Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Today's Democrat is a C-Word

There is a lot of snorting, chuckling, and guffawing on the left about hare-brained conservative types getting all bent out of shape about the "socialist" Democrats (cue laugh track). Never mind that many Democrats are springing out of the woodwork like the economic termites they are and announcing that they are "socialist and proud of it."

One such episode came from the election-night coverage of MSNBC, an obscure network whose "analysis" resembled in some ways that of the CPUSA's (guess who they favored?). During a testy exchange between Lawrence O'Donnell and an interchangeable Democrat Party hack about who could out-left whom, Larry boasted:

"Unlike you, I am not a progressive. I am not a liberal who is so afraid of the word that I have to change my name to progressive. Liberals amuse me. I am a socialist. I live to the extreme left, the extreme left of you mere liberals. However, I know this about my country. Liberals are 20% of the electorate, conservatives are 41% of the electorate [correction: 48%] . Okay? So I don't pretend that my views, which would ban all guns in America, make Medicare available to all in America, have any chance of happening in the federal government. You can sit there and pretend that liberals should run more liberal in conservative districts."

There are a few points here to consider about Mr. O'Donnell's coming out party. Though you cannot argue by anecdote about this one particular host, it is striking how he had to tell us he is a socialist, or else we wouldn't have known it. He acts and talks like a "liberal," "progressive," or "socialist." Next, he wears the word "socialist" like a badge of honor, one-upping his lefty co-conspirator. In addition, O'Donnell knows that the socialist must use subterfuge, and indeed, he effectively counsels leftist candidates not to run on a hard left platform. The most chilling part came when he blurted out that he would ban all guns in America, implying that the state be the only institution allowed to possess them! And "Medicare for all," well we know that is effectively giving the state life and death control over all citizens, while weighing the value of their lives in terms of benefit to the collective.

So while some people may squirm calling today's leftist the "C-word," I have no problem doing it. We conservatives play footsie with the political lexicon so much we act like "communism" is a dirty word. Is communism "dead," just because the USSR "collapsed" in 1989? No, it just went underground, picking up new disguises, such as radical environmentalism.

So I am going to put myself out there and just say it: Today's Democrat is functionally a communist. He may not know he is a communist. He may not subscribe to Marx or Engels. But his ideas derive in many aspects from communist thinking. Feel free to yell "McCarthyite!" at any time now.

To substantiate this claim, I need to show how political lexicon changes, and the relationship of "communist" to other descriptions of leftism, such as "liberal" and "socialist." We will basically just chalk up progressivism as slow-motion or Fabian socialism.

Let's start with conservatism, to illustrate how political terms have changed over time and to provide a backdrop to who today's "leftist" is. Now "conservatism" in the European context is much different than "conservatism" in the American context. In regards to European conservatism, meaning the Ancien Regime, then the Founders of this country are to be considered liberal radicals. To us, they are classical liberals.

Today, American conservatives tend to be classical liberals at their core, but they are still called "conservatives." Over time, the term "conservatism" in the American context acquired baggage. That is because overturning a decaying monarchical system and establishing a functional regime of government are two entirely different prerogatives. Sustaining government in a competitive world of clashing states is a further prerogative, implying the need to build national defense, preserve a culture conducive to freedom and resistant to subversion, and wisely and prudently weigh the benefits of isolationism versus entanglement.

In the Burkean mode, conservatism means incremental change, so as to minimize social and political disruption. But does conservatism mean preserving cultural and political institutions for their own sake, or those conducive to freedom, while jettisoning those opposed to freedom? This is no idle debate, but much turns on its answer in the opposition of libertarian and conservative philosophy. But are both conservative? A so-called "modern liberal" would say so.

Today's "modern liberal" opposes the country's Burkean conservatism, and our history of liberty. From the point of view of the Founders, the modern liberal is a reactionary, seeking to install a counter-revolution to reimpose statism over the citizenry. The means of performing this counter-revolution are democracy and communist ideology, both ancient in their impulses, and both condemned by Aristotle in 'Politics.'

The Marxian mode of communism gave doctrinal form to the primitive impulse to redistribute materials "evenly." It specifically distorts the meaning of 'equality' in the Enlightenment context to mean equality of outcomes rather than that of opportunity.

While it can be argued that such perverters of classical liberalism should be called (modern) "liberals," I find little "liberating" about their oppressive, state-heavy ideology. In terms of their animating ideal, the form given to their counter-reactionary drive to reimpose state domination over the people, it is very communistic.

The Democrats make a living on such communistic notions as: redistribution of wealth; class warfare; ethnic, racial, and sexual "liberation"; anti-capitalism writ large; state regulation of business and commerce; progressive taxation; intentional debasement of the currency; disdain for the rule of law; coordinated propaganda in education and media; ruthless demonization and scapegoating of "class enemies," such as corporations, the "reactionary" middle class, and conservatives in general. This is addition to sharing hallmarks incidental to most socialist regimes, such as fostering a cult of personality around a demagogue, nationalizing wide swathes of the private sector, and installing massive and unsustainable welfare programs.

The difference between socialism and communism is not in kind, but lay on a spectrum; and since it is in the nature of government to acquire more power when and where it can, the breakdown of economy and society under the socialist system tends towards dissipation of social and political opposition, strengthening the conditions for communist tyranny.

Socialist policies, which in the present context are commensurate with communist policies (with the left's strengthening of the police state, we can come down firmly on the communist side of the spectrum), are mainstream Democrat Party politics, which is perhaps why many are catching on and fleeing the party. But calling today's Democrats "liberals" is what requires a stretch of the imagination, not "communists." Just because the leftists haven't installed a communist regime, doesn't mean that that isn't their ultimate aim.


Richard Thornton said...

O'Donnell is great; until he had his own show on MSNBC, I could barely stand television. We are all socialists. Ask Rand Paul - which part of Medicare does he plan to cut???? Then get back to me.

Richard Thornton said...

as a followup - I realize that your concept of liberty and conservatism is not at all parallel to current republicans, but nonetheless, I know very few so called libertarians who will ever vote democrat, but will vote republican. Your precious Rand Paul ran as a republican but I understand he is really a libertarian...whatever...these labels become obnoxious quickly - but do you really want to privatize every road, every park, every school, do away with all food safety, drug safety, product safety...? The list is endless. Few people want to roll it all the way back, because we all want that little bit of socialism which we personally use and are not willing to do without. I literally pay $23,000 a year in just federal income tax and that does not include other taxes, which amount to another $10-15 thousand. But republicans are not willing to cut me back 10-15 thousand are they? So all this talk about smaller government is nonsense. It will never happen unless we have an 1861 redo. Are you willing to go that far? Rick Perry wants to secede from the union - go for it - I can think of nothing coming out of Texas I cannot do without.