Battles over Language
It’s difficult not to see a deliberate stratagem behind the left’s reaction to the “S” word, as Jonah Goldberg describes in USA Today:
Washington Post columnists Jim Hoagland (a centrist), E.J. Dionne (a liberal) and Harold Meyerson (very, very liberal) have all suggested that Obama intentionally or otherwise is putting us on the path to “social democracy.” Left-wing blogger and Democratic activist Matthew Yglesias last fall hoped that the financial crisis offered a “real opportunity” for “massive socialism.” Polling done by Rasmussen — and touted by Meyerson — shows that while Republicans favor “capitalism” over “socialism” by 11 to 1, Democrats favor capitalism by a mere 39% to 30%. So, again: Is it really crazy to think that there is a constituency for some flavor of socialism in the Democratic Party?
When the question is aimed at them like an accusation, liberals roll their eyes at such “paranoia.” They say Obama is merely reviving “New Deal economics” to “save” or “reform” capitalism. But liberals themselves have long seen this approach as the best way to incrementally bring about a European-style, social democratic welfare state. As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (Robert’s father) wrote in 1947, “There seems no inherent obstacle to the gradual advance of socialism in the United States through a series of New Deals.”
The label of “socialist” doesn’t play well across the United States, so as the administration inches toward applicable policies, the interference machine will kick into gear. I say call it what you will: Pravda uses “Marxism”; Golberg suggests “corporatism” (a marker of fascism). We could go with “statism,” or perhaps we should coin “Obamaism” (although that sounds more like a trademark pattern of speech).
Just as with “liberalism,” “Leftism,” “progressivism,” and so on, the stink of the concept will come through whatever perfumed linguistics are applied.