Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mainstream Democratic Socialism

Readers of this blog probably realized long ago that I rarely refer to today's Democrats as "liberals." That's simply because they're not. The Democratic-left today has approached "radical" terroritory, if we refer to the traditional left-right ideological continuum, where those farthest to the left of the spectrum genuinely advocate radical, revolutionary change.

I'm routinely ridiculed by leftists who think this is all funny "
wingnutterry": There's no such thing as "socialists" or "postmodern nihilists," is the usual refrain. I pretty much ignore these denials, since I teach political ideologies and these terms are not controversial in the academic literature. But just as "liberal" became a term of harsh derision during the 1970s and 1980s, conservatives have begun using "socialist" as a mainstream attack on Democratic partisans pushing for big government spendathons, anything-goes free-love values in the social sphere, and terrorist appeasement in foreign policy.

In any case, the New York Times has a piece today discussing the changes in poltical labels, "
‘Socialism!’ Boo, Hiss, Repeat":

It seems that “socialist” has supplanted “liberal” as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as “Clinton” was in the 1990s and “Pelosi” is today.
Jonathan Singer, at MyDD, interprets the shifting attack nomenclature as signaling the rehabilitation of liberalism:

I don't think we're necessarily going to see a massive shift in the ideological identification of the electorate just yet, as the reluctance of many Democrats to call themselves Liberals is still palpable. That said, this does have the feel of the beginning of a new era, one in which Democrats aren't afraid to admit that they are Democrats, or that they are liberal - and, more importantly, that the party doesn't reflexively allow the Republicans to set the ground rules for the important political battles.
Not so fast.

Remember the
little debate we had a few months back over the notion of a "center-right nation"? Leftist cringed at the idea that American political culture is individualist, egalitarian, and Tocquevillian. But those who push for a "neo-progressive" program of "universal" healthcare, tax "fairness," and smart "regulation" are today's statist mandarins who have mainstreamed Marx's theories of class struggle into a hip postmodern ideology of anti-American multiculturalism and social-leveling big government. Such ideologues excoriate regular folks, everyday Americans, as "black helicopter" conspiracists and hyper-patriotic "one-worlder" freaks.

The fact is that today's Democratic-left are indeed socialists of varying degrees of radicalism. Some would simply prefer the U.S. adopt the European social welfare-model of statist dirigisme. Some, of course, can't speed up the anti-imperialist revolution fast enough. The problem is that "moderate" Democrats don't marginalize their
truly revolutionary cadres.

Indeed, President Barack Obama has asked a coalition of hardline leftist organizations to mobilize for his political agenda. Moreover, if the American univsersity is the repository of society's values and the locus of investment in the nation's survival in liberty and freedom, the outing of the "mainstreaming" of socialist ideological nihilism and anti-Americanism can't come soon enough.


Anonymous said...

There are very few Democrats in the democratic party. That is a term they hid behind to keep the vast majority of people from knowing who and what they stand.
Just as there are few real Liberals among those who would acknowledge ownership of the term as it applies to them. These terms have lost any meaning and signify nothing.
It is why I seldom use a capital D for democrat and almost always use the term leftist.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Dennis!

Unknown said...

The term liberal was made an epithet during the past eight years and liberals referred to themselves as progressives in the past two elections. Liberal is coming back now that the electorate and the media have rejected the demagoguery of the GOP.

I would agree that true liberalism is as intellectually legitimate as true conservatism, but both terms have become meaningless in general use, though I'm sure that the taxonomy your textbooks is definitive.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the pendulum has swung as far to the left as it has, given the overreaching of the right since '93. As Grover Norquist said recently, the Bush legacy is Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Of course Grover is being modest. It's his legacy too.

Unknown said...


Thought provoking. However, I must disagree with you on calling modern day Progressives, socialists.

Their development is in a constant state of flux. Progressiveness, if you want to call it that, seems to be the stepping stone towards full bore centrally planned socialism. Much like socialism is the stepping stone towards its natural evolution, communism. I don't think they are quite there yet, but soon will be.

Just my humble opine.

JBW said...

Attention neocons, Christian conservatives, Republicans and others who would foolishly resist that which Allah, Pelosi and the guys from that Queer Eye show hath wrought! Emperor Obama has once again transmitted a new list of commandments to myself and the other members of the Nihilistic Obamania Terrorist-appeasing Socialist Idolator (or N.O.T.S.I.; catchy, huh?) Brigade via telepathy. Yeah that's right, it's one of his powers now; he went all Syler on some medicine man in Nairobi a while back when he was there rehiding his super-secret and totally real original birth certificate. Good luck finding it now, suckers!

