Tuesday, January 20, 2009

John A. Imani: "On Barak Obama"

On Barak Obama

By John A. Imani

Member of the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities.

Let’s face it, comrades, we have our hands full.

With the system in shatters all around us, capitalism had played its last card: it has elected ($700,000,000) a young, gifted and black president.

At the Martin Luther King, Jr Day here in LA one could strike by two things, the first expected, the second, however, was surprising:

“Obama” was the word on many, nearly every, lip. The impact of the fact that after 400 years of captivity, then second-class citizenship and occupation of its community by a force not of that community (in our case, the LAPD) a person of color was elected to lead completely colored the air as minor celebrities echoed and led the crowd in chants of the new president’s name.

The surprising thing was that this goodwill extended to just so the occupying force referred to above. Chief Bratton and Sheriff Baca led a contingent of pigs that for some strange reason the crowds applauded them. Not just the head cops but motorcycle, horse, bicycle, Segway riding, walking armed pigs were waved to and cheered. It was like watching concentration camp internees applauding their captors.

It was inexplicable.

Then the thought hit me: Obama = State. It dawned upon me that my comrade, Joaquin, from Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC) had been correct when before the election he warned that if Obama was elected, it would make it more difficult to rebel. The identification of the president, and all the good will extended by this, had somehow ‘rubbed off’ on the first and last line of defense of the state, the police. And the occupiers were seemingly transformed, in the minds of the viewers, into their defenders. This is how one might view this happenstance if one ignores the fact that the existence of the police itself is laden with a fundamental contradiction: that its interests and its existence is the protection of the state and not of the people.

There is little doubt that the Obama regime will initiate some reforms. It has no choice in this matter: it must generate purchasing power just as the Bush regime did. The difference is promised to be, however, that while Bush injected liquidity into the system with its vast purchases of arms, Obama’s medication will be prescribed in the form of extension of benefits, lower taxes on income and capital gains, workfare programs, etc. All of this in an attempt to save a system, a la FDR, teetering on the brink of self-implosion and ingesting vast sums of created public monies that are but IOU’s written on the backs of today’s and tomorrow’s workers.

On a macrocosmic level, what this means is that when he sends in more troops to Afghanistan that there will be some, who protested under Bush, will be hesitant to take to the streets. Or, when times get harder and food riots are necessitated, the televised image of concerned ‘Brother’ Obama will keep some of the hungry at home mindful of the fact that “The brother is doing the best that he can.”

Patriotism used to be the last refuge of scoundrels. Now it seems that its place has been taken by this cynical use of a black man as figurehead, standing in the same relationship to the real holders of power, the capitalist class, just as Bush II, Clinton, Bush’s Daddy, Ronald Reagan, etc. Of whom, pick your choice, it was and it would be easier to rebel against. The question is “How to critique Obama and not alienate the masses who see this presidency, perhaps in some way, as payment for our sufferings, as reparations for our pains?

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