04 September 2012

Present through the lens of the past

Watching Dinesh D'Souza'z presentation of Obama's America 2016 was an exploration of the themes that have showed up in the immigrant experience in America as seen through the prism of not only Barack Obama but that of Mr. D'Souza.  Simple, factual presentation of his own background allows D'souza to present a contemporaneous view of Barack Obama's life that is not something that native born Americans experience.  This matters due to the roots of D'Souza coming from India and Barack Obama's parents coming from the US and Kenya.  More directly, Barack Obama Sr. would marry a woman of the US left, the far left, in the era of the Cold War.  It is to be remembered that the far left of the US picked up on 3rd World Anti-Colonialism that was fostered by the USSR.

The historical record of Barack Obama's life is what it is: one can disagree with ideologies, viewpoints and even simple analysis (to a degree), but the facts are what they are.  Barack Obama was brought up with his father, a 3rd World Anti-Colonialist, having bad traits washed from him by Obama's mother, particularly in respects to her second husband.  As her husband moved to embrace capitalism, she sent Barack back to her parents (who were also of the US left) so as to protect him from the shifting ideals and ideology of her new husband.  Gaining Frank Marshal Davis as a mentor that was a close friend of Barack Obama's maternal grandfather, put a hard basis for a pro-Communist viewpoint in Obama's early life.  The recounting of Obama's life, thereafter, is following his own footsteps and talking to the people who knew Obama and, most importantly, Barack Obama, Sr.

I grew up in the Dragon Year cohort, which is separated my a handful of years from both Obama and D'Souza and thus did not have their direct experience of the US left and its influences from the 3rd World Anti-Colonialist movement.  Those few years are enough to take that movement from a vital one (bolstered by the numbers of the Baby Boomer generation) to one of intellectual exhaustion.  Unlike these men I also grew up in a more crunchy form of socialist household, one that adhered closer to First International views and criticized later ones and those of Progressives.  Thus by the time I hit my time at University, I had a grounding in the rhetoric and intellectual methodology of the US left, although I had serious problems with its basic underpinnings.    With that said, those students that were on the left appeared to be losing interest in the actual underpinnings of their own ideology.

There is a fundamental  problem with 3rd World Anti-Colonialism as it was propagated in the US upper educational system: it couldn't explain why Western   Colonialism (or Imperialism via support of 3rd World regimes) was bad, while that of Communist expansion were either good or just not to be mentioned or glossed over.  If the imposition of economic exploitation is bad when done, then it is the activity that is bad, not the economic system of which power is doing it.  Yet at every turn capitalism was bad and communism good when attached to the same activity.  The disparity of wealth happened under both types of economic system, and there was no way that native regimes could pay for finished goods without regard if it came from East or West.  This is hypocrisy of the highest order, and yet is constantly whitewashed by those holding it whenever it was pointed out to them.  If the activity is one that is exploitative, then how can it be sanctified or whitewashed by any who support it?  And if there is a difference, then what is it and why can the same activity be good when done under different auspices if the activity, itself, is bad under any condition?

Without underpinnings in understanding ideology and sociology, or even just the basic rhetoric of socialism, there is no case that can be made and, worse still, it can only be a negative case when it is made as socialism has not uplifted any people to prosperity as a society, but only a select few apparatchiks who run the system.  Like capitalism.  3rd World Anti-Colonialism as a form of communism  puts a blame on capitalism for exploiting countries when those countries, on their own, did not have the basis for utilization of their resources.  That is due to a lack of skill sets amongst the general populace necessary to perform the tasks of creating and running an industrialized economy. 

As D'Souza points out, the colonial experience of India was one in which education was spread but upward mobility was sharply and precisely limited by the British.  After moving out from being a colony, India attempted 3rd World Socialism as helped by the USSR.  Which didn't work.  Yet the basis for creating a capitalist society had been left by the British in the form of an educational system and a bolstering of a merchant class (one of the areas somewhat available in India for advancement).  Socialist attempts did not bring about an economic base with prosperity and a general uplifting of the human condition, while capitalism did.  In talking to Obama's half-brother about his book, we find that he points out that the way Kenya went with 3rd World Anti-Colonialism actually retarded the growth of the Kenyan economy in comparison to other countries that were at the same or lower economic level in comparison.  Indeed, South Africa lasted longest under the colonial banner of the UK, and came out the best prepared to advance economically which led him to the argument that Kenya would have done better to have remained as a colony for another few decades.

