Milos Forman: Obama's No Iron-Curtain Socialist and Socialism Has No Human Face

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Writing in The New York Times, the Czech film director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, etc.) makes some salient points about politics:

I hear the word "socialist" being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry,Newt GingrichRick SantorumSean HannityRush Limbaugh and others. President Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, "Obamacare is socialism!" They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism….

Marx believed that we could wipe out social inequities and Lenin tested those ideas on the Soviet Union. It was his dream to create a classless society. But reality set in, as it always does. And the results were devastating. Blood flowed through Russia's streets. The Soviet elite usurped all privileges; sycophants were allowed some and the plebes none. The entire Eastern bloc, including Czechoslovakia, followed miserably.

I'm not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was. It was not — as Mr. Obama's detractors suggest — merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of "social justice."

Forman's parents were killed at Auschwitz, that crucible of national socialism, so he knows right-wing and left-wing forms of socialism with a terrifying intimacy. I think he's right to draw a distinction between Soviet-style communism (still around in some parts of the world) and social-democratic governments that prevail in many parts of old and new Europe and elsewhere. And I think he's empirically right that "perfect social justice" can never be attained and that "social harmony" is the best we should hope for. Social harmony—I assume he means peaceful coexistence, the sort of tolerance and pluralism that we hold up as an ideal at Reason—is not simply a more attainable goal, it's a better one precisely because it allows for differences of opinion and lifestyle.

And I suspect that many of Forman's liberal and progressive readers will simply gloss over this point he makes:

It's fair to question whether the federal government should have expanded powers: America, to its credit, has debated this since its birth.

Or put another way: Obama (or Nixon or Bush or whomever) doesn't have to be the worst ruler in the history of the world in order for you to take issue with their vision of the good society.

I'm less taken by Forman's orchestra metaphor: 

In an orchestra, the different players and instruments perform together, in support of an overall melody.

Today, our democracy, a miraculous gathering of diverse players, desperately needs such unity. If all participants play fair and strive for the common good, we can achieve a harmony that eluded the doctrinaire socialist projects. But if just one section, or even one player, is out of tune, the music will disintegrate into cacophony.

It seems to me that's what's always been relatively remarkable about the United States, especially since the end of World War II and the Cold War, is that we don't feel a need to be part of an orchestra. Walt Whitman memorably heard America singing "varied carols"; there's simply no need to be reading the same sheet of music. For all the rancor and worries about gridlock and the lack of ability to get shit done, the 21st century has seen massive undertakings such as the creation of two new major health-care entitlements, two decades-long wars, the passage of terribly transformative legislation such as The Patriot Act, and on.

Like culture in general—which has benefited from a technological and attitudinal deregulation—political battles and elections are more hard-fought because more not fewer people can get in the game now. In this sense, the passion of contemporary politics (remarkably non-violent, too, despite all those phoney-baloney warnings about tea party mobs and all that) is a sign that Americans are still making glorious, discordant, woefully off-key music.

NEXT: The Real Class Warfare is Baby Boomers Vs. Younger Americans

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  1. The guy should try listening to jazz once in a while.

    1. I was just thinking that. Milos wanted to use a musical metaphor to describe America, but what American musical form doesn’t celebrate individual achievements?

      …Other than the Folk Revival, of course…stupid commies.

      1. Milos should listen to some blues. It’s as American as it gets.

        Albert King – I’ll Play The Blues For You

        “glorious, discordant, woefully off-key music” that puts to shame any stupid hipster wonderland studio perfected bullshit.

        But it doesn’t get any better than this.

        1. i am not a critic of the three kings (albert, freddie, BB)…

          But it does get better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVR8lg1YLuc

          1. Two words for ya, boys: Smokestack Lightnin’

          2. Super good call on the T-Bone, GIL.

          3. It gets even better than that.

            http://youtu.be/R6m4fPpkoo8

            Still, can’t go wrong with any of the above mentioned links.

        2. Been getting into the old timey country styles lately.

          Found Blues Houseparty on youtube. Basically a documentary of a bunch of old blues guys pickin’, talkin’ and drinking in the country. Awesome movie with great music.

