Mar 12, 2014
Long Live the New American Revolution
Posted on Oct 8, 2011
By Scott Tucker
The public creed of “progressives” in this country is often admirable point by point, and yet the dots never connect to make a convincing big picture. Worse yet, lines drawn in the sand of grand public speeches wash away under the lunar waxing and waning of “centrism,” and under the next high tide of opportunism after any big election. In 2010, Obama gave a high-minded speech telling us he had to steer the ship of state without veering too far off course: “My job,” he assured us, “is to make sure that we have a north star out there.” That may be poetry but it is not yet a political program. This captain continues to chart a course dictated by unelected corporate rulers. And all the while millions of drowning people overwhelm the lifeboats, while the Titanic parties of capitalism slowly sink in a vast cold night of starry ideals and the next looming icebergs.
After all, Krugman is quite right in most of his immediate economic proposals, but he must confess to himself at 3 in the morning that the leading Democrats don’t give a damn. This is what makes Krugman the economist as bemused on the field of party politics as Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Every sentence Krugman writes is perfectly clear and perfectly irrelevant. The far right accuses Obama of “socialism,” whereas the economic policies Krugman advises really might become a transitional program toward social democracy if only Obama dared to be a social democrat. We have no evidence, however, that Obama’s convictions are social democratic in the daily common sense form that millions of voters and citizens understand in Canada, Venezuela, South Africa, Sweden, Spain and in Germany. For that much social democracy really does exist on this earth.
Against the myth of socialism in this country, honest socialists should come out fighting for social democracy. Krugman’s program is a beginning and we would welcome his advice. Politically, however, the only response to class struggle from above is class struggle from below. In the day-to-day class struggle, Krugman is hardly a useful political guide at all. That is why these words, seen so often on pickets and handmade posters in recent days, are the real deal for any New Deal: “They only call it class war when we fight back.”
Now there is a north star for class consciousness and independent politics! Not in voting by rote for “the lesser of two evils,” which is the “pragmatic” advice that has worked so well for professional politicians ever since World War II—and that has worked against workers, democracy and socialism in the United States. Every big election now becomes a narrowing downward spiral toward the political abyss, toward corporate rule using ever more refined methods of crowd control, while placing the most brutal police above the law.
What a difference the next election makes. Suddenly all such arguments are forgotten or dropped into the footnotes. In elections where a margin of a thousand or even a hundred votes makes all the difference in our anti-democratic system, certainly politicians have found it opportune to acknowledge the basic human rights of gay people. But anyone who paid attention to the actual White House maneuvers around the Defense of Marriage Act and “don’t ask, don’t tell” knows that the usual Clintonian triangulations remain standard operating procedure under Obama. His timing, his high-minded rhetoric, his instrumental regard for our votes and insulting disregard for our lives, his “Christian” confession to the public that he believes “God’s in the mix” when one man and one woman are joined in marriage—all of this counts for nothing among the kind of “progressives” eager to believe that the devil made him do it. The devil simply means the fire-breathing dragon of the Republican Party, and much the same excuses were used to defend every tack and twist of Clinton during his years in the White House.
For myself, I take every opportunity to tell every vote-by-rote “progressive” Democrat exactly what they do not want to hear: I owe nothing to the Democratic Party. If we are speaking, however, of individual members of that party, then of course I recall many cases in which common humanity triumphed over “pragmatism” and the barbarous ideology of the “free market.” This is precisely the cellular level of the body politic, and here there is always hope for change. Here the person still counts, and not only the vote. But the background radiation of the corporate state is always with us. We, the people, would therefore do well to abandon all hope in the professional hucksters of “hope and change,” such as the current president and his crew.
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