Monday, September 01, 2008

Read: [progressivesforobama] Revolutionary Potential of Obama Movement


September 1, 2007 @9:00 AM-PST

Gracias for sharing Hermano Keith ~ The below is a good comprehensive analysis by the Pirate Caucus about the positive impact that the Obama Movement can have on future revolutionizing activity and how we can wisely use it in order to raise revolutionary consciousness in general. People should rationally take it for what it is worth with a graind of salt and a granule of sugar. Let others write their own analyses instead of always reacting to the analyses of others. Each of us has our own truth. We definately need more writers, bloggers, videos and other forms of mass communication producing stuff so that we can utilize the Power of the Internet wisely with care and compassion.

I am glad you did not leave out the 's' word: socialism. It is clear that we all need to study the basics of economics and offer people a tangile alternative to corporate capitalism. As should always fathom connected reality on at least a global scale, if not a cosmic one. We are not alone.

I myself am first and foremost a humane being in what I consider an inhumane society here now inside the United States. I also identify myself as a Latino of indigenous ancestry.

At 56-years of Earthlife I have witnessed a lot of comings and goings in different liberation movements over the years, especialy the last few decades, including the 60's and 70's. For many of us survivors of those times I suspect that we had no idea that the whole situation was as big and hairy as we first thought, especially in light of class-race-nationalist dynamics inside the U.S.A.

We must always be capable of thinking outside the box, in our case that means outside the borders of the U.S.A. in order to embrace the majority of the people upon Mother Earth who reside in the Third World of Latin America, Africa and Asia, not inside the United States, though many White Americans are convinced that they are the center of the cosmos!

We should come to terms with the idea that we are in a state of war and for many of us in the barrios and ghettos inside AmeriKKKa we have always been in a state of war. Recall Mao's dictum that politics is war without bloodshed. I am employed in a Emergency Shelter for American refugees who have fallen through the tattered shreads of the social safety net and see daily the curse of poverty and nightmare of homelessness inside the richest nation of the world. Every day is another day of battle, to eat hand to mouth, to find shelter, to survive in the concrete jungle with predators stalking around and through it all hold onto one's balance, sanity and humanity.

For starters, we all need to get rid of the archaic left vs. right approach to politics in general as all is not black and white, definitely not for me being of La Raza Cosmica. The role of Latinos has largely been ignored by the media and others, yet Latinos will continue to be a main factor in the outcome of events and should not be underestimated in our profound calculations to great peril. The only valid approach to 'the immigration issue' is a blanket general amnesty for those who are Mexican citizens. It brings into question the whole idea of even having false borders. The global economy dominated by corporate capitalism has no set borders, why should impoverished humans? We should all be citizens of the world not confined within artificial borderlines. How many White Americans can wrap their minds around that idea?!?

it ain't brain surgery. Clearly White racism in general and racism against Black in particular is still very much alive, well and widespread inside the United States, even among many non-White peoples! The Obama Campaign calls our racism, subconscious or not, into check and all of us must root out any remants of racism, nationalism and culturalism in our own collective consciousness.

I myself am now a registered member of the Democratic Party, but I know that the whole electoral system is governed by the two-headed monster: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. At heart I have been a community organizer since the late 60's and know that the basis of all mass mobilization is one-on-one educating, organizing, networking and relating to the people's existing level of consciousness.

Our common denominator as human beings remains the same: basic survival needs, not political parties or passings winds of doctrine. We feed consciousness by feeding people.

I stilll see the need for alternative political parties and there is room enough for all. At the same time we should always uphold our sacred humane rights, including our right to armed self-defense. We here in the U.S.A. are in the most violent society in all of human history.

We should all understand that we are already living under a mature brand of domestic fascism inside the United States that takes the form of good ol' Yankee Imperialism outside of the U.S.A. The war rages on!!! Venceremos Unidos!

Come Together and Create!
Peter S. Lopez aka:
Email: Sacramento, California, Aztlan

----- Original Message ----
From: Keith Joseph <>
Sent: Monday, September 1, 2008 7:00:48 AM
Subject: [progressivesforobama] Revolutionary Potential of Obama Movement

This was written by a friend. It is analysis of the economic, social, and poliical changes that made the rise of Obama possible and the ways that we can develop the movement in a revolutionary direction.

The Revolutionary Potential of the Obama Movement
by X.[1]
(piratecaucus. com)

The Obama movement is a spontaneous upsurge of the most advanced workers in the country. It is an emerging class alliance of the progressive social forces of the new economy.[2] Whereas Clinton and McCain supporters desperately cling to the old economy of the 20th century (each in their own way), the diverse constituencies uniting around the Obama campaign are natural economic, political and cultural allies in the 21st century. The millions of students, Afro-Americans, Latinos[3], grassroots and netroots activists, unions in expanding industries, technicians, artists, engineers, and other professionals that support Obama's candidacy all share an unyielding commitment to democracy, creativity, productivity, diversity, collaboration and progress.[4] They also share uncanny abilities at self-organization, mobilization and networking (each in their own way). They represent the potential for a revolutionary democratic coalition that could challenge the unfettered rule of capitalism in the US if we, as progressive and revolutionary organizers, recognize the opportunity before us and do all that we must to empower this movement to come into its own, strike independently and realize its aspirations of freedom for all.

Waiting for Lefty

We cannot succeed in this critical task unless we shake off the ideological hangover of the traditional US Left that remains mired in 20th century worldviews rooted in the disappearing old economy. Among the "established" groups contending today for the title of "leadership" on the grassroots activist Left, proposals for activity in this landmark election year range from timidity to wishful thinking to nihilism.

Some recommend that we support Obama unconditionally so as to not jeopardize his chances to defeat the Republicans (and we know how well this worked out in 2004 with the Kerry campaign). Others propose that we give Obama only "conditional" support while criticizing him from the "left" (as if the Obama campaign cared about the support of hopelessly fragmented and isolated activists). Others yet remain on the sidelines as armchair critics of the two-party system (stating an obvious problem and offering no viable solution). Worst of all, the most recklessly self-important propose to "recreate 68" and glorify pointless disruptions with dangerous consequences at the hands of police well trained in "crowd control." This last and most reprehensible proposal willfully ignores that 1968 saw the assassinations of the most progressive mainstream political leaders (Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy), ushered in the collapse of the revolutionary Left (from Students for a Democratic Society to the Black Panther Party) and gave us the Nixon White House that served as the training ground for the maniacal Neo-Cons currently misruling the country (Cheney anyone?).

The common thread in the traditional US Left narrative is the failure to comprehend – or even to attempt to comprehend– the profound political, economic, cultural and social changes that have taken place in the capitalist system in the past decades. This revolution in the production process transformed the US economy from an industrial "old economy" mostly based on physical labor to an information- based "new economy" mostly based on mental labor. Each of these economies is powered by very different classes of workers and capitalists. For the past several decades, these various class forces all contended over who will control the future. The forces of the "new economy" steadily grew along with relentless technological development while the forces of the "old economy" desperately clung to power in one incarnation or another.[5] And whereas this complex struggle mostly took place between different sections of capitalists financing the political campaigns of Democrats and Republicans, the sudden rise of the Obama movement represents not only the final ascendency of the big capitalists of the new economy in the US but also the first mass mobilization of the workers of the new economy whose newfound means and ability to produce and reproduce our society has emboldened them to stake their own claim to the future (if still so tentative).

Whether they call themselves anarchists, socialists, communists, radicals or situationists; whether they are committed to identity politics or to organizing "industrial workers", the "poor", the "oppressed" or the "alienated", most leftist activists cannot account for –and much less take an active role in – the rising 21st century progressive class alliance because they rely on outdated understandings of what makes people revolutionary. They do not grasp that all of the diverse constituencies coalescing in the Obama movement play key roles in the new economy. They do not grasp that all of these constituencies are natural allies because together they possess the means and the ability to empower the great majority to take control of society, rescuing it from the capitalist system that can never deliver on the promise of democracy. Predictably, traditional leftist activists do not offer any plan to engage the Obama movement in any concrete activity (beyond tailing the Obama campaign and encouraging voter registration or protesting it to no avail), vainly hoping to draw a few stragglers to the musty old leftist political programs of yesteryear.

Revolutionaries actually interested in building a new society based on the principles of democracy, equality and progress need to do more than talk or posture about challenging the absolute rule of capital (or imperialism or the "system"). The Obama movement gives us a first glimpse of the extraordinary potential of the rising 21st century progressive class alliance coming together at breakneck speed before our eyes (and hinting at the potential speed of radical changes to come in the near future). Our primary concern should not be Obama the candidate, and much less the Obama campaign. We must focus on the role we must play in the Obama movement. And in a much broader sense, we must focus on the role we must play in the 21st century progressive class alliance that began before, currently energizes, and will outlast the Obama movement far into the future.

