In recent days there’s been a lot of blow up about the criticisms levied at President Obama by Princeton Professor Cornel West.. Many have quickly circled the wagon and attacked West claiming his critique was more personal than principled. The end result has been West being dismissed and Obama being praised as if the critiques about him being a supporter of corporate and foreign policies that are harmful to poor people were not on point..Below are a two articles that excellently address all sides of this issue.. They weigh in on Cornel, look at Obama’s policies and offer up some solid points about Obamites.. Big shout out to Chris Hedges of Truthdig and Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report for these breakdowns..
by Chris Hedges
The liberal class, which attempted last week to discredit the words my friend Cornel West spoke about Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, prefers comfort and privilege to justice, truth and confrontation. Its guiding ideological stance is determined by what is most expedient to the careers of its members. It refuses to challenge, in a meaningful way, the decaying structures of democracy or the ascendancy of the corporate state. It glosses over the relentless assault on working men and women and the imperial wars that are bankrupting the nation. It proclaims its adherence to traditional liberal values while defending and promoting systems of power that mock these values.The pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, the church, culture, the university, labor and the Democratic Party—all honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence. Those who expose this moral cowardice and collaboration with corporate power are always ruthlessly thrust aside.
The capitulation of the liberal class to corporate capitalism, as Irving Howe once noted, has “bleached out all political tendencies.” The liberal class has become, Howe wrote, “a loose shelter, a poncho rather than a program; to call oneself a liberal one doesn’t really have to believe in anything.” The decision to subordinate ethics to political expediency has led liberals to steadily surrender their moral autonomy, voice and beliefs to the dictates of the corporate state. As Dwight Macdonald wrote in “The Root Is Man,” those who do not make human beings the center of their concern soon lose the capacity to make any ethical choices, for they willingly sacrifice others in the name of the politically expedient and practical.
By extolling the power of the state as an agent of change, as well as measuring human progress through the advances of science, technology and consumption, liberals abetted the cult of the self and the ascendancy of the corporate state. The liberal class placed its faith in the inevitability of human progress and abandoned the human values that should have remained at the core of its activism. The state, now the repository of the hopes and dreams of the liberal class, should always have been seen as the enemy. The destruction of the old radical and militant movements—the communists, socialists and anarchists—has left liberals without a source of new ideas. The link between an effective liberal class and a more radical left was always essential to the health of the former. The liberal class, by allowing radical movements to be dismembered through Red baiting and by banishing those within its ranks who had moral autonomy, gradually deformed basic liberal tenets to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization and permanent war. Liberalism, cut off from the radical roots of creative and bold thought, merged completely with the corporate power elite. The liberal class at once was betrayed and betrayed itself. And it now functions like a commercial brand, giving a different flavor, face or spin to the ruthless mechanisms of corporate power. This, indeed, is the primary function of Barack Obama.
continue reading article at Truth Dig
by BAR Executive editor Glen Ford
It is a shame that Princeton professor Cornel West did not stick to a disciplined critique of the corporatist policies that have made Barack Obama richly deserving of the label, a “Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.” Instead, the Princeton professor slipped into psycho-babble, musing on the president’s supposed “fear of free Black men” and associated personality deformities. The particularities of Obama’s racial background may, or may not, have contributed to his malignant neglect of the African American condition, but we will not forge a movement to defeat Obama and his Wall Street masters by putting the president on the couch.
There is no need to inject racial psychoanalysis into the (public) conversation when straightforward political analysis is more than sufficient to the task. In two and a half years, the Obama administration has expanded George Bush’s wars and national security infrastructure and budget, added a new theater of combat in North Africa, and proclaimed a presidential prerogative to assassinate and invade at will. He has out-Bushed Bush.
Obama engineered by far the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, funneling at least $12 trillion to Wall Street. At the height of his popularity, still riding the crests of post-election euphoria, and under no real pressure from a demoralized Republican Party, Obama eagerly placed Social Security and other entitlements “on the table” for chopping. He endorsed the corporate/Republican line that deficits were the nation’s biggest problem, effectively sentencing the unemployed to damnation and inviting the austerity reign of terror that has descended. And these are just the highlights of Obama’s tenure.
The resulting catastrophe in Black America had rendered Black Obamites all but mute on issues of policy; they could not defend the indefensible. In an MSNBC debate with West, Al Sharpton, the administration’s Black pit bull, was reduced to inane sputtering. The rationale for continued Black and progressive support of the Obama administration has been reduced to one factor: a primal fear of the Tea Party boogeyman. Yet, the sheer economic and political devastation wrought under Obama’s brief tenure has made it plausible to make the case – as we do at Black Agenda Report – that the First Black President is not the lesser of two evils, but the more effective evil, having facilitated more of the right-wing agenda at home and abroad than George Bush ever attempted or envisioned. What does it matter that Obama is not a white Republican, if he can tear down the social safety net, privatize education and wage aggressive war more effectively than the GOP?
Of course, Obama is empowered to act as Wall Street’s Trojan Horse by the acquiescence of the Left’s core constituencies – chiefly, Black America, without whose consent and active participation progressive politics is reduced to the fringes. For reasons that have everything to do with race, Black people have clung to Obama even as he has consistently pushed them away. But the agonzing facts of a community in historical free-fall can no longer be denied. The “Black Wall” that the African American mis-leadership class attempts to erect around Obama is cracking, if not crumbling, especially among left activists and intellectuals. Cornel West is a celebrity example.
The First Black President is not the lesser of two evils, but the more effective evil, having facilitated more of the right-wing agenda at home and abroad than George Bush ever attempted or envisioned.”
Unable to mount a coherent defense of Obama’s policy decisions, especially after his further, dramatic lurch to the right following last year’s midterm elections, Obama’s unrepentant Black politicos seethed in relative silence. It had become impossible to speak in policy terms without indicting the presidential icon. Cornel West’s foray into Obamanalysis gave them the opportunity to explode in reams of outraged words that had little or nothing to do with policy. Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry managed to write almost 1,500 words forThe Nation on West’s “personal attack” on Obama, offering only 130 words about her own position on Obama’s tenure at the end of the piece.TheRoot.com, a Black Obamite corporate hangout, gleefully reported that West had “’stepped in it’ with his controversial comments about President Obama,” with “Google News listing more than 100 stories.”
This is the kind of “controversy” in which Obamites revel, precisely because it allows them to avoid confrontation with Obama’s indefensible policies. If they can resurrect another version of the phony, diversionary arguments of 2007 and 2008 about whether Obama is “Black enough” to deserve African American support, then they can hope to coast through the 2012 campaign without having to justify support for the “Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.”
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.