“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” — Sun Tzu, 5th century B.C.
There is an old rule of war, which includes politics. If you misunderstand your opponent’s philosophy of life, you will misunderstand his goals. If you misunderstand his goals, you will misunderstand his strategy. If you misunderstand his strategy, you will misunderstand his tactics. This will place you at a disadvantage.
Intrade, the international betting site, has Obama’s odds of a win at about 58%. It has not been below 50% since November 2011. (http://bit.ly/ObamaBetting) Intrade is rarely wrong in bets on political outcomes. So, if this really is a crucial election, what is your personal fall-back position if he wins? What is the Republicans’ fall-back position? After all, if the Republican Party gets out the Republican voters base by telling them that this is yet another “election of the century,” and Obama still wins, despite a rotten economy, which should doom his chances, what can they tell the troops? “Oh, well, we won the House of Representatives. We can block every bad law he proposes.” That will be the truth. Intrade bets are 90% that Republicans will win the House. If they win the Senate, too — now about 50-50 — they can even block his Supreme Court appointments.
So, that would mean that this isn’t the election of the century.
Conservatives need a philosophy, goal, strategy, and tactical plan to deal with an Obama victory in November. Anything which in any way raises non-issues in dealing with Obama is a smoke screen.
I am now going to blow away some smoke.
WHAT MAKES BARACK/BARRY RUN?
I contend that Obama’s Right-wing opponents have generally misunderstood his philosophy, his goals, his strategy, and his tactics. So have his Left-wing supporters.
The key to understanding Obama is not Marxism. The key is that he and his wife both lost their licenses to practice law in Illinois.
The Obamas were both social climbers from early in their lives. They are good, old-fashioned liberals, and they learned a crucial social skill as teenagers: how to work white academic liberals’ racial guilt. They are both bright, so they were perfect for academia. Their presence on campus allowed liberal academia to fill its mandated, self-imposed quota system. They are both a lot like Al Sharpton, but their original market was academia, not the media.
They got to the top socially by getting certified by way of Columbia University, Princeton University, and law school. They had it made. And then . . . whammo! No more certification. They had learned to manipulate academia, but they failed to manipulate the Illinois Bar Association. First, it was Michelle in 1994. Then Obama in 2008. The mainstream media have of course covered this up, but Google uncovers it. (http://bit.ly/ObamasDe-Certified)
From the day that he surrendered his license in January, 2008, his handlers had him on a tight leash. They still do. He has a deep-set need: to keep concealed the reason for his retroactive de-certification.
There is widespread speculation on the Web, which I regard as plausible, that this is why he refuses to release his undergraduate transcripts. His grades were fine. His problem is this: the name on these records cannot be successfully altered retroactively. It was not the name he told the Illinois Bar Association was his. He was asked if he had ever used a different name. He said yes. Academia did not care. The Bar Association does.
WHAT KIND OF MARXISM?
Around the Web, I read that Obama is a Marxist. I think it’s worth considering.
The best place to begin our search for an answer is the Communist Manifesto. It was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1847. It was published anonymously in German in London in February 1848.
The document presents the case for proletarian revolution: the working class. It does not describe the future communist paradise that will emerge from the revolution. The revolution will not initially bring the final communist state, the document said. But it will bring the first stage, when the proletarians take charge. We read the following.
We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.
These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.
Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
#1: NO PRIVATE LAND
“Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.” Has Obama called for this? No. Has any Democrat elected to Congress called for this? If so, I do not recall it. Do Democrats vote for subsidizing agriculture in the name of the small farmer? Yes. Does the money go to small farmers? No. Where does most of it go? To huge agribusiness firms. Do Republicans support the farm subsidies? Yes.
What about low-interest loans for housing? Both parties vote for this. Does the Federal Reserve promote home ownership by subsidies? Yes. It’s called “Operation Twist.” The FED buys the bonds of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, the government’s mortgage agencies. Private investors buy these bonds, too. This lowers mortgage rates. It subsidizes home ownership for the masses.
