|Progressive Calendar 01.07.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 7 Jan 2010 13:12:44 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.07.10 1. Eagan peace vigil 1.07 4:30pm 2. Northtown vigil 1.07 5pm 3. Salvador 1.07 6pm 4. Africa/film 1.07 7pm 5. Capitalism doomed? 1.07 7pm 6. Gaza freedom 1.08 11am 7. Palestine vigil 1.08 4:15pm 8. Marx/Engels 1.08 7pm 9. Charles Davis - EXCLUSIVE: Obama orders air strikes on Guantanamo Bay 10. Paul Street - On realism and revolution --------1 of 10-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 1.07 4:30pm PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------2 of 10-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 1.07 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------3 of 10------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Salvador 1.07 6pm El Salvador Report Thursday, January 7, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, Walter Library, Room 101, 117 Pleasant Street Southeast, Minneapolis. Topics covered will be issues facing new President Funes, recovery from Hurricane Ida and the rains, plans for the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Romero, and what has happened to the findings of the Truth Commission. Antonia Dempsey, who works with CIS in San Salvador, and Duane Krohnke, who has been a pro bono attorney for Salvadoran asylum seekers, will be presenting. Sponsored by: Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (Center for Exchange and Solidarity). Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call Gary Ellis, 612-701-4719. --------4 of 10-------- From: Allan Hancock <ahancock.gp [at] gmail.com> From: lynn santacaterina <lmsantacaterina [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Africa/film 1.07 7pm This award winning film runs Thursday at the Bell Museum. Film:What Are We Doing Here? <http://www.whatarewedoinghere.net/synopsis> Thursday, January 7, 2010, 7 p.m. Free with museum admission* Three American brothers and their cousin travel across Africa in a quest to understand the continent's seemingly endless cycle of poverty and hunger. The complex web they unweave is jaw-dropping and suggests that the past five decades of foreign aid may have actually prolonged famine and political corruption. You'll never look at African charities the same way again. Join two of the documentary filmmakers after the screening for a brief discussion and take a self-guided tour --------5 of 10-------- From: Peter Rachleff <rachleff [at] macalester.edu> Subject: Capitalism doomed? 1.07 7pm The Caux Roundtable presents Is American Capitalism Doomed? A Possible Pre-Mortem Discussion Peter Rachleff, Macalester College Steve Young, Caux Roundtable Ian Maitland, University of Minnesota Rich Broderick, Moderator Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 7 pm At The University Club of Saint Paul 420 Summit Avenue Saint Paul, MN [not the MetroDoom] Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, says his firm is "doing God's work" in Washington; Michele Bachmann calls for protest and thousands come to take on the system; Wall Street bonuses are up this year as in unemployment and home foreclosures. Is this any way to run a modern railroad? Is the system rotten at the core? Who can save capitalism from itself? Peter Rachleff is an alert and articulate spokesperson for the progressive left. Steve Young proposes a "moral capitalism"; Rich Broderick, a St. Paul writer and poet, sees through it all. Ian Maitland, professor of business strategy and former candidate for Congress from St. Paul, is wise and perceptive on how capitalism really works. Open to the Public Although this is a free event, please R.S.V.P. to the Front Desk at The University Club of Saint Paul at 651-222-1751 to reserve your space. The Caux Round Table is an international network of principled business leaders working to promote a moral capitalism. For more information on the Caux Round Table, please visit their website at: www.cauxroundtable.org --------6 of 10-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Gaza freedom 1.08 11am Fri.Jan. 8,11am KFAI Radio: "Catalyst:politics & culture" Minnesotans on Gaza Freedom March in Egypt Hear from Twin Cities activists who recently returned from Egypt. SYLVIA SCHWARZ, eyewitness to the recent GAZA FREEDOM MARCH, on the border of Egypt and Gaza. She will also explain the important CAIRO DECLARATION that resulted from this international action. SOREN SORENSON explains the campaign for BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT & SANCTIONS (BDS) working to get Israel to follow international law and to move a REAL peace process forward that respects Palestinians' rights and independence. "Catalyst" is hosted & produced by Lydia Howell, Minneapolis independent journalist, winner of the 2007 Premack Award for Public Interest Journalism. KFAI 90.2 fm/106.7fm in the Twin Cities, MN all shows live-streaming & archived for 2 weeks after broadcast on the CATALYST page at http://www.kfai.org --------7 of 10-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 1.08 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. --------8 of 10-------- From: jtmiller jtmiller <jtmiller [at] minn.net> Subject: Marx/Engels 1.08 7pm Friday, Jan. 8, 7:00 pm Working Democracy Meetup Group Book Club: "Communist Manifesto, Part II" by Marx & Engels MayDay Bookstore --------9 of 10-------- EXCLUSIVE: Obama Orders Air Strikes on Guantanamo Bay by Charles Davis January 6th, 2010 Dissident Voice WASHINGTON - A series of U.S. predator drone strikes just after dawn this morning killed at least 220 suspected terrorists, many presumed to have ties with al-Qaeda, at the naval detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to two senior White House officials. "We hit the jackpot," said one official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. "We killed a whole damn bunch of them there terrorist sons of bitches," the source said, the sound of clinking glasses and celebratory gunfire audible in the background. The strikes come just days after the attempted Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines flight by a 23 year old Nigerian man alleged to have received ineffective crotch bomb training in Yemen. President Barack Obama himself authorized the mission, according to the officials, upon receiving word that nearly half of the men based at the Guantanamo Bay facility were Yemeni nationals, some of whom were suspected of being Muslim and having maintained an interest in herding sheep, possibly in order to recruit them as suicide bombers. In launching the attack, Mr. Obama has not only diffused a perceived threat to U.S. national security, but he has fulfilled a key campaign pledge to shutter the Guantanamo detention facility, which had become an object of widespread international condemnation. Meeting the pledge had proved difficult, however, in the face of congressional opposition, with GOP lawmakers and centrist Democrats seeking to block the planned release of the Yemeni men housed there to their native country, where they argued it would be more cumbersome and expensive to bomb them. While the U.S.'s legal authority to imprison men and boys at the Guantanamo detention center has been a matter of some dispute, its right to conduct drone attacks against targets it deems potential threats has provoked little controversy either at home or abroad, at least in countries populated with white people. Indeed, even as Mr. Obama has overseen a significant escalation in drone attacks, authorizing strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he's received a Nobel Peace Prize, a recognition of his efforts to promote peace through war. Given international acceptance of the drone attacks, the Obama administration expects the same level of support for today's strikes, which likewise took place on foreign soil - as it