De liberale høges demise

Lenin alias Richard Seymour funderer i Socialist Worker over, hvordan det er gået de liberale neo-hawk-tilhængere som f.eks. Christopher Hitchens og Nick Cohen, i Danmark måske nærmest svarende til Dennis Nørmark- og Bjørn Lomborg-segmentet, efter at krigene “mod terror” og mod Irak er nedsmeltet til en rygende ruin og deres idoler i Bush-regeringen så miskrediterede, at de har måttet søge tilflugt i støtte til en af de modstandere af Irak-krigen, de før beskyldte for “islamofascisme” og “terrorstøtte”, nemlig Barack Obama.

Som vi læser:

Christopher Hitchens, who never looked better than when being waterboarded on assignment for the magazine Vanity Fair, spent more than five years hounding opponents of the Iraq war as fascist sympathisers and “capitulationists”. It must have felt like a betrayal for this newly minted American patriot to actually have to vote for one.

Or think of Michael Ignatieff who, in his bid to become leader of the Canadian Liberals, was forced to recant his support for the Iraq war and his justifications for torture. This is a man who once celebrated the rise of a “humanitarian empire” and warned against the “dampening” of “imperial ardour”. His own ardour is now tragically spent.

As for the British liberals who organised themselves under the now defunct Euston Manifesto, the alliance seems ever more tenuous. Its co-founder, Observer columnist Nick Cohen, has veered toward the lunatic right.

He can now be found reproducing racist claims about African immigrants spreading HIV, and indulging in bar room rants against multiculturalism. Like his guru Hitchens, he increasingly resembles the blimpish socialist turned Thatcherite Paul Johnson.


There is a simple political reason why liberal arguments for imperialism will tend to come to the fore – most people reject the militaristic nationalism of the hard right. It is much easier to win people to war if you can persuade them that humane and democratic values are stake.

This means that however ridiculous and exhausted the current generation of pro-war liberal sycophants appears to be, others will arise to take their place.

Link: Humbling Hawks

Staten skal ikke have “værdier”

Lenin’s Tomb rammer hovedet på sømmet i debatten om hovedtørklæder i retssale og andre steder: En “sekulær” stat må betyde en stat, der ikke blander sig i, om dens borgere er religiøse, og hvilken religion de i givet fald har eller ikke har:

[I contest] the state’s right to uphold values of any kind, ‘Western’ or otherwise. The state’s role should be restricted to delivering certain public goods, but it has nothing whatever to do with morality.

Temmelig utroligt, alt andet lige, at det er fra en erklæret leninist og revolutionær socialist, at man skal høre en så elementær afvisning af statens rolle i “værdidebatten”.

Link: Jail that veil

Obama, blot endnu en præsident?

Ja, måske. Den amerikanske venstrefløj har ikke megen fidus til ham, og udnævnelsen af en højredemokrat med israelsk statborgerskab som stabschef lover ikke umiddelbart godt for fremtiden.

Men der er en forskel, nemlig i den retorik, Obama har anvendt for at nå sit mål (aldrig har en amerikansk præsidentkandidat været så radikal og påvirket af borgerretsbevægelsen i sin retorik, indholdet eller mangel på samme ufortalt) og i den græsrodsbevægelse, der både har skaffet Obama sejren og fået millioner af mennesker over hele USA til at føle, at de selv har en aktie i den.

Tithi Battacharya gæsteblogger på Lenin’s Tomb, og gør det godt:

This is where the Obama electoral campaign will be remembered for its uniqueness. In an economy devastated by free market capitalism, in a society torn apart by racism, at a time when the combined cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has been over $3 trillion grassroot organizers campaigned tirelessly to elect a black, anti-war man who spoke openly about corporate greed. The campaigners gave the election campaign the flavour of a grassroots social movement.

