"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
-Samuel Adams

the Misanthropic Humanist:


18 November 2008

A socialist?

Patriot Girl links to an article here by Donald J. Boudreaux that asks the question "Is Barack Obama really a Socialist?" It was a worthwhile article about the dangers of "Socialist-lite", but he's wrong when he answers his own question:
  • No. At least not in the classic sense of the term. "Socialism" originally meant government ownership of the major means of production and finance, such as land, coal mines, steel mills, automobile factories, and banks. ... A principal promise of socialism was to replace the alleged uncertainty of markets with the comforting certainty of a central economic plan.

The author's first point is wrong for two reasons. First, while there may be a scholastic definition of socialism that fits the one he presents, I'm unconvinced that it has such a narrow and specific meaning. Socialism can be what he says, but it can also refer to the entire left wing of the political spectrum. In my understanding, Marxism, Chinese Communism, Socialism (with a capital S) and Social-Democracies all fall under the broader category of socialist since they are based on a concept of wealth distribution and equality of results rather than equality before the law. The second reason I think he's wrong is that even if I give him the first point - that socialism is based on government ownership of the means of production - I still think Obama qualifies. When the Government gets an "Ownership Stake" in the private market, it does own and control the means of production. I've heard this argument before, and it sounds pretty lame. Just because Obama isn't quoting directly from Marx and Engels (currently) it doesn't mean that he - and most of congress for that matter - isn't advocating socialism.

Now let's take on his second point, that socialism tries to "replace the alleged uncertainty of markets with the comforting certainty of a central economic plan." Trying to replace market uncertainty with central economic planning is exactly what our loving leaders in Washington are doing with the economic bailouts. What else could it possibly be? They've stated as much publicly. They're trying to get the market to settle down by heading off the failure of business that by all rights should fail. You say you gave bad loans to people that you knew couldn't pay them back? No worries, Uncle Sugar-daddy will guarantee them. Mortgaged your future profit margins by promising unrealistic pensions and health care? (albeit while being blackmailed by unions) No worries, we'll spend $25 Billion covering up the problem for a bit without doing anything to fix the systemic problems.

Sorry, but from where I sit, Obama is not only a socialist, he's just a 5-year plan away from Communist.

1 comment:

  1. MH,
    I agree that Obama's ideas are pretty much socialistic. But what Beaudraux was saying was that his policies don't fit the CLASSIC definition of socialism which is public ownership of means of production and equal income (not re-distribution of different incomes). He says later on "If reckoned as an attitude rather than a set of guidelines for running an economy, socialism might well describe Senator Obama's economics." Anyways, I don't think we need to bend the definition of socialism to describe Obama in that sense. Just because he isn't technically using socialism to get his desired outcome, it doesn't mean the outcome isn't socialistic when all is said and done, i.e. equalized income and de-facto public ownership of companies.