Robert Fitch on Obama

Yves Smith has a post at Naked Capitalism which focuses around a speech by Robert Fitch about President Obama and what we know about him based on his time as an organizer in Chicago. The speech was given in November 2008 to the Harlem Tenants Association. Fitch, an academic and a journalist, goes particularly hard at the underlying premise of Barack Obama, namely that we should strive for a post-partisan America that goes beyond the ideologies of liberalism and conservativism. Fitch says that ideology actually matters and is important:

The haves and the have-nots have different and opposing interests—landlords wantto get rid of rent stabilization; tenants have an interest in keeping it. Workers want to save their jobs; bosses want to save their capital, which means cutting workers. In pursuing theiropposing interests, the have-nots are forced take up the weapons of the weak—demonstrations, direct action; filling the jails with conscientious objectors; taking personal risks. Who benefits when one side gives up without a struggle? The Haves or the Have nots? Frederick Douglass reminds us: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did. It never will.”

These are real differences and anyone who glosses over them in pursuit of placid agreement is asking that we ignore a lot of reality.

Fitch’s larger point is that when politicians like Obama ask us to put differences aside and pursue a Third Way, it almost always means that those pushing the Third Way are doing so at the expense of the needs and interests of our society’s have nots.

When the Third Way advocates insist that we share a common good; when theyrefuse to recognize that the interests of the oppressed and the interests of the oppressors don’t exist on the same moral plane; when they counsel us to stop being partisans of those interests—they’re not being non or post partisan; they’re siding with the powers that be.

The entire Fitch speech is worth reading. It’s not flattering, but given what we’ve seen out of the Obama administration on housing, on banking, and on not reining in Wall Street, Fitch does seem to be fairly prescient.

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