The View From 1776
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Once Again: What Is Socialism?
The commonly used definition is wrong.
News reporters, editorialists, academics, and liberal-progressive politicians generally deny that the Obama administration is socialistic. Socialism, they say, is a political state in which the government owns the means of production and distribution of goods and services. Because some businesses still are privately owned, ipso facto, ours is not a socialistic government.
That definition is confuted by the earliest theoretical writings on socialism. In France, Henri de Saint-Simon, in the first decades of the 1800s, and his pupil and colleague Auguste Comte, in the 1820s and 30s, along with Robert Owen contemporaneously in England, stated that the essential feature of what Owen called socialism is government regulation of the means of production and distribution.
Equally important is regulation of banking and education. When the government controls the volume of money and its economic applications, it has the economy in a stranglehold. When government controls education so that nothing other than secular socialism may be taught, as Saint-Simon advocated, it controls the future destiny of a nation.
Not until the advent of the Soviet Union after the 1917 Communist Revolution did the idea become general that socialism meant government seizing ownership of the economy. Experience in 19th and 20th century France, England, and Germany, however, made it clear that regulatory control by government bureaucrats is sufficient to implement socialism.
In addition to the Obama administration’s nationalizing General Motors, Chrysler, and major banks, it’s abundantly clear that the president strives to bring ever greater parts of the economy under stringent, socialistic regulatory control.
Obamacare is exhibit A. Another example is Obama’s January 17, 2008, interview with the San Francisco Chronicle:
Let me sort of describe my overall policy.
What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.
I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
Plans are now afoot to do just that, as Congress returns to cap-and-trade legislation.
Why this urge by liberal-progressive-socialists to impose regulatory control of the economy as widely as possible?
We can find the root of it in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. Marx taught that the only source of real value is physical labor, which means that only the workers are entitled to share in the proceeds from sale of goods and services. Entrepreneurs, inventors, business managers, individual savers, and wealthy capitalists who finance innovation and expansion of production are therefore parasites who feed upon what is, under liberal-progressive social justice, income that belongs to the workers. Hence the IRS’s definition of interest and dividends as unearned income.
Profit thus is a dirty word, a reflection of savage competition and personal greed. One can hear this dogmatic view in President Obama’s repeated attacks upon businessmen and bankers, whose greed, he says, caused the collapse of housing and the credit markets, as well as the highest rates of unemployment since the 1930s Depression.
Vitriol of the liberal-progressive attack upon supporters of the original Constitution’s checks and balances reflects its religious nature: secular materialism vs the founding Judeo-Christian individuality.
It must be understood that liberal-progressivism is the principal American sect of the international, secular, and materialist religion of socialism, which by the way, has encompassed in recent decades the pagan worship of irrational environmentalism. Any rationalization for more stifling regulation is embraced by liberal-progressives and the Democrat/Socialist Party leadership.
Thinking of socialism as a religion may surprise you. Generations of American students since the end of World War II have been deliberately deluded by liberal-progressive educators to believe that socialism is simply an economic doctrine calling for government ownership of business. Socialism is in fact more than an economic doctrine, and instituting it does not require government ownership of business. New Deal-style regulation is more than sufficient.
The late Bertrand Russell, one of the world