          1. Jimmy Page, 1957, skiffle band,

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKUyHpoWnT4

            be sure to check out the second song, most famously covered by CCR a decade later.

  2. I have been guilty at times of throwing around the monikers without fully appreciating what they mean. However, I think certain leaders or acts can be socialistic or socialist in nature without our country fully taking the plunge into socialism. The TARP and auto bailouts were examples of socialism, albeit on smaller scales than an entire national takeover. I guess we are more “crony capitalist” and mostly always have been, unfortunately.

    1. It’s kind of funny how the same people that claimed the Soviet Union wasn’t really socialist are now saying that If it ain’t Soviet it ain’t socialist.

      The reality is that the ‘socialist’ ideal has always been a fantasy political-economic system that eschews ‘profit'(individualism) for ‘social justice’ (collective identity).

      And that Government or collective ownership of the means of production was means to that end and not the end in itself.

  3. “it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.””

    This is what may come.

    1. May?! Hey, Live in the Chicago suburbs – all I have to do is look East (or down south to Springfield) to see it now.

  4. Valmont wasn’t that bad. It suffered by following Dangerous Liasons. Cruel Intentions was a better adaptation of the source material than either flick. I kinda prefer Vadim’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses to all of them but it has the advantage of being set in the most stylish period and Jeane Moreau.

    1. A fellow Jeanne Moreau fan! +20 sexy French New Wave films

      1. Wasn’t Moreau in The Bride Wore Black? Off to check IMDb…. Ah yes, that was Moreau. Great film.

        If you want to see Forman’s depiction of the human face of socialism, get a copy of The Firemen’s Ball. It’s a figurative and literal riot.

  5. One of the reasons that I take fiscal matters more seriously than social matters is because of the natural limits of tolerance information creates in our era. Our choices are so individualized, varied, and yet attainable that it’s hard to box them in. When companies like Dell started allowing customers to customize PC’s to their own needs, it became silly to tell customers what they want. The only reason some companies still get away with it is due to the premium of simplicity.

    Contrast that with fiscal policy. While personal choices are subjective, every fiscal issue is reduced to a dollar. That’s too bad, because value is still subjective. By taking an extra $20 from me in taxes, that may be $20 less the local theater gets.

    So while I don’t think socialism will ever take hold, as equality of ends can never be achieved or even valued, I think that the more that’s standardized and centralized, the easier it is to forget the diversity of the ends.

    1. For example, when I think of all the things I do at work – semiconductor and software design and implementation – and all the things I do after work – golf courses and music and curries – there’s diversity at every end. It’s only because my employer and I can’t tie what I work with and what I work for that my value is reduced to money, and it’s at that point that the government strikes. It’s in our greatest moment of unity and consistency that we lose the most. That’s how I see socialism taking hold.

      1. Unfortunately, “The Pursuit of Happiness” is no longer perceived as a means, but now taken as an end, an entitlement, by our masters and their jackal supporters. Thus, anything goes to achieve that end, no matter how miserable it makes everyone in the process.

  6. Perhaps all the Western European Socialist parties should change their name to Social Democratic parties in order to reduce the confusion? I’m looking at France and Spain in particular.

    1. Curiously, they do not offend him though Obama would fit right in, perhaps a bit to the left of the Western European socialist of my acquaintance. Socialism for most of our history, since at least the days a left anarchist killed a president in the nineteenth century, has been deservedly a swear word. Those who are inclined towards it in this country have done much to avoid the word itself and misappropriated other words like ‘liberal.’ It is in the context of the history of this nation with socialist and socialism that the subjects of his ire, all Americans who like most Americans give a jackfuckassrip about what occurs in Eastern Europe, paint Obama as a socialist, and he is. Socialism has many aspects, state ownership of capital and the means of production is but the most familiar, but, central planning, extreme egalitarianism in outcomes, social justice theory of positive rights are also aspects of socialism that Obama fits to a hammer and a sickle. So do most of the centrist in Washington. Do we not have our own history and context with the word? After all, they killed not one, but two American presidents! Must ours always be weighted by the fact Europe went insane in the twentieth century? Of course not, we owe them nothing.

      1. Also, the question should be mute at this point. Have we already forgotten just a month after proof confirming the it came out, that Obama was a member of an explicitly socialist party in Chicago?

        http://www.nationalreview.com/…..nley-kurtz

        Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:

        Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.

        Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996, indicated as the date he joined.

        1. Weird. It read fine, until I added the i tags to emphasize the quote inside the quote.

          Have we already forgotten just a month after proof confirming the it came out, that Obama was a member of an explicitly socialist party in Chicago?

      2. Don’t take from the above I have any displeasure associated with the deaths of McKinley and JFK, one was well before my time to feel anything, the other probably had it coming for engaging in a duel with Castro through proxies in the first place. It is merely a point used to underline the fact America has a history with the idea of socialism that is independent of whatever the Hell happened in Europe in blah, blah, blah.

      3. “…aspects of socialism that Obama fits to a hammer and a sickle.”

        Heh – stolen.

  7. “I’m not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was. It was not ? as Mr. Obama’s detractors suggest ? merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.””

    I’m not sure Mr. Forman understands how his brand of “socialism” came about.
    I don’t think you have a choice regarding a ‘little bit’ of socialism; as soon as it becomes possible to stick your hand in someone else’s pocket, where do you draw the line? I’ll only steal this much and that’s OK?
    Even Tony Judt admitted that centralized planning (and there can be no other definition of “socialism”) leads to centralized murder.
    Yes, Stalin was worse than, oh, Attlee, but that is only because Attlee hadn’t yet accomplished the goal of outlawing private property.

    1. I do love that first clip from DS9.

      1. Actually, now that you mention it, I actually like Nog’s line too. Though, I probably wasn’t supposed to like it.

        1. Yes it’s awesome and part of why DS9 was the series I enjoyed the most, the old fogey star trek snobs around her be damned. (For the record TOS is the best series but DS9 was really good).

          1. DS9 was an attempt to break away from the Roddenberry tradition of an optimistic future.

            Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. But TNG is definitely overrated. For a series with a supposedly progressive point-of-view, it not only portrays Ferengi as metaphor for ruthless capitalism, but I also sense some an anti-Semitism to their portrayal.

            DS9 actually delved deeper into the Ferengi’s culture to provide a broader understanding of their economics and morality.

            1. DS9 actually delved deeper into the Ferengi’s culture to provide a broader understanding of their economics and morality.

              Indeed, just look at this exchange:

              Quark: I think I figured out why humans don’t like Ferengi?
              Sisko: Not now, Quark.
              Quark: The way I see it, humans used to be a lot like Ferengi: greedy, acquisitive, interested only in profit. We’re a constant reminder of a part of your past you’d like to forget.
              Sisko: Quark, we don’t have time for this.
              Quark: You’re overlooking something, Commander. Humans used to be a lot worse than Ferengi. Slavery, concentration camps, interstellar war; we have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We’re nothing like you. We’re better.

              1. YIKES! And they say Battlestar Galatica (2004) had good writing.

              2. There’s also the amazing root beer exchange between Quark and Garak.

                Quark: What do you think?
                Garak: It’s vile!
                Q: I know. It’s so bubbly, and cloying, and happy.
                G: Just like the Federation.
                Q: You know what’s really frightening? You drink enough of it, you begin to like it.
                G: It’s insidious.
                Q: Just like the Federation.

                According to Memory Alpha, the producers thought this was one of the best scenes they’d ever written for the show and specifically wanted to keep it in even though they had to cut other elements from the episode as a way to recognize the totalitarianism of the Federation. Sweet. (Ha!)

  8. This is the same thing as the “You’re not supposed to call people Nazis unless they’re actually engaging in genocide” trope.

    It’s baloney.

    The holocaust was the worst thing the Nazis did, but it wasn’t the only rotten thing they did. If a president of the U.S. advocated for lebensraum and suspended civil rights becasue of a national tragedy like the Reichstag fire, would it be alright to call him a Nazi?

    Or should we wait until he actually starts shipping people off to camps first?

    It’s the same thing with calling Obama a socialist. Obama did nationalize two-thirds of the American auto industry. Obama did seize several major financial institutions–some that weren’t even out of compliance. (Hugo Chavez would be proud.) Obama did effectively nationalize the healthcare industry, …

    So, where exactly is the line? How socialist does he have to be before it’s okay to call him a socialist?

