Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Barack Obama Is Not A Socialist

Over the past 2 years since President Barack Obama’s inauguration, the American right wing universe has been abuzz about President Obama being a Socialist and how he and the Congressional Democrats are bringing Socialism to America. These ideas hold great currency within the Tea Party movement egged on by the  Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck as well as the Libertarian radio host Alex Jones. More recently, Republican Senatorial candidate for the State of  DelawareChristine O’Donnell attacked her Democratic opponent Chris Coons as a Marxist.  The reason why the right wing believes Obama is a Socialist stems mostly from the passage of Health Care Reform Bill. There is also a strain of paranoia that Obama and the Democrats want to take away the  2nd Amendment Constitutional right to bear arms. We shall demonstrate why neither Obama nor the Democrats are Socialists and how the United States is far from Socialism.

Before debunking the risible accusations of Socialism, we must define what it actually is. There’s much confusion about Socialism is. The confusion is found both in the capitalist as well as the countries which were nominally “Socialist.” A crash course on Socialism in necessary. The best place to start is at beginning to see what the founders of Socialism,  Karl Marx and  Friedrich Engels, had to say about it. Socialism, as described in The Communist Manifesto is actually the transition state between capitalism and Communism. Socialism occurs when the Proletariat or the working class seize State power away from the bourgeoisie or the capitalist class. Upon seizing State power, the workers confiscate the property, assets and the wealth of the bourgeoisie and distributes it to the working class masses. From there, the workers reorganise society along social and economic lines obliterating class differences and hierarchy. The factories, offices and workplaces are taken over by the workers themselves who form work councils to democratically control the decision making policies and rules of the workplace. All forms of private property are abolished. The Worker’s State is only supposed to last a couple of generations in order to prevent counter-revolution by the bourgeoisie and other social layers that have historically kept the masses down. This is what Marx and Engels referred to as “the dictatorship of the proletariat.” As society is transformed and class distinctions eradicated, the State whithers away and then society makes the final transition to Communism. This is the most simplistic and easiest way to define Socialism. By that definition, no country except the  U.S.S.R between 1922 and 1928 ever had Socialism and therefore no country has ever been truly Communist. The city of Vienna between 1918-34 came closest to Socialism. Therefore, using the classical formulation outlined above, let us first examine what Obama would have done over the past 21 months as President if he were a Socialist and then compare his actual record.
Upon his first day in office, the Socialist President would have not only shut down the  Guantanamo Bay concentration camp but he would have shut down the naval base and returned the land back to the Cuban government. He would have recalled all naval personnel and vessels stationed there back home. Within a couple of weeks, the Socialist President would have ordered the Department of Justice to convene a Grand Jury seeking indictments of  George W. Bush,  Dick Cheney,  Condoleeza Rice,  Robert Gates,  Donald Rumsfeld,  Colin Powell,  Alberto Gonzalez,  John Ashcroft, et all for treason, for violating the Constitution, violating international law, war crimes, crimes against humanity and for torture. Furthermore, a Socialist President would have immediately ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, recalled all the troops not only from those countries but would have shut down the more than 750 US military bases set up all over the world.
Next the Socialist President would have sent the  FBI and the  Internal Revenue Service to raid the Wall Street offices of Goldman Sachs,  JP Morgan Chase,  Stanley Morgan,  AIG, etc to seize files and access accounts. Based upon the evidence gathered and a thorough investigation, the Justice Department would have filed criminal charges against the CEOs and Presidents of the Financial sector for insider trading, fraud and racketeering. Upon conviction by trial, the Justice Department would have demanded the presiding judge to levy the maximum prison sentences and fines. If convicted, the Socialist President would have instructed the Treasury Department to seize all the assets.
If Obama were a Socialist, he would have prevented the bankruptcy of  GM by transforming it into nationalized company which would have built electric automobiles, high speed trains which would have ultimately turned the company into Green Manufacturing. The Socialist President and Congress would have commenced large scale public works project to fix the nations crumbling infrastructure which in turn would have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Finally, Socialism which is in reality egalitarianism would have been effected since January 2009.
Now we must examine what Obama and the Democrats have done since then. Both the President and the Attorney General have refused to investigate let alone charge anyone from the previous administration with crimes. The President himself has stated repeatedly that he wants to “look forward, not backward.” The Stimulus package in reality has been to help Wall Street and the banks to recover. Two years after the Panic of 2008, profits have soared beyond their pre-recession levels and executive bonus pay have reached record levels. The President has stated: “This is America, we aren’t against people getting rich.” The much maligned Health Care Reform Act passed this year has been denounced as socialist. In reality, the US doesn’t have anything resembling socialized medicine based on the  NHS in the UK or the  Canada Health Act. The insurance companies have not been broken up or disbanded. While Obama has wanted to invest in Green jobs and infrastructure rebuilding, he has been impeded by conservative Blue Dog Democrats in Congress. So much for the Democrats being Socialists.
The final proof that Obama is not a socialist is to look at his economic team. Rather than appointing  Edward S. Herman as Treasury Secretary, he appointed Timothy Geithner. The administration’s economic team has consisted of neo-liberal capitalist acolytes such as Larry Summers. A socialist President would have recruited much of the faculty from the Economics Department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which remains a bastion of Marxist economics in the US if not the entire world. Lastly, the working class of America hasn’t challenged capitalism. The workers have taken over neither the State, the government nor the corporations and banks.
The reality is that Obama is a capitalist. The Democratic party is a capitalist party. Obama has worked overtime to save capitalism. Indeed, Obama has done more to save and revive capitalism than any other President in US history including Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While Obama has from time to time made rhetorical criticisms of Wall Street executives and the banks, he has not done anything to hinder them. President Obama is arguably the most pro-capitalist President since  Calvin Coolidge who famously declared: “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world!” The United States has always been and remains a capitalist country.

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