7 comments on “Who I’m Voting For

  1. Hi Roy…I can’t believe you are still talking like the great student radical you were in our good old days at Queens College !!!!!!!!!!! love to hear from you,


  2. Carl Davidson and Barack Obama: Still Right in Form and in Essence

    In a recent debate on NYC IndyMedia, UFPJ honcho Carl Davidson uses Black 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 running for office. The only difference is that this time around he can 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 stands 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” 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. 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 support Nader or McKinney and at least try 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.


  3. Further thoughts on the elections

    All of this talk about how Obama has “mobilized” or “energized” youth behind him or has helped to “reawaken” them to politics miss the point completely. Youth were already being awakened and mobilized between 1999 and 2004 by the anti-globalization and anti-war movements…only to be demobilized and demoralized by the reformists’ ABB frenzy in 2004. In 2000 they were filling arenas for Ralph Nader’s anti-corporate campaign, whereas now they are filling stadiums for Obama’s pro-corporate campaign.

    To an old-fashioned, out-of-date sectarian like myself, not only does this not appear to be any kind of step forward, but it seems to be a step backward. After all, how does going from “another world is possible” back to “lesser evilism” constitute a positive development? Because it’s being done in the name of “hope” and “change” instead of “lesser evil” like in 2004? Isn’t that what we used to call “false consciousness” in the old days?

    It’s not as if we were back in the late 1950s and there was nothing doing before Obama appeared on the scene. Millions of people, especially the youth, had already taken to the streets in opposition to the war and the imperialist globalization behind it and a majority of the American people, of all ages, had already turned against the war. The Democrat-controlled Congress had (and still has) an even lower approval rating than does Bush. Independent political action against both was a realistic possibility. Unfortunately no-one on the left was there to provide the leadership because they remains in thrall to lesser-evilism. So it’s hardly surprising that the Democrats were able to take advantage of the situation in spite of their unpopularity by having an “outsider” like Obama there to step into the vacuum.

    So how then is it a good thing for the left to have young people being herded back into the Democratic party as a fan club for Obama? And by “left,” I don’t mean the mainstream liberal-left “progressive” milleau, that in the words of the late Michael Harrington, would vote for Mickey Mouse if he was the Democratic candidate. That bunch of bankrupts will forever go on believing that they can somehow pressure the bosses’ bought-and-paid-for politicians to the left when, in fact, it is they who have been pressured even further to the right in every suceeding election.I suppose some, like the ISO, would answer that Obama’s minions will become disillusioned when their hero begins to implement his agenda, and that by staying on their good side (ie, by not taking away votes for lost causes like Nader or McKinney) they can then proceed to pick up the pieces when the smoke clears.

    Only this ignores two inter-related factors. First, the mainstream liberal-left leadership will still be around and still be in a position to hold back any potential outbursts by warning of a return to power by the GOP as they did all throughout the Clinton years. The “Battle of Seattle” and the global justice appeared to push them aside for a while but really didn’t as their reappearance in 2003 as UFPJ and their success in capturing the antiwar movement showed. Second, there needs to be an organized opposition already in place that has the credentials to challenge Leslie Cagan and Co. for hegemony over the mass movements and win over those sobered up by the reality of an Obama administration. Those who can’t even summon up the nerve to campaign for Nader or McKinney, that is, the nerve to actively oppose Obama in the concrete and just not in the abstract, ie, on paper or in cyberspace, the way the ISO does, are not likely to provide that kind of leadership.The question is whether or not those who are willing to take on the Democrats can can do so and it is our job to be part of that process.


  4. “almata,” old buddy:
    “erice” is right on the money. Remember it was Wilson Goode, a Black Democrat, not Frank Rizzo, who was the mayor who firebombed a whole Black neighborhood in Philadelphia, to get rid of MOVE. Likewise it was David Dinkins, as mayor of NY, who layed off city workers by the score and cut back on already cut back on social services while boasting how “they’ll take it from me.” The “they” was the mostly Black and Latino municipal workforce in particular and the NYC working class and poor in general. Indeed, every big city in the US has had a Black mayor by now, most of them Democrats, and all of them have not a done a thing to make the lives of Black, Latino or white workers any better. If anything they all helped the ruling rich make them worse. Not only do they all dance to the tune that the overwhelmingly white capitalist class calls, but they are called upon to do the kind of dirty work that a Rizzo, a Koch or a Guilliani can’t as easily get away with. The same holds true for the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalists in the Third World. To cite just one example, Mandela and Mbeke have made South Africa into the most economically unequal country in the world while enriching the few middle class Blacks who help them administer the plantation for the apartheid-era randlords. And now Obama is being summoned to pull the imperialists’ chestnuts out of the fire that the bumbling Bush bunch dropped them in.
    So much for symbolism. It won’t put a roof over anyone’s head, a scrap of food on anyone’s table or even provide anyone a job to pay for those things since the neo-liberalism that Obama subscribes to forbids the government from providing them any more. And it certainly won’t save any lives in Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine, where an Obama administration will mean as much endless war as a McCain one will. I suppose the less they give in reality, the more they can concede in fantasy as Alexander Cockburn pointed out in CounterPunch a few weeks back.
    That Obama in office will benefit imperialism rather than Black people (or any other workers for that matter) is apparently a given among us, and even amongst the ISO and Solidarity. Yet supporting McKinney or Nader is not (at least not to the ISO), because they are afraid of being unpopular amongst the mostly white middle-class “radical” milleau that they pissed off by their half-hearted support for Nader last time. Let’s face it, none of these groups are talking to masses of Black people (outside of the few Black radicals that they tail after) to begin with, so it’s not as if they are going to lose their roots amongst Black workers and youth…by urging a vote for a more radical female Black candidate…or even Ralph Nader. And if they had any chutzpah during the anti-globalization and anti-war movements and presented themselves as a left pole of attraction for the then radicalizing youth and challenged, rather than tailed after the anarcho-reformists and then the just plain reformists for hegemony in those movements, we might not be in such a dire situation. The same goes for the Greens, who could have supported Nader in 2004 and made themselves a real presence, not only as the anti-war party, but as one that championed all the oppressed by linking their felt needs to opposition to the war. Instead they opted to be the second fiddle in the rest of the fake-left’s ABB concert of craven class-collaboration.


