Saturday, March 28, 2015

In Honor Of The 144th Anniversary Of The Paris Commune-From The American Left History Blog Archives(2007) - On American Political Discourse


Markin comment (Winter 2015):


In the period 2006-2008 I, in vain, attempted to put some energy into analyzing the blossoming American presidential campaign since it was to be, as advertised at least, a watershed election, for women, blacks, old white anglos, latinos, youth, etc. In the event I had to abandon the efforts in about May of 2008 when it became obvious, in my face obvious, that the election would be a watershed only for those who really believed that it would be a watershed election. The four years of the Obama presidency, the 2012 American presidential election campaign, and world politics have only confirmed in my eyes that that abandonment was essentially the right decision at the right time and my only fear is that now that Obama and his lame duck presidency are in full flower that as the machines are gearing up for the 2016 presidential campaign maw I will seeking another watershed election where there is none will be tempted, sorely tempted to put my foot in the waters of campaign commentary again. If I do so I deserve the fate that befell Theodore White in his endless campaign books every four years starting with the JFK-Nixon fistfight in 1960 which left his a blathering idiot before he was done. Or worse since he was (is) something of a muse for me what happened to the later Hunter Thompson, Doctor Gonzo when he got caught up in the avalanche of presidential campaigns which probably played no little part in his eventual suicide. I am forewarned.    


In short, let the well- paid bourgeois commentators go on and on with their twitter (literally now as that stunted social network operation replaces Facebook as the place to be). I, we, had (have) better things to do like fighting against the permanent wars, the permanent war economies, the struggle for more and better jobs, and for a workers’ party that fights for a workers government . That is where the link to the Paris Commune comes in which in its time was a beacon for the international working class, a first failed attempt for the fellahin to taek charge of their own lives, govern as they saw fit. So with the Paris Commune and its lessons as heady backdrop we have enough, more than enough to do, right? Still a look back at some of the stuff I wrote then as talking points to drown out the coming deluge does not have a bad feel to it. Read on.







Every once in a while left wing propagandists, like this writer, are forced to comment on odd ball political or social questions that are not directly related to the fight for socialism. Nevertheless such questions must be addressed to in the interest of preserving democratic rights, such as they are. I have often argued that socialists are, or should be, the best defenders of democratic rights, hanging in there long after many bourgeois democrats have thrown in the towel especially on constitutional questions like abortion and searches and seizures.

A good example from the not too distant past, which I am fond of citing because it seems so counter intuitive, was opposition to the impeachment of one William Jefferson Clinton, at one time President of the United States and now potentially the first First Ladies’ man. How, one might ask could professed socialists defend the rights of the Number One Imperialist –in-Chief. Simple, Clinton was not being tried for any real crimes against working people but found himself framed by the right wing cabal for his personal sexual preferences and habits. That he was not very artful in defense of himself is beside the point. We say government out off the bedrooms (or wherever) whether White House or hovel. We do no favor political witch hunts of the highborn or the low. Interestingly, no one at the time proposed that he be tried as a war criminal for his very real crimes in trying to bomb Serbia, under the guidance of one Wesley Clark, back to the Stone Age (and nearly succeeding). Enough said.

Now we are confronted with another strange situation in the case of one ex-Governor of Massachusetts and current Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney on the question of his Mormon religious affiliation and his capacity to be president of a secular state. Romney, on Thursday December 6, 2007 fled down to Houston, apparently forced by his vanishing prospects in Iowa, and made a speech about his Mormon faith, or at least his fitness for office. This speech evoked in some quarters, at least formally, Jack Kennedy’s use in the 1960 presidential campaign of the same tool concerning his Roman Catholicism as a way to cut across anti-Catholic bigotry in a mainly Protestant country and to affirm his commitment to a democratic secular state. I pulled up that speech off the Internet and although Kennedy clearly evoked his religious affiliation many times in that speech he left it at that, a personal choice. He did not go on and on about his friendship with Jesus or enumerate the virtues of an increased role for religion in political life.


Romney’s play is another kettle of fish entirely. He WANTS to affirm that his Mormon beliefs rather than being rather esoteric are in line with mainstream Protestant fundamentalist tenets. In short, Jesus is his guide. Christ what hell, yes hell, have we come to when a major political party in a democratic secular state has for all intents and purposes a religious test for its nominee for president. A cursory glance at the history of 18thcentury England and its exclusion clauses, codified in statutes, for Catholics and dissenters demonstrates why our forbears rejected that notion. It is rather ironic that Romney evoked the name of Samuel Adams as an avatar of religious toleration during some ecumenical meeting in 1774. Hell, yes when you are getting ready to fight for a Republic, arms in hand, and need every gun willing to fight the King you are damn right religion is beside the point. Revolutions are like that. Trying to prove your mettle as a fundamentalist Christian in order to woo the yahoo vote in 2007 is hardly in the same category. Nevertheless on the democratic question- down with religious test for political office, formal or otherwise.


Now to get nasty. Isn’t it about time we started running these religious nuts back into their hideouts? I have profound differences with the political, social and economic organization of this country. However, as stated above I stand for the defense of the democratic secular state against the yahoos when they try, friendly with Jesus or not, to bring religion foursquare into the ‘public square’. We have seen the effects of that for the last thirty or forty years and, hit me on the head if I am dreaming, but isn’t the current occupant of the White House on so kind of first name basis with his God. You know, all those faith-based initiatives Look, this country is a prime example of an Enlightenment experiment, and tattered as it has become it is not a bad base to move on from. Those who, including Brother Romney, want a faith-based state-get back, way back. In the fight against religious obscurantism I will stand with science, frail as it is sometimes, any day- Defend the Enlightenment, and let’s move on.

No comments:

Post a Comment