“We Are Cornered: There’s No Way Out Without a Fight” by Glen Ford

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

With a big “Thank you” to Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, for permission to post his recent essay here.  

          Black Agenda Report

                    Introduction by Glen Ford

A corporate offensive is rolling down upon us, aimed at wholesale privatization of the public sector. If the Left has learned anything in the last year and a half, it should be that President Obama is Wall Street’s guy, having “delivered the highest return on corporate campaign investment in the history of bourgeois democracy.” In this struggle, the people will be left to their own devices.

Ford’s essay is below the fold:

We Are Cornered: There’s No Way Out Without A Fight

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“Wall Street’s servants become more aggressive and demanding, and there is nothing in the Democratic Party, as presently constituted, to stop them.”

There is no cavalry coming over the ridge to save the people from massed capital. Certainly not the Democrats, whose self-caged left wing now finds its marginalized encampments under lockdown by their own president’s hostile patrols, while the GOP and its Tea Party irregulars howl from the circling darkness. That’s what happens when progressives maneuver themselves onto the same side of the battlefield as Goldman Sachs, as they did with abandon in 2007-08, deliriously fighting their way into a cul-de-sac in which they are now surrounded.

The leftish brigades rallied to a commander who styled himself an incarnation of Abraham Lincoln, but turned out to be a General George McClellan, the Union’s first commander of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan was great at rousing the troops and putting his army on parade, but constantly overestimated his Confederate adversaries and, in Lincoln’s final estimation, refused to fight. The political roots of his reluctance to crush the Confederacy became clear after his dismissal when, in 1864, he challenged Lincoln on the Democratic “peace” party’s ticket. McClellan never really wanted to win the war, or, at the very least, saw victory in a very different way than Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

It has long been clear that Barack Obama’s idea of victory required decisively defeating the Left of his own party. Everyone to his left is to be neutralized, while those to his right rate an open hand and endless concessions, the scenario from the very start of his health care “negotiations” with the drug and insurance industries. Victory in the racial arena means an end to race agitation, a Black stand-down, which remains largely in place. Success in war, not pursuit of peace, is his goal, one that will surely elude him, but not for lack of trying.

“Everyone to Obama’s left is to be neutralized, while those to his right rate an open hand and endless concessions.”

Obama and finance capital began an early, thoroughly vetted, and white hot love affair that was anchored in mutual contempt for those who would challenge the rule of money. He has delivered the highest return on corporate campaign investment in the history of bourgeois democracy, allowing Wall Street to pocket at least $12 trillion in return for contributions of less than $1 million per investment house. (Goldman Sachs was top giver, at $994,795.) Obama was BP’s biggest political campaign recipient: $71,000, an investment that boosted the corporation’s value by billions – albeit temporarily – when the president opened up offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obviously, Goldman Sachs and BP considered Obama a “greater good,” in terms of their interests, than John McCain. And they made out like bandits, confirming their assessment of Obama’s immense value to their side in the class war. The question is, how in the hell did lefties conclude that Big Capital’s and Big Oil’s “greater good” candidate was also the progressive side’s fountain of Hope – or even a “lesser evil” – in 2008? Both camps placed their bets on Obama, but only one side could possibly win.

It is the Left that wound up trapped in the cul-de-sac, with every major item on its 2008 political wish list betrayed, sidetracked, mangled or spat upon by Obama and his friends – although, to be fair to the Devil, the Left had often simply imagined they had Obama’s ear or support when such was not even remotely true. On war, for example.

Most devastatingly, Obama and his Democratic legislative allies have successfully shielded their Wall Street masters from anything worthy of the name financial reform. This means finance capital and its “shadow,” derivatives-based economy (nominally, ten times bigger than the “real” global economy) remain beyond the reach of meaningful public intervention by conventional methods. With the air knocked out of mainstream reformers’ bony chests, Wall Street is poised for a Great Offensive against the political and social infrastructure of the United States.

“Obama and his Democratic legislative allies have successfully shielded their Wall Street masters from anything worthy of the name financial reform.”

Producing nothing of real value, fatally hooked on ever-mounting rates of return, simultaneously divorced from and a parasite on the “real” economy, and with the executive and legislative branches in their pockets, the Lords of Capital are set to devour the entirety of the public sector – while forcing the public to finance the feast. The rallying cry is “austerity,” but the motivation is not, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman maintains, ideological. Rather, it is hunger.

Finance capital is, at this stage of the system’s decline, incapable of reproducing itself through productive investment, and so must feed on existing producers or on the State. Since Wall Street over the decades has already broken up, consumed and exported much of the U.S. productive economy, that leaves the State and all of its parts. Far from acting as a brake on his vampire friends, Obama leads the charge on corporate hijacking of public education, and signaled in January 2009 that all elements of the safety net, including Social Security, should be “on the table” – which can only mean some form of privatization.