In other words: colonialism isn't all bad.

India was able to actually leverage its education system and the higher general education of its population as compared to pre-colonial times to finally step away from socialism and start letting its people become productive and build the industrial infrastructure to support a modernizing Nation.  South Korea, that had been far more backward than Kenya and war ravaged has turned itself around into a modern, industrialized Nation even though Kenya had a head start on it at the time of Kenyan independence.

Yet the talking points from the US left that has imbibed in 3rd World Anti-Colonialism tell that colonialism and imperialism (as witnessed by the 19th century global land grab by colonialist powers) are only negatives and have no positive artifacts to them.  Yet there are examples of just the opposite of where colonial rulers have actually established educational systems, a relatively orderly bureaucratic system and even the nucleus of what could become a middle class.  If the caste system could not be wiped out in India, the excesses of it, particularly towards women at the death of her husband, could be stopped as well as death cults that struck fear into the population at large.  These are no minor tasks as they weren't being addressed under any prior ruling regime and continued as artifacts of Indian culture for centuries and longer prior to British rule.  On the flip side the Belgian Congo is an example of actual and deep exploitation and impoverishment of natives by a colonial power.  The counter to that are places like Indonesia, Malaya, S. Africa and (up to just recently) Egypt.  Where anti-colonial forces and revolutions have prospered, the systems put in by the colonialist powers have been diminished, repudiated, attacked or just abandoned to the detriment of the general population wherever that has happened.  Land redistribution does very little good if those on the receiving end don't know how to use it and, even worse, since 1970's era 'green revolution' methods require relatively large scale farms the efficiencies of such large scale agriculture are not only dismantled but can not come about until smaller land holders agglomerate back under a larger, incorporated farm system.

The glossing over of the benefits of capitalism, industrialization, private ownership of land, and actual job creation that necessitates an educated population are, at best, glossed over and receive head shaking from modern leftists to, at worst, questioning if having a good education system, modern economy and jobs is actually a good end goal for these societies.  What had started as a semi-rigorous religious outlook by Marx had, by the 1980's, lost all attempts at intellectual rigor and just wanted the patina of intellectualism by spouting good-feeling slogans without actually thinking what the preconditions for them actually are.  A utopian vision of society that has no realistic and well thought out anchor points to reality, that have the faults of its linkages unaddressed and those that do the criticizing attacked, is a recipe for not just disaster but slaughter on a scale unimaginable to the modern mind.  A modern mind that has, within its knowledge scope, two World Wars and the use of WMDs.

What had once been a relatively civilized, if authoritarian, economics viewpoint had morphed, by the mid-1980's, into a system that was now equating those who fought under no flag, for themselves and whatever grandiose slogans they offered, and did so without benefit of a uniform, accountability structure or even popular support as being the direct, exact equivalent of those who were held accountable, did have support, fought by rules of warfare, and had a civilized infrastructure around them.  Yet those at the beginning of the socialist project would have called those fighting without even the barest attempt at civilized behavior barbarians and, more importantly, destructive to industrialized society and the prospects of ever getting to socialism.  By embracing the USSR communist vision and talking points before the collapse of the USSR, by embracing sloganeering over methodology and rigor, and by ignoring the lack of cohesion between grand feel-good visions and the actual state of human nature, the modern left that joined with the 3rd World Anti-Colonialist movement had become not anti-colonial but anti-West and anti-civilization as they excused any and all deviations from civilized behavior as 'necessary to the cause' which is said in various ways.

