Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 24, 2012

The bipartisan attack on democracy and human rights

Filed under: Islamophobia,Obama,ultraright — louisproyect @ 7:14 pm

Three articles appearing on page one of today’s NY Times overlap with each other in terms of what they say about the deepening erosion of democratic and human rights in the United States since the “war on terror” began after 9/11. It is difficult to decide which one is more outrageous. You can judge for yourself.

From the article titled “In Police Training, a Dark Film on U.S. Muslims”, we learn that a viciously Islamophobic film titled “The Third Jihad” was shown to 1489 N.Y. cops as part of their official training. When Tom Robbins, described as a former Village Voice columnist, was tipped off by a cop that the film was being shown, the police brass lied about it, saying that it had been mistakenly shown only a “couple of times” for a few officers. It should be stated that Robbins left the Voice under conditions very much related to the political morass the country finds itself in. When the newsweekly fired Wayne Barrett, a ferocious critic of metropolitan political abuses just like the one taking place in the police department today, Robbins resigned in protest. Nowadays the only full-time columnist for the paper is one Michael Musto, whose “La Dolce Musto” covers the gossip beat. His most recent column was titled “Keira Knightley Reveals the Secret Behind Her Spanking Scene!” There’s a place for that sort of thing, of course, but not at the expense of hard-hitting investigative journalism.

A half-hour version of “The Third Jihad” can be seen on Youtube:

The film is narrated by Zuhdi Jasser, a “devout Muslim” as he describes himself, who is a fixture on rightwing television and radio shows. Media Matters reported:

Jasser is also conspicuous in his willingness to appear on Fox News to mitigate the effects of their pundits’ anti-Islamic rhetoric. After Fox host Bill O’Reilly went on The View and declared that “Muslims killed us on 9-11,” triggering a walk-off of the show’s hosts, he turned to Jasser, who declared that he was “absolutely not” offended by O’Reilly’s comments and actually thanked the Fox host for making them. Likewise, after NPR fired Juan Williams for his own controversial comments about Muslims, Fox hosted Jasser, who was again “absolutely not” offended.

The Times reports that the film was produced by the Clarion Fund, a group bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson, a gambling casino magnate and ultra-Likudnik who is described in one of the other three NY Times articles as a major funder of the super-PAC that helped Newt Gingrich defeat Romney in the South Carolina primary. Zuhdi Jasser appeared in another ultraright film titled “America at Risk: The War with No Name”, a joint product of the Koch brothers’ Citizens United and Gingrich Productions.

The police department is stonewalling efforts by Faiza Patel, the director of the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU Law School, to get to the bottom of its sordid ties to the Clarion Fund’s political agenda. The Times states: “None of the documents turned over to the Brennan Center make clear which police officials approved the showing of this film during training. Department lawyers blacked out large swaths of these internal memorandums.”

For its part, the Clarion Fund has resisted efforts to come clean:

Repeated calls over the past several days to the Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, were not answered. The nonprofit group shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization that opposes any territorial concessions on the West Bank. The producer of “The Third Jihad,” Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.

Sheldon Adelson is the perfect symbol of American support for Israel today. Against a backdrop of declining support by secular Jews, particularly the younger and college-educated, it naturally rests on the shoulders of a man who became a billionaire in the gambling casino business. He is the 8th richest person in the U.S. and 16th in the world, sitting atop a fortune of $21 billion. As the owner of the non-union Venetian hotel and other properties in Las Vegas, Adelson has staked out a viciously anti-labor position vis-à-vis the city’s militant trade union movement. In a profile on Adelson, Connie Bruck told New Yorker Magazine’s  readers:

Like all major Las Vegas hotel casinos, the Sands was a union hotel when Adelson bought it, but the Venetian was non-union. This sparked a singularly bitter war with the Culinary Union, which had for many years maintained good relations with most hotels on the Strip. (Adelson has said that the benefits he gives his employees are superior to union benefits.) After a rally in which a thousand union supporters picketed in front of the Venetian, Adelson tried to have them removed by the police, and when that failed he went to court, arguing that the sidewalks outside the Venetian were private property, and not subject to the First Amendment. The Venetian lost in the district court and the appellate court, and in 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Using his ill-gained fortune, Adelson has become a major player in Israeli politics as one of Netanyahu’s staunchest supporters. Bruck reports:

