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Ron Radosh

From ACORN Grows a Big Nut

April 25th, 2010 - 3:55 pm

As Alinsky explained in his classic book, Rules for Radicals:

As an organizer I start from the world as it is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be — it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.

Second, one has to pay attention to her nonsensical claim — which truly approaches the bizarre — that our current period “is going to dwarf the McCarthy era,” which as the Left regularly asserts, was a period of great repression by the government approaching a “reign of terror.” Lewis even asserts, referring to the internment of Japanese Americans by the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, that the new repression will “dwarf” that internment. It will also, she says, dwarf that of the time of Jim  Crow and segregation. She goes on to assure her audience that she is not engaging in “rhetoric or hyperbole,” but simply pointing to the evidence of what she says is already a “brutal and deceptive” repression.

What, one must ask, is Lewis talking about? Oh, she says she is talking about the Tea Party Movement — which to date, has held peaceful protests concentrating on the deficit and taxes, and has repressed no one at all. They are not in any position to do so, even if they wanted such an outcome. In fact, perhaps what bothers her is that this movement is precisely the kind of popular people’s movement on the streets that the Left is usually so fond of. Recall their slogan, “The streets belong to the people.” Maybe her problem is that now the people on them are the wrong ones.

Writing about her comments, Morgen Richmond makes this point:

While she certainly seems sincere, it is almost unimaginable that she truly believes the coming conservative re-alignment will lead to a new era of McCarthyism, segregation – and internment!? More than likely, considering the audience, she was purposefully exaggerating in order to build momentum towards her recruitment pitch. But in case there is any doubt, I think I can safely speak for most conservatives in saying that our only interest is in achieving (overwhelming) victory at the ballot box, and then beginning to get the growth of Big Government and federal spending under control.

Richmond may be right, but I think his take on her words comes from a lack of familiarity with how the old Left argues and thinks. Despite the fact that the Obama administration controls both houses of Congress and the Executive Branch, and the President will soon choose another nominee for the Supreme Court (who will probably get the post) ,the Left always acts as if it is in danger of imminent fascist repression — since the capitalist power base is still intact and the socialist revolution has not yet taken place. Until then, any victories no matter how solid are seen as transitory. It is not, as Richmond thinks, simply because Lewis seems to have “a persecution complex,” given the self-imposed setbacks ACORN has suffered in the past few months.

Most important is another point Richmond makes: that ACORN has been until recently viewed as a “fairly mainstream, non-profit organization,” not as a radical or revolutionary socialist group. Indeed, it has received not only government funds through contracts, but major grants from big corporations such as Bank of America, Citbank and JP Morgan-Chase. Could Lenin’s insight into the capitalist mind apply here when he quipped that the  Bolsheviks would “sell them the rope with which we will hang them”?

Then, Lewis raises the bogeyman of racism.  Again, no matter that a popular African-American political figure is president of the United States. The Tea Party movement proves that the racists are on the march. Her goal, however, is an America filled “with more black people than white people,” which will then have the majority necessary to lead the country to real socialism. This, of course, is a new version of the 60’s theory of the black underclass as the new proletariat that would fulfill Marx’s prophecy of a class that would be the agent of change for revolution.

As Lewis put it:

The future of our country is people of color. And how that’s going to change our psyche and our economics, this is why folks are grabbing so hard to change the economic paradigm, because we gettin’ ready to have a majority country of people of color. And the fear of a black planet is real.

What has to be done, she admonishes, is for the young socialists to join the Hispanics and blacks together in a new coalition for socialism. She ends her remarks with: “That will be the battle for the kind of government that we have. That will be an economic battle of epic proportions. Immigration, self-sufficiency, and the people united.”

She left off the old refrain “will never be defeated.” Perhaps that is because, the way things are moving, she is afraid her hoped-for agenda will be.

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