Saturday, May 11, 2019

Socialist Con-Artists

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

A couple weeks ago the City of Temecula proposed becoming a constitutional city, and then after a bunch of socialists showed up with their scare tactics and misleading arguments, the council-critters (except the mayor) curled up in the corner and shelved the proposal with fear in their eyes.

Shortly after it happened I jotted down a quick post about it: Temecula Idiots Fold on Constitution

One of the angry comments by a person named Liam O'Mara is as follows:

This post is straight-up gibberish. I sincerely hope that you are there if this comes back up, because you might learn something. You seem to have no idea how "socialism", "communism", "Marxism", or "republic" are even defined, and your conflation of Democratic policy priorities with socialism and Marxism is laughably absurd. Socialism is an economic model; republicanism is a governance model -- they are entirely distinct. There have been quite a number of socialist republics already, and there has never been any incompatibility, either in practice or in theory. Socialism also does not require a strong state, or one that takes any of your liberties. In fact, a large number of schools of socialism are explicitly anti-authoritarian and anti-statist. What socialism opposes is concentration of economic power in the hands of a few. Technically speaking, capitalism requires a strong state, and socialism can exist with no state at all! None of this is especially relevant to the inane proposal in Temecula, however, since there is no push anywhere in the US by the Democratic party to embrace socialist, Marxist, or communist principles, aside from the extremely loose sense used by the poster above. (None of that stuff is actually socialist in any way, but I can see why it is mixed up with socialism by many people.) If you would like to understand how this stuff works, feel free to reach out to me -- I'll happily appear on your radio show to clarify it for you (given I am a professor of the history of ideas).

To respond I wish to do so in parts.

The comment begins, "This post is straight-up gibberish."  A common kind of start that tries to establish dominance out the gate.  By calling the post "gibberish" the commenter is establishing immediately that the post is crap, and therefore is not worth your time to read.  "Gibberish" is a word used with the hopes of silencing the voice of the writer by telling the readers it is not worth reading in the first place.

"I sincerely hope that you are there if this comes back up, because you might learn something."  This line now attacks the writer directly, essentially calling me stupid or ignorant.  They don't know me, and they are basing their opinion on the fact that I disagree with them.  It's an attempt to ridicule me into silence, a common Saul Alinsky tactic.

"You seem to have no idea how "socialism", "communism", "Marxism", or "republic" are even defined."  If you read the post, I didn't define socialism, communism, Marxism or republic other than to point out that socialism is control of the means of production (which is a more accurate definition than the one you provided, Mr. O'Mara, while standing at the podium at the Temecula City Council meeting on April 23, 2019).  Then, I provided constitutional evidence that socialism is not legal in the United States.  At the federal level there are no authorities granted to the government to control or own the means of production, and at the State level the States are required to maintain a "republican form of government."  From the founders' point of view, a republican form of government was one based on, among other things, a laissez faire style of economic system.

"your conflation of Democratic policy priorities with socialism and Marxism is laughably absurd."  This is a false statement largely because I never said anything about democratic policy priorities.  While this country may use some democratic processes, we are not a democracy, we are a republic, so I tend not to use the word "democratic" or "democracy" very often.  If you are referring to my claim that the Constitution provides no authority for socialism, your denial of that fact is what is laughably absurd.

"Socialism is an economic model; republicanism is a governance model."  True point, but from the Founding Fathers' point of view, the use of the word republic for their purposes was one that also went with the free market system they established, which is why the federal government has no authority to control the means of production in any way, and the States are expected to follow suit.  In fact, as I stated in the post, if the States do not, the federal government is required to "guarantee" that each State maintains a republican form of government.  The word republic has been hijacked in the modern day lexicon, so from the commenter's point of view, it could mean a number of things.  But from my point of view, which is in line with the original intent of the U.S. Constitution, a republic is a system of governance established by the Constitution, and it is expected to operate in a manner consistent with constitutional authorities, and as stated earlier, socialism is illegal in the United States based on a lack of authorities granted, and the demand that the States maintain a republican form of government.

"There have been quite a number of socialist republics already, and there has never been any incompatibility, either in practice or in theory."  Again, just because socialist states have called themselves a republic does not make them the kind of republic that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution were referring to.  The use of the word "republic" by socialist states is a play on words.  I can call the pile of crap in my yard a twinkie all I wish, but that doesn't truly mean that it is.