Adelson is also funding, with a $4.5-million grant, a think tank, the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, at the right-leaning Shalem Center, in Jerusalem. Netanyahu allies are on its staff. Natan Sharansky, the chairman of One Jerusalem, also chairs the Adelson Institute. Sharansky helped organize a “Democracy and Security” conference last June, in Prague, which was attended by President Bush. Iran was a major topic of discussion. A month after the Prague conference, Adelson attended a fund-raising event at the C.A.A. talent agency, in Los Angeles, for Steven Emerson, an investigative journalist specializing in Islamic extremism and terrorism, who was showing a ten-minute trailer for a film he wanted to make. Emerson introduced Sheldon and Miriam to the overflow crowd in C.A.A.’s two-hundred-seat theatre, saying that they were his generous supporters. After Emerson’s presentation, Pooya Dayanim, a Jewish-Iranian democracy activist based in Los Angeles, chatted with Adelson. Recalling their conversation, Dayanim observed that Adelson was dismissive of Reza Pahlevi, the son of the former Shah, who had participated in the Prague conference, because, Adelson said, “he doesn’t want to attack Iran.” According to Dayanim, Adelson referred to another Iranian dissident at the conference, Amir Abbas Fakhravar, whom he said he would like to support, saying, “I like Fakhravar because he says that, if we attack, the Iranian people will be ecstatic.” Dayanim said that when he disputed that assumption Adelson responded, “I really don’t care what happens to Iran. I am for Israel.”

Given his predilections, it is no surprise that Adelson would rally around the candidacy of Newt Gingrich who announced recently that there was no such thing as a Palestinian people. While some might be tempted to describe Mr. and Mrs. Adelson’s donation of 10 million dollars to a pro-Gingrich super-PAC as a kind of bribe, the reality is that Gingrich needed no bribing. His Islamophobic views would be dispensed for free, although he could always use an extra 10 million dollars or so given his expensive tastes, including shopping sprees at Tiffany’s.

In the article titled “‘Super PAC’ for Gingrich to Get $5 Million Infusion”, N.Y. Times reporter Nicholas Confessore informed his readers:

A wealthy backer of Newt Gingrich will inject $5 million into a “super PAC” supporting his presidential bid, two people with knowledge of the contribution said on Monday, providing a major boost to Mr. Gingrich as he seeks to fend off aggressive attacks from Mitt Romney, his main Republican rival.

The supporter, Dr. Miriam Adelson, is the wife of Sheldon Adelson, a longtime Gingrich friend and a patron who this month contributed $5 million to the super PAC, Winning Our Future. Dr. Adelson’s check will bring the couple’s total contributions to Winning Our Future to $10 million, a figure that could substantially neutralize the millions of dollars already being spent in Florida by Mr. Romney and Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting him.

Confessore connected this sordid business to the Supreme Court decision on behalf of the Koch-funded Citizen’s United, a co-producer of the Gingrich Islamophobic documentary “”America at Risk: The War with No Name”:

The contribution also underscored how the advantages built by Mr. Romney’s campaign, including a potent get-out-the-vote operation in Florida and tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions raised in chunks of no more than $2,500, are being challenged by new forces, including the high-profile debates that have elevated Mr. Gingrich and the emergence of new campaign finance rules in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling.

That decision paved the way for super PACs, including the kind that have spent more than $30 million in the Republican primary so far: political committees run by each candidate’s former aides and financed by a few wealthy supporters. Because they are technically independent of the candidate, the groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, rendering less relevant the limits that Congress imposed in the 1970s on contributions to candidates.

As might be obvious at this point, even a lobotomized goose could connect the dotted lines between Adelson, the Likud, the NY Police Department, and Gingrich.

Now, lest anybody mistake me for the hysterical liberals at MSNBC who are rehearsing to get out the vote for Obama in 2012 as America’s last best hope for forestalling the Republican Party’s fascist bid, the last article on the front page of the N.Y. Times should dispel such illusions.

We learn from Charlie Savage’s article titled “Ex-C.I.A. Officer Charged in Information Leak” that one John Kuriakou has been arrested:

The Justice Department on Monday charged a former Central Intelligence Agency officer with disclosing classified information to journalists about the capture and brutal interrogation of a suspected member of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah — adding another chapter to the Obama administration’s crackdown on leaks.