It is incumbent upon those of us committed to revolutionary democracy to:

  • understand what 21st century progressive class forces are coalescing in the Obama movement, how they came to be, why they are revolutionary and what they could accomplish should they consolidate into a revolutionary democratic coalition independent of the Obama campaign;
  • understand what we as revolutionary organizers must do to facilitate this consolidation and empower the Obama movement to become fully conscious of its own revolutionary potential;
  • develop and put forth our own proposals, analyses, plans for action and strategy for revolutionary democracy and engage the Obama movement in concrete activity to build and seize revolutionary democratic political, economic, cultural and social power wherever they are.

Obama's candidacy has revealed and greatly accelerated the unification process of the 21st progressive class alliance. It is up to us to organize and empower this alliance to become conscious of itself as a revolutionary democratic movement that can lead us into the future.

A Catalyst for a 21st Century Progressive Class Alliance

Barack Obama has shown great instinct and intelligence for a Democratic politician.[6] He has become larger than life in US politics, mesmerizing people with his oratory skills and carefully crafted message of hope, empowerment and change. He has gathered around him a new breed of political professionals – a campaign team that mastered the evolving rules of the political game and outplayed the seemingly unbeatable Clinton juggernaut.

But Obama owes most of his success to a mass movement that he did not build. Unlike the Clintons who spent decades painstakingly assembling a political machine in the old economy[7], his campaign took advantage of a new situation and produced with astonishing speed a modern political vehicle for a 21st century progressive class alliance. Obama suddenly became a catalyst for rising social forces that naturally belong together in the new economy.

The massive coalition that buoys Obama's candidacy arose spontaneously for the most part (even if his brightest operatives anticipated this upsurge to some degree). Long before the campaign even started, each constituency in the Obama movement had already networked itself around the most creative cultural forms (from jazz to rock to hip hop), modern communication means (Facebook, blogs, etc.), productive methods of collaborative work (open source, project management), leading-edge technology (cell phones, PDAs, laptops), inspiring commitment to democracy (civil rights struggle) and/or most of the industries that have a future in the global economy.[8]

It is no accident that college students, Afro-Americans and IT industry workers find themselves in the same campaign. Nor is it an accident that they are joined by antiwar activists, growing unions that focus on organizing, and recently naturalized immigrants. To paraphrase Obama's insightful mobilizing themes, the alliance consolidating around his campaign represents the future. It is powered by those who believe "Yes, we can!"

The "Creative Class"

From the very beginning, the Obama campaign expressly reached out to the "creative class"[9]: the engineers, artists, technicians and other professionals that work in the most dynamic sectors of the new economy. These "creative workers" use the most advanced forces of production and communications every day (internet, software, cell phones, etc.) and consistently develop new ideas, products and processes in fast-paced environments. Most of them live and work in or near vibrant cities. They value diversity, innovation, collaboration and freedom of thought and action.[10]

Up until recently, this "creative class" lacked the size, economic power and points of entry to have a substantial impact on national politics. It could not compete with the dominant political organizations of the old economy (established business lobbies, industrial unions, religious associations, etc.)[11] But the tremendous growth of the new economy has given "creative workers" the numbers (over 35% of the working population), the means (disposable income) and the tools (internet) to make a difference in elections.

Many political pioneers of the "creative class" joined the Dean campaign in 2003 where they collaborated with other key constituencies that would later join the Obama movement (students, grassroots activists, etc.) In 2007, after years of hated misrule by the most backward sectors[12] of the old economy in the Bush administration, the bulk of the "creative class" rose up to support the candidate of the new economy.[13] The politically- minded "creative"[14] workers quickly mobilized friends and colleagues to power the Obama candidacy with money and votes. And they did so using their own organizing skills and their own pre-existing social networks.

The IT industry provides a striking example of the key role played by the "creative class" in building the Obama movement. Early in his campaign, Obama spoke to the concerns of programmers, engineers, analysts and myriad other cyber-workers by proposing to appoint a national Chief Technology Officer in the White House, by supporting Net Neutrality[15] and by welcoming internet technology as a shaping force in his campaign. He garnered so much support in the industry that even CEOs and legendary entrepreneurs backed his candidacy as early as 2007.[16] The "creative class" in the IT sector helped the Obama campaign develop the most efficient, interactive online operation: a fundraising and mobilization engine that eclipsed all other campaigns in money raised and volunteers recruited .[17]

Those same IT "creative workers" built the Web 2.0 (Myspace, Facebook, Youtube, etc.), that empowered a new generation to come into its own and… join the Obama movement.[18]

The Students

Obama's game-changing caucus victory in Iowa could not have happened without the active participation of college students. Held during winter break, the first contest of the primary season required that college students return to campus early to vote.[19] These students – perennially dismissed by the traditional media for their supposed apathy – not only put Obama over the top in Iowa (crippling both the Edwards and Clinton campaigns), they spontaneously rose by the tens of thousands in the following months to become the bulk of the ground forces in the Obama movement.[20]

The O Team sparked this upsurge by making the youth vote a genuine priority. They hired and empowered experienced youth organizers.[21] They provided students with the most interactive website and web applications, enabling them to promote the campaign to their friends with familiar tools. Obama's college and high school volunteers ran with the ball and organized themselves, often forcing the campaign to catch up.

The youth that joined the Obama movement already knew how to organize socially. They knew how to build and maintain extensive networks of contacts (online friends) using Myspace and Facebook, how to generate their own ideas and content to broadcast to the world on Youtube. And they already yearned for change. They were raised in the shadow of the Bush presidency and the madness of the Iraq war, listening to their favorite entertainers ridicule the backward Republicans (and cowardly Democrats!) each night on the Daily Show and in the words of Kanye West, Green Day, even Eminem. The more politically oriented among them had already gotten their first (and sobering) political experience in the Dean campaign.

Thousands of students volunteered for Howard Dean with great enthusiasm in the last presidential election cycle. How did the O Team manage to attract so many more to work with even greater zeal? The Obama campaign did not merely inherit from the Dean campaign the themes (opposition to the Iraq war) and constituencies (the "creative class" which most college students will become a part of after they graduate) that speak to the youth's future. In Obama, the students found a candidate who is culturally relevant, who speaks their language.

At 46, Barack Obama is closer in age to the youth than any other candidate since JFK (to whom he is often compared). But what truly sets him apart from the quirky "good doctor"[22] is that he is cool. Miles Davis cool. Jay-Z cool.[23] Obama smoothly projects his embrace of the broad spectrum of Afro-American culture: hip hop and jazz, b-ball and dance, urban style and humor, poise and a preacher's oratory, and a more muted but unmistakable evocation of the legendary civil rights struggle legacy.

Today's students grew up long after desegregation and most of them listened to hip hop and R&B at some point in their youth. They watched icons like Michael Jordan, P Diddy and Oprah Winfrey on TV and MLK's speeches in social science class. They joined the Obama campaign in unprecedented numbers because it represents the political ascendancy of a revolutionized culture that they adopted and made their own[24] – a modern and creative culture that was largely developed by yet another constituency of the Obama movement.


The unprecedented level of support among Afro-Americans for a black presidential candidate is the most misunderstood aspect of the Obama movement not only among the traditional media but also much of the US Left.[26] It is routinely dismissed as a "race-based" vote.[27] Yet neither Shirley Chisholm ('72) nor Jesse Jackson ('84, '88) nor Al Sharpton ('04) ever received over 90% of the Black vote when they ran for president. [28] More to the point, Obama trailed far behind Clinton[29] in support among black voters until after his first victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Black America began to support Obama in huge numbers once it learned about his campaign's ability to win an election almost entirely with white votes.[30] And not just any white votes: those of white voters that they could credibly unite with strategically. In previous election cycles, the Democratic Party inevitably offered black voters the same tactical alliance: vote with economically- depressed white workers to support or protect a few governmental assistance programs. Many of those white workers of the old economy –heavily concentrated in and around the Appalachian region– have yet to break out of the historical cycle of racism handed down to them since the days of slavery. They have failed time and again to support Afro-Americans on a range of critical issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, housing and employment discrimination, spiraling imprisonment rates, etc.[31] The unreliable support of those "Reagan Democrats" has also led the Democratic Party to many defeats.[32] What Obama offered to black voters instead is a chance to unite with an energized youth and a "creative class" that both celebrate urban life in the US.[33]

Black voters found a perfect fit in the Obama movement and not merely because the candidate is black! They found a new class alliance that for the time being welcomes them as comrades in struggle. The millions of youth and "creative class" workers behind Obama's candidacy are not stereotypical do-gooders that want to "save" black people. They look up to Obama as an inspiring leader. They have invested their votes, money and effort into building the Obama movement to fight for the freedoms that they want – above all, freedom from the reactionary Republican rule that the Democratic Party has repeatedly failed to defeat in recent decades. But above all –and despite all the "post-race" talk –the youth and "creative class" unapologetically embrace American urban culture and come closest to acknowledging the sophistication and magnitude of the historic contributions that black Americans have made to society.[34]

Afro-Americans[35] constitute a most productive and most creative class of their own.[36] Since the first enslaved Africans were deprived of their languages, songs, rituals and societal structures, black Americans have been forced to reinvent themselves over and over as a people and culture. Through centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and the ongoing institutional racism of US society, they continuously transformed music, dancing, singing, humor, fashion, writing and the spoken word – assimilating myriad ideas and forms from other cultures surrounding them and, with incredible ingenuity, fusing them with the unique African legacy they salvaged.[37] The cultural productivity and creativity of Afro-Americans is unmatched: at least three times in the past century they created entirely new musical paradigms (jazz, rock'n roll and hip hop)[38] that changed the way music is played all over the world!

