Obama’s War: Foreign and Domestic

Obama’s recent decision to commit 30,000 more soldiers to the

Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!

Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!

occupation of Afghanistan has angered folks who thought the promised “change” would include change in the US government’s imperialist foreign policy.  Anti-war, semi-socialist ex-Democrat Cynthia McKinney puts the cumulative effect well in a recent editorial:

“…there is deep disquiet today within the ranks of the President’s own base in the Democratic Party, with independents, and with middle-of-the-roaders called “swing” voters.  In unprecedented numbers, voters in the United States of all previous political persuasions went to the polls and invested their dreams and, most importantly, their votes in the “hope” and “change” promised by the Obama campaign.  But in light of the President’s defense of Bush Administration war crimes and torture in U.S. courts, the transfer of trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the wealthy banking elite, continued spying on environmental and peace activists as well as support for the extension of the Patriot Act, and removal of Medicare-for-all (single payer) as a central feature of proposed health care reform, Obama voters are rethinking their support.”

The resulting uproar from the liberal/progressive wing of Democratic Party voters doesn’t result from simple naïveté about the nature of the US political system; many up-until-recently disillusioned US residents were bamboozled by Obama’s race and rhetoric.  The Black electoral base, which is generally the most progressive section of US society, has been especially victimized by the assumption that racist, imperialist politics radiate from a white, racist chief executive.  The Obama administration PR team, and the Democratic Party in general, have encouraged this image through Obama’s constant appropriation of Black political heroes like MLK and most recently Muhammad Ali.  As Dave Zirin observes in his recent article Message to Obama: You Can’t Have Muhammad Ali, this is a cynical bastardization of one of the most famous war resisters in the 20th century.

****

McKinney also notes that the war in Afghanistan is all about controlling oil pipelines and geo-political positioning.  She and others have been noting this for 6 years, so what’s different now?

Now the economic crisis, unprecedented since the Great Depression, has shone a harsh spotlight on exactly how much Democratic Party pro-worker rhetoric, from Obama and others, gets backed up by action – not at all.  When the valueless capital of the financial sector evaporated and needed to be replaced, a choice had to be made: who’s gonna pay for this?  The overwhelming answer has been, as always, the working classes of the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

In the United States, this has meant massive evictions, cuts to social services, reductions in government wages, layoffs, etc. etc. that are overwhelmingly racialized.  In the occupied countries it has meant an increasingly vicious US push to ensure control over the government of those countries and thus the regional oil supply, a vital ingredient to keep the economy growing at the current precarious economic moment.

The structural readjustment (government budget cuts) in the US, and the wars in the MidEast, are united by these common threads: both are fueled by the desperate capitalist need to increase the amount of value in US (and to lesser extent worldwide) markets, and both overwhelmingly impact black and brown people at home and abroad.  These commonalities are the material basis for uniting the previously separate anti-war and anti-budget cut movements (although anti-war organizing has reached an extremely low level and can hardly be called a mass movement.)

The programs currently being destroyed were created by class struggle on a massive scale.  From a ruling class perspective this was the working class “misbehaving”.  Now that the gains of struggle are being revoked, the disciplining of the working class in anticipation of resistance is becoming central.  Immigration raids, police brutality and the expanding prison-industrial complex have been fixtures of the capitalist attack on the working class for decades, but have not met with any effective resistance.  The economic crisis has intensified the age-old class conflict between exploited and exploiter; the terrain of struggle is broadening and the stakes are getting higher.  It’s time to overcome the separation of these different movements.  It’s time to break discipline.

