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Reply #35: I've been warning about this since I got here in 2002 [View All]

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MSchreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-16-09 05:10 AM
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35. I've been warning about this since I got here in 2002
Those of you who have been here as long as I have remember articles I wrote like "Canary in the Mine" and "You Cannot Serve Two Masters". I spoke and screamed and yelled. I was even willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when I knew better. And at every turn, in every case, the warnings I gave -- the warnings some of you derided and attacked -- were shown to be warranted; the analysis was correct.

In my own way, and through my own means, I and others warned that this was going to happen -- that Obama was himself a corporatist. And we did so in rather blunt language borrowed from those who knew him best: his capitalist masters. Those three little words we used to describe him rippled through the progressive left and we caught a lot of hell as a result of it. But it has been a little over a year since then, and even saying "we told you so" doesn't suffice any more.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not happy to see what I'm seeing. I've been waiting for one of these politicians to prove me wrong for six years. Sadly, it hasn't happened. I'll be honest: If Obama was to make an about-face tomorrow and go the route suggested by Howard Dean, I'd probably be dancing for joy (mainly for personal reasons). But it's not going to happen.

At the end of last year, I wrote a document for the political organization I belong to that described the descent into corporatism that this country has gone through. The last two paragraphs of that section are, I think, appropriate to this discussion:

The 2008 contest for control of the White House was a thoroughly corporatist election. Both main candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, represented the two competing wings of corporatism and signaled the end of the first phase of transition from the nominal American democracy that existed since 1865 to the new forms of capitalist rule. The vestiges of the old democratic coalition were atomized. The strategic differences that existed in 2000 and 2004 vaporized along with the remains of democracy.

With the corporatist consensus secured in its political representatives, a free election and seamless transition from liberal to conservative corporatism was possible, and the historic transfer of power, in the person of an African American president, would allow American capitalism to rebuild its political and economic power, solidify its cartel, expand its accumulation of resources and capital, and keep democratic opposition cowed, timid and ineffective. A new phase of capitalist development is opened. (Our Perspective: The Rise of American Corporatism)

We summed up the lessons of this in the next section:

The last period has demonstrated in graphic detail the inability of the capitalists and petty bourgeoisie to do anything more than exacerbate the problems and intensify the contradictions gripping all of society. Any thought that these elements could effect any kind of fundamental change in society for the better has been all but wiped from the public consciousness.

The coming period, marked by the growing economic crisis and an inevitable crisis of expectations in the Obama regime, has the potential to spark a deep political crisis in American capitalist rule that could force into existence an objectively revolutionary situation. (Our Perspective: Our Tasks)

If we have seen anything over the last several months, it has been that "crisis of expectations" and it has carried over now into a broader political crisis. Increasingly, the anger and frustration people are experiencing is moving into a generalized disgust with the current methods and forms of American capitalist rule.

What can be done? The best way to answer that is to ask the question: What needs to be done?

The 2000 election marked a fundamental break with the democratic system that most of us grew up under. The unconstitutional coup d'tat staged by Bush and his allies, and enabled by the Democratic-led Congress, pushed the question of democracy to the center stage. The actions of the Bush regime during its eight-year rule only exacerbated the question. And the first year of Obama's administration, which has seen him uphold virtually every point of the corporatist agenda, has only allowed the rot to deepen. What's worse, it exposed that this rot is not confined to simply the Republican Party or the faction of the ruling classes that support it.

This fact has done two things: On the one hand, it has destabilized the relative equilibrium the ruling classes thought they had accomplished with the selection of Obama as their chief executive. The plummeting level of popular support for Obama and the Congressional Democrats threatens to leave the entire American capitalist political system balancing on the head of a pin.

On the other hand, the exposure of the corporatist consensus among the ruling classes has created a vacuum of political direction among millions of people of all classes. It is not only the working class that feels this vacuum resulting from the corporatist policies of the Obama administration, it is the American public as a whole. Thus far, this has allowed the fascistic elements organized around the "Tea Party" movement to move from the fringes to the political mainstream.

What needs to be done is two things: First, we need to recognize that if there is to be a democratic renewal in this country, it is not going to come through the traditional organizations or movements. Democratic-minded people of all classes have been locked out of the two main parties, and have been left with the exhausted remnants of failed "third parties" (the Greens, Libertarians, Socialists, etc.) as relatively "acceptable" outlets. Second, we need to recognize that the outstanding democratic tasks that remain in the United States -- from restoration of the Bill of Rights to securing genuine democratic and social equality for all people -- will not come from those sections in power.

In this sense, the direction is clear. A new movement for democratic rights needs to be organized and built. And this movement should not be afraid of stating clearly that is goal is a democratic revolution to oust the corporatists and their backers from power.

The political roots of this movement reach back to the founding of this country, to the Declaration of Independence: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, reaffirmed this revolutionary right: "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it."

Former Vice President Al Gore recognized this tacitly in his candid admission in New York Magazine in 2006: "Theres no intermediate step between a definitive Supreme Court decision and violent revolution."

The United States of America as we knew it was the product of two revolutions. The first (1775-1783) secured the country's place as an independent Union -- the First Republic. The second (1861-1877) secured the country's mission as a democratic Union -- the Second Republic. It will take a third revolution to secure the country's legacy and future as a Union of peace, freedom and justice -- a Third Republic.

Mother Jones said it best: "Don't mourn -- organize!" Organize a democratic movement for a Third Republic. No more lobbying or pressuring those who cannot be lobbied or pressured, but a real democratic renewal and resolving of the historic outstanding democratic tasks we all face.
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