Beginning with the one of-a-kind experience of Reconstruction following the US civil war and again with the Black Nationalist movement of the 1960's, black Americans also created the most dynamic community-based experimental institutions: revitalized churches that produced the best orators (leading up to Malcolm and MLK), theatres and writing circles that revolutionized both content and form, free schools, poetry slams, jazz clubs, the chittlin' circuit, etc. – parallel institutions that laid a foundation for dual power and the practice of revolutionary democracy. It is upon this social and cultural foundation that the civil rights struggle of the 1960's unfolded and inspired the last great mass upsurge of progressive political activity in the US.

The racist contempt in some corners that dismisses black Americans as an "entertaining" people is a despicable expression of widespread ignorance about the role of culture in general and of Afro-American culture in particular.[39] Culture is the principal means available for the transmission of ideas.[40] Through a continuous, collective process of refinement, it filters out irrelevant data and packages useful ideas in easily accessible form. The most advanced computer systems available cannot hope to emulate this extremely complex, self-generating social process. Essentially, culture is the most advanced organization of information. Antiquated cultural forms and expressions convey information that is no longer relevant in both form and content. That is why a medieval sonnet about applying leeches as a medical treatment sounds absurd to us today (or gruesomely humorous). Inversely, the most modern culture is the ideal vehicle for conveying the most modern ideas.

Afro-Americans, in the face of constant cultural adversity, created time and again the bulk of the most modern American culture.[41] They developed the most advanced organization of cultural information that over the past hundred years became the dominant component of popular culture in the US, especially in vibrant urban environments.[42] American youth and the most advanced workers in the US have embraced the revolutionary cultural contributions of black Americans for decades. It is no accident that few people in dynamic industries listen to bluegrass or dance the polka. It is no coincidence that the brokerage firm Charles Schwab uses be-bop jazz rather than classical music for its latest TV commercial aimed at the "creative class". And it is no twist of fate that the youth, the "creative class" and Afro-Americans coalesced so rapidly in the Obama movement. [43]

Predictably, the predominantly white voters of the old economy fell for the "white man's burden" message of the pandering Clinton campaign – further validating the wisdom of black voters that joined the new class alliance offered to them by the Obama camp.

As for the "creative class" and the youth, they found in black America the staunchest of allies. In the lingering aftermath of the lethally criminal Katrina debacle, no one can match the energy and focus of black voters ready to elect Obama and to drive Bush Republicans from power by any means necessary.[44]

The advanced social forces fighting for the future found a home in the Obama movement where they currently enjoy a high degree of social, political, cultural and even economic[45] unity. As this movement grew in power during the primaries, it also began to attract lower-income, "blue collar" workers in expanding industries. The unions that focus on organizing because they can increase their membership continued to split from the unions that struggle to survive in today's economy. And they cast their lot with the Obama movement.

The Organizing Unions[46]

In 2005, following years of internal struggle over the direction of the declining US labor movement, a number of unions split from the AFL-CIO and formed the Change to Win coalition. Much of the US Left has missed the significance of this event, focusing instead on legitimate but extraneous complaints that both factions suffer from bureaucratic leadership and undemocratic practices. The schism in US labor is critically important because it represents yet another dimension in the struggle between the old and new economy – a struggle that continues to play itself out with the rise of the Obama movement.

The unions that left to form the Change to Win coalition want the labor movement to focus its energy on organizing – on recruiting new members and expanding the ranks of unionized workers. Not surprisingly, Change to Win is led by unions in industries with much potential for growth in the new economy: Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Teamsters, Laborers' International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE/HERE.[47] The major unions that remain in the AFL-CIO belong mostly to shrinking industries of the old economy that are bleeding membership: United Auto Workers (UAW), United Steelworkers, International Association of Machinists, Communications Workers of America and the American Federation of State and County and Municipal Employees. These unions, predictably, want to continue to invest labor's resources to elect politicians that will protect their old economy jobs now threatened by the globalizing capitalist market.

For decades, the Democratic Party wedded itself to the dominant unions of the old economy and obtained labor's almost unconditional support in exchange for protectionist promises that it mostly couldn't or wouldn't fulfill after each election.[48] As the new economy grew however, a host of industries expanded their labor force with workers that cannot readily be replaced by automation or outsourcing: health aides, janitors, child care workers, truck drivers, salespeople, etc. Many unions organizing in those industries have grown in leaps and bounds by recruiting new members. And they fought for years inside the AFL-CIO to change the focus of US labor from the past (lobbying for protection of the old economy) to the future (organizing millions in the new economy).

It should come as no surprise that the Change to Win unions split from the AFL-CIO following the debacle of the 2004 presidential elections. US labor had poured all its resources in the Kerry campaign and watched the Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again. Feeling the burning shame of Bush's inexplicable (re)election, the growing unions of the new economy set out to chart their own course. By the time Obama took off following the Iowa caucuses – they easily aligned with his campaign's focus on organizing the social forces of the new economy. On the day of their presidential endorsement in February 2008, Change to Win chair Anna Burger issued a statement that crystallized the logic of their entry into the Obama movement:

"Change to Win was founded in 2005 to give a voice to the tens of millions of workers in the industries of the new economy-workers who are struggling everyday to achieve the American Dream for themselves and their families …We are the America of tomorrow. We are the union movement of the future."[49]

The leaderships of the AFL-CIO and of Change to Win are not all that different in their motives: both want their organizations to retain (and maybe expand) their power. Both leaderships remain bureaucratic, undemocratic and ineffectual in many ways, to the great frustration of rank-and-file members.[50] But by focusing on organizing workers in growing industries, Change to Win firmly aligns a section of the US labor movement with the progressive social forces of the new economy coalescing in the Obama movement: the mostly non-unionized "creative class", the youth and black America.

As the union movement of the old economy, the AFL-CIO represents a greater percentage of higher-wage, older white workers struggling to keep the gains they made over the years[51] – a voting base weary of rocking the boat that Clinton decided to pander to in a vain attempt to save her mismanaged campaign. The Change to Win unions for their part represent a younger, more diverse workforce still toiling for lower wages – workers that have every reason to take on the capitalist system so they can build a better future themselves and their families.[52] As such, they belong in the Obama movement. And the fastest growing group among them comes from another key constituency without which Obama cannot win.


The story of the complicated relationship between Latino voters and the Obama movement still unfolds. It requires much more depth (and investigation) than is provided here. However, a few points can be addressed at this stage: namely, the role of Latinos in the campaign thus far; the potential for a significant increase in their participation in the Obama movement; and the logic of their belonging in a 21st century progressive class alliance.

Barack Obama is no stranger to building an electoral coalition of Afro-American and Latino voters. He did so quite successfully while running for office in Illinois since 2000, picking up the successful legacy of Harold Washington who defeated the racist Daley machine in the 80's thanks to a "black & brown" alliance. A striking similarity between the Obama and Washington campaigns exists with regard to Latino voters. As Juan Rangel, executive director of the Chicago-based United Neighborhood Organization puts it[53]:

"Latinos did not come out in big numbers and vote for Harold Washington in the primary." (…) "But when the general election came around, Latinos backed the Democratic nominee. I would venture if Obama wins the nomination, Latinos will come out in big numbers for Barack."

Polls confirm that since Hillary Clinton "suspended" her campaign Latino support for Obama has consolidated.[54] And unlike Washington, who went from 10% Latino support in the primary to 60% in the general election, Obama already garnered almost a third of Latino voters in the primaries and even won a majority of Latino votes in Connecticut.[55]

Some lingering resentment related to economic competition between black and Latino workers did seem to impact Obama's original support among Latino voters.[56] And the patently biased coverage of Obama by the reactionary Spanish-speaking corporate Univision TV network also had an impact. But the traditional media hype over supposed anti-Obama feelings in the Latino community appears quite overblown. Obama's lower number of Latino votes early in the primary contest had much more to do with the Clintons' popularity with Latinos, which was built over decades.[57]

There is every reason to believe that Latino participation in the Obama movement will continue to grow in the months to come, barring the unexpected. The contrast between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party could not be sharper than on the issue of immigration. As much as McCain struggles to distance himself from them, the most backward nativists still make up a sizable plurality of the Republican Party. And their shockingly outspoken racism towards immigrants offends many in the Latino community who sharply recall their family's own immigration struggles – not to mention those that have undocumented friends and relatives in the US today.

As the largest and poorest of immigrant populations, Latinos must align with the progressive social forces of the 21st century in order to challenge the status quo and get access to the means of building a better life. Millions among them are still denied the right to vote (along with the right to be safe in their persons and possessions! ) The full extent of Latino political power in the US belongs to the future and requires citizenship for the mass of the undocumented. Regardless of the lip service paid to naturalization by McCain, Bush and even Karl Rove, the party of immigrants has long been the Democratic Party – today more than ever with a presidential candidate who is himself the son of an immigrant.

