Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama's No Socialist. I Should Know.

This question that keeps popping up about Barack Obama being a socialist is very interesting and it is a question that Barack Obama should answer for himself.

I disagree with many positions of the Socialist Party and often wonder if the Socialist Party understands what socialism is all about; but, I don't say "Billy Wharton's No Socialist. I Should Know." Because Billy Wharton can speak for himself.

Fox News called out Sam Webb, the nominal head be default of the Communist Party USA, to make the exact same assertion about Barack Obama... and Webb dutifully said the same thing for Rupert Murdoch who supported Obama--- that Obama is no socialist.

Since Sam Webb claims he wants no association with "20th Century socialism," I can assume that Sam Webb is no socialist, either; and that he wouldn't know a socialist if he met one... so, he couldn't possibly know whether or not Barack Obama is a socialist. Why the heck is Webb even speaking for Obama? Could it be that Webb and Obama really do share a common ideology?

So, how would Webb or Wharton know if Barack Obama was a socialist or not--- either an open socialist or a closet socialist... after all, the socialist New Party did endorse Barack Obama when he ran for public office in Illinois... and, Barack Obama came to a New Party meeting to personally accept the endorsement--- there are even pictures of this... we all remember the billboards along our highways put up by the John Birch Society--- Martin Luther King sitting next to the communist with a big red circle around him.

And many members of the Socialist Party did endorse, and vote for, Obama over their own candidate.

And the National Board of the Communist Party USA, Chaired by Sam Webb, did--- unfortunately--- endorse Barack Obama... they even turned out en masse clapping and cheering for Obama's inauguration ceremony; perhaps invited by Obama himself?

Obviously we can carry this question of "is, or isn't, Obama a socialist" to the absurd extremes, which the right-wing has, and is, doing.

We all know that the real reason this question has even arisen is due to anti-communist "red-baiting." Red-baiting is a favorite past time of the over-paid pea-brained, capitalist sooth-Sayers when they aren't busy creating their next big lie explaining to us how great capitalism is.

The so-called "leaders" of the Communist Party USA even claim that John Maynard Keynes was "a great socialist economist."

Now, are we all going to start asking, again, "Is Obama a socialist" because he supports a bastardized neo-liberal Keynesian approach to economics?

There is good reason to suspect that Barack Obama has a very good grasp of what socialism is because he had one the very best teachers, Frank Marshall Davis--- who I am sure schooled the young Barack Obama well in Marxist-Leninist ideology. But, does this mean Barack Obama is a socialist?

In fact, just about every graduate from Harvard University's School of Business receives the best Marxist education money can buy... how many of the graduates are communists or socialists? If we are lucky, maybe a handful.

I have met socialists and communists who had less of an understanding about what socialism is than Barack Obama--- Sam Webb is one such person; that he would be stupid enough to go on national television and answer a question meant for Barack Obama, a question only Barack Obama should be asked--- without himself knowing what socialism is--- proves my point. Talk about the stupid trying to lead a dumb donkey!

Actually, Obama demonstrated a pretty good grasp of socialist thinking, and practice, when he asked in response to the taunts from the right-wing something to the effect: "Am I a socialist now because I might have shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a kid in grade school?"

I kind of doubt Barack Obama ever shared anything with anyone seeing as how he is nothing but a self-serving, self-promoting opportunist politician who only cares about himself to the exclusion of everyone else.

I have known a number of socialists and communists just like him... so, I think he just might be some kind of socialist or communist... but, I'm not about to call him "comrade." If he had been a communist or socialist before, "sell out" would be the more appropriate word now.

Is Obama a socialist or communist? Let this dumb donkey Obama answer this stupid question himself.

Socialists and communists shouldn't be concerned with this question in the least... what we should be concerned about is stopping the three wars raging in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and halting all further support and financial assistance to the Israeli killing machine and slashing the senseless military budget so we can solve the real problems people are experiencing.

I haven't seen Sam Webb or Billy Wharton addressing the problems of working people here in Minnesota, or anyplace else for that matter... they have been silent on the closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant as two-thousand jobs are about to be flushed down the Mississippi and chopped up like suckers passing through the turbines of the hydro-dam which has powered this plant for over 80 years--- compliments of tax-payers.

Where is the call by Webb or Billy Bob Wharton for public ownership of this plant?

What the heck, they were even silent when their support was needed for SF 607, a piece of legislation brought forward by a few progressive Minnesota state legislators... and, then, where do "Communist" Sam Webb and "Socialist" Billy Wharton stand on a "people's bailout;" we didn't see hide nor hair of them when the same Minnesota state legislators brought forward the Minnesota People's Bailout to try to protect workers like the Ford workers losing their jobs.

