As I continue to read Dr Diamond in my quest for illumination about the political milieu in which Barack Obama functioned for decades, I find myself increasingly bewildered. This is because I am running into ever-mushrooming clarifications of terms that are peculiar to Leftland.
So, speaking quite frankly, I can't yet take comfort in Dr Diamond's assurance that Barack Obama is not a communist or controlled by "communist machinery". I get Diamond's point about Obama not being a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. Here's the part I don't get:
By the way, I usually put communism in quotes or capitalize it to distinguish the pseudo-communism of the Soviet stalinist variety of communism from actual communist or socialist ideas - that is, of course, a much longer and different issue.You bet it's a much longer issue. You can lose a year of your life following links at Wikipedia in a quest to nail down the meaning of socialism, communism, the Left and all their branches and sub-branches. At the end of your labors it's like the joke about Hegel:
While on his deathbed his disciples gathered and beseeched him to name the disciple who came closest to understanding his teachings. Hegel lifted his head from the pillow and croaked, "There was one who understood a little."
The disciples eagerly pressed closer to hear the name. Hegel whispered, "But even he didn't understand."
If you stick at it eventually it dawns that communism is not easily explained because it's actually a branch of metaphysics. Then much of the past century's madness is easily comprehensible. Basically, you can't let a bunch of metaphysicians loose on the task of governing. Not if you don't want to keep meeting the same thug in a cheap leather jacket holding a gun on you.
However, my complaints about lack of clarity don't bring us closer to figuring out whether Barack Obama is controlled by commies. So in the manner of Alexander let me cut through the Gordian Knot by pondering ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers's most recent pronouncement about what communism is.
Here Dr Diamond would argue, as he did in the above-referenced post, that Ayers and his Weatherman crew were never commies but "authoritarian" non communists. This would imply that Ayers is not an authority, if you'll pardon the expression, on communism.
In the rarified atmosphere of Leftland I can see how any communist system of government that fails is branded 'pseudo' communism, and why people that society notices to be a gang of thugs are not termed communists. But let us return to the ugly world of actions that have consequences and hear what Ayers has to say about communism:
"... Capitalism played its role historically and is exhausted as a force for progress: built on exploitation, theft, conquest, war, and racism, capitalism and imperialism must be defeated and a world revolution -- a revolution against war and racism and materialism, a revolution based on human solidarity and love, cooperation and the common good -- must win.All right; now we're getting somewhere. Communism is actually neo-Quakerism.
But because Ayers leans toward what Diamond describes as authoritarianism and because I have a hard time imagining being held at gunpoint by a Quaker, how about if we say that Ayers's description of communism is horsefeathers?
Here Ayers would argue that I can't pin him down that easily because he never actually said the word "communism" and only admits to being "a communist, or leftist, or socialist or whatever."
Ah, but I can pin him down to his own words. So the question now becomes: is Barack
Obama controlled by a bunch of commies who talk like mob accountants facing a grand jury?
If we reference Ayers's new, improved definition of communism as our guide, and tune into Barack Obama's patter to his devotees about change, cooperation, the common good, etc., I'd say that Diamond might be wrong about whether Obama is controlled by a communist machinery, of sorts.
As for Dr Diamond's own concerns (the "But" in the title of his post) I think we should pay attention:
But within [the 60s anti-war movement], another strand emerged as well. That strand gave birth to a new authoritarian form of politics on the left. This strand took the view that the U.S. was the main problem on the global scene and drifted into an outlook that said that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." [...]I urge you to read the entire essay so you can fully follow Diamond's conclusion, which is troubling. On one hand he doesn't see Obama being controlled by a highly organized leftist "authoritarian" movement; on the other, Obama "has been unwilling to explain his relationship to them ..."
Today this authoritarian left trend continues fed by the emergence of new authoritarian movements like the Mexican Zapatistas or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. [...]
But does this new "left" authoritarianism have the ability to control a presidential candidate, manchurian-style? Hardly, even if some in this movement had an interest in doing so. This new movement is very diverse in form and structure and plays in a variety of arenas, but has no central organizational structure or discipline. There is, instead, a kind of shared, almost cultural or instinctual, identity with each other. This accounts, in part, for what is broadly known as "political correctness."
But the reality is that you can find these new authoritarian types all over the place: in higher education where the "social justice" and "critical pedagogy" advocates have a foothold in Schools of Education, in the labor movement where SEIU leader Andy Stern advocates a relationship with the actual stalinist labor arm of the Chinese government or in the Chicago anti-war movement where Fidelista and Obama backer Carl Davidson, a former SDS leader, is active together with another ex-SDS'er and Obama backer, Marilyn Katz.
It is this non-Communist but nonetheless authoritarian milieu with which Obama worked in his rise from his mid-80s stint as a community organizer in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago to his all but cinched nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate for President in 2008. [...]
Here we come to another snag. The goal posts shift around so much in Leftland that ultimately all definitions are rendered meaningless. So when I asked Dr Diamond to clarify what he meant by the "authoritarian left," he prefaced his reply by observing:
[....] these people are not, in my view, leftists at all but they pose as leftists. Instead they have a view of society which says that the only way to respond to inequality and other social problems is to impose, from above, radical restructuring that allows them to take the reins of social and political power.Okay; they're not really leftists. Then what are they?
Authoritarianism is not a description of a political stance; it's a reference to a means of achieving a political goal; e.g., overturning democratic processes or subverting them.
In the same manner, if Ayers&Crew claim that white people are a blight on civilization, okay, but that's not a political stance; politics is about action paths.
So if Dr Diamond asserts that self-proclaimed leftists who use non-democratic tactics are not actually leftists, can we boil it down and say that thugs of unknown political views are pushing Barack Obama for president?
Not to snap, but time is running out. Democrats who oppose Obama need to acknowledge that he's gotten this far because from the top of the party down they've been unwilling to clearly identify what the Democrat party stands for. So I venture it's time to ask Hillary Clinton whether she's a leader first or a politician first, then act like lightning on her answer.