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Obama and Socialism: THE definitive thread.

Leon Troutsky

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So instead of cluttering up the boards with all of these socialism and Obama threads, let's just have one thread where everyone discusses this one topic. Steve has shown that he will do everything he can to curtail discussion of his sources and his claims (ironically, using totalitarian tactics in the process). So an open thread where everyone contributes and has their say can only be done in a non-Steve created thread.

Instead of posting in Steve's various threads, we can use this thread as an outlet to discuss this topic and his claims. In that regard, here are the three links that Steve demanded we read as "a starter" for understanding Obama's supposed socialist past as well as Steve's claim that Obama was a MEMBER of the Democratic Socialists of America:




The first link accuses Obama of being a member of the New Party in Chicago, not a member of the DSA. Their "evidence" of him being a member is a publication by the DSA called "New Ground" that updated DSA members of various news and events. One of the articles in the New Ground publication was about education, for instance. Incidentally, the third link takes you to the New Ground publication directly, so you can read what the DSA said about the New Party yourself. The language makes it clear that the DSA and New Party are separate parties and entities.

The second link is the one that accuses Obama of being a MEMBER of the DSA directly. This second link is a rightwing whackjob blog, btw. To make this claim, they falsely combine the two parties into "the Chicago DSA New Party". Their evidence? The exact same New Ground publication copied as the third link above, which makes clear that the two entities are NOT the same.

And if you look at that third link, the publication that "proves" Obama's MEMBERSHIP in the DSA (or the New Party, depending on which slander is being made):

New Party Update

by Bruce Bentley

The Chicago New Party is increasely becoming a viable political organization that can make a different in Chicago politics. It is crucial for a political organization to have a solid infrastructure and visible results in its political program. The New Party has continued to solidify this base.

First, in relation to its infrastructure, the NP's membership has increased since January '95 from 225 to 440. National membership has increased from 5700 in December '95 to 7000. Currently the NP's fiscal balance is $7,000 and receives an average of $450/month is sustainer donations.

Secondly, the NP's '96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude. Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee. Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis. Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration. The lone loser was Willie Delgado, in the 3rd Illinois House District. Although Delgado received 45% of the vote, he lost by only 800 votes. Delgado commented that it was due to the NP volunteers that he carried the 32nd Ward. Delgado emphasized that he will remain a visible community activist in Humbolt Park. He will conduct four Immigration workshops and encouraged NP activists to get involved.

The Chicago NP will hire a second organizer and an intern, preferably Spanish speaking, to work in the 35th Ward. Upcoming events include a 70's Retro Dance Party on Friday, July 12th, and Post Labor Day Picnic on September 7th.

According to the publication, Obama attended a meeting of the New Party to thank their members for supporting him.

So the sum total of evidence that Obama was a member of the DSA boils down to this:

The DSA printed a publication saying that Obama attended the meeting of another party to thank New Party members for supporting him in the campaign. Moreover, two different blogs making the same claim (though to different extremes) cite this same exact DSA document as their proof.

Essentially, Steve thinks that "research" means citing multiple rightwing websites that link to the exact same source (the DSA New Ground) that doesn't even support their claims.

Steve, since you can't lock or delete this thread, everyone has a chance to engage in a rational discussion. Feel free to refute anything I wrote above.

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Here's the Wikipedia link on the New Party:


Here's the Wiki page on the DSA:


Neither mentions the other. The Wiki page for the New Party makes pretty clear it is not a "socialist" organization." It is social democratic, which is probably the best descriptor for Barack Obama's politics.

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Here's the Wikipedia link on the New Party:


Here's the Wiki page on the DSA:


Neither mentions the other. The Wiki page for the New Party makes pretty clear it is not a "socialist" organization." It is social democratic, which is probably the best descriptor for Barack Obama's politics.

Other readings on the formation of the New Party also lead me to believe that it was a mishmash of leftist individuals, not any single ideology. There may have been some socialists there, but there were also likely strong union presence as well as community organizers. They did some work with ACORN, which would explain why Obama would look to them as supporters.

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Who is Steve's vaunted Harvard graduate that has "exposed" Obama's socialist past?

A columnist for National Review Online's "The Corner". First, dude's not even good enough to get published in the real National Review publication; he's akin to an internet blogger. Second, he relies on the same faulty guilt-by-association stuff that I've already debunked.

