The Dawning Age of Obama as a Potentially Teach-able Moment for The Left
Five Key Lessons Beyond the Gnashing of Radical Teeth
LEGITIMATE LEFT ANGER
There has been a lot of left-wing teeth-gnashing over the policies of the United States' fake-progressive president Barack Obama. Left-progressives' anger with the Obama administration is understandable given the new White House's actions to (for example):
* Significantly expand the reach and intensity of imperial violence (replete with the mass slaughter of civilians and the related escalation of targeted assassinations) in South Asia.
* Promote a notorious assassin and death-squad leader (Lt. General Stanley A McChrystal - former chief of the military's special Joint Special Operations Command) to the position of Commander of U.S. Forces in the newly merged "Af-Pak" war theater. 
* Sustain the criminal occupation of Iraq beneath rhetoric of withdrawal. 
* Increase "defense" (empire) spending, consistent with the following statement in a report issued by the leading Wall Street investment firm Morgan Stanley one day after Obama's presidential election victory: "As we understand it, Obama has been advised and agrees that there is no peace dividend."
* Revive military commissions.
* Continue the practice of renditions.
* Maintain secret prisons for persons "held on a short-term, transitory basis."
* Continue the unspeakable torture of prisoners by an "extrajudicial terror squad" (Jeremy Scahill's description of the Pentagon's sadistic "Immediate Reaction Force" in Cuba) at Guantanamo Bay. 
* Advance the policy of "indefinite detention" (potentially permanent incarceration) for Guantanamo prisoners for whom no legally compelling evidence can be marshaled.
* Intimidate England (with a threat to withhold intelligence data on potential terrorist attacks!) into preventing a Guantanamo victim from having his day in court on the Bush administration's torture practices. 
* Sustain the Bush administration's abrogation of habeas corpus rights in regard to the roughly 600 "enemy combatants" kept at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan (where people rendered out of other countries like Yemen and England can be considered "war [-zone]" prisoners!. 
* Advance nauseatingly specious legal and moral arguments ("better to look forward than backward") to prevent serious federal investigation of the Bush administration's human rights crimes.
* Sustain George W. Bush's domestic wiretapping program.
* Invoke the "state secrets" (akin to the divine right of kings) doctrine to prevent disclosure of evidence in response to lawsuits emerging from Bush era rendition and surveillance policies.
* Suppress photographic evidence of U.S. torture practices.
* Justify all this and more in the name of the supposed "global war on terror" that was supposedly launched in legitimate defense against the supposedly unprovoked jetliner attacks of September 11, 2001.
* Disregard qualified progressive defenders of civil liberties and human rights from consideration for appointment to succeed Supreme Justice David H. Souter and to thereby counter the hard right leanings of the court's conservative majority. 
* Send clear signals of intent to roll back and partially privatize Social Security and Medicare benefits.
* Betray campaign pledges to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to insert stronger labor and environmental protections. [7A]
* Betray campaign pledges of serious intent to advance an elementary and overdue labor law reform (the Employee Free Choice Act).
* Force and approve an automobile industry re-structuring that drastically cuts domestic autoworkers' jobs, wages and benefits while subsidizing General Motors' further shifting of jobs abroad. 
* Advance a tepid, business-friendly health care "reform" that leaves the leading parasitic insurance corporations (major campaign sponsors of his) in power.
* "Methodically erase single-payer advocates from the picture" (Glen Ford) of health care reform despite the fact that a majority of Americans have long favored a single-payer ("Medicare for all") health insurance system. 
* Spend trillions of federal dollars on taxpayer handouts to giant Wall Street firms who spent millions on his campaign and who drove the economy over the cliff. Obama's Wall Street bailout rejects the elementary bank nationalizations and public financial restructuring that are required to put the nation's credit system on a sound and socially responsible basis, choosing instead to guarantee the financial, insurance, and real estate industries' toxic, hyper-inflated assets while keeping existing Wall Street management in place. It amounts to a giant effort to "keep perpetrators afloat" (liberal economist James Gailbraith) through a scheme in which the government takes more than 90 percent of the risk but private investors reap at least half the reward.
I could go on. It's not a pretty story. And it's only going to get worse.
It's not for nothing that Goldman Sachs gave Obama more than $900,000 - a small part of the astonishing $38 million Obama got from the finance, insurance and real estate industries ("FIRE") during the last election cycle. It's not for nothing that Obama got three-fourths of his campaign cash from people giving more than $200 (the same big donor percentage as George W. Bush in 2004), set new records in corporate election funding and achieved a level of corporate media love that remains almost beyond belief.
Beyond Surprise and Disappointment: Previous Warnings and a Teachable Moment
Infuriating as these policy actions (and inactions) and this corporate sponsorship may be to people of the actual Left (a different category than the broad-brush "Left" used in "mainstream" U.S. media), however, serious progressives have no business being surprised or disappointed by Obama's presidential trajectory. Candidate Obama made his "deeply conservative"  corporate-imperial centrism clear to those willing to undertake elementary investigations of his political and ideological record. As Scott Horton noted last March on Antiwar.com, "those who bought into the slogans ‘Hope' and ‘Change' last fall should have read the fine print. We were warned."
There's another and better (or at least more pleasing) reason, moreover, for radicals to temper their angst over the "betrayals" and other transgressions of the new White House. There is something to be gained on the longer path to radical change from experiencing all this terrible if predictable - and in fact predicted - policy under the nation's new chief executive.
The dawning Age of Obama is potentially a great "teach-able moment" for left thinkers, communicators, activists who are ready and willing to take up the challenges of productive and progressive demystification and rebellion.
Here are five (my short list) teach-able and Left lessons from the emerging Obama era...
LESSON # 1: BEYOND LAISSEZ-FAIRE MYTHOLOGY: STATE POLICY FOR WHOM?
