Politics

Obama and the Socialist Canard

The president is no left-wing extremist

|

Since he's under attack for allegedly being a covert socialist, you would think President Obama would get some love from the overt socialists. But they sound about as enamored of him as Sean Hannity is.

"Obama's a market guy!" fumed Frank Llewellyn, head of the Democratic Socialists of America, in an interview with Politics Daily. "He's not any kind of socialist at all. He's not challenging the power of corporations. The banking reforms that have been suggested are not particularly far-reaching. … I mean it's laugh out loud, really."

In the past, Republicans had a damning word for their opponents. In 1988, George H.W. Bush denounced Democrat Michael Dukakis, as a "liberal." Four years later, he portrayed Bill Clinton as a "tax-and-spend liberal." In 2004, John Kerry was tarred as a "rich, liberal elitist." But such is the intensity of disgust with Obama that his conservative critics had to escalate to a new epithet.

To this sort of mind, Llewellyn's denial only confirms that socialists are sneaky as well as sinister. What better way to advance their agenda than by pretending to disavow the leader who is faithfully implementing it?

As it happens, Obama has found other ways to hide his Marxist mindset—such as surrounding himself with known supporters of capitalism. Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, has long been detested on the left for his support of free trade and financial deregulation.

Christina Romer, one of three members of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, has done academic research that, according to The Wall Street Journal, "has even been cited by Republicans as supporting the idea that tax increases negatively impact economic output."

Obama's chief economic adviser during the campaign was Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago, long a beacon of free-market thinking. Goolsbee, now a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, is also one of the rare Democratic economists who has defended subprime mortgages against liberal detractors.

Obama, it's true, has done some things that involve the enlargement of government—bailing out banks, taking over General Motors, proposing a "public option" for health insurance, and spending $787 billion to stimulate the economy.

But it was George W. Bush, a conservative hero, who tossed a federal lifeline to financial institutions and automakers, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He also signed the 2008 stimulus package, which was billed as a tax cut but really was nothing more than a handout of $168 billion the government didn't have.

Obama did take over GM after it went bankrupt, but Summers said in a speech last summer that "we will work to transfer government holdings into private hands as soon as practicable." He declared, "Only if government is no longer a major presence in any of the companies well before a decade from now will it have fully succeeded"—only, that is, if it moves away from socialism.

It's easy to forget, Goolsbee told me, that the stimulus originated not from an ideological zeal to abolish capitalism but the perceived need to avert a depression. The point, he stresses, was to revive the economic activity that the private sector depends on—a policy in the tradition of legendary economist John Maynard Keynes.

Keynesianism, whatever its flaws, is not an indicator of socialist convictions. It is accepted to one degree or another not only by liberal economists but by many conservative ones.

Critics of the public insurance option, which include me, shouldn't exaggerate its likely importance. One notable feature of Obama's approach to health care is that it retains our system of private insurance. An authentic socialist would, at the very least, support a universal system of government-provided insurance.

Of course, some people say Obama's real goal is to use a government-run plan to destroy private insurers, paving the way for a Canadian-style system. But if that's true, why has he indicated he could give up the public option to get other reforms passed?

In the end, Obama is more likely to benefit than suffer from this smear. The critics hope to persuade the public that he is a dangerous extremist far removed from the desires of the average person. When conservatives like Mike Huckabee claim that "Lenin and Stalin would love" the administration's policies, though, they sound like 3-year-olds crying about monsters under the bed.

There is plenty to oppose in what Obama wants to do. But can we not be stupid about it?

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM 

Advertisement

NEXT: Price A House Low And It Will Go

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Not a socialist, my ass.

  2. There is plenty to oppose in what Obama wants to do. But can we not be stupid about it?

    Exactly. Best article in Reason about Obama yet. As time goes on it looks like the Hilary Clinton camp was right – Obama is beholden to the Wall Street special interests that got him elected and he’s going to do their bidding. Obama’s economic policy, however stupid it may be, is still to the right of Richard Nixon’s. Over the last 40 years the US has moved so far to the right on most economic issues it’s hard to take threats of “Socialism” seriously.

    1. The article is correct, but misses the point. All socialists become crony capitalists when they get into power, but he still is a crypto-socialist demagogue. People on the left think he is a socialist and that’s the problem.

      Of course he’s been co-opted by the corporo-statists. He may never have intended otherwise. But people on both sides still buy what he’s selling.. that he’s a socialist trying to ‘sneak’ through socialism.. whether they like the idea or hate it.

      So I think having the discussion about socialism is not a bad thing.

    2. Ah, I see, so Obama is not a socialist, he is a fascist.

  3. I disagree totally with the premise of this article.

    “CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday that he and Cuban ally Fidel Castro risk being more conservative than U.S. President Barack Obama as Washington prepares to take control of General Motors Corp.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article…..GX20090603

    1. IMPOSTER!

  4. One notable feature of Obama’s approach to health care is that it retains our system of private insurance.

    “Private” is not the way in which I would describe our current insurance system. It’s roughly as private as GM.

  5. Keynesianism, whatever its flaws, is not an indicator of socialist convictions. It is accepted to one degree or another not only by liberal economists but by many conservative ones.

    Seriously? I truly thought that the overwhelming majority of economists working in the field today no longer believed in that nonsense after it was proven a second time that it doesn’t work by the debacle in Japan.

    1. to one degree or another

      Lots of conviction in that statement.

    2. Anyone who still believes in Keynesian economics needs to study some of the textbooks that have come out in the past 50 years. It is a flawed theory and has been disproven many times over.

  6. This article seems to say “ignore Obama doing X because he said Y”. I don’t care what he says about GM; I care that he illegally nationalized it.

