Super Tuesday Special - Life In East Dakota - Barack Obama And The Adapting Ruling Class
Barack Obama and the adapting ruling class
Shelby Steele helped me put my thoughts together on Barack Obama. He unsurprisingly has a "controversial" opinion of Obama (Steele makes a living telling eager white folks that liberals' reactions to racism are worse than racism itself). Basically, Steele says that Obama has made a "bargain" with white America. He won't bring up America's racist history if they don't hold his race against him. He gets the White House and they get to appease their white guilt. Blacks, on the other hand, will demand he become a "challenger" and not give white America the benefit of the doubt. They want Obama to make whites prove they're not racist. Poor Obama is stuck in the middle- a "bound man." He will never get elected because voters will eventually demand to know specific details about what their potential President believes and he'll end up alienating one of the groups.
For the most part, I think Steele's theory is bullshit. Obama is popular among African Americans. I don't see any real effort to make him "blacker." Steele also doesn't give Obama enough credit as a politician. It is possible, and perhaps likely, that Obama could win the election without leaving his comfort zone of feel-good rhetoric. Steele, however, is right to point out how unspecific Obama's campaign has been. There hasn't really been a decisive moment when Barack Obama has shown us who he really is or what he clearly represents. He says he represents "change" but fails to tell us exactly what that change is.
Today, as I stood at a Democratic caucus in Fargo, something struck me. I was looking at a bunch of white Obama supporters, young and old, and I came to the realization that African Americans are now accepted into the employing class. Many people, especially young people, don't have an issue with an African American being in a position of authority over them. It wasn't too long ago that this certainly wasn't the case. The invention of race has, mostly, outgrown its usefulness. The civil rights movement proved this. The ruling class has adapted. They have an amazing ability to co-opt mass movements and smash any elements that could possibly produce real societal change. Barack Obama, whether he is aware of it or not, represents the culmination of this co-option. In short, the "change" he represents is largely symbolic puffery. He has given enough winks and nods to the powerful to make sure they know it would be business as usual if he were to take office. (He seriously wants to expand the military!)
Don't get me wrong, It is a very positive thing that people in states like North Dakota are voting for an African American. That is a real change and should be applauded. But it is important not to make it something that it isn't. The status quo is still the status quo regardless of the President's skin color. This as one of the tragic failures of the working class today. We consistently allow the ruling class to steal, and neuter, our movements. Despite what Barack Obama says, we aren't "one America." We also aren't one world. The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism and the related man-made inventions of the state, race and organized religion. We have the power. Authentic change can only come from the bottom. Barack Obama, and his supporters, are more than welcome to ditch the dog and pony show and join us.
Graeme Anfinson www.graemesblog.com Fargo, North Dakota
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