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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Socialism 101

Barack Obama, in an excerpt from a radio interview with WBEZ in Chicago from 2001:

You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil-rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it, I’d be okay, but the Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [It] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn’t shifted, and one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil-rights movement was because the civil-rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.

Keep in mind, these are all Obama's words. It wasn't as if the interviewer gave that speech and then asked Obama if he agreed, and Obama replied, "Yeah, I guess so." You don't talk at length about how the tragedy of the civil rights movement is that if failed to bring about redistributive change unless it's something you've thought long and hard about, and feel strongly about.

Any time you hear the phrase "redistribution of wealth" used in a positive way, or the phrase "economic justice" used in any way, you're listening to a socialist.

Now ask yourself, what are the odds that Obama had a major change of heart between 2001 and 2008 and shifted his world view rightward?

(I agree.)

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up? Well, he did, back in 2001. He stayed in his chair in 2008, but he's standing again now.

I have no problem with Obama being socialist, that's certainly his right. But I do have a problem with the way he posed as something else during his Presidential campaign.


Anonymous said...

My mother-in-law (now in her 80s) used to regularly decry socialists (imagine a spitting tone as the word is said). (This was also a veiled expression of suspicion of Europeans (like me).) She came to realize that I'm actually an independent/libertarian/conservative and at the same time started to say that she was now herself a socialist.
The way I interpret this is that she, a fairly typical middle class immigrant American, has lost faith in the traditional American Dream, which in many ways she epitomises. I wonder if this isn't the fundamental reason for the nation's shift to left while anti-government and libertarian instincts remain strong. If so, it seems to me that the right needs to restore this faith (and the sense of economic security it provides) or the nation will become increasingly socialist (and thus ever more like those suspicious Europeans.) And it had better be a more sustainable effort than the monetary-laxity on steroids faux-affluence of the Bush era.

John Craig said...

I think a lot of people have moved in your mother-in-law's direction, but maintaining her instincts. The problem with our recent administrations have been, they either favor the rich or the poor. Either way, the middle class gets screwed. Under Bush's SEC, Wall Street ran wild and created havoc for the overall economy, then he practiced a form of corporate socialism which benefited the rich people who work there.

Obama is a weird mix. Look at his background and it is clear that all of his basic sympathies are far left. At the same time he feels that he has to repay those who contributed money to his election campaign, and that includes Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc. And his economic advisors are mostly Wall Street types. So that makes him look centrist. But I believe that if he could wave a magic wand and do so, he would socialize this country to mostly benefit the people whose community he organized on the South Side of Chicago. The problem for him is, he knew he'd have to run as a centrist with a lot of vague slogans (like "hope and change") in order to get elected, and so he can't stray as far as he'd like from his campaign themes. Plus he's limited by what he can get past Congress, and by what he can get past the electorate if he wants to be reelected in '12. But he's already given Chrysler and GM to the unions, and his attempt to nationalize health care is a further redistributive shift, from rich and middle class to poor. He's not selling it as that, but that's what it is. Plus the projects funded by the stimulus bill are pretty much just a Democratic wish list. He even wants to give unions the right to make the workers' vote (on whether or not to unionize) public, i.e., expose them to intimidation from the union. But at the same time, he's listening to the ex-Wall Street types who are his economic advisors because he doesn't want the economy to go off the rails, and he's predisposed towards helping firms like Goldman because they contributed so much to his campaign. The leftists can point to this as evidence that he's not a socialist. But I think that at heart, that's what he is.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!! You hit the nail on the head. He is definitely a socialist or a marxist. The problem I have with him is that I wish he would just come out and say who he is and what his beliefs are. Let the american people judge him on that. If that were to occur his butt would be on the street before the door closed. Most of us grew up knowing, life isn't fair, but if you try hard and get a few breaks you just might make it. I don't know anyone who expects a handout from the government because they feel deserving of it.
Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Tom --
Thank you. Yes, Obama knew he would never be elected if he showed his true colors, which is why he disowned so many of his former compatriots like Ayers and Wright.

I'm all for welfare, or some sort of social safety net, for the disabled and for those temporarily out of work. But what Obama has in mind is something entirely different. He knows he can't push this country as far left as, say, Cuba, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't like to.