With all of this outcry that Obama is socialist, I confess to being a little confused. I hear so many journalists and "pundits" throw around that term, but none of them really explaining it. Perhaps more importantly, I want to hear them explain two things: how "socialist" applies to Obama's policies and how "socialist" doesn't apply to the US.
But first, we interrupt this rant with an excerpt from "Pulp Media Fiction".
INT. LIBERAL MEDIA BLACK-OPS HEADQUARTERS SARAH PALIN sits back in a chair, staring in horror at JULES WINNFIELD. He has a microphone held tightly in front of him. JULES Can you name me a single mother-fuckin' Republican who attacked Obama's "protect domestic jobs" position? SARAH What? JULES I *said* 'Can you name me a single mother-fuckin' Republican who attacked Obama's "protect domestic jobs" position?' SARAH What? Jules presses the microphone hard against Sarah's mouth. JULES C'mon, pretend this is a Katie Couric interview again! I dare ya, I double dare ya motherfucker, say "What" one more goddamn time!
The problem I'm having with this whole sorry mess is that few in the media are willing to do anything more than engage in "am not/are too" type idiocies, particularly on this topic. Why is that? Why would our profit driven, corporate-owned media fail to have a serious discussion about what socialism is? I suspect it's a combination of many factors, but the two which immediately spring to mind are the twin issues of "sound bite news coverage" and the "socialism is satanism" mentality of many Americans.
Unfortunately, there are many definitions of socialism, but it all boils down to government control¹ and/or ownership of the means of production and/or distribution of goods and/or services. Confused? You should be. Socialism can be tough to pin down, but it's basically "government control over some section of the economy". Which brings us to US socialism:
- The Republican-led recent government nationalization of banks
- Food stamps
- Social Security
- Interstate Highway System
- Public Education
- Agricultural subsidies
There are, of course, plenty of other examples of socialism in US society; the US has never had a laissez-faire tradition² So, are we a socialist country? Is Obama's tax plan any more of a redistribution of wealth than the Republican goals of lowering taxes for wealthy people and corporations? If we are not a socialist country but some of Obama's policies will make us one, would someone please tell me what the hell the difference is? Where's the tipping point?
Every mature economy on this planet has elements of both capitalism and socialism. Every one. Every. Single. One. That includes the USA. Deal with it.
1. When it shifts to "control by the people" is when "socialism" becomes "communism" as Marx defined it. And for the record, I'm definitely not communist and generally wouldn't label myself a socialist, except, perhaps, in the context of what you read here.
2. No, we didn't in the 19th century, either. There was rampant land-redistribution and protectionism, but this myth is so widely embedded in US culture, that people just assume it's true.