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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13295/55-of-americans-use-the-word-socialist-to-characterize-president-obama/

55% of Americans use the word “socialist” to characterize President Obama

July 16, 2010 by

If meaning is use, then President Obama is a socialist, and there can’t be any argument about it — if the American people are allowed a vote in the matter.

But leftist in the media and academia believe the language is theirs to manipulate and control, as it has been since the 1930s. Well, it isn’t 1936 any longer.

We live in an age when the word gets out no matter how much camouflage has been used to hide who you are and how you became infused with your deepest ideals and understandings.

At bottom what animates the unfolding of the socialist project and the agenda of the Obama regime is the rejection of common principles developed across the ages for whatever “pragmatic” and changing expediency is required to achieve particular immediate ends, especially for particular favored groups. Under Obama we have seen more and more of the economy falling under the direction of arbitrary bureaucratic control outside of the bounds of the rule of law. And there is no end in sight.

The road to serfdom requires little more than that.


J. Murray July 16, 2010 at 5:55 am

The “progressives” have done a good job though. When using socialist, these 55% act as if it’s a new thing. The other 45% are even more fooled by thinking he’s not. America has been a socialist country for nearly all of the 20th Century. A central bank? Socialist. Social Security? Socialist. “Progressive” income tax? Socialist. Medicare? Socialist. Welfare? Socialist. Regulatory agencies up and down every street? Socialist. Public education? Well, that one’s Marxist.

Obama being a socialist isn’t surprising. We haven’t had one that wasn’t a socialist in any of our lifetimes, including those individuals who are pushing 120 years in age. The only difference is that America has managed to dress up in a free market skin like some twisted Buffalo Bill monstrosity, parading our socialism around as some exercise in free market capitalism.

The thing is, for the most part, the socialists have already won. They’ve managed to convince 45% of the country we’re not socialist and another 55% that it’s somehow a new thing.

fephisto July 16, 2010 at 6:15 am

What’s up with the other 45%?

Deregulator666 July 16, 2010 at 6:19 am

When Bush was president, the same policies (central banking, bailouts, stimulus, foreign wars) were considered “capitalist”. The policies haven’t changed, only the man in charge, and now the public thinks “socialist”.

michael July 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

You’ve noticed that too! The word ‘socialist’ has been re-dedicated here to indicate anyone who thinks government still has some place, however ineffectual, in American life. That would include people like George Bush and hopefuls like Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney. Damned Socialists!

Obama wants to make us all his slaves. Yet when he spearheaded the public’s perpetual drive to have some sort of health care enacted, he announced at the start that ‘single payer’ was off the table. Too socialist. And then he offered no plan, telling Congress to work out the details themselves.

Then when they came back saying they were hopelessly divided, he helpfully told us that the ‘public option’ was also off the table. Too socialist, to have any plan in competition with the private insurance industry.

So finally we got a plan crafted especially for us by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Their wording, their ideas. Bunch a damn socialists, you ask me.

What more proof could we want?

Franklin July 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

“So finally we got a plan crafted…. by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. THEIR WORDING, THEIR IDEAS. Bunch a damn socialists….” [emphasis my own]

Yes! You are indeed starting to get it. I think there’s hope for you, after all.

michael July 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm

So in your world, then, capitalists and socialists are the same? That profit-taking is the new socialism? When did this start?

And if so, why do we have two different words to designate the process?

George July 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Mike, at the extreme end of things, there is not that much difference between state socialism and state capitalism. “Capitalism” and “Socialism” sound like very different things, but that is because they are not qualified by the necessary qualifier, “state”.

Therefore, I don’t think it really matters what terms you use. They imply a polar opposite in terms of left-right dichotomy, but they both are in effect a loss of freedom for the individual.

You won’t find a single person here who supports insurance industry controlled market at the behest and force of government to be ideal, so you and they are on the same side. To posit that anyone here would support that as capitalism is to blow down a strawman :)

michael July 17, 2010 at 7:17 am

There’s all the difference in the world between state socialism and state capitalism. In the first, the means of production, distribution and sales are owned and operated centrally, by the State. In the latter, the means of production, distribution and sales are all owned and operated by a bewildering array of individuals and corporations. This utter distinction between the two is the main reason we have two different words for the two different things.

