Political Animal


July 11, 2012 9:29 AM Actual Socialism

By Ed Kilgore

Well, it’s finally happened: someone with actual experience of “socialism”— albeit the nasty, Eastern European variety—has objected to the use of that term by American Republicans to describe Barack Obama.

I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others. President Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, “Obamacare is socialism!” They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism.

As someone associated with Hollywood, retired movie director Milos Forman (a native of the former Czechoslovakia) probably won’t have much of an impact on conservatives. But he deserves great respect for trying to keep them honest.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on July 11, 2012 9:55 AM:

    GOP POV:
    What the feck's he know about Socialism?

    He's a feckin' Socialist!

  • Hedda Peraz on July 11, 2012 10:03 AM:

    Not only is Obama a socialist, he is also a communist and a fascist and a muslim.
    We have our own set of facts down here in the Lone Star State, and we do not take kindly to being challenged on them!

    Also, a UFO was spotted just the other day, over Austin.

  • stevio on July 11, 2012 10:06 AM:

    It is disturbing. Why doesn't someone like Jon Stuart or Rachel Maddow or someone from that ilk have the guy on, same with MSNBC Big Ed or Twetty have him on? You can bet your bottom dollar the Repugs would have this guy plastered all over hell's half acre.

  • davidp on July 11, 2012 10:24 AM:

    I can't get over the statement by that Texas politician who said a while ago that the idea of public education originated in Moscow, and therefore from the pit of hell. She and the people she speaks for must believe that socialism is not so much a current threat that needs to be warded off but rather a reality that is already deeply entrenched in American life and that needs to be rooted out.

  • Joel on July 11, 2012 10:28 AM:

    "Conflating Western socialism with the totalitarian systems of government in the Warsaw Pact countries is both false and dangerous. Back in the years of communist Poland, the government sometimes professed that their goal was to achieve “real socialism,” thus suggesting that all the other types of socialism — including the Swedish one — were fake or at least inferior. That is not particularly surprising since the communists thought the entire Western world was fake and inferior. However, they clearly saw a huge difference between their petty dictatorships and liberal Western democracies.

    I hope American politicians will always remember what the difference between “Swedish socialism” and “real socialism” is. It is more or less the same as the difference between a chair and an electric chair."


  • Skip on July 11, 2012 10:34 AM:

    Socialist, and Hitler reincarnate, and loss of freedom of token religion, and not being able to say Merry Christmas, etc. What hasn't this bunch called forth as equitable measures of their suffering under Obama/Democrats/progressivism.

    They're the boy crying wolf, but they can do that as often as they need to...because they are the actual wolf, quietly getting fatter off those who respond to their cries.

  • Joel on July 11, 2012 10:39 AM:

    " . . . that Texas politician who said a while ago that the idea of public education originated in Moscow . . . "

    The idea of publically funded education in the US was promoted by Thomas Jefferson. If he got the idea from Moscow, then it has Tsarist, not socialist, origins.

  • BuffOrpington on July 11, 2012 10:53 AM:

    They only call him "socialist" because the "liberal fascists" have deprived them of their freedom to use the "N" word.

  • biggerbox on July 11, 2012 11:11 AM:

    It doesn't matter.

    The GOP candidates and right-wing yammerers aren't using the English word "socialist".

    They are using the false-cognate conservative-newspeak word "socialist", which like so many conservative-newspeak words is hard to translate into actual concepts and English, but which I think means "ENEMY (who wants to take your stuff and give it to others-not-of-our-tribe)".

    It's a common mistake to think that the GOP and Tea Party are speaking English, but really they are raving in their own language where words are really just sounds signifying various alarms and vague emotional states.

  • Kathryn on July 11, 2012 11:45 AM:

    Well stated bigger box, the non stop demonizing of Barack Obama by Fox, Limbaugh and Co. Is evil personified. Three and a half years of right wing media bile does take a toll, thanks for noticing MSM, oh you say both sides do it, of course they do. And if you believe that, don't forget that Romney's policies will be better for African-Americans then Obama's, who needs access to health care, Planned Parenthood, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, what we need is another war in Iran, more tax cuts for those job creators, and vouchers, lots of vouchers.

  • delNorte on July 11, 2012 11:52 AM:

    I noticed the other day that someone parked a semi-trailer in a farmer's field next to a busy highway near Grand Rapids, MI - on the side of the trailer was a big sign that said:

    "Marxism / Socialism = Poverty and Hungry"

    I'm assuming the unwritten premise is "Obama = Marxism / Socialism" ...I'm curious if anyone has seen similar signs popping up in other parts of the country - is it a SuperPac Attack disguised to look like the "voice of the common man," or just some lone wingnut?

  • deejaayss on July 11, 2012 11:53 AM:

    Socialism: Workers' ownership and control of the means of production.

  • delNorte on July 11, 2012 11:54 AM:

    Oops...make that "Poverty and Hunger"

  • JGabriel on July 11, 2012 1:37 PM:

    Ed Kilgore: "As someone associated with Hollywood, retired movie director Milos Forman (a native of the former Czechoslovakia) probably won't have much of an impact on conservatives."

    Nor will an op-ed in the New York Times.

    I expect the Conservative response will be something like: Commie newspaper prints Commie editorial by Commie movie director from formerly Commie country — lies and says Obama not a Commie.


  • Ed Drone on July 11, 2012 3:16 PM:

    "But he deserves great respect for trying to keep them honest. "

    KEEP them honest? He'd have to MAKE them honest first! And no one has been able to do that since the party was first formed.

    I suspect that if Lincoln had lived, he'd have been rejected by the Radical Republicans that pushed a venomous version of Reconstruction on the South. Shades of the Tea Party (or perhaps it's the other way 'round -- the Tea Party is inhabited by the shades of those Reconstruction Republicans.


  • Doug on July 11, 2012 6:56 PM:

    Ed Drone, you've seen GWTW too many times, I'm afraid. "Venomous" does NOT describe Reconstruction. Half-hearted, incomplete, even failed, but definitely NOT "venomous". Some of the Radical Republicans WERE determined to be avenged on the South, BUT their proposals weren't heeded.
    To the best of my knowledge, NOONE was executed during the Reconstruction period for treason committed during the War of Southern Treason. Many freed slaves however, WERE murdered for exercising their Constitutional rights during that self-same period.
    Had some of the more radical proposals been adopted, there wouldn't have been a plantation left in the South; taxes and fines would have forced every owner sign over all but a few acres, which would then have been distributed by the Federal government to those who had actually worked it - the former slaves. Columbia, SC would not exist today, what with all the salt poured onto its grounds a la Carthage.
    If anything, Mr. Lincloln, had he survived, would most likely have spent 1865-66 trying to find some measire of accomodation with the Southern whites that would permit freed slaves to become participating members of their communities while fending off attempts by Congress to enact more draconian legislation. Then, after the elections of 1866, Mr. Lincoln would have done exactly the same as what DID happen - pass the first Reconstruction Bill.
    Because Mr. Linclon was to Southern whites what Mr. Obama is to today's Teabaggers. Many of whom, what with our country's vaunted mobility, are directly descended from the former...

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