The Left Hand vs. the Right Hand of the State
Over the last generation, dominant U.S. neoliberal ideology has set up a fantasy struggle between the allegedly evil state and the supposedly virtuous (and supposedly free) "free market." At the radical extremes, the reigning ideology's proponents have proclaimed a desire to "starve the [government] beast" and "cut government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub" (Grover Norquist). Beneath quasi-libertarian discourse about the epic conflict between "stultifying government bureaucracy" (bad) and "free market" capitalism (good), however, neoliberalism's corporate sponsors and beneficiaries have unfailingly sought to wield and profit from government policy of a particular sort. Consistent with a state-capitalist Western profits system and corporate order that has always relied heavily on government protection and assistance, they have only targeted some parts of the public sector for malnourishment.
They wish to de-fund and de-legitimize what the late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called "the left hand of the state": programs and services won by past popular struggles and social movements for social justice, equality, and inclusion. They do not wish to take the budgetary or policy axe to the "right hand of the state": the parts that provide service and subsidy (corporate welfare) to concentrated wealth and dole out punishment (including rampant mass incarceration and felony-marking) for the poor. They do not wish to dismantle America's military-industrial and imperial complex, a form of giant public transfer to the private sector.
State-capitalist neoliberalism's disingenuous "anti-government" rhetoric has worked to hide the actual core policy question. During the last three and half decade as through all of American history, the real issue is NOT whether government can or should "work." It's WHO GOVERNMENT SHOULD WORK FOR: (i) the US public and the common good or (ii) or the nation's leading centers of concentrated wealth and power?
What Government "Can" and "Can't" Pay For
According to a common progressive lament, positive democratic change is next to impossible in the United State because the Right has stripped "government" of its capacity to act. American "government" can't really do anything anymore because it doesn't have the resources, including money and competency, to carry out key objectives. The national and global governing class's supposed "government-busting" ideological preference for free markets, the story goes, has hopelessly disabled American government's ability to act. Really? Tell it to the United States' more than two million "homeland" prisoners or to the survivors, friends, and families of the millions the American Empire has murdered, maimed, tortured, incarcerated, and uprooted in oil-rich Southwest Asia over the last the last eight years.
The lament is exposed as a reactionary, regressive, and democracy-disabling myth when we ask WHOSE objectives American government can and supposedly can't carry out. In the wealthiest nation on earth, the public sector lacks the money to properly fund education for all of the country's children. It lacks the resources to provide universal health coverage, leaving 47 million American without basic medical insurance. It can't match unemployment benefits to the numbers out of work. It lacks (claims to lack) the money to provide meaningful rehabilitation and reentry services for its many millions of very disproportionately black prisoners and ex-prisoners, marked for life with a criminal record. The list of unmet civic and social needs goes on and on.
But behold what "our" public sector "can" pay for. American government is weak and cash-strapped when it comes to social democracy for the people but its cup runs over in powerful ways when it comes to meeting the needs of wealth, racial disparity and empire. It "can" afford to spend trillions on arch-plutocratic tax cuts rewarding the top 1 percent in the disingenuous name of "economic stimulus." It "can" spend more on the military than on all possible enemy states combined many times over, providing massive subsidy to the high-tech corporate sector, including billions on weapons and "defense" systems that bear no meaningful relation to any real threat faced by the American people.  It "can" afford to incapacitate and incarcerate a greater share of its population than any nation in history and to spend hundreds of millions each year on various forms of corporate welfare and other routine public subsidies to "private" industry. And of course it "can" afford hundreds of billions and perhaps more than a trillion dollars for an invasion and occupation of distant devastated nations that pose minimal risk to the U.S.
"We can do [all] that," as Barack "No Peace Dividend" Obama says.
"The Government Has Plenty of Money to Spend When the Right People Want It"
As giant financial bailouts expose the chasm between the investor and political classes and the broad citizenry, the liberal journalist William Greider has recently noted that:
"People everywhere [have] learned a blunt lesson about power, who has it and who doesn't. They [have] watched Washington run to rescue the very financial interests that caused the catastrophe. They [have] learned that government has plenty of money to spend when the right people want it. ‘Where's my bailout,' became the rueful punch line at lunch counters and construction sides nationwide. Then to deepen the insult, people [have] watched as establishment forces re-launched their campaign for ‘entitlement reform - a euphemism for whacking Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid" .
Since the financial sector's meltdown and the first giant bankers' bailouts under George W. Bush last summer and fall, it has been commonplace for the "mainstream" (corporate) media to note that "free market" principles and "laissez faire" ideology have been pushed to the side in favor of new government intervention and regulation required to rescue and stabilize capitalism. The dominant media narrative fails to note that capitalism and its wealthy masters have always expected and received government protection and that the new interventions are harshly tilted toward the rich and powerful Few at the expense of the working class Many.
Still, the significant new de-legitimization of "free market" doctrine creates potentially favorable new space for Left progressives to advocate government intervention of a different sort. If the U.S. is going to practice "government socialism for the rich," it might as well practice it for the non-wealthy majority citizens the government supposedly (in democratic theory) represents.
The economic elite and their defenders can expect to have a much harder time smearing government policy for ordinary people as nefarious statism when they have now so transparently abandoned their supposed beloved "free market" principles in the case of the bankers' bailouts.
It has become more clearly apparent than any time in recent memory that the real problem is not whether or not government should be centrally involved in U.S. economic life but rather whose interests already an in-fact already heavily involved government is going to serve: those of the people or those of the opulent masters? That creates new space for the actual Left to define, defend, and disseminate its position on behalf of the defense and expansion of "the left hand of the state."