happens, in a country deemed by the U.S. government to be a state-sponsor of terror. As one American official put it, "if we can kill 'em without trial in Yemen, why the hell couldn't we do the same a whole heckuva lot closer to our own shores?" Though questioned by some human rights groups long considered hostile to freedom, the Guantanamo attack has been met with overwhelming praise from those who actually matter, with political analysts predicting a healthy boost in the Mr. Obama's approval ratings among the general public as well. "The president has shown that he's tough, a regular blue collar guy not afraid to throw a few punches and kill a couple hundred bad guys trapped in cages when he needs to, which is really going to help him win those independents come 2012," said University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato in an interview. "You can't overestimate the electorate's hunger for mass killing. Monday Night Football's got nothing on Shock and Awe". Cable news commentators were similarly aflutter with praise for Mr. Obama. "Can't you just imagine this guy's masculine musk? I mean, I just want to douse myself in whatever his sweat glands are emitting," said a visibly aroused Chris Matthews on his afternoon MSNBC program, Hardball. But not all praised the president's decision. In a fiery speech on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Mr. Obama's challenger during the 2008 election, denounced the administration's approach to the war on terror as timid, "gook league" and lacking in theatrics. "Why weren't these men doused in acid and set ablaze amid fireworks and the loud and proud blaring of the national anthem? C'mon," McCain thundered. "Why was their no consideration of the history books, here - or pay-per-view? And frankly, my friends, why weren't these men killed the moment our intelligence agencies learned they were actively living in the Middle East?" A couple of other people also disagreed with the president's decision, questioning the morality and wisdom of handing one fallible man the unilateral power to order the death of anyone he chooses, but no one really takes them seriously. Charles Davis is a journalist based in Washington, DC. More of his work may be found on his Web site. Read other articles by Charles. This article was posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 at 9:01am and is filed under Military/Militarism, Obama, Satire. --------10 of 10-------- On Realism and Revolution Confronting Liberal Objections to Left Criticism of Obama,the Democrats and the Profits System By Paul Street January 05, 2010 ZNet In the spring of 1967, after he went public with his principled opposition to the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr. was approached by liberal and left politicos to consider running for the U.S. presidency. King turned the activists down, saying that he preferred to think of himself "as one trying desperately to be the conscience of all the political parties, rather being a political candidate...I've just never thought of myself as a politician." The minute he threw his hat into the American presidential ring, King knew, he would be encouraged to compromise his increasingly left message against what he called "the triple evils that are interrelated:" racism, economic inequality/capitalism, and militarism.  Reflecting on his chastening confrontation with concentrated black poverty and class oppression in the "liberal" urban North and his shock at the horrors of U.S. policy in Southeast Asia , King had come to radical-democratic conclusions. "For years I have labored with the idea of refining the existing institutions of the society, a little change here, a little change there," he told journalist David Halberstam that spring. "Now I feel quite differently. I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values." The black freedom movement, King told a crowd at the university of California-Berkeley, had shifted from civil rights to human rights, moving into "a struggle for genuine equality" that "demands a radical redistribution of economic and political power." By this time, King had identified the U.S. government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today"  and denounced U.S. support for U.S.-investment-friendly Third World dictatorships, all part of "the triple evils." "The evils of capitalism," he told the congregation at Riverside Church one year before his assassination (or execution ), "are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism." As Dr. King certainly knew, these were not exactly "winning" ideas in America's plutocratic and imperial political system. They were moral observations with radical implications that led well beyond the barriers of existing U.S. politics. "They Know, They Just Have Different Priorities" Again and again during the first year of his presidency, "hard left" critiques of the Barack Obama administration have been met by a standard "left-liberal" objection. Obama, many of his "left" and "liberal" apologists have told me, is doing all he can for progressive values under the existing system of business and military power and in a context where the right-wing Republicans still exercise a great degree of power. Obama is imprisoned by the system he claimed in the name of democratic "change." Corporate and military Washington, the argument goes, leaves little room for progressive maneuver. Poor "progressive" President Obama, victim of those nasty plutocrats, the military industrial complex and those terrible Republicans! This is an unimpressive defense on two levels. First, it misses the fact that the "deeply conservative" Obama  isn't actually a progressive, something he himself has indicated to those willing to look. At a certain point, one has to wonder about the intellectual and/or moral competence of those who claim to be "left" and yet continue to cling to the brand over the reality when it comes to "understanding" Obama in the world of power. The comforting, self-pacifying notion that Obama - a president who often goes farther than required to appease corporate and military masters - really wants to transform America in genuinely progressive sorts of ways is simply unsupportable in light of what can easily found and shown about his political career and world view. Second, while it is certainly true that Washington policymakers are captive to the interlocking directorates and revolving doors of wealth, money, power, and empire, that captivity raises an obvious point suggested in the Dr. King story I just related. Even if he was the progressive populist and peace champion so many of his left and liberal supporters want to believe, Obama would still be detained and directed by the power elite and the corporate-managed fake democracy. So, maybe it isn't about running for president and getting behind presidential candidates. Maybe it isn't about scaling to the top of the authoritarian American system and helping that system re-brand and re-legitimize itself as a "democracy" where "anything is possible."  