Sunday, July 19, 2009

There has been some commentary and controversy about what I wrote in the People's Weekly World below.

Let me clear something up.

In our new age of 21st Century politics we can call things anything we want to.

There is no reason why we can't call everything Barack Obama does "left" just like Carl Davidson calls everything Obama does "progressive."

If people perceive something as progressive or left that is all that counts.

If we take health care as an example. In the old way of thinking the "public option" as brought forward would have been considered by the 20th Century Communists as something reactionary just because it is underfunded and will leave 30 million people without access to health care.

Our new view is that one of the primary problems is overpopulation. Get rid of all these sick suckers by letting them die and the figures look a lot better.

We need to be able to frame everything Barack Obama does in the best possible light. Why only call what he is doing progressive when we can call it left and claim we are making strides towards socialism?

This is what I wanted to get at in my article for the PWW. Politics is what you frame it to be.

It doesn't matter in our new way of thinking if we are marginalized as long as we think we are moving to the left with Obama.

Take Barack Obama's speech to the NAACP. This is a speech I could have delivered anyplace in the United States.

It doesn't matter that Barack Obama failed to explain his "public option" health care policy in full detail. This is 21st Century politics. You can say anything and what you do does not have to correlate with what is done.

Sam Webb
Chair, CPUSA

COMMENTARY The mentality of marginalization

Author: Sam Webb
People's Weekly World Newspaper, 07/18/09 13:59

Because of McCarthyism, the Cold War, the long economic expansion following WW II, and a resistence to think anew, the Left has been on the edges of politics for more than a half century. During this time, our ability to impact on broader political processes in the country has been narrowly circumscribed – nothing like the 1930s, nothing like the Left in many other countries.

While we stubbornly fought the good fight and made undeniable contributions over the past half-century, we were not a major player; we didn’t set the agenda or frame the debate; we didn’t determine the political direction of the country; we were not a decider.

But the past doesn't have to be prelude to the future. Because of the new political landscape, the Left has an opportunity to step from the edges into the mainstream of U.S. politics. It has a chance to become a player of consequence; a player whose voice is seriously considered in the debates bearing on the future of the country; a player that is able to mobilize and influence the thinking and actions of millions.

Whether we do depends on many factors, one of which is our ability to shake off a “mentality of marginalization” that has become embedded in the Left’s political culture over the last half of the Twentieth Century.

How does this mentality express itself? In a number of ways – in spending too much time agitating the choir; in dismissing new political openings; in thinking that partial reforms are at loggerheads with radical reforms; in seeing the glass as always half empty; in thinking that our outlook is identical with the outlook of millions; in turning the danger of cooptation into a rationale to keep a distance from reform struggles; in enclosing ourselves in narrow Left forms; and in damning victories with faint praise.

In this peculiar mindset, politics has few complexities. Change is driven only from the ground up. Winning broad majorities is not essential. There are no stages of struggle, no social forces that possess strategic social power, and no divisions worth noting. And distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties are either of little consequence or disdainfully dismissed.

Unless the Left – and I include communists – sheds this mentality, it will miss a golden opportunity at this moment to engage and influence a far bigger audience than it has in the past six decades. Where do we begin? The fight for a public option is a good starting point even for those of us (and I include myself) who prefer single payer.

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