LESSON # 2: WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
A second and intimately related lesson Left progressives can seize upon in the Age of Obama pertains to the definition of "socialism." As capitalism's high priests and policymakers have scrapped more than three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy to save and stabilize the profits system, "socialism" has moved into the nation's mainstream political discourse for the first time in a generation. On one hand, the Republican right and its still ferocious media machine (primarily FOX News and talk radio) has preposterously "smeared" Obama, Inc. as a "socialist" (a key component of the McCain-Palin campaign's case against the Democratic presidential ticket). On the other hand, mainstream "liberal" pundits and experts have come to the defense of "socialism" by proclaiming the need for a "new era of big government" in the wake of "free market capitalism's" crisis. Last February, the leading news magazine Newsweek published a cover proclaiming that "We Are All Socialists Now."  Last fall, of course, U.S. voters elected as president a man widely accused of being "a socialist."
While Newsweek's overblown headline strained credulity, a recent poll by the reputable polling firm Rasmussen Reports found that 20 percent of Americans now "prefer socialism to capitalism." Just more than half (53 percent) of American adults now "believe capitalism is better than socialism. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better." Adults under 30 are "evenly divided" on capitalism v. socialism, Rasmussen Reports learned: "37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided .
It is telling, however, that Rasmussen Reports did not seriously define either "capitalism" or "socialism." As the Marxist commentator Eric Ruder notes, "the distinctive feature of much of this public discussion of socialism - with some exceptions - is that most admirers and detractors generally share a common (and hollowed out) idea of what socialism is: namely state intervention in the economy." Under the terms of the dominant discussion, a nation is "socialist" simply to the degree that its government intervenes in its economic system. As Ruder observes, "this criterion...leaves out a critical question: In whose interests is state intervention carried out?"
Newsweek asks its readers to believe that "we're all socialists now" because the U.S. government under Obama has "effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industry." The magazine's self-professedly "establishment"- and "ruling class"-oriented writer Evan Thomas  predictably ignored the elementary facts that that state intervention was launched to rescue the big banks, mortgage companies, insurance firms, and auto corporations in response to an economic crisis that resulted from capitalism's own excesses and which required assistance from the only institution that could assemble the adequate resources: the (capitalist) state. As Ruder notes, "The Obama administration's state intervention in the economy today is designed to preserve decision-making power for the owners of banks and corporations...the principle that the [Obama era] state will use in deciding how to exercise its [new] ownership stake will be to maintain a ‘healthy business climate," not to put the needs of workers and poor first." 
Meanwhile millions of unemployed and evicted poor and working class Americans have sunk further into destitution. Billions of dollars that could be spent on meeting their needs have been invested instead in propping up wealthy financial parasites sustaining capitalist empire abroad.
This is not exactly what the Left founders of socialism had in mind with their concept of right state intervention. Karl Marx saw a socialist society as one that transcended class divisions to put people before profits through democratic economic planning to meet broad human needs and serve the common good. That's what most modern socialists advocate today.
"One can debate the meaning of the term ‘socialism,'" the leading left libertarian-socialist Noam Chomsky wrote more than a decade ago, "but if it means anything, it means control of production by the workers themselves, not owners and managers who rule them and control all decisions, whether in capitalist enterprises or an absolutist state." 
A period of sharp "free market" (actually state-capitalist) failure and re-legitimized government intervention in which 20 percent of the adult population (including a third of the adults under 30) now choose "socialism" over capitalism ought to be a ripe educational instance for any Left worth its salt. Now is a very useful and opportune moment for U.S. radicals to clarify the differences between (a) socialism defined (weakly and stupidly) as state intervention and conducted as the top-down preservation of corporate-managerial prerogative and (b) socialism defined as democratic planning and workers' and citizens' control to be struggled for from below. Obama's "socialist" state interventions to sustain and indeed further the concentration of wealth and power ought to be a teachable moment on what "socialism" really is and why it should be fought for by ordinary working people.
LESSON # 3: THE BIPARTISAN NATURE OF AMERICAN EMPIRE AND INEQUALITY, INC.
Among the different reasons to be glad the Democrats won the elections last year, one merits special ironic consideration. It is that the Democratic Party (once aptly described by former Richard Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips as "history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party") is best exposed as a leading institutional agent of empire, inequality, and "corporate-managed democracy" (the late Alex Carey's useful term) when it holds top offices. Democrats find it easier to deceptively and co-optively pose as the "party of the people"  and a progressive alternative to corporate-imperial rule (and the Republicans) when they are out of power. They are more clearly revealed as disingenuous and inadequate tribunes of the ordinary working people they so passionately (during campaign seasons) claim to represent when they hold the balance of elected office and then (quite naturally given the corporate and military's domination of the political and policy processes in the U.S.) fail to deliver on popular hopes and dreams they've ridden and/or raised on the road to office. They are less able to hide their essential identity as the other business and empire party when they sit atop the political system. That's when the hot rubber of their populist- and peaceful- sounding campaign rhetoric hits the cold pavement of corporate-imperial governance. As the clever Marxist writer Doug Henwood noted in the spring of 2008: "There's no doubt that Obamalust does embody some phantasmic longing for a better world - more peaceful, egalitarian, and humane. He'll deliver little of that - but there's evidence of some admirable popular desires behind the crush. And they will inevitably be disappointed." Further:
"There's great political potential in popular disillusionment with Democrats. The phenomenon was first diagnosed by Garry Wills in Nixon Agonistes. As Wills explained it, throughout the 1950s, left-liberals intellectuals thought that the national malaise was the fault of Eisenhower, and a Democrat would cure it. Well, they got JFK and everything still pretty much sucked, which is what gave rise to the rebellions of the 1960s (and all that excess that Obama wants to junk any remnant of). You could argue that the movements of the 1990s that culminated in Seattle were a minor rerun of this. The sense of malaise and alienation is probably stronger now than it was 50 years ago, and includes a lot more of the working class, [who are] ...really pissed off about the cost of living and the way the rich .are lording it over the rest of us."
"Never did the possibility of disappointment offer so much hope. That's not what the candidate means by that word, but history can be a great ironist." 
