Sunday, November 2, 2008

Republicans Who Call Obama A Socialist Are Showing Either Ignorance Or Desperation

By Manifesto Joe

In the demented spirit of a godfather of American fascism, Joe McCarthy, plenty of Republicans, led by McCain attack dog Sarah Palin, are hurling the dreaded "S" word at Barack Obama. It's right-wing regurgitation, like projectile vomit.

The dreaded word in McCarthy's time was "communist." Now it is "socialist," and the far right bases this on Obama's clearly stated intention to enact very limited income redistribution for the benefit of working-class and middle-income Americans.

This misnomer reveals the stupidity of those who use it with any sincerity, and the desperation of those who actually took political science and economics in college and surely know better.

Socialism defined

Here's a basic definition of "socialism," from Webster's New World College Dictionary:

1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of the society or the community sharing in the work and the products.

Please note that the crucial part of the definition has to the with "the means of production and distribution." I am unaware that Obama has ever advocated nationalization of industries, Israeli-style kibbutzes or anything else that characterizes bona fide socialism. He is clearly, like almost all other American progressives, a welfare capitalist. He favors a system of private ownership, but with restraints, checks and balances, and limited intervention in the public interest.

Many conservatives, being ignorant, disingenuous, or both, have greatly expanded the definition of "socialism" to include any and all kinds of income redistribution that works for the benefit of those roughly at or below median income. To broadly paraphrase one of their heroes, Adam Smith, the richer people among them say nothing of their own gains; they complain only of those of other people.

Any time any public entity, whether a local hospital district or the federal government, makes any decision about taxation and/or appropriates money for anything, income is redistributed. It's a question of to whom.

What Americans have seen for about 35 years, more rapidly at times but always steadily, has been socialism for the rich, certainly by the "broader" definition of the right. A federal tax structure that was once progressive, and remains so on paper in some senses with the retention of brackets, has been gradually rendered impotent by the fine scalpel of legislators and tax lawyers. Most corporations now pay little if any income tax, and the very wealthy have myriad shelters with which they happily dodge responsibility for upkeep of the infrastructure, or even for bankrolling the latest war meant to increase their profits.

Socialism for the rich

As for socialism for the rich, I won't even go into corporate welfare, intrinsic advantages of the rich in the legal system, the system of legal bribery we call campaign finance, etc. I'm just sticking with their definition -- redistribution of income. The distribution of wealth is more unequal than it has been since 1929. (Remember what happened that year?) And this hasn't happened by accident. The '80s supply-side economists led by Arthur Laffer and David Stockman were quite above board in their intention to favor corporations and the rich in taxation, in the apparent belief that such policy would spur investment, create jobs, actually increase tax revenue, and result in "trickle-down."

For the most part, with some interruptions during the Clinton administration, the program of socialism for the rich was put over, and with accompanying indoctrination against anything faintly liberal or progressive. The New Deal was ancient history; and in the minds of many, the opportunistic right succeeded in perversely melding it with the failure of Soviet socialism, or with anything that strayed in the very least from a laissez-faire, supply-side party line.

I stopped being a fan of Ralph Nader after he ensured the presidency for an apocalyptic buffoon like George W. Bush. But Nader said something on a debate show that has stuck with me since: "They (the big corporations) want to socialize their losses and privatize their profits." Never was anything truer said.

Obama, though merely bringing a rather mild bourgeois liberalism back to the table, faces the wrath of fools conned by this right-wing economic nonsense, and the venom of those who would use ignorant "fellow travelers" of the far right to stay in control of the wheel.

But, with two days left until the deciding moment, history appears to be tilting toward Obama. Americans have had 28 years to endure "upscale" socialism. Many who don't listen to frothing-at-the-mouth rhetoric know firsthand what such policies have done to them. Indications are that a large turnout of such folks will hugely favor Obama.

Here's a link that shines more light on the subject. There aren't many real socialists left in America, but here's what their presidential candidate thinks about Obama. And, here's one more from the MSM, its own nasty self.

Meanwhile, "this one" voted early -- and I suppose it's not hard to guess that "this one" voted for "that one." I urge anybody who hasn't done the same yet to get to the polls Tuesday. We don't want to see the future postponed for another four years.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


kelly said...

Nice work. I always ask people to define socialism when they call someone a socialist. They generally look at me with a blank face. I pretty much think that if you accuse someone of being a socialist who isn't you haven't got the foggiest idea what one is.

I usually then explain the original notion of fascism, and explain where the word is originated from, the fascia, a bundle of sticks bound together. In Mussonlini's concept the sticks bundled together were the corporations and the government. I explain how is idea was to have corporations come in and set policy for the government.

I then ask them which our country more closely resembles.

I usually get a REALLY? Or else I get a red-faced diatribe about how I'm a commie-Clinton-loving-pinko.

Carlton said...

So when Ms. Palin argues that Barack Obama is engaging in socialism, I'm confused how her own actions in Alaska are not exactly the same. Her actions in Alaska were to create special taxes against oil production in that state, before the production reaches the rest of the nation, to the extent that not only are there no state-taxes in Alaska, but every citizen receives a check. Is that not an absolute definition of redistribution of wealth?

Marc McDonald said...

Is America really a "capitalist" nation?
Our economy and our dollar are propped up by trillions of dollars in capital, flowing in from the central banks of East Asia. The economies of these East Asian nations, from Japan to South Korea to Taiwan to China, are some of the most heavily government-regulated economies on Earth.
Their wealth has little or nothing to do with Adam Smith's ideas about capitalism.
And their capital is what is propping up our whole debt-ridden, hollowed-out, Ponzi scheme economy.
None of this has anything to do with textbook "capitalism," which, these days, really doesn't exist outside of the ivory towers of the Chicago School of economists.

Tony Miller said...

The Republicans are the party of Freedom. The Democrat party is the party of having gov't tell you what to do and how to run your life.
If you want Freedom in American, then I urge you to vote GOP on Tuesday.
Obama will take away YOUR money (and also will take away every man's Right To Bear Arms). He will also appoint Liberal Activist Judges, who will take away our rights and freedoms.
Vote for Freedom! Vote Republican.

dr sardonicus said...

Fine analysis. The choice between capitalism and socialism is no choice at all, for neither exists anywhere in a pure state, nor can they. Successful societies find a mix of the two that works best for them. This is one of the many jobs government should do that our elected officials have abdicated in recent years.

Nice job, Tony, of demonstrating for us once again how divorced from reality Republicans have become.

reenee said...

It's really too bad that so many of the GOPs allowed themselves to be hijacked by a passel of extremists, who managed to turn their party into what has become so distasteful for so many.
But then, take a look at who has been in charge over the last few years.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Reenee -- I'm not so much of a partisan that I don't recognize the need for a viable, genuinely conservative political party in America. But the GOP seemed to make sort of a Faustian bargain with elements of the far right a long time ago. I think the traditionalists in the party simply smelled victory for the first time in a while and thought they could control the extremists, but the tail seems to be wagging the dog now.

Thanks, kelly. I'm going to try that out on a wingnut some time.

Fine points, Carlton and old buddy Marc.

Shrewd observations, Doctor.

As for you, Tony ... I hope that was meant in jest.

Anonymous said...

Here, here!