  5. Royaand Almata,
    One of the first thing Obama will do to ensure any wavering of the US ruling class (not that I see any) is that he too will bomb brown people, just like you said Roy. Its important that everyone knows he can run the empire. But as Trotsky said about Stalin, ” there is nothing worse than a Russian chauvinist, except a Georgian Rrussian chauvinist!”


  6. Roy,

    Connecting with folks is complicated, people have a lot of mixed up confused consciousness. It requires a ton of flexibility and patience, the first thing to be sure of is your audience. Liberalism is as reactionary in its way as the deepest of conservative philosophies. Even when they are our audience we need to understand that. And why should they be our audience? Who should be our audience? How do we reach them?

    We should separate the illusions “the left” have around Obama from the illusions of some of his supporters. We cannot say that his symbolic power is meaningless, symbolism is how people denied power often express themselves. I want to connect with many of them. The real anti-racist campaign is not Obama; it’s McKinney. Obama’s promise is the end of black demands not their fulfillment.

    Some of his supporters have no illusions; the support he gets from the ruling class and political elites is clearly based on a shared perspective– more bloody imperialism and capitalist exploitation. For the ruling class he an excellent choice to further that agenda.

    I agree with you about the alienation many workers have from the entire process and “the left” has not found and/or not looked for a way to engage the mass, and judging by some election turnouts majority, population. Most workers don’t vote. Most people against the war aren’t liberals. Certainly the most of the scene I come from could give a fuck about Democrats. Far from being “less conscious” than liberals on campus, say they have a much deeper appreciation for the true nature of the state and it’s role.

    Some in the groups you’ve mentioned seem to think that liberals are a constituency to win….even before we’ve won the working class. The way to win people away from their illusions in liberalism is by building an alternative not defining oneself by them. I want to win alienated working class people to the idea that they should vote for McKinney (who suffers from some liberal illusions herself) knowing full well they normally never vote at all.

    That is a lot easier, in some ways, than convincing a liberal to vote for McKinney and yet…social place is important….no more dinner parties with your fellow tenurees when you offend their liberal sensibilities… who we talk to tends to determine what we say…


    PS Paul Street has an excellent expose of the Obama myth here


  7. By now it should be quite clear to those of us on the left who still can think that the majority of the ruling rich are far more gung-ho for Obama than for McCain. Just look at who has the edge in donations from corporate fat-cats. So all this talk of some kind of racist coup by superdelegates against Obama should be seen for what it was to begin with…yet another attempt to rally support for this fraud and to distract attention from his neo-liberal, new-Democrat agenda with even heavier does of identity politics and white guilt-tripping.
    Far from moving to the right, Obama has, in fact, moved even further to the right. If anyone has moved to the right, it is the fake-left “progressives” (who used to be “radicals” in the 60s) who will stick with the Democrats through thick and thin, and who would have done the same if Hillary Clinton was the candidateinstead of Obama. As for Obama, he was never any kind of “antiwar” candidate to begin with, despite the attempts of the media (and the fake left) to depict him as such. Except, of course, as being an opponent of “dumb” (ie, losing) wars, which would have made most of Hitler’s general staff “antiwar” as well.
    Like JFK, Obama will bring a fresh face to imperialism’s aggression abroad and austerity and repression at home, that a Clinton or a McCain could never do. After all, if you are going to screw around with dark-skinned people around the world (and at home, for that matter), who better to do the job than someone who looks like them. And who better than Obama to keep the liberal-left led “social movements” (ie, the “youth”) off the streets and in the Democratic party?
    Remember how few mass demonstrations (or mass movements behind them) there were when Clinton was president…until the Battle of Seattle and the anti-globalization movement that it spawned. Of course, the latter, whatever its myriad of failings may have been, was way more the work of newly radicalized youth rather than of the burned-out 60s generation, which has led any and every movement it gets control of back into the Democratic party. Well, that’s what’s in store for us if Obama wins.
    As for defending the wrong decisions of youth and Blacks who support Obama (what about workers, or don’t they count for the PC-left), doesn’t that sort of negate opposing Obama in the first place. What are you going to say to those people? ”Even though Obama doesn’t stand for anything that is in your interest, we support your right to vote for him instead of voting for people like Nader or McKinney who do.” Of course for groups like Solidarity (or the ISO, for that matter) who place popularity in the petty-bourgeois “progressive” milleau ahead of principle such a position makes perfect sense. Hoping for change from that bunch is almost as fruitless as expecting it from Obama and his “progressive” hangers-on.


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