Friday, October 9, 2009
Is Obama a Socialist? Ask the Socialists
"The victory of Obama in the 2008 election has redefined the terrain on which we, as socialists and progressives fight, and that redefinition is to our favor." - from "A Defining Moment? The 2008 Presidential Election" by Bill Barclay, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America A lot of people snicker when they hear Barack Obama referred to as a "socialist." They poo-poo the notion. Those people can be described as one of the following: (A) Innocently ignorant; (B) In denial; (C) Unaware of what a socialist is; (D) stupid; (E) Hypnotized by Obama's vapid rhetoric;(f) socialist themselves. For those who fall under the A-E descriptions, we'll turn to those in (F), actual, real-life socialists. What do they say about Barack Obama being one of their own? We'll turn to the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (CDSA) for enlightenment. First, let's understand what a "socialist" is. The CDSA provides insight (emphasis added): "We are SOCIALISTS because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are SOCIALISTS because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and nonoppressive relationships." - From the 46th Annual Eugene V. Debs - Norman Thomas - Michael Harrington Dinner, May 7, 2004 (page 32 of the PDF) Translation: They are socialists because they want to eliminate private profit and the possibility of anybody making more money than anybody else, and they hope to achieve that by government control of "resources and production" through "economic planning." (That is precisely what The Third Reich and the Soviet Union attempted. The only way to achieve that goal is through authoritarian dictatorship.) The CDSA "is affiliated with the national Democratic Socialists of America but is separately incorporated." CDSA is present in Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties: "basically zip codes 600 through 609." (Source: http://www.chicagodsa.org/page2.html) CDSA publishes a newsletter called "New Ground." Each issue is numbered, of course, and the current issue (Sept-Oct 2009) is "New Ground 126." A search of New Ground archives for references to "Obama" produced a few nuggets that convincingly show not only that Obama is a socialist, but that the socialists themselves consider him to be a socialist. References to those nuggets follow (with emphasis added by me). Joined as the hip of the CDSA is the "New Party," an amalgam of local socialist political activists. ACORN and SEIU played crucial roles in the birthing of the New Party. On Saturday, January 14, 1995, "the New Party in Chicago took another step in its effort to establish itself as a political force by holding a major outreach meeting directed at Chicago's Left. About 100 people, with sizable delegations from DSA and CoC among others, heard Bruce Colburn and Elaine Bernard preach the gospel of the New Party. The audience was also introduced to the New Party's first candidate in Chicago, Michael Chandler, who is running for Alderman in Chicago's west side 24th ward. The meeting was held at the meeting hall of SEIU Local 880, a local that is tackling the extremely difficult task of organizing home health care workers in Illinois. SEIU Local 880 and ACORN share office space." - New Party Organizes, New Ground 38, January - February, 1995 The role of ACORN in the operations of the New Party and the DSA cannot be overemphasized, as noted by the CDSA itself: "In Chicago, the New Party's biggest asset and biggest liability is ACORN. "Like most organizations, ACORN is a mixed bag. On one hand, in Chicago, ACORN is a group that attempts to organize some of the most depressed communities in the city. Chicago organizers for ACORN and organizers for SEIU Local 880 have been given modest monthly recruitment quotas for new New Party members.... "....As the single 800 pound gorilla in the Chicago New Party, [ACORN] doesn't leave a lot of room for newcomers to participate except on ACORN's terms. This will make it difficult for the New Party to have a life apart from ACORN...." - New Party Organizes, New Ground 38, January - February, 1995 "When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy." - Chicago DSA Recommendations for the March Primary Election, New Ground 69, March - April, 2000 "The state government can also play a role in redistribution, the allocation of wages and jobs. As Barack Obama noted, when someone gets paid $10 million to eliminate 4,000 jobs, the voters in his district know this is an issue of power not economics. The government can use as tools labor law reform, public works and contracts." - Chicago DSA Endorsements in the March 19th Primary Election , New Ground 45, March - April, 1996 "The Chicago New Party is increasely [sic] becoming a viable political organization that can make a different in Chicago politics. It is crucial for a political organization to have a solid infrastructure and visible results in its political program. The New Party has continued to solidify this base. First, in relation to its infrastructure, the NP's membership has increased since January '95 from 225 to 440.... Secondly, the NP's '96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude. Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee. Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis. Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration...." - New Party Update, New Ground 47, July - August, 1996 "What does the 2008 election mean for that portion of the U.S. population that describes themselves as progressives / leftists / socialists. (Maybe the last category has grown since McCain and Palin were so insistent that voting for Obama was voting for a socialist?).... But, the victory of Obama in the 2008 election has redefined the terrain on which we, as socialists and progressives fight, and that redefinition is to our favor." - A Defining Moment? The 2008 Presidential Election, New Ground 121, November - December, 2008 So... is Obama a Socialist? Bob Roman addressed this question in New Ground #120.2, October 17, 2008. Roman's piece was a good example a brain addled by years of trying to keep socialist lies and real truth in separate drawers. What he wrote is so self-contradictory that reading it provides a virtual psychedelic experience: "First you'd better tell me what you mean by 'socialist'. I'm not being cute. There are people who would hysterically laugh at DSA being legitimately considered a "socialist" organization, never mind Obama. So what is socialism to you? Judging by the comments posted on some of these blogs, socialism is anything involving the government that the commentator doesn't like. By this standard, I suppose he is." Perhaps Bob Roman could look to chicagodsa.org, the web site where his own question was published, for that answer. As we already know, the name "chicagodsa" is short for Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. We're supposed to tell Roman what a socialist is? The home page of chicagodsa.org is peppered with links that answer that very question. One of those links, "Why We Are Democratic Socialists," gives a very clear definition in the DSA's own words. Roman's remark that "socialism is anything involving the government that the commentator doesn't like" is not only absurd, it would seem to be a very clumsy attempt to divert us away from the glaring fact that the DSA is socialist. Good Lord, this like a football player in full uniform insisting that he is not a football player even as he catches a Hail Mary pass and runs in for a touchdown. Roman's bizarre column continued: "Another way to consider it would be if Obama self-identifies as a 'socialist' or 'social democrat', just as DSA members do. Well, go ahead. Ask him. And if he says, Yes,' please let me know. Because in that case, he owes us for dues." Would Roman say that a pedophile must "self-identify" as a pedophile to actually be one? Ridiculous. Obama is a bright man, and smart enough to know that self-identifying (publicly) as a socialist would not have helped his political career. It would have been foolish to have publicly proclaimed himself to a socialist. It's as though Roman is saying that one's words are more important than one's deeds, and indeed Obama has flirted with, associated with, worked with and acted like the socialists that he has never publicly self-identified with. Roman's column continued: And of course, if you think that democracy, civil rights and civil liberties trump property rights; if you think that fair trade is a better deal for most of us than free trade; if you think that in a country as rich as ours education and medical care should be available regardless of one's ability to pay; if you think that workers should have the right to organize and bargain collectively well, then, it doesn't matter what you call yourself. You'll be called a socialist, too. That last paragraph is a watered down description of what a socialist is, but it applies perfectly to Obama, and that's why we call him a socialist. In essence, and perhaps by accident, Roman wrote that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Obama is our First Duck. Conservative Caps, Shirt and more! Leave a Comment - Chicago News Bench RSS Feed Visit us on Twitter!