Most serious middle-aged and senior leftists don't require an education on how little to expect from Democrats in charge. But many in a new and younger generation of real and potential left progressives DO need the education. No amount of lecturing or warning from older progressives can lived, real-time experience of the Democratic Party in national power (a voting-age novelty for a 27 year-old American) when it comes to learning that "everything still pretty much suck[s]" when Democrats hold the top job(s).
Older lefties can be forgiven, perhaps, for chomping at the bit as they watch Obama's honeymoon with much of the electorate, young and old, linger into the summer of 2009. But liberal and progressive disillusionment with "Brand Obama's" imperialist and state-capitalist outrages and "betrayals" will deepen in coming months and years in accord with the continuing economic crisis and the new president's fierce commitment to the American Empire Project and to the post-9/11 National Security State. Empire's New Clothes and his Democratic allies will provide leftists with many more teach-able moments on the richly bipartisan nature of American Empire and Inequality, Inc.
LESSON # 4: THE DEEPER RACISM
The Age of Obama also promises to deliver related teach-able lessons on the maddening persistence of racism in American life. It creates a potentially fertile moment for understanding racism in the deeper institutional and socioeconomic sense in which the actual Left has generally always understood it.
Beneath the mood of "post-racial" celebration and self-congratulation that Obama's election generated, savage racial inequality remains a huge problem in the U.S. Median U.S. black household wealth is equivalent to seven cents on the median white U.S. household wealth dollar in the United States. Black Americans get 56 cents on the American white dollar when it comes to income. Today as for more than half a century, black U.S. poverty and unemployment rates are more than double those of U.S. whites. Black Americans remain very disproportionately concentrated at the bottom of all the United States' steep social and economic hierarchies. They are wildly under-represented in the nation's upper class and just as heavily over-represented in the nation's lower class. They make up 12 percent of the nation's population but nearly half of its more than 2 million prisoners. One in three adult black males is saddled with the lifelong mark of a felony record. Incarceration is a normative, practically routine experience for millions of young black males in the world's leading prison nation, where Obama's election is widely treated as proof that we have "transcended race."
If anything, the nation's economic race disparities have deepened in the dawning Obama era. Following the usual l pattern in the long history of American business cycles, the Great Bush-Obama Recession is hitting blacks harder than whites.
What - if anything - do these disparities have to do with racism? The answer depends on what you mean by that loaded word. It depends on whether you follow the dominant U.S. political culture by understanding racism merely at the level of prejudice or whether you are willing to go deeper and see white supremacy beyond the question of, say, whether or not a white person is ready to have black friends or vote for a particular kind of black ("but not like Jesse" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") candidate like Colin Powell, Deval Patrick or Barack Obama. The main problem with the conventional white wisdom holding that racism is over as a meaningful barrier to racial equality is its failure to distinguish adequately between (a) "state-of-mind" racism (prejudice) and (b) institutional, societal, and "state-of-being" racism. The first variety of racism has undergone significant if qualified defeats in the U.S. over the last half-century. It is true (and important to note) that Obama lost the overall white vote quite decisively, but the fact that tens of million of whites were ready to vote a black family into the White House is indicative of the real extent to which pure race prejudice of the worst sort has been significantly overcome.
But the second variety of racism - "Level 2 racism" if you will - is deeper and more intractable. It involves the more impersonal operation of social, economic and institutional forces and processes that both reflect and shape the related processes of capitalism in ways that "just happen" but nonetheless serve to reproduce black disadvantage in numerous interrelated sectors of American life. Examples include:
• Widely documented racial bias in real estate and home lending institutions - something that complements the general reluctance of whites to live next door to blacks and disproportionate black poverty to keep blacks out of the metropolitan area's highest-opportunity communities.
* Widely documented statistical race discrimination in hiring and promotion (and we should recall that discrimination in hiring is among other things discrimination in the provision of health care coverage since the U.S, in unique among modern industrial democracies in providing such coverage primarily trough employment).
* Widely documented statistical discrimination in the provision of health care services.
• The excessive use of high-stakes standardized test-based "dill and grill" teaching curriculum and related zero-tolerance pre-incarceratory disciplinary practices in many predominantly black public schools
• The "War on Drugs" and the related campaign of mass black imprisonment and felony-marking, which are waged with such racially selective ferocity that two-thirds of Illinois' 40-thousand plus state prisoners are African-Americans and more than 80 percent of the state's drug prisoners are black even though blacks make up just 15 percent of the state and are no more likely to use illegal drugs than whites.
Enabled and enforced by policymakers who commonly declare allegiance to anti-racist ideals, institutional racism  has outlived the explicit, open and public racism of the past. It continues behind the scenes beyond the passage of justly cherished civil rights legislation. It lives on despite and in cold indifference to the routine broadcast of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech on televisions and public school PA systems. It does not necessarily or always involve individual white bigotry or even subtly prejudiced "ill will" against blacks. Consciously or even unconsciously prejudiced white actors are not necessarily required. Black actors are more than welcome to help enforce and cloak this more covert institutional racism. It does not requite racist intent. It only needs to produce racially disparate outcomes through the operation of objectively racialized processes.
It is true that the "mainstream" political and media culture and much of white America has quite predictably (and noxiously) taken Obama's ascendancy as "yet more proof" that racism no longer poses serious barriers to black advancement and black-white equality in the U.S. As the crisis of working- and lower-class life deepens in the persistently hyper-segregated and disproportionately poor black community, the U.S. is moving into a potentially instructive moment on the big difference between (A) electing a bourgeois president (or mayor or governor) who happens to be black (if thoroughly enmeshed with the predominantly white corporate and imperial elite) and (B) undertaking a serious engagement with deeply entrenched social disparities when it comes to attacking the problem of racism. For many black Americans and for anti-racists of all colors, the lesson (already clear to many beneath understandable but fading excitement over the emergence of a first black president) is that there is curiously little to be concretely gained by most black Americans, and more perhaps to be lost (mainly what's left of the white majority's willingness to acknowledge the persistent role of racism in explaining black disadvantage) from (A). Only (B) carries serious promise of advancing racial equality, something that will become more and more evident over time - with educational help from progressive anti-racists - as savage racial inequality and the racist institutional forces that feed it survive the Age of Obama.
