Is Obama a Socialist?
by Anthony Gregory
At the end of this endless election season, we are hearing a new accusation leveled at Obama: He’s a socialist. He’s for big government and high taxes, just like all Democrats, but supposedly he is far worse. He’s to the left of the bunch. His socialism is the real deal, bordering on Marxism.
The specifics to this charge, as they concern economics, boil down to the idea that Obama is especially in favor of the "redistribution of wealth." He holds it up as an ideal.
But is this some sort of surprise? He wants to be the president. The U.S. government commands a three trillion dollar budget. Every one of those dollars is stolen or counterfeited and redistributed from some people to others. The loot being shoveled right now to Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex is redistributed wealth. Welfare for the poor is not the only threat to the freedom of the productive class to keep its money.
Obama believes in nationalizing much of the health care sector. But McCain and almost all the Republicans in power are for nationalizations. Look at what they just did to the finance sector. That was one of the greatest moves toward socialism in U.S. history.
Bill O’Reilly worries that Obama will make the government grow in a way that compares to LBJ. But that distinction already belongs to the current president.
So the accusation goes to Obama’s particular flavor of collectivism. He has a history of hanging out with far leftists (people whose various types of leftism, by the way, are in tension with one another – it is difficult to paint a coherent picture of Obama’s views from these associations).
Obama allegedly will conduct national social engineering. They all do that. And the Republicans get away with it more easily. The Republican governor in Texas established universal STD vaccinations for 12-year-old girls. Now it’s become a national trend. Bush championed mental health screening, No Child Left Behind, faith-based initiatives and countless other intrusions into family life.
Indeed, I believe Obama’s culture warring will be restrained by the temperament of the country. When a Democrat even talks about teenagers and sex, she gets fired. But when a Republican tries to inject every pubescent girl in his reach with STD vaccines, he is emulated countrywide.
Obama is also supposedly on the "far left" because he is "anti-American" – meaning, antiwar. This is ridiculous and if it weren’t it would undermine the accusation of socialism. To the extent he favors peace, he would actually be favoring the market, as opposed to the state.
But Obama has supported the war, wants more war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, wants a bigger military, and probably knows that if he becomes a big warmonger, it will quiet down some of the right and draw only so much criticism from the left.
Obama is a centrist Democrat. As president, he will wage war. He will expand the domestic state, but probably not much more than McCain would. Democrats actually seem to be less profligate in some ways, as everyone always assumes they will be big spenders. Republicans can run up six trillions dollars in debt before anyone notices.
Obama will likely be a relatively pragmatic steward of the military-industrial complex, the Washington-Wall Street revolving door, the continuing erosion of the Bill of Rights, and the empire abroad. He will try to make the world love U.S. hegemony once again. He will not do too much to weaken the police state, but will rather expand it, as Bill Clinton did. He will govern like a Republican, maybe more so than Bush.
One silver lining is if he wrecks the economy, it won’t be blamed on the free market, as it is whenever a Republican uses the government to wreck the economy. If only we had had Democrat presidents since 1993, the dialogue in this country would be different when the bubble burst.
Sure, there will be some new features to get used to. The environmentalism. The political correctness. Even here, the GOP is not much better. The next four or eight years could be quite bad for liberty, but that is the case with either major candidate.
The Republicans fear presidential power in the hands of Obama, but they should have seen it coming. They defended the power of the president to wage war on any nation, torture and detain anyone on earth. They favored total power, absolutism, and now they finally realize someone they don’t like might have that power one day?
But they need not fear a major upset. All modern presidents have supported warfare, welfare, corporatism, cronyism, economic collectivism, police statism, militarism, and an imperial executive abroad. No modern Republican has ratcheted back social security, public schooling, industrial regulation, central banking, and subsidies for medicine and agriculture. Why is socialism all of a sudden a problem?
Obama’s "socialism" is very American: Empire abroad, spying at home, handouts for the rich and poor. It is a sort of rightwing socialism – too pragmatic and pro-profit to be Marxist at all, but central planning nevertheless. Franklin Roosevelt engaged in this kind of thing with the New Deal, which was in reality no more leftwing than rightwing. A case can be made it was the same quasi-fascism practiced by "conservative" Republicans like Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, just on a larger scale.
Obama will not abolish corporations, do away with churches or abolish the other social authority centers anathema to Marxist thought. He will only attempt to co-opt them, as all corporatist social nationalists in today’s political climate try to do. He will not turn America toward the path toward socialism; it already is on its way.
Is Obama a socialist? Of course he is. But so are they all.
October 29, 2008
Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He is a research analyst at the Independent Institute. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.