Two-million casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry at over 350 casino/resort/hotel/motel/restaurant/theme parks spread out across the country using "Compacts" to establish right-to-work for less without any rights colonies sending these two-million workers to jobs in smoke-filled places of employment without any rights under state or federal labor laws... the most Draconian working conditions in the world where these two-million workers are directly under the thumbs of outright gangsters and mobsters who bust into the homes of workers and beat them with baseball bats and steel pipes until their heads swell to the size of a basketball--- not a peep from Sam Webb or Billy Wharton.

Sam Webb and Billy Bob Wharton both can wax as eloquently as John Sweeney--- that Methodist preacher passing himself off as a labor leader--- about the Employee Free Choice Act; but, none of them have the courage to stand up and call for repealing the repressive "At-will hiring; at-will firing" legislation on the books in twenty-eight states--- in fact, none of them are even aware that this Draconian legislation is the major impediment to union organizing in the United States today; a hurdle not even the Employee Free Choice Act will be able to jump.

The real question here is not about whether Barack Obama is a socialist or communist.

The real question here isn't even whether or not Sam Webb and Billy Wharton are Communists and Socialists, respectively--- because we know Billy Wharton doesn't want to be called a Communist and Sam Webb has already stated he wants it known that he completely disassociates himself from 20th Century socialism.

The one and only issue involved in this question being asked as far as if Barack Obama is a socialist or communist is this:

Is the American working class going to tell these anti-communists to take their red-baiting and shove it where the sun doesn't shine?

All I got to say is that if with capitalism on the skids to oblivion dragging the rest of us along with it down the road to perdition; if the working class in the United States doesn't give red-baiting the boot and get up to speed real quick-like about what socialism is all about, we are in for some very rough times.

We might all be socialists now, but, are we all prepared to struggle for socialism to save out butts?

A little suggestion for Sam Webb, Billy Wharton and Barack Obama: If American workers start learning about the socialist alternative to capitalism from real communists like Marx, Engels, Lenin, William Z. Foster, James W. Ford, Earl Browder, Wyndham Mortimer, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Paul Robeson, Gus Hall, W.E.B. DuBois and Henry Winston, they might want to begin looking to see where they can find a safe haven because there are going to be some mighty angry workers in the good old U.S.A. And if I were them I would forget about those sandy beaches in the Cayman Islands.

It is nice that "Communist" Sam Webb and "Socialist" Billy Bob Wharton are sparring with Rupert Murdoch's boys; but, they might want to consider taking part in the real class struggle on the side of the working class against Barack Obama and his Wall Street crowd who are laughing like hell all the way to their banks in the Cayman Islands to deposit our tax-dollars and the profits they extract from our hides.

And while we are talking about what makes a socialist or communist we should consider where people stand in regard to imperialism.

Imperialism, U.S. imperialism in particular, is taking a heavy toll on working people, and humanity in general.

There are the obvious victims dying and wounded in these dirty imperialist wars.

Rather than acknowledging that "we are all socialists now," with so few people understanding what socialism is... maybe we should consider that most of us are all "victims of imperialism now" because the United States has over 800 military bases on foreign soil dotting the globe when we should have 800 public health care centers spread out across the United States providing free health care for all.

I think if we can get up to speed with a quick lesson on imperialism, we will be ready for "Socialism 101" in short order.

Alan L. Maki

Obama's No Socialist. I Should Know.

By Billy Wharton
Sunday, March 15, 2009; Page B01

It took a massive global financial crisis, a failed military adventure and a popular repudiation of the Republican Party to make my national television debut possible. After 15 years of socialist political organizing -- everything from licking envelopes and handing out leaflets to the more romantic task of speaking at street demonstrations -- I found myself in the midtown Manhattan studio of the Fox Business Network on a cold February evening. Who ever thought that being the editor of the Socialist magazine, circulation 3,000, would launch me on a cable news career?

Obama's No Socialist. I Should Know.

The media whirlwind began in October with a call from a New York Times writer. He wanted a tour of the Socialist Party USA's national office. Although he was more interested in how much paper we used in our "socialist cubby hole" than in our politics, our media profile exploded. Next up, a pleasant interview by Swedish National Radio. Then Brian Moore, our 2008 presidential candidate, sparred with Stephen Colbert. Even the Wall Street Journal wanted a socialist to quote after the first bailout bill failed last fall. Traffic to our Web site multiplied, e-mail inquiries increased and meetings with potential recruits to the Socialist Party yielded more new members than ever before. Socialism -- an idea with a long history -- suddenly seemed to have a bright future in 21st-century America.

