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On Socialism, Corporatism and Democratic-Republican Party Government:

Of the Corporations, By the Corporations, For the Corporations

April 27, 2010

Partisan Republican propagandists of the corporatist two-party state and duopoly system of government continue to press their long-standing talking point that the Obama administration and Democratic-majority congress are on a steady "march toward socialism". In the last week, for instance, Newt Gingrich has offered an explanation for "How America became a secular-socialist-machine" in the Washington Post. In Commentary Magazine, Jonah Goldberg asks, "What kind of socialist is Barack Obama?" and concludes:

Still, the question remains, What do we call Obama’s “social-ism”? John Judis’s formulation—“liberal socialism”—is perfectly serviceable, and so is “social democracy” or, for that matter, simply “progressivism.” My own, perhaps too playful, suggestion would be neosocialism.

One might predict two potential unintended results of this rhetorical-political tactic: 1) supporters of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration may become more comfortable with the term itself, if not also more supportive of an explicit, aggressive socialist agenda; 2) opponents of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration may compare their policies and proposals with those of the Republican Party and draw the conclusion that the GOP is also to be rejected for its socialism. Glenn Beck, for instance, recently denounced George W. Bush for his progressivism. Via Think Progress and Memeorandum, Beck states:

What has [Obama] done that is different? I think he’s done exactly what George Bush was doing, except to the times of a thousand. I mean we’re talking about a progressive. And George Bush was a progressive. It’s the difference between a steam train and the space shuttle.

A recent post at the American Conservative argues that Barack Obama is the most socialist president since George W. Bush:

Barack Obama is the most socialist president in American history. Before Obama, George W. Bush was the most socialist president in American history. Before Dubya it was Bill Clinton, then Bush, Sr., Reagan, and so on . . . Conservatives who continue to make the case that Obama is worse than Bush are right, but that Rush and like-minded pundits and politicians still can’t find fault with the last socialist Republican president, is a pretty good indication as to what you can expect-and what they’ll tolerate-from the next one.

Of course, not all Republicans are in agreement with this take on socialism. Ron Paul, for instance, has consistently argued that, like those of the Republican Party, Democratic Party policies are more appropriately termed 'corporatist'. At the SRLC, Paul stated:

The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist…. I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the economic definition of a what a socialist is, no, he's not a socialist . . . He's a corporatist. And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.

Paul elaborates on this position a bit more in a post today at Lew Rockwell on "Socialism vs. Corporatism." Interestingly, actual avowed Socialists would seem to agree with Paul's assessment. CNN recently interviewed Billy Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, who stated that Obama "isn't even a liberal":

Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA . . . [has] seen people with bumper stickers and placards that call Obama a socialist, and he has a message for them: Obama isn't a socialist. He's not even a liberal. . . . Obama's opponents have long described him as a socialist. But what do actual socialists think about Obama? Not much, says Wharton. "He's the president whose main goal is to protect the wealth of the richest 5 percent of Americans." He and others say the assertion that Obama is a socialist is absurd.

In a recent interview with John Michael Spinelli of the Examiner, Socialist Party candidate for US Senate in Ohio, Dan La Botz, concurs, stating that the Obama administration has followed the Bush administration's lead in privileging the interests of multinational corporations over the interests of the people of the United States. I contacted Mr. La Botz by email, asking for his response to the claim that the Democrats are on a "march toward socialism." In his reply, Mr. La Botz writes, in part:

The Obama administration, which came to power in the midst of a severe economic crisis, has demonstrated that its principal preoccupation has been to save American capitalism, the banks and corporations. Billions of working peoples’ tax money has been redistributed to banks, insurance companies and corporations, but we have not gained any control over those institutions. On the contrary, they continue to exploit working people and to block the road to reform.

This excerpt, however, cannot do justice to Mr. La Botz's lengthy response, which I have published in full at Third Party and Independent Daily.

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