Was Barack Obama a man of the far left?

In his book “Radical in Chief“, Stanley Kurtz traces the socialist influences on Barack Obama who at the time of writing, had been president for two years. Obama was a radical, but he had to conceal just how radical to appeal to the U.S. electorate. The book is not just about Obama, its also about what the left in America was doing after the initial excitement of the 60’s. One interesting aspect of the book is that it foreshadows what is happening today in 2020.

In the 1967 Socialist Scholars Conference, Stanley Aronowitz said this: “Racism is based on the profit system.” The police, he continued, are the arm of the ruling class in the ghettos.

“Speaking in the aftermath of urban riots, Aronowitz noted that blacks had already led the way by forming anti-police self-defense committees.”

Maybe the phrase “systemic racism” that we hear today reflects this belief of Aronowitz that the profit system causes racism, since the profit motive (among others) are what motivates our businesses.

In that same conference in a “Black Power” panel session plans were made to lever the next summer’s season of urban riots into full-scale revolution. A scheme to burn down twenty American cities was floated, to be followed by a “military struggle in the streets.”

In the nineteen eighties, Harold Washington’s successful insurgent campaign for mayor of Chicago showed Socialists they could win at the ballot box. That may seem surprising, since Harold Washington never described himself as a socialist.

“Yet the progressive coalition that defeated the Chicago machine and lifted Washington into office was the very model of socialist hopes for America’s political future. Washington was carried to victory by a popular movement of newly politicized black and Hispanic voters, supplemented by progressive whites. These groups were mobilized by activist Chicago churches (like Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ) and Chicago’s many leftist community organizations…this coalition was buttressed behind the scenes by Chicago’s powerful but discreet contingent of democratic socialists.”

“Anyone who reads Obama’s Dreams from My Father will know how important Harold Washington’s example was to Obama”…

Michael Harrington was the leader of the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA). His overall strategy was

“to force a two-party “realignment” by pulling the Democrats sharply to the left. Harrington expected that this would drive business interests away from the Democrats and into the Republican Party. In theory, however a flood of newly energized minority and union voters would more than make up for the Democrat’s losses.”


“Could minority voters be a sleeping giant that, once awakened, would vanquish Reagan and usher in a progressive future?”

Peter Dreier spoke at the 1983 Cooper Union Conference (which Obama probably attended). Dreier was a member of the DSA’s National Executive Committee. (Remember in what follows that Obama started his career as a “Community Organizer.”) Dreier seeked public control of America’s economy from below, through pressure from leftist community organizations. (Dreier would later serve as a key strategist in ACORN’s campaign to pressure banks into funding high-risk mortgages to low-credit customers.). In Dreier’s vision…with community organizations leading the way to a more collectively oriented national consciousness, changes like the importation of a Canadian-style government-run health-care system would eventually follow.”

Dreier’s strategy also included (in his words) “injecting unmanageable strains into the capitalist system, strains that precipitate the economic or political crisis.”

Stanley Kurz explains: “So Dreier’s plan is to gradually expand government spending until the country nears fiscal collapse. At that point, a public accustomed to its entitlements will presumably turn on its capitalist masters when they propose cutbacks to restore fiscal balance. Dreier fears that ths intentionally wrought crisis might actually backfire and produce fascism instead of socialism. That is why he believes it’s so important to have a left-wing grassroots movement already in place. Left-wing community organizers will turn the national fiscal crisis in a socialist direction.”

Its interesting to look at our 22 trillion dollar deficit and wonder if it will achieve Dreier’s goals (thats not to say that our deficit was created deliberately, of course). His goal of moving the Democratic party to the left has been achieved (again, I’m agnostic as to what caused this movement to the left).

Peter Dreier served as an advisor to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Manning Marable was a vice chair of the DSA who wrote a book titled “How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America”. While many argue that black poverty is caused by a history of systematic exclusion from the American system, Marable claims that the system itself is designed to make blacks poor: “America’s ‘democratic’ government and ‘free enterprise’ system are structured deliberately and specifically to maximize Black oppression.”

Marable says that black crime is not the fault of the young men who commit it, but of the capitalist system itself.

Marable’s program echoes what Obama could have heard at the Social Movements panel: Penetrate the legislatures, expand entitlements, restrict capitalism through regulation, and place all of this in synergy with a proto-socialist grassroots movement.

All the above is within the first 55 pages of a 393 page book. I haven’t read past this, but I’m curious where Obama fit in with this general left wing zeitgeist that was developing while he was at Occidental college and Columbia, and the influence of the various Socialist conferences he attended. For those readers who are also interested, a link to the book on Amazon follows:

Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism: Kurtz, Stanley: 9781439155097: Amazon.com: Books

Its dismaying to me to see how minorities get involved in the Socialist push, but recently I was reading just how the Socialist view is pushed in college courses in Australia, and I see that its everywhere.

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