But for the immediate future cower before our liberal, then progressive for a while, then liberal again and now totally radical might! Your magical ability to successfully identify everyone with whom you disagree as a "socialist" or "postmodern nihilist" simply by having heard of these ideologies notwithstanding, the following decrees are to be enacted immediately:

-Recognizing that Democraticic (there will now be two "ic"s in the spelling of the Democraticic Party) "big government spendathons" are not nearly big enough to truly destroy our economy His Oneness has instructed that the thousands of gold statues of himself to be installed at the center of every city and town in America by the National Endowment for the Arts will now be constructed of solid cash (and then dipped in gold). Also, the word endowment will now be emphasised in that agencies name because he's a black guy (and if you laugh at that you're a dirty, stinking racist). But seriously: swinging to his knees.

-"Anything goes free-love values" are not only to be the norm from now on in the social sphere (which will be geometrically changed to a long thick social column, per the fine print in the last decree) but Bristol Palin will also now be in charge of the country's sex-ed programs (He's all about bipartisanship), instituting her "Stuff Happens" agenda with the aid of her inbred-but-lovable boyfriend and baby daddy, Levi. Also, all moose-on-buffalo love will be roundly encouraged as it acclimates the population to the eventual goals of The Onester's gay marriage agenda (the policy of diddling little boys currently being carried out by Catholic priests will also stay in place for these same reasons). How Santorum got ahold of that memo ahead of time is still a mystery.

-The current Democraticic Party's "terrorist appeasement" policy does not sufficiently endanger America and its citizens so from here on out not only will people who we totally know are terrorists be given immediate sanctuary and full immunity from prosecution but they will also be given an hour-long hot stone massage, a Vera Wang-designed Oscar gift bag and their choice of one target indicative and symbolic of "traditional" American values to crash a 747 or a plane of lesser size into. Keep your heads down.

-Lastly, to symbolically preempt any debates about America being a "center-right nation" all males are now required to wear their genitalia down their left boxer short leg as a reminder of Emperor Obama's extreme awesomeness. Briefs are now outlawed since decreased sperm production will just mean fewer unwanted teen pregnancies, per the fine print in the "Stuff Happens" legislation. Plus, abortionists gotta make their money too.

This will be the only time you will receive these instructions. Failure to comply will result in a decidedly non-honor beheading by a very dull and rusty sword swung by a gay vegetarian with a nervous tick; it won't be pretty. The recent attack on Phyllis Schlafly's hip during her visit to Berkeley was carried out as a warning to the rest of you non-non-believers and will be repeated as often as is necessary. She knows what she did.

The One-World, black helicopters are coming (once you're all in the camps they will be repainted with rainbows, of course). The "statist mandarins who have mainstreamed Marx's theories of class struggle into a hip postmodern ideology of anti-American multiculturalism and social-leveling big government" are gonna be all up in your collective grills. This is the change we've been waiting for! Obama! Nihilism! Wooo!

P.S.-The first run of Emperor Obama's new book: To Serve Babies will be coming out in stores this week. He'll be autographing copies at the West War Memorial Drive Borders book store in Peoria, Illinois this Friday from 6-9 pm. Bring the kids. The juicy, succulent kids. Nihilism! Eatin' babies! Wooo!

Anonymous said...


"Who will help me plant my wheat"?, asked the little red hen.

"Not I", said the cow.

"Not I", said the duck.

"Not I", said the pig.

"Not I", said the goose.

"Then I will do it by myself", said the little red hen, and so she
did. She planted her crop and the wheat grew very tall and ripened into
golden grain.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?", asked the little red hen.

"Not I", said the duck.

"Out of my classification", said the pig.

"I'd lose my seniority", said the cow.

"I'd lose my unemployment compensation", said the goose.

"Then I will do it by myself", said the little red hen, and so she

At last it came time to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake the
bread?", asked the little red hen.

"That would be overtime for me", said the cow.

"I'd lose my welfare benefits", said the duck.

"I'm a dropout and never learned how", said the pig.

"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination", said the

"I'd lose my seniority", said the cow.

"Then I will do it by myself", said the little red hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for all her neighbors to see.
They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen
said, "No, I shall eat all five loaves."

