Amidst all the gloom and doom of the financial crisis, the presidential race is providing a bit of hilarity. Conservatives John McCain and Sarah Palin are calling liberal Barack Obama a socialist because he believes in using the federal government to redistribute wealth. Obama’s reaction is just as funny — he’s shocked — yes, shocked — that anyone would actually consider him a socialist!
Pardon me, but isn’t Sen. McCain one of those who just voted for the bailout of Wall Street cronies and bankers? Doesn’t the bailout entail the federal government’s taking money from one group of people — the poor and middle class — in order to redistribute it to the rich and privileged? Isn’t coercive redistribution of wealth what socialism is all about?
Or consider the fact that the federal government has now become a part owner of several U.S. banks, after forcing bank executives to sell the government ownership rights in the banks. How much more socialistic can one get than public (i.e., government) ownership of the means of production? Isn’t that one of core elements of socialism?
In fact, wasn’t “centralization of credit” one of the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto?
In attacking Obama’s wish to “redistribute the wealth,” Sarah Palin declared, “Now is not the time to experiment with socialism.”
What planet has Palin been living on? Has she never heard of public (i.e., government) schooling, which is an absolutely perfect model of socialism and which, by the way, is another plank of the Communist Manifesto? Doesn’t it depend on the coercive redistribution of wealth from people who don’t have children in school to those who do? Wouldn’t the same principle apply to state-supported colleges and universities? How about Social Security, an old-age retirement system that originated with German socialists and that depends on coercively redistributing wealth from young to old? How about government-provided healthcare, a socialist program that just happens to be the pride and joy of socialist par excellent Fidel Castro?
While we’re on the subject of socialism, perhaps we should mention the word fascism. I’ll bet that both conservatives and liberals would be shocked — yes, shocked — at being called fascists. Yet, isn’t that exactly what they are? Doesn’t fascism entail leaving ownership in private hands but placing it under government control and regulation? Doesn’t it also entail government-business partnerships? Aren’t those principles core elements of the conservative and liberal philosophy?
In fact, one noted conservative, Jonah Goldberg, got sick and tired of being called a fascist by liberals and so he published a book showing that it’s actually the liberals, given their devotion to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal philosophy and programs, who are the fascists. The title of his book is: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.
Goldberg is right! The New Deal was fascist, and it was socialist too. Take a look at a great book entitled Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch. That scholarly book documents what conservatives and liberals have long been afraid to confront: that FDR’s New Deal was rooted in both fascism and socialism. While Roosevelt and his cohorts were more inspired by the ideas of fascist Benito Mussolini and socialist Joseph Stalin, the words of praise that Hitler, a National Socialist, had for FDR’s policies, which Schivelbusch documents in excruciating detail, are also quite revealing.
For some 80 years, conservatives and liberals have lived the life of the lie and the life of unreality. Having rejected and abandoned the libertarian principles of economic liberty and free markets on which our nation was founded in favor of socialism and fascism, they convinced themselves that they really hadn’t done that. They convinced themselves that what they had done instead was simply “save free enterprise.” They convinced themselves that their socialist and fascist economic system was “free market.” And they used the public schools — that is, their socialist education system — to reinforce that lie and unreality to generation after generation of American students, who grew up believing the lies and unreality.
The late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck once wrote, “Mental health is a commitment to reality at all costs.” Perhaps the discussion of socialism in the presidential race will help conservatives and liberals to begin traveling down that road.