    I think anybody should feel free to call Obama a socialist so long as he’s engaged in socialistic behavior. And if Obama doesn’t like being called a socialist, then maybe he should stop acting like a socialist.

    1. Yeah, I don’t get it. I thought this was the distinction between socialism and communism in popular parlance. Communism is the extreme version and socialism is anything progressing in that direction.

      I think they just don’t like how their words get sullied by the crappy results.

    2. Maybe Forman would be willing to allow us to call Obama a corporate socialist, or simply a corporatist, because that’s what he is, he wants to reorganize the business, financial, and labor classes to be in line with his vision for the country.

      1. That type of behavior reminds me of someone….had a big chin, IIRC?

    3. Anytime you attach a label based on behavior to someone you’ll run into these problems. When you call someone a socialist, you get everything that comes along with it. When a girl magically becomes my girlfriend, there are certain thresholds and assumptions that come with it. I guess it’s sort of procedural, like we all acknowledge socialists are bad and it’s just a question of whether he is or isn’t one. I would just as soon avoid the labels altogether. That’s not the point Milos is making, though.

      1. Right. Socialism is just another stand in for a bad or heretical thing. In this case it means replacing much of the private managerial class with public bureaucrats, which isn’t socialism per se. But it is pretty dumb and whatever Bad Word is used to describe it is going to have historical baggage, and “socialism” seems more accurate than the alternatives.

        1. My understanding is that GM is still majority owned by the UAW and the United States government.

          Why isn’t that socialism?

          1. I suppose that technically is socialism, but it isn’t the long view. The respectable left isn’t interested owning auto stocks. They’re more into stuff like totally removing actuarial science from insurance.

    4. While I agree with your other points, I don’t see how “Obamacare” is socialism or nationalizing health care.

      I mean, the Republicans came up with this. Years ago, this magazine endorsed it. While it’s pretty awful, one of the worst things I can imagine, forcing people to buy health insurance from a private company (or be taxed) is not socialism or nationalization.

      1. It is micromanaging of customer and providers options based on a totalitarian view of government authority. It is at the very least flirting with the fascist version of socialism.

      2. ” forcing people to buy health insurance from a private company” sounds an awful lot like socialism or nationalization to me.

        Also, it’s worth noting, I seem to recall that when Ronald Bailey’s proposal on mandatory insurance appeared here it did not get a very sympathetic reception from HitandRunners. Neither has the Heritage proposal ever gotten much traction here.

        And Mr Bailey’s proposal was not nearly as expansive as the morass that is called Obamacare.

        1. Right, and it’s not just the mandate. They’re also dictating the type of plans insurance companies can offer and people can buy, to whom they must offer it, what they can charge, etc. Let’s not gloss over they amount of control the government is exerting. It’s socialism and loss of freedom, anyway you look at it.

      3. While I agree with your other points, I don’t see how “Obamacare” is socialism or nationalizing health care.

        I don’t think we’re done with healthcare yet. If you implement all the important steps to transfer to a government run healthcare system, isn’t that socialist even if the transition hasn’t been achieved completely in just one piece of legislation?

        The government has made it impossible not to participate in the plan. The government is regulating every aspect of healthcare, penalizing hospitals for purchasing new technology and penalizing employers for offering healthcare plans that are too generous! They’re using the IRS to enforce compliance…

        They’re certainly using the government to force us all to make sacrifices of our choices for what they say is the common good, which, if you ready my post below, you’ll see, is the essential ingredient in not just socialism–but authoritarian socialism.

        If Lenin didn’t succeed in completing his experiment before his death, does that mean Lenin wasn’t really a socialist?

        Obama may not have gotten everything he wanted, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t try to do what he tried to do or that he isn’t what he is.

  9. Milos is quite the director. Just watched Man on the Moon again recently, because I still miss Andy, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. And I still remember driving home from the theater as a kid after seeing Amadeus and just constantly thinking about the movie.

    Good to see he’s a mostly sensible fellow, though even if he weren’t, it wouldn’t change my love of his work.

    1. I love Man on the Moon too. But I still go back to Cuckoo’s Nest every now and again to kickstart my anti-authoritarian juices.

