Sam Webb’s "Does It Matter Which Party Wins?" in Political Affairs continues in the same vein as in his "21st Century Socialism" theses, where somehow he divines that "there can be little doubt that Obama views himself on the side of struggling Americans."
Webb suggests that, were it not for Republican and conservative Democratic opposition, Obama would be at least open to a movement supporting a people’s agenda. Unfortunately, according to Webb, he "governs in a very hostile environment." That being the case, from Webb’s viewpoint, the political task at hand is to defeat Obama’s opposition and afterwards build a movement that would allow Obama to move toward the left.
Obama’s words and especially his actions since he became president should have dispelled any notions about his being on the side of the people. In his book, "The Audacity Of Hope," he glowingly quotes Calvin Coolidge’s nostrum that "The business of America is business" and makes crystal clear his identification with neo-liberal, trickle-down economics.
Covering his vulnerable flank Webb admits, "I am also disappointed with some aspects of the Obama Administration’s domestic and foreign policy" and "everything can’t be explained away by the objective context" (the hostile political environment).
Characteristically, Webb never spells out his disappointments. Obviously, Webb’s aim is to keep criticism of Obama to a minimum.
But what about that "objective context"? Perhaps it’s not quite what Webb seems to think it is. Maybe a closer look at it would indicate that Sam Webb should be much more disappointed than he in fact is.
The objective context actually is that finance capital largely dominates not only Republicans of all stripes and conservative Democrats but obviously the Obama Administration as well. This is an Administration populated with the likes of Timothy Geithner and other Wall Street underlings. Everyone knows or should know that from Obama down they are all beholden to Goldman Sachs, Citicorp and the whole thieving bunch that gave the lion’s share of loot to Obama’s campaign for the presidency.
That is the objective context which explains why Obama insists on "reaching across the aisle" in order to find common ground with those other servants of the master class who wish to strip the American people of their rights and what remains of the social gains of the 20th century, during and following the "Great Depression."
It also explains why the charismatic Obama makes no effort to galvanize the popular base, which wants a jobs program and why he offers no support for progressive programs such as single-payer Medicare for all. Instead, Obama, in collusion with the Federal Reserve, funnels trillions of dollars into the rotten carcasses of "too big to fail" banks. The "objective context" dictates even worse crimes against people all over the world who groan under the yoke of U.S.- led imperialism.
Without lingering over his disappointments, Sam Webb hurries on to adumbrate what he thinks are important differences that separate the two parties. He claims that, if the Republicans instead of the Democrats had won, they would have had an "unfettered hand in their efforts to liquidate the welfare state…and crush the people’s movement Â labor in the first place." One can agree that it would have been disastrous if the American people had knowingly voted for a continuation of the Bush-era policies.
However, those policies, including the Iraq War and his attempt to scuttle Social Security, were repudiated by the American people long before Obama became president. Actually, the dominant powers of this nation who govern by rotating Democrats and Republicans understood well that Bush’s reactionary policies needed to be modified and re-branded without changing their essence. Obama, more personable and not at all "fettered," continues the Iraq War and has expanded the war in Afghanistan. Now add Libya.
Picking up from where the "fettered" Bush fell short, Obama revived the attack on Social Security and other vital social programs. As for labor, unions are still under assault while Obama stands on the sidelines. Would McCain really have been more effective in enacting Wall Street’s agenda? The Goldman Sachs crowd, voting with its money, apparently didn’t think so. After all that has come to pass, with Obama brilliantly surpassing all past presidents in delivering the goods to the "malefactors of great wealth," Webb continues to repeat ad nauseam that the historic election of Obama "gave space to struggle for a peoples agenda."
It is true that the election of an African-American to the presidency in a country riven with racism is a monumental achievement. However, what and where is the space allowing the struggle for a people’s agenda? The peace movement has been quiescent owing in part to the false assumption of many of its leaders that they had a "seat at the table." As well, influential Democrats within the peace movement, with Bush out of office, are reluctant to recognize Â let alone criticize Â Obama’s imperialist policies.
Domestically, it has been no better. The fulminations of the ultra-right make decent people want to mute their criticism of Obama’s wretched policies for fear of being identified with racists. The majority of African-Americans who have not been served well by Obama, to put it mildly, nonetheless rally to his defense because of those attacks. The fallback argument, misused by Webb and others, is that Obama is unable the fight for the people’s cause without a mass movement for progressive change.
The question is, however, how can there be such a mass movement without vigorously challenging the Obama policies. The sad truth is that the only real space that has opened up is the space provided by Republicans. They provide cover for the Administration’s slower but relentless assault against the interests of the vast majority of Americans. The Republican axe, which would kill in one fell swoop, makes the Obama Administration seem to be more benign by comparison, thereby "proving," according to Obama’s ultra-right helpmates, that he is really a socialist!
If the ultra-right didn’t exist, Obama should certainly want to invent it!
Webb likes to deal in simple alternatives. He is for a third party, he says, but explains why at this time it is necessary to support the Democrats despite some misgivings. Webb’s observations regarding a third party are good up to a certain point. A third party is a worthwhile goal. We must somehow break out of the two-party trap. Yet there are ample reasons for believing that conditions are not yet ripe for such a party. The process of disillusionment among Democratic Party supporters, while underway, has to be more vigorously fostered .
The question, then, is not whether to support the Democratic party but how it should be done. At present most progressive Americans vote or are otherwise active in favor of electing Democrats. There are even a few Democrats, arguably, worth working for and voting for. It is, therefore, reasonable and even incumbent upon Communists to engage people in that forum.
But to ignore the obvious symbiotic relationship of the two parties as they perform their Good-Cop, Bad-Cop routine to advance finance capital’s reactionary agenda is utter folly!
The two-party system is a highly refined and sophisticated form of dictatorship that for many years has engendered an accelerated shift to the right end of the political spectrum. Sam Webb, by focusing primarily on the ultra-right and turning his eyes away from the enemy in the White House, for whatever obscure tactical considerations is caught in the role of playing the classic dupe.Â Webb is the Chairman of the Communist Party USA.
Lenin was a real Communist. In "Left-Wing Communism" Lenin discusses the issue of whether the British Labour Party deserved support. Lenin disdained the socialist pretences of that party. However, he recognized that the majority of British workers mistakenly believed the Labour Party was on their side. So he advocated support for it.
However Â and this is crucial Â he urged the kind of support that guided people to more advanced positions and exposed the Labour Party as a willing tool of the capitalist class. "We support them," he wrote, "like a rope supports a hanged man."
Throughout his political life, Lenin fought against tail-ending bourgeois political parties and their labor unions. He was never "merely disappointed with some aspects."
Lenin was a Communist!
August 18, 2011