Up with the sun this morning catching the news before running off to work. Coffee and Richard and Linda Thompson far too loud for this early. Bombings in the Caucuses, the health care debate, summer storms, Afghan elections, blah, blah. Usually politics takes some time off in August. The health care imbroglio has meant that this August feels like a campaign season.
The Obamaists let it be known in leaks over the weekend that they were going to drop the “public option” from their plan in the hope of getting the Blue Dogs on board. I wonder what concessions they are going to make to the Progressives Caucus’ demands? Oh wait, they’re not making any demands so they get no concessions. Bernadette McAliskey once said that one of the lessons of the civil rights movement in Ireland was that “the less you ask for the less you get”. At this point the progressives having demanded nothing will get nothing in return.
That the debate is skewered right is not by chance. It is, after all, the corporate media that has largely defined the terms of the debate. Thus even though the single -payer position is held by a substantial part of the population it is ignored while the “your health care, your problem” crowd gets lots of time. Even if the single-payer movement were stiffened by some more vertebrae it would be a tough going fight to get the message out. That it is, in far too many cases, equivocating its position just makes it that much harder.
We can talk all we want about alternative media, I support it, but until it is backed up by power it is only information. To make a real challenge requires power, social weight, to back it up. The corporate media have power, that is why they are listened to, even when the majority is opposed to what it says.
I usually don’t call out left groups on this site, but on occasion one must. Freedom Road Socialist Organization, of which Bill Fletcher is perhaps the best known member, having supported Obama “from the left” in an attempt to relate to Obama’s supporters and build a left pole in the Dems milieu have now totally fudged the health care debate and come out for the reform bill, any reform bill it seems, that comes from the desk of Obama in the name of “fighting the right”. The move from relating to the milieu to supporting the policies has been a short one.
I have a lot of respect for many FRSO comrades, but they are building on their mistaken support of Obama. Having to produce straw men to bolster their argument, as they do is this article, only proves that they’ve painted themselves into a corner. The main bogeyman seems to be the “purist”. They deride these “purists” who refuse to support a bill that would, in fact, codify much that is awful in the the health care system shutting down the possibility of real reform. Who are these wreckers? Paper-selling Bolsheviks packing meetings and shouting for workers’ militias to fight for health care? No, they are single-payer supporters who are attacking Obama’s corporate based agenda. If health care reform goes down it will hardly be because of the intransigence of the single-payer folks and shame on FRSO for implying it.
Aside from long term class interests the short term interests of the working class and social movements demand the mobility that independence allows. It seems now that the only alliance FRSO envisions is the one between the left and the liberals. As if that alliance were natural and the only one to be had. Leftists are not just more liberal liberals, we have different agendas, world views, class interests, etc. The alliance the single payer movement needs is with itself first and foremost. That may sound flip, but it is true. You’ve got to work your muscles to get stronger.
“Purity” has nothing to do with it. The working class is, in its way, as “dirty” as the other classes produced by capital. Anyone expecting to remain “clean” fighting within the working class is SOL. In larger terms fighting for independent class politics is not to ensconce oneself in a purist redoubt, but because, and this is elemental for a Marxist, the road from the class “of itself” to the class “for itself” is paved by the struggle for independence. It is through the struggle to define its interests from its own perspective that the working class develops the skills and conceptions necessary to act on those interests; to emancipate itself.
This scattered-brain post doesn’t do the debate a good service and I apologize for that. I imagine that others will comment on the FRSO statement and I’ll try to link to those critiques as I find them. OK, off to work. Let’s hope I don’t get hurt. I don’t have health care.