On Robert Reich and Glenn Ford
Berlin, May 22, 2014
Yes, Robert Reich is a white liberal, a classification that can evoke skepticism among those African Americans who have opinions on the public ideologies of public intellectuals. Reich served as Secretary of Labor under Clinton, then published his memoir under the revealing title, Locked in the Cabinet. He has been called “the conscience of the Clinton administration,” if indeed that administration can be said to have possessed a conscience. He has refrained from ad hominem attacks, and even in the attached article you will see that he employs the euphemism, “America’s big U-turn," rather than referring specifically to either Reagan or Clinton personally.
I am more inclined to his position than to that of Glenn Ford, whose video is also attached. Ford’s statements are honest, and intellectually sustainable, but impractical, because pure socialism, is just as contrary to human nature as pure capitalism. Neither has ever existed and neither ever will exist.
We can achieve the more regulated capitalism that Reich and Paul Krugman suggest. The mixed economy that was first enacted by Otto von Bismarck from purely cynical motives, and copied by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration is the only practical way to go. Both Bismarck and FDR worked with the ultimate cynical objective of “saving the day for capitalism,” and both were successful. But those were different times, because in those times there existed large and somewhat organize labor movements, as well as a union movement, and considerable pressure from dissatisfied labor groups on the left.
The election of Obama has had the function of diverting the attention of many discontented whites away from their labor problems by hoisting the banner of white supremacy. The same tendency is obvious in France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. This cunning ability of the white master class is reminiscent of the American situation of 1860, when poor whites ignored the advice of Hinton Rowan Helper, and followed their white masters into a rebellion, and Kamikaze charges, such as the one led by Pickett at the battle of Gettysburg.
White “free soilers” like Helper, (yes, he was essentially a free soiler) showed more intelligence, despite the fact that Helper and the free soilers were just as racist as the white labor combinations that kept black workers out of the nascent labor movement, often employing violence to do so. Only a portion of white racists were alert enough in 1860 to be anti-slavery, despite their white supremacist passions.
In my opinion, Reich and Krugman offer an alternative to Obama, better than that offered by Glenn Ford and Cornel West, although I do not object to the presentation of facts presented by Ford and West. I simply do not believe that there is any chance of creating the sort of social democracy that they envision. Furthermore, I don’t think anything is gained by presenting Obama, as they do, as an enemy of the people. Obama represents capitalist interests, to be sure, and he is guilty of a certain “cynicism.”
Of course, we would all like to see people like Barry Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in positions where they could undo the damage done by Reagan and Clinton, but as long as Obama is in the White House, a large portion of the American electorate will be willing to cut off their collective nose to spite their collective face.