What Will Define Our American Socialism?
By: Guest Authors
Change is coming whether we want it or not. The nationâ€™s financial system is in turmoil. The nine largest banks in the country have all but been nationalized by the federal government, the markets are scared and showing it; and, the possibility of a long and deep recession is beginning to put pressure on average folks who are trying to find what all of this means for them. To be sure, everyone will have to more closely watch his or her finances and strive toward a more frugal, long-term outlook.
While economists are still in general disagreement as to how long, how deep and how significant this recession will be, we are even now witnessing rising unemployment, a lack of credit, and the Fed leading the charge toward hyper-inflation as they crank up the printing presses and create money out of thin air. And while the miscreants on Capitol Hill speculate, hypothesize and hold hearings and point fingers of blame for the current mess, the specter of authoritarian socialism looms over this republic, but the only people who seem to want to acknowledge this fact are those on the right â€“ and no one, most certainly no one in government â€“ seems to be taking us seriously. Indeed, of those who are even willing to acknowledge where we are headed, few will admit that we have already been on our way, â€˜fellow travelers,â€™ so to speak, for quite some time.
To better illustrate this fact, I shall endeavor to point out the glaringly obvious with the help of Karl Marx. The following are what Marx in his Communist Manifesto deems as 10 essential elements to achieving socialism:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work: Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools: Abolition of childrenâ€™s factory labor in its present form: Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
Marx also notes:
â€œOf course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.â€
Certainly no one would be foolish enough to suggest that the United States has already gone full-blown â€œcommie.â€ But, one would have to be a fool to deny the fact that our government and politicians have been moving us steadily toward socialism by their insistence on more and more social and entitlement programs, giveaways, and interference in the economy and our personal lives. Even a cursory glance at the list above ought to raise a few red flags (no pun intendedâ€¦). Of course the US has not met all of Marxâ€™s essential requirements to facilitate socialism, but the groundwork has indeed been laid.
That said, here is something the average citizen should understand but does not: government is force, and every time government increases the amount and extent of its interference in the economy, in our social relations, in our commerce, it usurps our liberty little by little. It is unnoticeable at first, as such usurpations seem incremental; until suddenly the nation wakes up to realize that it is no longer free, that liberty has been sacrificed for empty promises of physical and economic security, and that the people have received â€“ and will only receive â€“ nothing for the sacrifice of their liberty. People donâ€™t understand this because they have only been taught that government is good and benevolent and that its most noble purpose is to help the people on their way to success. Over the last several decades the general perception of what government is vis-Ã -vis what it ought to be has shifted decidedly in favor of bigger government and the welfare/nanny state.
The Federal Reserve and Federal Income Tax Acts both of 1913, the New Deal and Great Society and all the social-welfare programs contained therein, and, yes, the extraordinary consolidation of executive powers through the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act are just some of the more glaring examples of government interference and interventionism. Certainly one cannot omit the government forcing the nationâ€™s nine largest banks to â€œparticipateâ€ in its bailout program, by which these banks taken federal money under coercion and the government assumes what it terms as â€œobserver statusâ€ with a non-voting seat on the board. This sounds innocent enough, except for the fact that it is highly probable that at future board meetings the â€œobserverâ€ from the government might offer â€œadviceâ€ or â€œsuggestionsâ€ to the controlling officers of the institution as to the governmentâ€™s position on a particular course of action. Such situations easily conjure up images of the Soviet Political Officers or KGB officials inserting themselves into the everyday business of the citizenry.
It is noteworthy that this is not where we are headed â€“ it is where we presently are. So, what of the future? What will define what is rapidly becoming our American Socialism? Will it merely be an iPod and a cell-phone in every childâ€™s book bag, enrollment in the new national healthcare program, and annual re-distribution checks sent out from the Treasury to those too â€œpoorâ€ to contribute, or will it devolve into something even more sinister?