    1. Exactly…”Trust what he says, not what he does” is the premise I read also.

  7. …a policy in the tradition of legendary economist John Maynard Keynes.

    Seriously? Legendary? For his infamy perhaps?

    Socialists angered because he hasn’t been nearly socialist enough is not exactly a clear statement that President Obama isn’t a socialist.

    Citing that he has surrounded himself by at least 3 free enterprise thinkers does little to negate the fact that he is life-long friends, and is mentored by some of the most anti-individual, socialist-minded thinkers this country has ever known.

    Chapman, read between the lines. Obama being beholden to the folks who got him elected is a hackneying of his socialism, not a negation of it.

    1. “Keynesianism, whatever its flaws, is not an indicator of socialist convictions. ”

      Are you f’ing kidding me? it is the bedrock of nationalist socialist thinking…From Mussolini(who wrote the foreword for keynes books…to the Troskyite Neo-cons to the bed-wetting Fabian Socialist that have been putting in place one plank of the communist manifesto after the other for the last 100 years…..Keynes is the intellectual gimickry used to sell ALL of this!!!

  8. But it was George W. Bush, a conservative hero, who tossed a federal lifeline to financial institutions and automakers, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He also signed the 2008 stimulus package, which was billed as a tax cut but really was nothing more than a handout of $168 billion the government didn’t have.

    Science, how many of these bullshit articles are you going to write?

    George Bush was a “conservative hero”?!! And he often acted like a fucking Socialist, so Barry can’t be one?!

    Sure, nationalize the auto industry, socialize medicine but swear that the “public option” isn’t really Socialist but market based and Chapman repeats it?

    Obama acquired the most Leftist voting record in the Senate in less than two years but he is really a centrist? Maybe even a Libertarian?

    You better check your meds.

    1. “George W. Bush, a conservative hero”

      I stopped reading at that point

      1. Yep, me too.

  9. 1) When Huckabee said “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff” I’m pretty sure he was referring to the perogies at CPAC.

    2) In seriousness however this article is complete BS. If by socialist one means that Obama wants to expand the federal government, especially in economic issues, then he is most difinitely steering the country in a socialist direction. I don’t think anyone will argue that he has as much control as Lenin, Stalin or other socialist leaders totalitarian dictators but that is definitely the dirrection he’s taking the country.

    WYF Chapman?

    Fact: Obama’s economic policies are about control. [cap and trade, healthcare, banking “reform”]

    1. Obama wants to expand the federal government, especially in economic issues

      But that’s not “Socialism.” How hard is that to understand? Nixon was not a Socialist, Teddy Roosevelt was not a Socialist and neither is Obama. And when Reagan built up the military that did not make him a “Fascist” just because Fascists love the military. If Saying Obama is a “Socialist” is meaningless claptrap.

  10. I need a drink.

    For a magazine called ‘Reason’….

  11. What a steaming crock of crap. More defensive smoke and mirrors from the left. Sorry my little leftists, this kind of meadow muffins just won’t float anymore. Real Americans are on to you.

  12. Labeling Obama as a Socialist is as insulting to the Socialist movement as labeling him a Nazi is to the Aryan Nation. It’s all just mindless jabber coming from the extreme right wing. I think it’s fairly evident by now that Obama isn’t going to do anything to rock the boat. At least, not in the current economic situation.

    I was just looking over the data from a 2009 OECD report (pdf) and the figures are just amazing.

    Here’s a couple interesting articles by Bruce Bartlett:

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/…..eform.html

    1. My comment contained too many links?

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/b…..aced-rage/

  13. I think he’s clearly not a socialist, more like a moderate social democrat. Which, though uncool, isn’t the worst thing ever. For isntance, I’d prefer him in the Oval office over Huckabee.

    I should have voted for Fred Thompson.

  14. Of course BO’s a socialist ala “the third way” where government creates and protect corporate monopolies, then controls them with a web of laws and regulations. That gives them the fun of controlling companies without the responsibility of actually owning them.

    1. Isn’t that what every administration, since 1913, has done?

    2. That “third way” you’re referring to is better known as fascism.

      1. Mussolini, Blair, and Clinton all explicitly used the term “third way” for those policies.

  15. Obama is whatever his string pullers tell him to be. Judging by the czars they have hired, fascist is the proper term.

  16. Holy crap! I thought Steve Chapman was ‘reasonable’.

    Are you kidding me? Chapman’s argument is a joke. And he dares call the readers stupid for thinking Obama remotely socialist?

    Let’s see if I have it right OK?

    On the one hand, Obama’s no socialist because he has PAID LIP SERVICE to free market principles and has a handful of advisors that supposedly support free market thinking?

    On the other hand Chapman admits Obama ‘has done some things that involve the enlargement of government?bailing out banks, taking over General Motors, proposing a “public option” for health insurance, and spending $787 billion to stimulate the economy.’

    Oh yeah, and regarding the GM takeover one Obama advisor has pinky promised that “we will work to transfer government holdings into private hands as soon as practicable.”

    Are you kidding me? My 7 year old says she’ll eat her broccoli too.

    This column is an insult to the reader’s intelligence. Obama is the most leftist president seen yet.

    How do I know Chapman? By what he DOES not by what he SAYS you idiot.

    And that’s not stupid.

  17. LOL< Obama reminds me of a Pit Bull with no teeth. All bark, no bite!

    RT
    http://www.anon-web.int.tc

    1. Swing and a miss.

  18. I guess it would be more correct to call him an economic fascist, but I doubt that would sound more reasonable to most people.

    1. It would really hurt the Left’s feelings if you were to call Obama a fascist – it’s always been their favorite epithet for the Right.

      1. “Racist” and “Fascist” are the words leftists use like Archie Bunker used racial slurs.

