Sat May 5th, 2012 at 01:22:56 AM EST
Speech for Harlem Tenants Association, November 14, 2008 By Robert Fitch
Michael Hudson apparently has a copy of Robert Fitche's speech which he provided to Yves Smith. This was the basis for an article in naked capitalism.
"What's President-elect Obama's prescription for urban pains?.... Obama himself is not easy to read. In my lifetime, we haven't had a politician with his gifts: his writing talent; his eloquence; his charisma; his mastery of public policy; his ability to run a national campaign against formidable rivals. Obama projects so brilliant an aura that it's almost blinding. He's become the bearer of pride for forty-five million African Americans who want to be judged by the content of their character. He's the prophet of hope; the apostle of change and the organizer of "Yes We Can."
Update [2012-5-5 14:50:0 by ARGeezer]:
All this makes Obama's actual politics very hard to put in any critical perspective. By actual politics I mean above all, the principal interests he represents; his authentic political philosophy. Where he fits on the on the Left-Right political spectrum. Obama resists being identified with either the Right or the Left. Even when he talks about his mom's liberalism, it's with a certain irony. "A lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for the New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism."
Obama is a partisan of the Third Way. In Europe, the Third Way means you're neither socialist nor capitalist. In the U.S. it means you're neither for liberalism nor conservatism.....Are traditional political vocations now obsolete? The Left stands for the interests of those who have to work for a living; for the tenants and the poor. For the victims of discrimination. The Right in America stands for the interests of the employers and the investing class. For those who own the land, the houses, the banks and the hedge funds.For Joe the plumber who was really Joe the plumbing contractor. And for those who see themselves as the victims of affirmative action.
In a way, though, the Left and the Right have more in common with each other than they do with the advocates of the Third Way. The Left and the Right argue that different interests matter. The Third Way says they don't. According to them, the oppressed and the oppressors, the lions and the lambs should set down together and celebrate their unity in one great post-partisan, multi-cultural 4th of July picnic. One of Obama's most repeated mantras resonates here: "a common good and a higher interest," he says. "That's the change I'm looking for."
added blockquotes, links and paragraph divisions.
"Where in the world most of us reside do we find that higher interest? I don't know except perhaps in the higher interest rates that kicked in with variable rate mortgages.
What is the common good that tenants and landlords share? Not a lot I can think of. Maybe that the building doesn't burn down? But some of you remember the '70s when landlords burned down their buildings in poor neighborhoods to cash in on the insurance.
The haves and the have-nots have different and opposing interests--landlords want to get rid of rent stabilization; tenants have an interest in keeping it. Workers want to save their jobs; bosses want to save their capital, which means cutting workers. In pursuing their opposing interests, the have-nots are forced take up the weapons of the weak--demonstrations, direct action; filling the jails with conscientious objectors; taking personal risks. Who benefits when one side gives up without a struggle? The Haves or the Have nots? Frederick Douglass reminds us: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did. It never will."
When the Third Way advocates insist that we share a common good; when they refuse to recognize that the interests of the oppressed and the interests of the oppressors don't exist on the same moral plane; when they counsel us to stop being partisans of those interests--they're not being non or post partisan; they're siding with the powers that be.
In the same way, Obama's notion of change claims to transcend the politics of interest while it steers sharply to the right. What kind of change does America need? Above all, America needs a change of heart: her people need to give up selfishness; all Americans rich and poor, white and black; the hod carrier and the hedge fund operator must give up self-interest; stop always asking "what's in it for me?"