The more we lump distinctive ideas together as though they were all the same, the more our thoughts come to resemble a grey blur in which it’s all alike. Whereas under State Capitalism, many competing individuals use the services of the state to further their own ends; while under the Soviet model, the state owns everything, but is controlled by a single Party. These, to me, are two very different development models.

I note in passing that as someone who questions your wisdom, I (“so you and they are on the same side”) am the Enemy. That approach, at least, is more in accord with the Soviet model.

George July 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Words are important, and I would recommend that people here stick to the term “free market”, because there is no possible way that this term can be confused by what both Bush and Obama have been doing; the term “capitalism”, on the other hand, has been perverted, much as the term “liberal” has been.

Did you know that “liberal” didn’t always equal “pot smoking hippie” or “socialist”? In fact, it represented something a lot closer to the views of many on this site.

michael July 17, 2010 at 7:26 am

You might want to purchase a dictionary. With one, you can strip away connotations and associations (like hippie or socialist), and just get back to the actual meaning of the word.

The definition I prefer and relate to is someone willing to consider the ideas and opinions of others, as in “a liberal thinker”. But that’s kind of antiquated, sadly, and going out of fashion (my dictionary’s from 1949). Here are some more contemporary definitions:

1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. ( often initial capital letter ) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc. [this approximates my own definition]
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.


Baten July 16, 2010 at 6:41 am

I am from a former “communist” country, and let me tell you, what I see now happening in America is actually worse than what we experienced.
Ad least, we knew – everybody knew, all the people, including the members of the communist party – that the system is bad and oppresive, and that we dont have any liberty other than what our government allowed us to have.
We were forced to line up in public adherence display for the “leader” and for the “flag”, but everybody – including the members of the comunist party – knew that it was faked. In the later stages, even the police did not bother to harras dissenters, unless they were too prominent, since that would have ment to go against all the population.
But you, in America – most of you people really believe that you are “free” and that your government loves you, so you love them back. It’s like a huge Stockholm syndrome…

Even the article does not mention the crucial point – do the people who think Obama is a socialist consider this to be a “bad” thing? Because if not, then you are really doomed.

Magnus July 16, 2010 at 7:09 am

But you, in America – most of you people really believe that you are “free” and that your government loves you, so you love them back. It’s like a huge Stockholm syndrome.

Truer words were never spoken.

The American political system is based entirely on lies. It trades in lies, conducts all of its business in lies, as its currency.

The President’s main job is to be the Liar in Chief, as the figurehead and main promoter of the lies that the State depends on — that it is benevolent, that it “represents” the ordinary citizen, that it is something other than a kleptocratic mafia.

Aldous Huxley was right. The war against tyranny and oppression is, first and foremost, a mind game — getting people to see what they do not want to see.

billwald July 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm


The BIG advantage of living in a communist state was the big advantage of the people who lived under French and Russian monarchies: when the revolution came the citizens knew who needed hanging/shooting/decapitating. American serfs don’t know who owns them.

mr taco July 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm

tell that to our dear friend Michael

Lee July 16, 2010 at 7:14 am


Well, I would have said “Golfer”

Nikolaj July 16, 2010 at 7:54 am

Deregulator666: “When Bush was president, the same policies (central banking, bailouts, stimulus, foreign wars) were considered “capitalist”. The policies haven’t changed, only the man in charge, and now the public thinks “socialist”.”

Shame on them,the goddamn neocon public, led by the bloody neocon, statist, fascist, war-mongering Tea Parties. :)

jon July 16, 2010 at 8:46 am

hard to take 55% of the public’s word for it, when they don’t also recognize bush and mccain as the socialists that they are.

Ohhh Henry July 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

Is he a socialist? I’ve heard him deny it a hundred times in his speeches. Usually he does so right near the beginning, before he launches into a 20 minute to one-and-a-half hour recitation of new and expanded interventionist policies. Same as Bush.

Lemmywinks July 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

If most of the American people believe something it must be true……

We’ve pretty much had corporatist presidents for at least the last century, which Obama is also guilty of. To call him socialist makes it sound like he’s taking this country in a truly new direction, when he’s just continuing existing policies. I’d expect an actual socialist president to despise corporations, and consolidate power through the executive branch, rather than to constantly cater to their desires.

