The American Prospect has suggested a new restriction on language. Basically, it purports to prove that any perception of Barry Obama’s policies as rising from his socialist political philosophy is… racist. That’s right, the new racism is calling out a leftist — pardon me, a “progressive” — regarding the danger inherent in socialist programs that grow government and impoverish those who pay for its upkeep.
Here is the definition of the S word according to Merriam-Webster:
Main Entry: so•cial•ism
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
Ah, but that’s not what The American Prospect claims. No, indeed. In an essay entitled “What Right Wingers Mean When They Call Obama a ‘Socialist’“ we are treated to an exposition of mind-reading of the lowest order:
In recent months, conservatives have sounded increasingly retro with their attempts to paint Obama as a socialist or communist. In some ways, this accusation is typical far-right boilerplate. Obama certainly isn’t the first Democrat running for president to be accused of communist sympathies. And as usual, the accusations are rarely linked to policy specifics. But the difference with Obama is that, in the eyes of the right, it’s not just his political affiliation that implicates him as a socialist. It’s his ethnic background.
The hysterical accusations of socialism from conservatives echo similar accusations leveled at black leaders in the past, as though the quest for racial parity were simply a left-wing plot. Obama may not actually be a socialist or communist, but his election would strike another powerful blow to the informal racial hierarchy that has existed in America since the 1960s, when it ceased being enforced by law. This hierarchy, which holds that whiteness is synonymous with American-ness, is one conservatives are now instinctively trying to preserve. Like black civil-rights activists of the 1960s, Obama symbolizes the destruction of a social order they see as fundamentally American, which is why terms like “socialism” are used to describe the threat.
So first there is the basic assumption that in conservative language “socialist” equals “black” — as though we are forced into these linguistic convolutions because we may no longer use the N word (as if we ever did), thus we are reduced to grasping for the S word to get our salient point across to our interlocutors about their God-given inferiority.
Notice that this contention regarding the socialism label is fenced round with disparaging terms like “hysterical accusations” (that replaces a fairer term, i.e., the alarm with which conservatives assess Obama’s repeated promise to redistribute the wealth), “retro” (meant to imply our wish to return to the good old plantation days), and, of course, “far-right boilerplate” (which is anything a conservative says that may address their concerns about some of Obama’s edgier notions -e.g., the idea that he should engage in a tête à tête with the leader of Iran in order to render the man less bellicose).
The author’s claim is cleverly laid. First, he dismisses the concern that “Obama may not actually be a socialist or communist…” as though that were meaningless for Americans… in order to make his feint to: Obama’s “election would strike another powerful blow to the informal racial hierarchy that has existed in America since the 1960s, when it ceased being enforced by law.”
The author conveniently fails to mention the historical fact that it was conservatives who led the fight to for racial equality enforced by law. The Democrats fought legislation all the way down to the goal line. And when it had been accomplished, these FDR socialists grabbed the goal posts and moved the game to include room for aggrieved entitlement. This “progress” permitted them to buy minority votes with minority set-asides. The fact that their minority-motivated social legislation did great damage by planting the seeds of distrust in those it claimed to help was — and still is — hotly denied.
It was no longer enough to carve out a initial rough equality. Such a limited view was tossed in order to move the goal line to a place that was going to be “better than equal”. Aggrieved, polarized resentment replaced the desire for inclusion. “Whites Only” became illegal as “Blacks Only” groups began to flourish — e.g., the Black Caucus in Congress or the Negro-then-Black-then-Afro-American-then African-American college clubs and fraternities that sprang up across the cultural landscape like mushrooms after a rain. And some of those mushrooms were poisonous indeed.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one Democrat who foresaw clearly what havoc these socialist programs would create.
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He predicted the break-up of the black family, the rise of illegitimacy, and the formation of the underclass. Of course, his fellow Dems ignored him. Listening would have cost them the votes of twelve percent of the electorate. An aggrieved, resentful twelve percent who were played like violins by the Democrat Party, to the everlasting shame of both sides.
Nor was Moynihan a lone dissenter. Not many people have studied Edward C. Banfield. How could they when his ideas are being pushed down into the darkness of the memory hole where academic progressives inter ideas which contradict their orthodoxies?
Banfield was an iconoclast:
Banfield was a political scientist who insisted on asking large and unfashionable questions. His formative years were spent at the University of Chicago, where he had gone to study the politics and economics of planning with Rexford G. Tugwell, one of the New Deal’s biggest brain-trusters. Banfield wanted to know why so many of the New Deal’s agricultural experiments had failed. He found the answer not in the programs’ implementation but in the planners’ assumptions. They hadn’t calculated the unintended consequences of their actions, the ripple effects of change in a complicated economic and political system, the inability of reason to dictate social reality. Ed developed these themes as a scholar and teacher at the University of Chicago, where he was a friend and colleague of Leo Strauss and Milton Friedman, and later at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.
