Saturday, December 22, 2012
Peter Ferrara seems to think so. Personally, I doubt it. I don't see anything as coherent as a socialist ideology coming out of the White House. "Socialism" covers a lot of ground, but it implies a lot that I don't think it's fair to attribute to Prez O. Indeed, in some ways I think we would be better off if he were a principled, democratic socialist.
What he actually is could be significantly worse than that. I think he is more susceptible to an quasi- or semi-Marxist explanation than he is a believer in them. What I mean here is that, however skeptical I might be of social classes being the ultimate explanatory variables in some super- Marxist sociology, taking Obama as representing and leading something you might call the "political class" seems pretty darn explanatory. It seems to me that just about everything he does can be explained as efforts to increase the power and wealth of that political class. The redistribution of wealth is just one means to that end. The political class is doing very well out of this presidency. DC and environs has gained enormously in wealth in the last four years and is still going strong, much more so than the rest of the country -- no recession there! Gobs of the stimulus money just went to state employees and politically favored clients. The big bank - big government nexus is so evident and scandalous it's hard to talk about without sounding like a commie from your grandfather's generation. I feel like I should be wearing one of those caps out of Dr. Zhivago. The phrase used for this now is "crony capitalism" but that term is not nearly sinister- sounding enough for what it is -- we need a better name. "Cronies" sounds like drinking buddies, not economy and nation- wreckers, as in fact they are. But while socialism usually turns into this thing called crony capitalism quickly enough, it's not really socialism, though it has many of the worst traits of socialism and very few of its virtues.
Sadly, at the biggest picture level it looks to me like we are a sort of corrupt, democratic mixed monarchy locked into a spending path that will inelectably lead it to bankruptcy, a kind of profligate mutual looting party a la Bastiat. (This view is a work in progress, please note.) Granted, socialism has a tendency to become corrupt, but perhaps we have found a somewhat different way to get on to the same road to serfdom, as it were. But my point is a minor one -- the epithet "socialism" just isn't that explanatory in the case of our predictament. It seems to me our abuses get rationalized by all sorts of cant pieties, not all of them socialist. Saving the earth, honoring the aged, keeping promises made, helping children, redistributing for fairness (yes, that's often socialist) and a score of other reasons are cited for sucking more out of the economy, running it through government, and spurting it out to members and clients of the political class.
I'm partial to this book, which offers some hope . . .