"What both groups shared was the authoritarian outlook – that they knew what needed to be done and that they were going to impose their views on the legitimate democratic movements that they became a part of (such as the anti-war or civil rights or labor movements) no matter what the instincts of the actual members of these movements.
"... hostility to democracy is what all of the tendencies I have discussed here share, whether old-style American Communists, the new communists of the new left or today’s authoritarian leftist sympathizers with Chavez and Castro. ...
"And I think that hostility to democracy is the danger in the apparent role of the new authoritarian left in the Obama campaign."
-- Steve Diamond
The schema I discuss here is more a sketch than a blueprint but it sheds much light on who Barack Obama is, as a politician. Those who take the cautious approach have been looking at Obama, whose campaign slogan is 'hope and change' and asking, "What exactly does he mean by change?"
Given his thin resume in Washington, the only reliable answer comes from understanding Obama's political life in Chicago. That life seems -- to those outside the milieu -- a patchwork of big money backers, black nationalists, corrupt politicians. shady businesspeople, leftists, and political party bosses.
The patchwork adds up to a confusing picture because all the data are assigned the same value; i.e., 'bad or questionable associations.' Recently I came across a comment at a blog that was to the effect, 'Okay, is he a communist, a black nationalist, a crook, a leftist, a radical Muslim, or what?'
What was needed was a schema or a blueprint, if you will, which revealed the value of all those relationships to Barack Obama.
After studying the writings of Sol Stern and Steve Diamond about America's authoritarian leftists I realized that Diamond's discussion about the meaning of "authoritarianism" was the key to creating a schema.(1)
Diamond sardonically observed that when you attempt to nail down "new authoritarian leftists," (NAL) such as William Ayers, they sound like Mom and apple-pie liberals. But it's not the social view and programs they espouse that's the key to understanding the NAL; it's how they go about implementing the programs that defines them.
A good example is Ayers's methods to protest the American government and capitalism: You don't bother with the democratic process. Instead, you subvert the public education system to indoctrinate children with communist and anti-American attitudes.
(Ayers rationalizes this practice in the same way he rationalized terrorism. He takes the position of the victim beset on all sides by powerful enemies and overwhelmed by the evils of a system he can't change -- except through anti-democratic means.)
So I returned to a study of Obama's key relationships in Chicago. This time I cast out how the various parties were termed; e.g., "leftist," "politicians," and focused on how the parties got things done. They relied on a variety of non-democratic means of achieving a political goal. That's another way of saying they were authoritarian.
From that viewpoint, situations as diverse as Obama's support of a Kenyan politician who directed mass murder to fight a contested election, and Obama's relationship with William Ayers, reveal the same root: authoritarianism.
With that realization the real Barack Obama stepped out from the fog of his associations. This man belongs to the Democrat Party but he does not believe in the democratic form of government.
Many other situations fit into the schema; even Obama's willingness to talk without preconditions to strongmen leaders is perfectly understandable when viewed against his authoritarian leanings. These are men he feels he understands -- does understand -- and he finds nothing terribly wrong with their approach to governing the masses.
It even explains why he would be less willing to talk to Hamas without preconditions except through backchannel means. The Hamas leaders are mere servants, flunkies for the strongmen leaders.
In the Gremlins post I gave a few demonstrations of how seemingly diverse data about Obama's associations fit into the authoritarian schema:
> Michelle Obama's complaining style of talking to the public: straight out the NAL playbook.
> Michael Pfleger's anti-white rant to churchgoers: straight out of Bill Ayers's version of the NAL playbook.
> An early Obama political campaign, where he sought the backing of the New Party: that organization was straight out of the NAL.
Can Tony Rezko and his network of corrupt politicians and businesspeople fit into the schema? Yes, but only if you set up clear distinctions so you don't get sidetracked:
> There is the issue of Rezko's criminal activities.
> There are the issues of his fundraising activities for Obama and deals with him.
But in terms of the schema, the key point about Rezko is that he provided many avenues for subverting the political process in Illinois. That fits perfectly into Obama's authoritarian schema, and points up the specific importance of Rezko's patronage for Obama.
Are there other aspects of Obama that should he taken into consideration? A schema is very limited; that's its utility. So of course there are other of his interests and associations that make up the man. But again, we're just trying to get a clear idea of what he means when he talks about change in the political context.
When you consult the schema, "change" for Obama means relying on authoritarian means to get things done.
For his defenders to claim, 'He was running with all those radicals only because he was trying to succeed in Chicago politics" is looking at everything upside down.
It's not the type of political ideology that is the defining pattern. The pattern is that he chose the milieu that best suited his way of getting ahead in politics.
As I observed at the start, the schema needs refinement. Also, I have not discussed the very aggressive support that Barack Obama has received from the labor unions that represent authoritarian leftist views and the ominous implications.
But the schema in its present form is a handy way of organizing the mountains of data that have emerged in recent months about Obama's time as a politician and community organizer in Chicago.
9:20 AM UPDATE
Speaking of the authoritarian style, meet Obama's brass knuckle "New Politics' -- fits perfectly into the schema.
This entry is cross-posted at RezkoWatch. Two comments about the post label Obama as an elitist. Farrakhan, Wright, Rezko -- these are not elitists. And to consider William Ayers an elitist is ill-advised.
I think it's closer to the truth to say that Obama is skilled at persuading elitists that he's one of them.
Steve Diamond's recent posts on the NAL
Pundita asks: What do I mean by "authoritarian leftism?"
Of guns and bitterness: Obama and the Authoritarian Left
Believe me, Barack is no Communist, But
Recreate 68: Authoritarian Left Blackmails Democratic Party
"The Monster in the Room" Does Obama Support Reparations?
Apparently Obama does, indeed, support reparations
Related Pundita post
What Barack Obama means by change is finally coming clearer...
Sol Stern essays on the NAL in the U.S. school system
The Ed Schools' Latest -- and Worst --- Humbug
Radical Math at the DOE
Radical Equations: Marxist pedagogues are hard at work in New York’s public schools
Obama's Real Bill Ayers Problem
Sol Stern weighs in on social justice teaching