Beyond a traditional allegiance to the Democratic Party however, Latinos truly belong in the Obama movement in terms of cultural contributions to American urban life;[58] proportion among the youth;[59] plurality of at the bottom rungs of expanding new industries;[60] and substantial growth among the "creative class"[61]. Above all, more and more Latino immigrants bring with them the revolutionary democratic spirit sweeping Latin America in the past ten years. Starting with the rise of the Chavista movement in Venezuela in 1998[62], Left/Liberal alliances won elections in Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and even Paraguay. The Latin American continent now leads the world in pace of progressive and revolutionary change.[63] The impact that Latino immigrants could have upon an emerging revolutionary democratic coalition in the US cannot be overstated. It remains to be seen whether the Obama campaign on the one hand, and the Obama movement on the other, will seize the opportunity to welcome such valuable new allies.[64]

A Note on Grassroots & Netroots Activists

Last but not least, a subset of the Obama movement requires special mention. A sizable portion of grassroots antiwar activists, liberal rank-and-file Democratic Party activists and Left-leaning online bloggers[65] (the netroots) threw their support behind Obama early on.[66] Representing all the social forces coalescing in the new progressive 21st century class alliance, activists among the youth, the "creative class", organizing unions, and black and Latino America connected the Obama movement into a highly-communicativ e network singularly united in its opposition to the Iraq war.[67]

The networking grassroots and netroots activists also mobilized the Obama movement to break the hold of old economy forces on the Democratic Party, casting aside the powerful Clinton machine.[68] The Obama campaign for its part aligned itself with Howard Dean's 50-state strategy[69] to defeat Republicans nationwide. It also exhibited friendly neutrality towards liberal Democratic Party activists that used primaries to try to replace right-wing Democratic incumbents with more progressive candidates.[70] Obama has kept most progressive activists at arm's length[71] –which is not surprising for a "mainstream" presidential candidate. But his repeated references to his own past experience as a community organizer constitute an unmistakable message to the grassroots.

The synergistic relationship between grassroots and netroots activists and the Obama campaign is very important. It encouraged a complete split with the Clinton machine which led the Obama campaign to engage millions of volunteers largely outside of the traditional Democratic Party structure. And since Obama needed the progressive forces of the 21st century to defeat the backward pull of the 20th century, his campaign had to allow the Obama movement to develop and grow on its own. As much as the O-Team projects an image of cool control, it has struggled like an apprentice wizard to contain the spontaneous upsurge of energy it unleashed.

The Spontaneous Upsurge

The Obama movement is a spontaneous upsurge of the most advanced social forces in the US today, sparked and channeled by the Obama campaign (beginning with Obama himself). The classes and groups coalescing in this progressive 21st century alliance did not come together on account of Obama's great charisma.[72] They have been organizing themselves socially, culturally, economically and politically for decades. Although they remained relatively isolated from one another until recently, they finally united in a bold bid to assert the hegemony of the new economy over the old.

Unlike the other two major presidential campaigns (Clinton and McCain), the Obama campaign could not rely during the primaries on an established political machine built on decades of favors exchanged with political operatives at every level of a party – it had to ride the wave that is the Obama movement. Stories abound of gatherings of students, Afro-Americans, professionals, etc. using their existing networks (whether a community church or Facebook) to start organizing on their own before the Obama campaign ever opened an office in their town.[73] The O Team very wisely welcomed this spontaneous upsurge of support and deftly incorporated it into their flexible campaign structure. Sometimes, the sudden overflow of volunteers at campaign offices reached such a magnitude that campaign staff struggled to find things for them to do.

The Obama campaign directs but does not control the Obama movement – no matter how good it is at looking like it's in charge.[74] In cities large and small, volunteers from diverse backgrounds often worked side by side with little direction or immediate supervision. And through them, the advanced social forces of the Obama movement ever so slowly begin to know each other as natural allies.[75] The activity of the progressive class alliance in the Obama movement remains instinctual and narrow. The Obama campaign gives it only a tactical focus ("win the election"). And another leadership has yet to arise to empower the Obama movement to become aware of its tremendous capacity for revolutionary change.

The Emerging Revolutionary Democratic Coalition

The constituencies in the Obama movement are the most productive social forces in the US today. The economic sectors where they work generate the most surplus and the most successful new industries. At their core, the "creative class" that draws from the ranks of the entire movement (students, Afro-Americans, etc.) generates the leading ideas, methodologies and processes that will shape the future – much more independently of "bosses," "owners" and "investors" than any previous generation of workers. The 21st century progressive class alliance lives and breathes constant creativity, high productivity and independent activity.

This impacts each constituency' s potential for political action: The massive pro-immigrant rallies of 2006, the rapid mobilization around the Jena 6 case, the sudden rebirth of Students for a Democratic Society[76] and birth of the Tent State University movement[77], labor's ambitious new organizing drives all testify to the organic organizing skills of Latinos, Afro-Americans, students and a re-energized labor movement. Evidence also points to the creative class becoming more politically active in all US cities where it is steadily growing,[78] demonstrating an instinctual yearning for local democracy.[79]

Still disjointed and barely conscious of itself, the new class alliance in the Obama movement already produces and reproduces the new economy and much of what is left of the old. Should it unite and become aware of its own revolutionary potential, it can take on the capitalist system and revolutionize the whole society.

Revolution –the transformation of the entire system – unfortunately no longer registers as a meaningful prospect on the US Left's radar. Traditional left-wing forces remain wedded to one or another 20th century worldview[80] predicated on organizing the shrinking classes of the old economy (the "industrial" workers, the chronically unemployed "poor", etc.) in isolation from a rapidly changing society. With an ever-shrinking base marginalized by the evolving production process, traditional US Leftists now resign themselves to the position of permanent minority.[81] They limit their activity to "defending" what little "rights" we have left. Too many progressives and revolutionaries now think of revolution –even of substantial social change – as an event in the distant future that requires a great "crisis" so that enough people "wake up".[82] In other words, when you spend most of your time organizing in the vanishing old economy among fragmented sections of demoralized workers desperately trying to hold on to unproductive jobs, you can only dream of revolution.

Most of the traditional US Left got caught unawares by the spontaneous upsurge of the Obama movement precisely because most US leftists do not understand nor organize actively in the new economy. The 21st century progressive class alliance behind Obama is revolutionary because the new economy gives it the potential to reshape US politics, economics, culture – the whole of society – step by step, starting today.

United and networked, the creative class, students, Black & Latino America, workers in growing industries and progressive activists possess both the means and the opportunity to bring about revolutionary change: With tens of millions of the most productive workers, with synergistic diversity, with constant creativity and innovation, they are most able to lead the rest of the country in a revolutionary democratization of society, from city hall to the capitol and from the mail room to the board room. As such, the constituencies coalescing in the Obama movement form the basis of an emerging Revolutionary Democratic coalition.

How would this democratic revolution take place? We are not speaking here of extracting mere reforms from the powers-that- be at city hall or on the board of directors. The leading productive social forces of the new economy are capable of progressively and democratically taking control of political, economic, cultural and social power:

  • Politics: In the cities where they make up a majority of the voting population, the constituencies in the new progressive class alliance now possess the social, financial and technological means to topple the crumbling corrupt political machines that control city hall. Most of these political machines (whether Democratic or Republican) were founded atop the old economy and cannot keep up with 21st century technology, social networking, modern culture, etc. Starting with school board elections, council and mayoral races, local revolutionary democratic coalitions can develop into modern progressive political organizations that can win at the ballot box, beginning on a manageable scale where a highly-organized and highly-creative volunteer force can outperform the money and stodgy patronage of the established powers-that- be.[83]
  • Economy: The leading productive social forces of the new economy essentially run their companies' daily operations, even as the board of directors and stockholders reap the profits of their labor. In industries that rely on creative intellectual labor (e.g. IT, R&D, arts & entertainment, health care, education, etc.) project planning tasks are increasingly shared by teams and "managers" are drawn from the ranks of workers. The networked "creative class" already experiments with profit-sharing and shared governance in the many "startups" of the new economy. A 21st century progressive class alliance can organize not merely for wage increases but for democratic control of seats on the board of directors. Step by step, they can displace the capitalists and start claiming the surplus that they produce.[84]
  • Culture: The 21st century progressive class alliance contains all the productive forces at the leading edge of the creation, propagation and adoption of modern culture. The artists, designers, performers and producers of the most innovative cultural forms chafe under the archaic restrictions imposed on them by the rulers of the old economy (record company and movie executives vainly attempting to stop online broadcasting, gallery and club owners completely out of touch with ever-evolving art forms, etc.) At the grassroots level, the cutting edge technology produced by the IT sector increasingly empowers amateur artists to bypass the system's controls and produce and promote their own product. The youth not only adopts the new cultural forms faster than ever, it also directly contributes to their development and propagation (through Youtube, Myspace, Facebook).[85] The cultural output that a mass, conscious revolutionary democratic coalition would inspire could rapidly marginalize the system's tired old cultural forms: e.g. an explosion of innovative, live multi-media entertainment (music, film, dance, etc.) uncontrolled by corporate America would likely cripple American Idol and Dancing with the Stars! In turn, a wave of revolutionary democratic culture would further encourage the growth and consolidation of a 21st century progressive class alliance and help pull in some of the constituencies of the old economy.[86]
  • Social Life: Nowhere are the old economy's failures more glaring in the US than in the realm of daily social life. The system's continued inability to provide basic healthcare, childcare, elderly care, even adequate schooling, indicts capitalism itself. But it also hampers the development of the new economy which relies above all on a highly-productive, creative and educated labor force that requires good health and education. A revolutionary democratic coalition could even gain allies –however temporary – among the big capitalists of the new economy by demonstrating in practice that only a progressive alliance of the most advanced social forces can tackle societal problems of great magnitude. It would also provide countless opportunities to create and/or seize from the system alternative progressive institutions such as cultural centers, schools, child care centers, food co-ops, etc. that could significantly strengthen the movement and attract even those constituencies that are still tied to the old economy.

