On Some Political Musings

Something has been nagging at me for days, and it took a column by E.J. Dionne in today’s Washington Post to crystalize my thinking.

Dionne asks, is the progressive Left disappointed in Barack Obama, a month before his inauguration, for not being Left enough?

At the same time, I’ve noticed the belief on the Right that Obama will usher in an era of Socialism, forever destroying the fabric of American liberties and society.

I’m mystified by both positions, honestly.

Obama’s Cabinet picks strike me as being generally centrist. Despite the frequent Republican meme in the general election that Obama was “the most liberal member of the Senate,” it was never true; Hillary Clinton ran to his left in the primaries, Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders have more liberal voting records, and Dionne himself writes “that Obama is no left-winger” and cites both John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich as primary challengers who were well to Obama’s left. If the progressive left is disillusioned, it’s not Obama who has disillusioned them; he’s simply being now the candidate that he ran as.

As for the right, I have to ask — what, exactly, is wrong with socialism? The great democracies of Europe are all socialist to one extent or another, and their democracies are thriving. If anything, I think the United States could learn a lesson from our European cousins. We could learn from their health care systems and from their multi-party democracies.

To sum it up, to both sides — chill. πŸ™‚


Some Google-ing this afternoon turned up Christopher Hitchens’ review of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

I love the film. I just watched it last week. As much as I love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, Master and Commander was robbed of the Best Picture Oscar. It’s an amazing, thrilling, exciting, and surprisingly funny film.

I’ve also been known to call it the best Star Trek film, because it hits my “Star Trek buttons” like nothing else. πŸ˜‰

Hitchens, however, despised the film, for dumbing down the subtleties of Patrick O’Brian’s characterizations and for missing the complexities of the political and social situation of the time. The sordidness of life at sea during the Age of Fighting Sail is missed, Hitchens writes; where’s the buggery and the brutality and the sheer carnality?

I think Hitchens misses the point; it’s a movie. It’s not history, it’s not a documentary. It’s supposed to be a rousing entertainment, and it does that. If it excited others, and got them reading O’Brian’s magnificent series of novels, that’s just bonus. πŸ™‚

5 thoughts on “On Some Political Musings

  1. Hitchens misses the point on a number of things. If I’m ever in the same room with him, it’s going to be difficult not to just kick him in the balls.

  2. “what, exactly, is wrong with socialism?” You are correct that the great democracies has socialist aspects, like socialized medicine, but that doesn’t mean they are socialist countries. You should look up the definition of socialism: Here’s a couple from http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=socialism
    * S: (n) socialism (a political theory advocating state ownership of industry)
    * S: (n) socialism, socialist economy (an economic system based on state ownership of capital)
    The great democracies do not control the means of production, and gthey allow individual freedom. Socialism removes individual freedom. Look at the history of azi Germany – that was a socialist state. Look at the history olf Soviet Russia, that was a socialist state. You should read “The Road to Serfdom”, by F.A. Hayek, and then ask yourself what is wrong with socialism? I think the answer will be apparent.

    1. Howie, I don’t want you to think I’ve been ignoring your comment. I just wanted some time to think it over. πŸ™‚

      I don’t disagree with your definition of socialism. Nor do I disagree with your correct noting that the great democracies of Europe all have socialist aspects, like socialized medicine.

      What I find baffling about the belief that Obama will turn the United States into a socialist country is that there’s nothing in his campaign that suggests that. And ironically, it’s his predecessor that has done more to move the United States toward socialism than anyone; the Wall Street and Detroit bailouts all involve the government injecting capital directly into the finance and auto industries. Obama’s health care plan doesn’t move the United States toward any sort of single-payer system; it’s basically an expansion of the federal health insurance program. And injecting money into infrastructure repairs and improvements — like rebuilding the crumbling interstate system, building new public transit systems, etc. — are in line with past public works projects that built the interstate system, built the Tennessee Valley Authority, built dams, etc.

      In short, I think the fears of a rise of socialism under Obama are vastly overblown. If he gets us toward a single-payer health care system, I’m all for that. But a nationalization of industry? Pure fear-mongering.

  3. Allyn,

    First, the definitions of socialism I cited are not mine.I did cite the source. I did see indications, very clear indications, in Obama’s campaign that he is a socialist. Do you recall him talking about “taxing the rich to help the poor”? Do you recall him talk about “distributing the wealth”? Do you recall him talking about sacrificing for the “greater good”.? You can easily find online references. These are all socialist buzz words straight from Marx, Lenin and others. I don’t mind responding gto your comments, but I really think that you should read some of the great economic thinkers like Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and others so you will understand that the greatest good is the freedom of the individual of pursue his own life.

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