"They All Said No"
For what it's worth, the difference between (A) and (B) is already well understood in the black inner city. Here is an interesting message I received from a teacher of black students in the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) last February:
"Today, I asked a class for which I was subbing (high-school English students, about a dozen, all-black, at one of CPS's actually nice high-school facilities) what they thought of Obama. Their initial reaction was one of, for lack of a better way to say it, pride and joy."
"But upon closer inspection, this turned out to be a rather shallow sentiment. For when I asked them if they expected any real changes under Obama, they all said no."
"So while they are (currently) happy he is in the White House, they know full well that he will be no different from any other president -- and it's not something they only know 'deep down.' They know it pretty close to the surface."
LESSON # 5: THE "URGENT TASK" BEYOND THE MADDENING CORPORATE-CRAFTED CANDIDATE-CENTERED QUADRENNIAL ELECTION TRAP
The depressing but predictable - and predicted  - corporate, imperial, and race-neutralist record of the Obama administration is also a graphic object lesson in the limits of the what the noted left social critic Charles Derber calls  "the election trap": the belief that serious progressive change is mainly about voting for the least objectionable candidate in the nation's corporate-run big money narrow-spectrum candidate-centered election spectacles. Wrong. Such change is more fundamentally about the difficult work of building and expanding grassroots social movements and capacities beneath and beyond the fake egalitarianism of U.S. "dollar democracy" and its carefully staggered, highly staged ballot rituals.
The Age of Obama is a teach-able moment on the powerful wisdom of two comments by the legendary senior Boston-area radicals Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. By Chomsky's analysis in October 2004:
"The U.S. presidential race, impassioned almost to the point of hysteria, hardly represents healthy democratic impulses."
"Americans are encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is yet another method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, ‘That's politics.' But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics..."
"The urgent task for those who want to shift policy in a progressive direction - often in close conformity to majority opinion - is to grow and become strong enough so that that they can't be ignored by centers of power. Forces for change that have come up from the grass roots and shaken the society to its foundations include the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the women's movement and others, cultivated by steady, dedicated work at all levels, everyday, not just once every four years..."
"So in the election, sensible choices have to be made. But they are secondary to serious political action. The main task is to create a genuinely responsive democratic culture, and that effort goes on before and after electoral extravaganzas, whatever their outcome." 
Three and a half years later, Zinn made a similar case against the "election madness" he saw "engulfing the entire society, including the left" with special intensity in the year of Obama's nomination for the presidency:
"The election frenzy seizes the country every four years because we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls and choose one of the two mediocrities who have already been chosen for us."
"And sad to say, the Presidential contest has mesmerized liberals and radicals alike...I'm not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death."
"I'm talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes-the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth."
"But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice."
"Let's remember that even when there is a ‘better' candidate (yes, better Roosevelt than Hoover, better anyone than George Bush), that difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to ignore.....Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War, or institute a system of free health care for all."
"They offer no radical change from the status quo. They do not propose what the present desperation of people cries out for: a government guarantee of jobs to everyone who needs one, a minimum income for every household, housing relief to everyone who faces eviction or foreclosure. They do not suggest the deep cuts in the military budget or the radical changes in the tax system that would free billions, even trillions, for social programs to transform the way we live."
"None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties." 
"I Don't Think He's Worried About the Left"
The first five months of the Obama administration have graphically illustrated the astuteness of Chomsky and Zinn's warnings and counsel. The Obama White House has steered to and from the corporate-imperial, "post-racial" center in the glaring absence of serious "rebellion from below." It faces minimal pressure from "progressive" U.S. forces, which are predictably "ignored by centers of power."
Earlier this week, New York Times, in an article titled "Favorites of Left Don't Make Obama's Court List," noted that Obama's shortlist of candidates to succeed Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter was constructed without concern for "the left's" preferences. Times reporter Peter Baker quoted Bernard Nussberg (President Bill Clinton's first White House counsel and the overseer of Ruth Bader Ginsberg's appointment in 1993) as follows: "I don't think that he's worried about the left. I think he's doing the same thing we did." Baker noted that:
"The White House does not appear to be especially worried about criticism from the left...If nothing else the White House has succeeded in keeping its base quieter than the Bush White House did its own. While conservatives were vocal about their desires before President George W. Bush's selections of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — and effectively torpedoed the short-lived nomination of his White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers — liberals have been largely silent in public about the Obama selection process."
Consistent with the silence, Obama hopes to appoint the distinctly centrist Sonia Sotomayor, who will score progressive identity (symbolic representation) points but who appears (by early accounts) to be quite Wall Street-friendly. Stanford's Pamela Karland (a celebrated "champion of gay rights, criminal defendants' rights, and voting rights" - an "Antonin Scalia for the left") was never in the game. 
"What Exists of a Popular Left..."
As John Judis argued in the centrist journal The New Republic last February, "here is not a popular left movement that is agitating for him to go well beyond where he would even ideally like to go. Sure," Judis wrote, "there are leftwing intellectuals like Paul Krugman beating the drums for nationalizing the banks and for a $1 trillion-plus stimulus. But I am not referring to intellectuals, but to movements that stir up trouble among voters and get people really angry. Instead, what exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama's pocket." By Judis' analysis, the U.S. labor movement and groups like "Moveon.Org" repeat the same "mistake that political groups often make: subordinating their concern about issues to their support for the party and its leading politician." 
"Obama Has Whipped Them, But Good"
Consistent with Judis' critique, Moveon.Org's new Executive Director Justin Ruben responded last February to Obama's highly qualified and deceptive Iraq "withdrawal" plans by telling the New York Times that "activists are willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt." Sounding like a docile house pet instead of a serious progressive activist, Ruben said that "people have confidence that the president is committed to ending the war" because "this is what he promised" (New York Times, February 26, 2009).
