Obama, The Ruling Class and the Future of Secession

Thus far, the Obama presidency has moved along lines similar to what one might expect. The significance some would assign to his mulatto ancestry notwithstanding, Mr. Obama is very much an Establishment Man. The actions of the Obama administration in its earliest days indicate that the policies of this administration will largely be a continuation of those of the Bush administration. On economic policy, Obama has surrounded himself with neoliberals and called for deficit spending on additional bank and corporate welfare in the form of the “stimulus package.” The so-called “stimulus” is really just Phase Two of the extravagant “bailout” program enacted under President Bush. This should not be surprising, given that Obama’s primary financial backers during his campaign were Goldman-Sachs and other principal beneficiaries of the bailout, which Obama supported as a Senator. Of course, the “stimulus” program includes some additional social spending for the sake of appeasing various Democratic Party constituencies. This is the reason, along with sheer partisanship, that the Republicans are opposing the stimulus, which they are correct to do, even if they are doing so for all the wrong reasons.

On foreign policy, it appears that the Obama administration, whose foreign policy team is comprised mostly of recycled Clintonites, will continue to pursue the same set of foreign policy goals as the Bush administration. Obama has called for increased military spending, expanding the war in Afghanistan, perhaps to Pakistan, and it appears renditions will also continue. Obama does seem to be scaling back operations at Guantanamo, yet only as a public relations  maneuver so far as world opinion is concerned. It’s not like the prisoners at Guantanamo are going to be released. Indeed, it would appear that the only real difference between Bush and Obama on foreign policy is that the Obama government will be less bellicose in its formal rhetoric. As a protege’ of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama represents the liberal internationalist wing of the foreign policy elite, who are just as committed to the preservation of the Empire as the neoconservatives, but who are more cautious about openly giving the finger to allies, client states, and world opinion. Liberal internationalists realize that this is not conducive to the efficient administration of the Empire or its maintenance over the long haul, particularly given the current dependence of the U.S. economy on Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arab lenders.

Obama also kowtows to the Israel Lobby, as illustrated by his appearance before AIPAC prior to his election to the presidency and his appointment of Rahm Emmanuel. James Petras has observed that the Obama administration contains as many arch-Zionists as any previous administration. There is also some indication that Israel will go to war with Iran under Obama’s watch, which could likely lead to actual U.S. participation in such a war. In fact, the overall amount of U.S. military intervention may escalate under Obama, as it did under Bill Clinton.

On “culture war” issues, Obama predictably leans somewhat to the left of the Bush government. So far, he has lifted the abortion-related “gag rule” and eased restrictions on stem cell research, and Obama has also signed an “equal pay for equal work” law as a reward for his middle-class feminist constituency. Yet Obama is far from being an ACLU civil libertarian. For instance, he voted as a Senator to authorize warrantless wiretaps and provide legal immunity to telecommunications companies engaged in such actions.

I’ve written before that the election of Obama signifies a demographic, cultural and generational shift among the American electorate. The left side of the “culture war” now has the upper hand, if it did not already. The Democrats will likely be the dominant political party for the forseeable future due to the fact that those groups who vote Democratic are growing in number and those who vote Republican are shrinking. The Obama coalition includes the left-wing of the “old elite” (demonstrated by the Kennedys support for Obama), the New Class center-left welfare state professionals, the “bourgeois bohemians” that David Brooks has written about, upwardly mobile members of the traditional outgroups now in ascension (blacks, immigrants, Jews, feminists, gays), newer ideological movements like environmentalism, younger people and a wide variety of public sector dependents. This coalition will probably prove to be stable enough to sustain itself over the next few decades even if matters like economic downturn occasionally produce a victory for the Republicans.  

Because the liberal side of the culture wars is gaining does not mean that the culture wars are over. While there is not enough of a constituency for the kind of cultural conservatism represented by the religious right  or the right-wing Republicans for these to achieve a majority in a national election, proponents of such an outlook are a large and vocal enough group to continue to be a force for political and cultural polarization for some time, even if their prospects for long-term victory are dim.

Indeed, the evidence indicates that the U.S. Congress of 2008 was the most polarized of any Congress in 120 years! The degree to which Americans are polarized has increased even in the last five years. Further, as Bill Bishop has shown, Americans are becoming more and more geographically segregated along cultural, ideological, religious, economic, ethnic, racial and generational lines.

As an old-fashioned anarchist who wishes to see an end to the U.S. empire internationally and the end of the Big Brother state domestically, I see this polarization as a welcome phenomenon. It is difficult for a state to survive when there is no consensus on primary values. If the cultural Left is going to be in the ascendency, then let’s hope that the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et.al. turn up the volume even louder and keep the polarization coming.  Those guys really aren’t my cup of tea, but I’m all for increased divisiveness.

Divisiveness will likely escalate for a variety of reasons. One of these will be the widening gap between socio-economic classes, which Obama shows no signs of doing anything about. Another will be the social conflict associated with  increased statism as politics becomes a spoils system for different groups looking to plunder one another. Increased diversity will likely result in increased disharmony in many ways, and the massive American police state will likely be used to squelch economic unrest and sharpening demographic conflict.

