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Of Course Obama's a Socialist

by Christopher Chantrill
July 24, 2010 at 7:52 pm

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THOMAS FRANK, the Wall Street Journal’s quota liberal, is shocked that people are calling President Obama a socialist. Last week a poll announced that 55 percent of people think he’s just that. Not at all, retorts Frank:

If the president were actually a socialist in the Western European sense, he would certainly have pushed for single-payer health care, he would surely have gotten tough with the banks during the financial crisis, and he would undoubtedly have launched a massive program of public works instead of last year’s halfhearted stimulus package.

To which, any half-alive conservative would retort: What about the Fabian socialists. Remember, they were Brit socialists that took their name from Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator, famous for his delaying tactics in the Second Punic War.

President Barack Obama Cunctator may not have pushed for single-payer health care, but he believes in it and has been so recorded on video. The banks? Maybe you don’t understand, Mr. Frank, how banks contribute to the socialist’s plans. You can nationalize credit and funnel it into the projects of the educated elite, as in Fannie and Freddie and the Dodd-Frank bill, and still have nominally privately-owned banks. And as for the stimulus package, let’s give the president credit for the biggest package he could get out of Congress.

This week, the educated elite doesn’t want Americans to call its program socialist. No doubt that is because “socialism” has come to be connected with utter economic failure and top-down crony corruption by and for a national nomenklatura. But what of that? A hundred odd years ago everyone in the educated class from Boston Transcendentalists in the east to hard-drinking Jack London in the west wanted to be called socialists. Then they decided they wanted to be called Progressives.

When Progressive became a dirty word then the educated class wanted to be called liberals. Of course, after a generation of liberal programs, liberal corruption, and liberal failure, “liberal” became a dirty word. So liberals renamed themselves back to “progressive.”

In the Vietnam War, liberals were proud to sneer at patriotism. Now they throw a fit at anyone that questions their patriotism.

It really doesn’t matter what the educated elite calls itself; eventually that word becomes a pejorative. On the other hand, the latest pejorative that the educated elite pastes on conservatives often becomes a badge of honor. Pretty soon, the word “racist,” which seems to be the pejorative-du-jour amongst the fashion-conscious, will in its turn become a badge of honor on the college campus, as in: “like, so this guy called me, like, a racist? Like, you think he likes me?”

The name isn’t important. What is important is the political agenda of the ruling class behind all the shape-shifting. Angelo M. Codevilla from The American Spectator:

Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints...

Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a "machine," that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members.

This ruling class, even in benighted Europe, realized a couple of decades ago that it didn’t need to openly nationalize the means of production to achieve its aim of ruling the economy and the culture from the political sector. It discovered that it didn’t need to expropriate the proprietors. It could rule through the courts and through administrative regulation of the private sector. That is why Frank’s argument about “single-payer” is so meaningless. Members of the ruling class understand that the actual institutional form of health care is not the critical factor. The critical factor is that power in health policy centers upon them. They will get to decide who lives or dies; they will decide who pays and who benefits. Of course, down in the fever swamps of the Angry Left they don’t understand this sophisticated truth; all they know are the slogans that their leaders taught them half-a-century ago.

You can call Obama a socialist, a progressive, a liberal, a black liberationist. The choice of words doesn’t matter. What matters is that President Obama is a card-carrying member of the ruling class, and every act of this president aims to concentrate more power in the government or distribute favors to his supporters.

America was not founded for this. The 600,000 did not die in the Civil War for this. The GIs did not crush Nazism and Communism for this. And that is why it shall not stand.

I wonder what liberals won’t want us to call them next week.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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