Maybe citizens and activists who are serious about democracy and progressive change should heed an all-too forgotten pearl of wisdom from The Bible: "Do not put your trust in princes." Or, we might add, in the United States' narrow-spectrum big-money/big-media electoral process, subjected as it is to the "hidden primary of the ruling class" (Laurence Shoup) and the "unelected dictatorship of money" (Edward S. Herman and David Peterson). Maybe its really about re-building and expanding social movements and grassroots citizens' power beneath and beyond the spectacular, melodramatic corporate-crafted mass-marketed narrow-spectrum and candidate-centered (and candidate-obsessed) "electoral extravaganzas"  the power elite and its dominant media stage for us every four years. "Elected officials," Adolph Reed, Jr. noted in the fall of 2007, "are only as good or as bad as the forces they feel they must respond to. It's a mistake," Reed observed, "to expect any more of them than to be vectors of the political pressures they feel working on them." Reed cited a then recent conflict the black and historically progressive U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) and antiwar activists who accused Conyers of being a "sell out" for failing to aggressively pursue the impeachment of George W. Bush. By Reed's instructive account and analysis: "His critics accused him of betraying the spirit of Martin Luther King. But that charge only exposes their unrealistic expectations. Conyers isn't a movement leader. He's a Democratic official who wants to get reelected. He's enmeshed in the same web of personal ties, partisan loyalties and obligations, and diverse interest-group commitment as other pols. It was the impeachment activists' naive error, and I suspect one resting on a partly racial, wrongheaded shorthand, to have expected him to lead an insurgency." Instead of railing against Conyers' predictable failure to embody King's legacy in the compromised realm of American electoral politics and policy, Reed argued, activists would have served their cause better by trying to organize effective citizen force for the policy outcome they sought. Underlying many progressives' sense of demoralization and defeat, Reed observed, was a terrible misunderstanding about leading Democratic politicians: "the belief that they just don't know what we want and how important these things are to us." "They know;" Reed noted, "they just have different priorities"  (Obama is no special exception to this harsh reality, which does not change, in accord with what Reed called "a racial shorthand," simply because he happens to be African-American.) Given these harsh realities, Reed argued with no small justice that Left progressives should focus less on elections and more on building social and political movements for democratic change from the bottom up across and between elections: "It's a mistake to focus so much on the election cycle; we didn't vote ourselves into this mess, and we're not going to vote ourselves out of it. Electoral politics is an arena for consolidating majorities that have been created on the plane of social movement organizing. It's not an alternative or a shortcut to building those movements, and building them takes time and concerted effort. Not only can that process not be compressed to fit the election cycle; it also doesn't happen through mass actions. It happens through cultivating one-on-one relationships with people who have standing and influence in their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, families, and organizations. It happens through struggling with people over time for things they're concerned about and linking those concerns to a broader political vision and program. This is how the populist movement grew in the late nineteenth century, the CIO in the 1930s and 1940s, and the civil rights movement after World War II. It is how we've won all our victories. And it is also how the right came to power." Reed's point on the need for activists to concentrate first and foremost on the building of movement capacities was seconded by Howard Zinn's comments on the "election madness" he saw "engulfing the entire society, including the left" with special intensity in the year of Obama's nomination for the presidency in the early spring of 2008: "The election frenzy seizes the country every four years because we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls and choose one of the two mediocrities who have already been chosen for us. " "...Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes - the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth." "But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice." "Let's remember that even when there is a "better" candidate (yes, better Roosevelt than Hoover, better anyone than George Bush), that difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to ignore....." "The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties."  One can bemoan the failure of President Obama to act in accord with the antiwar sentiments he seemed (it was an illusion ) to articulate when speaking to his "progressive base" during the campaign. The simple cold fact of the matter is that the U.S. antiwar movement does not possess the capacity (whether it possesses the willpower is a separate but related question) to hold mainstream politicians' elected officials' feet to the fire in ways that command respect at elite levels. Peace activists lack structures and active constituencies remotely strong enough to make Obama and other Democrats accountable from below. They lack the power to compel leading politicians to reconsider commitment and captivity to the powerful entrenched interests and deadly culture of imperial militarism. They are not too "dangerous to ignore." Building that power and capacity between and across the election cycle is a more worthy endeavor than picketing the offices of elected Democratic war supporters. It is a more productive progressive project than accusing Democratic officials and politicians of betraying or (following the argument of the widely read liberal linguist and political consultant George Lakoff) failing to adequately "frame" a Left-progressive ideological commitment they do not really share and which (in any event, even if some of them do) does not serve their interests under the existing political system. The same point can and should be made not just for foreign policy but also for numerous other and related issues of special concern to Left progressives: women's rights, climate change, economic justice, gay rights, racial equality, and so on. On these and other issues and on their totality, there is no independent left in the US worthy of its name. False Dichotomy: Social Movements or Political Reform Having heard and/or read my argument (sketched above and hardly original) for focusing on building and re-building rank and file social movements over and above for focusing on elections and candidates, some fellow progressives raise what at first seems to be a reasonable objection. Why, such comrades ask, accept the disempowering dichotomy between social movements and electoral politics imposed on progressives by the currently reigning corporate-military U.S. political system and culture? The Reed-Zinn (and Chomsky-Charles Derber-Frances Fox Piven ) case for grassroots activism beneath and beyond corporate-managed "demonstration elections" tells us nothing, this critique observes, about how we might change our political system and culture so that left progressives (who often accurately represent majority progressive sentiment on numerous core societal and policy issues) might actually win real victories in the electoral arena. Is there nothing that could be done that would make it possible for an ambitious politico to see where his or her sense of "good," self-interested political "decision-making" might be positively aligned with truly left -progressive ideals and agendas? As people who raise this criticism know quite well, of course, there's quite a bit that might be introduced in that regard, much of it proposed by an ongoing tradition of serious progressive electoral reformers. Here are some of their good proposals: * Take private money out of public elections through the full mandatory equal and public financing of federal campaigns * Introduce proportional representation in the election of state and congressional representatives. * Provide extra public resources and public access - a form of political party affirmative action - for third, fourth, and fifth parties that have been discriminated against in the past. * Introduce a parliamentary system whereby the chief executive is selected by and ultimately subordinated to the