In a criminal complaint filed on Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation accused John Kiriakou, the former C.I.A. officer, of disclosing the identity of a C.I.A. analyst who worked on a 2002 operation that located and interrogated Abu Zubaydah. The journalists included a New York Times reporter, it alleged.

“Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of C.I.A. officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in a statement.

While not exactly a Julian Assange, Kuriakou is being made an example in order to intimidate anybody in the intelligence corps who might be tempted to reveal one or another of America’s torture state infelicities. Ironically, despite being depicted by Holder as a threat to national security, Kuriakou was an advocate of water-boarding and not some latter-day Philip Agee.

However, the real eye-opener in the article is something buried within it and mentioned almost casually:

At the same time, the department on Monday cleared of wrongdoing a legal defense team for inmates at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for its efforts to identify officials involved in the coercive interrogations of “high value” suspects. The effort was a project by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to bolster the representation of detainees facing death sentences in military commissions.

I did a double-take after reading this. Why in the world would a legal defense team for inmates at Guantánamo Bay be under any kind of legal threat for trying to identify torturers? A legal defense team, I should add, that was made up of military men trained as lawyers. Given the legal reasoning underpinning the prosecution of Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg, the real wrongdoing would be torture itself and Holder’s stubborn defense of the right of the torturers to remain free of the consequences of their actions. What kind of society are we living in when the President of the United States, a constitutional lawyer trained at Harvard University, ends up threatening lawyers in the same way that they are in countries like China, Zimbabwe or Iran for defending “enemies” of the state?

The ACLU was threatened back in 2009 as a result of showing some photographs to prisoners at Guantanamo as the Times reported:

The Justice Department is investigating whether three military defense lawyers for detainees at the Guantánamo prison illegally showed their clients photographs of C.I.A. interrogators, two leaders of civilian legal groups that are working with the defense lawyers said Thursday.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation approached the three lawyers with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps nearly two weeks ago, said Anthony D. Romero, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is helping the military lawyers defend the detainees in military commissions.

The agents informed the uniformed lawyers of their right to remain silent, and then questioned them about whether they showed their clients pictures of Central Intelligence Agency officials — possibly including covert agents — that came from an “independent investigation” by the A.C.L.U. and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Mr. Romero said.

The lawyers were trying to identify the torturers not so much as an effort to have them arrested, as just as this might be, but to prevent their clients from being executed. If the torturers could be forced to testify to their deeds in court, then the court might have decided that their confessions were extracted illegally. What an amazing statement on life today in the U.S.A. when an African-American president and his African-American attorney general behave like a couple of goons from Pinochet’s Chile or some other rotten torture state.

If you want to get some insight into how Obama manages to sink to such depths, I recommend an article by Ryan Lizza in the latest New Yorker magazine. Lizza is a conventional liberal and supporter of the President but he is also a very good reporter. He has made a very convincing case in all of his articles on Obama that the man is about as progressive as Joe Lieberman, a politician he stumped for in his last election in Connecticut before voters decided they had enough of the creep.

Titled “The Obama Memos“, Lizza’s article describes the President as a right-leaning politician motivated both by ideology and a desire to win elections based on cynical calculations. Lizza writes:

Obama’s homily about conciliation reflected an essential component of his temperament and his view of politics. In his mid-twenties, he won the presidency of the Harvard Law Review because he was the only candidate who was trusted by both the conservative and the liberal blocs on the editorial staff. As a state senator in Springfield, when Obama represented Hyde Park-Kenwood, one of the most liberal districts in Illinois, he kept his distance from the most left-wing senators from Chicago and socialized over games of poker and golf with moderate downstate Democrats and Republicans. In 1998, after helping to pass a campaign-finance bill in the Illinois Senate, he boasted in his community paper, the Hyde Park Herald, that “the process was truly bipartisan from the start.”

Given the stupendously reactionary character of the contemporary Republican Party, this really tells us all that we want to know about Obama. His fence-straddling approach explains the bipartisan assault taking place today on democracy and human rights. The Republicans steam ahead to the right and Obama chases after them like a dog after a car, trying to catch up.

If the existing left can’t figure out a way to break with this filthy system, then some other left must come along and do a job we are incapable of carrying out. The future of humanity rests on it.