Known for organizing online opposition to the Bush administration's war policies, MoveOn.org has sent its members an e-mail falsely proclaiming the U.S. invasion of Iraq to be effectively over and congratulating members for having helped achieved that wonderful result. Ruben told Nation correspondent Ari Melber that MoveOn has no intention of opposing Obama's plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.
The Congressional Quarterly claims that the anti-war movement is paying the price of "its own success." But that's baloney, according to Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford, who writes that "The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president...Obama has whipped them, but good." 
"Smarter Things to Do" Than "Taking to the Streets"
Meanwhile, the dominant U.S. labor federations are on board with Obama's inadequate corporate health care and economic stimulus plans. They remain remarkably respectful and relatively mute on the new "pro-labor" president's cold refusal to buck business opposition by pushing for the "card check" (the EFCA), which has been kicked to the curb by the business lobby with the help of center Democrats like Obama, U.S. Senator James Webb (D-VA) and U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). A recent Counterpunch article bears a simple, accurate, and matter-of-fact title: "Democrats Betray Labor: Card Check is Pronounced Dead" (David MaCaray, CounterPunch, May 22, 2009). Oh well.
Meanwhile, grotesquely enough, the Service Employees International Union's "progressive" president Andy Stern is an open and vicious opponent of single-payer national health insurance.
An article in the latest issue of Z Magazine bears the title "Is Labor Prepared to Fight?" "So far," Roger Bybee notes, "there has been a sea of labor acquiescence." True, a group of militant trade unionists and workers struck a strong populist chord that reverberated across the nation when they staged a successful six-day workplace occupation to secure vacation and severance pay at Chicago's Republic Door and Windows plant last December. But "thus far," Bybee notes, "the Republic sit-down strike has not inspired many imitators." Despite "vast publicity and the stunning victory produced by the workers," however, U.S. labor's "leadership" (which currently receives dues from less than 8 percent of the nation's private-sector workforce) prefers a "cautious, Beltway-focused approach" that "sh[ies] away from visible local mobilizations" and prefers to concentrate instead on high-level lobbying in Washington. "In contrast," Bybee notes, "Europe has witnessed plant occupations at Waterford Crystal in Ireland, Visteon car-parts plants in Belfast, Ireland and Enfield, England, and Prisme Packaging in Dundee, Scotland, among others. There have also been instance of ‘boss-napping' at Sony, 3M, Scapa, Continental auto parts, and Caterpillar plans in France, where plant managers were locked in their offices." 
Last April, consistent with Bybee's analysis, United Steelworkers of America president Leo Gerard gave a revealingly idiotic response when New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse asked him why American workers seemed less willing than their European counterparts to engage in workplace occupations and mass demonstrations. By Greenhouse's account, Gerard "said there were smarter things to do than demonstrating against layoffs — for instance, pushing Congress and the states to make sure the stimulus plan creates the maximum number of jobs in the United States."
"I actually believe that Americans believe in their political system more than workers do in other parts of the world," Mr. Gerard told Greenhouse. "He said," Greenhouse reported, "large labor demonstrations are often warranted in Canada and European countries to pressure parliamentary leaders. Demonstrations are less needed in the United States, he said, because often all that is needed is some expert lobbying in Washington to line up the support of a half-dozen senators."
The six-figure-salaried labor bureaucrat Leo Gerard's moronic and self-serving explanation for U.S. labor quiescence was shamefully seconded by affluent liberal-AcaDemocratic Stanford historian David Kennedy. Kennedy "saw another reason that today's young workers and young people were protesting less than in decades past." He told Greenhouse that "this generation [has]... found more effective ways to change the world. It's signed up for political campaigns, and it's not waiting for things to get so desperate that they feel forced to take to the streets." 
Hear, hear! The impressive potency of American trade unionism's "smarter" and "more effective" preference for "expert lobbying" over direct action has certainly been seen with the corporate-managed democracy's rapid dismissal of "big" labor's cherished EFCA! That already-"dead" bill - on which candidate Obama ran (along with his disingenuous promise to revise NAFTA) before union rallies (even as his chief economic advisor Austan Goolsbee assured conservative Canadian officials that Obama's "NAFTA-bashing" was just harmless "campaign rhetoric" spit out for clueless proletarians) - would have been more effectively advanced with a wave of workplace occupations and marches. That's how workers won the National Labor Relations Act (once a powerful vehicle for union representation and collective bargaining) during the 1930s. As Bybee notes, "the turmoil created by labor activism" during the Depression decade "forced [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt to argue the need for labor rights and the creation of a social safety to head off even more explosive confrontations between workers and authorities."
The saddest part of Greenhouse's article on "Why American Workers Stay Off the Streets While Europeans Protest" comes four paragraphs from the end, when the reporter notes that "Left-leaning workers and unions that might be most prone to stage protests during today's economic crisis are often the ones most enthusiastic about President Obama and his efforts to revive the economy, help unions and enact universal health coverage. Instead of taking to the streets last fall to protest the gathering economic crisis under President Bush, many workers and unions campaign for Mr. Obama"  - a candidate who, Greenhouse fails to mention, was certain as president to betray labor on EFCA and whose not-sp "universal" health care plan is an egregious sell-out to big insurance.
I am reminded by Greenhouse's observation --- all too tragically accurate --- of the radical historian Alan Dawley's evocative notion that the American "ballot box" is "the coffin of class consciousness." 
"Progressives Can Only Hope..."
The left Democratic journal The Nation has absurdly called Obama's tepid budget proposal "an audacious plan to transform America" in progressive ways. Progressive filmmaker Michael Moore proclaimed absurdly that Obama's auto restructuring plan sends the message that "the government of, by, and for the people is in charge here, not big business."
