The morals charade
by John Alan
Once George W. Bush was assured that he had been elected to serve a second term as President of the United States, he announced that his re-election brought him "great political capital." He did not tell the public about a major source of his "political capital," the mostly white born-again Christian conservatives.
The born-again white Protestants make up a quarter of the electorate, a bigger proportion of voters than Blacks and Hispanics combined. This majority of conservative white Protestants was able to give a victory to Bush in major swing states.
Bush has based his politics on unity with groups like Concerned Women of America, who fight against gay marriage and stem cell research, and others that would deny women the right to have an abortion. This ideology of moralism is Bush's "political capital." He and his cohorts are using it to reverse the movement for freedom, the generations of struggles by women and Black Americans to end sexism and racism.
MORALS SUITED TO RULING
Marx and Engels long ago discovered that morality didn't come from heaven as eternal principles, but on the contrary it has existed as a class morality that justified the domination and the economic interests of a ruling class. When an oppressed class becomes powerful enough, its morality reflects its indignation against this domination as it projects its own interests. For Marx the morality projected by the ruling class is rooted in the needs of production.
Unfortunately Bush's ideological moralism did infect the thinking of some Black Christian voters and helped to make the difference for Bush in the swing state of Ohio. Bush doubled his support among Black Ohioans from 9% in 2000 to 16% in 2004 according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington think tank specializing in issues of interest to Black Americans. That increase of about 50,000 votes came from Black Christian conservatives.
Some have asked, "What happened to the Black vote in Ohio?" Obviously some Black Christians had accepted uncritically the ideological moralism of the Bush administration and no longer retain even a semblance of independence in their thinking. According to Cynthia Tucker in an editorial in THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: "There was at least one thing about which blue states and red states, Black Americans and white Americans, Northerners and Southerners could agree: gays and lesbians should be denied the right to full citizenship. Constitutional amendments to ban same-sex unions appeared on the ballot of 11 states and passed easilyˇfrom Michigan, Ohio and Oregon to Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas."
Tucker calls this a "triumph of bigotry" and shows how in the 19th century the Bible was used to justify slavery under the system of slave production in the very states that now voted for Bush in a bastion of redness of the old Confederacy. Today "family values" mean forcing poor people off welfare and into jobs that do not offer either a living wage or health careˇbut which benefit business hugely. How can this be moral?
Black workers are disproportionately feeling the brunt of the failed U.S. economy, especially the decline in manufacturing. In his first four years Bush oversaw an economy whose performance was one of the worst of any president in U.S. history. Many economists fear that was an omen for an even worse second term when Bush feels he also has "political capital" to go further with his economic policies to drive the country even more into debt and starve the government of any funds for the health and welfare of its citizens.
The poor and minorities are subjected to a cruel and inhuman criminal justice system and an economic draft for Bush's military adventures abroad. The Iraq war, which is well known to have been sold to the American people with lies, also caused the deaths of many innocent civilians.
This immoral economy proves to the vast majority of Black workers that political emancipation is not enough, even as they retain a sense that attacking anyone's civil rights is not moral. The striving for civil rights among gays came on the heels of the Black Civil Rights Movement. Unlike the conservative Black preachers who joined the anti-gay bandwagon, the overwhelming majority of Blacks did not.
The continuing degeneration of the conditions of life and labor under capitalism demands full human emancipation in our every day working lives to overcome immoral capitalism. Without that we will not know a morality that affirms our humanity.
Published by News and Letters Committees