Monday, March 24, 2008


"...Barack Obama is opposed to the hierarchies of the
whites over blacks and browns and uses his own life as
a metaphor for calling on citizens to come together to
save the planet earth. Obama has gone on record to
register his opposition to the structured existence
that places humans as atomized individuals without
responsibility to family or society. Atomized
individuals are open to manipulation by the media and
are open to the Hobbesian thinking that society must be
based on conflict and confrontation or 'war of every
man against every man.' This manipulation is one form
of psychological warfare against the citizens of the
United States...

The idea of change that echoes from the Obama campaign
has been calling for citizens to place themselves at
the center and to empower themselves, firstly with
their positive thinking, "Yes we can," and more
importantly by organizing to intervene in the political
process. In response to this call, a cross section of
the citizens of the United States from Iowa to
Nebraska, from Idaho to Georgia and from Washington to
Louisiana have come forward to seek the new ideas of
twenty first century change. In the process there are
new constituencies that have found their voice. This
has led to a level of spontaneity that one could see in
the much watched video- Yes we can.

Can the old media and the old ideas blunt the quantum
leap in the consciousness of the youth that is taking
place at the moment? This is the question that emerges
from the discourse of the political talking heads on
the same television stations that were enthusiastic
cheer leaders for the illegal war against the peoples
of Iraq.

These political commentators who were brought up to
reproduce the misinformation of the media that
tormented young people and led them into depression and
isolation cannot fully understand the call of the Obama
campaign to the youth that the change must begin in the
youth themselves and that that have to believe in their
capacity for change.

The political pundits of the mainstream media have been
in the main brought up within the context of the
hierarchies of Newtonian physics have been confounded
by the bottom up, responsive, plural and holistic
message of the Yes we can campaign.

These hierarchies have been at the base of the faulty
democratic traditions of the United States that did not
recognize native peoples as humans and rendered African
Americans as three fifths of a human being. The same
democratic tradition did not recognize women as
citizens. Obama is not calling for this deformed
reference to be the basis for change, he is exhorting
all classes and all ages to be part of the solution, by
drawing from a different tradition, the progressive
traditions that sought to enrich and enlarge the
meaning of democracy...

The unique experiences that Obama learnt when he was an
organizer on the South Side of Chicago taught him the
humility to listen to the ordinary person and it is
this methodical organizing like the repetition of self
similarity that one can discern in the organizational
skills of Obama. The political victories in Idaho,
Nebraska, the Virgin Islands and Missouri followed the
scaling pattern of Obama that built up a profile in
every district and in every part of the country so that
he could not be pigeon-holed. After the land slide
victory in South Carolina, Bill Clinton sought to
compare Obama to Jesse Jackson and to limit his appeal
to African Americans citizens. But the citizens of
Washington State, Missouri, Louisiana and Maine voted
with their heads and their hearts in response to new
organizing thrust that is making the quantum leap in US
politics a possibility. This leap has been reinforced
by the nested loops of new social networks wired
through the spaces of the information revolution.

After these victories the momentum began to build and
citizens in Virginia, Maryland and the District of
Columbia signaled that they were another link in the
chain of this momentous political intervention. Young
people have organized themselves into new formations
and have been energized by the promise that Obama would
want to move in a new direction. In the past forty
years the established parties benefited from the
demobilization of the youth and unlike most liberal
democratic states the numbers of citizens voting in the
USA has been consistently below the numbers of other
western democracies. Apathy and withdrawal from the
system have been the outcome of the absence of
realistic alternatives for the majority of the poor in
the United States. This absence of participation by the
youth has benefited the corporations and special
interests to the point where there had been no
incentive for the two parties to remove the
restrictions that deter young people from participating
in politics. The advent of Barack Obama is generating
the long sought after alternative, hence the
unprecedented turnout for the caucuses and primaries...

New experiences are being created in the midst of a new
kind of political campaign that builds on these
networks. The traditional media (newspapers, radio and
Television stations) and the campaign of the Clintons
have made clear statements about the organizational
experience of the team around Hilary Clinton (Madeline
Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton
etc). Yet, it is this same experience rooted in the
mechanistic hierarchies of Newtonian physics that is
becoming the albatross of the political campaign of
Hilary Clinton. Her experiences are very similar to the
leader of the Republican Party, John McCain. John
McCain is proud of his support for the wars against the
peoples of Iraq and the merchants of death. Hilary
Clinton has sought to demonstrate to the club of
militarists that she would oil the war machinery while
millions are without basic jobs.

