Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism
By Stanley Kurtz
“Birds of a feather flock together” was one of the homilies this reviewer’s mother would uncork when she disapproved of her daughter’s choice of companions.
Her words came to mind as I read the painstakingly researched Radical-In-Chief. In this book, Stanley Kurtz traces Barack Obama’s associations from his teenage years under the influence of ex-communist (but dedicated socialist) Frank Marshall Davis, through his socialist days at Occidental College, his attendance at Socialist Scholars Conferences while in New York and his “immersion in the stealthy socialist community-organizer networks of Chicago.” Obama consistently “flocked” with birds of the same political coloration.
Radical-In-Chief explains why this president’s past is shrouded. But Kurtz does more than that. He explains the rationale behind presidential policies so damaging to the economy and to America’s standing in the world that they indicate either breathtaking incompetence or deliberate intention. Readers of this book will have no difficulty deciding which it is.
Kurtz has performed another service. By going to primary sources, looking at organization records and internal publications he uncovered the mostly unknown history of American socialism since the1960s. The author reveals “Barack Obama’s political life – and the world of community organizing generally – is intimately bound up with the story of American socialism during those decades.”
Far from a passing youthful infatuation, the story Kurtz unfolds is one of long held political conviction that bears directly upon the policies Obama has pursued as president and his radical appointments. Kurtz reveals how Obama’s past is linked to the Democratic Socialists of America; the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee; ACORN (identified by Peter Dreier, a leader in Democrat Socialists of America, as actively pursuing a step-by-step socialist program for the US); the Black Theology Project (on whose board the Reverend Jeremiah Wright served); the Midwest Academy (a training institute for community organizers); the New Party (a far-left group that endorsed Obama’s Illinois State Senate run); the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (from which Obama and former Weatherman Bill Ayers channeled money to ACORN); and the Woods Charitable Fund (a left-leaning foundation on whose board Obama and Ayers served); and others too numerous to mention.
The author begins with Obama’s four years in New York, the period the New York Times called a “lost chapter” of the president’s life. Drawing on sources ignored by the Obama-besotted MSM, Kurtz unveils Obama’s socialist convictions.
Peter Dreier, of Democratic Socialists of America, was one of the speakers at the 1983 Socialist Scholars Conference Obama attended. According to Kurtz, Dreier’s remarks, among others, profoundly influenced Obama’s career choices.
In Dreier’s vision, a grassroots movement for public control from below could gradually overcome American cultural resistance to state-run enterprises. With community organizations leading the way to a more collectively oriented national consciousness changes like the importation of a Canadian-style government- run health care system would eventually follow.
Kurtz outlines Dreier’s two-part strategy:
On the one hand, quasi-socialist institutions need to be pre-established in the heart of capitalist society so as to turn a coming moment of crisis in a socialist direction. These quasi-socialist institutions, of course, would be groups like ACORN, with a significant semi-governmental role via their insertion into the banking system, business boards of directors and so forth.
The second part of the strategy involves ‘injecting unmanageable strains into the capitalist system, strains that participate an economic and/or political crisis.’”Dreier explained that would require an expansion of state budgets and increases in federal spending and entitlements until the country nears fiscal collapse.
At that point, a public accustomed to its entitlements will presumably turn on its capitalist masters when they propose cutbacks to restore fiscal balance.
Peter Dreier later served as an adviser to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The buzz in the socialist world in April, 1983 was that blacks would be the leaders of a new socialist-friendly American political movement–a reincarnation of the sixties civil rights struggle, uniting all the races, but this time pushing beyond traditional civil rights toward egalitarian “economic rights…This strategy, of course, virtually describes Obama’s career path…
Community organizing, little known to most Americans until made famous by Barack Obama’s limited job history, is described as “a largely socialist profession.”
Particularly at the highest levels, America’s community organizers have adopted a deliberately stealthy posture–hiding their socialism behind a ’populist’ front. Barack Obama’s colleagues and mentors were some of the smartest and most influential stealth-socialist community organizers in the country.
The author writes:
Saul Alinsky, the founder of modern community organizing, had already built stealth into the profession. Alinsky told organizers to downplay their own ideologies and instead use the public’s concrete grievances to stoke change.
Manipulating public fear and anger to create support for incremental socialist ends is what Alinskyite organizers do. Turning a national financial meltdown to socialist purposes simply applies Alinsky’s local technique to the national level.
In absorbing detail the author describes ACORN’s role in the subprime-lending fiasco and deflation of the housing bubble. ACORN fought to get banks to lower lending standards to provide loans for people who would be unable to pay their mortgages. Kurtz describes how ACORN pressured the Clinton administration and HUD secretary Henry Cisneros to involve the entire financial system in the lending schemes that precipitated the housing crisis.
Rahm Emanuel gave the game away when he famously said, ”You never want to let a serious crisis to go to waste.”
During his 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Obama stuck to generalities (except for occasional unguarded moments) because revealing his true intentions would have been counter-productive. Kurtz observes that had the mainstream media done even a little investigative work and revealed Obama’s socialist values, it is unlikely he could have been elected president.
Obama’s past is not, as his partisans like to tell us, irrelevant to today. He faithfully follows the socialist playbook combining intrusive government regulation of private businesses with growing the public sector and expanding entitlements – most recently waiving work requirements for welfare recipients and expanding the food stamp program by recruitment. He favors political cronies by providing taxpayers’ money for their failing enterprises and continually demonizes “the rich” to divide the nation along class lines.
Kurtz argues that Obama’s past is even more relevant than the present because it presages Obama’s plans for America’s future. As he reassured Dmitri Medvedev over an open microphone, after re-election he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense. Given what we now know about Barack Obama’s past and his record as president, it is a virtual certainty he would use that flexibility to complete America’s transformation into a European-style socialist state.
Radical-in-Chief is an excellent book, but it is not an easy one to read. The author’s extensive research and meticulous attention to detail demands that readers, like the author, be determined truth-seekers.