"And people think they have taken quite an extraordinary bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another," Frederick Engels wrote 120 years ago in his introduction to The Civil War in France.
Judging by recent speeches and interviews, Barack Obama plans to run for reelection on a platform of class antagonism. He exposed his opponents' vision as one that sacrifices education for poor children and care for the elderly, pollutes the environment, and leaves us vulnerable to oil disruptions in the Middle East, only to lower the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans. He blamed his predecessor for policies that made 90 percent of us worse off in order to increase the income of the top 1 percent by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. "They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors to each pay $6,000 more in health costs," said the president.
As other bourgeois intellectuals before him, Obama parades an ability to selflessly raise his consciousness above his own class interests and take a stand for the oppressed. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, he mocked his opponents' ideas to balance the budget by cutting "Head Start or, you know, low-income, you know, heating assistance. Or you know, various programs that are not popular with Republicans." At the same time, the president's plan calls for taking the extra revenue needed from only the wealthiest: "We need to find a trillion dollars in revenues that wouldn't hurt the middle class, but would affect people like you and me, George, who can pay a little bit more."
Obviously it is time for the exploited proletarians of America to take back the state apparatus (that has done so much for the rich) and "ask" them to "give back." I can almost picture Obama going on a tour singing John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" with Michael Moore as a supporting dancer.