This was done in several ways. As early as October 6 the much discussed Acorn claimed to have registered 1.3 million new voters. Although the NY Times argued that these numbers were vastly exaggerated the meticulous task of organizing these registration drives on a national scale, in door-to-door campaigns and campus mobilizations can hardly be denied. This process could not but have a historical resonance with people of colour in general and the African American community in particular where memories of the right to vote are still laced with violence. The usual process of voting was thus transformed in this election from the very start into a much more politicized practice.

Obama himself did not fail to see this transformation. His speeches repeatedly alluded to past social movements and more importantly to the power of social movements. “Words on a parchment” he told us in his speech on race in Philadelphia “would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage”. What would be needed instead were actual people who “through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk” narrowed the gap between ideals and reality. At a large anti-war rally in Chicago in 2002 in a sharp invocation of classical left-wing rhetoric he urged us to stop “the arms merchants in our own country” from “feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe”. More explicitly, dubbing the elections merely as an agitational platform in faux-Leninist fashion he reminded us that the campaign was merely “the occasion, the vehicle, of [our] hopes, and [our] dreams”. Over and over during the course of the campaign words such as community, grassroots and organizing were used in a fashion that matched the fervour and the demographic of the anti-war and anti-globalization movements of the recent past. Whole sections of people roused by this call plunged into the campaign as though it were a social movement and not merely an electoral campaign. But the most important thing to understand is that their doing so actually made it such.

In my small mid-western University town the Obama campaign included old social and labour activists, young students who had never been at a demonstration before and whole sections of people, particularly women and minorities who have been actively disenfranchised not just from the electoral process in the past but from society itself. It is also significant to remember in this context that in Indiana for instance although Obama secured a historic victory for Democrats, the first time in 44 years, none of the other local Democratic candidates fared well. Indeed only 22.2% of the votes polled in my county were straight Democratic votes. A vote for Obama was thus only nominally a vote for the democratic party. It was largely I would argue a vote for a radical new direction that the voter felt he represented. The Democratic Party label became almost incidental, Obama the man and his historic significance spilled over the ordinariness of a democratic party ticket and that is the man the ordinary woman/man voted for. There was an African-American woman at our hotel in Chicago that night who had come to the rally with her 84 year old father. My partner’s friend, an African American historian told us that he was “bawling like a baby” when Obama gave his speech at Grant Park. We will always remember those truly historic images of Jesse Jackson and even Oprah Winfrey crying that cold night at Grant Park. They all worked for the “movement” and not for the election of a Democratic Party candidate. So when victory was declared on November 4 th most of them were shocked to see Democratic party bureaucrats take over the floor of the campaign office and make speeches. One of my friends there told me “I was shocked to see these people. All I wanted to do was dance”. . We had all apparently forgotten that this was an electoral campaign to elect the head of the leading imperialist nation.

So as President Obama surrounds himself with big-business backers such as Robert Rubin and Paul Volcker, shapes his foreign policy in consultation with former secretaries of state and ex-CIA officials what is to become of the all the people who joined the “movement”?

There is a short answer to that question, given by a young black woman in Harlem. When asked by CNN about Obama’s victory, laughing and crying she said that she had helped achieve it and she was going to stay active to make him accountable. I cannot emphasize how right she is.

Rune Engelbreth er også lidt inde på det. Men hvor kom vi fra: Folketaleren og aktivisten Obama har givet en masse mennesker håb.

Det er meget muligt, at politikeren Obama nu er nødt til at sætte en regering op, der kan føre en politik, som han kan få igennem Senat og Hus, og som ikke kan undgå at skuffe mange af de håb.

Men, her er en del af humlen: Manden har selv sagt, at kampagnen kun er “the occasion, the vehicle, of [our] hopes, and [our] dreams“.

Ret beset er det vel ikke for meget at håbe på, at en del af den bevægelse, han selv har været med til at skabe, rent faktisk tager ham på ordet og opretholder presset. Der er al mulig grund til at være skeptisk og forbeholden over for manden Obama og hans politik, men der er også al mulig grund til at håbe, at den bevægelse, der trods alt ligger i symbolet Obama og måden, han blev præsident på, kan holde ved.

Link: Why I went to Grant Park on November 4th