Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Socialist or Fascist - Thomas Sowell - Townhall Conservative Columnists

Thomas Sowell makes a distinction that many conservative commentators miss when they accuse Obama of being a socialist or a communist.

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a "socialist." He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left.

I agree with him on this. He also correctly identifies fascism to the political left, not the right as most people do. However he doesn’t specifically mention how some folks like libertarians lay out the axis of the political spectrum with collectivism on the left and individualism on the right. A fascistic dictatorship, even if it favors business, still is a form of collectivism. The following definition provided in Wikipedia clearly shows the collectivist nature of fascism in which the individual is subjugated to the needs of the nation.

Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek rejuvenation of their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood through a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics.

Getting back to Sowell’s piece he makes a couple of key points.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama's point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous -- something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the "greed" of the insurance companies.

This might seem like an issue of semantics but I don’t believe it is. I hold that incorrectly identifying Obama’s political position harms the credibility of the person making this claim. A knowledgeable opponent would have cause to ignore the comment because it shows ignorance at worst or sloppy thinking at best. It also incorrectly pits the right as being purely pro-business regardless of its relationship to government (i.e., the right supports big business cronyism while the left is protecting us little folk who need the help of our enlightened politicians to fight for our rights against the juggernaut of big business and the rich.)

Over time the left has done a good job of usurping certain terms in our language. An example is their term “right wing dictatorship” which can be safely uttered and no one challenges it. If we accept this designation we’re faced with the choice of a dictatorship of the proletariat on the left fighting the dictatorship of the bourgeois on the right. The individual is conveniently ignored in this spectrum.

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