#2: STEEPLY GRADUATED INCOME TAX
“A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” Obama probably wants this, although he has not pushed for it. Does he want top rates at (say) 90%. No one in the Democratic Party has called for this. Yet it was 91% under Eisenhower. Kennedy’s most important law lowered this to 70%. Reagan got it to 28%. Democrats voted for this, so great was the public demand. So, there is no evidence that Obama wants to return the top rate to the Marxism of the older Republican Party, which controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House, 1953-55.
“Abolition of all rights of inheritance.” No Democrat President has called for this. I know of no Democrat at any level who has called for this. Obama is not a Marxist on this issue.
#4. CONFISCATION OF EMIGRANTS’ PROPERTY.
“Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.” This means everyone who leaves the country. There are taxes on Americans who renounce their citizenship if they are worth over $2 million. They pay a capital gains tax on everything above $600,000. The Democrats passed this it 2008. But there had been a similar tax on people worth more than $2 million that was passed by the government as part of Bush’s American Jobs Creation act of 2004. http://bit.ly/ExpatTax) So, is Obama a Marxist on this point? No more than most other legislators in Congress.
#5 CENTRAL BANKING
“Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.” The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is a government agency. The 12 regional banks are not. So, it is a hybrid. It surely is a monopoly. The FED has had bipartisan support ever since 1913. Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, was the president of the New York FED, the most powerful of the 12 regional banks, prior to his appointment. Is Obama a Marxist on this point? You bet he is . . . just like everyone else in Congress except Ron Paul.
#6. CENTRALIZED COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSPORT
“Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.” There is no national politician in the USA who is a Marxist on this point. There never has been.
#7. GOVERNMENT FACTORIES AND AGRICULTURE
“Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.” On the factory issue, American politicians have never been Marxists. The farm subsidies pay farmers to take soil out of production and turn it into wasteland. Every President signs the annual farm bill, year after year.
The defense of “wetlands” — swamps and drainage ditches — is popular in Washington. This is anti-Marxism. The entire green movement is anti-Marxist. They want to turn productive land into wasteland, i.e., “wildness.” They want land-use planning, not to make unproductive land productive, but to make productive land unproductive. This raises the price of food in the cities. It costs industrial workers more to buy food. Marx would have been appalled.
#8. EVERYONE MUST WORK
“Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.” No national American politician has ever called for industrial armies, where men and women must work for the state.
#9. INDUSTRIALIZATION OF AGRICULTURE
“Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.” Marx hated rural life. He called it “the idiocy of rural life.” He praised capitalism for this. “The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.” With 2% of Americans living on farms, we are almost all Marxists.
#10 FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.” Virtually every politician is in favor of this, all over the world. We are all Marxists now. Exceptions: home school families and Christian day school proponents.
On central banking and public schools, every electorate in the world is Marxist. This is also true about the mechanization of agriculture. On the steeply graduated income tax, Americans used to be Marxists, but Kennedy reversed this. Reagan accelerated Kennedy’s reform. No national politician calls for the restoration of Eisenhower’s rates. On the other five points, Americans have never called for this. Any politician who did would not be elected.
OTHER CRITERIA FOR MARXISM
So far, Obama is just a face in the crowd. So, are there other criteria that could be used to pin the Marxist tail on Obama’s donkey?
How about dialectical materialism? Obama has never mentioned this in print. He is a well-read man. He could define it. I doubt that most of his critics could. He gets a pass. His rhetoric in political debate is not Marxist.
How about Marx’s theory of surplus value, his core critique of capitalist economics? Again, Obama has written nothing. Could his critics define surplus value? Of those who can, how many are familiar with Austrian School economist Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk’s refutation of it in 1883? He gets a pass. (For those of you who can hardly wait to learn all about Marx’s theory of surplus value and its refutation, read Chapter 3 of my 1968 book, Marx’s Religion of Revolution. You can download it for free here: http://bit.ly/gnmror.)
