Novelist urges Obama to read Marx

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Novelist urges Obama to read Marx

Two interesting open letters to Obama. The first, an open letter by Irish novelist William Wall (he wrote the excellent This is the country, nominated for the booker prize back in 2005), which - amongst other things - urges Barack to read Karl Marx alongside Adam Smith. 

 Dear Barack 

The second letter, which pulls no punches, is from Ralph Nader. Entitled 'Between Hope and Reality' it makes for sombre reading at a time when so many of us around the world are caught on a wave of optimism, given the historic vote in the US

Between Hope and reality 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Welcome to babble, Gramsci!

Those are both excellent pieces of writing.

William Wall has a good handle on American exceptionalism, and he should be required reading for the US faux-left who wept when Obomba made his "only-in-America" remarks on election night. As for Nader, if you stick around here for any length of time I'm sure you will find babblers who will be pleased to tell you they think he is a "racist shit". Just ignore them; they don't understand shit. 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Two lovely excerpts from Wall's letter:

The reality is that elsewhere people have overcome difficulties at least as great as yours and have achieved the highest rank in their country. In Britain, bastion of class, for just one example, many prime ministers have come from very poor and very disadvantaged families. James Callaghan (Labour Party) was the son of a non-commissioned officer in the navy. He began his working life as a clerk in the Inland Revenue. Ted Heath (Conservative Party) was the son of a carpenter and a house-maid. John Major (Conservative) was the son of a music hall artiste. I always find this fact strange, knowing how in the past at any rate England was such a class-orientated society. On the other hand, your estranged father was senior economist with the government of Kenya, your mother was an anthropologist and your stepfather worked as a consultant to an oil company during the years of the Suharto regime in Indonesia.

What is exceptional and historic is that you are black. Most of the world is delighted by that. Many of us hope that it will be a blow against racism all round the world, including in our own countries. But it is a singular event and it is not enough. Skin colour shouldn't count for anything - you believe that, I know - so what counts is everything else. (Besides, how much harder it would be for the USA to elect an atheist!) This exceptionalism business is a dangerous form of nationalism, and we in Europe can tell you that extreme nationalism will lead you to hell in a hand-cart. So how about telling Americans that they're just citizens of another country - an interesting one, a big one, a powerful one, but in a world full of interesting countries of all sizes and strengths, just another place to be.


I imagine you two as the first really human people to inhabit the White House in a long time, possibly ever, since the inhabitants of previous centuries never seem really human to us. I imagine you sitting on the side of the White House double bed (I hope you don't get two singles) and saying, ‘Jesus, guess where we are now.' And then I imagine that you'll say something about what the spooks have been telling you and Michelle will tell you to stay focused on what got you into politics in the first place. It's a sad fact that most presidents are remembered for their wars and proxy-wars. Think of Reagan. Think of Clinton. Roosevelt, may be alone in escaping that blighted memory, because the Second World War, of all wars, was really necessary, and because of the New Deal. This is, of course, a gross oversimplification, but I'm writing a letter and I feel I've already taken up too much of your time. So lastly, what I'd like to say, Barack, is better Roosevelt. He's the man to think about. Be better than him and you'll be worth hoping for.

Thanks Gramsci, and welcome!


Le T Le T's picture

I read Wall's letter. I'll try to get to Nader tonight. Wall's was great though. I emailed it to a bunch of Barrackistas that I know. Thanks Gramsci.


ps- I think that if Obama were to read Marx he'd want to follow with some Prison Notebooks. Wink

BlueBerry Pick'n BlueBerry Pick'n's picture

I'm so glad you finally admitted that the almighty 'if you ain't 'Merikin you're shit' USA has finally admitted that they were responsible for not one, but 2, global economic collapses in under a Century.

now can we start talking about your culture of selfishness, physical aggression, corruption & entitlement?

The failure of the current global economy... can be dropped directly at the well-marketed & advertised feet of American culture & arrogance.

SOOO:  Obama, can you address this nasty little problems of Balkanization, SOTA/WHINSEC & general 'we'll walk into any nation & torture your ass' enabling of 'American Interests'?

The American Dream isn't any different from any other culture... but you sure as hell do have a fun little way of pretending to be the put-upon underdogs while treating the Rest of Us like dirt that needs grinding under your boots until we submit to 'The American Way'.

"The World does not consist of Americans screaming to get out" - Bill Maher.

I'm simply sick of Americans telling everybody else that our sovereignty is 'anti-American',

...that our organic evolutions of balances of social power & human rights are simply insufficient...

...that our social structures towards a collaborative influencing of non-violent harmony are somehow sub-standard because they don't come out of the Republic cookie-cutter model...

I'm simply sick of the ubiquitous American sense of entitlement & exceptionalism... as if they actually believe that their little group of 'violent revolution is always necessary' mammals figured out the definitive social manual for peaceful, respectful & sustainable co-existence...

I wish to jebus that Canadians could take more pride in being Canadian & manage to motivate ourselves along our sovereign cultural heritage without looking to AMERICANS to figure it out.

We managed a very nice country & social evolution so far... must we Americanize to validate efforts?

As many of us know: Latin America is doing some amazing things, so why are Canadians obsessed with Obama?

Hell, Harper's Health Minister was perched in Obama's Denver suite chatting up privatized 'solutions' to the universal healthcare 'problem'  during the AT&T-funded DNC... while outside the 'Pepsi PR GreenZone' the local cops weren't playing the same 'cute cops on bicycles' routine that so enchanted the 'American Progressive Media'... it was only somewhat less oppressive than the St.Paul RNC'08... 

Canadians... we can do this... we don't need to look to OBAMA-ites to get our motivational fix.

We've fallen prey to American media's influence over **liberal**/**humanist** identities for social change.

snap out of it, pholks!

Obama was *not* elected for the benefit of anybody but 'The American Interest's

& American Power wants the government for which they paid...

& China's investors are *going* to get their money's worth out of the Americans - count on it... 

  • trade policies
  • leveraging that massive American ThugSquad military for corporate gains
  • pipelines
  • trading/shipping routes (yes, that includes Somalia, Panama... )
  • domestic & foreign policies...

Lady Liberty had 'fun, fun, fun, 'til the Chinese takes her T-bills away'