representative branch of government. * If a presidential system remains, introduce "instant run off" voting - a mechanism requiring permitting third and fourth parities to avoid functioning as "spoilers" by requiring that winners must receive at least 50 percent of the total vote. Let all voters mark their second and third favorite choices, hold an instant run off between the top candidates until one candidate secures at least 50 percent plus one. * Permit "fusion" voting, whereby voters are free to support a major party candidate in the name of their own favorite third (or fourth, etc.) party. * Mandate free media advertisements for all candidates. * Remove candidate debates from private media corporations and hand them over to publicly funded, publicly elected, and publicly overseen citizen committees. * Activate antitrust laws to break up the current corporate media oligopoly and distribute political news and information across a broader and more diverse range of print and media outlets. * Require that media campaign coverage spend a designated relevant amount of time on policy and ideological differences between and among candidates and parties. I agree with the criticism at one level. I support each of these reforms and in fact argued for them (and more) at the conclusion of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (2008). But there's a big problem with setting up a dichotomy between social movement activism and this sort of radical electoral reform (as I mistakenly did in my 2008 book, I should add ). Doing so begs the important question of how and why the existing political order's currently entrenched elites would be any more prone to introduce such major political reforms than it would be to end a war or corporate subsidy in the absence of significant and highly mobilized grassroots pressure from the bottom up. Expecting the political class and its well-heeled, deep-pockets sponsors to bring about any significant measure of progressive electoral reform in the absence of relevant radical mass protest and activism is naive. "Are You Trying to Elect Sarah Palin in 2012?" "You're only helping Republicans. What's the matter with you? Do you want Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty in the White House in 2013?" I have heard this criticism, too, again and again, from so-called left liberals since Obama's early months in the White House. In order to rally meaningful progressive social movement and anti-war activity against the persistently center-right corporate, financial, and military policies being conducted in the name of "change" by the current White House, it is necessary to break through "Obamaitis" - the paralysis inflicted on liberals and progressives by the childish illusion of Obama as some of sort of progressive-left actor. Critical distancing, elementary due-diligence research, and truth-telling is required. You have to separate the real Obama team from the illusory branding. You have to be willing to see Obama in the world of "power as it is, not as many of us wish it to be." The results of doing that are not pleasant, as much of my previous writing on ZNet and at Black Agenda Report has tried to demonstrate without apology. My own research and reporting, including my forthcoming book The Empire's New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, June 2010), even at times show Obama going beyond the Bush-Cheney regime in advancing the combined and interrelated imperatives of empire and inequality at home and abroad. It has not been a fun volume to write. Many Democrats are of course reluctant to see the shroud taken off the "Dalai Obama." They are not ready or willing to look at what is exposed when the new emperor's clothes are removed. They are embarrassed, some of them, at the enthusiasm and even passion they heaped on his candidacy and presidency in the name of progressive and democratic ideals.. They are worried, some of them, about losing real or perceived access to power and funding (and even employment) if they join me and others on the left in seeing and speaking the terrible truth about the corporate-imperial and authoritarian Obama presidency. They are incapable, some of them, of seeing Obama as anything other the progressive hero they imagined him to be (with no small help from Team Obama's expert niche-marketers) or of understanding left criticism (which hardly enjoys access to dominant media and educational institutions) or of imagining Obama as anything than the left-leaning actor they and the right wing noise machine insists (against elementary and ubiquitous, overwhelming evidence to the contrary) he must be. And, of course, many frightened progressives are convinced that any substantive and serious, sustained criticism of their "liberal" standard-bearer is a vote for the dangerous right-wing Republicans. In the Manichean, black or white "all or nothing" world of American "winner-take-all" politics, they sense, there is no room for anything beyond the most marginal and respectful criticism of Empire's New Clothes. To get real about Barack Obama and the rest of the corporate-imperial Wall Street Democrats is, they fear, to give the game back to the dreaded G.O.P. in America's narrow-spectrum two-track winner-take-all pinball machine of a party system and political culture. Three important points get badly lost in this last, fear-based argument. First, the right wing might as well have won the last election anyway when progressive and "left" forces are unwilling and/or unable to meaningfully protest right-leaning policy on the part of a not-so "liberal" White House. "When you start in the center (on, say, healthcare or Afghanistan) and readily move rightward several steps to appease rightwing politicians or lobbyists or Generals," the progressive journalism professor Jeff Cohen noted last November, "by definition you are governing as a conservative." As Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote after FOX News and the Republicans essentially fired the black environmental activist Van Jones from the White House in September of 2009, "If racists can ostensibly lose an election, and still dictate policy, then, have they really lost?" One would write much the same sentence substituting the words "corporatists" or "imperialists" or "militarists" or "police state advocates" or "enemies of sustainable ecology" for "racists" and also make a relevant point about the Obama administration. And if the more openly right wing party were to return to power in 2012 or 2016, some radicals add (with no small justice in my "cynical" view at least the "conservatives" would be running the show without the confusing and pacifying faade of "liberal" rule. This might spark more "progressives" to actively oppose policies and structures that many of them seem inordinately reluctant to resist as long as Democrats and "Brand Obama" hold the top elected offices.) Second, one probably hurts rather than helps Obama's chances of having a second term and the Democrats' chances of keeping a majority in Congress by turning a blind eye to the rightward, Bush-re-branded policy trajectory of the current White House. That trajectory, richly continuous with Obama's "mushy" ideological record, goes against the grain of majority American opinion, which stands well to the left of both of the nation's major business parties. By graphically failing to fulfill their campaign promises to (essentially) act in accord with that opinion, Obama and his party mates walks the usual treacherous corporate-military Democratic line between (i) doing the bidding of Washington's real-world capitalist and military masters and (ii) so alienating the populace as to endanger their electoral chances in 2010 and 2012. The danger is escalated amidst an epic economic downturn marked by stubborn mass joblessness and deepening poverty and inequality that the federal government is unable or unwilling to meaningfully reverse and in light of an expanded military commitment to futile colonial war in Afghanistan (along with adjacent Pakistan), a legendary graveyard of empire - not to mention the continuing occupation of Iraq and war president Obama's related escalated campaigns in Somalia and Yemen. Third, progressive "Obamaitis"  is a gift to the far right in a different but related way. In the absence of meaningful anger and protest on the left, the dodgy, arch-regressive and messianic-militarist Republican right wing and its still-potent "noise machine" is absurdly left to soak up and express much of the legitimate "populist rage" (to use the corporate media's pejorative term for understandable working class anger) that ordinary Americans naturally feel over Washington's continuing captivity to concentrated wealth, corporate-direction, and the military-industrial complex. This is dangerous. Popular resentment abhor a vacuum and there are more than enough "educators" and activists on the corporate-funded far right - e.g. Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck et al. - who are ready, willing, and able to step into void left by pathetic "left" quiescence and irrelevance. "A Chasm Has Opened Up Which We Must Leap Across to Survive" As Noam Chomsky observed four years ago, "One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: 'they present solutions and I don't like them.'"  Again and again in 2008 and 2009, I have heard "liberals" and centrists accuse "hard left" critics of Obama and the Democrats of being hopelessly alienated and negativistic "gripers" and "antis." We are supposedly just harsh opponents of "reality" - "cynics" and "ideologues" (our supposedly "reality-based" liberal critics purport to have transcended ideology) who are all about being "against" and are not actually "for" anything real and "pragmatic" and "practical" in the real world. Consistent with Chomsky's point, however, my 2008 "Obama book" ended with a detailed list of action and policy proposals that are widely supported on much of the really existing "hard left." The policies recommended included radical electoral reform, the socially progressive re-chartering and egalitarian reconstruction of the modern corporation, checks on corporate globalization, a serious policy attack on institutional racism, substantive universal health reform on the progressive single-payer model, labor law reform (the rapidly forgotten Employee Free Choice Act, for a start), the re-building and expansion of the union movement, removal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, a rollback of the Pentagon System and the global U.S. Empire in connection with a major domestic and global peace dividend, and the dismantling of the "national security" police, surveillance and (globally unmatched) mass incarceration state built around the related official "wars on terror and drugs." At the same time, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics was not content to call only for reforms, even radical reforms. It also called for something more drastic - revolution: "In trying to work creatively with the Obama moment, people engaged in progressive political action should not be afraid of demanding something along the lines of revolution. King's 'radical restructuring' and reordering of national and global priorities is a matter of increasing urgency and indeed survival for the democratic ideal and for sustainable human existence. 'Reforms will not suffice' and capitalism and democracy are two very different and indeed fundamentally opposed beasts." The demand for radical, even revolutionary change naturally strikes many, probably most of Obama's more intellectually inclined liberal and progressive supporters as hopelessly "utopian" and "unrealistic" - as off the charts of serious consideration. The real progressive thing, the properly "practical" and "pragmatic" course, such Democrats think, is to carefully and incrementally push for small steps on the long, slow path to a better world. As Obama likes to say, "we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good." But for many on the actual historical Left, the honest and truly informed calculation of what is realistic is profoundly different. Leaving aside the important fact that many of Obama's "reforms" are simply (far worse then being merely "less than perfect"!) "just no damn good" (for example the current ongoing corporatist "health reform" without even a shred of a public alternative to the rule of the for-profit insurance mafia) even just from a mildly progressive liberal perspective (the perspective of say, a John Conyers), we have a very dissimilar sense of practicality and reality. As we see it, the currently reigning profits system - every bit as entrenched and intact under the "leftist" Obama and a (corporate-) Democratic congressional majority as it was with Bush and Republicans in the saddle (possibly more entrenched now thanks in part to the superficially left cover provided by "Brand Obama") - is thoroughly incompatible with basic human needs and democratic principles. The really fantastic, actually deadly illusion, for us, is to believe that the U.S. and humanity can build a desirably democratic and sustainable future without implementing an egalitarian alternative to the capitalist order - to the so-called "free market" system to which Barack Obama has repeatedly pledged his allegiance  and on whose financial chieftains he has so strongly relied. Increasingly grave ecological issues, particularly those connected with the largely U.S.-driven problem of global warming call into question the "pragmatic" wisdom of pursuing nothing more than the "incremental change" that many Obama fans laud the president for embodying. As Ricardo Levins-Morales noted in an important reflection on the Left strategy and prospects last summer, the cautious "one small step at a time" approach to progressive change loses credibility when the existing order is posing ever more imminent existential questions of survival  for the species. Honest appreciation of realistic imperatives calls for a more radical approach: "If the road we are on leads to a precipice, then a shift in our strategic orientation is overdue. If the Obama administration proposes modest green-oriented initiatives and then waters them down to mollify corporate interests, we will still (it can be argued) end up further along than we were to begin with. If we envision ourselves as advancing across an expanse of open field, then we can measure our progress in terms of yardage gained and be satisfied that we are least moving in the right direction. If, instead, a chasm has opened up which we must leap across to survive, then the difference between getting twenty percent versus forty percent of the way across is meaningless. It means we have transitioned from a system of political letter grades to one of 'pass/fail.' We either make the leap or not." As the world enters a period of epic mass structural unemployment and (most urgently of all) related, potentially fatal ecological crisis  that is directly traceable to - and fundamentally rooted in - the profits system , it's long past time for millions of Americans to embrace (as some recent polling suggests many do, in fact ) the conclusion that Obama's left cheerleader Michael Moore had reached half way into the first of his candidate's presidency: "Folks, capitalism's got to go. Because we can't have a system where the richest 1 percent own as much as the bottom 95 percent. That just isn't democracy. That's not America. That just isn't democracy. That's not America." The filmmaker had a point, whatever his often irrational commitment to Obama, who clearly disagrees (FOX News fantasies notwithstanding) with Moore's filmmaker's judgment on the profits system. "The rich," as the French environmental writer Herve