      2. the fascists are merely a branch of socialist…the “nationalist socialist”….kinda like min-archists are a branch of the libertarians. Is this really so hard to understand? and does Chapman really work hard at misclassifying the groups…yes modern “conervatives” like George Bush are socialist…Obama is socialist…they agree on many many things….we are libertarian and we disagree with them on many many things…we can call both a-holes “socialists” and be completely accurate.

  19. I guess it would be more correct to call him an economic fascist, but I doubt that would sound more reasonable to most people.

    “Fascist” is too emotionally loaded a term for most people to deal with, even if it is technically correct. I’ve been calling him a corporatist, which means the same thing but is less likely to freak people out. Corporatists are not socialists, i suppose, but from the libertarian end of the spectrum all those authoritarian ideologies start to run together anyway.

    For what it’s worth, Bush was a corporatist, too.

    1. It’s the main requirement if you want to run for office

  20. I don’t think he is socialist. I think he is just crooked. If you look at where he came from and what he is doing, the end always seems to involve stealing, getting power for his chronies and glorifying himself more than a commitment to any particular ideology.

    I have said this before; Obama knows only one thing, it is good to be Obama.

    1. Mel Brooks. Nice.

    2. Isn’t that the essence all of socialists/fascits/corporatist assholes?

  21. Bernie Sanders is a self-avowed socialist. There aren’t many issues where he disagrees with Obama. National defense may be one, but Obama doesn’t want international complexities messing up his grand National Experiment.

  22. The president is no left-wing extremist; he just cavorts with them and supports all their goals.

  23. This is probably the worst article I have ever read on Reason.

    “Despite being clearly the most socialist president the United States has elected in the last 50 years, in that he has ramped up government spending to all-time highs as a GDP%, acquired companies with federal money for the first time in history, and seems prepared to further take over entire industries; it’s all OK because Larry Summers hangs out in the White House occasionally, so that Obama can make a point of ignoring him”

  24. Sometimes I think Champan writes this crap just to get a rise out of us.

  25. There is plenty to oppose in what Obama wants to do. But can we not be stupid about it?

    I don’t know Chappy, you tell me…..

  26. Now that I think about, calling these regulators czars is the ultimate head fake. The word makes us think of Russia, while everything happening now is more like what happened in Germany.

  27. Marxism and socialism, for all of its flaws, was a one time a coherent system. But, that ended with the rise of multiculturalism and anti-imperialism. Originally, Marxism and Socialism were about transforming society to a particular thing. Man was going to be transformed into a new socialist man and heaven on earth would ensue. That transformation involved losing things like religion and cultural identity. The system was anything but relativistic or multicultural.

    You can’t reconcile Marxism and Socialism with multiculturalism in any coherent way. You can’t have a socilialist society and at the same time say that it is okay for traditional opressed groups to cling to their religions and cultures. It can’t work that way. For socialism to work, people have to drop their chains and their cultural baggage and join the collective.

    Once the Left embraced mutli-culturalism it lost all of its intellectual coherence. It just became a western self loathing suicide cult. For this reason, I think very few people, Christopher Hitchens might be one, are actually socialists or Marxists anymore. They are worse. They are just loons who don’t really know what they believe they just know what they hate.

    1. Socialism – at its ultimate core – is a “planned” economic system. It asserts itself with the natural sciences and attempts to “de-bunk” modern economic practice with scary numbers. Anyone in support for socialism thinks that any level of theroetical thought (modern economics) is pointless – they reject the soft sciences. Thus Econ is deemed as the dysmal science. This is how it tries to get around econ – through polylogism (however polylogism has been ditched by most socialists now-a-days).

      All this multi-cultural mumbo jumbo you’re mentioning has no bearing on a socalist system. Whether economics is a natural science or a theoretical science, however, does.

      Guess which one keeps winning out? I’ll give you a hint, it’s free-market ecnomics.

      However big scary numbers, a time of turmoil, and what seems like the ability to see into the future, are pretty convincing to most people; even if the numbers are fundamentally incorrect – thus you see why lobbists have such a strong foothold in our policies.

      “The problem is not that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is.” – Thomas Sowell

      1. P.S. I should also note that, with the absence of polylogism, they only assert that natural sciences are the only viable science. Not to be confused on what polylogism is (meams, “More than one logic.”) This lead to the pursecution of the Jews and the Kulaks. To be called jewish in the 30’s was to be called a burgoise also synonomous to being called a capitalist.

        It’s strange how you still see this mindset today through the left. Micheal Moore’s film rings a bell.

      2. I don’t see how you can be a socialist and buy into the multicultural mumbo jumbo. But, most people who claim to be a socialist do in fact buy into that mumbo jumbo.

        You are correct with the Sowell quote. Most people don’t know what thinking is. And thus they don’t know what the words and labels they give to themselves mean.

    2. Once the Left embraced mutli-culturalism it lost all of its intellectual coherence. It just became a western self loathing suicide cult.

      Nice!

  28. Steve Chapman can be forgiven from seeing how socialist Obamaman is. His own socialism creates a blind spot.

  29. George W. Bush = Conservative hero? You lost me there.

  30. George W. Bush is not a “conservative hero.” He was obviously not a fiscal conservative and has been ripped over and over again on this front.

  31. “Fascist” is too emotionally loaded a term for most people to deal with, even if it is technically correct.

    You hit the nail on the head, X.

  32. I would tend to agree that Obama isn’t really a pure quill socialist. He’s really much more of a soft fascist, with, as is typical of fascists, a heaping side of kleptocracy.

