The following commentary, by retired professor Gene Malvino, appeared in the Coeur d'Alene Press in response to an article. We thought you'd enjoy it:
By Gene Malvino
I believe a response is in order to the article by Shirley Thagard appearing in your paper on June 20, 2009.
In my opinion, this article is an example of a shallow understanding of American exceptionalism, civic literacy, our Constitution and the ramifications of socialism for the future of our Republic. Similar to a recent Newsweek cover story "We Are All Socialists Now", the level of economic and political understanding expressed in this article is abysmal and hence the reasoning is close to worthless.
The title of the article "Socialism isn't the end of the world" implies that the ideology is really benign and rather a lesser evil than capitalism. It might be well to have posed this statement to the millions of humans who suffer, have suffered, have been oppressed and murdered since Karl Marx first set down socialist principles in his 1848 book, The Communist Manifesto. Most political scientists posit that socialism can often be a transition to fascism and communism.
The article author begins by asking the question "Are you a little tired of emails screaming about Obama creating socialism. Where did these people go to school?"? I am not sure what "screaming" emails the article author is receiving, but there is a very large body of objective academic literature and research that suggests that Barack Obama is a Fabian socialist. Fabians believe in a gradual nationalization of the economy through manipulation of the democratic process presided over by intellectual and cultural elites. The article author might do well to answer her own question to attest to her credentials. Where did she go to school?
The article author relies on a single dictionary definition of socialism rather than explaining the numerous types of socialism which can refer to an economic system, a type of society, a philosophical out look, a collection of moral values and ideals or even a certain kind of human character. I will try to limit my remarks to the economic and political versions of socialism.
The article author enumerates several "socialist" programs that Americans have "happily enjoyed in the United States for generations". Space does not allow a comprehensive analysis of each program mentioned, but it might be very informative and educational for the article author to do a cost-benefit analysis on and research the actual effectiveness of each program listed. As with all socialist programs and to achieve compliance with their edicts, government has ultimately relied on its police power - i.e., the legal power to summon, arrest, detain, fine. regulate and tax.
Currently, intellectuals and politicians mount scaremongering campaigns, exaggerate miscellaneous "crises", and propose "solutions" that enhance government power at the expense of individual liberty. The beauty of socialism is that it can easily be corrupted so that the power elite retains a firm hold on the state, despite the appearance and rhetoric that they rule only with the consent of the governed.
The article author is correct in that some members in our major political parties have coalesced and conspired not only by their "bipartisan" voting on socialist programs, but through their control of mass media, the schools and universities, and other key institutions. Unfortunately, not everyone believes that socialism and communism (and fascism) lead to ruin. Unfortunately, too many people prefer comfort over freedom. Because of economic and political illiteracy, a lack of historical perspective, and friendly, appealing socialist propaganda, too many Americans are mesmerized by articulate, deceitful political rhetoric.
Simply put, socialism is a system that does not promise equality of opportunity as does our Constitution, but equality of result. It is enforced equality. The cost is eventual tyranny instead of freedom and liberty.We must not forget that American welfare-state advocates attained many of their economic ideas from two primary sources: Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin, both of whom were highly admired by leftist American intellectuals and politicians in the 1930s. The times have changed, but the American people are now faced with a central government that is abusing its amassed powers to dismantle our federalist tradition and all it stands for. Several scholars have dubbed the progression of socialism in the United States as moving towards "participatory fascism".
The current crisis is not a crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of interventionism spawned by the hubris of political leaders who are arrogant enough to think that they can design what they can't possibly understand. The American people, if told the truth, will ensure that socialism will not be the wave of the future for the United States of America.
Gene J. Malvino, Professor (retired)
International Business and Marketing
Couer d"Alene, Idaho