  1. Good post, Louis. We are in a police state now, at least in terms of what you describe here. And the Coast Guard is prepared to accompany the first ship carrying grain into the EGT at Longview Port in Washington state. There may be a settlement at hand between the EGT owners and the ILWU, but this is a sign of things to come. Plus more and more employers are using lockouts and hiring temporary replacements. Police stand ever-ready to stopp protests with armed violence. SWAT teams show up for alleged DUI situations. And on and on. Obama is every bit as bad as Gingrich would be.

    Comment by michael yates — January 24, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  2. It’s a miracle of cynicism that the much-mistrusted Obama has acquired some Lesser Evil credibility simply by virtue of the terror struck in thinking people by the thought that the likes of Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich–or the paranoid and pathologically combative Mitt Romney–might soon be exercising the powers of secret arrest, detention, and murder that Obama has arrogated to the presidency and is already exercising himself.

    Mussolini, after all, was in some ways less bad than Hitler. Probably Austria was better off with Dollfuss.

    How grim that this is the scenario to which our fraudulent democracy now consigns us–and yet how far from astonishing it is that the so-called “liberals” don’t seem to notice the irony or to care about it.

    The increasingly dictatorial and physically abusive behavior of employers, and the astonishing physical aggression being perpetrated in general by the wealthy against their “inferiors”–for example, the multi-millionaire cursing and breaking the fingers of the waiter who violated his instructions for handling the check–may be of more concern than the liquidation of that fairy tale, the U.S. Constitution.

    But both are of concern, if only because they seem to pose the challenge of revolution in all its appalling hardness.

    How can the unfocused benevolence of OWS–clever as it has been of them to bring the issue of social class from the realm of the unthinkable into the forefront of political discourse–help us answer challenges like these, which seem so clearly to require what the liberals would have derided as a “Jacobin” response, and for which the left at present seems to be so unprepared?

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — January 24, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  3. mike wrote:

    “We are in a police state now”

    Mike, seriously, how is this different from what’s been going on in your country for over a century?

    Comment by Todd — January 24, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  4. It’s different because there’s no longer habeas corpus in the USA for one, the mortal blow to 800 plus years of so-called civilized jurisprudence succumbing under Bush’s “Military Commissions Act” and then the coup de grace delivered by Obama 2 weeks ago under the cover of a defense appropriations bill, whereby US citizens can be detained indefinitely without even a phone call, or worse, assassinated without a even a trial, let alone a jury of peers.

    For another, the threat of a movement like OWS catching fire amongst the 99% provides the final ingredient in Uncle Sam forming a truly fascist regime, with Muslims replacing Jews as the scapegoat.

    Trotsky correctly insisted that fascism is unthinkable in an advanced imperialist country without an organized working class threat.

    While OWS is still far from being that organized threat it is clearly the future model with which this rancid republic will be overthrown.

    The bombing of Iran, which appears inevitable, will be a new & hideous phase of, as Gore Vidal said in true Orwellian fashion, perpetual war for perpetual peace.

    Everybody En Guard!

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 24, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

  5. Good stuff. I’d only quibble with this: “The Republicans steam ahead to the right and Obama chases after them like a dog after a car, trying to catch up.” I think Obama likes to have the Republicans take the heat for being “extreme.” Then he gets points for being “moderate,” even though the policy is fundamentally right-wing.

    Comment by Doug Henwood — January 25, 2012 @ 12:14 am

  6. Karl wrote:

    “there’s no longer habeas corpus in the USA for one”

    Habeas has been suspended or abrogated many times throughout the history of the concept, and not just by actual fascist governments eg. here in Canada during the October Crisis. In the half-century since the Crisis, while Canada’s certainly gotten more authoritarian, I’d hesitate before calling it a “police state” (let alone a fascist one). Same goes for the US.

    Things are bad and getting worse, but what’s the point of scaring yourself (and maybe others) with overblown rhetoric?

    Comment by Todd — January 25, 2012 @ 12:16 am

  7. As an aside, Joe V. raises an absolutely essential point that has been largely ignored by the Arianna Huffington’s of the world — despite their raising the spectre of mass pauperization: “The increasingly dictatorial and physically abusive behavior of employers” for which copious evidence exists that volumes & volumes could be written about but just aren’t.