  33. George W. Bush = Conservative hero?

    Not to speak for everyone that voted for W, but I personally never heard anyone – even people I know voted for the guy – ever truly lay praise on GW Bush. Everyone I know that voted for Bush were of the same position as me when I twice voted for Bush – he was the lesser of two evils. In 2000 we had a choice between a douche and a shit sandwich; I chose to vote for the douche. In 2004 we had a choice between a douche and a double helping of shit sandwich; I voted for the douche. Although, since I vote in Maryland, my vote for Bush was as big a waste of time as voting for whatever nonentity the LP puts up.

    We don’t get to vote for the ideal candidate, we only get to vote for the candidates that actually run from president. Just from that perspective, anyone that is willing to run for president has already demonstrated that they have deep character flaws and is at least a total douche bag.

  34. …actually run from for president.

  35. It’s more that I think Obama has absolutely zero impulses as regards the creation of wealth. For his entire life, when Obama and almost all his associates have needed to bring more money into a context, they’ve picked up the phone and had someone send it over.

  36. run from president.

    Awesome slip there.

  37. It’s more that I think Obama has absolutely zero impulses as regards the creation of wealth.

    Well, yeah. Politics is pretty much reserved for people who are too dumb, mendacious, or power-hungry to get what they want by actually working for it.

  38. It seems to me there is a purist/pragmatist split here.
    I think that if a libertarian was elected president in 2012, they would find that it is not so easy to take a hard turn and change all policies to be libertarian. Would that make them not libertarian or just pragmatic? Also, politics works like a pendulum, the harder it swings to one side, the faster it is going to change directions. If you want to make permanent change, you need to move the pivot of the pendulum and I doubt that way is through purity.

    I tend to be trusting, so I think that Obama was not lying in the campaign. Yet when he got in office was convinced that the direct method was either not possible or not advisable.

  39. One of Chapman’s reasons for stating Obama is not a socialist is that Bush did some of the same things that Obama is doing. Bush was, and I persume is, an idiot and not much of a capitalist.

  40. So its down to the party of socialized medicine vs. the party of socialized religion?

  41. If you’re really trying to make the case that Obama isn’t a left-wing extremist, wouldn’t you be better off focusing on foreign policy issues, like the wars and Guantanamo Bay? Because those are the areas in which he has yet to deviate significantly from the last several years.

    As far as leftist frustrations with domestic issues like health care are concerned, America hasn’t turned into a full-fledged totalitarian dictatorship yet. Leftists are simply frustrated that these things still have to work their way through the meat grinder of Congress. Well, just get over it.

  42. If no one is going to claim the honor:

  43. What planet are you people on? Jesus Christ. “But there ARE monsters under the bed mommy!!!”

  44. Yo, Chapman this is shit

  45. This really is an epic fail of an article… *shakes head*

  46. You know why Keynesianism is accepted by both liberals and conservatives? Because it’s stupid!

  47. ‘Socialist’ is a term used for name calling to elicit emotion, nothing more. This is doubly stupid since there isn’t, in fact, anything wrong with being a socialist. It means nothing specific. You might as well say Obama is a poopyhead.

    1. Omg how can a brain be so shtupped? You said socialist is just a pejorative but then that socialist is ok.

      Is it merely a pejorative or does it mean something? Can’t be both.

      It does mean something and it means slavery and poverty.

    2. Tony,
      why do “progressives” always whine about being called liberals or socialists instead of defending their position. Are you people all gutless cowards?

  48. “Socialism” does not mean “left-wing politics”, people. I am from East Germany, I experienced Socialism. Socialism means: No elections, planned economy etc. You Americans do not experience anything of the sort, so stop blabbering about Socialism. It is insulting to everyone who survived this horror.

    1. I’m certainly hoping not to come across as dismissive, but just because socialism often comes with totalitarianism, doesn’t make them the same thing. A socialist state can be achieved under a democracy.

      As for your second point in your definition, central planning, that is exactly what we are pointing out, and objecting to. The US already has some of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and our regulation system is nearly second to none. The difference between what we have, and socialism, is a matter of semantics, and degree.

    2. Per Marx, Socialism (government ownership of the means of production) is the intermediary state between Capitalism (individual ownership of the means of production) and Communism (communal ownership of the means of production).

      The GDR’s human rights record was horrible for sure, but it wasn’t because of Socialism per se. For a good look at what happens during mass collectivization of private property a la Karl Marx, look no further than 1930’s Ukraine.

      1. Thank You.

  49. Have YOU LOST YOR FUCKING MIND CHAPMAN?…we need to insatall a ignition lock breathalyzer on your keyboard to make sure you don’t write articles while drunk again.

    “Keynesianism, It is accepted to one degree or another not only by liberal economists but by many conservative ones. ”

    I guess if liberals and conservatives both accept torture, free speach zones lots of stupid foreign wars, the war on drugs, the federal reserve and corn subsidies then those are good too and we shouldn’t criticize them too loudly?!

  50. I get as uncomfortable as anyone else with knee jerk political buzz words being tossed about haphazardly by mass media.

    But I just can’t jive with the anti-“socialism” bit that Reason has already hit upon a few times already.

    Socialism is NOT Communism. It was Marx’s halfway point. I don’t think Obama has Communist aspirations, but he certainly has Social Democrat ones. Regardless of what it has mutated into today, the original Social Democrats in Germany were ultimately moderate Marxists. I don’t think it’s STUPID to make a connection. What’s STUPID is all of the Republicans who can’t see how much their own politicians are doing the same.

    Perhaps “socialistic” is a better description of Obama’s policies, butif you know your Hayek then you know how easy a little socialism becomes a lot (or it becomes fascism/corporatism).

    Finally, this is America. It is only right that we have a much lower boiling point when it comes to socialist tendencies.

  51. And in fact Tony, water pistols blazing, shows yet again what a moron he is…

    Tony, “Socialist” does have a meaning, and that meaning is rather simple to understand: Central control & ownership of the means of production – in essence, state ownership of capital goods & labor.

