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  • “Why are we so afraid to call socialists socialists?”

    Posted by Jonathan on July 28th, 2010 (All posts by )

    That’s Rand Simberg’s question (following Stanley Kurtz).

    The answer is, we’re not afraid to call socialists socialists. We do it all the time. It’s the Republican leadership that’s afraid, just as they’re afraid to call Obama a liar when he lies.

    I’ll feel better about the country when Congressional Republicans become more interested in limited government than in maintaining cordial relations (and/or sharing the spoils) with Democrats.

     

    11 Responses to ““Why are we so afraid to call socialists socialists?””

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I think that taboo, just like the racism canard, is going away. It is just too obvious what lies those are.

    2. Robert Schwartz Says:

      The real question is when will the Dems own up to it?

    3. Costello Says:

      Another reason for reluctance amongst congressional Republicans is that the great majority of them are themselves socialists in denial and could not accuse the Dems of being such without opening themselves immediately to accusations of hypocrisy.

    4. tehag Says:

      Wishing for a better ruling class, or asking nicely that they surrender their privileges never works.

      Socialism, Fascism, Nazism, Communism, this ideology goes by many names. Its dominance is total: were every member of the ruling class to retire tomorrow, the new ruling class would have the same ideology; their prosperity depends on it. Hundreds, thousands, millions of intellectuals and politicians speak in its name—who speaks for liberty?

    5. Joe Citizen Says:

      Who do you people think you are kidding? The use of the term “socialism” to describe modern Dems is an example of trying to appropriate a term with heavy negative connotations, and to hurl it at your political opponents, because you think that by doing so, you will gain some advantage in the overall partisan struggle. It is propaganda.

      Socialism has a meaning, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of things that the Dems are proposing. You wish to redefine “socialism” to mean any thing that is not strictly focused on a purely individualistic perspective. That is not, however, what the term has ever meant.

      Your title is even more ridiculous than the argument. Day in and day out we hear legions of rightwingers hurling the socialism charge – it is one of the most popular rhetorical devices coming from the right extremes. And you propose that people are afraid to use it????

      Perhaps you are referring to a few well educated conservatives whose sense of integrity has prevented them from getting down in the gutter and using such tactics? And your post here represents an appeal to them to shed their standards, and to get down and dirty?

      I try to take comfort in the notion that any political movement that has been thoroughly disgraced and removed from power, has to go through a difficult and painful sorting out – including a testing of the limits of its own craziness, before it finds firm footing and begins its comeback. It may well be a necessary process. But it sure is embarrassing to watch.

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Socialism has a meaning, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of things that the Dems are proposing.”

      Let’s see:

      Complete control over the Financial system? Done.

      Complete control over the health care system? Done.

      Control Automobile companies? Done.

      What is left? How do you distinguish between the US after Obama and the EU countries run by socialist parties?

    7. DRT Says:

      Joe Citizen is right. Marxist type socialist systems died out. What’s left of them, Cuba and North Korea, are terminally ill.

      European social democracy does not espouse violent overthrow of the ruling classes or expropriation of the means of production. That’s nonsense.

    8. Percy Dovetonsils Says:

      “European social democracy does not espouse violent overthrow of the ruling classes or expropriation of the means of production. That’s nonsense.”

      Of course – why would you have to “expropriate” the means of production when you can order them around by means of bureaucratic fiat?

      (I will admit that the overthrow of our ruling class is a very attractive idea. However, you might want to check Codevilla’s “America Ruling Class” to see who exactly I’m talking about.)

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      European social democracy does not espouse violent overthrow of the ruling classes or expropriation of the means of production. That’s nonsense.

      It doesn’t ? Wow, I have been mistaken all this time about German banks and their interlocking directorates. I sure wish you had told me before I invested a couple of hundred thousand dollars in ADRs in German industries that should have been big winners when Germany united after The Wall fell. I had a theory that, in a free society, the East Germans would stay at lower wages until their productivity matched the West. In the meantime, West Germany would be investing billions of DM in the East and bringing it up to western standards.

