The world watched as the drama unfolded across America. From New York to San Francisco, from Seattle to Atlanta — strangers, young and old, white people, people of color, men and women — embraced, cheered and cried. We won! Obama is elected! Within those cheers and tears was the hope that a new day, a re-birth of America was within their grasp. Unspoken, but within the celebration was the sense that the defeat of McCain and Bush was necessary to the preservation of the country. It was more than a partisan celebration. It was patriotic.
The political experts (most of them we have never seen or heard before) were quick to appear on television in an effort to belittle what was historic and state that the economy defeated McCain. Politics is the faithful handmaiden of economics and no political change is possible without changes in the economy. However it is impermissible for revolutionaries to disregard the subjective factor — that is the ethical and cultural changes that have taken place in the county and that were expressed in the election. Among these is the declining significance of race, especially amongst the younger generation. Another is the revolutionary potential of the Internet. As in any process of social change, morality — what is right and wrong — becomes decisive. For example, the Civil War could not be won until the majority of the people of the North became convinced that slavery was wrong. The election cracks open the door to show that homelessness, exploitation and oppression are wrong and must be done away with. This is what revolution is all about.
These changes in culture and ethics reflect the changing social and economic order. As the cheers give way to the daily struggle for survival and the hurrahs of the campaign give way to the difficulties of governing, we must understand the dynamics of social change if the vague promise of hope is to be concretized.
Robotics — automated production — ushered in a new economic and social era. The profound shift from human labor began a great economic revolution that would inevitably bring about a social reaction. The election of Barack Obama is the most dramatic event in this process. The official press knows but does not dare discuss the distinction between what is happening and how it is happening. Therefore, the people are misled into thinking that how something happens is the same as what happened. For example what happened in World War II was the emergence of American financial imperialism from the position of junior partner to British imperialism to the independent status of Empire and sole super power in the world. How it happened was through the horrible deaths of 60 million people and the indescribable carnage of six years of total war. Sixty-eight years later we are still shown the scenes of war without a distinction made between the causes and consequences of the war and the war itself. So today we must put the election in its context — a huge social reaction to a basically changing economy.
As a spokesperson for the developing revolutionary movement, the People’s Tribune must go beyond the deserved euphoria and put this historic election in its context as a dramatic event in a deepening revolutionary process. This process is the destruction of the existing society as its economic foundation crumbles and disintegrates. The ruling class loves to rant about revolutionaries destroying “our way of life.” What worker created the robot? What homeless person internationalized the market? What radical agitator started the senseless war that drained the country of $570 billion? The capitalists themselves have undermined society and could not help but do so. The first stage of social change is uncoupling the goals of the people from those of the ruling class. That is happening every day and the election was a gauge of how much the people sense and understand this process. We are moving toward social consciousness. That is class identity rather than identity based on ethnic origin, color or sex.
History teaches that a challenged and changing system becomes more violent and more aggressive. We must be on guard. The election has opened the door to a new level of struggle. We must rapidly move into the struggle on the basis of making hope and change a reality of our economic and social life.