Hopefully the above analysis makes it clear why and how imperialism abroad, state violence at home, and the ravaging of the US public sector are strategically fused for the capitalist class, and should be for us as well.  The greatest opportunity presented by this economic crisis is the material basis for uniting what used to be so many atomized single-issue campaigns.  In short, the opportunity is for us to finally compose a broad movement that will completely reverse the priorities of society as they are today.  This revolutionary socialist reorganization of society has always been the “change we need.”  As some of us have been arguing from day one, Obama is every bit as racist, imperialist, and incompetent of an economic manager as any US president has ever been. This is because all US presidents preside over a country fundamentally structured around and firmly committed to upholding the most basic contradiction of capitalism: the irreconcilable antagonism between capital and labor.

Advertisements

4 responses to “Obama’s War: Foreign and Domestic

  1. hammer and sickness

    Juan commented on the post Occupations Spread with this good insight:

    “I consider myself sympathetic to the rank-and-file worker Troskyist cause but also am more worried about the racial and working-class divide going on in this movement. There is no reaching-out to these groups in the occupation adventurists and when you see middle-class and upper-class white students preaching to people of color and the working-class, it goes to show the lack of political, historical and ideological grounding their adventurism has. I’m all for occupations as a tactic but ignoring the workers, the tactic of general strikes, and the tactic of meetings to inform the uninformed workers and students is lacking. We must realize that those who have the most to loose in this struggle (people of color and the working-class) are not participating in big numbers and what we can do to address this issue.”

    i dont agree that meetings are the best way to address working class people of color and get them involved. but absolutely it takes a political analysis beyond that offered by adventurists to address the race question. i feel that Obama’s War: Foreign and Domestic addresses these concerns well. especially:

    “The programs currently being destroyed were created by class struggle on a massive scale. From a ruling class perspective this was the working class “misbehaving”. Now that the gains of struggle are being revoked, the disciplining of the working class in anticipation of resistance is becoming central. Immigration raids, police brutality and the expanding prison-industrial complex have been fixtures of the capitalist attack on the working class for decades, but have not met with any effective resistance. The economic crisis has intensified the age-old class conflict between exploited and exploiter; the terrain of struggle is broadening and the stakes are getting higher. It’s time to overcome the separation of these different movements. It’s time to break discipline.”

    many object to mixing demands across movements. personally, i think doing so is the only way to explain the problem clearly and to offer viable solutions to the problems. for example, it is stupid to complain about budget cuts and not suggest funding alternatives. the best funding alternative is to end the TRILLIONS dollar wars in the middle east and transfer the money to bailout the people. putting an immediate moratorium on prison construction, and funding public works is another connection that would both anti-racist and pro-working class.

    in the age of monopoly-capital, all capitalism is “state capitalism.” the public sector includes the prison industry complex and the military, something we should not forget. and now it includes the banks! so its not save the public sector, its save the sections of the sector that give power to the workers, rather than rob them of power such as police and army. how can we talk about save the public sector without making this crucial distinction bw the imperialist wing of the public sector and the semi-socialized wing? a transitional demand today calls for chopping off the part of the public sector that is parasitic, and expanding the part that is life-giving. e.g., extend medicare to all, but eliminate death row. MUST BRING THESE CONTRADICTIONS TO LIGHT. to refuse to do so is, in effect racist.

    if we wonder why working class people of color are not active in this yet, we MUST consider the programmatic content of our struggle. the anti-budget cut movement has virtually no demands yet. demands are step #1. demands like these make it clear that the goal of the movement is to completely flip the current priorities of the government. chief among the values to be overturned is racism, which is so closely bound up with imperialism and which holds proletarian unity in check.

    NO WAR, NO CUTS!
    SINGLE PAYER PRO-CHOICE HEALTH CARE!
    DESTROY PRISONS, BUILD SCHOOLS!
    NO RAIDS, THE PEOPLE GOTTA GET PAID!
    JOBS FOR ALL, BAIL OUT THE PEOPLE!

    and we have to consider where the struggle takes place. it has to spread beyond campuses. occupations of social security offices or hospital accounting departments would mean a lot more than UCB’s Wheeler Hall. students and teachers can actively spread it, rather than just waiting for the trend to catch on spontaneously. this doesnt mean preaching, it means going to the people, learning and teaching.

    and of course, it has to go beyond occupations, even those at social security offices. it requires general strikes. all of this is possible in this period. we should set our sights high and make March 4th really pop off as a strike – NOT a symbolic day of action or march in sacramento.