      Instead, the German unions insisted on equal wages for east and west, thereby dragging the German economy down for a generation. That sounds like expropriation to me but then, I’m not invited to the Clinton wedding and, so don’t understand these things.

      Obama stiffed Chrysler bond holders, mostly Chrysler retirees, and closed GM and Chrysler dealerships that had not voted for him. That kind of sounded like expropriation to me.

      As far as that violent overthrow stuff, what happens when the safety valve on a boiler is stuck or wired shut ? I think we will find out soon. Maybe two years unless the “elites” see the light and allow the election coming up to let off some of the steam.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      Your title is even more ridiculous than the argument. Day in and day out we hear legions of rightwingers hurling the socialism charge – it is one of the most popular rhetorical devices coming from the right extremes. And you propose that people are afraid to use it????

      I said that the Republican leadership is afraid to use it. The rest of us (conservatives and libertarians) use it freely, as I noted.

      Socialism isn’t an all-or-none thing. There is much socialism in the USA and has been for a long time. I think it’s reasonable to conclude, based on the track record of US govt programs, that enterprises that are owned or managed or closely regulated by the govt usually perform worse than do private and less-regulated enterprises, and that more govt control means less individual liberty, and that increased govt control over the private sector is therefore undesirable. And many of us who aren’t “liberals” or “progressives” are therefore alarmed at the Obama Democrats’ attempts to expand the size of govt and increase the scope of American socialism. We have too much socialism already and should have much less of it.

    11. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      The commenters following him have done a pretty good job of answering Joe Citizen. If I may, I will just add a few points.

      First, while the various authoritarian collectivist political theologies extent since the 1840’s do in the end share methods and core beliefs [the superiority of the government/mass over the individual, the lack of inherent worth for the individual except as they contribute to the mass, the intolerance of other belief systems or of freedom of conscience in all matters, the willingness to use the coercive powers of the state against political/economic/religious heretics without reference to any law or Constitution, and of course control of the economy and thereby the people]; there are two threads. One is the Marxist-Leninist mold, which involves direct government control of everything. The other is the “Corporatist” model espoused originally in Italian Fascism, and whose methods were adopted by the National Socialists, and other variants on the movement. There, the number of private economic operators is reduced and placed under bureaucratic control. The government does not own the business, it controls the businessman and the company by laws and regulations. And a feature that matches its Marxist-Leninist counterparts. The law may say one thing, but it means nothing unless the government and the bureaucracy agrees. In effect it is an absence of a real rule of law. Control is based on arbitrary decisions. Kind of like what we have now.

      As far as expecting those in power to yield to rational, emotional, or electoral appeals to change their ways; that way lies disappointment and chains. We have two major parties in Congress and the Federal District. But in reality, they are not independent parties. They are merely different wings of what I have in the past referred to as the Incumbency Party. Of late, Rasmussen has identified them in his polling as “The Political Class”. Another term I have used elsewhere for that political class and their hangers-on is TWANLOC. Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen.

      They have an entirely different set of economic, cultural, and political concerns than the rest of us. They view us in the traditional way noted above for authoritarian collectivists. With extremely few exceptions, Republicans at the national and state levels identify with the Political Class far more than they identify with their own party members. They would no more call out a Democrat on falsehood, corruption, or illegal behaviour than they would do so to a member of their immediate family at a reunion. There are distant cousins [us], who might think ill of the whole lot.

      I will grant that our political class has managed to blend aspects of both Marxist-Leninist and Corporatist models; but that is not unusual. Authoritarianism mutates to fit the environment. As an example, while espousing both avowedly Socialist ideology and Islamic theology; the Arab Ba’ath-ist movement [حزب البعث العربي الاشتراك] is in part modeled on the National Socialists.

      We needn’t quibble over whether those ruling over us [phrase chosen with care] are fullfilling this or that textbook definition of one form of tyranny or another. What we have to worry about is that they are not “our people” and they do not mean us well. Tyranny under any name is still to be opposed by any means at hand.

      And no, I sadly do not expect this to be settled by applications of Robert’s Rules of Order.

      Subotai Bahadur