    We have, as Walter Block likes to point out some times, socialist roads, for instance – where both the roads themselves (which could be considered productive capital) and the machinery to make those roads along with virtually all the labor force involved is paid for/owned by the state.

    And yes, there is something wrong with being a socialist, and that is the hubris that you can actually plan the lives & activities of millions of people. As Patrick says below, you wind up with no elections, totalitarianism and quite clearly “horror”. There is really no other direction it can go once you’ve passed the tipping point on central planning.

    The US is like most of Europe… A welfare state, social democracy. Sure, Sweden has a socialistic form of health care, but then they have a ton of private roads, and more school choice than we have here. Things here are a lot more similar to the hampered market economies of Europe than anyone likes to admit… But regardless, there are many aspects of both systems which are quite rightly described as socialist.

    What’s more interesting though is that – since socialism outright was such a horror (and I really encourage you to travel to places like Estonia and find out what the older folks think about socialism) – Mussolini invented what he (and FDR for that matter) thought was a superior way of central planning: Corporatism/Italian Fascism.

    That means, “private” ownership, entirely controlled by the political class through laws, taxes & licenses – an intertwining of business & state. It’s great… It offers the same stupid hubris in planning and controlling everyone’s decisions while maintaining a bit of the “market” forces like competition and prices which are so vital to economic information gathering.

    Point is, in my opinion at least… Obama is absolutely, rightly, called a “Socialist”. That doesn’t mean America itself is there yet. But how many more leaders who are pushing in that direction does it take before we do get there?

    1. There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama desires to see all means of production go under state control. This country is certainly less ‘socialistic’ than almost every other advanced democracy, and we’ve got a long, long way to go before capitalism is decimated in any of them or the inevitable slippery slope to totalitarianism occurs.

      1. I’m not sure this is an all or nothing kind of thing Tony – even the Communists couldn’t abolish all private property in the de facto sense (as hard as they tried) and I actually disagree that the US is “less socialistic” than other advanced democracy.

        What we have now is, also, not capitalism – but as I said, corporatism. So we’re already utilizing the economic theory of Mussolini. And we have been for almost 100 years now… We’re pretty far away from Adam Smith at this point, not to mention Mises, Hayek, or god-forbid Rothbard.

        There is, however, plenty of evidence that Obama wants A LOT of the economy under state control – unless you haven’t been paying attention to the auto industry, health care, or a large chunk of the banking sector, not to mention “pay czars” and oh yeah, mumblings about controlling the interwebz as well…

      2. Correct that’s the thrust of the article. He’s not socialist, he’s acting as a fascist.

        But as I pointed out that’s the flaw of the article. No he’s not a socialist but socialist tools like you think he’s socialist and secretly plotting to bring it about.

        Therefore the pointing out the tragedy of socialism does have value, even if Obama is not a socialist.

  52. What about how he has interacted with Venezuela or Honduras or Iran. Obama seems to prefer controlled elections which give the guise of freedom but with predetermined outcomes (Acorn).Obama doesn’t seem to want a revolution like in Cuba but he also doesn’t seem too disturbed with those who make themselves president for life(Chavez). And worse in my opinion he openly supports those who have attempted to undermine the constitution of their democratically elected governments(Chavez,Zeleya. But you know it’s for the people so it’s all good right.

  53. “There is no evidence whatsoever that Obama desires to see all means of production go under state control.”

    No? Are you sure you don’t need to look up the definition of the word, no? So I suppose you think actually taking over companies and parts of the economy doesn’t count as evidence.

    As someone mentioned above, most of us here in the US have a lower boiling point on this stuff. I personally have had more of socialism here than I care for by a significant amount. Any more of it is unacceptable.

    1. As someone’s who’s not hysterical I appreciate the fact that extreme measures were necessary in light of the financial crisis. I have seen no evidence that Obama wanted to involve the government in those industries but it’s possible you owe your job to the actions taken to mitigate the recession.

      And spare me the Glenn Beck “boiling point” crap. In case you haven’t noticed Obama is spending most of his time cleaning up messes caused during the last administration–you know the one that actually did propose authoritarian changes to this country and acted proud of them.

      1. In case you haven’t noticed Obama is spending most of his time cleaning up messes caused during the last administration–you know the one that actually did propose authoritarian changes to this country and acted proud of them.

        And how is Obama actually cleaning up these messes, one might ask? By engaging in the same authoritarian behavior of the administration that preceded him, then giving his own self-congratulatory “Mission Accomplished” pats-on-the-back.

        I fail to see how engaging in more of the same behavior that dragged us into this mess counts as “cleaning it up”.

      2. but it’s possible you owe your job to the actions taken to mitigate the recession.

        It’s much more likely he lost his job owing to the actions he took.

        ./points to rising unemployment that disney economists keep being ‘surprised by’

        ./points to rising unemployment that real economists predicted

        Broken Window fallacy is proved yet again and disney economists cry yet again ‘more more!’

  54. Lawrence Summers is not a capitalist; he is better described as a mercantilist or corporatist.

  55. If there is an historical public figure that Obama most closely resembles it is Fran?ois Mitterrand in his temperment. Both were effete, dapper, narcissistic, dismissive of the lumpen-proletariat and bourgeoisie, and, yes, Socialist at heart even if they have to bend to political reality. FM tried to institute socialist reforms in the first few years of his regime, and that not only did that not work out very well but events forced a sharp one hundred and eighty degree reversal of the misguided earlier policies.

    Now we have the good fortune to witness a repeat performance of our own.

    1. Adding an edit function would be nice. Some of the verb tenses I settled on above bug me, as does that extra ‘that’. Brrrr.

