Thursday, November 11, 2010

"We're All Socialists Now" (Edit: Now With Election Stuff)

Lawrence O'Donnell edumacates America and Glenn Beck about an ideology that America has (perhaps unwittingly) embraced: Socialism.

(Had an embed, but it was handling the content column size somewhat badly. I'll replace it with a link for now.)

He makes the point that any modern economy is a mix of capitalist and socialist elements; that the attacks on social security and medicare as "socialist" actually had a factual basis, because they WERE socialism. They were just also the right thing to do at the time.

I somewhat disagree. I don't think that these things are incompatible with either liberalism or an appreciation of markets. They are contradictory with market fundamentalism, yes. But market fundamentalism doesn't make you a capitalist. It makes you an idiot. Capitalism requires governmental frameworks and institutions in order to properly function. To call that "socialism" is like calling someone a vegetarian because they like a baked potato and some grilled vegetables with their steak.

Still, it's arresting enough to see someone call themselves a "socialist" on a major cable news channel that, honestly, I could give a rats ass about whether or not the name is completely apropos. I have no idea how long O'Donnell is going to keep it, but I know that I'll keep tuning in.

(Edit: That said, I agree far more with Gleen Greenwald on why the Dems lost than O'Donnell. It has nothing to do with being "liberal" vs. being "conservative". There's simply no way that a significant plurality of the electorate changed its deepest political philosophy between 2004 and 2006, or between 2008 and 2010. To think that it's about ideology is to be naive about ideology. It was about all the people who were out of work, the Democratic disconnect with main-street concerns, the Republicans' better messaging, and the perception that the Dems were ineffective due to their complete inability to pass legislation.

(Which had nothing to do with the Republicans for a long time; it was 'blue dogs' that were blocking things, not Republicans. The Dems had no excuse when they had 60 votes.)

None of those things have anything to do with ideology, except to the extent that Democrats' pants-wetting fear of their own beliefs makes them look like frightened children when paired against Republican zealots. Independents didn't shrink from repulsive ideology; they shrank from a broken party.

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