The Transformation Of Obama: The New Bad Deal

The Moral Case For Silence

at Counterpunch

by Norman Pollack is a Harvard Ph.D. and the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.

“—-I believe————-, affirming silence becomes necessary when, as in the coming election, but also, the wider historical path being pursued, one regards as morally debasing not only a lesser-of-two-evils argument but what stands behind it: willing complicity in the political and cultural  mechanisms used to promote exploitation and inequality, societal conditions rooted in hierarchical relations of power having direct economic consequences for every member of society.  Inequality is a cancer.  Its spread depends on false consciousness, its treatment and cure on self-knowledge and resistance to policies and practices in the name of, but intended to deceive, the people and deprive them of their rights.  My hope is slight, however just perhaps to say “No” strikes a responsive chord, makes for a collective response, becomes socially popular, the sky may not fall in, but false consciousness would be if not sloughed off at least seriously weakened.  And, in turn, the structure of power, in its brutality affecting human dignity, would be exposed for all to see—and ultimately oppose.  The chance to project an authentic alternative vision, one no longer beholden to wealth accumulation and its correlates  social misery and division, is worth taking.  These are not propitious times for democracy; first must come an awareness of that in order to rekindle the hope in its realization.”


“Making the moral case for silence as imperative in the coming election may seem difficult. Liberals and many but not all progressives regard the choice to be crystal-clear: Romney, the Republican party, and the Tea Partiers in its midst represent retrograde social forces affecting all sectors of American life.  The indictment is merited.  Romney seeks a return to the Dark Ages of American capitalism.  Both regulation and the social safety net would be severely impaired, and individual privacy would be invaded by a heightened  puritanical zeal.  Hester Prynne would lurk in every shadow.  As for foreign policy, bluntness would rule the waves.  One suspects that the Pentagon would be given a blank check to wage perpetual war founded on the belief that America, a pristine land of freedom, is surrounded by enemies, domestic and foreign. From the liberals’ standpoint, what could possibly be worse?

“I submit, perhaps Barack Obama could be worse.  It is not that he fails to transcend the Dark Ages of American capitalism and its rapacious behaviors,  but rather, that he has, in ways that speak to a sophisticated corporatism which already has created societal foundations detrimental to America’s root democratic professions of freedom and human rights (themselves relegated for the most part to the mythology of exceptionalism).  Obama, more than his predecessors, is the quintessential spokesperson for a mature capitalism in which government, as custodian of the public interest, is under assault from the forces of privatization, now gathering as a tidal wave which he is blithely surfing.  The leader of government presides over its transformation into an annex of Wall Street.  Really, a transmogrification, both of government and society, knit together in callous disregard for both economic and ethical constraints on greed, extremes in the distribution of wealth, and the widespread privation created by a political economy of market idolatry and financial chicanery.”


“In this regard, Obama is the ideal personification of mature capitalism.  He is not a front man, cipher, or puppet; instead, he identifies fully with the social order, its hierarchical structure, and its social purposes.  He needed no urgings from others to betray practically every campaign promise he made in 2008.  Today, he is hardly the alternative to Romney, his record reducing him to the same plane as his opponent.  For ruling groups, his advantage lies in his facility for dressing retrograde policies in liberal rhetoric, and more, keeping intact an electoral base in the depths of false consciousness who cannot, in denial, see how their interests, including that of the black community itself, have been violated.  Broadly, he and Romney are committed to the Washington Consensus, its faith in market efficiency, rationality, and justness, which provides the ideological cornerstone for deregulation of the economy and, belatedly, the subordination of government to, while servicing the needs of, business.”


“Withal, Obama appears untouchable; his genius for manipulating the American public, or rather, his base, including the many in distress, is critical to his leadership role in advancing American financial and business interests.  The base, resting in adulatory mode, refuses to recognize potential long-term trends that have now been set in motion, e.g., further deregulation or that which proves in-efficacious (as witness FDA and Interior Department policies), privatization, and weakening of the social safety net.  In symbolic terms, the drone may well define the Obama presidency.  One does not know whether Romney would closet himself with his advisors and personally authorize targeted assassination.  Hopefully not, given that this barbaric act is the antithesis of due process and rule of law—a leap into moral vacuity that he would find difficult to match or surpass.”

The Price Of Conscience

Somethings old are new again.

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