His greatest book was one of his earliest, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, published in 1958. Researched and written with his wife, Laura, the book asked why a hilltown in Southern Italy, where Ed and his family had spent nine months living among and interviewing the inhabitants, was so poor. It wasn’t because of class structure, as Marx would have insisted, nor because of the lack of national economic planning, as the New Dealers and contemporary development economists would have claimed. Ed argued, instead, that the region’s poverty had a “moral basis.” He showed that at the root of their squalor was the inhabitants’ refusal to trust, and hence to cooperate, with anyone who was not a member of their immediate family.
This “amoral familism,” as Ed called it, doomed the people to economic backwardness and political irrelevance. Unless this culture could be changed (and Banfield did not think it could, except slowly and over time), no amount of economic planning, income redistribution, or moral exhortation would turn these fatalistic villagers into eager citizens and entrepreneurs.
For progressive elites who pander to the black underclass (the white underclass being undeserving of redemption) this is heretical thinking. It is also antithetical to their grasp on the levers of power, a grasp that no mere truth is going to release any time soon.
Thus, the dialogue on places such as Gates of Vienna must be made anathema to the church of the progressive family. Progressives deeply distrust anyone who raises questions about their family orthodoxies. This distrust causes the fear that drives their smear campaigns labeling conservatives as modern heretics.
The polarization of America continues apace, fueled in part by the fear displayed in the essay at The American Prospect. Those who distort history are doomed to live in the detritus of their distortions. It is an ugly landscape.
What never ceases to amaze and appall me is the ongoing attempt to silence dissent by fiat: ordinary words that cannot be intellectually countered can be arbitrarily ruled off the turf with no possible appeal to reason. In the case of Obama, any criticism at all is a priori “racist” by the very nature of its critical form. And reason is the one faculty that will not be allowed in play. It’s all about “feelings” and having “dreams” and “fairness”.
George Orwell could not have conceived such a fabulist scheme. Nor would anyone have bothered to read anything so… so predictable and yet so beyond the realm of even satire. Some ideas are just too far-fetched… that is, until you are forced to live them or suffer ostracism for your refusal to bow down to the self-appointed little emperors who man the language gates.
Such shenanigans have made our blog a pariah, even to many on the right. The fact that the left loathed us was an indication we were on the correct path. But when we dared to put into words what might happen in Europe because of the horrific, unparalleled immigration tsunami rolling over that continent we saw those on the right cave to the politically correct.
Perhaps it is because organizations like Pajamas Media originate in Hollywood that they are so susceptible to whatever is blowing in the PC wind. The threat of “no work” in Hollywood for failing to toe the party line is a real one. Ironically, this pressure to conform to leftist rules mirrors the infamous “Black List” of the mid-20th century which threw so many actors, writers and directors out of work. The new Hollywood has its own black list now, but its lines are occupied by conservatives, not by mindless leftists, of whom Barbra Streisand is probably the icon.
Pajamas Media didn’t need the little headache we induced in their organization. And, frankly, being pushed out was a relief given the onerous skyscraper ads we had to mount on our sidebar. Both sides breathed easier after we were gone.
What remains troubling is the decision to push us out because one of our guest writers dared to write a “what if” that the owners found offensive. It is a worrisome example of how crippled our language — and thereby our critical faculties — have become, thanks to the pressure that the PC rules exert on all of us, from Larry Summers to Joe the Plumber to you and me.
And now, slouching toward us, is the Fairness Doctrine, breathing righteous fire.
And beyond that beast is Google’s overt desire to be part of the crackdown on blogs in the EU, just as it was in China (the EU “Constitution” has draconian measures in mind for bloggers. Things like jail and loss of livelihood, pension and medical care).
Thus, Google’s CEO has endorsed Obama. Could it be the anti-trust matters facing Google, Yahoo, etc that drive his endorsement? In other words, is he attempting to jump aboard the winning ship while it is still in the harbor so he won’t look quite so obvious in his pandering?
Is Obama a forecast of censorship by the Left? How many times do you censor your own conversation for fear of being considered “one of them”? Back during our fundraising, I received a very sad note from a businesswoman in Berkeley who was a conservative with absolutely no one to talk to in an honest way about her political philosophy. She felt as though she were drowning in her own unspoken words.
What will happen to all of us when the words are gone?
What is the outcome when that unique human faculty, speech, has become strangled down to a handful of stuttered sanctioned syllables?
Will our ability to think critically and to form independent opinions simply fail to take form, the way cortical blindness occurs in a mammal kept in darkness during the crucial development of its optic nerves?
These are not rhetorical questions. Remember that the Gramscians in our universities — as exemplified by Obama’s friend, the urban terrorist Bill Ayers — want to change the very underpinnings of the American spirit. This is not about changing laws, this is about Gramscian hegemony over our culture.