Maybe you are thinking that I am ignoring Lenin. He added to Marxism. His most famous addition was his explanation for why the proletarian revolution had been delayed in the West. He blamed imperialism, which he said was giving the capitalists in the West a stay of execution. His arguments for this were weak, but at least he did make the case. (Note: if Marx was right about the theory of surplus value, then India should have been highly profitable for capitalism — all those masses to exploit. But it wasn’t profitable. It was a drain on Britain’s economy. That is why the British left in 1947.)
Dinesh D’Souza has offered a theory of what motivates Obama: anti-colonialism. If he is correct, then Obama should be presiding over the shutdown of the American foreign policy Establishment and the Pentagon. He should have pulled troops out of Afghanistan. But instead, he shifted troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. He should be closing America’s 1,000 bases, which are located in at least 100 nations (http://bit.ly/1000Bases). He isn’t.
Obama is doing nothing that the pro-oil, pro-banking Establishment does not favor. This wing has always been unhappy with the neoconservatives’ pro-Israel stance. This goes back to 1948, long before neoconservatism, when Harry Truman took the advice of his former partner in their failed clothing business, Eddie Jacobson, and recognized the state of Israel. This has been public knowledge ever since. (http://bit.ly/TrumanJacobson) There is even a scene in the 1995 HBO movie on Truman that shows this connection.
REVOLUTION: MARXISM’S CORE DOCTRINE
Marx believed in proletarian revolution. From 1844 on, this was central to his thought. I have described his system as a religion of revolution (http://bit.ly/gnmror). Any of Marx’s other doctrines can be ignored without fundamentally altering the core of his thought and the core of its appeal.
He opposed any compromise with non-revolutionary socialism. He wrote voluminously against any doctrine that argued that the workers should use trade union organizing solely as a way to get more money out of the capitalists. A selection of his articles and letters on this is here: http://bit.ly/MarxUnions. He was contemptuous of two workers who were elected to the British Parliament in 1874. “At any rate, the ice has been broken and two workers now have seats in the most fashionable debating club of Europe, among those who have declared themselves the first gentlemen of Europe.” (http://bit.ly/UnionGentlemen)
In 1847, he laid down his theory of class revolution, in The Poverty of Philosophy, a critique of a non-revolutionary socialist, Proudhon. “Meanwhile the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is a struggle of class against class, a struggle which carried to its highest expression is a total revolution.” (http://bit.ly/MarxWorkersRevolt) Marx regarded as deceptive anything that did not promote the final bloody revolution of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.
Obama is a pro-union politician, and the union leadership was pro-Obama in 2008. But because Obama failed to show up in Wisconsin to support unionized government workers in their unsuccessful attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker in June, AFL-CIO leaders in Washington are making noises about allocating campaign money away from Obama and to local campaigns. (http://bit.ly/UnionsDisillusioned)
In short, Obama is acting the way that Marx would have expected. He is anything but militant. He counted noses in early June. He or his advisors guessed that the unions would lose, and decided to avoid backing a losing cause.
If Obama is a Marxist, he has certainly hidden his true color: red. He has not pursued the central Marxist objective: proletarian revolution.
Obama is an example of the political figure who Marx despised: a bread-and-butter advocate of using the government to subsidize the labor movement, which Marx saw as undermining proletarian solidarity.
So, to use the term “Marxist” to describe Obama or any Democrat, including Social Democrats of Western Europe, produces misunderstanding. It weakens the efforts of those who want to reduce the welfare-warfare state. It keeps people from recognizing the bipartisan nature of the welfare-warfare state.
The key to understanding the next four years of Obama is his desire to get a lifetime of speaking engagements at $100,000 each. He is a professional politician. If he does not go beyond what his handlers demand, he is set for life. If he does go beyond this, the whole story of his career — his two names, and his refusal to admit that other name when he applied to colleges and also to the Illinois Bar — somehow will be leaked. No more speaking engagements.
That’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it.