Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gary Younge on Ikea, Engels and Obama

By Ben Trott

Gary Younge had an article in yesterday’s Guardian. He began by describing some surreal sounding scenes in Washington DC – where, for example, Ikea have apparently built an Oval Office in the city’s train station, advertising ‘fiscally responsible furniture’ under the slogan ‘Change begins at home’. He went on to argue,
'For those on the left who have sneered at this joy [in Obama’s election, not cheap shelving], tomorrow is their last chance to join the rest of the people whose liberation they claim to champion. Anxious to get their disappointment in early and avoid the rush, they have been keen to point out the various ways in which Obama will fail and betray. Their predictions may well prove correct. The best is not the same as adequate. He has been elected to represent the interests of the most powerful country in the world. Those will not be the same interests as those of the powerless.

'And yet, in the words of Friedrich Engels: "What childish innocence it is to present one's own impatience as a theoretically convincing argument." Obama was the most progressive, viable candidate possible in these circumstances. A black American, propelled to office by a mass popular campaign pledging income redistribution and an end to torture and the war in Iraq, has defeated the Republicans and is about to replace the most reactionary president in at least a generation.

'The global outpouring of support for Obama suggests a constituency for a world free of racism and war, and desperate to shift the direction of global events that is in dire need of leadership and an agenda. Dancing in the streets tomorrow afternoon doesn't mean you can't take to those same streets in protest from Wednesday.

'As one African-American activist said shortly after election day: "As much hell as we've caught over the past few hundred years, we should enjoy this one."

1 comment:

James said...

I totally agree with much of what was said regarding the political situation and the reactionary/critical nature of a lot of the naysayers.

I do think there's a bit more to the IKEA connection than cheap shelving (http://www.ikeafans.com/blog/tag/obama/, but I agree that the focus should be on the underlying conditions that lead to Obama's election. The kindest thing that I can think of to say about the former administration, is that without Bush, we probably wouldn't have had Obama :-)