A revolutionary democratic coalition uniting all the most advanced social forces could lead the transition from the old economy to the new economy. And by doing so, it could empower the great majority of people to take this transition much further: To transform our society from an authoritarian capitalist system into a revolutionary democracy where the economy, politics, culture and social life are developed by all, working and deciding together (not just by a tiny minority of irrationally wealthy billionaires) .

The question therefore is not whether or not the Obama movement has revolutionary potential. The question is: What will it take for the 21st century progressive class alliance coalescing in the Obama movement to use this potential and strike out independently for revolutionary democracy?

Déjà vu: Danger and Opportunity in a Time of Crisis

The 21st century progressive class alliance that buoys the Obama candidacy possesses the means, ability and motivation to start a process of radical transformation of society and to win over the great majority of people to the cause of revolutionary democracy. But it can only do so if it can develop an understanding of its own revolutionary potential as a united and independent movement. All of the most advanced social forces of the new economy now work or volunteer side by side in the Obama campaign. Professionals, IT workers, students, Afro-Americans, progressive unionists, etc. are getting to know one another, exchanging ideas and even at times thinking about their common goals. But they have no plan for independent activity as a united movement after the November elections, whether Obama wins or loses. And the Obama campaign will not and cannot provide such leadership to the Obama movement.

A significant danger accompanies the opportunity before us. There are other classes in contention in this time of crisis! Along with the new economy come new capitalists, new billionaires[87] that very much intend to prevent democracy from interfering with their accumulation of wealth and power - even if the new technology their industries produce happens to empower the emerging revolutionary democratic coalition. Obama's big financial backers hope to capitalize on the failures of the old economy (collapsing infrastructure, war, corruption, economic downturn, cultural staleness, etc) to seize the leadership of the country for their own purpose.[88] And in a much more threatening scenario, a collapse of the Obama campaign[89] could lead to the apocalyptic return of the old order, of the most backward forces that rose to power in the old economy to rule the Bush White house and threaten the very future of the entire planet.[90]

The same class forces faced off once before in a mighty clash at the end of the 1960's as "creative class" workers, students, Afro-Americans, unionists, activists and Latinos attempted to coalesce into a revolutionary democratic coalition for the first time. Back then the new economy was much more immature, making it almost impossible for the movement to consolidate its power to challenge the old order successfully. Following the assassinations of Martin Luther King (and before him Malcolm X) and of Robert Kennedy in 1968, the burgeoning revolutionary democratic movement split apart and collapsed – without a united vision, without a strategy, without leadership, without even a clear understanding of its own revolutionary potential.[91]

The current presidential campaign then is a replay of 1968 – with Obama as RFK (channeling the legacy of MLK), Clinton as Hubert Humphrey (shamefully channeling George Wallace) and McCain as the ghost of Nixon. But forty years later, the new economy has grown to such an extent that the liberal forces of the old economy (Clinton) faced defeat at the hands of a brand-new liberal political campaign organization (Obama). With the Republican Party is disarray, the money-churning Obama campaign looks to defeat the McCain camp soundly in the general election. The questions that remain just as relevant in 2008 as in 1968 are: Win or lose, what will the movement do after November? Who will exert the most influence on this new progressive class alliance and how?

We need to look no farther than to ourselves for the answer.

Dual Power & the Tasks of Revolutionary Organizers

It falls on us, revolutionary organizers and progressive allies, to do all that we must to empower the Obama movement to recognize its revolutionary potential, to strike out on its own and to consolidate into a coalition for revolutionary democracy. It falls on us first and foremost because we ourselves belong in the 21st century progressive class alliance. As students, professionals, activists, union organizers, teachers, artists, engineers, technical workers, we count among the most productive forces of the new economy. For us to organize in the Obama movement means to organize ourselves, our peers, our co-workers and our natural economic, political and cultural allies in a revolutionary democratic movement to emancipate us all, based on our complimentary positions in the modern production process that make it possible for us to transform our world.

The contention between the new economy and the old economy represents a unique opportunity to build and seize revolutionary democratic dual power.[92] The big capitalists of the new economy are taking over the system as they consolidate their money power, but the big capitalists of the old economy won't go lying down. As they struggle over control of the world's resources, our 21st century progressive class alliance must strike independently and consolidate people power to implement revolutionary democratic control over the system's resources ("work together, decide together"[93]).

By developing and implementing a revolutionary democratic dual power strategy, we can use the inherent momentum of the new economy (superseding the old) to empower our 21st century progressive alliance to build and seize power "where we can get our hands on it"[94], beginning in the spheres of control that are within our immediate reach (urban college towns, IT workplaces, growing unions, childcare centers, educational institutions, etc). Local revolutionary democratic coalitions can challenge and displace the remnants of the "old economy" at their weakest point by defeating corrupt city political machines, organizing advanced workers to win profit-sharing and democratic governance in modern industries, building progressive independent institutions like street universities and co-ops right where we live, etc.[95] A decentralized but highly communicative network of such local revolutionary democratic centers of activity could then grow into a nationwide and eventually worldwide movement to overcome capitalism itself.[96]

The advanced workers of the new economy already run the businesses they work in, except in name (and ownership!). We could very well displace useless boards of directors (representing stockholders that know nothing about and produce nothing of value for the business) by progressively replacing them with democratically- elected and infinitely more qualified workers' representatives. The same applies to governmental administration and to the production and reproduction of culture and social life: Nowhere are the current powers-that- be anywhere near as qualified as the workers of the 21st century progressive class alliance to run the modern world! (Think of municipal bureaucrats! Record company execs! HMO directors!) The very basis of dual power can be found in the rapid technological transformation of our society: The new economy requires that more and more day-to-day control be put in the hands of larger and larger networked groups of advanced workers in order to function!

As organizers for revolutionary democracy, we must actively engage the Obama movement because it contains all the classes with revolutionary potential for the future. We must engage these progressive class forces with bold vision and concrete action and inspire them to form their own revolutionary democratic coalitions in every city, on every campus, in every workplace, in every union, in every church and pool hall. We must empower our natural economic, political, cultural and social allies to realize that the myriad skills we all learned at school, work and online can be used not merely to help elect a presidential candidate, but to build and seize power in a revolutionary and democratic way one step at a time, starting today.

What are the concrete tasks of revolutionaries in the coming months?

1) The Nomination: Let's not assume that Obama has the nomination locked in until he is declared presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention. Let's not forget that the Clintonistas of the old economy still hide behind the curtain with daggers drawn, waiting for any opportunity to strike.[97] Revolutionary democracy must use all available means to help the Obama movement fend off any attempt by the forces of reaction to overthrow democracy in Denver. We have a key role to play in promoting greater understanding of the revolutionary potential of the Obama movement in general, especially among newly energized grassroots leftist activists. We must counter the immature call by so many "leaders" of the traditional US Left to protest the Democratic Party indiscriminately in the streets of Denver. The Democratic Party never was and never will be a revolutionary party or even a democratic home for progressives. But the Obama movement will pick up its greatest momentum in the fall, with Obama as the official Democratic presidential candidate. Rather than yielding once again to "protest mode", genuine revolutionaries and progressives who make it to Denver need to seize the opportunity to sit down with all willing forces on the US Left and make plans to address this key question: how do we organize for revolutionary democracy within the Obama movement beyond the convention and beyond the election? [98]

2) The Election: Eight years of the Bush regime have finally laid to rest the reckless falsehood peddled by some on the US Left that it makes no difference whether Republicans or Democrats are in power. We cannot understate the importance of a decisive defeat of the warmongering and gluttonously greedy Republicans – the most backward regime that the old economy can muster. In the best case scenario, the energy and enthusiasm of the legions of voters (old and new) in the Obama movement –combined with the Dean/Obama 50-state strategy- could overwhelm the Republicans and relegate them to the status of regional southern minority party.[99] Again, revolutionaries and progressives can best help this effort by contributing their organizing skills to the Obama movement –especially in "battleground states" that are still given a disproportionate impact on the election by the undemocratic Electoral College system. One option for grassroots revolutionary democratic groups is to initiate voter mobilization efforts that are coordinated with but independent of the Obama campaign, ideally around a progressive campaign at the ballot box (for initiative and referendum or for an independent local progressive candidate for example).[100] The point is not to assimilate with the Obama campaign but to organize within the Obama movement, encouraging all volunteers to consolidate into a revolutionary democratic coalition with concrete plans to build dual power at the local level starting right here and now.

