Whither The Black Activist??
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, a group of high-profile dignitaries from across the political spectrum celebrated the launch of the Society for the Management of Historical Reason (SMHR) in the nation’s capital. The all-day seminar…. and featured speeches by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, John Nagl of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), former Bush speechwriter David Frum, Obama Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, and Iraq surge architect and West Point professor Frederick Kagan.
In his opening remarks, the new organization’s executive director, Michael O’Hanlon, a longtime fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution, spoke with urgency about the new entity’s mission. … ‘Analogizing is the lifeblood of historical reason.’ We believe this to be true. However, we also know that in times like these, allowing anyone, anywhere to establish and publicize parallels between the policies of the U.S. and those pursued by other nations in the course of history can have far-reaching consequences for American security. We therefore seek to aid those habitually engaged in generating historical reasoning (or reporting it to the general public after a cursory reading of a commissioned think-tank position paper) to channel their ideas toward only those parallelisms which affirm that the U.S. and its close ally Israel stand outside the laws of causality that have governed the fates of other peoples on the earth."
When asked by a reporter to spell out how this actually works in practice, O’Hanlon replied, “Our enemies around the world have long-suggested that when the U.S. and Israel attack or invade other nations, they, like every other militarily strong state before them, do so in order to gain control of the land or resources of the invaded country. When disinformation like this appears, the first line of defense is, as it always has been, to greet the assertion with utter silence, and if that fails, to condescendingly mock the person as a Chomskyite loon. If, after all this, they still get an insufficiently trained reporter to put this ludicrous notion into print or on the air, that’s where our agents of historical reason spring into action. Within a matter of days, they will generate a minimum of five op-eds in the largest American dailies, designed, each in their own way, to reaffirm the wholly defensive and unfailingly moral underpinnings of American and Israeli foreign policy.”
The above article appeared on the AntiWar.Com website on August 19th. Reported on by Thomas Harrington, the frightening remarks are in keeping with the overarching strategy developed and articulated in the seminal documents of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a far right wing (fascist) coterie of intellectuals and political operatives. Led by Bill Kristol, Jr. but also associated with most of the notable warmongers of the Bush and Reagan administrations, some twelve years ago PNAC detailed the future of a neo-conservative U.S.A. – total world domination and hegemony. The article referenced by Mr. Harrington simply reinforces the depth and sophistication of the PNAC strategy; it is one that not only is forward looking but also seeks to rewrite history. PNAC members and their adherents know quite well that those who forget the past are destined to repeat it. And, they intend to repeat and add to it.
It’s against this backdrop and reality that we should assess and review Barack Obama’s young presidency. Notwithstanding the hopes and concerns of many liberals – and certainly to the dismay of most true progressives – this administration can best be described as neo-liberal, middle of the road and moderate. Tolerable for many Americans, clearly untenable for black nationalists. Indeed some in the progressive community (those rightfully outraged by the criminality of the Bush cabal) have signified Obama governance as simply the third phase of the Bush regime.
That description may be overstating things but what seems to be certain is that despite the color of the President, this remains a country dominated by right wing conservatism. Now to be sure, the Democratic Party and those who are reasonably sane realize that some change in domestic policy to assist middle class America is imperative to stem the erosion of the economy. However, visionary, revolutionary democratic ideas with respect to capital formation and distribution, community development, criminal justice, political representation, etc., will not be forthcoming from the Obama administration.
Actually, one should never have even hoped for anything but a center right governing ideology, what with over $200 million required to run a presidential campaign. (Obama’s leading contributor was the banking firm, Goldman-Sachs.) No, we are in the age of corporate governance, corporate fascism if you will – and to think otherwise is as fallacious as one of those Jimmy, Harry Potter (whatever they are) movies that are so popular.
The powers that be are now even more entrenched than ever: a large corporate class of elite financial and service industry magnates, the military/industrial coalition, all undergirded by the narrow-minded, rabidly nationalist white male conservative. This ugly consortium and its ever present apologists, the mainstream media, are relentless in their determination to circumscribe public debate on issues of importance. The parameters of political dialogue have been and will continue to be limited and always skewed to the right. The mainstream press, from Blitzer to Stephanopolis, legitimize the murderous and illegal exploits of Bush/Cheney, as well as the virulent stupidity of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, et.al. Within this pitiful public landscape, bereft of honest political examination but rife with trite nonsense, true, purposeful change is still imaginable but impossible to bring about.
Some tinkering to make health care more accessible and affordable (maybe), a slap on the wrist of the banking and mortgage systems and modest gains with respect to the environment, but a truly aggressive campaign to alter the balance of power between the haves and have nots or God forbid, a serious effort to address the historic oppression visited upon the nation’s least of these - this is not going to happen.
Whereas some limited change may be enacted domestically, don’t expect anything that approaches a reasonable, progressive or fair foreign policy. Because, it is within foreign policy – the military-industrial complex- that real American power lies. It is in the context of its overseas exploits and its ability to foment instability and ravage the resources of poorer nations that the American system of predatory capitalism can be most fully and effectively perpetrated.
This mindset and overarching approach to world problems will not be materially challenged by Obama, the Democrats or anyone in the American mainstream body politic. Notwithstanding conciliatory statements that would suggest otherwise, the Obama administration continues the “muscular” approach of the Bush, far right neo-conservatives. Obama has backed away from challenging Israel’s illegal settlements (ethnic cleansing), has escalated the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan, continues to attack Somalia at will, refused to label the coup in Honduras – a coup, and has not condemned the kidnapping five years ago of a sitting, democratically elected President (Aristide) nor sought to return him to his country. And, we haven’t even mentioned his refusal to hold the Bush administration legally accountable for everything from lying about Iraq to outing a CIA agent.
What then should be the approach or strategy for activists confronted with this reality? A reality where the sitting President who is of black African descent sees no relationship between the Maafa (the African holocaust), colonialism and the current plight of the motherland. A reality where the President believes 250 years of enslavement and another 100 years of oppression of African Americans have left no scars on the progeny of the victims and no debt for the perpetrating government. Given the current war party’s political agenda, what if anything can the black activist do to ameliorate the black on black crime, poor education, vanishing job opportunities and just a general self hatred that continues to plague black communities in this country? That’s part two of this essay.