The surest way to leaving modern leftism behind is to deploy the methodology and rigor of the old 'crunchy' socialists of the First International to these latter-day leftists inspired by socialism and communism, but who are unable to apply any rigor to their ideals and ideas.  By simply pointing out that private property capitalism is a necessary part of the creation of the pre-conditions for socialism because it must create a broad-based system of education to better exploit the working class is a key part of socialism that the modern Left can't even address nor understand as an intellectual concept.  You don't have to be a dyed in the wool socialist to find the intellectual vacuity of modern leftism (and its anti-colonialist cohorts) but just point out that under the dogma they are seeking and its end goals, that it makes no sense at all.  You don't even have to believe the underlying premises of old line socialism to do that, just point out that the end result of abolishing private capital and putting the State in control before the preconditions of Marx are met (and those do, by golly, vary greatly even in Marx's own works) is the worst of all systems that has no need to uplift and educate the poor that the private capitalist has, and just exploit the workers to the end of the State: State Capitalism.  The concept of State Capitalism didn't start with the Right but with the Left and was the exacting criticism applied to the USSR, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Communist China and any place where the industrial preconditions laid out by Marx were not present.  I found that vacuity just by pointing out that rigor to those who were in University attempting to figure out their own leftism and the lack of any actual intellectual knowledge about the underpinnings of their belief system were astounding, then and now.  One can appreciate the intellectual rigor of the old left and that the basis for it is misplaced, but the new left preferred slogans to rigor, feeling good about being smart rather than applying mental capacity to actually understanding what it was they were saying, and hand waving that all of this would come about in a peaceful way when all evidence from the past of their own movement had demonstrated just the opposite, not to speak of the broader history of mankind as a whole.  There is a high degree of resonance with Mr. D'Souza as he recounts his early time in the US and trying to talk sense to those on the left who approached the overseas students and had no clue about what the actual conditions were overseas in their Nations of origin.  That was true throughout the left a decade later and to see that it had already been present a decade earlier was not surprising at all.

Dinesh D'Souza by being conservative in the late 1970's didn't get to see the decay of the modern left in the US from the inside and only recognizes the artifacts of it as a social commentator and conservative from the outside.  From the inside his recounting of how Barack Obama came to his beliefs, indeed took up the dreams from his father which were anti-colonial/pro-communist makes a lot of sense.  The disjointed life that Barack had with missing father in Hawaii, going overseas, his mother re-marrying, his step-father doing well in life and his mother sending young Barry back to her leftist parents, his time in Columbia University, Harvard, his Chicago mentors, traveling to Kenya after his father's death, associating with Bill Ayers... all of that leads to a form of US leftism that is anti-colonialist, pro-communist and wholly destructive to society as it cannot reconcile itself to the fact that the high ideals only impoverish people.  Keeping his father's dream alive is keeping a toxic viewpoint going and embracing it, thoroughly.  This meant a move away from intellectual rigor, and shifting the focus of the anti-colonialist prism to the American experience and utilizing the leftist structure in the US to rise to power.

If the US had shame still left from the era of Jim Crow racism, then electing Barack Obama as a 'uniter' meant that those doing the electing had never bothered to ask: just what was it that needed uniting?  If the goal is to create one America, isn't that contrary to the espoused values of multiculturalism and giving hosannas  to the differences in cultures within the US?  When one speaks about what they wish to achieve, and those goals are high, then one must ask 'what have you achieved that makes you think you can get this done?'  None of the lofty and intellectual rigor that used to be in the Old Left, that examination of methodology and seeing if those means were to any ends that were part of the long term goal, are present in Barack Obama, because he has flat-out been unable to state what the means to the end goals are and what they mean to each and every citizen of the United States.  And if his vision is that of anti-colonialism, then when he talks about the need to bring down the 1% then he isn't talking about the rich in America, but all Americans as even the lowliest beggar in the US, the homeless in the US, those gone without a job and having lost their wealth due to the housing market, that all of these people are still much, much richer than any average citizen in a 3rd World Nation.  As pointed out by those D'Souza interviews (and I do paraphrase to get past some of the intervening steps of loss of productivity and sovereignty), the way to redistribute wealth globally is to diminish the rich and make everyone poor and turn the clock back not just to the pre-colonial period but, by and large, to a pre-industrialized one as well with only a very few Nations having any productive capacity at all... and they will have nuclear weapons.  America, you see, under the leftist goal of 'no nukes', means no nuclear devices for America and a severely crippled industrial base unable to recover past productivity due to crushing debt and the welfare state.

I've read about those lofty goals during the 1980's and the US Left is stuck in the 1980's when it isn't stuck in the 1960's, and there is a disjointedness to the slogans, to the goals, and to the rhetoric and lack of logical rigor that is breath-taking.  Unwilling to study history, save through a PC lens that has pre-determined outcomes and results and must ignore anything that contradicts those results, a fantasy ideology is fostered about the past and what a great place the pre-colonial, pre-industrial era was.  Anyone who wishes to read about those pre-colonial, pre-industrialized times without the rose colored PC glasses should do so and then add in the every so often WMD and applying that set of scenarios to the modern world may experience a certain horror that awaits the US.

In Barack Obama's vision of 2016.

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