3) Beyond the Obama Movement: All of our organizing efforts leading up to November must of course look ahead to the future. We must think beyond the presidential election but also beyond the Obama movement, which is in the final analysis an Obama moment. The movement that a transformational liberal political figure such as Obama will leave in his wake will be whatever movement that revolutionaries and progressive allies build out of the spontaneous upsurge that powers him into the White House.[101] We must empower the Obama movement to consolidate into a revolutionary democratic coalition independent of the Democratic Party and of the Obama campaign. This requires that we engage all of the constituent parts of the 21st century progressive class alliance through:

a. Concrete initiatives to build revolutionary democratic dual power politically, economically, culturally and socially right where they live (e.g. rent control referendum, unionization for profit-sharing and democratic governance at work, people-powered culture, alternative educational institutions, etc.)

b. A deep and broad vision, a revolutionary democratic strategy that underscores the potential for this consolidating progressive class alliance to accomplish on their own all the change they hope Obama will bring about for them.

c. A beginning infrastructure for decentralized communications and consolidation where all emerging local revolutionary democratic coalitions can freely exchange ideas, experience, plans, analyses and proposed strategies (ideally, a highly interactive internet hub that would serve as the scaffolding for the building of a nationwide movement)[102].

We must urgently prepare the millions of volunteers in the Obama movement to shake off whatever temporary disappointment they will experience when the Obama candidacy and/or presidency fail to live up to their expectations. Our plan cannot meekly rely on recruiting a few disgruntled volunteers to the tired oppositionist politics of the traditional US Left. Our aims need to be as ambitious as the Obama movement itself (to elect a young, unknown black man president!). Let's organize the great majority of the Obama movement into a brand new progressive movement, powered by the creativity and energy of the most productive classes in the new economy. As a more modest starting point, should revolutionaries and progressive allies recruit but 1% of Obama's 6 million volunteers, we could be looking at a revolutionary democratic movement of some 60,000 diverse, bright and bold new organizers– the largest and most productive progressive movement in the country in decades.

Obama's greatest contribution to the revolution thus far –whether intended or not- came through his role as a catalyst for the spontaneous upsurge behind the Obama movement: He has given us a first glimpse of the enormous energy and synergy of the 21st century progressive class alliance as it coalesces nationwide, a first glimpse of its revolutionary potential as a mass movement. And the Obama movement has performed beyond the wildest expectations of even those among us who have provisionally organized for years to build this 21st century class alliance at the local level, mostly in urban college towns scattered across the US. We need to study and learn from this experience. We need to experiment with this emerging movement. But above all, we must stop waiting and catch the wave!

Regardless of what Obama does, the 21st progressive class alliance will continue to develop along with the growth and deepening of the new economy.[103] We have reached a turning point. The technological developments that brought the new economy into existence presage future technological breakthroughs that will radically transform our world in the near future. The struggle between the old economy and the new, and ultimately between capitalism and democracy, will likely lead either to the full emancipation of humanity or its destruction. The opportunities are immense, the stakes even higher. And although the past can inform us, it cannot save us. Revolution implies change. We must start rethinking today to prepare for tomorrow.

The challenge may at first look daunting considering how puzzled the traditional US Left is by these new developments. Let's remember that independently of both mainstream politics and the Left, the advanced social forces that today coalesce in the Obama movement have been organizing on their own: socially, culturally, economically, etc. Revolutionaries today do not have to build a new movement from the ground up. We need to empower the constituent groups of the 21st century progressive class alliance to realize their existing potential and to fulfill their aspirations of freedom for all.


Appendix A: The Last Will Be the First? Women & the LGBT community

A chronological and sequential account of the development of the Obama movement may provide a lively and dynamic analysis but falls short of accurately portraying the full breadth of the 21st century progressive class alliance from which this movement emerged. Although women as a distinct gender group did not coalesce fully into the Obama movement until late in the primary struggle, they represent a fundamental progressive force behind the rise of the new economy.

The consolidation of the women vote behind Obama was delayed by the Clinton campaign, which was a trailblazing phenomenon in its own right. This should not be overstated, however. Contrary to the traditional media's fabricated narrative that claimed women would not support Obama, exit polls show that Clinton got overwhelming support only among older white and (to a lesser extent) Latina women (age 50+).[104] As soon as Clinton finally admitted defeat, the vast majority of her supporters lined up behind Obama.[105]

Women's key role in the 21st century progressive class alliance requires much more in-depth analysis that can be afforded in an article on the Obama movement. Suffice it to say for now that in numerous economic sectors that form the foundation of the new economy women workers perform a disproportionate share of the work[106], particularly in the development and maintenance of human beings (from childcare, to education, to nursing, to elderly care)[107] and increasingly in the professional occupations that require advanced education and that make up the bulk of the "creative class".[108]

The same applies to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community that historically played a disproportionate role in the "creative class"[109] and in urban dynamism in the US.[110] Although his track record on LGBT issues is well rated[111], Obama has kept prominent support among the LGBT community at arm's length just as previous mainstream presidential candidates have done.[112] But whatever public/private role the LGBT community plays in the Obama movement, it will not diminish its continued importance in the 21st century progressive class alliance.

Women and the LGBT community have now firmly aligned behind Obama since they know that their future does not lie with yet another backward, chauvinist, warmongering representative of the most reactionary sectors of the old economy such as McCain. But regardless of the history of the Obama campaign and of the 2008 elections, women and the LGBT community will continue to play a disproportionate role in the development of the 21st century progressive class alliance and in the consolidation of any revolutionary democratic movement.

Appendix B: Shortcomings

Due to time constraints and limited resources, this article provides but a first tentative treatment of the subject at hand: the rise of the new economy, the development of the 21st progressive class alliance and the potential for the consolidation of a revolutionary democratic movement that can challenge the absolute rule of capital with a dual power strategy. Much remains to be investigated, researched, studied, analyzed, debated and synthesized so that it can lead to action.[113] Such a task absolutely demands the very decentralized, collaborative and synergistic process of production that the new economy and its technological developments brought to us. There are countless leads to follow up on. Here's one for starters: the role and contribution of the growing immigrant Asian, Indian, South Pacific and Middle-Eastern communities and their extraordinary contributions to the new economy (especially in the IT sector and in scientific research).

[1] Thanks to Keith and Avi for their keen advice and editing. Thanks to Sam and Brian for contributing content and/or research for this article. Thanks to Alyson, Chloe, Steve, Kevin and Michelle for their insights at the Pirate Caucus study circle.

[2] The term "new economy" is used in this article to describe the economic activity of rising industries powered by the information revolution directly (IT, research and development, media, etc.) or indirectly (healthcare, education, entertainment, etc.). Whereas the old economy has mostly produced material goods (coal, steel, houses, cars, etc), the new economy produces information and advanced workers that know how to use this information. Scientists, technical engineers and artists all produce information. Teachers, doctors, entertainers produce and maintain human development required by the advanced workforce of the new economy. The information workers and the information they produce have made it possible to automate the production of material goods at an ever increasing pace, dramatically diminishing the role of the old economy by eliminating millions of manufacturing jobs. The transition from the old economy to the new economy represents a revolution in the mode of production that began over a century ago (with electricity, telephone, modern science, etc). The new economy finally rose as a dominant force in the US and globally in the past 20 years (with the PC, the internet, etc), leading to the present period of contention among all classes over who will lead to what future.

[3] To a lesser extent at first, but growingly.

[4] For the same reason, a section of investment capitalists also supports the Obama campaign after realizing what a terrible investment the Bush candidacy turned out to be for their businesses.

[5] Getting increasingly desperate and ruthless, from the relatively benign Clinton years to the neo-fascistic Bush years.

[6] Beginning with his decision early in his career to move to Chicago –the only major US city with a people-powered, progressive mayor (Harold Washington, 1983 to 1987) – and to work as a community organizer.

[7] Hence the Clintons' sense of entitlement to the presidency and their outraged disbelief at the success of their "upstart" of an opponent.

[8] Ironically enough, capitalist globalization played an essential role developing new industries and breaking down barriers to make this possible – something that Obama should keep in mind when formulating his critique of NAFTA. (Hint: the candidate that pandered to knee-jerk protectionism lost the primary race!)

[9] A term first coined by Richard Florida in "The Rise of the Creative Class"

http://www.washingt onmonthly. com/features/ 2001/0205. florida.html

[10] Richard Florida, in the "Rise of the Creative Class": "The creative class (…) want[s] to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues. (…) As with employers, visible diversity serves as a signal that a community embraces the open meritocratic values of the creative age. The people I talked to also desired nightlife with a wide mix of options. (…) They favor active, participatory recreation over passive, institutionalized forms. They prefer indigenous street-level culture---a teeming blend of cafes, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between performers and spectators. They crave stimulation, not escape. They want to pack their time full of dense, high-quality, multidimensional experiences. (…) They want to get into it all, and do it with eyes wide open."