The pace of finance capital deterioration quickens, accelerating the timetable of the Right’s offensive. As the hunger grows, Wall Street’s servants become more aggressive and demanding, and there is nothing in the Democratic Party, as presently constituted, to stop them.

One truth remains: only a massed people can defeat massed capital. If the American Left is capable of bearing that in mind in the critical times ahead, it might just escape the cul-de-sac and make some modest contribution to the world.

The essay at Black agenda Report is here


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  1. O-Bummer!  What’s Obama up to?

    Obama continues to follow the Republican-Corporate-Agenda, dismantling the New Deal and cutting the gains made over the years for social-uplift, for the comfort and well being of citizens.

    Each step forward over the past 60 to 70 years is being systematically cut back, and successfully too.  Reaganomics laid the groundwork, but the good old dems have continued the destruction with Bill Clinton and now Obama.  Under Clinton, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1969, and Welfare Reform Deform Act set the stage for the 2008 Bush financial calamities.  But, far from doing what he promised during the campaign, Obama has continued the march of the Corporatocracy.

    • jamess on August 28, 2010 at 01:48

    kind of makes me want to

    sign a truce with the Teaparty —

    at least then, we might get some concessions.

  2. directly reflects the disparity of self-organization and self-awareness between the classes as well. The ruling class has been working from a concrete, fully envisioned deep strategy, while we see what passes for a left, for an alternative in America, almost entirely kettled within the political equivalent of the quarterly bottom line.    Which approach is more likely to bear lasting victories?

    We need to judge all of our political actions by our own self-interest, of the building of our own political power.  Any participation in the political kabuki should always be solely to grow and strengthen our own self-organization, and to make our vision and rhetoric more prominent and more accessible.  If we participate in something, and those ends aren’t served, I don’t care how “successful” that effort may be deemed in conventional quarterly-bottom-line terms.  If those goals are not served then any achievement is at best a waste of our time, resources and energies, and often a defeat by tying ourselves and our interests to a system that has repeatedly proven it has no role for us.

  3. Ford certainly leaves no room for argument.  

    Maybe, just maybe, the Social Security and Medicare issue will be the one that binds Americans together, in some way, as if affects all Americans, left and right!

    I’m working on a draft of an LTE – heard yesterday on the Thom Hartmann show that surprisingly few Americans have a clue as to what’s going on with that.  That’s quite frightening to think that so many Americans are not aware there is an attempt going on and about to go on “rob” them of “their” hard-earned monies.

  4. Part one was demonizing the poor for taking hard earned money from the “middle class”, while playing the old, tried and true Communist Card.

    Part two is demonizing the poor oldies for taking hard earned money from the “middle class”, while substituting the Terrorist Card; not yet old, tried and true, but soon to be.

    Welfare and Social Security will slowly be equated and criticized as historical relics, unsuited for the new global, economic reality. And sadly, the force holding the story line under control is the MIC, the soon to be external and internal enforcer.

    Not at all surprising if you study the ebbs and flows of Western History, but certainly unexpected for those of us politically involved persons born in the 1940’s!

    Thanks for the post dharmasyd

  5. I’m a fan of the SciFy network.  On Saturday, they crank out low-budget movies about prehistoric monsters lurking in the dark or deep corners of the earth.  Today, it’s catastrophic climate disasters.

    Over and over, the theme is that corporate greed or willful government ignorance or both is leading to monster mayhem or lightning storms wiping out New York City or some such.  Fortunately, some brave citizen defies government or corporation and does what is right and most of the characters are saved.

    The SciFy channel is not otherwise known as the Proletarian Uprising channel, but rather it is pandering to a broad mass sentiment that is ALREADY OUT THERE!

    Yet the blogosphere is still trying to expose to the masses (who aren’t reading the blogosphere, by and large) that the system is corrupt and politicians and corporate executives are corrupt.  As though that very exposure will somehow lead to the “massed people” rising up and doing something.

    One truth remains: only a massed people can defeat massed capital. If the American Left is capable of bearing that in mind in the critical times ahead, it might just escape the cul-de-sac and make some modest contribution to the world.

    I love the Glen Ford quote, the economics are on the mark, but yeah, yeah, yeah, with a love like that …  The “one truth” is no secret. What’s lacking is any plan to achieve that “massed people” actually doing anything to defeat massed capital.

    Put yourself in the place of Joe or Jane Q. Public.  The system sucks (you watch the ScyFy network), you are out of a job, and here are your choices:

    (1) Government create millions of jobs rebuilding our infrastructure, our safety net, etc., and using any means necessary that things keep running if mass capital tries to sabotage our lives.

    (2) Cut taxes for the richest corporations, in the desperate hope that they will use their profits to at least create a few more jobs.