Kempf has demonstrated at length, "are destroying the Earth." Their continued privileged, opulent, and controlling existence and their toxic, powerful mass-consumerist "growth ideology" - ubiquitously disseminated by their cultural and communications apparatus - is transparently incompatible with humanity's social and environmental carrying capacity as we move into the second decade of the 21st century. And the notion of a capitalist system without a super-opulent wealthy Few - their remarkable concentration of wealth standing in inherent deep conflict with democracy - is a theoretical and practical absurdity. In one of the many wryly humorous moments in his 2009 movie Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore examines a copy of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives. He asks a guard to show him the part of U.S. Constitution which mandates that the U.S. organize its economic life on a capitalist basis. It's a purposefully ridiculous request, of course. No such section or passage exists in the Constitution or, for that matter, in The Declaration of Independence (DOI). The term "capitalism" was not in use in late 18th century North America or Europe, in fact. Still, both of these documents can be reasonably cited in opposition to the corporate profits system that later overtook the nation's economic and political life, instituting the aforementioned "unelected dictatorship of money." The Constitution requires federal officeholders, including the president, to work "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity." The DOI states that humanity possesses the rights to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." It says that governments "derive their [only] just powers from the consent of the governed" and proclaims the popular right of revolution when "any form of government becomes destructive of these ends." More than being merely different from the nation's founding principles of popular government and common good and absent from its founding documents, capitalism is opposed to those core precepts. Its key characteristics include: * A consistent drive towards the ever-greater concentration of wealth and power. * The relentless subordination of the majority populace to employee status (to wage-and salary-slavery). * Harshly authoritarian and hierarchical division, command, and stultification of the human work process. * The contingency of employment on business-class profitability. * The insidious drowning of basic egalitarian human sentiments and life-ways in the "icy waters of egotistical calculation" (As Karl Marx and Frederick Engels put it in 1848). * The soulless hegemony of exchange value over social and human use value. * A constant and unequal battle between the wealth of the capitalist Few and the income, security, autonomy, health, and sanity of the working class Many. * A relentless profit-addicted, "cost externalizing" business assault on livable ecology. * The private ownership and biased control of core opinion-forming communications sectors. * Disproportionate political and ideological influence for the capitalist elite, with its wealth concentrated and protected in giant, impersonal corporations, whose directors are legally mandated to privilege investor profit over any and all other basic democratic and civil concerns. None of these and other characteristics of the modern profits system can be meaningfully reconciled with either the pre-capitalist republicanism of the United States' venerated founders or modern democratic ideals. The last thing any administration claiming to represent "We the People" in a democracy should be doing in the name of "change" is acting on Obama's model to (following the admonitions of Wall Street moguls like Orin Kramer, a top Obama bankroller ) sustain the capitalist system - a system which threatens to bring the human experiment to a close sooner than many of even the darkest of us had imagined. Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com)is the author of many articles, chapters, speeches, and books, including Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004), Segregated School: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008). Street's next book is titled The Empire's New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010 - spring). NOTES 1 David Garrow, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (New York, NY: 1986), p. 562). 2 Martin Luther King., Jr. "Where Do We Go From Here?" (1967), p.250 in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. By James M. Washington (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1991); Michael Eric Dyson, I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.(New York: Touchstone, 2000), pp. 82-89; Paul Street, "The Pale Reflection: Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Meaning of the Black Revolution," ZNet Magazine (March 16, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12336; Paul Street, "Martin Luther King, Jr: Democratic Socialist," ZNet Sustainer Commentary (January 14, 2006): http://www.zmag.org/Sustainers/Content/2006-01/14street.cfm and Black Commentator (February 2, 2006): http://www.blackcommentator.com/169/169_street_mlk_democratic_socialist.html Paul Street, ".Until We Get a New Social Order': Reflections on the Radicalism of Martin Luther King, Jr." ZNet Magazine (January 16, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11871. 3 For some chilling reflections on U.S.-imposed mass death and devastation in Southeast Asia, see William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 2005), pp. 66, 114, 117-118, 138-139, 174; Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues (Boston, MA: South End, 1993)pp. 251-274; Ward Churchill, On the Justice of roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality (Oakland CA: AK Press, 2003), pp.132-149. 4 Garrow, Bearing the Cross, p. 562. 5 Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go From Here?" 1967, reproduced in King, Testament of Hope, p. 250. 6 King, "Where Do We Go From Here?" 7 William F. Pepper, An Act of State: The Execution of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Verso, 2003). 8 Mumia Abu-Jamail, "Just War? Or Just War...," ZNet (January 3, 2010), http://www.zmag.org/zspace/commentaries/4096,quoting from and citing Vincent Harding, Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero (New York: Maryknoll, 1996). 9 Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?," The New Yorker (May 7, 2007); Paul Street , Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008), pp. ix-163; Paul Street, "Audacious Deference to Power," ZNet Magazine (January 24, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11936; Kevin Baker, "Barack Hoover Obama: The Best and the Brightest Blow it Again," Harper's Magazine (July 2009). 10 Paul Street, ".We Will Not Apologize For Our Way of Life': Left Reflections on Barack Obama's Not-So Non-Ideological Inaugural Address, "ZNet (January 24, 2009), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/20356. 11 Psalms, 146:3 12 Laurence H. Shoup, "The Presidential Election 2008," Z Magazine (February 2008); Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Riding the .Green Wave' at the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Beyond," Electric Politics, July 22, 2009. 13 Noam Chomsky, Interventions (San Francisco: City, Lights, 2007), pp. 99-100. 14 Adolph Reed Jr., "Sitting This One Out," The Progressive (November 2007). 