Quote of the day: Barack Obama, class warrior


And he hasn’t been fighting on behalf of the working  class.

From Noam Chomsky, in an interview by Truthout:

The business classes, which largely run the country, are highly class conscious. It is not a distortion to describe them as vulgar Marxists, with values and commitments reversed. It was not until 30 years ago that the head of the most powerful union recognized and criticized the “one-sided class war” that is relentlessly waged by the business world. It has succeeded in achieving the results you describe. However, neoliberal policies are in shambles. They have come to harm the most powerful and privileged (who only partially accepted them for themselves in the first place), so they cannot be sustained.

It is rather striking to observe that the policies that the rich and powerful adopt for themselves are the precise opposite of those they dictate to the weak and poor. Thus, when Indonesia has a deep financial crisis, the instructions from the US Treasury Department (via the IMF) are to pay off the debt (to the West), to raise interest rates and thus slow the economy, to privatize (so that Western corporations can buy up their assets), and the rest of the neoliberal dogma. For ourselves, the policies are to forget about debt, to reduce interest rates to zero, to nationalize (but not to use the word) and to pour public funds into the pockets of the financial institutions, and so on. It is also striking that the dramatic contrast passes unnoticed, along with the fact that this conforms to the record of the economic history of the past several centuries, a primary reason for the separation of the first and third worlds.

Class politics is so far only marginally under attack. The Obama administration has avoided even minimal steps to end and reverse the attack on unions. Obama has even indirectly indicated his support for this attack, in interesting ways. It is worth recalling that his first trip to show his solidarity with working people (called “the middle class,” in US rhetoric) was to the Caterpillar plant in Illinois. He went there in defiance of pleas by church and human rights organizations because of Caterpillar’s grotesque role in the Israeli occupied territories, where it is a prime instrument in devastating the land and villages of “the wrong people.” But it seems not even to have been noticed that, adopting Reagan’s anti-labor policies, Caterpillar became the first industrial corporation in generations to break a powerful union by employing strike-breakers, in radical violation of international labor conventions. That left the US alone in the industrial world, along with apartheid South Africa, in tolerating such means of undermining workers’ rights and democracy — and now I presume the US is alone. It is hard to believe that the choice was accidental.

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