Leading left-liberal Democratic economists/public intellectuals Robert Kuttner and Paul Krugman hope for "a new New Deal" under Obama. They fail, however, to mention the significant extent to which the most progressive aspects of the New Deal owed their existence to working class protest and to related left-wing activism during the 1930s. In a New York Times column titled "Franklin Delano Obama" six days after the election, Judis' "left wing intellectual" Krugman wrote that "Mr. Obama's chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-term economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives," Krugman counseled, "can only hope that he has the necessary audacity." (New York Times, November 10, 2008).
Recently, Krugman said the following at the end of a column that criticized Wall Street bankers for believing that they will soon be able to return to making outrageous profits off other people's money: "We can only hope that our leaders prove them wrong, and carry through with real reform" (New York Times, April 27, 2009). In his revealingly titled book "Obama's Challenge" (White River Junction, VT" Chelsea Green, October 2008), Kuttner hoped that the onset of "the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression," would lead Obama to be "that rare transformational leader" who "educates" the "people on behalf of expansive uses of progressive government" through the "force of [his] own character."
So whipped-dog "progressives can only hope that the great, wise, and wonderful Wizard of Ozbama and our other corporate-sponsored "leaders" can have the boldness to save the day? Hello? Krugman and Kuttner might want to take a look at Howard Zinn's bestselling volume A People's History of the United States or at Francis Fox Piven and Richard Cloward's classic study Poor Peoples' Movement: How They Succeed and Why They Fail (New York: Vintage, 1977, to review some elementary lessons on how big progressive change occurs. These studies demonstrate in rich historical detail how direct action, social disruption, and the threat of radical change from the bottom up forced social and political reforms that benefited working- and lower-class and black people during the 1930s and the 1960s. They show the critical role played by grassroots social movements and popular resistance in educating presidents and the broader power elite on the need for change.
As Obama himself (along with John Edwards) repeatedly noted during the presidential campaign, in a comment that has not fallen from Obama's lips since he reached the White House, "change doesn't happen from the top down. Change happens from the bottom up." And here we might add that change from the bottom up happens through the painstaking creation and expansion of grassroots social forces and organizations beneath and beyond the great quadrennial corporate-crafted mass marketed narrow-spectrum and candidate centered electoral and media extravaganzas that pass for the only politics that matter in the United States.
"EDUCATORS" ON THE RIGHT
These five "teachable moments" for the Left will not be worth a hill of progressive beans unless and until popular forces develop considerably more capacity and willingness than they are currently exhibiting to educate and organize for meaningful social and political change from the left and from the bottom up. More than merely meaningless, moreover, that disenchantment could actually become quite dangerous in the absence of such development. Popular resentment abhors a vacuum. Disconnected from the deceptive hope-phoria of "Obamalust," and furthered by deepening, capitalism-imposed economic dislocation, the "pissed-off" sense of popular "malaise and alienation" in which Henwood found ironic hope last year could easily feed a dodgy right-populist (proto-fascistic) rebellion against supposed Obamaist "socialism" (the "right wing talk radio mob's"[Chomsky] preposterous description of the administration's and Democratic Party's world view and agenda). On the hard right, of course, there is no shortage of powerful demagogues ready to appeal to anxious and oppressed people with real grievances. Just listen to and/or watch Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the nation's still powerful right wing noise machine. These and other grotesque, arch-reactionary "teachers" are drawing and disseminating their own noxious, racist, sexist, nationalist, messianic-militarist, faux-populist, militantly plutocratic, and harshly authoritarian lessons from the supposedly "hard left" (Hannity insistently claims) Age of Obama. Their nefarious and Orwellian instruction is helping drive a shopping frenzy in "Red State" gun-shops, where ammo has run short in response to the perception that, according to one gun-store owner, Obama's "socialist policies" will reward "people who are not working hard."
Paul Street is an independent radical-democratic policy researcher, journalist, historian, and speaker based in Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of four books to date: Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: a Living Black Chicago History (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); and (most recently) Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics. Street can be reached at email@example.com
* The number of endnotes that could be attached to this essay would easily run into the hundreds - an undertaking for which I lack time and energy. Readers who wish to know sources for assertions and statements not annotated here are free to write me.
1. Alexander Cockburn, "How Long Does it Take?" CounterPunch (May 23, 2009), read online at http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn05222009.html
2. Scott Horton, "Finding Ways to Stay in Iraq," Antiwar.com, March 4, 2009.
And here is a recent news tidbit: Obama's Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey has recently announced that, in the Associated Press's words, "The Pentagon is ready to leave fighting forces in Iraq for as long as a decade....[Casey] said...the world remains dangerous and unpredictable and the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars. ‘Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction,' Casey said...' He spoke at an invitation-only briefing to a dozen journalists and policy analysts from Washington-based think-tanks. He said his planning envisions combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade as part of a sustained U.S. commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism in the Middle East." Tom Curley, "Army Chief Says US Ready to Be in Iraq 10 Years," Associated Press, May 26, 2009.
3. Paul Street, " ‘There is No Peace Dividend': Reflections on Empire, Inequality, and Brand Obama," Z Magazine, January 2009, 24-28.