      1. Let’s not forget The People vs. Larry Flynt, too. One of the better biopics I’ve seen.

        1. Liberals are so over that movie. Citizens United and all.

      2. You guys should check out “Firemen’s Ball”. It’s a thinly veiled satire of Communism made in Czech at a time where you and everyone you knew could be shot if your loyalty was even slightly suspect.
        I believe it’s the last film he made in his homeland before he was labeled a “brainworker” and fled for his life.

    2. Understood. I love Milos and I love Oliver Stone for their art, that is not going to change because I disagree with them on political matters. BTW, Stone deserves much criticism for his stances on Cuba, but he also has to be given credit for a documentary length work interviewing political dissidents. The Stone has some stones as it were.

      1. If Stone gives such a shit about the plight of political dissidents, should he not be anti-Cuba?

        1. Yes, he should be anti-Castro, anti-communist party, anti-dictatorship if he acknowledged the greater context of it all. The leftist who praise Cuba’s, uhm, anti-consumerism, are missing something in their heads. Consumerism is the worst -ism in the world, except for all the other -isms.

          1. Why do you hate brown children, Killaz?

            /leftist logic

            1. I answered that earlier, not as tasty as the white kids. Something about the lack of melanin reflecting sunlight instead of absorbing it helps make the underlying meats under white children more sumptuous and juicy and not so dry as that of brown children.

              1. Child-veal is the best. Raise ’em in the basement, away from sunlight, and you’ve got tasty childmeat.

      2. “but he also has to be given credit for a documentary length work interviewing political dissidents. The Stone has some stones as it were.”

        Not really. He only interviews people like the Hamas because he’s got it in his head that they’re paragons of humanity and that anything bad ever said about them must be the workings of the Evil Corporate Propaganda Machine.

        That’s self-delusion, not bravery.

  10. If all participants play fair and strive for the common good, we can achieve a harmony that eluded the doctrinaire socialist projects.

    This was the central theme of Obama’s first two years. Did he say anything more often than “sacrifice for the common good”?

    “Sacrifice for the common good” is the essence of totalitarianism. Sacrifice for the common good was the essence of the Nazis, and it was the essence of the USSR, too.

    The Nazis emphasized sacrificing civil rights for what they saw as the common good–the holocaust could be seen as taking that concept to its evil extreme.

    Likewise, the USSR was all about sacrifice for the common good, too, but they emphasized the economic side of the coin.

    Regardless of which side you emphasize, using the government to force people to make personal sacrifices for the common good is what makes governments authoritarian.

    1. In free societies, people also make sacrifices for the common good–but they do so willingly. Obama changed our government so that it would force individuals to sacrifice their free choice–all for his vision of the common good.

      You may not take out a home loan unless it’s okay with the government. You may not refuse to participate in the insurance market. You must use your future paychecks to bail out Wall Street and the UAW. Obama justified every bit of that by saying it was for the common good.

      That makes Obama a socialist, and, not only that, it makes him an authoritarian socialist.

      If you want to talk about the extremes Obama’s willing to go to use the government to force individual sacrifice, then that’s a perfectly legitimate argument. But you’re no longer talking about whether he’s a socialist. You’re just talking about whether he’s an extreme socialist.

  11. It was not ? as Mr. Obama’s detractors suggest ? merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.”

    I must read different “Mr. Obama detractors” than Mr. Forman.

    BTW, here’s TFA.

  12. “Hey at least Obama isn’t killing millions in a mass collectivization effort”. That’s what passes for a defense of Obama. The Soviets weren’t particularly good at being socialists either by the way.

    Hmm though, while we’re at it, no one should be called a racist until they start mass lynchings.

    1. Racism has a very specific meaning, Keith:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism

      a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

      Louis Farrakhan and David Duke are racists.

      Most people aren’t.

      Now, if you want to talk about bigots… that’s a different ball o’ wax. Lots of people are bigoted – just ask Tony and shrike.

      1. a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities

        Statistically speaking, what does “primary determinant” mean?

        and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

        Essentialism is the only viable determinant of racism.

