I keep coming across somewhat amusing and hysterical posts on the web about whether or not Obama is a socialist. The right uses the term to describe his policies and the left ridicule the right for not having anything original to attack him with but this tired old charge – an interesting and rather tired response. So I got thinking: is he actually a socialist – I mean in terms of his policies, not his own beliefs, which are more or less irrelevent to the question.
My first thought was that he’s probably not a socialist, he’s just a novice. According to the Republicans in congress, he isn’t particularly engaged with the congressional democrats or republicans. He’s just letting congress do it’s thing and being presidential.
This charge will take time to confirm or deny because it’s much too early and you don’t know when what you hear is true or false coming out of Washington because people only tell the truth if it pays them. But it wouldn’t surprise me, given Obama’s profound lack of executive experience.
So I’m maybe a little skeptical on this point – and worried, because if he can’t control Pelosi and Reed we’re in trouble. These California congressfolk are bringing us the policies that have turned that state into a catastrophe.
All of which is preamble to my real point, which is to say, we should probably work out what it means to be a socialist before we evaluate whether or not Obama is one or whether, as Newsweek claims, we’re all socialists now.
So I turned to a book by the Austrian thinker Erik Von-Kuehnelt-Leddihn called Leftism Revisited. He doesn’t specifically go after socialism in this book; it’s more of an analysis of Leftism generally. He identifies 41 principles of “leftism” and lists them in the back of the book. I’ll list some of the key ones here:
- Materialism: economic, biological, sociological
- Messianism assigned to one group: a nation, a race, a class
- Centralization: elimination of local administrations, traditions, characteristics, etc.
- Totalistarianism: perversion of all spheres of life by one doctrine
- Brute force and terror, not authority, an endogenous force
- Ideological one-party state
- Complete state control of education
- Socialism: the opposite of personalism
- Provider (Welfare) State: from the cradle to the grave
- Militarism (not bellicosity):conscription, people’s armies, levee en masse
- Rigid ideology enforced by the state: complete anti-image of “The Enemy”
- Antimonarchcal leader system: the leader (Fuhrer, Duce, Vozhd’)
- Antiliberalism: hatred of freedom
- Antitraditionalism: against the historic past, against “reaction”
- Territorial expansionist tendencies as form of self-realization.
That’s all I’ll list for now. If I’m reading this correctly, all or most of these qualities and principles are derived from Marx’s writings. What strikes me is how any element that one of our parties doesn’t give us the other seems to. The Left is in a pincer movement to squeeze everything personal out of us. Everything is at war with the person – from work to child-birth to medicine to (especially, perhaps) education.
On the other hand, we are far from being brought into total subjugation, and I am grateful for that. We are not Hitler’s Germany or Lenin’s Russia, though we may be well on the “road to serfdom.”