If secession by regions and communities is the most viable method of dissolving the Empire, as I believe it is, then it would seem that we revolutionaries should devote ourselves to the following tasks:

1) Continue to popularize the idea of secession. A Zogby poll taken last year showed that twenty-two percent of Americans support the right of secession, with eighteen percent saying they would support a secession movement in their area. Additionally, forty-four percent say the U.S. political system is broken and cannot be fixed. We need to get these numbers up.

2) Continue to develop actual secession movements and build constituencies for these movements. For instance, the dominance of the cultural Left is likely to increase support for separatist ideas on the Right. There is a prototype for this in the rise of the militia movement during the Clinton era. Likewise, Obama is likely to prove to be a disappointment to many on the Left, both blacks and whites, and this combined with increased economic misfortune may generated secession movements from the Left. The nationwide, continent-wide proliferation of secessionist tendencies from the Right and Left against the ruling class Center would be a highly welcome event.

3) Encourage greater polarization. In some ways, we should think of Limbaugh, Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Barney Frank and Arianna Huffington as the public relations arm for a future pan-secessionist movement as it is figures such as these who serve to create the polarization likely to result in eventual political splintering.

4) Build cross-cultural, cross-ideological alliances against the ruling class common enemy whenever feasible. If Afro-centrics, Black Muslims, militiamen and Ku Klux Klansmen can engage in common action, then what the hell is wrong with the rest of us?

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5 replies »

  1. I don’t think I agree that polarization per se is a good thing. For one thing, it generates so much fear that the other side will take over Washington that the left and right each become far more devoted to and apologetic for their party (not so good for third party outsiders), which gives a lot of leeway for each party to move to the center. As I wrote at http://rmangum2001.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/return-to-clintonia/, such partisanship blinded left-liberals to how awful Clinton was even from the perspective of their own professed values. Furthermore, anybody with a point of view that is neither liberal nor conservative, or a hybrid, becomes suspect and a figure of ridicule on both sides. (Like, whose side are you on man?)

    On the other hand, imperial overreach and too much domestic tyranny can create a polarization between anti-statists of the left and right, and statists of the left and right. This happened to some extent during the Vietnam era. This kind of polarization is fertile ground for real revolution, as I think your points 2 and 4 indicate.

    But if the choice is between Ann Coulter and Al Franken, we’re screwed.

  2. Polarization has the effect of making “divide and conquer” easier for the ruling class/state. However, if polarization goes too far, the center can lose control and break because the two sides ending up hating each other so much that a consensus on core values becomes impossible.

    I know what you’re saying about those who take a “neither left nor right” perspective becoming suspect. I’ve experienced quite a bit of that myself. My comment about Franken/Coulter was simply a recognition that, whether we like it or not, the PC Left and the Neocon Right are the two dominant factions right now. The best hope for a breakdown of the state at present would be for the two sides to develop so much acrimony that governing from the center became impossible. If the US split up into Red Zones and Blue Zones, then the lack of central power might allow for pockets of liberty to emerge at scattered locations.

  3. I’m continually amazed at how two different people can look at one President and come to two different conclusions. Only in America? Obama seen as an establishment man, classic. if spending 2 trillion dollars on basically social programs is spending it on business cronies who helped him into the White House is helping business, I guess you could see it that way. Remember the old line by Jimmy Stewart in “Its a Wonderful Life”, ” Potter isn’t selling, he’s buying”, which means you missed the boat, the whole crux of his action. Obama’s bailing out the banks not to help them, but to own them, control them. maybe because your stance is so to the left of Obama’s your missing the point. Obama is going to dictate policy to the banks, thats why the market has reacted so negative, the idea of government owned banks. You know how you liberals feel about big brother watching over you with national security, imagine power over your coin in the bank. Look at Kansas and California with state income tax refunds, government keeping Your money. I know its tough because libs trust government with their money, infact they don’t mind them having even more. But you have to look at it as spying on you then you’ll get the idea.
    Obama is trying to pull off the same BS with states, saying you can have this little amount of money but there is one catch, you must change your unemployment laws to get it, permanently. More power grab from the central government.
    Obama next wants too dictate who lives and who dies with Nationalized Healthcare. Immigration is nothing more then allowing in more democrats to control elections for decades to come.
    Secession, something many laughed about just a few years back now gives many pause when they hear it suggested. That is really what curbing second admendment rights is about, hard to overthrow or seceed without weapons, infact impossible. Obama knows this. And you thought it was about inner city crime and small children shooting themselves or others, silly you. You thought they cared.
    In closing, my last sentence above is the saddest. Its not about change, its about he’s doing something, he cares. Its the sincerity of his cause not the results which matter to most liberals. Thats why they hate the market, its where all that silly give little billy an A for effort stuff gets thrown out when little Billy meets the real world, and only Billy’s performance matters, Its just not fair, thus Obama’s policies.

  4. Yes, Obama and the liberals want to exert control over the financial sector, and markets more generally. But what we have here is a sibling rivalry, or rather a shell game, between the statocracy and the plutocracy. Yes they may oppose each other in many ways, but they also buttress each other in more important yet largely unseen ways. “Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed to have a battle”: but who can imagine one without the other?

    The banking sector could not exist in its present, cartelized form without government injunction and force of law upholding its fiat money, and no sweeping legislation like the “stimulus” (and New Deal/Great Society “reforms” also) could be passed without approval from a significant proportion of the plutocrats- so rest assured they will land softly no matter what “socialist” legislation comes through.

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