        1. I dunno… you’ll have to ask Merriam-Webster.

          1. If you don’t know what the “very specific meaning” is, why are you citing it?

            1. Because I get sick and goddamned tired of leftists misusing the word, Sidd.

              1. I meant “you’ll have to ask Merriam-Webster” to answer your question, Sidd.

                As in your query about “primary determinant”.

                All I know is, leftists bandy that word around like it describes virtually everything they don’t like about anyone bringing up race in any way – and sometimes when race isn’t even part of the conversation.

                1. The racism accusation comes mostly from the left, but it’s nonetheless a favorite of conservatives and libertarians. Like I said of “socialism” upthread, it’s a Heretical Thing. The accusation comes first. The definition is merely incidental. I suggest you adopt my formulation, “Essentialism is the only viable determinant of racism.”

                  What happens to black men suspected of being criminials (by non-cops) isn’t racist, as long as women avoiding men at vulnerable times/places isn’t sexist. What happened to David Blackwell is racist, and probably treasonous.

                  1. I’ll ponder on that, but in the meantime it jut bugs the piss out of me when the word is bastardized and diluted for political gain – by ANYone of any skin tone.

                    It’s like when women claim to be raped, but really haven’t been. In a similar way, in that it demeans those who actually *have* been raped.

                    May not be the best analogy, but I’ve been up for almost a full day now.

                    1. Your rape analogy isn’t quite adequate. Rape is an identifiable thing, at least here in not-Sweden. Racism is different. First they have a position. Then they call opponents racist. Then they label themselves “anti-racist.” It’s stupid and tedious and ultimately all about status signalling.

                      And if you think libertarians are immune, read a thread on school choice.

                    2. I still meant misuse of a word – racism, or rape, it doesn’t matter; it’s how people will blatantly lie by way of using those words.

                      I certainly wasn’t comparing the barbaric physical violence of rape to yelling the “n” word at Clarence THomas.

  13. Degrees of separation, Forman. And the degrees are decreasing by the day.

    1. Good point. After not too long, who is and isn’t a “socialist” is just splitting hairs.

      In each case, it’s just the authoritarian power-mongers and their toadies usurping a civil and free society for their own purposes and designs. TEAM BE RULED is just one more data point on the scale of totalitarians.

  14. They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism

    Forman is correct. My mother’s side of the family lived behind the Iron Curtain from post-WWII all the way through and past the end of the Soviet Union. I agree that it cheapens the experience of people who died, and lived under constant repression.

    Marx believed that we could wipe out social inequities and Lenin tested those ideas on the Soviet Union.

    So does Obama. And he and his ilk would love to test those ideas in America.

    The Russians went through a revolution which followed a terrible experience from WWI. Socialism rushed in quickly. There will be no revolution here, so Socialism, like most of Western Europe will be an incremental process… grain by grain.

    I’m not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was.

    On this I vehemently disagree with Forman. I appreciate extremely well how predatory socialism is.

    However, Forman is half right. There are a group of Americans who don’t appreciate socialism’s predatory DNA: Obama and his progressive supporters.

    As the aforementioned make their forceful case for socialism, demand public control of the media, attempt to curb free expression, eschew property rights, they refuse to heed the bloody historical record of socialism.

    1. Every time some Democrat calls for the Fairness Doctrine – or any derivation thereof – they are talking about their wet dreams of controlling political speech.

      And fuck Team Red, too, just for good measure.

      But, seriously…

    2. Socialist in Western Europe never stole the word ‘liberal’, the word ‘socialist’ never gained the stigma as it did here for the reasons I give above. We have a separate history with the word. It is not appropriate to insist Americans submit to the history of another people, a history of which we are clean. We don’t owe deference to that history. We get to talk about socialism in terms of our history due to our innocence in matters pertaining to their history. In our history, socialist stole the identity of my ideology that being liberalism. I would like to have it back. I’m a liberal, a true blue son of Thomas Paine, Obama is a socialist. He has nothing in common with me in terms of ideology. I’m forced by the circumstances of history, where socialist stole my ideological identity to call myself a libertarian so it commonly understood by those unfamiliar with the history of the misappropriated word.