If the people who think Obama is a socialist believe that Bush was a capitalist (most do), then they’ve missed the point.

Franklin July 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Socialists despise corporations… yuh, about as much as the ACLU does. Pffft…
They love weath generation machines. They absolutely love them. They are the teenager insulting his old man as he hangs out at the mall, and then gets home and asks for twenty bucks.
The game is transparent even for the knuckleheads on CNN, but the big media establishment shills won’t bite the hand that feeds them.
Socialists bad-mouth corporations out of one side of their mouths, get their figureheads to spew pejoratives about “greed” and all that, and then they suck as much revenue from their income statements as is politically feasible; i.e., basically steal it. They need corporations. And they know it.
In a sense the corporations deserve it. They, for their turn, badmouth big government, yet smile and talk about being “good corporate citizens” and all that. They then climb under the sheets with the latest White House figurehead and his lieutenants.
Nathan succinctly characterizes it below.
A marriage made in heaven actually, but we know who really gets screwed.

michael July 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

If one side opposes corporate profiteering, disregard for the environment and contempt for the work force, while the other disdains public opinion and governmental controls, in what sense can they be said to be the same?

George July 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm

“If one side opposes corporate profiteering, disregard for the environment and contempt for the work force”

If Obama is a socialist, and socialism equals US government policies, then socialism = big government, disrespect for private opinion and private property, and a nice, cozy, relationship between the corporation and govt.

If Bush is a neocon, and neoconservatism equals US government policies, then neoconservatism = big government, disrespect for private opinion and private property, and a nice, cozy, relationship between the corporation and govt.

It seems to me that neither group cares much about “corporate profiteering, disregard for the environment and contempt for the work force”

But you know who does care? The people here, the people who support voluntarism, a respect for the individual and property, and a respect for the right of no part of your person to be enslaved.

“corporate profiteering” — we are against illegitimate profit extorted through government force and government monopoly. Whether or not a private actor is taking advantage of this power is irrelevant; the problem is the fact that there is a lever which can be manipulated against the people.

“disregard for the environment” — Go read up about the USSR and the environment to see what happens when property rights and the individual are disrespected and disregarded.

“contempt for the work force” — Given how current policies are destroying the ability to work by inflating the currency to support consumerism and implementing miles of red tape to make it difficult to create work, I would say that the current US government has a great deal of contempt for the work force, “socialist” or not.

Look beyond the labels and see what actually is. I believe you are conflating the people here with hatred of your ideals. In reality, the people here have a hatred of government-enforced monopolies and all the ills that come as a result of it.

michael July 17, 2010 at 10:57 am

Your syllogisms, based on made-up definitions your in-group has agreed to hold in common, just lead us further into the morass.

Obama, using words the regular public would understand, represents corporate interests, military interests, traditional establishment interests and financial-sector interests. Being a democrat, he espouses vague environmental sentiments without ever actually doing anything about them. The word “socialist” doesn’t do justice to defining him. In fact the way you use it, it means nothing. Better just to say he’s a politician. Because by definition, anyone making a career of serving in government, is a ‘statist’. They operate within the state.

Monopolies are not just tangential but wholly irrelevant to any discussion we might be having. I can think of no area in our economy where a true monopoly is in effect. Not even Microsoft, slapped upside the head as it has been by a disapproving government. You’d be much closer to the fact to talk about oligopolies. They tend to be the defining standard for commerce today: big fish agreeing to keep the little fish out of the game.

Donald Rowe July 16, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Michael, my lifeboat buddy, I am formulating a tract for you that I hope may be of some use to you in understanding anarchy but it is becoming quite long and I am a slow typist, besides that I have to think before I type. Please be patient, I won’t let you down. We can paddle this boat to shore.

michael July 17, 2010 at 7:30 am

Thanks for staying in contact, Don. I like the idea of anarchy in some ways: nobody’s in charge. That means I don’t carry the risk of having to disagree with the people in charge.