[11] This year, these powerful political organizations predictably backed Clinton or McCain, depending on which sector of the old economy they represent.

[12] Big oil, the military-industrial complex, robber-baron finance capital, right-wing corporate media, etc.

[13] The "first credible post-Boomer candidate" as Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, wrote on his blog, recounting his meeting with Obama in early 2007.

http://blog. 2008/03/an- hour-and- a-h.html

[14] I keep the term "creative" in quotations because all workers are creators of value, and of surplus-value when employed by capital (with rare exceptions). The difference between "white collar" and "blue collar" work lies in the process of production.

[15] I.E., maintaining equal user access to all websites on the internet.

[17] See for example, the intriguing Salon article on the relationship between Facebook and the Obama campaign: "Did Facebook Give Obama a Secret Advantage?"

http://machinist. blog/2007/ 06/06/obama_ facebook/ index.html

[18] "Creative" IT workers also built the largest democratic collaborative projects in history with the open source movement, where thousands of programmers work together to produce software that is openly and freely shared by all.

[19] The Obama campaign greatly benefited from the "dress rehearsal" by the Dean campaign in 2004. It prepared students to avoid the pitfalls of the caucus process and focused on mobilizing students that could vote in Iowa rather than on bringing student volunteers from out of state to try to mobilize other voters.

[21] For example, Hans Riemer of Rock the Vote. See "The Year of the Youth Vote"

http://www.time. com/time/ nation/article/ 0,8599,1708570- 2,00.html

[22] One of Howard Dean's nicknames on the campaign trail.

[23] Responding to mud-slinging attacks on his character, Obama subtly invoked Jay-Z's "Dirt off Your Shoulder" in a speech that was viewed millions of times on Youtube. com/watch? v=FlR9DNfqGD4&feature=related

[24] Barack Obama's complex biracial and multicultural background also resonates with young people that grew up in a more diverse society than their parents. The post-traditional family setting of his upbringing (raised by a single mom and then by grandparents) probably does too. See "Young Voters: Obama's Race an Asset, Non-Issue"

http://news. s/ap/20080606/ ap_on_el_ pr/obama_ generation

[25] I purposefully use the out-of-fashion 60's term "Afro-American" to reflect W.E.B. Dubois' brilliant grasp of the dual character of black life in the US, as people both of African descent and American-born (a state of existence so contradictory that he defined it as double-consciousnes s). See The Souls of Black Folk. The term "African-American" would be more suited to describe Africans (born on the African continent) that immigrate to the US (like Obama's father).

[26] See for example, the lazy lack of analysis bordering on racism in the pages of the Left Business Observer ("Would You Like Change with That?")

http://www.leftbusi nessobserver. com/Obama. html

[27] As did Bill Clinton, quite maliciously, following Obama's victory in South Carolina.

[28] White Democratic presidential candidates won 90% of Black votes in previous elections. Barack Obama is the first black candidate to get such a level of support among black voters. Reagan won 65% of the white vote back in '84! See "Obama's Support Not About Race".

http://www.myrtlebe achonline. com/news/ columnists/ issac_bailey/ story/462416. html

[29] Among black registered Democrats overall, Clinton had a 57 percent to 33 percent lead over Obama in October of 2007. See "Poll: Black Support Helps Extend Clinton's Lead".

http://www.cnn. com/2007/ POLITICS/ 10/17/poll. blacks.democrats /index.html

[31] The latent racism festering among a significant section of white capitalists and workers rooted in the old economy contributed to shutting out black workers from the better job opportunities. The new economy on the other hand promotes a diversity imperative (because it increases productivity! )

[32] Even Dean pandered to prejudiced white workers of the old economy with his comment about reaching out to voters that drive pick-up trucks with confederate flag stickers.

[33] This new alliance completely puzzles James Carville who couldn't make sense of it in a recent article in the Financial Times ("Democratic Divisions Will Be Hard to Bridge").

http://www.ft. com/cms/s/ 0/e22ab770- 1ab8-11dd- aa67-0000779fd2a c.html?nclick_ check=1

[34] Granted, this is only one step towards long overdue reparations, but an important step.

[35] Or the Black Nation, as the revolutionary poet and activist Amiri Baraka and others would put it.

[36] I will explore this hypothesis –along with the related historic contributions of Afro-Americans to the practice of revolutionary democracy and dual power– in a separate article soon to be posted on the Pirate Caucus blog (piratecaucus. com). See also Amiri Baraka's paradigm-shifting jazz history Blues People.

[37] Starting with the beat!

[38] Not to mention blues, funk, R&B, etc.

[39] The failure to grasp that Afro-Americans constitute a highly-productive "creative class" led the US Left to adopt a critically-flawed analysis that plagues the movement to this day. In the 1960's, both SDS and to some extent the Black Panther Party conceived of black America as an "underclass" that is revolutionary because it is most oppressed. This led white leftists to patronizing sentimentalism or romanticized hero worship rather than revolutionary unity based on concrete conditions. The lazily naive notion that the most "oppressed" people are the most "revolutionary" flies in the face of all historical evidence. Relationship to the production process and to the political process at a given time and place are much more indicative factors of the revolutionary potential of a class.

[40] Along with science which is a component of cultural production.

[41] And time and again, they were robbed of the proceeds of their cultural production. Even today, as professional black artists finally get to enforce copyrights, corporate America still controls much of the means of mass cultural production (performance venues, publishing and recording companies, movie studios, etc). This status quo faces its greatest challenge with the equalizing impact of recording and publishing software and of the internet (Myspace, Youtube) – another connection between black America and the "creative class" (to which more and more Afro-Americans belong).

[42] For a contemporary account of the extraordinary creativity of a modern self-made black artist/engineer that contributed to the creation of hip hop, see the fascinating interview of Grandmaster Flash at http://www.wnyc. org/shows/ soundcheck/ episodes/ 2008/06/11.

[43] Some very unusual cultural products are emerging from the internet-powered embrace of black culture by the new generation and the "creative class". The "Chocolate Rain" viral video phenomenon of 2007 contains many contradictory trends: On the one hand, there is spoofing of a certain amateurishness and quirkiness (not unlike the fascination with the "Urkel" TV sitcom character), with an uncomfortable undercurrent of minstrel show mockery. On the other hand, Tay Zonday's lyrics squarely address the issue of racism in the US. And his creative use of his raw singing talent make him much more interesting than the plastic performers parading on the stage of American Idol. The Chocolate Rain Youtube video has been viewed over 20 million times and spawned a veritable industry of remixes. The original video can be found at com/watch? v=EwTZ2xpQwpA.

[44] As demonstrated by the inspiring black student body at Prairie View, Texas. See "Thousands of Prairie View Students March 7.3 Miles to Vote"

http://www.burntora ngereport. com/showDiary. do?diaryId= 5040

[45] That is, they unite around certain economic goals such as ending criminally wasteful war spending, increasing spending for infrastructure, science, and education, providing universal healthcare, etc.

[46] Thanks to Keith for his significant contribution to this section.

[47] Combined the splitting unions account for 40% of 13 million unionized workers in the US. At the peak of US labor's strength in the 1950's, over 30% of workers belonged to a union. Today, this number has fallen to 12%.

[48] Largely because you cannot protect industries that are not competitive indefinitely, regardless of how many "fair trade" clauses you include in trade agreements. Of course, most Democratic politicians merely paid lip service to the vague concept of "fair trade" and allowed NAFTA to be crafted in the most disadvantageous way for workers in the US as well as Canada and Mexico. NAFTA allows for the free movement of capital, but not the free movement of labor! It provides for redress for the "risks" taken by capitalists when competition causes them a loss, but no protection is offered to workers when competition eliminates their jobs, etc.

[50] See for example, "Behind the Split" at http://labornotes. org/node/ 779, an article somewhat unsympathetic to Change to Win that portrays both leaderships as fighting a personal power struggle in the name of "their" unions and barely informing their rank-and-file members of critical developments.

[51] Of course, aging white workers of the old economy deserve all the gains they have made and then some! The task of the Obama movement –and especially of Revolutionary Democracy – will be to win them over to a new class alliance that protects their living standards without relying on propping up dying industries through protectionism.

[52] For a discussion of US labor's economic stratification and its impact on the split, see Michael Merril's contribution to "Split to Win? Assessing the State of the Labor Movement?"

http://www.dissentm article/? article=161

[56] "In Obama's Pursuit of Latinos, Race Plays Role"

http://www.nytimes. com/2008/ 01/15/us/ politics/ 15hispanic. html

[58] From the merging of Latino beats and themes with jazz, rock and hip hop to the new chic popularity of salsa dancing.

[59] See for example "Latino Baby Boom Changing Demographics in California."

http://www.preschoo lcalifornia. org/media- center/page. jsp?itemID= 33574430

[60] "Immigrant Workers: Making Valuable Contributions to Our Communities and Our Economy"

http://www.seiu. org/issues/ immigration/ immigration_ facts.cfm

[61] "National Study Finds 80% Growth in Latino Middle-Class Over Past 20 years."

http://www.hispania archive/2001/ March02/06. htm

[62] With the election of Hugo Chavez for president.

