Obama Farewell Speech:
A Criminal Attempt to Lead People to Accept the Fascist Trump-Pence Regime
January 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Right now, humanity faces an immense threat as the fascist Trump-Pence regime prepares to take over the reins of power of a powerful imperialist country with the most destructive military in history—unless they are stopped by mass resistance and political crisis. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are filled with fear, anxiety, and anger.
At this critical historical juncture, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama gave his final speech—and did nothing to sound an urgent alarm about the real and urgent danger looming over the world or to rally people to resist this and do what is needed. In fact, he did the opposite.
Obama’s key message: “In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next.” When there were audible sounds of dismay and discontent among the thousands in the audience at this reference to Trump, Obama chastised and silenced them, saying, “No, no, no, no, no” and continued, “I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.”
“Smoothest possible transition” to what?! To a Muslim registry and the deportation of millions of immigrants... full unleashing of murdering pigs and racist lynch mob mentality... bellicose bullying and aggression around the world, including threatened use of nukes... gutting of women’s right to abortion... denial of global climate change as a “hoax,” wreaking even greater devastation to the environment... and many more intolerable crimes against humanity that the Trump-Pence cabal has promised and is already moving quickly to put in motion.
Obama’s call for the “smoothest possible transition” stands in starker contrast considering his following remarks in the speech on the threats to “democracy,” both long-term and immediate. In some of what he evoked, for those seriously in anguish, one could potentially read specters of the incoming Trump-Pence regime, specifically “fear of people who look or speak or pray differently,” “contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable,” and “intolerance for dissent and free thought.” These speak to some real differences in the worldviews and professed modes of rule between the Obama and the Trump-Pence regimes, whatever the actual reality.
It is important to recognize that the “peaceful transition of power” that the rulers are now in the process of carrying out is NOT the “normal” transfer of power from one section among them to another with a somewhat different take on how to carry out their imperialist interests. While this is still the system of capitalism-imperialism, what is underway now is in fact a radical shift and jolt, from a form of rule that people have experienced in this country over decades to an openly dictatorial, fascist form of rule which (to quote from “What IS Fascism?”) tramples “on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as ‘enemies,’ ‘undesirables,’ or ‘dangers to society.’” Think about the historical example of how Hitler came to power—through the democratic process and elections—and then instituted fascism.
In this context, it is even more criminal that Obama and the Democrats are now trying to steer people away from what should have been done in 1930s Germany—rise up and stop the fascists before they consolidate their hold over the state and society.
Leading People Into the Killing Clutches of the American Fascists
Obama is a representative of a class that rules over a viciously exploitative system, the capitalist-imperialist system—as is Trump. And in that position, Obama himself has carried out many crimes of his own in his eight years, which has helped to lay some of the groundwork for the Trump-Pence fascists—such as ordering assassinations of those deemed “enemies” of the U.S., including American citizens, and other expansion of executive power. One of his top crimes now is how he is using his position, influence, and voice to try to lead people into the killing clutches of the American fascists, who will take these crimes to another level of intensity and horror.
The lengths that Obama and other Democrats are going to legitimize and normalize Trump shows how, when the choice is between existential threat to their system from instability and unrest on the one hand, and a fascist form of rule on the other, they will go with fascism. But their fear of rebellion from below also reveals that things are not yet all “sewn up” and that much rests on the people acting and fighting back in a determined way—to reset the terms through the action of thousands, who inspire and spark hundreds of thousands and then millions, visibly and militantly saying NO! to the fascist regime.
Early in the speech, Obama sang praises of “the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination—and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.” Obama said that “our progress has been uneven,” but that “the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”
It’s in the context of this “long sweep of America” that he’s urging people to accept, like he does, the “peaceful transition of power” to the Trump-Pence regime. But to the extent that there have usually been seamless and nonviolent transitions of power in this country, this has had much to do with the position of the U.S. in the world, dominating and exploiting huge areas of the globe. This has allowed the capitalist class of exploiters and oppressors to get large sections of the U.S. population to identify with the rulers, enabling those on the top to trade off one set of representatives for another, while the same overall system continues on.
