Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obama: Obviously NOT “a Communist”

Believe it or not, some people in the US are so ignorant of political ideology that they actually believe that Barack Obama is “a Communist.” Simply studying the nature of Obama/the Democratic Party and understanding Marxism-Leninism shows how wrong the right-wing’s smear campaign against both are. A look at Obama’s positions and campaign contributors reveals that he is simply the latest CEO of US imperialism. Conversely, studying the classics of Marxism-Leninism shows that Communists are the vanguard of the working class.

Almost one year ago this blog explained, in Why Obama Won, that the main source of Obama’s campaign funding was from the capitalist class. We also warned that only a mass movement could put pressure on the Democratic Party’s capitalist political machine to pass any reforms that benefit the working class (e.g. universal health care or the Employee Free Choice Act). Events, or the lack of them, have proven that analysis to be correct.

While Obama’s presidency can be seen as a rejection of racism by a majority of the US electorate, he has not actually passed any legislation that benefits the working class. In addition, just because Obama is not an Evangelical fundamentalist, like Sarah Palin, does not make him “left-wing.” Anyone (including neo-liberals) can be socially liberal (e.g. pro-choice), regardless of their views on any other political question. Simply put, Obama is no progressive leader, he has mostly just continued Bush’s economic and foreign policies.

Even if Obama were a progressive leader that would implement a few reforms that benefit the working class he still would not be “a Communist.” Lenin explained, in Differences in the European Labor Movement, that the bourgeoisie "inevitably devises two systems of rule, two methods of fighting for its interests and of maintaining its domination." One is the "method of force, the method which rejects all concessions to the labor movement...the method of rejecting reforms." The "second is the method of ‘liberalism,’ of steps toward the development of political rights, towards reforms and concessions." For example, FDR passed such legislation (e.g. Social Security), but his primary goal was to save US capitalism. While Communists support all reforms that benefit the working class, being a Communist involves much more than merely supporting progressive legislation.

Communists work to entirely abolish the capitalist system and replace it with socialism. In socialist societies (e.g. the USSR, the GDR, Cuba, the DPRK, etc) the means of production and distribution (i.e. factories, warehouses, railways, communications, power plants, etc) are publicly owned by the workers’ state. Furthermore, socialist economies are organized via central planning. The working class (and its allies) are also organized as the ruling class and have a firm monopoly on political power, led by their communist party. In addition, all workers in socialist countries are organized into unions, giving them maximum influence and control over the functioning of their economy. Such societies can only come into existence as the result of socialist revolution, where the old system is negated and replaced by the new.

Obama, the US capitalist class’ current chief executive, clearly wants nothing of the sort. As Marx and Engels pointed out in The Communist Manifesto, “The executive of the modern [capitalist] State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” Obama’s economic policies, like Bush’s, only involve “bailing out” (i.e. throwing taxpayers’ dollars at) millionaires and billionaires. His “health care reform” only intends to force workers to buy a service (health insurance) from private companies, regardless if a “public option” is included for a small percentage of the population. He has shown no inclination that he wants to help working people.

Conspiracy theorists try to claim that just because Obama had a childhood friend (Frank Marshall Davis) that was a Communist Party member, then surely he must secretly be one as well. If a fervent Southern Baptist had a childhood friend or “mentor” that was a Mormon, would that automatically mean that he is actually a Mormon as well when all evidence points to the contrary? Obviously not. A rational person could not assume that “Obama is a Communist” simply because of some childhood relationship, when there is no evidence (i.e. Obama’s actual policies as an elected politician) to support such a belief. It should also be emphasized that anti-communism (which often manifests itself in conspiracy theories) is, as Gus Hall pointed out in Imperialism Today, "utilized by all anti-democratic, anti-labor, anti-Black, anti-intellectual forces within our land."

A similar claim is that just because Sam Webb (the current chair of the Communist Party USA) uncritically cheerleads for Obama, then surely Obama must be “a Communist.” What this is actually evidence of is that Sam Webb is a right-opportunist hack of the capitalist Democratic Party’s political machine. In fact, Webb has liquidated the CPUSA’s print newspaper and theoretical journal, and ultimately intends to liquidate the party itself, replacing it with a bland “think tank” type organization. One might find this hard to believe, but this has already happened before. During World War II, when many of the most ardent US Communists were off fighting fascism in the war, right-opportunist Communist Party chairman Earl Browder liquidated the party and replaced it with a non-partisan “think tank” (the “Communist Political Association”). Browder was ultimately defeated and expelled and the party was rebuilt. Sam Webb is clearly a Browder-type misleader (i.e. a social-democrat, not a Marxist-Leninist), so his views on Obama are irrelevant.

Communists struggle not just for progressive reforms, but for an entirely new type of society where the working class is organized as the ruling class (i.e. socialism). Communists work to overthrow capitalism, not to strengthen it or prolong its life span. For these reasons, Communists form the front ranks of the working class struggle for liberation from capitalist exploitation. Capitalist governments, like Obama’s, do not want that to happen.

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