Without fresh ideas when US citizens wanted a clean
break with the militarism that brought the quagmire and
fiasco in Iraq, Hilary Clinton could not understand
that she had to tell the people that she was wrong in
supporting the unjust war in Iraq. This is politics of
truth that is now needed in the society. But from the
position of Hilary Clinton on a possible military
strike against Iran and more importantly, her base in
the constituency of the financial speculators of New
York State exposed the fact that thought she is
campaigning to change conditions for women, she has not
broken with the militarists of the society. Decency
would require that Hilary Clinton rewrite her texts on
her responses to war and genocide during the Presidency
of Bill Clinton. In this campaign her character has
emerged especially in the case of the primary in
Florida. Hilary Clinton's willingness to claim a
victory in Florida when she had said she would not
brought out her true character to all peoples, black
and white, women and men...

The Obama campaign has been able to draw on the
organizational capacities of those who want to turn
truth into a political force so that the society can
turn from war to peace. This is the basic force behind
the momentum of Barrack Obama and his experiences of
Chicago has been able to translate this (peace thrust)
in order to build up the electoral profile, bringing
new teams in every part of the country and creating new
training spaces for the energetic to donate,
participate and learn the possibilities for change.
Yet, because of the limitations of the electoral system
that mitigates against direct participation of the
citizen beyond voting, it is urgent that those who have
understood the need for a new politics build new
organizations at new sites of politics.

This new urgency is especially the case in the peace
movement that has been unable to build on to the
aspirations of the masses of the people for justice.
Five years after the illegal occupation of Iraq, the
activists for peace yearn for new forms of expression
and hence there is a slow learning curve that
demonstrations without follow up will only frustrate
those who want new organizations. In 2003 at the start
of the war against the peoples of Iraq there were
millions of peoples on the streets.

Yet the established leadership of the peace movement
was not able to take the question of the illegal war to
the court of international opinion to that the
immorality of the war could be brought before the
International Criminal Court in The Hague...

Momentum means that when a person or object is moving,
regardless of what it is - the harder it is to stop
that person or object. When one consider "momentum" in
terms of politics, this means that if a presidential
candidate, such as Obama, sees and/or experiences a
gain and/or surge in his message of peace, hope and
change with millions singing, Yes we can, there could
be nothing, not even bullets that can intervene in this
momentum. This is the basis for a possible quantum leap
in US politics to bring a new mode of politics for the
21st Century.

Obama is not a revolutionary but he has been caught up
in a revolutionary moment in world history. The
electoral campaign of Obama is riding on a wave of
peace and change desired by ordinary Americans. There
are limitations to the electoral project insofar as the
task of restructuring US society is a gigantic one that
cannot be done overnight. Obama may not be the
solution, but is a small step in the direction of
making the break with the old binary conceptions that
dominated enlightenment thinking. It is the laws of
unintended consequences that will emanate from this
break that can lead to a new direction with the new
positive bottom up organizing for transformation to a
democratic society where all can live in peace.

A clear understanding of the nature of US politics and
limitation of the structures of the in-built
conservativsim of the system means that Barrack Obama
would only be trapped by this social system if those
who are being drawn into the audacity of hope do not
build their own political movement and political
organization. It is only a bottom up movement hat can
prevent Barack Obama from becoming a racial decoy for
the Wall Street forces. Self mobilization, self
organization and emancipatory ideas will create new
spaces so that the political space will be expanded
beyond the media, the lobbyists and the ritual spaces
of the White House, Congress and the Senate Chambers.
Safe and clean neighborhoods, children who are reared
to respect all human beings and a society that support
repair of the planet earth awaits these new self
organizing forces.

The campaign of Barack Obama is the story of hundreds
of thousands of ordinary people. These are the people
who are participating because they believe that
politics can mean something again. It is apt to
conclude with the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

"Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture
the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes
hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty,
racism and militarism." "

* Horace Campbell is Professor of Political Science at
Syracuse University.


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