"Socialism also does not require a strong state, or one that takes any of your liberties. In fact, a large number of schools of socialism are explicitly anti-authoritarian and anti-statist."  Socialism does require a strong state, once the people realize what they have bought into.  As the socialist state progresses, more and more rules are added to keep the people in line, until eventually and inevitably resorting to authoritarianism.  While socialists may wish to be anti-authoritarian and anti-statist, the reality is that the natural state of humans is to have possessions, and the ability to improve their place in the world in a competitive marketplace.  Therefore, once the reality of what socialism truly is sets in, some members of society begin to flex their desires for possessions and an incentive-based system of profit and upward mobility, which then triggers the necessity of authoritarianism to keep them from rising out of a state of communal equity.  The problem also accompanies the wiping away of a moral standard.  Socialism tends to be anti-religion because people are not willing to depend on government when they believe their lives are in God's hands.  But as religion is slowly stripped away, so is our moral compass, which also eventually leads to an authoritarian system.  Benjamin Franklin said it best.  "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.  As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

"What socialism opposes is concentration of economic power in the hands of a few."  In a free market system the economic power exists in the hands of all.  During one's individual journey, some persons become economically stronger than others, and through natural market forces those positions of economic strength are constantly changing hands.  It is natural for some to achieve more than others, and that is okay.  The fact is, anyone may become a large economic power, in a free market system, but by forcing all economic players to be the same, it kills incentive driven individual innovation, which in the end stifles growth and in the long run kills the economy altogether.  Also, while one may complain about large economic powers, it is those same economic powers who fuel the economic engine, creates innovation, and provides jobs for those who have not taken the same kind of entrepreneurial course.  Unlike the socialist who wrote the comment, I don't hate the wealthy and powerful, but instead I would like to someday work my way up to their ranks.  I may reach that level of economic success, or I may not, but at least in a free market system I have the allowance to make a stab at it.

"Technically speaking, capitalism requires a strong state, and socialism can exist with no state at all!"  Not true at all.  The whole concept of capitalism is laissez faire; or, allowing things to take their own course with as little governmental influence as possible.  While the pipe dream of socialism is communalism, the very nature of socialism stands against human nature and therefore it ultimately seeks to force people from seeking upward mobility in their economic system.  To achieve keeping everyone in line, a strong state must be in place to enforce its brand of communitarianism.

"None of this is especially relevant to the inane proposal in Temecula, however, since there is no push anywhere in the US by the Democratic party to embrace socialist, Marxist, or communist principles, aside from the extremely loose sense used by the poster above."  If this statement were true, then why did the socialists come out in droves to Temecula's city council meeting on the issue?  And the statement about the Democrat Party is wildly inaccurate.  The very basis of their platform is a charge in a socialist direction.  Among the leading candidates for president is a self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie Sanders.  Characters like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez openly cry out for socialism.  The reality is, the rest of the democrats scream socialism by another name, and then claim they are not pushing it.  It's very deceptive to say the least.  The Democrat Party is all about socialism, and in the case of Temecula's proposal, socialism is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution, so if Temecula wishes to be a constitutional city, the natural result is that they will have to recognize socialism as being incompatible with the American System.

Mr. O'Mara, you are welcome on my radio program any time.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary


Liam O'Mara said...

Apologies for the lack of formatting niceties – in a comment I cannot use the boldened quotes that you did in your post. I must also split this into two parts, due to the limitations of the Blogger commenting system. Part one of my response to your points/paragraphs is below:

1 & 2. Yes, gibberish -- the post was nonsensical. I have seen your work, and I am attacking your work (not you personally). I find your arguments utterly unconvincing and erroneous. To wit:

3. Yes, you did not define the terms -- you simply misused them, repeatedly. You referred to the members of a Democratic club as Marxists, which is baseless nonsense. You insist that "republic" and "socialist" are incompatible with no evidence. Or rather, you think you have applied evidence, but you have done no such thing. As to the assertion I made from the podium and your definition about the means of production -- now I wonder if you were paying attention, because that is exactly what I argued that night. Incidentally, I am Dr O'Mara, not Mr O'Mara. :-)

And the rest of that paragraph (and your video) proves that you do not know the meaning of socialism, since "government control" is NOT a part of the definition. Your argument in your video is patently false and dishonest, regarding both socialism and fascism. Government control is not, and has never been, part of the definition of socialism. Ergo, your entire constitutional argument about a lack of authority is meaningless.

4. This was covered in the point above. You referred to the gathered Democrats as socialists and Marxists. That is nonsense, especially given your false argument.