[63] See for example, the new Venezuelan constitution, approved by majority vote of the population in 1999. (Links to unofficial translations can be found at http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Constitution_ of_Venezuela)

[64] Again, this will require at the very least addressing the issue of freedom of movement for labor in any progressive and/or revolutionary critique of NAFTA.

[65] Such as

[66] This trend became more pronounced after John Edwards – the other candidate with substantial activist support – ended his campaign for the Democratic Party nomination. Edwards for his part built his campaign around a populist message tailored for a 20th century progressive class alliance. It did not fire up the imagination of the progressive social forces of the 21st century…

[67] This phenomenon likely encouraged the Obama campaign to continue to feature its antiwar message prominently, helping him win support from the majority of primary voters – who are opposed to the war.

[68] The 2008 campaign likely saw the final decline of the once highly influential Democratic Leadership Council, for example.

[69] A strategy to compete in all 50 states during a presidential campaign in order to build the Democratic Party nationwide (and help down ballot candidates with the presidential candidate's coat-tails) rather than focus all resources on a few key "battleground" states to win only the Electoral College vote (a strategically flawed model championed by the Clinton machine). This strategy is quite popular among the netroots. For more on the 50-State strategy, see http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Howard_Dean.

[70] Although not in the case of Ned Lamont in Connecticut in 2006, much to the outrage of many liberal grassroots and netroots activists.

[71] For example, Obama has not posted on dailykos for months, despite the overwhelming support of a majority of the tens of thousands of registered users on the site.

[72] The Clinton machine's slandering of the Obama movement as a "cult" would be absurdly funny if she hadn't raised the issue of his possible assassination –a truly foul move.

[73] See for example "Obama's Ohio Grassroots Advantage"

http://www.time. com/time/ politics/ article/0, 8599,1717150, 00.html

This is reminiscent of both the early stages of the Dean campaign in 2004 (that first massively mobilized youth and activists politically) and of the Million Man and Million Woman marches (that saw a massive yet decentralized mobilization of Afro-Americans, most of whom had no direct relationship to the sponsoring Nation of Islam).

[74] The Obama campaign is able to do this by keeping tight, centralized control over money and resources raised from over 2 millions small contributors (mostly online). Yet another example of the spontaneous character of Obama's support and of the entirely new paradigm the campaign functions under: unlike all other major presidential campaigns, the Obama camp does not have to raise funds from a small group of big donors at the expense of organizing masses of voters.

[75] In his expertly crafted "A More Perfect Union" speech, Obama himself used a story ("I'm here because of Ashley") that symbolically illustrates this spontaneous collaboration process because –at the very least – he understands the powerful appeal of such narratives for his supporters.

http://www.tnr. com/politics/ story.html? id=cbb4abf8- 3bf6-4be3- 8c0c-e737cd502dc 1

[78] See for example: "The Creative Class as a Catalyst for Progressive Change in American Cities?"

http://www.allacade p_mla_apa_ research_ citation/ 2/1/1/1/9/ p211197_index. html

[79] Severe class contradictions do remain in urban America of course, especially around gentrification. These complex issues require much more in-depth treatment that can be afforded here. It is worth noting however, that the gentrification process of "re-whitelization" faces growing opposition from a segment of the "creative class."

[80] Or even 19th century worldview!

[81] See the article "Protest Mode, Advocacy Mode and the Loyal Opposition" at http://www.pirateca 2007/07/protest- mode-advocacy- mode-loyal. html.

[82] This hold that this frozen, almost medieval outlook maintains on the traditional Left is best exemplified by the popularity of the movie "Vendetta".

[83] This could be a first step in building the foundation for a genuine, nationwide revolutionary democratic third party.

[84] The conclusion of this path would lead to an economy managed by "the free association of producers" –which is how Marx described socialism.

[85] File-sharing and music downloading in fact represent a full frontal assault on corporate control of the market!

[86] Just as rock 'n roll did in the late 1950's and early 1960's, laying the cultural foundation for a united youth identity that played a key role in overthrowing segregation and challenging patriarchal forms of control in the US.

[87] And along with them, old economy billionaires that embrace a transition to the new economy – hence the friendship between Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (who is an Obama adviser)

[88] The influence of new and even some old economy establishment figures on the Obama campaign can be felt as he pivots to the right on key questions leading up to the general election such as FISA, the death penalty, etc. For a list of largest contributions by industry see:

http://www.opensecr contrib.php? cycle=2008&cid=N00009638

[89] Whether by a self-inflicted wound or by a wound inflicted by the enemies of progress.

[90] The first consequence of a McCain victory would be to drive away the most creative class forces from the US, thereby dealing a devastating blow to the new economy –a phenomenon already documented by R. Florida in "Creative Class War." See: http://www.washingt onmonthly. com/features/ 2004/0401. florida.html

[91] SDS in its first incarnation wrongly believed that students are not an agent of change and that they must seek revolutionaries among the "other".

[92] For more on the key concept of dual power from a revolutionary democratic perspective, check out piratecaucus. com.

[93] The simplest definition of revolutionary democracy coined by the Tent State movement ( .

[94] As Amiri Baraka would say.

[95] Of course, the capitalists (both old and new) will not simply hand over power to the people! A revolutionary democratic transition would likely take place through forward and backward motion (with hard lessons learned), at times slow and painstaking, at other times chaotic and dangerous. The key is to conceive of revolution as a process, and not to reduce it to some mythical insurrection on the barricades in a distant future (the pipedream that so many young activists end up giving up on since they cannot live for tomorrow endlessly). An insurrection is merely a tactic (useful to the extent that conditions call for it at a given time and place). The revolution needs a dual power strategy. For more on this topic, check piratecaucus. com.

[96] This of course does not imply that the US would spearhead the building of a global revolutionary democratic movement. In many ways, Latin America -led by the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela – is far ahead of North America in that endeavor.

[97] As with the recent disingenuous comments by Clinton campaign strategist Wolfson who falsely claimed that had Edwards dropped out before Iowa, Clinton would have won the nomination (in light of the revelation of Edwards'extramarital affair). See http://www.dailykos .com/storyonly/ 2008/8/11/ 163149/067.

[98] One can only hope that the organizers of "Tent State DNC" will be able to do this, considering their lack of resources, great pressure from the traditional US Left and limited experience outside of "protest mode." See www.tentstate. org.

[99] This would provide a much more favorable terrain to build a genuine, nationwide mass progressive third-party movement in the years to come.

[100] See for example the campaign for a ward-based system by Empower Our Neighborhoods in New Brunswick, NJ at

[101] Just as the Communist Party USA saw its greatest years of growth in the early years of the Roosevelt administration and the New Left (especially SDS) emerged following the election of John Kennedy.

[102] A new take on some of the ideas introduced in the essay "Where to Begin?" by V.I. Lenin. For more on this topic, see recent articles at piratecaucus. com

[103] Although an Obama presidency would certainly help this process along.

[104] See the Seattle P-I article "Among women, Clinton-Obama contest is one for the ages" at http://seattlepi. nwsource. com/local/ 350519_women08. html.

[105] This only came as a surprise to the corporate pundits and to a few dead-enders whose gender identity politics date back to the 70's.

[106] Whereas 73% percent of women perform "white collar" work mostly in the new economy, most of the jobs being shed by the old economy were traditionally held by men. See the AFL-CIO's Professional Women: Vital Statistics at PDFs/ProfWomen. pdf.

[107] Again, see the AFL-CIO's Professional Women: Vital Statistics at PDFs/ProfWomen. pdf .

[108] See the AP article "Women Excelling in Earning Advanced Degrees; Men 'Stagnant'", archived at http://origin. story/0,2933, 197872,00. html.

[109] For a more unexpected example of this phenomenon, see the Richard Florida article "Technology and Tolerance: The Importance of Diversity to High-Technology Growth" at http://www.urban. org/publications /1000492. html.

[110] The concentration of the 'open' LGBT community in urban centers may become a thing of the past however. The excruciatingly slow but steady process of increasing tolerance for alternative sexualities in the US has empowered the LGBT community to some degrees to make more choices about where to live in urban, suburban and small-town America. See for example, "Demographic research debunks gay stereotypes" archived at http://findarticles .com/p/articles/ mi_qn4176/ is_20071023/ ai_n21060856 and the Villager article "Goodbye, Gay Ghetto; we're everywhere in the city" at http://www.thevilla _111/goodbyegayg hetto.html.

[111] See "Barraka Obama on Gays and Lesbian Rights" at http://lesbianlife. od/lesbianactivi sm/p/BarackObama .htm.

[112] Obama also hit a couple of wrong notes on LGBT issues earlier in his campaign, see for example "Obama Criticized Over Singer" at http://thecaucus. blogs.nytimes. com/2007/ 10/22/obama- criticized- over-singer/.

[113] As Marx said, "So far the philosophers have interpreted the world, but the point is to change it!"

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