    2. Actually, several times during the campaign I said that the politician in my recollection that Obama most reminds me of is Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

      Same vacuous content-free speeches on which the listener could project all of his own beliefs and wishes. All things to all people.

      1. Good analogy. Whether mine or yours more perfectly fits depends on the actions of Michelle Obama 😉

  56. While I would agree there is a difference between saying he is a socialist, and saying his policies lean towards socialism, you are actually making the exact same mistake people made in the 30s and 40s saying that the Nazis were a capitalist right wing party, because they were against other socialists. (insert here I’m not comparing Obama to Hitler )

    The first chapter of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom talks about this very issue. The socialists are not competing for the hearts and minds of capitalists, but rather for other socialists. Therefore the different socialist groups go after each other and attack each other for not being “real” socialists. They need to do this to attract more followers (for donations, or bodies to help bring their policies to fruition, etc)

    You can see this phenomenon not only in socialist groups, but anti war groups, the plethora of churches that differ only slightly, etc.

    1. It is always at least a little amusing that people can realize that the Nazis (or Nationalsozialismus) were the National SOCIALIST German Worker’s Party…

      It wasn’t by random accident that the Nazis considered themselves socialists. As for “right” and “left”, I don’t really know what those distinctions mean when you get to that level of authoritarianism. One might say that German fascism was sort of “right wing” in that it was nationalistic (I suppose?) – while Italian fascism was more “left wing” as it was about economic control and populism… But honestly, the differences are really slight at this point.

      And NO, I’m not saying that Obama is a version of Mussolini, but the underlying principles are the same. And AGAIN – Many American intellectuals in the 1930s were in love with Mussolini’s ideas… Herbert Hoover and FDR among them.

      And Mussolini himself said:

      “Your plan for coordination of industry follows precisely our lines of cooperation.”

      About the New Deal.

      The idea that Fascism & Socialism are separate concepts, and worse “oppositional” concepts, is one of the biggest intellectual travesties of the 20th Century I think.

      1. It wasn’t an accidents the Nazis called themselves socialist. Everyone was calling themselves socialist. It was basically synonymous for “for the people” and hadn’t yet been turned into a pejorative.

        At any rate, comparing everything to Hitler is ignorant and cheapens the horrors of the holocaust. You come across as a scared little child with this crap. Yeah the country’s changing. Deal with it. Get back to me when you’re sent to a concentration camp for being a minority. Jesus.

        1. Cept… Umm… I explicitly *DIDN’T* compare him to Hitler.

          If anything, I just compared Obama (and Bush) to FDR & Herbert Hoover, and explained that they both really liked the ideas of Benito Mussolini – before he was outed as a mass murderer and then dragged through the streets by his own people.

          1. Whatever. Invoking totalitarian dictators from the first half of the 20th century for any reason usually does not contribute much to a conversation.

            1. Progressives have never compared any republicans to Hitler, have they?

            2. Except when they are apt comparisons between the actual beliefs and practices of the two groups. Do you often ignore history, or just the inconvenient parts?

            3. ya history doesn’t add much to a discussion. We should only speak in slogans. Do you want Hope? I definitely want change. Can’t we all get along?

  57. I think you people are missing the George Bush “Conservative Hero” bit. The point is that Bush was embraced and loved by many people on the far right and conservatives who are now calling Obama a Socialist. But when it comes down to it, how is Obama that much different than Bush? Yes, their rhetoric may be different, but their actions? Why weren?t these people calling Bush a Socialist when he was expanding government power over our lives economically and personally in every which way? The idea is you come across as an idiot branding Obama as a “socialist” if you are not going to call Bush one as well. All it is is a dumb talking point that makes us Libertarians or people opposed to Obama sound like uneducated rednecks who repeat everything Glenn Beck says. It is more than fair to say Obama is pushing the country way to the left, expanding government control, etc, but all the fearmongering of “SOCIALIST”!! has no intelligent substance.

    1. “Why weren?t these people calling Bush a Socialist when he was expanding government power over our lives economically and personally in every which way?”

      I don’t know about you, but I was. Or at least, I was calling him a corporatist, economic fascist – just like I am doing with Obama.

      1. Agree. Corporatist, Economic fascist, those are good terms for Obama and Bush, or any politician republican or democrat for that matter.

    2. I’m just taking Obama at his word that in an ideal world he would prefer a single payer, nationalized health care model, and that he believes that the Constitution inadequately addresses ‘positive’ rights. Those are two major strains of current socialist thought. You can point to some things he had said about being Chicago school when it comes to markets as a counter example, but, note, not all socialist, including the current president of Spain are vehemently anti-market. There is a definitional problem here in the United States because the word ‘liberal’ has been co-opted by people who are illiberal in their ideology in order to avoid the word ‘Socialist’ given the Red Scare of the 1910’s and 20’s, ironically in part set off by the most socialist president we have ever had.

      Due to the historical etymological schism we get articles like this one that don’t really help to clarify things as a result.

  58. It does have intelligent substance, that is overshadowed for some by their interpretation that we’re fear mongering.

  59. T you must have missed all of the conservatives complaining about Bush’s spending. Or did you not understand the whole spending like a drunken sailor expression. that wasn’t the Dems complaining. Bush was/is a social conservative not a fiscal conservative.

    1. I am not saying there wasn?t a large majority that was complaining. I am saying why not call him a Socialist then or why wasn?t there large tea party protests when Bush was president? The point is Bush WAS a fiscal conservative in his Rhetoric (obviously not in his actions) and because of that many Conservatives and partisian republicans turned a blind eye to his spending.

      1. And lo, we are shocked that political partisans avoid publicly bashing members of their party. Yawn.

  60. The point is that Bush was embraced and loved accepted becuase there was not a viable alternative by many people on the far right and conservatives who are now calling Obama a Socialist.