    Choice #1 is obviously preferable.  You know Wall Street has totally fucked us.  BUT, if you are convinced that Choice #1 is not an option, then what else can you do but say, “well, we gotta give #2 a chance,” and if fucking over some ethnic or religious group helps my odds, sad but …

    They’ve done a pretty good job convincing folks that #1 is off the table.  Even the left and the blogosphere seems to have given up, seriously uncomfortable with the notion of “using any means necessary.”  The blogosphere sounds very angry.  Keeps exposing the details of which everyone already knows in the broad strokes.

    But demanding that the government create jobs, they just don’t do it.

    Pointing out that our war in Afghanistan is a disaster?  Sure.  But demanding that the U.S. get out now?  Oh, let’s be realistic, the most we can hope is that Obama keeps the promise of STARTING to pull out (if conditions permit) next year.  Like he kept his promise to shut Guantanamo.

    And what am I offering?  Nothing complex.  Nothing deeply strategic.  Just one thing.  Dump Obama.

    In the 60’s, the world was much less partisan.  I was young then, a true simpleton.  I didn’t see things in terms of “the Democrats are doing …” or “the Republicans are doing …”  All I knew was that MY government was murdering people in Asia and starving people in Appalachia and beating civil rights marchers in Mississippi, and Lyndon Johnson was the head of MY government, and one obvious step was to Dump Johnson.

    But now I’m so damn smart, I know the ins and outs of the system, all sorts of strategic bullshit.  I’m too sophisticated to think that MY government is murdering people all over the world, and MY government is claiming it can murder, imprison and torture whom it wants in the name of  national security, and MY government has no answer to mass unemployment and homelessness, and that Obama as president is the head of MY government, and that if that government’s actions are criminal, then the capofamiglia Obama is a criminal, and the least we can do is DUMP OBAMA.

    Yelling and roaring and screaming hysterically are all good fun.  But they lack a certain specificity.  My useless sophistication tells me that there is a system and dumping Obama alone won’t change it, and all that.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  But it has a certain specificity largely lacking.

    Challenge him in the Dem primaries?

    Challenge him with an independent run?

    Challenge him with both and more?

    Thing is, if we can agree on this, then we are in a position to begin working out the specifics.  Demanding a master plan now is simply a way of avoiding getting down to it (soldiers are cutting us down).

  6. …for the rising tide that will, hopefully, lift all boats!

  7. each and every comment thoroughly, but have scanned down through them to try and get a gist!

    While I don’t disagree with much that’s been said, I think it’s important to think about “terminololgy” or “slogan” like material.  I don’t particularly like “Dump Obama” — one thing is Bush never had that thrown at him, and it hardly would have made a difference in that both elections were stolen and it certainly made no difference to him that he had “illegally” won two elections — that should have told the American people a great deal right there — a man who had so little moral scruples that he would “steal” elections and feel comfortable in his own skin.

    A couple of important issues enter my mind, i.e., “Dump Obama” could seem a very racist issue, but, worse, that kind of lingo would thrill the Republicans and the Tea Party.  And, so, I think, something like, “WE need REAL CHANGE,” might be a better slogan approach!  


  8. phew.

    Wondering what y’all think of this “new coalition”  One Nation Working Together thats trying to organize a March for Jobs Oct 2.

    Someone posted at GOS

    Recently, 170 Progressive organizations have joined together in a coalition called “One Nation Working Together.” This coalition includes the AFL-CIO, SEIU, NAACP, United States Student Association, National Council of La Raza, United for Peace and Justice, US Labor Against the War, Democratic Socialists of America, US Social Forum, Campaign for Community Change, Progressive Democrats of America, Power PAC, and many more.

    Their goal: re-ignite the Progressive grassroots and embolden the government to bring about the change America voted for nearly 2 years ago.

    Im inclined to think its OFA astroturf, but I dunno.

  9. Why, just minutes ago, I got a personal e-mail from President Obama himself, asking:

    When people promise that they’ll do something — like voting — they are far more likely to do it.  That’s why one key part of our Vote 2010 plan this year is to get folks like you from across the country to commit to vote, to make sure we get as many people as we can to cast their ballots this fall.  But getting the commitments we need starts with your own promise to make it to the polls and cast your ballot.

    Will you please commit to vote in the 2010 elections?

    I earnestly explained that as soon as he would:

    end the drone attacks murdering Afghan, Pakistani, and Somali civilians.

    get the U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

    appoint Elizabeth Warren in the recess.

    order the Justice Dept. to pursue Bush regime war criminals.

    refuse Obama’s claim of presidential powers.

    get economic advisers who aren’t owned by Wall Street.

    use the bully pulpit to make the progressive case

    I would most gladly vote for him.  Then he asked me for money, but lacking a job, I unfortunately had to decline.

  10. I’ll be back to comments soon after digesting.

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