Obama’s father and Kenyan anti-colonialism

Family history and university training in left-wing anti-colonial theory may explain President Obama's general perspective. But connect-the-dots speculation is too simplistic.

Radu Sigheti/Reuters/File
When then US Sen. Barack Obama visited his ancestral village in Kenya in 2006, he gave a big hug to his step-grandmother Sarag Hussein Onyango Obama. How much has his father's and grandfather's anti-colonial outlook influenced him?

Since WWII perhaps the most potent strain of anti-capitalist, anti-Western ideology has been powered by the conceptions of Hobson and Lenin as much as by those of Marx and the Webbs. On this view, capitalism and its need for markets and profits drives the violent and unjust economic exploitation of non-Western nations and peoples.

Through this ideological filter the dream of socialism became fused to the moral causes of anti-colonialism, and — ironically — both ethnic nationalism and anti-Western internationalism.

When I originally exposed the socialism of Obama’s father — and proposed this revelation as the “Rosebud” which made sense of the puzzle at the heart of Obama’s Dreams From My Father — I mostly ignored the potent legacy of Kenyan anti-colonialism, a central life experience of Obama’s Kenyan father and grandfather.

Well, where angels fear to tread, Dinesh D’Souza has rushed in to fill the void, taking my “Rosebud” thesis and research into Barack Obama, Sr.’s socialism (without acknowledgment), and running with it as far as one could possible go in the anti-colonialist, anti-Western direction — and beyond.

I haven’t read D’Souza’s book or his Forbes article. But I have watched his discussion with Glenn Beck on Fox.

As far as it goes, as a basic presentation of the facts about Obama’s father and upbringing, and what Obama has written in his own memoir, I think it is an essentially factual and useful recounting of important truths about the biography of the President which most of the popular media have willfully withheld from their customers.

As an interpretation of what motivates the President today — family history and university training in left wing anti-colonial theory may well explain why President Obama returned the White House bust of Winston Churchill to the British. But I’m not a fan of connect-the-dots speculative explanation that are far more complicated and far less direct than is the simple and fundamental fact of Obama’s very general, well documented, and life-long interest in the dream and ideology of “social justice”, race-based Marxism, and the post-60s American left.

Of course, one does have to wonder what the alternative history of Barack Obama, Jr. might have turned out to be if Barack Obama, Sr. had studied Mises and Rothbard on imperialism and colonialism while studying economics at Harvard and the U. of Hawaii, rather than “scientific Marxism”, mainstream 1960′s development economics, and other such things.

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