Recently on "The O'Reilly Factor," Bill O'Reilly seemed very concerned about President Obama being described as a socialist by members of the right such as Rush Limbaugh. O'Reilly has often dodged calling the president a socialist, as if doing so would condemn Obama as a tyrannical dictator. It was discussed throughout the show with various guests, and O'Reilly frequently stated that yes, Obama is a far-left guy, but he didn't want to use the actual term "socialist." It would be too much.
To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry
and the most equitable distribution thereof that maybe possible upon the basis
of the common ownership of the means ofproduction, distribution, and exchange,
and the best obtainablesystem of popular administration and control of each
industry or service.
This succinct definition of socialism was seen as the defining purpose of the Labour Party
and was printed on the back of every membership card. During Labour's so-called "shift t
o the centre" after Blair's ascendancy to the leadership in 1994, it controversially rewrote
Clause IV to read,
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of
our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for
each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in
which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few.
Even amidst the fury of the hard left of the party, who saw the change as a
movement away from the party's Marxist roots, the re-envisioned "New Labour"
still defined itself as a socialist party (even if it squeezed "democratic" into the
definition to soften the blow) and still does to this day.
The current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has also defined himself as a socialist
and admitted to adhering to socialist policies, as do a great deal of his top Cabinet
ministers, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who believes that
Labour should talk up the massive redistribution of wealth it has achieved, and the
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, who stated recently that "
[s]ocialism, as represented by the Labour Party, the Fabian Society, the Co-operative
movement, is a tradition I can be proud of."
In Great Britain, and across Western Europe, it will not raise any eyebrows for a leading
politician to describe himself as a socialist. Definitions of socialism range widely across
the world, whether one is a democratic socialist, a socialist democrat, a liberal socialist, a
Christian socialist, or the theatrical "Luxemburgist Trotskyist, post-Trotskyist" of Christopher
Hitchens. We in Europe know that the definitions of what a socialist is depend on the socialist.
As British scholar Robert Service has commented on the subject of left-wing organization,
"Grandiose names were chosen for organizations which were little larger than
There are as many exact definitions of socialism as there are socialists. Yet they do have
common characteristics. Love of big government, nationalization of industry, massive
taxation, wealth redistribution, etc. all point towards socialism. Someone like the president
would not even have to say he was a socialist in Western Europe; it would be assumed quite
normally, without any fuss or conspiracy.
I have a lot of respect for Bill O'Reilly, but to a Brit who has seen his fair share of socialists and
lives in a socialist country run by a self-described socialist party by a self-described socialist
prime minister who has taken over for another self-described socialist prime minister, it is
puzzling why self-described independents like Mr O'Reilly are doing backflips in an attempt
to avoid the obvious fact -- President Obama is quite clearly a socialist.
All these verbal gymnastics that are used to avoid stating the obvious may be rather humorous for
someone watching from over the Atlantic, but for Americans, such delusion is a very serious matter.
It is important, not just for the American right, but for the American people as a whole, to realise just
exactly who it is they have elected to office. With the approval numbers dropping almost daily for
the president, it appears that it is sinking in for the generally center-right American public.
However, when people on the right start being "concerned" about describing Obama as what he clearly
is, in part due to the hysteria that both sides of the political spectrum exhibit when the word "socialist"
is used, then it damages the effectiveness of opposition to him. Instead of being able to define what
Obama's aims are in his presidency, those on the left and on the right keep pushing Obama into a slightly
left-of-center, non-ideological fog. Such a political move is deceitful, and it does not allow the American
public to get a clear perception of just what they have voted into the White House.
Those of us across the pond who analyze American politics know exactly who it is you have in the White
House. Obama is not some new post-political entity. Nor is he some form of Stalinist that will set up a
USSA. He is a normal, well-spoken, charismatic socialist who in Britain would sit quite happily towards
the left of the Labour Party alongside figures such as Tony Benn, Aneurin Bevan, Harold Wilson, and Ed
Balls. To call someone a socialist is not conspiratorial, and it is not fear-mongering; it is simply the truth, and
it is time for some in the conservative media to take a deep breath and admit it -- America has a socialist
leading the country. Welcome to the club: It stinks!
Adam Shaw is an English writer specializing in politics and religion. He can be reached at