posted to avoid the appearance of name calling – Bustelo in not a reactionary but the tactic of pretending to be for Obama to “build bridges with honest people hoping for Obama” is not only reactionary for precisely the reason you give in you political characterization of the Democratic Party – in my view a thoroughly conservative right wing capitalist party, albeit more “moderate” than the one that now contains all the loonies who think T. Roosevelt was a “progressive just like today’s Progressives, like GW Bush, who are just like Marxists, except they are evolutionary” (hardy-har-har, well at least they get the revolutionary part right). Pointing people in a direction 180 degrees opposed to their hopes is the definition of reaction.

    But todays’ leftists don’t see this because they either can’t distinguish tactics from strategy, or have through habit converted the “tactic” into a strategy. In either case the socialist strategy is contradicted. Both have no conception of the relation between tactics and strategy. In the military metaphor that relation is located in an intermediate concept called “operations” or the “operational field”. So in a war the definition of victory is the strategy, the series of campaigns to attain that victory are the operations and tactics are the mechanics of each operation.

    In the present case, destruction of the Democratic Party is the operation. That would normally lead immediately to the destruction of the Republicans, but that is exactly why the proto-fascistic crazies are trying to run off with it, to avoid this result and save themselves the trouble (the one that socialists are faced with) of building an organization from scratch. In fact the whole weird effort of the right wing wackos to synthetically infuse a historical experience of “European Socialism” into the American masses – because they dread the fact that these have not gone through that gauntlet of betrayal – is truly hilarious.

    All for now. -Matt

    Comment by Matt — January 31, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  15. I think Doug Henwood summed things up rather well in his 1/23/2010 post:

    “Of course, the liberal instinct is to blame this urge to compromise on the lack of brains or backbone or some other crucial bodily organ. I think that’s wrong. The fundamental problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons that it’s something else.”

    Comment by purple — February 1, 2010 @ 3:19 am

  16. It takes the fun out of things when people do your work for you. Bush a progressive? do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars you are completely disqualified from intelligent political conversations!

    Comment by SGuy — February 1, 2010 @ 3:20 am

  17. Just a side comment. Liberal and Social Democratic politicians in Weimar Germany during the rise of Hitler *did* attempt to maintain the centre by shifting to the right. In the present day, this is not a peculiarity of the US Democratic Party but is shared by ‘liberals’ and parliamentary left parties pretty much world-wide.

    Comment by Mike Macnair — February 1, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  18. And the reason they’re shifting to the right is because they’re out of money. No more candy-grams to the working-class. The mirror image to all of this will be the march to war.

    Comment by Dave — February 1, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  19. #15 says it the best. The Democrats’ big problem in 2009 was that they had such a big majority in Congress that there were no more excuses for continuing to follow their real program instead of their ostensible one. They had to become less popular so they could continue failing their followers without the followers catching on. Obama cleverly led the effort to make it impossible to carry out their “mandate”.

    This is not to say that a third party is the answer. The electoral fix makes that pointless. Seems to me the best bet is to try to take over the Democratic party. If that doesn’t work, the Teabaggers may be the most effective 3rd party. And the Teabaggers are more opposed to the financial elite than the Democratic leadership. The leftist Brazilian government overthrown by the coup in the early 60s was ruled by a party that had started out as a rightist agrarian party. It was not part of the elite and ended up as a leftist party. The Teabaggers don’t look too promising but some of them supposedly favor some progressive positions not favored by Democratic leadership if you can just unpack the religious mania and the fantasist nutso-libertarian slogans.

    Comment by Conrad — February 2, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  20. Working people have as much chance taking over the democratic Party as pacifists have in taking over the pentagon.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 2, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  21. Another “Richard Nixon was one of us” rewritings?
    Richard Nixon was bomb-delivering racist reactionary.
    He was president at at time, however, when “the Left” actually existed.
    The Left made headlines, led fashion, had a cultural power that shook the Right to its fearful core. T-shirt slogans were made, TV shows were full of weirdo hippies bothering the starights, “civil rights” was roiling family tables and workplaces…
    So Nixon and his team of California cultists triangulated, indulging in programs they despised out of pure fear, abandoning them when their alpha leader Reagan came to wipe away both the New Deal and the dirty green hippies.
    A “moderate” Republican is one cultural marker away from being a freeper.

    Comment by Martin — February 6, 2010 @ 11:58 am

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