[Marxism] NYT: Obama Defends Reaching Out to Chavez

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 20 08:03:14 MDT 2009

This is touching upon issues which I do not want to develop hugely. But I feel motivated by one thought which I think clear enough to post about.


I have not read Obama's books, but I have read those by his 'mentor', Saul Alinsky. They are very similar to those propounded by post-marxist radicals like Negri-Hardt. They are based not on a marxist conception of the state or even historical materialism - in fact they are either a radical denial of those ideologies or based on a post-modern conception of political struggle.


Despite this, however, Alinsky's approach enables significant progress to be made in empowering communities to stand up for themselves, but this agenda of empowerment occurs *within* the inherent limitations of the capitalist system (that is the critical bit). In Alinsky's case, he progressed from popular democratic struggles to an agenda to seek to influence business through shareholder pressure - a natural enough progression I think.


The logic is to co-opt the class struggle in a manner that does not overthrow the fundamentals - almost social partnership of a more radical sort.


This approach will be much easier to sell in the context of weakening US hegemony - both domestically and to third world struggles and can be used to great effect internationally.


In summary, I see the logic of Obama's cooptive approach inherent within Alinsky's post-modernist radicalism.

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