    After all, if the ruling classes goal was to undermine the New Deal, which they’ve succeeded in, then that means working conditions equivalent to before the New Deal, some permanent “fire regulations” & safety standards for “insurance reasons” notwithstanding.

    It’s like Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” all over again. I mean you can Google an article today about pig blood being dumped by a Texas slaughterhouse into a river that children recreate in for crying out loud!

    Maybe Lou should re-read Jack London’s “The Iron Heel” and write a book review that we could debate, compare & contrast?

    On second thought, maybe that’s futile since neither London, Sinclair, Marx, Engels, Lenin or Trotsky could have quite envisioned the brink of finite resources & habitat of the planet being squandered so recklessly & permanently.

    It’s enough to make people fighting mad, and increasingly they are, but with that fight, to be effective, means organization, and with that organizations looms the spectre of fascism to crush it. Only an epic struggle, with mass organization of heroic, heretofore unprecedented proportions, will save us from a certain cruel doom.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 25, 2012 @ 12:16 am

  8. Todd: You’re correct to a point but the fact remains, and I think you may even concede this, that something is qualitatively, even dialectically changing re: human/civil rights. While Gays can get married in more & more states, and long hairs can become cultural icons, and gangsta rapper black men can be worth as much money as an Oprah Winfrey, just look at the statistics re: Uncle Sam’s prison population compared to the rest of the world!

    Just ask a “colored” person in Brooklyn what happens when walking down the street? Ask a Canuck who protested the last Olympic games or one that saw what $800 million of security was spent for on the last Canadian WTO summit?

    Just ask some brown people in Detroit or Windsor that don’t believe in Jesus about what a “rendition” entails.

    It’s easy in the University Milieu to poo poo the recsincion of habeas corpus for a chimerical perpetual war but it’s not so easy when you live amongst the working class who feel the brunt of the parasitic police state that is.

    Bottom line is, as always, you’re full of shit.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 25, 2012 @ 12:42 am

  9. Charlie Brown wrote:

    “Bottom line is, as always, you’re full of shit.”

    Now you read me, you ignorant, bloodthirsting little troll:

    You seem to put jizz-dripping expectation in an apocalyptic battle that’s “just around the corner” where “mass organization of , heretofore unprecedented proportions, will save us from a certain cruel doom”. Who the hell do you think you are, Wagner or something? Do you hum your little personal battle hymns while jerking off to fantasies of manly butchery that you (of course!) inflict on The Evil Ones? That’s about the only reason I can imagine you’d have for gleefully tossing out the window any sense of history.

    (That, or you’re some secret Christian apocalypticist who can’t resist indulging in your End Times fantasies while trying to keep your cover.)

    You’ll just have to pardon me when I prick your ultra-engorgement and deflate your personal “reality” until it’s somewhere around what’s really going on ie what’s been, more or less, going on for long before you were a muzzy gleam in your drunken daddy’s eye.

    Comment by Todd — January 25, 2012 @ 1:09 am

  10. —If the existing left can’t figure out a way to break with this filthy system, then some other left must come along and do a job we are incapable of carrying out.—

    The leadership of the U.S. Left is hopeless. I just come from reading glowing reviews of Morris Berman’s new book on U.S. empire, which showers the rotten Confederacy with praise (“In contrast to the zeal for money that characterized the North, the South was guided by ideals of honor, courage, amiability, and courtesy.”)

    Two of his biggest fans, judging by their reviews ? Chris Hedges and the ‘Marxist’ Dr. Richard Wolff.

    Comment by purple — January 25, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  11. Todd, the frustrated assistant professor of English (whose dreams of tenure have been dashed by the jackboots of militarism’s virtual takeover of higher education) looks down from his University perch in Canada at the increasingly immiserated, harassed & incarcerated American working class with derision, particularly when they complain about the encroachment of fascism, which only needs 2 ingredients in the imperialist epoch — a stampeding petty bourgeoisie and an organized, class conscious proletariat.

    Nobody doubts the American middle class is running scared as they’re being crushed. There’s the first ingredient. That OWS constitutes the embryo of an organized proletarian resistance means something, but it’s hardly apocalyptic.

    That habeas corpus is eliminated for an endless war on a word like “terror” (a word which does not even have an agreed upon definition in the U.N.) is certainly cause for more than just concern.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 25, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  12. `If the existing left can’t figure out a way to break with this filthy system, then some other left must come along and do a job we are incapable of carrying out. The future of humanity rests on it.’

