July 22, 2010
Of Course Obama's a Socialist
Thomas Frank, the Wall Street Journal's quota liberal, is shocked that people are calling President Obama a socialist. Last week, a poll announced that 55 percent of people think he's just that. Not at all, retorts Frank:
If the president were actually a socialist in the Western European sense, he would certainly have pushed for single-payer health care, he would surely have gotten tough with the banks during the financial crisis, and he would undoubtedly have launched a massive program of public works instead of last year's halfhearted stimulus package.
...To which any half-alive conservative would retort: What about the Fabian socialists? Remember, they were Brit socialists who took their name from Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator, famous for his delaying tactics in the Second Punic War.
President Barack Obama Cunctator may not have pushed for single-payer health care, but he believes in it and has been recorded on video saying so. The banks? Maybe you don't understand, Mr. Frank, how banks contribute to the socialists' plans. You can nationalize credit and funnel it into the projects of the educated elite, as in Fannie and Freddie and the Dodd-Frank bill, and still have nominally privately-owned banks. And as for the stimulus package, let's give the president credit for the biggest package he could get out of Congress.
This week, the educated elite doesn't want Americans to call its program socialist. No doubt that is because "socialism" has come to be connected with utter economic failure and top-down crony corruption by and for a national nomenklatura. But what of that? A hundred-odd years ago, everyone in the educated class from Boston Transcendentalists in the east to hard-drinking Jack London in the west wanted to be called socialists. Then they decided they wanted to be called Progressives.
When "Progressive" became a dirty word, then the educated class wanted to be called liberals. Of course, after a generation of liberal programs, liberal corruption, and liberal failure, "liberal" became a dirty word. So liberals renamed themselves back to "progressive."
In the Vietnam War, liberals were proud to sneer at patriotism. Now they throw a fit at anyone who questions their patriotism.
It really doesn't matter what the educated elite calls itself; eventually, that word becomes a pejorative. On the other hand, the latest pejorative that the educated elite pastes on conservatives often becomes a badge of honor. Pretty soon, the word "racist," which seems to be the pejorative-du-jour amongst the fashion-conscious, will in its turn become a badge of honor on the college campus, as in: "Like, so this guy called me, like, a racist? Like, you think he likes me?"
The name isn't important. What is important is the political agenda of the ruling class behind all the shape-shifting. Angelo M. Codevilla from The American Spectator:
Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints ...Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a "machine," that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members.
This ruling class, even in benighted Europe, realized a couple of decades ago that it didn't need to openly nationalize the means of production to achieve its aim of ruling the economy and the culture from the political sector. It discovered that it didn't need to expropriate the proprietors. It could rule through the courts and through administrative regulation of the private sector. That is why Frank's argument about "single-payer" is so meaningless. Members of the ruling class understand that the actual institutional form of health care is not the critical factor. The critical factor is that power in health policy centers upon them. They will get to decide who lives or dies; they will decide who pays and who benefits. Of course, down in the fever swamps of the Angry Left, they don't understand this sophisticated truth; all they know are the slogans that their leaders taught them half a century ago.
You can call Obama a socialist, a progressive, a liberal, a black liberationist. The choice of words doesn't matter. What matters is that President Obama is a card-carrying member of the ruling class, and every act of this president aims to concentrate more power in the government or distribute favors to his supporters.
America was not founded for this. The 600,000 did not die in the Civil War for this. The GIs did not crush Nazism and Communism for this. And that is why it shall not stand.
I wonder what liberals won't want us to call them next week.