Tibor R. Machan
It is disgusting to witness all the dishonesty surrounding the current administration’s public policy efforts. Even the new language columnist of The New York Times Magazine is in denial and pretends to consider it some kind of smear–even conspiracy–for those not among Mr. Obama’s fan base to refer Obama & Co. as socialists. Why?
Socialism is a well respected political economic alternative for which some of the best minds and hearts of human history have done fierce battle. No, it is not a good political economic system but those who are socialists believe it is. So why don’t they and their cheerleaders in the media admit it, even proudly announce it at every turn, that they support socialism? I am not ashamed of being a champion of laissez-faire capitalism, so why do they pretend to be less than enthusiastic about their democratic socialism?
In American history there have been proud socialists aplenty–Normal Thomas being perhaps the most public of them. But there was, also, Michael Harrington who, historians claim, was personally responsible for Lyndon Baines Johnson’s "war on poverty" and some other, for my money futile and even hazardous, efforts to drive American more and more toward socialism. Why dishonor these folks with, for example, a bunch of phony denials about what the recently passed Obamacare legislation was about. Of course it was a step toward socialism and Mr. Obama, if he had an ounce of genuine candor and courage, would not keep dodging the issue. (Maybe he wants some kind of goulash socialism, like Janos Kadar of Hungary wanted to goulash communism. But Kadar never denied that what he was aiming for had in it a large dose of communism–actually, socialism, for communism for communists is but a far off goal [dream?].)
In this respect I find European politics more honest than what we have here with the Democrats and Republicans engaging in endless double talk about what they are after. Of course, the Republicans can never figure out what they want because of their internal conflicts as to whether men and women should have their liberty properly protected or be ordered around to serve God or tradition or whatever. Democrats, however, should have no difficulty in coming clean: They want a robust, democratic socialist, welfare state which has to be largely socialist. If men and women do have their basic right to liberty well secured by the legal system, they just might not serve the objectives that are the meat and potatoes of socialism, of having a country be treated like a huge beehive in need of the care and regimentation of its queen bee, the government. This is so evident that invoking a bunch of euphemisms just will not serve long to hide it.
President Obama is aiming for socialism–maybe not the Soviet or North Korean or even Cuban type but at least the sort found in many European countries, associated mainly with the current economic systems of Norway, Sweden, and France. True, even in those countries the champions of socialism are trying to square the circle, to have a substantial measure of individual liberty in the midst of their vigorous Nanny state. But they are not pretending to be in favor of a free market system as Mr. Obama keeps stating he is.
If Obama & Co. were honest about their support of a substantially socialist economic system, they could provide the American citizenry with arguments for this, with reasons why they believe it is a good thing to head in that direction. And then a debate could ensue instead of the dishonest gobbledegook that passes of political dialogue now. Indeed, one reason there can be no serious discussion between Democrats and Republicans is that neither side will level about where it stands on public policy matters, let alone on the fundamental, constitutional principles by which it wants the country to be guided.
I say, let’s have it all out, in plain and honest terms, and then have a national debate about it all and see where that leads. I hope the free, capitalist society wins out over welfare statist socialism–with its bizarre form of liberty that is in fact servitude for us all–but at least we would know what the issues are all about.