Editorials in Europe celebrate the victory of someone who does not belong to the WASP elite as the restoration and confirmation of the American Dream—a Black man as elected monarch. The nightmare of the Bush years was supposedly just an aberration that failed, a deviation that is behind us now; the true, liberal America of opportunities is back, bright eyes, bushy tail.
The lower and middle class had enough of the anti-social and war-mongering course of that coalition of protestant fundamentalists and neo-conservatives, and voted accordingly. The majority of white America, however, still voted for the zany duo McCain&Palin.
One element that makes the United States so attractive is the apparent absence of formal exclusion for social advancement, and Obama seems to be the epitome of such a rise. For most Americans, such an ascent is of course impossible, especially for people who are not White settlers from Europe, but it was enough to maintain the attractiveness of the myth.
The obverse of this liberalism is the assimilation to American civil religion, the deification of the individual realising itself on the market. With this creed, politics in the proper meaning of the word—mass activism for self-determination against the capitalist elite—is inconceivable. Two elite parties alternate in power, and the more alike their programme becomes, the more vicious they get at each other. Within that framework, politics becomes a show, the domain of actors and cheap populism, promising anything but without further ado returning to business as usual, so next times the dupes are going to vote for the other party.
The price for Obama’s victory was the total adaptation to that system, which was obvious for anyone who did not close their eyes. Power remains in the hands of the apparatus of the elites, either way, and that Obama is Black is actually his only oppositional quality.
Who would seriously believe that Obama could or would turn the United States into a welfare state? Even without the recession that was hardly conceivable. At most, there will be a reform of the health care system, but less in the interest of the working class than in the interest of corporate America; they have long been sick of their obligations for company health plans.
Moreover, who would seriously believe that foreign policy is going to change under Obama? The US administration arrogates to be some kind of world government. The American Empire was founded under Clinton, at that time still clad in human-rights rhetoric. Bush was forced to defend it by fire and sword in a Christian-capitalist crusade. Whether liberal or conservative, the oligarchy would not think for a second to give up even one iota of their global power. The liberals are more pragmatic about form and decoration, but they share the belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States.
International and local conflicts can take different cultural forms, but the core is always the same: self-determination against the United States, against the leading power of capitalism and imperialism. Is Obama going to ease the strangulation of the Palestinian people? Is he going to allow Iran to become a regional power? Is he going to pull out of Afghanistan? Is he going to respect Russia’s backyard? Is he going to stop the expansion of NATO? Obama has already answered “no” to most of these questions, and we can imagine what his answer to the remaining questions is going to be.
Many people believe that he is going to at least withdraw the US troops from Iraq. Will he really be able to do that, without a substantial loss of US influence? We doubt it.
Obama’s choices for his teammates speak for themselves: Joe Biden was a champion for the attack on Iraq. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had had attacked Bush for being “too soft” on the Palestinians. One candidate for the secretary of defence is Richard Holbrooke, one of the architects of the war against Yugoslavia, with excellent contacts to the neo-cons. Old Paul Volcker might become responsible for the economy; in the early 80s, he had been one of the chief designers of neo-liberalism. Or Robert Rubin. He had that job under Clinton and was responsible for the deregulation of the banking sector.
The resistance of the disenfranchised is going to continue; thus the permanent war is the sine qua non to preserve US global hegemony. For the extremist Americanism of George W. Bush, the resistance was a nut too hard to crack and it upset the allies, who felt redundant. Bush became a lame duck. Who else than a Black man could render the American Dream credible again? Obama should thus be the better warlord.
The European elites are delighted, from the French socialists to Berlusconi. With a hint to the US president’s “tan”, pro-American policy should sell once again. Those elites are an integral part of the American Empire.
We insist: The beginning of the path to comprehensive human emancipation is the struggle against the American Empire, because it is the actual form of contemporary capitalism.