Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Road We Must Travel Now

Why the American Left and Progressives Everywhere Must Critically Challenge And Create Viable Alternatives to the Conventional Politics of the White House and Congress in the Age of Obama

by Kofi Natambu

"One cannot change in one's head that which can only be changed in society."
--C.L.R. James  (1901-1989)

"The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
--Karl Marx  (1818-1883)

Now that we have done our national civic duty and successfully stopped the truly insidious far rightwing team of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan from entering the White House and taking over the federal government (a very important and absolutely necessary struggle that we as critically engaged citizens should make no apologies for)  we should also not delude ourselves that the mere re-election of President Barack Obama is any kind of ultimate solution to or panacea for the ongoing political, economic, and cultural crises that continue to wrack and oppress this society.  Nor should we allow ourselves the self indulgent luxury of pretending that we can fundamentally change the general direction and ideological identity of this society and culture without critically and relentlessly challenging the President and all other branches of the federal government from Congress to the Supreme Court to meet our general collective demands for deeply rooted structural and institutional transformations of our political economy in the areas of employment, education, housing, healthcare, energy policy, climate change, tax policy, corporate and Wall Street regulation, foreign policy, the political and legal protection of human and constitutional rights for women, Black and Latino American citizens, and the national LGBT community, immigration policy, national budgetary priorities, and defense spending.  

Needless to say what is now going to be required of us all--and particularly those of us from both independent  leftist organizations and Democratic Party affiliated progressive/liberal tendencies alike--is a simultaneously visionary, pragmatic, highly disciplined and well coordinated long range strategy of consistently fighting for major political and economic reforms from the organizational and tactical standpoint/viewpoints of both the "insider" liberal and "outsider" radical leftist positions that will:
1) Openly endorse and support the President when he does the right thing

 2) Heavily critique and oppose him vigorously when he doesn't--and most importantly--

 3) ALWAYS DEMAND MORE than what is being "offered" by the two major political parties at any given time.  An integral part of this broadbased strategic approach will be the corresponding insistence that our various reasons and motivations for critical intellectual engagement and grassroots mass movement will be our clear and uncompromising adherence to basic and ethically principled ideas and values.  

In pursuing this objective of seriously transforming our relationship to the government and our electorally chosen "representatives" in what is obviously an antiquated and largely dysfunctional political system we must not lose sight of what WE are doing and why.  Our fundamental task and larger obligation is to strongly `repudiate and dismiss the shallow and infantile "politics of celebrity" and its many false and manipulative guises (especially with respect to the President!) and concentrate all of our political and moral energy instead on who and what really matters--the millions of largely anonymous but absolutely essential group of poor, working, and middle class American citizens who very much need and desire large scale and fundamental changes in the very form and content of our political economy and culture in every area of contemporary life in the United States.

Finally we must NEVER conflate or confuse what we do on our own behalf as citizens in this Republic/Empire with that of ANY of our 'chosen representatives' no matter who they are or what political party they belong to.  This especially applies to our ongoing and inherently complicated relationship with President Obama who despite our general support for him electorally in the last two presidential elections we should never forget is not making many  of his most important decisions about governing according only to what WE need and want.  Which is to say the following:  Barack Hussein Obama is a bourgeois politician first, last, and always and is primarily concerned with his relative position and status vis-a-vis his professional colleagues, friends, and enemies on both sides of the aisle as well as in the corporate capitalist and financial worlds both here and abroad and thus is not fully beholden in the final analysis to our fundamental interests and desires either politically or ideologically.  What this means of course is that it is then our responsibility and obligation AT ALL TIMES to fight tenaciously in a very serious and sustained manner for what we KNOW we really need and want regardless of what the Democratic, Republican, and Tea Parties want or insist upon at any given time.  This also means that when Obama inevitably turns his back on or "betrays" us--which like any politician he surely will do as he has done in the past when he personally finds it necessary or desirable to do so--WE will have to have the guts, organized strength, independent conviction, and bedrock clarity of thought, purpose, and values to collectively stand up to him and his administration and to strongly demand of him what we should routinely demand of all our politicians and public surrogates for our interests, beliefs, and needs:  That he prioritize and fight for what we sent him and his colleagues to the White House and Congress to do on our behalf as citizens no matter what powerful countervailing forces from the elite ruling classes in either the political or economic spheres are insisting upon otherwise.

Needless to say our fundamental commitment to protecting and advancing our own collective interests, desires, and needs will require that unlike what we did far too often over the past four years we must not simply or passively give this President, his administration, and Congress a pass while we lazily sit back and take idle rhetorical potshots at the government and our other major social, economic, and cultural institutions without building and sustaining a well organized, and well coordinated NETWORK and broadbased COALITION of truly grassroots activist and public intellectual venues and organizations that are fully prepared to critically engage and challenge all our "leaders and institutions" including the President to do what's right, necessary, and important for the American people over and above the oppressive, selfish, greedy, and exploitive interests and desires of the ruling class elites who presently dominate and control our political economy and culture.  Real change and transformation on a mass scale like always is truly up to us and NOT the elites (even the ones we say we admire!).  After all, what we need to or should be pursuing on our collective behalf is not in the end about any of our various "personal" attitudes or stances toward the President or any other public figure in government or the corporate world either positively or negatively, but is wholly dependent upon how and why we make our most fundamental hopes, dreams, desires, and expectations known and manifest in concrete, real, and viable ways in the world we actually live and work in, not merely the one(s) we wish or imagine ourselves to be in.  In other words:  This really is our chance to change the direction of this society and culture and with it our lives.  Let's not blow it...