15 Reed, "Sitting This One Out." Reed is a longstanding left critic of Obama's centrist, the first intellectual to note (more than eight years before the Obama phenomenon burst across the national and global stage from the floor of the 2004 Democratic National Convention) Obama's neoliberal centrism. Curiously, the less radical black academician and major Obama fan Cornell West - an early and vocal member of "Progressives for Obama" who advised the Obama campaign and spoke more than once of his "love" for the future first black president during the campaign year of 2008- made a similar point in 1990. Real and substantive "social motion and movements in America tend," West wrote twenty years ago, "to be neither rooted in nor sustained by campaigns for electoral office, no matter how charismatic the leader....Despite the symbolic and cathartic electoral victories of liberal women and people of color, all remain thoroughly shackled by corporate priorities in the economy and in debt-ridden administrations. Under such conditions, the plight of the ill-fed, ill-clad, and ill-house tends to get worse." Two decades before the great, identity-politicized Hillary-Obama-McCain-Palin battle to embody the Re-Branding of America, the future Obama fan and black-academic celebrity West argued that merely symbolic change through bourgeois electoral victories for outwardly liberal minority or female candidates were inadequate to produce significant progressive change. The real "social motion," he knew, came from social movements. See Cornel West, "The Role of Law in Progressive Politics"  in David Kairys, ed., The Politics of Law: A Progressive Critique (New York: Basic, 1998), pp. 712-713. 16 Howard Zinn, "Election Madness," The Progressive (March 2008). For similar and related reflections, see Chomsky, Interventions, 99-100. 17 See Street, Barack Obama, "Chapter 4: How Antiwar? Obama, Iraq, and the Audacity of Empire," pp. 123-163. 18 See Charles Derber, Hidden Power: What you Need to Know to Save Our Democracy (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2005); Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Poor People's Movements (New York: Pantheon, 1977). 19 Street, Barack Obama, pp. 202-03. 20 That's what I tried to provide progressives from the ground in Chicago and (during the big primary/Caucus build -up) on ZNet, on Black Agenda Report, and in Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics. The leading left-liberal outlets would not pay heed. 21 "Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of.... Brand Obama is a marketer's dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising." Chris Hedges, "Buying Brand Obama," Truthdig (May 3, 2009), read at http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090503_buying_brand_obama/ 22 Jeff Cohen, "Get Ready for the Obama/GOP Alliance," ZNet Sustainer Commentary (November, 2009), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/4058. 23 Mumia Abu-Jamail, "Imagine Being Van Jones," ZNet (September 22, 2009), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3990. 24 "The power of accurate observation," the Irish dramatist and socialist George Bernard Saw once said, "is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." 25 For sources and details, see Paul Street, "To Save the Capitalist System: Reflections on Orin Kramer's Understanding of Barack Obama's Duty to America," Z Magazine (December 2009), pp. 35-36. 26 In late September of 2009, the progressive television show "Democracy Now" interviewed with Kehban Grifter, a young activist who was among a modest number protesting the corporate-globalizationist G 20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "What we're here doing this week," Grifter said, "is distributing our work and trying to talk to people about coal and climate change and globalization. And unfortunately, it seems like a lot of folks aren't turning out for these sorts of mobilizations as much anymore. Maybe they're depressed, maybe they're cynical, maybe they've still got Obamaitis. We're on the outside here. There's like this huge arena and tons of space where they thought lots of people who might care might show up, and we're on the outside of it with cops harassing us, because that's what happens usually at events like this." Reading Ms. Grifter's comment online, I was immediately reminded of an e-mail exchange I had with a left academic who made passing reference to what he called "the Obama disease." This point of his disparaging terms was that Obama was a standard corporate and military regime Democrat, but one with an extraordinary ability - greater than Bill Clinton - to convince progressives that they would somehow be in power if he was to become President of the United States. Ms. Grifter's worries about "Obamaitis" were consistent with sad reports from attempted mass antiwar marches in Washington last March. Led by the once formidable United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the protest was poorly attended. It drew only a few thousand even as Obama transparently escalated and expanded imperial violence in "Af-Pak," after he made clear his determination to increase the Pentagon budget and sustain the Iraq occupation, and even as he went forward with a highly unpopular bailout package for the wealthy Wall Street Few. Dejected organizers reported difficulty getting significant numbers of people to turn out against a White House that was perceived as "left" and antiwar. United for Peace and Justice's (UFPJ's) outgoing director Leslie Cagan reported that her "progressive" and "activist" people weren't protesting anymore because "its enough for many of them that Obama has a plan to end the war and that things are moving in the right direction." Ms. Grifter's comment also reminded me of brief discussion I had with a highly intelligent young antiwar activist - perhaps I should say, former activist - in Iowa City in March of 2009. The election of Obama, the activist told me, had taken all the starch out of the local campus-based University of Iowa Antiwar Committee (UIAC). The group had received an impressive boost in numbers the previous summer, the activist noted, in connection with UIAC's participation in protests at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis -St. Paul in August of 2008. Once the Republicans were defeated, however, many of the group's members simply could not wrap their minds around what the activist felt to be the elementary fact that Obama was "every bit as much of a war president as Bush." The activist agreed with me that Denver, Colorado, site of the Democratic National Convention, would have been a more appropriate destination for the group's protest activities but he doubted that any but a few of the groups' dwindling number of members was able and/or willing to see Obama in the real world of imperial power. The UIAC's potential recruits had fallen prey to "Brand Obama," which induced millions to believe - against a mountain of evidence to the contrary - that he was a progressive and antiwar politician. The Iowa City activist, for his part, had learned his lesson on the irrelevance of left progressive activism. He was "moving on" to graduate studies and foresaw little future participation in the antiwar struggle. Seven months later, the UIAC .s weekly Thursday meetings pulled in four demoralized attendees, none of whom had the slightest sense of how to dent the local university and community's torpor in regard to Obama's expanding military campaign in "Af-Pak." For Ms. Grifter's comment, see Democracy Now, "Headlines for September 24, 2009," at http://i3.democracynow.org/2009/9/24/headlines 27 Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Metropolitan, 2006), p. 262. 28 Street, Barack Obama and the Future, pp. 193-220. 29 Street, Barack Obama and the Future, p.206. 30 See John K. Wilson, President Barack Obama: A More Perfect Union (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2009), p. 126 and passim. 