The US was set ablaze at the 2018 Golden Globes when talk show host Oprah Winfrey announced that she’d be running for President of the United States in the year 2020. Liberals on social media exploded with support over the announcement. Amidst the glitz and glamour of the millionaires of the liberal elite in Hollywood, Oprah announced her concern for the future of the country and its citizens that are experiencing a wealth gap larger than it has been in a long time. Well, not really. The talk show host made it quite clear during her speech that she was capable of doing the job and turning the country in a whole new direction – one away from the mess that Donald Trump has driven it into.
Reality shows us a very stark lesson when it comes to American politics – the American people never learn. The hype behind Oprah running in 2020 has been met with fan fair and glowing reviews of the speech she gave at the annual event in which Hollywood and the millionaires that make it up, celebrate themselves. We see that pattern of insanity once again – someone gave a good speech so people think they’re qualified to hold the highest office in the country. The same thing was what propelled Donald Trump into office.
It seems that’s all someone has to do in America is give a good speech to make them qualified to be president in the eyes of the public. And why not Oprah? The American people have already demonstrated that they don’t actually care about credentials for the job. They don’t care if anyone has any political experience. All they really want is someone to identify with. The Trump voters just wanted someone who would bash liberals and personally attack Hillary Clinton. Clinton supporters just wanted a bright female face on imperialism that they could feel progressive voting for.
But that’s the gold standard for American politics right now – a good speech.
So what’s so wrong with Oprah Winfrey as president? There’s plenty wrong with it. Aside from the fact that she’s not qualified for the job – she has no concept of how problems arise and how to solve them. One of the biggest effects of capitalist society is what Marx called ‘capitalist alienation’. It is a condition in which people in a society are disconnected from each other and thus lose a part of their humanity, part of what makes them human. The labour we perform in society, i.e. our contribution to society, is nothing more than a commodity. The worker himself becomes a commodity, his labour power.
This is how Marx put it in his work “Comment on James Mill” (1844):
“Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of us would have, in two ways, affirmed himself, and the other person. (i) In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and, therefore, enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also, when looking at the object, I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses, and, hence, a power beyond all doubt. (ii) In your enjoyment, or use, of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man’s essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man’s essential nature . . . Our products would be so many mirrors in which we saw reflected our essential nature.”
(Marx, Karl. “Comment on James Mill,” Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844: 1844.)
This phenomenon which causes the vast majority of the social ills of society cannot be cured by capitalism. The system is the very producer of the problems. It should be noted that some of these ills have been addressed by Oprah in various episodes of her television program. Her solution to the problem was merely a Band-aid on a knife wound to a vital area. After exploiting the person’s suffering for ratings and thus advertising revenue, she comforts them by giving them free stuff and telling them to stay positive. I don’t think it takes much to realize what is being taught here. If capitalist alienation causes a problem, then just get more stuff and think happy thoughts. I couldn’t think of a better example of neoliberal-capitalist claptrap.
In other words, do nothing that would have any substantial effect. This ‘feel good, think positive’ nonsense is an opiate for the masses at best. It pushes this idea that bad things will simply go away if we just think better. This, of course, has accomplished nothing in the realm of change. Thinking positive didn’t end slavery, it didn’t defeat the Nazis – active work towards destroying the source of the problem did. The slave-owning system was abolished and the Nazi army was crushed under a T-34 tank. Problems are not solved unless the cause is addressed.
We see this kind of liberal outlook in her polities as well. She often attributes the problems to society the product of men or ‘toxic masculinity’. Greed, inequality, sexism, are often blamed on men. This idea of inherently bad men reduces problems of society to the acts of evil individuals, i.e. men. This is simply ignorant identity politics at its finest. Systems are evil, not people. Capitalism is a system wholly predicated on inequality, that being between capital and labour. This not the doing of men, it is the doing of inequality inherent to the system itself. Oprah is ignorant of how the very system she lives in works.
Even worse is that fact that she is wholly entrenched in the imperialist order. She’s great friends with war hawk Hillary Clinton and has followed her on issues of war. She cheered on the Iraq and Afghan wars without a moment’s hesitation or criticism. For all her vaunted feminism, she still supports the military invasions that have killed countless women and children. No doubt she’ll line up to support the next one if Clinton is on board with it.
We can call this exactly what it is, intersectional imperialism – first worldism. You get all the coverage of progressive statements and good feelings, with none of the responsibility for the primary contradiction in the world. As long as people get their token reforms they’ll happily sell the third world into a smoking crater.