"Excess profits!", cried the cow. (Nancy Pelosi)

"Capitalist leech!", screamed the duck. (Barbara Boxer)

"I demand equal rights!", yelled the goose. (Jesse Jackson)

The pig just grunted in disdain. (Ted Kennedy)

And they all painted "UNFAIR' picket signs and marched around and
around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

Then the farmer (Obama) came. He said to the little red hen, "You
must not be so greedy."

"But I earned the bread", said the little red hen.

"Exactly", said Barack, the farmer. "That is what makes our free
enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as
he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive
workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and

And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen,
who clucked, "I am grateful, for now I truly understand."

But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again
baked bread, because she joined the 'party' and got her bread for free. And
the Democrats smiled. 'Fairness' had been established.

Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; perhaps no one
cared... so long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.


Bill Clinton got $12 million for his memoirs.

Hillary got $8 million for hers.

That's $20 million for memories from two people, who for eight
years, repeatedly testified under oath that they couldn't remember anything.


Unknown said...

Re: The Little Red Hen
Helping LRH make bread for herself might not have been a smart career move. Maybe she should have offered to share the bread up front. Even then we don't know if she could be trusted without an iron clad contract and judicial system to back it up. Of course that would involve the collection of taxes and establishment of a bureaucracy. That would work, assuming that all the animals were making bread too, otherwise she would have to pay all the taxes herself. Given her goal -- make a lot of bread and keep it for myself -- she probably made the right move: screw everyone else.

JBW said...

Wow, it's all so clear to me now. All I needed was a barnyard animal metaphor to sort it all out. Of course, you forgot to include My Pet Goat who just sat there staring at the other animals with a dumb expression on his face..

I absolutely love the right-wing (and oh-so Christian, of course) idea that if you need any kind of help or a leg up in this country it's because you're obviously a lazy piece of shit that never even tried in the first place.

Keep saying it though. It's obviously resonating with the small handful of people who have never needed any kind of help in their lives and I'd be willing to bet that they're all voting Republican in 2010.

Unknown said...


That rhetorical garbage was played out in the sixties you need a new script.

In all of your enlightened Progressive wisdom I would like you to splain to this simpleton how generational welfare, for anyone, regardless of race creed, or color is tantamount to needing a hand up?

Here is an interesting working paper on intergenerational welfare, which was done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Harvard University.

You may be required to sign up with NBER in order to view the PDF in its entirety. However, here is a link to the abstract which briefly describes the paper's findings.

If I may beat you to the punch, racism, has nothing to with the psychological implications of this study. Nor were angry white male capitalists a variable. I suggest you educate yourself a little bit on the problems this country is facing and get over your partisan stupidity.

JBW said...

CT, I'm not signing up for anything to read your paper but if I read the abstract correctly it basically says that if you grow up on welfare chances are you'll be on welfare yourself longer than someone who didn't grow up on it. I don't know a great deal about economic matters but I don't think that the idea that the socio-economic group you're born into determines to a large part where you'll end up as an adult is a new one.

But to address your question: did I accidentally endorse generational welfare at some point here? Or espouse the opinion that it's a great idea to be a lazy goldbricker on the government dole? So to answer your question: generational welfare, for anyone, regardless of race, creed or color is not tantamount to needing a hand up. But neither is giving someone a hand up tantamount to instituting generational welfare, which if you were paying attention was my original point.

Yes, of course there are lazy people who take advantage of the welfare system and if you're proposing a system for successfully weeding these individuals out of the welfare rolls I'm willing to listen. But just as every CEO of a corporation isn't a soulless bastard, every environmentalist isn't a dirty hippie, every Democrat isn't a left wing loon and every Republican isn't a fascist douchebag, every welfare recipient isn't an unwed black teenage mother pumping out kids in order to increase her checks indefinitely.

The majority of welfare recipients are non-black adults who are on welfare for less than two years. They need help, they get it and then they get back on their feet and don't need help anymore. But let's not say that too loudly because it's so much easier for the right to demonize lazy minorities whenever the subject comes up.

Hard working everyday Americans need a hand sometimes and that's what the welfare system is for; it's a social safety net. It has nothing to do with race or angry white male capitalists. Now the original conditions that have led to the economic disparities between the races in this country, on the other hand...

For a guy who calls himself Critical Thinker, you represent the former part of that sobriquet much better than you do the latter. I wasn't going to be snarky in my response but since you referenced my supposed "partisan stupidity" in your oh so eloquent comments: that statue makes you look gay.

Unknown said...

The red is desolving into incoherence.