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.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
12 years ago

Ever notice that Obama doesn’t eevr deny that he is a socialist.Maybe he thinks a voice stress indicator is in use when he speaks.

JP
JP
12 years ago

Joe, he’s denied it before, remember his laughable “(how can I be socialist if Warren Buffet endorses me?)” statement while campaigning.
Now that Government Motors is 60% owned by the government and the Obama administration is picking its board of directors and forcing out it’s CEOs while favoring the UAW over bondholders -not to mention creating questions of government favoritism over Ford on everything from fleet vehicles to incentive programs (e.g. rebates for buying a Volt but not a Fusion or Escape hybrid) – I’d be happy just if Rhody admitted it!

FiremanBob
FiremanBob
12 years ago

Can’t call it Obamaism. The statist will consider it a compliment. Clarity of language is very important.
Statism or Fascism are the terms I use, and as we see the federal government’s behavior grow increasingly oppressive with more interference and restrictions on private activity and harsher “punishments” for those who dissent, Fascism will prove the more accurate term.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

WOLF! WOLF!

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