It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
True enough. In my lifetime, in the off-side of the near past, I have had my time in the trenches (literally, but here figuratively) explaining the same concepts to the victims of American public education. There are some, among those who care, who are comfortable with using the socialist label, as this is the most common understanding of a system that depresses individual liberty for the purpose of control of not just the economy but for the inevitable and inescapable control of the social culture as well. But Dr Sowell is correct in what may seem to be a quibble over terminology.
What socialism, fascism, and other ideologies of the Left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people – like themselves – need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, i.e., the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.
The vision of those of the Left is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves as superior beings pursuing superior ends. In the United States, however, this vision conflicts with a Constitution that begins, “We, the People . . . ”
That is why the Left has for more than a century been trying to get the Constitution’s limitations on government loosened or evaded by judges’ new interpretations, based on notions of “a living Constitution” that will take decisions out of the hands of “We, the People,” and transfer those decisions to our betters.As with practically anything that Dr Sowell writes, read the whole thing. But as to a further explanation, the movement of the Left in America extends beyond the general definition of fascism that includes a nationalistic movement (there is no real specific definition – q.v. Goldberg). This modern version incorporates a strong anti-Americanism (thanks to Donald Sensing for the timely resurrection of this article), coupled with an internationalist bent (thus, for example, the reliance on the United Nations or NATO for a seal of approval for US foreign initiatives; or the internationalist faction in American jurisprudence that looks beyond the US Constitution to laws of other countries or to treaties for incorporation into internal US law, as exemplified by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer).
What we see now is an amalgamation of the internationalist aim of early Soviet communism with the fascist idea of a market economy directed and regulated by the state (but not through 'ownership of the means of production') , facilitated through an association with labor unions, controlled by an elite installed through a ‘revolution from above’ and supported by a coalition of radicalised factions.
I do not use these terms glibly, but rather with their precise meanings. A real understanding of what the Left wants to accomplish through Obama – not just a tingly-legged frisson of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ – is a requirement of a truly enlightened electorate.