Whom did we have to thank for this moment in the spotlight? Oddly enough, Republican politicians such as Mike Huckabee and John McCain had become our most effective promoters. During his campaign, the ever-desperate McCain, his hard-charging running mate Sarah Palin and even a plumber named Joe lined up to call Barack Obama a "socialist." Last month, Huckabee even exclaimed that, "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead, but the Union of American Socialist Republics is being born."

We appreciated the newfound attention. But we also cringed as the debate took on the hysterical tone of a farcical McCarthyism. The question "Is Obama a socialist?" spread rapidly through a network of rightwing blogs, conservative television outlets and alarmist radio talk shows and quickly moved into the mainstream. "We Are All Socialists Now," declared a Newsweek cover last month. A New York Times reporter recently pinned Obama down with the question, "Are you a socialist, as some people have suggested?" The normally unflappable politician stumbled through a response so unconvincing that it required a follow-up call in which Obama claimed impeccable free market credentials.

All this speculation over whether our current president is a socialist led me into the sea of business suits, BlackBerrys and self-promoters in the studio at Fox Business News. I quickly realized that the antagonistic anchor David Asman had little interest in exploring socialist ideas on bank nationalization. For Asman, nationalization was merely a code word for socialism. Using logic borrowed from the 1964 thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," he portrayed Obama as a secret socialist, so far undercover that not even he understood that his policies were de facto socialist. I was merely a cudgel to be wielded against the president -- a physical embodiment of guilt by association.

The funny thing is, of course, that socialists know that Barack Obama is not one of us. Not only is he not a socialist, he may in fact not even be a liberal. Socialists understand him more as a hedge-fund Democrat -- one of a generation of neoliberal politicians firmly committed to free-market policies.

The first clear indication that Obama is not, in fact, a socialist, is the way his administration is avoiding structural changes to the financial system. Nationalization is simply not in the playbook of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his team. They favor costly, temporary measures that can easily be dismantled should the economy stabilize. Socialists support nationalization and see it as a means of creating a banking system that acts like a highly regulated public utility. The banks would then cease to be sinkholes for public funds or financial versions of casinos and would become essential to reenergizing productive sectors of the economy.

The same holds true for health care. A national health insurance system as embodied in the single-payer health plan reintroduced in legislation this year by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), makes perfect sense to us. That bill would provide comprehensive coverage, offer a full range of choice of doctors and services and eliminate the primary cause of personal bankruptcy -- health-care bills. Obama's plan would do the opposite. By mandating that every person be insured, ObamaCare would give private health insurance companies license to systematically underinsure policyholders while cashing in on the moral currency of universal coverage. If Obama is a socialist, then on health care, he's doing a fairly good job of concealing it.

Issues of war and peace further weaken the commander in chief's socialist credentials. Obama announced that all U.S. combat brigades will be removed from Iraq by August 2010, but he still intends to leave as many as 50,000 troops in Iraq and wishes to expand the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A socialist foreign policy would call for the immediate removal of all troops. It would seek to follow the proposal made recently by an Afghan parliamentarian, which called for the United States to send 30,000 scholars or engineers instead of more fighting forces.

Yet the president remains "the world's best salesman of socialism," according to Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint encouraged supporters "to take to the streets to stop America's slide into socialism." Despite the fact that billions of dollars of public wealth are being transferred to private corporations, Huckabee still felt confident in proposing that "Lenin and Stalin would love" Obama's bank bailout plan.

Huckabee is clearly no socialist scholar, and I doubt that any of Obama's policies will someday appear in the annals of socialist history. The president has, however, been assigned the unenviable task of salvaging a capitalist system intent on devouring itself. The question is whether he can do so without addressing the deep inequalities that have become fundamental features of American society. So, President Obama, what I want to know is this: Can you lend legitimacy to a society in which 5 percent of the population controls 85 percent of the wealth? Can you sell a health-care reform package that will only end up enriching a private health insurance industry? Will you continue to favor military spending over infrastructure development and social services?

My guess is that the president will avoid these questions, further confirming that he is not a socialist except, perhaps, in the imaginations of an odd assortment of conservatives. Yet as the unemployment lines grow longer, the food pantries emptier and health care scarcer, socialism may be poised for a comeback in America. The doors of our "socialist cubby-hole" are open to anyone, including Obama. I encourage him to stop by for one of our monthly membership meetings. Be sure to arrive early to get a seat -- we're more popular than ever lately.