As to your comment "we are not a democracy", I would refer you to any dictionary or political science course. We are not a _direct_ democracy, but no state in the world is so organized. A republican form of government IS a democracy, by definition. Your refusal to accept the dictionary definition is, e.g., why your initial post was dismissed as gibberish.

5. The Founders did nothing to establish a "free market" system. In fact, free market capitalism at that point existed no-where in the world, and the early republic made frequent use of tariffs so it hardly cared about free markets. This statement again underscores how disconnected your analysis is from the history of our country. Incidentally, there are many forms of socialism which are based upon free markets, so this is also another example of your speaking from ignorance.

6. By the "logic" of this statement, there are no other republics in the world, then? Is France a republic? Certainly seems to be, no? It has a constitution, a president, regular competitive elections, separation of powers, the whole nine yards. And yet, it aso has a socialist mixed economy, with much of the country working for the state in one way or another. Again your response indicates a lack of understanding with respect to the terms in use.

7. You entire paragraph about socialism requiring a strong state makes it clear that you have no background knowledge of socialism, whether of its theory or practice. It has existed in the world many times in the absence of the state, and most of its major theoreticians advocate the removal of the state entirely. You are arguing from ignorance, sir, and that is a poor look for someone who sells himself as an expert. Incidentally, you make references to “levelling” in your text and video responses makes no sense, since this is not the goal of socialism. And your comments in the video, like “socialism always leads to tyranny”, are empty rhetoric, disconnected from history.

(To be continued in a second post...)

Liam O'Mara said...

Part two of my response to your points/paragraphs is below:

8. Regarding free markets, your comment smacks more of Internet propaganda than substantive analysis. The current system is not free market, nor does it offer realistic chances of social betterment. In fact, social mobility has been declining in the US for decades while increasing in Europe. That said, I support free markets myself, and suspect that you do not understand how they work. I'm open to being proved wrong in that assertion, but I see no evidence thus far that you have a foundation in economics or markets.

Your video does much to push me in this direction, since you argue directly that liberty, as provided by the Constitution, and a laissez-faire economic system “go hand in hand”. Upon what could this be based? None of the Founders were proponents of laissez-faire! Heck, Adam Smith’s book on the subject first appeared in 1776, and was not used by the Founders in their arguments. The early republic continued to engage in mercantile capitalism (not liberal capitalism) and slave-based agriculture. Free markets had nothing to do with the Constitution or the founding of this republic.

9. This argument about laissez-faire further feeds into the impression above. For capitalism to exist, a state with a monopoly of force must exist -- otherwise, the claims to ownership of resources made by capitalists cannot be enforced. Ditto the matters of employment, arbitration, contracts, etc -- all of these require a state with a monopoly of force. Capitalism did not exist until the Middle Ages, when an increase in state power provided the necessary conditions. Until that time, there was no capitalism anywhere. If you refuse to grapple with the history of these systems, your statements are not going to make sense.

As to "human nature", this argument is empty nonsense. Socialism expects people to be greedy and to wish to climb socially, and depends upon those facts. It, in fact, favours the self-interest of people. For whom will you work harder, sir -- an employer who gives you a small wage, or yourself? If I am part-owner of the business rather than an employee, I have a vested interest in its success. That is the very essence of socialism -- placing business directly in the hands of the workers. So again, we're back to your not having a handle on even the most basic features of socialism or capitalism.

10. Finally, you undermine your protestations of innocence in the term-conflation earlier in your response by arguing "socialists [came] out in droves" for the meeting. Almost none of the people speaking that day were socialists, except in the way that people misuse the term in the media these days, i.e., as proponents of the welfare state. The Democratic party has never been socialist, and no Democratic politician has argued for the application of socialist economics in the US. Your argument to the contrary is dishonest, though I am charitable enough to think it a kind of honest mistake, in that I really do not think you have a clue what any of these words mean or how they have been used throughout our history.

You are, e.g., correct in your video assertion that police and fire are not socialism. Those arguments, made by several of the Democrats present, are not technically accurate. But that’s quite the point! Those who use the term these days from a Democratic standpoint ARE NOT SOCIALISTS in the technical sense of the word. They are social democrats, a political philosophy founded upon the capitalist economic order, and which seeks to temper the markets with a robust safety net. The social safety net is not a socialist idea in any way, since in a truly socialist economy it would not be needed.

In sum, your argument is based upon fundamental misunderstandings of basic political science terminology. As such, it is gibberish. If you would like to discuss this is more detail, I reiterate my previous offer. In addition, I can provide a bibliography, should you wish to look into the matter on your own.