By Jack Jodell, Mar. 21, 2012
Almost from his first day in office, and especially during the debates leading up to the passage of his Affordable Care Act in 2010, talk radio idiots, and many extremist, ignorant, reactionary Republicans have made the very false claim that Barack Obama is a Socialist, and that his programs, including the bailout of our automobile manufacturers, have been “socialistic.” These allegations are so insane they are almost laughable, as the President has by no means been a “socialist” and his policies have overwhelmingly aided and enhanced our capitalist system. In this post, I will prove how ridiculous these claims by the far-right have been, and destroy their argument altogether in the process.
First, let us define the very term “socialism.” Merriam-Webster puts it like this:
1 any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property.
b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.
3 a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
Given this information, ANYONE with even the tiniest bit of knowledge about the President and what he has done over the past 3+ years will know at a glance how utterly foolish these allegations of socialism are. But for those stubborn knuckle-draggers out there who still cling to this crazy notion, here is some more information to learn and absorb.
KARL MARX, a brilliant 19th century German philosopher, author, and political/economic analyst, first came up with the term “socialism.” As the author of Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, he described the flaws of the capitalist economic system and predicted it would be replaced by a more humane, communist one. He said this new system would empower workers (the proletariat) and free them from exploitation by the business owners (the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie) through the eventual elimination of all private ownership. His idealistic motto was “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Marx said the overthrow of capitalism and its transition into pure communism would be a gradual process in which the first step would be a dictatorship of the proletariat, and that socialism (i.e. the abolition of private property, profit, and the adoption of a worker-controlled, state-run planned economy) would be the natural and necessary end result.
Marx died long before his theory of a communist revolution would even be realized. He had predicted it would originate in an industrialized country such as Germany or Great Britain first. But instead, Vladimir Lenin seized power in backward, agricultural Russia and proclaimed it to be the first workers-state in 1917. After a long civil war, Lenin’s forces emerged victorious and renamed the country the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Lenin began to break up large chunks of land previously held by nobles and started redistributing them to the peasants. He nationalized Russian industry and turned factories over to workers’ committees. The 8 hour work day and a pension system was set up for workers. The practice of religion was banned, and a network of secret police was established to protect the new revolution.
After a period of failing health and having suffered three strokes, Lenin died in early 1924. He was replaced by the wily Josef Stalin, who soon used an expanded secret police to eradicate all of his real or imagined political enemies and to terrify average Soviet citizens into complete subservience and absolute obedience. Many were dragged from their homes without charge in the middle of the night, sent to Siberian labor camps, and/or were never heard from again. Both Lenin and Stalin were heavy on dictatorship and light on proletariat freedom. While subsequent Soviet dictators were milder in their application of power, true communism was never achieved in Russia, China, Cuba, or anywhere else, whereas only the dictatorship of the proletariat had been attained and nothing more. These bloody and repressive excesses gave the communist doctrine, and along with it, socialism, a bad connotation in the minds of many. Though never as repressive or totalitarian as the Leninist/Stalinist models, socialism became viewed as a restrictive and less-than-desirable path to follow, and that is why it is so needlessly feared and misconstrued by so many today.
But back to Barack Obama, the charge that he is a socialist or is employing socialist policies in his administration is lunacy, and here is why:
1). At NO point has Obama ever advocated or even implemented worker or state control of American industry. He has treated labor unions in a very benign way, never forcing them upon companies, and he certainly hasn’t nationalized any. The closest he came, which wasn’t really close at all, was in his government bailout of the American automobile industry. He demanded, and got, the resignation of a worthless General Motors CEO, and pushed for certain internal reforms, none of which included direct government day-to-day operation of the company; collection and distribution of its income; or regimentation of its labor force or production operations.
2). Obama has NEVER abolished private property, and in fact always supported and aided private companies both on Wall Street and in the automotive industry. Even his much-derided health care program never adopted a private option which would certainly have hit the private health care insurance industry hard. In fact, a portion of it even mandated that individuals carry a health insurance plan, thereby guaranteeing the private health care insurance industry a significantly higher number of customers!
3). Obama has NEVER advocated a massive redistribution of wealth downward, out of the hands of the wealthiest 1% and into the hands of the 99% below them, even though those same 1% HAVE managed to funnel an ever-increasing amount of wealth upward to themselves over the past 3+ decades! They have done this, of course, through the freezing and lowering of workers’ wages, the outsourcing of their jobs to foreign slave-labor markets, the manipulation of the tax code to significantly lower their taxes, and their increasing adoption of the use of fraudulent offshore tax havens. Through all of this, the President has made only weak efforts to raise the taxes of the richest 1% by a tiny, neasley 4%, and he has come under withering criricism from conservatives on this, which, incidentally, is supported 2-1 by the voting public!
4). Lastly, Obama has NOT given us a “planned economy.” There have been NO five year economic plans submitted whatsoever, and he has never interfered with or attempted to eradicate the type of irresponsible Wall Street commodity speculation which has allowed the price of consumer gasoline to rise unimpeded. Clearly, were he actually a socialist, he would have set the price of gasoline at a much more palatable level for American consumers a long time ago!
Those who stridently insist that the President is a socialist fall into a number of different groups. One is racists, who can’t stand the very idea of a black President and will use any name they believe to be derogatory to hurl against him. These include, but are not limited to, a number of conservative talk radio hosts and ignorant Tea Party extremist members. Another is libertarian Republicans, who hate government to begin with and view any activism by any President for any reason to be a direct assault on their individual freedom. These include self-centered, paranoid idiots like the notorious Koch Brothers, who view the ability to pollute anywhere anytime without question as long as they can make big money their sacred right, and government and tax-haters like Grover Norquist, who want to keep all of their earnings completely to themselves. It also includes a number of very irresponsible, apathetic Americans, who are quick to criticize public figures but are too lazy or stupid to dig up the facts and make an intelligent, rational political decision or statement and will instead go along with whomecer is making the loudest or most forceful claim at the moment. These are the types of people who claim that Barack Obama is a socialist.
All of them are dead wrong.
UP SOON: “Neither a Fascist; Nor a Socialist: What President Obama REALLY Is!”