    Moreover, it is worthy of pointing out that while all far right are probably conservative, all conservatives are not necessarily far right. I am an engineer and like most engineers I am inherently conservative. Nothing, absolutely nothing is ever gained without cost somewhere. All change is not progress.? Prove to me that the proposed change is going to be better than the status quo and I support that change.

    Obama can fuck himself if I am just supposed to accept change and hope it works out for the better. There most certainly can be worse choices than that looser GW Bush; Gore, Kerry and Obama come to mind.

    1. It is astounding to me how anyone could possibly believe this.

      By the way, what is it with engineers?

      1. Its astounding to me that anyone doubts free lunches or that the Magic O can satifsy everyone’s desires.

      2. Engineers actually have to make things work. It’s as simple as that.

        It’s different from writing grants to support research for favored studies.. like disney economics or warmism. Then you never actually have to make things work, and counterevidence is irrelevant.. you got the funds.

        Engineers are actually responsible if a pressure vessel fails or a bridge collapses or a chip is mass produced that has a flaw.

  61. Bush was not a conservative hero. He was a Republican hero. Not the same thing at all.

  62. He’s not a socialist, but he sure does have some socialist-leaning ideas.

    Besides, asking neoconservatives to be smart about something is like asking shit not to stink.

  63. Reason staying true to it’s name tries not to sound over reactive but I agree with “Franz Kafka”. Obama is a marxist.

  64. It does appear that POTUS44 isn’t a Socialist, per se. The problem is finding which *ist or *ian he is. Not Fascist, most assuredly not Libertarian, and while Progressive seems to fit, he is more statist than the rest it seems. I think the term could be: Nanny-Statist. This is a person who feels that life should entail no risks (except possibly for those in the middle); you are either to big to fail or to small to fail, so go ahead and be free knowing that we, The Fed, are behind you to give you what you want if you do fail.

  65. The “where were you when Bush…” argument is old and busted. I have as much respect for you as I do for someone in an AC/DC t-shirt. Anti-Obama does not translate into pro-Bush any more than my hate of bananas translates into another sunny day in California. If you don’t like chocolate you must like celery. See how dumb that sounds????

  66. The “where were you when Bush…” argument is old and busted. I have as much respect for you as I do for someone in an AC/DC t-shirt. Anti-Obama does not translate into pro-Bush any more than my hate of bananas translates into another sunny day in California. If you don’t like chocolate you must like celery. See how dumb that sounds????

  67. Screaming socialist means you don’t have to do any work, which is why a lot of tards do it. As for Bush being a “Conservative hero”, not entirely accurate since you used the word conservative, but he was praised to the Nth degree by the Republican party. Obama worship has nothing compared to how big Bush praise was.

    1. “Obama worship has nothing compared to how big Bush praise was. ”

      W-w-w-w-whaaaaat!??

      Last I checked, I was – in fact – alive the past 8 years. Bush worship was minimal and virtually every republican I knew personally and major players like Rush Limbaugh also had a lot bad to say about his spending and “giving the [congressional] liberals everything they asked for”. Also, the man ended his presidency with like 20% approval… Yeah, Bush was worshiped alright.

      1. WOW…..that’s some delusion right there, but considering the source…….

        1. Don’t you have a pond near by you to fester on?

    2. never heard any teachers leading the kids in a chorus of “George W Bush mmm”
      or “Good mornign mister president we salute you today” or putting up posters Highlighting the sayings of W.

    3. Lol you’ve lost your mind.

      How many songs, chants, t-shirts or media love-ins were there in support of Bush. Bush was tolerated. Obama is worshiped.

      People hated Bush for the spending. They thought Obama would be different.. heh.

  68. Public Option = Socialism

  69. Saying Obama is not socialist is like saying Brezhnev was not communist. Well, sure, he isn’t a textbook embodiment of theoretical socialism, but he doesn’t have to be. Few people described as an adherent of one ideology are ideologically pure monoliths of that school of thought. Murray Rothbard thought Milton Friedman was a statist for god’s sake.

    If you want to be anal about semantics, then yeah, Obama could accurately be described as a “Social Democrat”, but that is quite literally just a form of socialism. Social democracy is less focused on economics and more focused on “social justice”. Regardless, he is significantly closer to the command economy end of the spectrum than the free market.

    1. Funny thing is J, I’m almost at the Murray Rothbard point and I find myself questioning more and more of Friedman myself 😉

      (That said; I still think he was one of the greatest voices for liberty of all time)

      1. I guess my point is that when you are talking about people’s personal views, they are rarely in lockstep with a particular philosophy, even if they mostly agree with it. It then becomes a relative matter.

        Surely, Friedman was more statist than Rothbard (insofar as he didn’t advocate for the wholesale abolition of the state), but to most people, Friedman was anything but statist. I think the same comparison can be made with Obama from the mainstream American viewpoint. Hopefully. I may be mistaken.

        1. Right… But when you factor in that Friedman thought the Federal Reserve system was a good idea and advocated central planning of money, you certainly have to realize that that hurts his free-market cred a bit. The Chicago School winds up being on the wrong side of Mises & Hayek when you get down to it because even while Friedman is out there daily advocating the power of choice and the importance of free price systems, he shoots himself in the foot by suggesting that the same things that make choice so good, and the knowledge problems inherent in bureaucrats trying to arbitrarily set terms of various trades he’s out there saying that no one should have choice in money or in interest rates.

          1. Friedman actually said he was opposed to the Federal Reserve in principle, but as long as it did exist, recommended changes to make it less controlled by political whim.

