Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Political Philosophy

Is Obama a Socialist?

That's essentially the question the New York Times "room-for-debate" blog editor asked me this afternoon.  Here's my answer.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Boy, most of the people responding in the comments to the 4 posts about socialism are "lights on nobody home" types.

Such willful ignorance.


"Socialism" accurately captures the left-liberal notion that society/government should assume decisive authority and responsibility over individuals in an increasing array of affairs. It subordinates individual rights to group claims, thus attacking the basis for limited government.

Tocqueville presciently describes such a herd mentality in the last 50 pp. of Democracy in America, vol. II, part 4. Some libertarian types that Hayward properly lampoons in his NYT piece attack the notion of society itself. The American political tradition is not theoretical in this way, reflecting religious, local, and patriotic sentiments.

The liberal confusion can be seen in statements such as Joe Biden's notion that it is patriotic to pay higher taxes. While permitting confusion, the rhetoric of socialism is far more accurate than the contrary sheepish attitude.

I found it interesting (and amusing) that Patrick Allitt would point to public schools as an example of an “element of society that enjoy(s) overwhelming popular support despite being government owned and operated.”
I believe most “popular support” for public schools exists where communities are actively involved in the running of (through local school boards and vibrant PTAs) as well as paying for (taxes) their schools, and government mandates on everything from hiring policies to sex education are grimly tolerated. Even so, popular approval of public schools is plummeting, as well it should be, in light of declining standards and results (caused in large part by government interference). Even our “popular” President knows better than to send his children to public schools. I wonder if Mr. Allitt does?

Sensible, useful points, Mr. Hayward.

And kudos and thanks to whoever made it so the new NLT now shows the number of comments!

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