From The “American Left History” Archives (2009)-On The Slogan- “Down With The Obama Government”-Today (2012) More Than Ever- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal From Afghanistan!
Recently, while attending one of several impromptu ad hoc demonstrations called to protest the escalation of the latest American imperial adventure, Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan, I fell into a discussion with a young militant I met there who has been carrying a poster that read – “Down With The Obama Government”. While such a homemade poster should gladden the heart of every old time anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist militant I argued with her, and I argue here that such a slogan is clearly premature. And here is why I think so.
I have made something of a truism in this space that politics, and that includes revolutionary politics, is many, if not most times, a matter of timing. That is the case here. I will give juts a couple of pieces of information about this woman’s own political trajectory that I think demonstrates my case for the prematureness of her slogan. Budding militant X, in 2008, became, as a freshman at a local Boston college, an ardent supporter of and campaign worker for the presidential campaign of one Barack Obama. Her reasoning, as she immersed herself emerged into the political battlefield, for supporting Obama need not detain us here. As she related her story about her hours of campaigning and the places she had gone let’s just say that she was a fellow political ‘junkie’. Ms. X had high hopes, especially for Obama’s peace platform, as least how she understood it. By February, with Obama’s deployment of some 20,000 additional troops to Afghanistan just shortly after his inauguration, she was very worried. This latest troop escalation put her into opposition on the streets.
Hey, this is a nice conversion for our side, right? Right. But that seems to me to be exactly the point. We are just now in the beginning of a period that should see the breaking, among some, of illusions in the Obama government. We, certainly, will aid that process with our own timely propaganda (including the use of this example) but that is where we are realistically. In the process of accruing a critical mass of fervent anti-imperialist, anti-war militants. But we are not there now- not by a long shot. So take another look at that slogan- “Down With The Obama Government”. What could that mean today? It could only mean some alternate form of Democratic Party administration of the executive branch of government (A Biden government?). Or, more realistically, some “Tea Party”-style Republican administration. Egad- we damn sure do not want that.
For those of us who have some acquaintance with revolutionary history, we know that this slogan certainly has its uses. In a pre-revolutionary or revolutionary period, as most famously used by the Bolsheviks in their agitation and propaganda in the spring and summer of 1917. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes," times ain’t now nothing like they used to be”. So, here is what I propose (and I did so, in a kidding and gentle manner) to Ms. X. Store that poster for now and help us get the American and other allied troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq (and the world). Victory in that effort will go a long way towards fulfilling the reality expressed in her slogan. One day we will unwrap that poster and walk the streets under that banner- with plenty of people behind us. Our day will come, but just to be on the safe side - Obama- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops From Afghanistan. Build A Workers Party That Fights For A Workers Government!