[Marxism] Clinton the conspiracy theorist...

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Thu Jul 8 12:40:20 MDT 2010

On 7/7/2010 9:30 PM, brad wrote:
> Okay if everyone is going to pile on me and just repeat the idea that
> what I am promoting is a conspiracy theory without even engaging with
> anything I am writing, you will first have to explain to me how what I
> am arguing for is in fact a conspiracy theory.


What Brad argues is CLEARLY a conspiracy theory. He says they won't take 
the simple direct step of blowing up the well to shut it down BECAUSE 
they want to keep the possibility of renewing extraction in the future.

For this to be true, there would have to be one or more groups of 
decision makers who have privately deliberated and have reached that 
unpublicized decision for the secret reason that Brad offers. If that 
ain't a conspiracy, then I don't know what is.

 From his first (July 6) "Clinton" email: "Do people still think that it 
is pure conspiracy theory to argue that there are ways to stop the leak 
that aren't being tried because BP wants to save the well and the oil?"

Yes, that is precisely what I think.

What is left is to analyze whether this is a true or plausible 
explanation. I would argue that it is not just a demonstrably false 
theory, but an extremely unintelligent one as well.

When Brad first raised it towards the beginning of June, I pointed out 
that the continuing economic cost to BP far outdistanced any putative 
economic benefit to saving the well.

And as for Obama and the government, nothing would have pleased them 
MORE than being able to bring a close to this spill quickly and 
decisively, for they are also paying a tremendous political cost.

That is ALSO what is clearly and beyond debate in the interests of the 
oil industry AS A WHOLE. Because the argument would then be, "sure we 
had a spill, but now we have a way of stopping it in a few days before 
there is extensive environmental damage. So there's no need for new 
restrictions, a drilling moratorium," etc.

Any way you cut it, losing this one well would be FAR PREFERABLE to 
continuing with this situation, even just for another week or two.

When I first said this WEEKS ago, Brad conceded the point: "yes now it
appears that BP and Obama would not have tried to end the spill on the
cheap and save the well, but hindsight [is 20-20]. When this thing first 
happened I would guarantee that there were meetings at BP in which
they went through various options and choose to go with the cheapest
plans and the ones that would save the well first."

That was Brad on June 20, admitting it was clear --at least in 
retrospect-- that BP and Obama would NOT be letting this continue if 
they could help it.

But two weeks later he once again reiterates the conspiracy theory in 
his first "Clinton" email. Which shows, I guess, he just can't help it.

Moreover, I believe Brad's political disorientation is not only 
reflected in his conspiracy theory.

He also argues "that the left should maybe use this as a
wedge to push the state to nationalize a US oil company.  This, in my
view, would hold the possibility of being a major symbolic and
ideological victory.  If the US state nationalizes one of the major
oil companies over environmental neglect it would be a president
unmatched in environmental struggles."

First, bourgeois "nationalization" does not have one smidgen, not one 
atom of progressive content. The Post Office is NOT the people's 
package delivery service and Fed Ex the capitalist one.

In the last few years the American ruling class nationalized several 
major firms and this was not a victory for the class interests of 
working people, but completely the OPPOSITE. What they did was to 
nationalize the losses.

That's what a nationalization of BP now would amount to. Brad views it 
as positive because it would be "a major symbolic and ideological victory."

The PROBLEM is that the class struggle does not arise in the field of 
symbolism and ideology, but in the clash of social forces. And RIGHT NOW 
*our* class is not on the playing field. It's not even in the locker 
room suiting up. It exists, obviously, as an objective economic reality 
but it is atomized and unconscious. It has not cohered as a social force.

Nor is there, in my judgment, a sufficiently solid (i.e., large, 
organized, and at least in this area politically independent) 
environmental movement to represent the interests of working people.

This will mean that credit for this will accrue to the account of Obama 
and Company. And they will nationalize in the bourgeois mode of 
nationalizing the losses, and worse, without significant opposition: the 
liberals and even the radicals will be bamboozled with the idea of 
"nationalization" and "forget" to examine concretely whose interests are 
being served.

The practical conclusion is that in terms of BP, we should not be 
*agitating* for nationalization but instead explaining that it should 
have been punitively expropriated without compensation. It may seem just 
a word game, but it is important, because if things get bad enough, 
Obama WILL move to "nationalize" BP, and we will want to DENOUNCE that 
nationalization and instead say they should have expropriated all the 
companies involved in this fiasco, etc.

In addition, I don't think making a big point about nationalization, but 
only under workers control or management, helps things.

There is no workers movement --in the real sense of the word-- in the 
United States nor has there been one in living memory. Absent even the 
vaguest notion of that social agency, "workers control" becomes in the 
mind of the typical American listener, at best a statement that workers 
really know more about it than bosses do. Which they do, and is an OK 
propagandistic point to make. But what it does NOT do is imbue the 
"nationalization" with the idea of a different dominant social force, 
social interest, that therefore leads to profit being replaced by 
serving human needs (including preserving the biosphere) as BP's guiding 

"Nationalization under workers control" I think under our conditions is 
going to be understood as a bourgeois nationalization, only insisting 
that the company be run more competently by relying on the expertise of 
the workers. Again, that workers know more than bosses is an OK point to 
make, but relying on their expertise is a *DIFFERENT THING* from 
challenging bourgeois domination with the social force of a different class.

Which is to say the material conditions do not exist in the United State 
that would make it possible to AGITATE for a working class 
nationalization of BP, in other words, widely project and try to 
popularize a simple slogan like "nationalize BP." Instead, socialists 
are, I think, better off concentrating on propaganda, in other words, 
trying to reach a much smaller number of people with a more complicated 
explanation of just what kind of nationalization we're for and why.

And I am of course leaving aside the even more immediate problem of just 
who would do the agitating. For, given the state of the class movement, 
the disorganization and incoherence of our sect-plagued socialist 
movement should really not be a surprise, and it is in no shape to 
agitate for anything.


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