[Marxism] Fletcher responds to open letter

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Dec 12 16:39:37 MST 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Fletcher Jr <billfletcherjr at gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Dec 12, 2010 at 6:18 PM
Subject: here is the revised letter
To: Carl Davidson <carld717 at gmail.com>, carl davidson <carld717 at aol.com>

Responding to the Letter to the Left Establishment regarding Obama

"A so-called Letter to the Left Establishment critical of the Obama 
administration has been circulating for a few days.  The letter is a bit 
odd because if you do not read it carefully, it appears that the people 
named in the first paragraph, including yours truly, are actually asking 
people to sign on.  In reality the Letter is a criticism of several 
individuals who offered varying degrees of support to the candidacy of 
President Obama in 2008.  On the grounds of confusion alone the Letter 
should be withdrawn and the signatories should request that their names 
be removed.

"But what is odder to me is that the Letter has all sorts of 
implications.  The Letter calls upon those named in the first paragraph 
to criticize the policies of the Obama administration, as if we have 
not.  It implies that we have been silent about major decisions of the 
Obama administration that have been wrong.  It recites a list of 
decisions, approaches, etc., by the Obama administration as if any of 
this is new to those of us identified in the first paragraph.

"None of this is new.  And the authors of the Letter should know that. 
In fact, if they happened to have been in a cave for the last couple of 
years and did not keep up with the news, they could have Googled the 
names of most of the people listed in the first paragraph and found that 
we have been generally outspoken in our criticisms as well as involved 
in organizing to put pressure on the administration.

"For these reasons i have been trying to figure out what the intent of 
the Letter actually is.

"I am not going to speak for anyone else.  In 2008 i reluctantly came to 
the conclusion that a position of critical support of Obama was the 
correct stand.  "Reluctantly" because i had a number of concerns about 
Obama, most of which have been realized.  Nevertheless i was impressed 
by the congealing of forces that i believed had the potential to do 
something progressive in the political realm irrespective of the actions 
of Obama-the-individual.  I actually still believe that this is 
impossible and not too late.

"In 2008, i and several others mentioned in the Letter also suggested 
that if there was no pressure from the Left and progressives on Obama, 
assuming he was elected, that we would find ourselves in deep trouble. 
In fact, people used to joke with me immediately before and immediately 
after the November 2008 election because i would be asked how much of a 
honeymoon period Obama should receive and my answer was always the same: 
  "24 hours."  I insisted, as did many of my colleagues, that we could 
not, in effect, give Obama any honeymoon period and that pressure had to 
start from the beginning.  We were correct.

"The Letter reads as if those named in the first paragraph have been 
sitting on their hands or standing at the gates refusing to permit the 
masses to pass through and challenge Obama.  I am not sure whether the 
authors are standing in some parallel universe, but in this one i see no 
evidence of that at all.  There are differences, some over tactics while 
others over strategy, among those named in the first paragraph, but 
precisely for that reason it is odd that the names would all be thrown 
together as if someone were actually trying to stir up confusion and 
promote disinformation.  I don't know, but i have actually seen a film 
much like this before.

"So, assuming that there is loving intent from the authors--and i am 
certainly not critical of the signatories--then i would say, i agree 
with many of the criticisms they have offered of the Obama 
administration; i have offered many of those criticisms already; i have 
been active, as have most of my colleagues, in trying to engage liberal 
and progressive social forces in the need to both combat the political 
Right as well as put the pressure on the Democrats; and, guess what?  I 
will continue to, and i am assuming that my colleagues will as well.

"Oh, and while i am at it, one thing that the authors of the Letter did 
not address was the question of the African American electorate.  I 
don't know about you, but how we handle the question of this 
administration is particularly dicey when the African American 
electorate feels, overwhelmingly, that Obama is under an intense racist 
assault from the political Right (which is, as you know, quite correct). 
  This basic question of the African American electorate and huge 
portions of the Latino electorate means that our electoral tactics in 
the coming two years will have to be handled very carefully, even while 
we put the pressure on this administration and struggle against its 
defense of warmed over neo-liberalism.

"It might have been a good idea, and this is only a suggestion, for the 
authors of the Letter to have reached out to those mentioned in the 
first paragraph rather than trying to embarrass us.  It certainly would 
have been more principled, but it would have also made them look less 
foolish or mis-informed yet well-intentioned individuals (which ever 
applies) when one examines the actual record.

"In solidarity,

Bill Fletcher,Jr.

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