  2. In Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” he writes “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.”

    This is easy to understand as we see how Capitalism has become a globalized world system that exploits internationally for profit. We see how structural adjustment policies effect the developing world severely, but what often isn’t pointed out and what I feel this piece is arguing is how these structural adjustment policies are effecting us domestically as well as internationally.

    With the current economic crisis we see the multitude of ways that Marx was right. He argues that capital must “nestle everywhere” and this is evident in the severe budget cuts that are effecting the working-class at home as well as abroad with the escalation of war in the middle east. When we contemplate the type of struggle we need to wage to fight these budget cuts here in the US we must make these connections to imperialism and the wars abroad. This piece articulates this well when it says,

    “The structural readjustment (government budget cuts) in the US, and the wars in the MidEast, are united by these common threads: both are fueled by the desperate capitalist need to increase the amount of value in US (and to lesser extent worldwide) markets, and both overwhelmingly impact black and brown people at home and abroad. ”

    The politics of the struggle we engage in against these budget cuts must make these connections that this piece advocates. It is time that we move beyond single-issue campaigns and really unite them towards a revolutionary class struggle.

  3. This article does a strong job showing that so-called American exceptionalism, that working folks in the U.S. enjoy relative benefits from living in an imperialist country, is outright false. From jump imperialists war have been fought on the backs of the American working class and those abroad, be it Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more. Any riches that come from imperialist adventures are hardly enjoyed by the American working classes. Now we face a world-wide economic crisis, and the American ruling capitalist classes feel ramping up the invasion in Afghanistan will help close the gap of falling rates of profit, and box out regional economic and political up and comers China and India. Instead we lose our jobs and face cuts to basic social services here, while our fellow workers in Afghanistan get bombed to dust.

    It’s crucial we make the organic link between American imperialism and our structural adjustment at home. And this white supremacist attack against South Asian peoples is perpetuated by an African man. On a national and international level, this is a new thing, but ask black and brown working folks and they’ll saw POC police, politicians, and bosses destroying their communities has been around for almost 40 years now in a big way. This is why the class struggle in communities of color is crucial to the working class and anti-imperialist struggle in the U.S. for all. The liberal imperialism of a rainbow coalition of managers and ruling elites is now truly the vanguard of the state. Mostly as Democrats at the local, state, and increasingly national level, they are even tailing the neo-conservatives to a certain degree as American official society politics has moved to the right since 1980.

    Groups and individuals that do not make this link nor have the analysis that capitalist oppression and white supremacy is not just managed by straight white men, but now includes representatives from many oppressed communities who have generalized the values of patriarchal white capitalist society but give a it a multicultural veneer, are bound to miss the boat. How else can we explain Obama and his policies from Afghanistan to bank bailouts? How else do we explain Ron Dellums in Oakland presiding over police terror of black and brown communities in Oakland? Oprah Winfrey as the face of American capitalism? These are not Orin Hatch or Joe the Plumber cracker ass motherfuckers, but POC with, in their history, progressive and internationalist credentials. As the U.S. becomes majority POC, those in state and economic power will continue to come from historically oppressed communities. The body politik that liberal identity politics folks push won’t cut it anymore, as the contradictions are becoming deeper and deeper. This shows more now than ever the need to ground our analysis in how class informs race, and vise versa…it’s not an either or. We need class struggle in POC communities, we need national liberation from below for communities at home and abroad. What we don’t need is so-called liberal POC rulers claiming they know what’s best for our communities. For we know their solution is more war abroad and attacks on us at home, by they lay-offs, cuts in public welfare, or outright police violence. We need to reclaim our communities and workplaces for ourselves as working folks.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s