31 "The president and his supporters often throw around the old cliche about not letting the 'perfect become the enemy of the good.' That's their way of defending the fatal compromises Obama keeps making with the right-wing before the fight has even begun. Whether because of lack of gumption or lack of real commitment on Obama's part, this refusal to confront Power is what has brought us to the current health care debacle in Congress. It's not a matter of the perfect being the enemy of the good, but that the health care legislation shaped by the White House and its allies in Congress is just no damn good." Glen Ford, "John Conyers: 'There is No One More Disappointed Than I am in Barack Obama," Black Agenda Report (August 4, 2009), read at http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/conyers-%E2%80%9Cthere-no-one-more-disappointed-i-am-barack-obama%E2%80%9D. 32 For two among many examples, see Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York: Crown, 2006), pp. 149-150; "President Obama's Inaugural Address: The Full Text" (January 20, 2009), read at http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1872715,00.html 33 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Climate Change Odds Much Worse Than Thought: New Analysis Shows Warming Could be Double Previous Estimates," MIT News, May 19, 2009, read at http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/roulette-0519.html#; Christian Schwagerl, "Obama Has Failed the World on Climate Change," Spiegel Online (November 17, 2009), read at www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,661678,00.html 34 Ricardo Levins-Morales, "Revolution in the Time of Hamsters," ZNet (September 18, 2009). 35 For a chilling and comprehensive reflection by the environmental editor of the leading French newspaper Le Monde, see Herve Kempf, How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2007). For recent data that ought to give pause, see Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Climate Change Odds." 36 Istvan Meszaros, Socialism or Barbarism: From the "American Century" to the Crossroads (New York: Monthly Review, 2001) 37 Last April, the national polling firm Rasmussen Reports asked 1000 randomly selected American adults a simple question: Which is better, capitalism or socialism? Only 53 percent picked the profits system. Among younger adults (18 to 29-year-olds), just 37 percent preferred capitalism, 33 percent socialism, and 30 percent were undecided (Rasmussen Reports, April 9, 2009).These were remarkable findings in light of decades of ongoing Red Scare propaganda in this country. 38 David Germain, "Michael Moore: I May Quit Documentaries," Huffington Post (September 15, 2009), read at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/15/michael-moore-i-may-quit-_n_286854.html 39 Kempf, How The Rich Are Destroying the Earth. Among other things, Kempf demonstrates that capitalism' super-rich underwrite dissemination of the core Western notion that growth is the solution to social crises resulting from inequality, poverty and unemployment. A "rising tide lifts all boats," the standard Western maxim (carried over from the New Deal era into the neoliberal age) maintains, making "angry" comparisons between the Few's yachts and the Many's rowboats obsolete. "Expanding the pie," the conventional top-down economic wisdom still asserts, abolishes the supposedly irrelevant question of socioeconomic redistribution - of how the pie is shared out. "To escape any reevaluation," Kempf notes, "the oligarchy keeps repeating the dominant ideology according to which the solution to the social crisis is production growth. This is supposedly the sole means of fighting poverty and unemployment." Abundant data over the last three-and-a-half decades shows that economic growth does not in fact reliably undo those and other social evils. But so what? The notion that material growth is the answer lives on because it induces societies plagued by structurally imposed poverty and idleness "to accept extreme inequalities without questioning them." Besides being demonstrably false on its own terms, moreover, the reigning doctrine ignores growth's giant negative impact on an increasingly fragile environment. The toxic ecological costs of increasing total consumption far outpace whatever gains are achieved in per-unit ecological efficiency within and beyond "advanced" economies. 40 See Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), p. 269: "capit-tal-ism, n." Lester Thurow, The Future of Capitalism (New York: Penguin, 1996), p. 248; Ellen Meiksens Wood, Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1995); David Montgomery, Citizen Worker: The Experience of Workers in the United States With Democracy and the Free Market During the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Paul Street, "Capitalism and Democracy .Don't Mix Very Well': Reflections on Globalization," Z Magazine (February 2000): 20-24; Paul Street, "Hitchens, Orwell, Capitalism, and the Real Threat to Democracy," Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, Volume 26, Number 1 (January-March 2004): 61-68. 41 Street, "To Save the Capitalist System;" Street, "Democracy and Capitalism." On ideological influence: some "unreasonable" thinkers have noted that the United States' free speech and civil libertarian traditions inherited from the late 18th century are an invitation to corporate-totalitarian thought-control and propaganda when they exist side by side with the profit system's stark socioeconomic inequalities. Precisely because Americans can't be dominated in purely coercive ways, they must be controlled in more subtle and less overtly oppressive fashion. Because they are "free to speak their minds," their minds must be influenced by those who wish to maintain existing extreme disparities of wealth and power. Thus, there is a huge capitalist investment in the U.S. in what Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman call "manufacturing consent," what Herbert Schiller called "mind management," and what Alex Carey called "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy." See Alex Carey, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1997); Herbert Schiller, The Mind Managers (Boston: Beacon, 1973); Noam Chomsky and Edward S Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988/2002). See also Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (1989); Noam Chomsky, Letters From Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda (1990/2004); Robert W. McChesney Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy (1997); Robert McChesney, Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times (2000); Robert McChesney and John Nichols, It's the Media Stupid (2000); and Howard Friel and Richard Falk, The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports U.S. Foreign Policy (2004); Anthony Dimaggio, When Media Goes to War (New York: Monthly Review, 2010). 42 Here are fifty fascinating words from Kramer, a leading member of the U.S. financial aristocracy and political class, captured and reproduced in a front-page article in The New York Times last October 20th: "There is some failure in the finance industry to appreciate the level of public antagonism towards whatever Wall Street symbolizes. But in order to save the capitalist system, the administration has to be responsive to the public mood, and that is a nuance which can get lost on Wall Street." The reason Kramer gave for why Obama must demonstrate responsiveness to public feelings was to save the mogul's cherished profits system. Not because we claim to live in a democracy where the populace and the government are supposed (in theory) to be identical. Not because the popular majority is understood to be the ruling force in a nation that purports to be based on the principle of one person, one vote. No, the point, for Orin Kramer, was to "save the capitalist system," as if Obama and his team had taken an oath to honor, defend, protect, and preserve the private system of socioeconomic management, not the U.S. Constitution. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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