Owed an Apology
It’s been over 100 days. I am now prepared to accept the apologies of
those who worked to put Obama in the White House.
Remember your effusive praise, how you touted him as being different than
Bush? You accused people of being a sectarian, and out of touch with
reality, if they refused to vote for him. You said he was leading a
progressive movement – the beginning of a bright new era of politics.
You owe an apology to me and everyone else that spoke the truth about
Obama. We said he would continue the Bush policies. We told you so.
More importantly, you need to express remorse to the millions of working
people in this country and around the world that you helped convince to
vote for him. Unlike you, they have nothing to apologize for. They made a
mistake, but they did it for the right reasons – they hated what Bush
stood for and wanted to express their solidarity as a class B- they voted
to reject war and racism.
They did not understand that the elections are a charade – but you did.
So let me make it clear who I am addressing this to:
the union officials,
staff people for progressive organizations and others who
have argued and fought against independent political action — all the
longtime activists that have supported one lying, miserable Democratic
politician after another as the lesser of two evils — Obama, Kerry,
Clinton, Carter, Johnson, ad nauseam.
I’ve now been listening to your equivocations and apologies for over 40
years. You cannot see beyond your own little milieu of self-absorbed
radicals. You have learned nothing.
Let’s review what your man Obama has accomplished in his first hundred
–revived the military tribunals;
–refused to address himself to the don’t ask don’t tell policy;
–decided to keep prisoners in GuantC!anamo;
–maintained troops in Iraq;
–refused to release the pictures of torture;
–supported the Israeli devastation of Gaza;
–maintained the US embargo of Cuba;
–named Cheney’s chief interrogator to head up the war in Afghanistan;
–refused to bring criminal action against widespread torture;
–expanded the war in Afghanistan to bomb civilians in Pakistan;
–given hundreds of billions of dollars to his Wall Street backers;
–given billions of dollars to the auto industry as a reward for massive layoffs;
–support for doctor’s refusing a women’s right to abortion.
And as a special bonus: preventive detention.
You groveled at the feet of the democrats, begging for the Employee Free
Choice Act, (a wimpy substitute for organizing for working-class power) –
he’s not even going to give you that. He’s not giving you a damn thing.
Not even the jobs you coveted.
I’ve probably forgotten some of the rotten things he’s done, but this is
just the first hundred days. Obama has years to promote the Bush program,
which is and always has been, the program of the ruling class – regardless
of who sits in the White House. Like we told you, time and again.
Obama has proven himself the faithful servant of imperialism. He was
selected to derail the antiwar movement and stifle social unrest emerging
from the economic crisis. And you wagged your little poodle tails and
helped him herd workers off the streets and into the voting booth. You
helped mislead millions of anti-war people into supporting a militarist
president. You covered up for him. You apologized for him. You fawned
over him and gushed over his election victory.
Obama is being loyal to the class he represents — the employers. Obama
didn’t betray his class — you betrayed yours. Now you should stand up and
take responsibility for your actions.
If you still support Obama, you are supporting the ruling class against your
fellow workers. You cannot be a progressive for Obama. You can either be a
progressive, or you can be for Obama.
Please don’t take this personally. Some of you are friends. These
are not directed at the many well-meaning people who got suckered in. They
will learn from the experience and move on.
I’m talking about the pie-cards that have been hustling votes for the
Democrats for years. I’m particularly talking about the most wretched,
gutless, class collaborationist union bureaucracy that has ever existed.
What a cesspool. At a time of growing economic crisis, when millions of
workers would be willing to go into action and fight, you are hustling votes
for the bosses and waging war with each other over dues money.
I’m not just referring to the millionaire pork-choppers like Stern,
Gettlefinger, Wilhelm, etc — I’m including all the thousands of cogs in
the bloated bureaucratic machinery that justify, apologize for, or remain silent
about this dues money feeding frenzy. I don’t care whether you’re a
hardened business unionist that’s been sucking our blood for decades or a
pretentious young nitwit that hires out to lead the poor workers – you should all be
ashamed of yourselves.
Your behavior is a dishonor to the proud history of the militant working
class of this country — to the women and men of the Knights of Labor, the
IWW, the CIO, the anti-war GIs, the millions of undocumented workers that
took to the streets in fearless action on Mayday just three years ago.
Any union staff person with an ounce of self-respect should get up from
their desk right now and in a loud voice proclaim that you will no longer be
a part of this travesty. Tell them that you are no longer willing to
participate in raiding operations and jurisdictional squabbles. Tell them
you are unwilling to impose contracts that sell out the next generations of
workers. Tell them that you are no longer going to crawl to the bosses
offering concessions. Tell them you will not apologize for Obama and you
will never, never, ever again support the candidates of the employers.
Then announce that you are going out to look for a job so you can help
organize your class. If you do that, we would all be proud of you.
OK — so why my sudden outburst? After all, none of this is new. I guess
the quantitative just became the qualitative. There was the straw that broke the
camel’s back, the spark that led to this undisciplined outpouring and my
years of self-control going down the tubes. This is what did it:
Basking in the glow of the ruling class electoral victory, some of you have
begun to strut around, coming out as socialists. What’s more, having
rediscovered socialism, you are redefining it. We are being re-imagined.
This is much like the European discovery of America. In both cases, there
were indigenous people that had little in common with the recent arrivals.
Many of us have been socialists all along and I can say without
qualification: you are not one of us. If you support Obama you are not any
kind of revolutionary – you can hardly be considered a reformer.
You are not socialists; you are what I will call social-lites. Posers.
The rapidity with which your leader has revealed his real agenda has put you
in an awkward position. Having helped deliver the working class vote to the
bosses, you will now try to pose as the socialist opposition to Obama.
You’ll put on a Marxist patina to hide your rotten deeds. Being shrewd
careerists, you’ll start back peddling, distancing yourself from Obama’s
atrocities. (Until you’re right back doing it again in the next elections.)
But we know what you are: frightened functionaries living off our labor. You
didn’t believe us about Obama and you won’t believe me about this, but
I’ll tell it plain: The workers that you have robbed and kept fettered in the
face of the bosses offensive are going to rise up and roll right over you.
When workers understand the depth of your duplicity, you are going to be
booted so far that you will never be able to crawl back into your padded
Lest these words seem harsh, there is always room to change – it’s never
to late. Big fights are coming. As the illusions in Obama disappear, there
will be new upsurges in the anti-war movement, for immigrant rights and
economic justice. We could use your help.
Break with Obama, apologize, promise not to do it again, and we will embrace
you as comrades.
Otherwise, just get the fuck out of our way.
– Mike Alewitz/ 5.23.9