The Dictionary.com definition of socialism is: so⋅cial⋅ism [soh-shuh-liz-uhm] -noun
1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
Ryan Siefert, American Thinker, June 28, America’s Socialist Past.
Whether you call it Socialism, Communism, Marxism, or by its simpler name, theft, they are all part of the same economic system that destroys private property and puts everything in central control of the state.
One side of American politics cannot be open with their intentions. When they win the opportunity to govern they are forced into distracting tactics that include attacking their critics, ignoring damaging events, exaggerating their numbers and support, and sending proponents out in blocking maneuvers. It is in this last tactic where we have seen a trend forming.
Our country is being run by self-proclaimed elites. Most came from the ivy league, including our president, while others came from old media. But elites nonetheless. So it is from this bench members are being tagged to, or feel compelled to, write op-eds expressing how silly it is to call President Obama a “socialist.”
Their credentials give them credibility, and their arguments appear sound. But put these efforts side-by-side, and you will see they follow the same deceptive script.
1) Ignore recent actions.
We will use Frank Thomas as an example. He is a Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member and author of the September 9 op-ed, The Red Scare Returns. He, like the others, does not mention GM, Chrysler, forced TARP money to banks or the nearly complete nationalization of the mortgage industry in his article. With these omissions, these authors are free to make their arguments without the burden of objectivity.
2) Evade the definition of socialism.
John Cavanagh, from the non-profit Institute for Policy Studies, sets a new standard in creativity. In his September 3 Yahoo! Finance interview he argues that Obama cannot possibly be a socialist if he is promoting the Cap and Trade legislation. He argues: if carbon credits are traded, as they would be under the law, that would be “using market mechanisms.” To Cavanagh, it is not socialism even when the government controls the trading, and thus which companies are in favor.
The May 28 Economist article, Piling On, offers this as ‘proof’ that Obama is not a socialist:
No true leftist would be as allergic as he has been to nationalising tottering banks, nor as coldly calculating in letting Chrysler, and probably General Motors, end up in bankruptcy court.
So only a true socialist would have blocked bankruptcy? Classical Values blogger Eric responds to the Economist in his May 30 post, So Who Own’s “Socialism”?:
At what point can nationalization be said to have taken place? By what standard is government ownership of 72% of a company less than “true” socialism?
3) Mock and misrepresent critics.
Mockery is one of the best tools to delegitimize one’s critics, and this is the intent behind these ‘he’s not a socialist’ articles. Convince your reader, as Thomas attempts, that such thoughts are outside “the Obama Administration’s cautious centrism”. That the “imaginary death panels” are not just right wing aberrations, but suggestive of treason?
Or take Alan S. Binder’s March 20 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Obama Is No Socialist, with whom actions do not speak louder than words. The Princeton Economics professor envisions a new Internet-like economy right around the corner:
Unsurprisingly, the president’s proposal to let the top rate return to 39.6% has unleashed a firestorm of criticism from people who claim that such radical redistribution would prolong the recession, destroy entrepreneurship, and pretty much end capitalism as we know it — just as it did during the Great Prosperity of the 1990s, I suppose. Some claims parody themselves.
In fairness, Binder wrote his article before the GM and Chrysler takeovers in April, the denial of TARP paybacks in April, the Homeland Security Assessment on Right Wing Extremism in April, and the cigarette tax in June. But how did we, the uneducated masses, see what the professor not only missed, but chose to “parody”?
We often ponder the scenario: what would Karl Marx do in Obama’s shoes? He too was driven by envy, his end goal of redistribution was the same, and he shared the same philosophy: the end justify the means. And there is little doubt he would appreciate Rahm Emanuel’s philosophy: “never allow a crisis to go to waste”.
President Marx would have the same advisors telling him what is possible and what is not within our constitutional constraints. In other words, socialized health care will never pass if it is called such. But put a nice warm spin on it, call it ‘reform,’ create a crisis climate, and bury the socialism deep within the 1000+ pages of unread legislation, and you might just make it work.
President Marx, sir, instead of nationalizing the health industry, create an environment where the private companies will struggle, and ultimately fail. Provide an incentive for private companies to dump their employee health insurance plans in favor of the government’s plan, but do not give them the option to turn back. Now that you have taken ownership of GM and Chrysler, favor those automakers with government purchase contracts and consumer subsidies to hasten Ford’s demise. Now that you have forced the banks to take TARP money, develop ever-changing stress-tests for the banks and refuse TARP paybacks to stifle their competitive capitalist drive. And to pre-empt the coming criticisms, be sure to have your friends in the media and academia broadcast that none of this is socialism. Do you understand, Mr. President?
Using labels both helps and hurts the debate. It feels like socialism, smells like socialism and looks like socialism, but to label it socialism is wrong according to many on the left, and even a few on the right. A full debate is better than name-calling-assuming both parties want that debate.
The leap to calling Obama a socialist is, and should be, a careful task. We were almost alone doing so a year ago, yet our numbers are growing. For some, like the loyal authors who say Obama is not a socialist, it may take a 6-month wait for an MRI to reshape their opinions. By then, it will too late.