Beyond Caveman Politics, where do we go from here?
As Obama continues to cave, even preemptively, to the extreme right, threatening the old and infirm with cuts to Social Security benefits and Medicare we as progressive find ourselves at a juncture. In an article on Truthdig Fred Branfman writes:
McCain as president would clearly have produced a long string of catastrophes: He would probably have approved a failed troop surge in Afghanistan, engaged in worldwide extrajudicial assassination, destabilized nuclear-armed Pakistan, failed to bring Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to the negotiating table, expanded prosecution of whistle-blowers, sought to expand executive branch power, failed to close Guantanamo, failed to act on climate change, pushed both nuclear energy and opened new areas to domestic oil drilling, failed to reform the financial sector enough to prevent another financial catastrophe, supported an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, presided over a growing divide between rich and poor, and failed to lower the jobless rate.
Nothing reveals the true state of American politics today more, however, than the fact that Democratic President Barack Obama has undertaken all of these actions and, even more significantly, left the Democratic Party far weaker than it would have been had McCain been elected.
My own feeling is that had McCain been selected we would have a stronger, more united movement but apparently Wall Street felt their investments were safer with Obama.
So where do we, as anti-corporatist progressives go from here?
Some are trapped in the self-defeating, failed tactic of "fighting the ultra-right" by supporting the Dems no matter what, but experience shows that supporting the center right against the hard right gets us nowhere. The best way to defeat the ultra-right is to actively present a rational left alternative, to go to the root of issues from a class perspective and to build an anti-corporatist movement.
Some want to withdraw from the electoral process and from mainstream politics but that is a naive position. For all its flaws and class oppression, the government we have exists and its decisions affect our lives. We really have no choice but to be engaged, especially as state and local levels.
Some want to build alternative parties and run progressive alternatives for high office. Though this is rife with obstacles in the stacked shell game that passes for elections, it is of great value if for no other reasons than it enlarges the public conversation and it gives us a voice and some bargaining power. Without alternatives, we have absolutely no voice. The hardest part is building unified support for anybody (or anything for that matter) on the left -- especially candidates that are not Dems even while they cut our throats.
In the larger picture, we have to realize that the capitalist system has metastasized to an international dictatorship of multi-national corporate boards to which nations are subservient. As this system cannot address the pressing reality of climate change in any way that curbs or adapts to it, the system itself is terminally ill and has nothing left to offer humanity but destruction, war and death on a level not seen in millions of years. Though we must struggle to seize the reins from the big money interests that threaten our ability to survive, we must also continue to build self-sustaining communities with mutual ties which are the basis for the future of authentic civilization -- a more egalitarian bottom up, socialist order which places life and the common good above all else.