This has meant horrors for billions of people, here and worldwide—from slavery and genocide of Native people that lie at the foundation of this country to the situation today. As Bob Avakian points out in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy
Not only did slavery play a major role in the historical development of the U.S., but the wealth and power of the U.S. rests today on a worldwide system of imperialist exploitation that ensnares hundreds of millions, and ultimately billions, of people in conditions hardly better than those of slaves.1 Now, if this seems like an extreme or extravagant claim, think about the tens of millions of children throughout the Third World who, from a very, very early age, are working nearly every day of the year—as the slaves on the southern plantations in the United States used to say, “from can’t see in the morning, till can’t see at night”—until they’ve been physically used up, with their lives literally passing, bit by bit, day after day, from them into the machinery on which they’re working (or which, in a real sense, is working on them, wearing their lives away) and into the products which they are producing through this labor. These are conditions very similar to outright slavery, and they often go along with superstructural expressions which are very close to slavery—ways in which, through customs and traditions, and sometimes even formal codes, the lives of these children, and others in these conditions, are controlled, confined and degraded. This includes overt sexual harassment of women, and many other degradations as well.
All this is the foundation on which the imperialist system rests, with U.S. imperialism now sitting atop it all.
All this is what Obama—and those before him—have presided over and is “passing the baton” on to Trump.
Trump-Pence Will Mean Vicious and Open Dictatorship
It remains to be seen whether the Trump-Pence fascists will lash out against and repress others within the ruling class they see as obstacles to their aims. Remember that Trump had threatened to both jail and use violence against Hillary Clinton in the course of the campaign—that is unprecedented in U.S. history. But what IS certain is that if the Trump-Pence regime is allowed to rule, it will not just mean increased hardships for and attacks on the masses of people, on a trajectory that has already been taking place in recent years. No—a Trump-Pence regime in power will mean vicious and open dictatorship against the people and violent suppression of not only actual revolution but of any serious resistance and even dissent and critical thinking broadly. It will mean qualitatively intensified levels of horror and suffering for billions of people worldwide.
This is not hyperbole. It is not a matter of “let’s wait and see.” Trump and other fascist ghouls have already threatened to use waterboarding and worse against anyone they allege is a “terrorist”—and they’ve labeled whole groups of people as “terrorists” until proven otherwise. They have already set their sights on overturning Roe v. Wade, depriving women of the right to abortion and greatly tightening the chains of patriarchal oppression. They have already made clear their intention to fully unleash the police on Black and other oppressed people, without the pretense of “oversight.” You can go down the line—they have left no doubt that when they rule, they will act like... fascists.
The coming to power of a fascist regime may be a matter of a “long game” for different sections of the imperialists who sit atop this system. In his speech, as we mention above, Obama laid out the approach of those in the ruling class who think that the best way to pursue U.S. imperialist interests is to allow some space for dissent, scientific thinking, and diverse culture (while clamping down when necessary). And they hope to influence some of what is shaping up to perhaps “tone down” what they see as the rougher edges, the things that could backfire against U.S. imperialist interests, both “at home” and around the world. But for the masses of people, the fascist Trump-Pence regime will be a giant leap backward, both in terms of the oppression and suffering they face and their ability to resist this and to fight for anything larger beyond resistance.
And here’s another basic truth: Capitalism in the world has produced fascists and fascist rule before, and will continue to do so in the face of deep challenges and conflicts. This is a system where the ruling classes bounce back and forth between a form of oppression under which there is some space allowed for dissent, even as that oppression continues and takes on even worse dimensions—and times when they simply dispense with even that space and rights altogether because the rulers deem it too dangerous to even allow. As long as we are locked into this outmoded system, billions of people here and around the world will continue to be relentlessly ground down. And with accelerating climate change and the heightened possibility of nuclear war, it could even call into question how long human life could continue.
As we fight together to prevent the disaster of the Trump-Pence regime, let’s talk about the possibilities of an actual revolution to bring about a world without capitalism-imperialism, without any more basis for fascist rule. A world without borders, without masters and slaves of any kind. A world where people work and struggle together for the common good... where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets what they need to live a life worthy of human beings. This is the world that the Revolutionary Communist Party is fighting to bring into being, this is the world—and the struggle—that Bob Avakian has provided the invaluable and visionary leadership for, this is the world that—as you are fighting this monstrosity—you absolutely need to look into, check out, and get deeper into.
1 The overall, international network of imperialist domination and exploitation also involves, still today, a significant dimension of actual slavery. In addition to other forms of outright slavery, a major aspect of this is the “sex industry” and the international “sex trade,” in which huge numbers of women, especially young women and even many very young girls, are forcibly entrapped, while major crime syndicates and more “legitimate” capitalists derive huge profits from this.[back]
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