It does, however, have a drawback: Huns. Especially heavily armed and organized ones, coming in large numbers. That’s a problem polite society has had to contend with since the days of the Assyrians. Convince me that the anarchists have found a cure for Huns and I might very well become a convert to your ideology.

mpolzkill July 17, 2010 at 6:06 am

Wow, I actually feel sorry for Michael (when he drops the laughably unwarranted condescension for two seconds). I forget from time to time how completely sold so many people are. I shouldn’t forget, I guess; in a world of idiotic wars and Pepsi and Coke and where people attach giant stickers to their Fords of cartoon children urinating on Chevy symbols.

Nathan Reed July 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Once I have identified a statist I do not see the point of additional granularity. I grow suspicious when I encounter someone debating the difference between BO and GB. Scary.

Russ July 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I’m the same way when I encounter someone debating the difference between a shoplifter and a serial killer. Hey, wrong is wrong, and that’s all there is to it. They should both be given lethal injection.


NB: I do not mean to imply that Bush is a shoplifter to Obama’s serial killer. I just think that degrees of wrongness should be taken into consideration. Not doing so is lazy. Yes, Bush was also arguably socialist, but not to the same degree that Obama is.

bob July 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm

socialism, separate from a mantra of wealth egalitarianism is quite simply fascism. that’s what i’d call obama.

Walt D. July 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm

If you look here
you will probably conclude that the Obama Administration has much in common with Mussolini.

Bruce Koerber July 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm

How Many Socialist U.S. Presidents Will It Take Before We Say Enough?

In the days of the expansion of socialism as part of the New Deal plan hardly anyone knew that Keynesianism was just a fancy word for a fanciful version of socialism. And so Roosevelt could promote the New Deal and appear to be something other than a socialist.

Although there are a few economic boobs like Paul Krugman who openly trumpet Keynesianism, most cannot with a straight face separate Keynesianism from central planning (socialism), and so rhetoric has to be resorted to in an attempt to try to camouflage its true nature.

But Keynesianism looks and smells and tastes and sounds like socialism to anyone that is paying attention. An economic crisis causes people to pay attention!

Hence, Obama is seen as a socialist.

The unConstitutional coup has to try to control the economy to finance its usurpation of our Constitutional Republic and this treason has been going on for many generations. The poll should really be about testing the knowledge of the voting public by asking “Has there been any U.S. President since 1912 that was not expected to be an advocate for central planning?”

Artisan July 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm

The other day I told my German friend Sarkozy’s France is socialist. She was baffled. Of course you have the problem in France that the left (60% of the population) think he’s not socialist enough.
I wonder what people used to say of Roosevelt?

michael July 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Not surprising that she might have been baffled. In Europe words retain their traditional meanings. And Sarkozy is a conservative, on the other side of the debate from the socialists. What she thought was that you were either crazy or out of touch with the European reality.

Roosevelt was popular enough to win four consecutive terms. What did people think of him? Obviously that he was their first choice.

Artisan July 18, 2010 at 8:28 am

I Don’t think so.

First of all to my credential as much as it’s worth: I live in France more or less full time since 10 years, and follow politics in that land quite closely, after having lived in other European countries.

Before that, my family lived under national socialism first and later partly under soviet style socialism in Berlin.

However I didn’t write Sarkozy is a socialist, but France under him is. It doesn’t make much of a difference though since governments pretend to control things they often don’t have a grip on. Such is the Government and French bureaucracy. Sarkozy is it seems… a very smart politician. Sarkozy picked several socialist ministers in his government by the way. He officially condemned capitalism and liberal economy after the 2008 crash. Some of his major plans for French economy were: the Tobin tax (on fuel), the great (State) credit to finance things like car wreck subsidies, and to sponsor “green” industry despite tremendous state deficits and the breach to the European treaties. Taxing the bank industry, he proposed as main solution against the financial crisis. He’s calling for a week Euro currency in order to strenghten the “heavy-weight” export industry. Building of National “heavy-weight” enterprises through special State favors and policies, with high State participation. On the other hand, his proposed reduction of the number of State-servants (25% of the French working force) has yet to be realized. He has transferred many secondary political power to the local administration (whose latest orientation in the election was most clearly socialist: PLEASE check the map http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:France_regions_political_map_03_2010-fr.png)… with taxing ability.
His reform of the long time banckrupt medicare is going towards MORE State control too. He is perceived as a “capitalist pig” by the left… and there’s little risk he ‘d be elected again, so you can say France is ready for the next socialist government.

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