The Obama slogan for 2012 is in and it’s “Forward”, which is a compact version of that old classic, “Don’t change horses in the middle of a stream” that every incumbent is forced to run on sooner or later. Forward implies that there’s no alternative but to go backward, which is a place that no right-thinking person wants to go.
The left has always been enamored of “Forwardism” or “Progressivism” which mean much the same thing. Before MSNBC had Lean Forward, Mao had the Great Leap Forward which killed some 40 million people, far more people than MSNBC can ever dream of tuning in to their programs.
When Lenin wanted to launch his own newspaper, he called it, “Vperod” or Forward. The name still lingers on among the left and appears on the mastheads of newspapers across the world. It’s Vorwarts in Germany, Voorwarts in the Netherlands and Ila al-Amam in the Arab world. Back in New York it’s The Forward, the venerable blotting paper of the Jewish left.
There are any number of left-wing political parties who have already named themselves “Forward”, including the Forward Communist Party of India, Kadima, the left-wing opposition party in Israel, and Vperod, a Russian political party that split off from the Socialist Resistance on account of the latter not being radical enough.
Picking “Forward” as his campaign slogan puts Obama in good company with the likes of Lenin and Mao, and it sounds positive until you stop and realize that it’s meant more as an order than a suggestion. There’s a reason most leftist newspapers with that name add an exclamation mark at the end of it. It’s not a proposal, it’s a command. Lean forward, march forward, live forward and then die forward. We’ve burned the bridges, run up the deficit and trashed the economy so there’s no going back.
An old Soviet era joke told the story of the wife of a Communist leader who upon hearing that her husband had developed a progressive paralysis, clapped her hands and exclaimed that at least it was progressive. That is the underlying message of “Forward” to voters, the country may be paralyzed, but at least it’s a progressive paralysis which leaves us unable to move our heads and stop leaning forward while the Entertainer in Chief croons to us about the wonderful world to come.
That may be why it remains a popular campaign slogan among desperate left of center candidates. When Adlai Stevenson, dean of the liberal eggheads, ran in 1952, the campaign buttons read, “Forward with Stevenson”. The country chose to go backward instead with Eisenhower winning by a landslide.
Tony Blair ran for his third term under the slogan, “Britain, forward, not back”, which despite its clumsiness did conclusively explain that”Forward” as a campaign slogan means there’s no going back. However Blair forgot to tell voters that this referred to his immigration policy which helped create Broken Britain.
In this forward-thinking Britain, the police are being trained to look for signs of sorcery among immigrants after children have been murdered on suspicion that they might be witches. The last woman to be executed on witchcraft charges in the area was back in 1727, but now the UK is back in the witch hunting business or the hunting witchhunters business as the case may be. That’s not to mention the Islamic female genital mutilation business, which is also booming as part of Britain’s forward march into the 7th century.
Had Blair been a touch more honest, the slogan would have been, “Britain, so forward, it’s backward.” Much like having a mind so open your brains fall out, that is one of the dangers of being so forward, going so far ahead you end up in the middle of the Arabian desert praising absolute monarchies and slave states like Qatar as beacons of freedom and democracy, while your police hunt witchhunters and the mutilators of little girls.
In Australia, Julia Gillard rolled out “Moving Forward”, explaining that the slogan fit because Australians are an optimistic forward-looking people. Which they had to be as their country had suffered the worst economic decline in twenty years. When things are that bad, you might as well look forward and find something to be optimistic about.
The Grenadan Revolution had its own forward thinking slogans like “Who Controls the Minds of the People Have the Power” and “Forward Ever, Backward Never”. Sadly the revolution ended up going backward when the reactionary running dog capitalists overthrew the Cuban backed revolutionaries and robbed them of control over the minds of the people.
The Obama campaign has largely adopted both Grenadan slogans, but its control over the minds of the people may prove to be as tenuous as that of the People’s Revolutionary Army did over Grenada. The backward view is surprisingly appealing even to Obama supporters who can’t help remembering that there used to be more jobs and more money before the Hope and Change revolution.
Romney might ask you if you are better off now than you were four years ago, but Obama will tell you to forget the past and look forward to the eternal future that is always peeking over the horizon. The mirage of the progressive world of tomorrow which we can reach over a pile of dead senior citizens, energy saving lightbulbs and multicultural coloring books.
The very use of “Forward” as a slogan summons up a century’s worth of socialist ghosts that they are blind to. But recognizing that would require looking backward, which forward thinking people do not do.
In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley, a liberal Democrat, turned a billion dollar surplus into a two billion dollar deficit, and then ran for reelection on what other slogan but, “Moving Maryland Forward”. The people of Maryland have moved on to what else but more billion dollar deficits. That is what you get when you move “Forward”, deficit spending today that will reap dividends in tomorrow’s utopias, economics by officials who can’t be bothered to count how much money they have because they’re too busy looking forward to the future.
Forwardistan is not some enigmatic place, it’s Lenin’s Russia, Mao’s China, O’Malley’s Maryland and Obama’s America. It’s what happens when you drive leaning forward, because maps and rear view mirrors are for backward thinking people who lack the courage to take the great leap of faith forward into the economic dead zone of uncontrolled spending and crude control of the economy.
Progressives do not like looking backward in the rearview mirror, there’s too many things there that they would rather not see, like the Great Leap Forward, the Gulags, the ghosts of Five Year Plans and a thousand failed ideologies and dead philosophies taunting them. Forwardism frees them from having to contemplate the unemployment figures or the deficit, there is no past, only the eternal future. Forget your troubles and groove to a new hopeful slogan that promises a better world tomorrow for a hamburger today.
In 1887, Edward Bellamy published the classic socialist tract, “Looking Backward” that imagined a Socialist America in the year 2000 where all industries had been nationalized, the economy had been militarized into an industrial army and retirement age was set at forty-five. Though Bellamy named his book, “Looking Backward”, he actually meant looking forward to the wonders of a new age that would apply progressive ideals and industrialization to every sphere of human affairs.
Bellamy’s utopia never quite came about, except in parts of Europe, which are swiftly going down the economic tubes, and the Soviet Union, which imploded in failed production quotas, debt and senseless tyranny. But there is one brief excerpt from “Looking Backward” that amply sums up the wrongness of Forwardism.
“It is easier for a general up in a balloon with perfect survey of the field, to manoeuvre a million men to victory than for a sergeant to manage a platoon in a thicket,” one of Bellamy’s future mouthpieces explains, laying out why the individual businessman is inferior to the wisdom of a planned economy.
Bellamy was fifteen when the Civil War ended and he died without ever seeing his country fight another major war. Had he lived to the Great War, he might have understood something of the wisdom of sergeants and the folly of generals. Perhaps he would have even realized that while generals can see farther than sergeants, they don’t know the terrain or what it takes to hold it.
After a century of Bellamy’s scientific generals of industry losing the battle on every front, his successors are still moving backward by looking forward, not to the year 2000, but perhaps to 3000, or at least 2100. Some year in the distant future when mankind will finally be run by a machine state that will run everything fairly and rationally under the guidance of the generals of the state.
That is what “Forward” really means. The “Forwardism” of that future which never seems to work, but is on the edge of working, with enough money, enough laws and enough marching orders, mankind will finally set foot into that mechanical state where leaders look upon us from their balloons and tell us how to live and how to die.
On college campuses, Obama stretches out his hand, urging students to take it and make that great leap forward with him into the future. That is what this election is really about and that is what this year will decide. Do we leap forward with him off the cliff or do we turn back and try to find a better way ahead?
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