4. Jeremy Scahill, "The Black Shirts of Guantanamo," CounterPunch (May 15, 2009), read online at http://www.counterpunch.org/scahill05152009.html
5. For details of this remarkable recent White House action, see Glen Greenwald, "Obama Administration Threatens England to Keep Torture Evidence Concealed," Salon (May 12, 2009), read online at http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/05/12/obama/
7. Glen Greenwald, "Obama and Habeas Corpus: Then and Now," Salon (April 11, 2009), read at http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/11/bagram/
7. Peter Baker, "Favorites of Left Don't Make Obama's Court List," New York Times, May 26, 2009, A12.
7A. Bruce Dixon, "Department of Broken Promises: Obama Closes Door On NAFTA Renogotiation," Black Agenda Report (April 22, 2009), read at http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/department-broken-promises-obama-closes-door-nafta-renegotiation
8. William Greider, "Obama's Weird Idea of Auto Industry Rescue: Use Our Money to Build Factories Abroad," AlterNew (May 11, 2009), read online at http://www.alternet.org/workplace/139940/obama's_weird_idea_of_auto_industry_rescue:_use_our_money_to_build_car_factories_abroad/
9. Glen Ford, "Obama's Health Care Charade," Black Agenda Report, May 13, 2009.
10. Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?" The New Yorker (May 7, 2007). By MacFarquhar's closely researched account of Obama the early presidential candidate: "In his view of history, in his respect for tradition, in his skepticism that the world can be changed any way but very, very slowly, Obama is deeply conservative. There are moments when he sounds almost Burkean. He distrusts abstractions, generalizations, extrapolations, projections. It's not just that he thinks revolutions are unlikely: he values continuity and stability for their own sake, sometimes even more than he values change for the good."
11. Horton, "Finding Ways to Stay in Iraq."
12. Today as always in the age of The Pentagon System (1942 to present), American militarism supplies the U.S. corporate ruling class the useful function of diverting government priorities away from social needs and towards the selfish interests of the privileged few. Beneath disingenuous market rhetoric disseminated to de-legitimize the undesirable direction of public resources to the broad populace, the "business community" has long (since at least the Great Depression) understood that government must play a central role in sustaining the system of private profit. It makes a critical distinction, however, between (i) government investment in social needs and (ii) government investment in the wasteful and destructive missions of militarism. The first form of government activity interferes with the authoritarian prerogatives of investors and managers and is therefore rejected as dysfunctional by the business elite. The second form is welcomed by the domestic power elite because it provides no challenge to business rule while diverting public resources to dominant private interests. It offers added lovely benefits to the American ruling class. It encourages the manufacture of mass fear and mindless nationalistic conformity while legitimizing the use of coercion against those who dare to criticize existing social hierarchies and doctrines at home and abroad (for useful discussions, see Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy. [New York: Hill and Wang, 1991], pp. 32, 81, 82, 108-109) It also underpins a global empire that serves the overseas economic interests of the business elite. The costs of that empire are distributed over the entirety of American society but its profits "revert to a few within. In this respect," Noam Chomsky noted in 1969, "the empire serves as a device for internal consolidation of power and privilege." (Noam Chomsky, For Reasons of State [New York: New Press, 1970-, p. 47) It's not for nothing that big business feels repeatedly threatened by the ironic specter of peace -- the terrible threat of a social-democratic "peace dividend," rejected in advance by the nation's new supposed "peace and justice president" Barack Obama. see Street, " ‘There is No Peace Dividend.'"
13. William Greider, "Obama told Us to Speak, But is He Listening?" Washington Post, March 22, 2009, B1, read online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/19/AR2009031902511.html
14. Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, "We Are All Socialists Now," Newsweek (February 16, 2009).
15. Rasmussen Reports, "Just 53 Percent Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism" (April 9, 2009). Read at http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/just_53_say_capitalism_better_than_socialism
16. Eric Ruder, "What is Socialism?" International Socialist Review, May-June 2009, p. 25.
17. Newsweek's "We Are All Socialists Now" author Evan Thomas included the following remarkable comment in his later hit-job essay on Obama's left-liberal critic, the economist Paul Krugman: "If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am), reading Krugman makes you uneasy. You hope he's wrong, and you sense he's being a little harsh (especially about Geithner), but you have a creeping feeling that he knows something that others cannot, or will not, see. By definition, establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring. But sometimes, beneath the pleasant murmur and tinkle of cocktails, the old guard cannot hear the sound of ice cracking." See Even Thomas, "Obama's Nobel Headache," Newsweek (March 28, 2009).
18. Ruder, "What is Socialism?" p. 29.
19 Noam Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants [Berkeley, CA: Odonian, 1995), p. 91. Currently ZNet is conducting an impressive and wide-ranging discussion on how the Left might best re-conceptualize radical post-capitalist economic and societal restructuring ("socialist" and/or "pareconist" or otherwise). This "Re-Imagining Society" project is ongoing as I write this essay.
20. An excellent Left history and critique of the Democratic Party as a faux people's party (and a great capitalist "shock absorber" on the left side of the modern U.S. political order) is Lance Selfa, The Democrats: A Critical History (Chicago: Haymarket, 2008).
21. Doug Henwood, "Would You like Change With That?" Left Business Observer, No. 117 (March 2008).
22. For an exhaustive account of living historical and institutional racism as a ubiquitous factor in the social life of a major U.S. metropolitan area (and for a more detailed discussion of the difference between "Level 1" and "Level 2 racism," please see my book Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black History (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
23. Among many possible Left citations, see Henwood, "Would You Like Change with That?" and Paul Street, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008): http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=186987
24. In Charles Derber, Hidden Power: What you Need to Know to Save Our Democracy (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2005).
25. Noam Chomsky, Interventions (San Francisco: City, Lights, 2007).
26. Howard Zinn, "Election Madness," The Progressive (March 2008).
27. Baker, "Favorites of Left."
28. John Judis, "End the Honeymoon," The New Republic, February 13, 2009, read at http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=5bff5e94-6fa6-4a69-9ff2-8f08cb437ccc
29. Glen Ford, "First Black President Defeats Antiwar Movement," Black Agenda Report (April 15, 2009), read online at http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/first-black-president-defeats-us-antiwar-movement
30. Roger Bybee, "Is U.S. Labor Prepared to Fight?" Z Magazine (June 2009): 35-36.
31. Steven Greenhouse, "In America, Labor Has a Long Fuse," New York Times, April 5, 2009
32. Bybee, "Is U.S. Labor Prepared?" p, 38.
33. Greenhouse, "In America."
34. Alan Dawley, Class and Community: The Industrial Revolution in Lynn, Massachusetts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976).
35. National Public Radio, "All Things Considered," April 7, 2009