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This thread began with People's World linking Randy Shaw's article "Doom and

Gloom on the Left" which lambasted criticisms from the US Left of aspects of the
Obama presidential policies:
with this PW header:
"Excellent article. It's a class thing. New slogan? Don't give in to doom and
gloom, organize. There's a world to win!:

John Bachtell:
I think the author makes an important point. Our estimate of the Obama
administration has to start from a partisan point of view and what he/we
accomplish is determined by the current political balance of forces. For some on
the left, the Obama administration does nothing positive, and what it does do
positive is never enough. The broad left is a part of this coalition which finds
itself both in government and on the streets. But some on the left act as if they
are now in the opposition. This calls for much more thoughtful tactics.


Andy Taylor:
John, while this may be true of some on the left it is not true of Communists I
know in your neighbouring northern party. What many here seem to see in Obama's
presidency is a judiciously pragmatic imperialist presidency that wishes to manage
and (yes) extend US global domination with less needless exasperation of allies
and others. We also ... Read morewelcome and support a people's bailout and
regulation of Finance.But while the loss of George Bush and Dick Cheney's crude
contempt for the globe is a great gain we see an escalation of the Afghanistan war
opening into a viciously destructive whirlpool that will not only kill and molest
in Afghanistan but bring down all progressive initiatives proposed by progressive
groups in all NATO countries. I know the US from inside as a longtime resident and
am not unaware of the contradictions in class forces in Obama's victory that offer
promise. I think the question of strategy and tactics is acutely important, but I
do not think the virtual shut-down of the anti-war movement was principled. Isn't
the question, 'to what degree do the progressive as well as the anti-monopoly
forces have an ally in the Obama presidency'? If you judge all those outside the
circles of undissenting support for Obama as unthoughtful, many careful thinkers
in my acquaintance see the depth of the identification of your thinkers as
In part this is a question of where one is within the imperialist Bloc, many left
Canadians have a positive personal impression of Obama's tone but feel that Fidel
is right to say Obama does not wish to - and cannot - fundamentally change the US
state's political system or political economy.It is about imperialism.

Andy Taylor:
(sorry - last sentence) So from where we stand the question arises if there has
been a strategic and tactical over-estimation of the reach of the new

John Bachtell:
We have an independent labor and people's movement which is interacting with this
administration. By and large it agrees with the direction the administration is
headed and is in fact helping to shape it, has since the before the election. On
issue after issue, the labor and people's movement has a friend here. The
challenge comes when you disagree with a friend, how you handle that disagreement
so you don't break the alliance. That's the kind of tactics we need to be
discussing. And to paint Obama as an imperialist presidency is not helpful in
understanding what we are dealing with and how to develop the tactics necessary to
advance the struggle.

Andy Taylor:
if truths are relegated to the realm of the "unhelpful" or inexpedient we have
lost our way? The new president has not "helped" reduce imperialism's domination
of Af-Pak. This is a reality that will intensify foreign occupation of all peoples
in the Pakistan-Afghanistan nations.

John Bachtell:
And that we will oppose. But this is not the Bush administration who was hostile
to labor and people on every single question, a captive of the military industrial
and energy complexes. So it has to be dealt with differently. It requires a
different set of tactics.

Andy Taylor:
John, No this is not the Bush admin hostile to all progressive reforms. I agree
that there are divisions in the ideological tendencies of the ruling class present
today in a somewhat different configuration, making progress a possibility on some
fronts. and that we must exploit. But the impact of the hit the far-right of the
US ruling class has sustained remains a disputed question between us.

...the state is not neutral, its purpose is not to bring about reconciliation
between workers and bosses on equal terms. The state is a servant of class and
unrighteous profit. The working-people must struggle for everything and never give
ultimate trust to any administration or government whatsoever.

Andy Taylor:
John, Here's a last thought for this evening at least my own. You said: "And to
paint Obama as an imperialist presidency is not helpful in understanding what we
are dealing with and how to develop the tactics necessary to advance the
struggle." I find your statement deeply ironic, no one has "painted" Obama as an
imperialist. No one wanted to paint... Read more Obama with the bloody broad
strokes of Bush-Cheney's escalated imperial campaigns.. All hoped the war in
Afghanistanwould end in fast negotiated withdrawal of US troops.Do you doubt that?

He campaigned on stepping up US military fighting in Iraq as a kind of good war in

contrast to Bush's bad war in Iraq. And it was Obama himself who implemented the
escalation in the "af-Pak strategy worked our with Holbrooke and the Military
experts. And today people in your party and thoughtful observers and victims
around the world see very clearl;y that US imperialism in Afghanistan threatens
the entire progressive agenda of the people's groups. If the Democratic
administration's progressive policies are wrecked it will be a self-inflicted
wound caused by an addiction to the substance called American imperialism. Have
you read Harry Targ's latest article on the Afghanistan War? Here is the link to
Harry's article I blogged:
By Harry Targ, in: Diary of a Heartland Radical, 27 Oct 2009"]