    That could be the problem. A left that thinks it can break the system by shear force of its will. You cannot talk the Obama popular front to death and a refusal to engage with its rank and file is utter sectarianism that will ensure that the left remains impotent. For the left to become relevant three things must happen: the ruling class must not be able to rule in the old way, the working class must not be able to live in the old way and the socialists must have a credible programme that has enabled it to become embedded in the class. None of those things are yet in place though the Republicans are proving that the ruling class is getting close to destroying the bi-partisan system that has served it so well itself.

    This article looks like a precursor to a `don’t vote Obama’ campaign by the sectarian left as if the working class would thank you for helping the bat shit crazy Tea Party dominated Republicans back into power.

    Comment by David Ellis — January 25, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  13. This article looks like a precursor to a `don’t vote Obama’ campaign by the sectarian left as if the working class would thank you for helping the bat shit crazy Tea Party dominated Republicans back into power.

    Actually, the opposition to Obama is rather widespread on the left. It includes just about everybody except case-hardened CP members and the MSNBC/Nation Magazine/Huffington Post melange.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 25, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  14. Bipartisan attack on democracy and human rights? My question is whether there ever was democracy and human rights? Our country was built on slave labor and continues to use sweatshop labor both here and abroad. So racism and religious bigotry can’t be surprising.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — January 25, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  15. I appreciate the time and effort that went into this.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 25, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

  16. “This article looks like a precursor to a `don’t vote Obama’ campaign by the sectarian left as if the working class would thank you for helping the bat shit crazy Tea Party dominated Republicans back into power.”

    If Obama loses and the Republicans return to power, it will be the result of defections of working class people referenced here, defections in places like Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Nevada, among other places. The working class has always been suspicious of Obama, look back at the 2008 presidential primaries where working class voters persistently voted for Hillary Clinton in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Nevada, continuing to vote for him even after it became evident that Clinton had no chance to win the nomination. Pragmatically concerned with the day to day struggles of everyday life, working class people recognized that Obama had nothing to offer them, and they have been consistently proven right, he never has and never will. The left, the left as encountered in its islands in alternative media and academia, has rarely been willing to acknowledge this, and when it does, it usually explains it away, a la Harris-Lacewell, as a byproduct of the residue of racism. For the left, the problem is that the working class perceives no plausible alternative to pragmatic engagement with the existing social order, an alternative that they are willing to fight for with all of its attendant risks. Obama and the electoral process has very little to do with this problem.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 26, 2012 @ 1:06 am

  17. `Actually, the opposition to Obama is rather widespread on the left. It includes just about everybody except case-hardened CP members and the MSNBC/Nation Magazine/Huffington Post melange.’

    Yes but as we know Louis the left in the US is very small and very sectarian. I’m not saying the left should enter the popular front as loyal foot soldiers and apologists of Obama in the traditional CP manner but in order to solidarise with the working class and oppressed minority elements, push its programme and fight for the expulsion of the bourgeois elements. Part of showing solidarity, and in the absence of anything alternative that is remotely credible, will be voting for Obama to defeat the Republicans who will be putting up a very, very right wing candidate who ever wins the nomination.

    Comment by David Ellis — January 26, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  18. Personally, I think that the left should just shut up about the electoral process and focus on other things. As David says, we are small, and we cannot to influence the outcome either way, as painful as it is to admit that. Americans are as cynical and alienated from the political process as they have ever been in my lifetime, equal to, or even greater than, the cynicism in the immediate post-Watergate period of 1974-1976, so it is a good opportunity to directly engage people on issues important to them, without any partisan affiliation or position. Given my anti-authoritarian perspective, I won’t be voting for candidates, but I understand that there are others who are more vulnerable, and may vote for Obama as a matter of attempted self-defence, as ineffectual as that might be, despite their lack of enthusiasm. I’m not going to condemn them for that, or even spend time trying to discourage them. Advocating support for the Democratic Party is disempowering, while telling people that they shouldn’t vote for it is isolating, so why do either? Of course, the embrace of Obama by some left groups is comical, but as I said earlier, the real challenge is the lack of a plausible social alternative that energizes people. Arguing over Obama doesn’t do much to create and advance one.

    Comment by Richard Estes — January 26, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

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