      1. That’s why we should use “leftist” instead of “liberal”. Far more precise.

        1. I like to call them ‘progressives’ because without any other addition necessary it well states the vanity and delusion central to their cause. However, there are those who call themselves progressives on the right, and the last two Republican candidates have at one point or another called themselves ‘progressives.’ Interestingly, neither has called himself a ‘libertarian’ and certainly not a ‘liberal’. Progressive fits the description of everything wrong with the nation, ‘leftist’ underlines a more specific and deleterious faction.

          1. “‘leftist’ underlines a more specific and deleterious faction”

            Force yourself to listen to Ed Schultz for a few minutes, and you might rethink your position.

            1. Force yourself to listen to Ed Schultz for a few minutes, and you might rethink your position.

              Masochist!

              1. It is kinda like whipping yourself.

      2. Here’s the kicker, and why I’m up late driven half nuts over it. The reason this can’t be glossed over with a sheen of faux guilt about cheapening the meaning of ‘socialism’, is because the root cause of all of this entire discussion is the misappropriated word, ‘liberal.’ I self identified as a liberal from the fifth grade until the second year of college. I was lead, mislead, to believe that the Democratic Party was my natural home, so I registered as one, even voted for Dukakis. However, through further examination of my own beliefs, which are thoroughly liberal, I discover, I have absolutely nothing in common with that party. Quite the opposite. How many young people are going to vote for Obama who don’t know they are really libertarians in terms of the political spectrum as it is currently identified? Probably a whole fucking lot of them. Forman’s error here is one built upon the original crime of misidentification.

        1. How many young people are going to vote for Obama who don’t know they are really libertarians in terms of the political spectrum as it is currently identified?

          That’s hard to say. Like many that I know, they so hyper-focused on what they consider to be “fairness” that they are blinded by their own power-lust and have managed to neatly rationalize their belief system into a peaceful system of “paying your fair share” and well-meaning “rules”.

          They truly refuse to see, and I’m dead serious here, the violence inherent in the system. It’s almost like the language of war, where people and homes aren’t killed and destroyed, only “targets” neutralized and “structures” eliminated.

          1. Good points. I’d also condition that with the flip side of the coin that many who realize their liberalism isn’t the tariff loving, free-market abusing, preference peddling ‘liberalism’ of the Democratic Party, but come to the wrong conclusion that the opposite of that is the Republican Party due to the rhetoric sounding better.

            Much of that belief about fairness goes away with experience though, when a young adult realizes that she worked hard and deserves what she obtained and ‘fairness’ means someone who didn’t gets a part of it. Of course, the welfare state is being expanded to make sure she never gets to that point of realization.

            1. Much of that belief about fairness goes away with experience though, when a young adult realizes that she worked hard and deserves what she obtained and ‘fairness’ means someone who didn’t gets a part of it. Of course, the welfare state is being expanded to make sure she never gets to that point of realization.

              Come to work in the arts. You’ll never see so many stale old fucks still committed to the cause of expanding the welfare state even more, because you know, someone, somewhere has less than someone else.

              And that’s just not fair.

              And, of course, those evil republicans want to take away “their” subsidy, although, they’ll never call it a subsidy. It’s “supporting the arts.” Funny thing is, they’ll condemn the “rich” for being rich, without irony, because the rich never put their money into the arts. Oh no, they just have the help bury it in the back yard to keep from paying their fair share.

              Seriously, fuck these people.

          2. In case you are wondering, 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night is the norm for me.

  15. In this sense, the passion of contemporary politics (remarkably non-violent, too, despite all those phoney-baloney warnings about tea party mobs and all that) is a sign that Americans are still making glorious, discordant, woefully off-key music.

    So it turns out Ives is the truly great American composer 😉

    But yeah, his orchestra metaphor is off for the simple fact that musicians can choose which orchestra to join, or whether to play in an orchestra at all.

  16. it’s a semantical wank, but when (usually) right wing critics refer to obama etc. as a socialist, what they mean is european style social democrat type NOT totalitarian SOCIALIST (capital S!!!) as in the USSR etc.

    iow, social democracy a la the (often seen in) europe way.

  17. Marx believed that we could wipe out social inequities and Lenin tested those ideas on the Soviet Union. It was his dream to create a classless society.

    Opportunists. They craved power, the power to control society, to control everyone else. Marxism, Socialism are just a path to that.