The great economist Ludwig von Mises wrote a great deal on the subject of government encroachment in the economy of nations, and we and our â€œrepresentativesâ€ in Washington would to well to heed his warnings. Mises concluded that government meddling in the economy, interventionism, can only lead to socialism, and that socialism cannot subsist unless it takes on an authoritarian nature, which is its tendency.
In his essay â€œMiddle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism (1950),â€ Mises wrote, â€œThere are two methods available for the transformation of capitalism into socialism.â€ The method by which the US is moving toward socialism is, according to Mises, â€œâ€¦the method of the Hindenburg plan, the originally German pattern of the welfare state and of planning. It forces every firm and every individual to comply strictly with the orders issues by the governmentâ€™s central board of production management. Such was the intention of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which the resistance of business frustrated and the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional. Such is the idea implied in the endeavors to substitute planning for private enterprise.â€
Mises continued his remarks on British and German socialism relative to the United States: â€œThe United States embarked later than these other two countries upon this decline, and is today still farther away from its end. But if the trend of this policy will not change, the final result will only in accidental and negligible points differ from what happened in the England of Attlee and in the Germany of Hitler. The middle-of-the-road system is not an economic system that can last. It is a method for the realization of socialism by installments.â€
The devolution of a nation into socialism has as much to do with economics as with politics. Government intervention in the market in the interest of enforcing â€œfairnessâ€ or in striving to manipulate such conditions as to create artificial conditions to continue an economic â€œboom,â€ leads to ever more widespread encroachment and manipulation to perpetuate artificial â€œboomâ€ conditions, because it cannot be otherwise. If government implements price controls for one commodity it follows that the new condition will affect the production of that commodity to where its components must be strictly regulated and controlled, thereby expanding government intervention into areas of the economy never intended by enactment of the original policy. This is the law of unintended consequences, which itself is the result of the short-sightedness of policy makers and economists who look to the immediate solution or fix for one aspect of the economy or one class of people (farmers, middle class, etc.) without taking the time to think through the potential long-tem affects of their brainchild, and whether and to what extent those affects would be beneficial or not.
Government is force and money is power and the two, force and power, should never be allowed to become concurrently subject to the arbitrary whims of government officials, bureaucrats and spineless and corrupt politicians. Should such a thing occur, as it has recently here with government acquisition of the nationâ€™s nine largest banks, a republican form of government and rule of law will not long endure such temptation and tyranny.
Socialism is coming no matter the outcome of the presidential election, and in many ways it is already here. The only way to stop it is to un-elect it by re-forming the ideological and socio-economic outlook and understanding of the people. In other words, demonstrate to the masses how government deceit, corruption and misguided planning, subsidy, welfare and other interventionist policies set about to ruin a solid free-market system that works best when simply left alone and unencumbered by government nonsense and politics. Given the current state of the economy and the possibility of what is to come with a pro-socialist majority in both Houses of Congress and occupying the White House we can be sure that things will get worse before they get better. Ironically, for that we might actually be thankful soon, for in our need to gather evidence and data to present and make our case against socialism to the people, government will have largely done our work for us. All we need do is present what they provide, which should be sufficient.
So, ultimately what will define our American socialism? Hopefully the resolve of the American people to realize their mistakes and undo damage done, returning to the principles given us by the Founding Fathers, in which case socialism here would never be achieved, and that would be a most appropriate defining factor.
Chad MacINNES is an independent conservative author who originally hails from Massachusetts and is now living in Orlando Florida with his wife and children. He is a former pilot for a large US carrier, a former police officer and a veteran of the US Army where, incidentally, he was cured of his disordered liberalism. He has studied politics and government, international relations, philosophy and theology. His blog may be found at http://freebornman.blogtownhall.com/. Chad is a frequent contributor to landofthefree.net and may be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is presently working on his first book, â€œThe Next Republic,â€ a political, societal and economic analysis of the threat to individual liberty in America and what must be done to restore it.