            Regardless, that was just a libertarian example of what I was describing. A man who advocated the abolition of medical licensure, the draft, fixed exchange rates, the ICC, the drug war, rent controls, price controls, government welfare, the USPS monopoly on mail carrying, etc. can hardly be considered a statist from a mainstream perspective.

            1. Oh, I agree… I preface any disagreements I ever have with Uncle Milty by reminding myself and others that he was probably the greatest champion of liberty who’s ever lived. He was fantastic… But… He also came up with automatic withholding 😛

      2. I wonder if MR would have had such a problem with MF, (and even FH) if it wasn’t for the fact MF especially gave credibility to some government monetary control.

        Which feeling I share. It shocks people when I call MF a crypto-statist;)

        Were you aware that recently Anna Schwatrz had a suspiciously Austrian summary of the subprime bubble collapse?

        But it’s also interesting that MR wanted to ‘do away’ with fractional reserve banking and IMO that has to imply government intervention. Issuing notes against specie and paying interest is a valid free market function.

  70. what a bunch of BS. the ‘ONE’ is a marxist in word and deed. he has to keep us guessing until his 2nd term, then we wind up like cuba, perhaps even with the ‘ONE’ made president for life.

  71. All labels aside, Obama is neither a friend of capitalism, nor of any viable variant of ethical individualism. The fact that many of Obama’s collectivist and regulatory policies were also present during Bush’s presidency in no way lessens the harm they do. There is no freedom advancing point to this comparison.

  72. Chapman! Dude! Leave the cherry picking to Moore.

  73. I think the proper term for all of the policies being pushed under Obama (and yes, for the last 100 years) is Maternal Fascism.
    (which I guess is what “nanny-state” is supposed to get at but just comes off too glib)

  74. Soooo, Obama’s to the right of Frank Llewellyn and that proves he’s not a Socialist? FAIL.

  75. Wow, I have never seen such a cheerleading article for an elected official on reason before. Do you hope such pandering will land you the press secretary job when it opens up? If I had zero intelligence I might actually buy into this tripe.

  76. You guys really think America is going to wind up like Cuba? Come on. Relax. Take that shit to the Fox News message boards right next to the birther conspiracies.

    Yes, Obama has sucked so far. GW Bush was better in some regards, equal in some regards, and much worse in some regards.

    Complain about Obama all you like, but don’t act as though everything will be fixed by Republicans once they take back the white house in 2012 or 2016.

    Both parties are equally impotent and you know it. That’s why Reason exists.

  77. Obama as marxist please! I think you need to read some Marx before making such an ignorant comment.Our government is a quasi socialist – capitalist government no matter who’s in charge

  78. wow, nice article and i think your vistors will also like the discount ugg boots and women’s ugg boots for winter.

  79. Are you effing kidding me? This is a distinctly ridiculous article. It is flawed on so many levels that I cannot begin to go through all of the them. I expect more out of Reason than this.

  80. We are suppose to believe that the government that ultimately calls the shots and does not need to make a profit won’t tax and regulate many people out of private insurance? One of the problems with insurance these days is the overly zealous mandates! These healthcare insurance “reforms” which btw, are ones Congress has exempted themselves from.

    Yeah, I am sure we are all feeling reassured after this column. At best it makes Obama look wishy washy and weak.

    Fact is there are a lot of people who are sane and educated that are asking a lot of the hard questions that the MSM should have been asking over a year ago. The man is not covert for those who bother to look at his history, associations, voting record and so forth. It is pure stupidity to merely attempt to paint his critics as the villians here.

    And he is by no stretch of the imagination a capitalist or someone who promotes the free market without stifling government interference. Pointing out the Bush did some pretty ignorant things at the end of his presidency does in no way excuse the blatant expansion of government powers we see happening on a daily basis in this administration. Is anyone really naive enough to believe anything coming out of the mouths of these people?

    Take the blinders off.

  81. Interestong how you couln’t resist belittling any oppostion to BO’s policies. Anyone who doesn’t agree with the madness now passing for government uin Washington is childish, scared of monsters, stupid, etc.- you name it. This regime(administration) is worse then any vanilla socialist clique who knows( by their intellectual superiority) what’s best foe everybody. This is a hybrid Marxist/Nazi cabal-dangerous in conception and deadly in implementation.Res ipsa loquitor.( The yhing speaks for itself)

  82. When did the centrist GWB become a “conservative hero”?

  83. Wow. So many angry responses that provide no counter argument and just up the ante by calling Obama fascist or Marxist. Are these serious or am I missing the humor in these responses?

  84. It would be far better to admit that when governments consume 45% of GDP, we have an economy which is 45% socialist or statist or whatever word slips past the mental censors and triggers some neurons. Obama is only slightly worse than George W Bush – so what! They are both digging into our pockets and destroying our economy!

    Instead of using George W. Bush’s excesses to excuse those of Obama, it would be better to cry pox on both their houses.

  85. I respect the authors position but there are some shortcomings as many have posted.

    yes bush did in fact propose the first stimulus plan but as i remember there was at least one more on obama’s end, arguing that insurance was going to be kept private when in many of the bills it was kept private for all of 1-5 years then either conformed to all the regulations or people had to reenroll in a government sanctioned plan and of course mandatory insurance.

    as for gm that wasnt even close to a wall street helping hand he fired the CEO then handed the company over to union lobbyists, of course bush helped with bailouts but obama ripped apart bailout CEO salaries.

    cap and trade… enough said.

    when asked who should pay for his plans it is ALWAYS the rich or the private sector corporations. not an equal distribution. this is according to the articles quote from the democrat socialst a key factor in being a socialist.

  86. Your article very interesting, I have introduced a lot of friends look at this ugg boots uk article, the content of the articles there will be a lot of attractive people to appreciate, I have to thank you such an article.

  87. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.