  18. I have just a simple wish, that people who endorse socialist policies would admit it. Instead, they are dismissive of the truth, that their beliefs are accurately characterized as socialist, as if only an uneducated idiot would think so. Unless someone is willing to admit it, any attempt at a productive conversation is sure to fail. Which is why I almost never bother talking to any of my old friends.

  19. Oh joy, another semantics argument. If you really want to push the definitions, the USSR wasn’t really “Socialism”.

  20. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me dude. Wow.

    http://www.Mega-Privacy.tk

  21. Today, our democracy, a miraculous gathering of diverse players, desperately needs such unity. If all participants play fair and strive for the common good, we can achieve a harmony that eluded the doctrinaire socialist projects. But if just one section, or even one player, is out of tune, the music will disintegrate into cacophony.

    Good grief, the guy claims to hate socialism and fascism and political extremism, and then he throws in this little ode to totalitarianism and total absolute conformity. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

  22. Forman is clearly not paying attention. Wiping out social inequities is Obama’s primary goal. Wiping out opposing viewpoints is another mission – witness the war on FOX. They do not come more Marxist than Obama. Our Consitution is the only thing holding him back and he is ignoring it when possible.

    1. @RPGnobama
      I agree 99%, except for one correction:
      Forman IS paying attention. That snake in the grass is mindful whichever way the wind blows, he always did.

  23. You say “there’s simply no need to be reading the same sheet of music”.

    I agree. But there are too many people insisting that you need to read their sheet of music. Or that God or logic provided the only true sheet of music – theirs.

  24. If you define socialism simply as the centralized reorganization of resources, then every single person here who is not an outright anarchist is a socialist. Liberals believing in universal healthcare as a norm of modern civilization are no more socialist in principle than a libertarian who favors a mere nightwatchman state. It take “socialist” police and courts to maintain that, and few here honestly want much less than the comforts of the society they currently enjoy.

    The best places to live on earth practice European-style “socialism.” The only thing such societies have in common with the horrific totalitarian examples you guys so glibly compare them to is the fact that “socialism” has been a popular concept, and the totalitarians liked to use the word.

    1. There’s socialism-by-choice, and there’s being forced into it, Tony.

      But do keep telling us how wonderful it is. Maybe then you can tell us we’re too free, and we hate brown people, and other bullshit.

    2. “Liberals believing in universal healthcare as a norm of modern civilization are no more socialist in principle than a libertarian who favors a mere nightwatchman state.”

      This argument seems to follow from the assumption that one cannot be varying degrees of a “principle”, hence is just tautology.

      This annoyingly common line of argument is stupid anyway. If a nightwatchman state is just like a social democracy, then I guess a social democracy is just like a totalitarian soviet regime. Welcome to anarchism Tony.

  25. Forman’s absolutely wrong. Just because non-socialists and legal restraints are holding up the president’s agenda doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. Whether or not he’s a socialist depends on what his aims are, not how successful he is in pursuing them.

    His objectives (to judge by his actual policy successes) seem to be:
    1) A tighter bond between business and state, and an increase in central planning and regulatory authority.
    2) More power for the regulatory apparatus to control or influence the behavior and decisions of individuals.
    3) Increase the police power of the executive branch and undermine civil liberties.
    4) Remove obstacles to executive authority: usurp powers from Congress, verbally bully the courts, persecute whistleblowers, etc.

    How is that not socialist, in the perjorative sense?

  26. Still can’t think of any good films Forman actually WROTE. The Firemen’s Ball was an interesting peek into a cultural quirk, but it was still rather dull.

  27. “I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around…… They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism.”
    I’m not a genius, but isn’t he contradicting his very own complaint here? How dare they call him socialist, when he’s merely western European socialist.

  28. Mr. Milos always had it good with the commies. In the 60’s, I had to crawl under the barbed wire fence to get out, once and for all. Mr. Milos just took an airplane flight out …. and then freely returned, only to freely leave again. Why? Because Mr. Milos had big mouth, flexible spine and adjustable character. He was a useful fool for the socialists, and he still is…. although he now needs to search for the socialists elsewhere these days.
    Mr. Milos does the only things he knows, make fantasy, make belief and ki$$ a$$.

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