Here's one of his The Corner postings:


Notice that he bases his "socialist" accusation on the same "DSA archives" that I discussed above. This is Steve's tactic now--post as many rightwing internet sources that all point to the same debunked DSA archives hoping nobody connects the dots.

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I been wondering I'm from Canada ehh and I'm not sure I understand your arguments on obama being a socialist. My understanding is Obama would like to implement a health-care systym run by the government meaning citizens would be able to access free public health-care. My understanding is also that this makes him a socialist, which confuse's me because coming from Canada where we have free public health-care and live in a democratic society. My understanding of obama's american policey is that he wants to make it possible for people of lower incomes to be able to access health care because it shouldn't matter how much you have in your pocket you should be albe to live as healthy a life as possible, to me that seems noble. So can someone explain to me how he's a socialist? I may be missing a part or a lot of the story cause well I'm from Canada and none of this realy effects me at all I already pay for free public health-care and should I hurt myself I know that I can goto the doctor without worrying about the cost.

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Socialism is private ownership/control of the means of production (this would include the means of distribution and provision of healthcare). So a state-owned or state-controlled healthcare system IS socialist. It is predominately economic -- the political side is immaterial since a socialist country can be democratic or a dictatorship (that's where SB is so wrong trying to compare President Obama to former Soviet states and dictators).

Having said that, what President Obama actually DID is pass a law that requires people to buy insurance from privately owned insurers, and while it does set certain controls on what those insurers can and cannot do, that is a far cry from socialism. It's what I typically refer to as economic oligarchy, where a few private interests own the bulk of the means of production. He has basically insured that the large, wealthy and powerful insurers have a whole slew of new customers driven to them at the point of a sword. That is, in my opinion, pretty much the opposite of socialism.

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Also, in the "My Personal Experience With Socialism" thread, SB is using East Germany as an example of a socialist state and trying to argue against my statement that East Germany was really Soviet-style Communism:

Definition of SOCIALISM


: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state


: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done


1 and 2 would be true for East Germany for sure.


noun \ˈkäm-yə-ˌni-zəm, -yü-\

Definition of COMMUNISM


a : a theory advocating elimination of private property

b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed


But this is not necessarily state owned (see hippie commune and Tibetan monastery).

If that's the definition of what "socialism" is, that's fine. We can use that. But at that point, the whole argument that President Obama is a "socialist" falls flat on its face. President Obama is not a dictator, he is not trying to overthrow the government and institute a dictatorship, he is not advocating state ownership or control of the means of production, at least not in a macro sense, and he is not talking about elimination of private ownership of property.

So if that's the definition, and East Germany is the example, I'd LOVE to see SB try to defend that as applied to President Obama.

I contend he's being equivocal, using "socialist" in the widest possible sense to describe President Obama (who is really more of a pragmatic "social democrat" than anything else), but then trying to tar President Obama with the spectre of Soviet-era totalitarianism.

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His response and my reply to that:

USSR and East Germany are "authoritarian socialism". Ie...top left of the political compass map.


East Germany was authoritarian socialist. There are many degrees of socialism. We live in a mixed economy. I'll just say that Obama's core beliefs are more "authoritarian" and more "socialist" than most think they are. But...he has to play a balancing act in the way he governs to not go too extreme too fast.

So you're saying he's really more akin to the Soviets than, say, John McCain or President Bush, but he's just lying about it?

I assume you have evidence of that? Where is Obama an "authoritarian socialist" in your estimation? The political quiz YOU posted shows him to be an authoritarian rightist, not a socialist.

Oddly enough, YOU quizzed out as an authoritarian rightist as well. So I suppose it's fair for us to compare you with the Soviets too?

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Again, for posterity.....

He's obviously further left than McCain or Bush. Nobody would argue that.

So are you......

One example... Forcing people to buy health care. Is that more authoritarian or libertarian? Keep in mind:

Authoritarian, but it's also in the case of the healthcare bill that was passed more capitalist than socialist by a pretty strong margin, so I'm not sure how that helps your case.

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I don't think so. I'm more economically right than Bush or McCain. I'm probably somewhere between McCain and Ron Paul on the economic scale. It's probably because I put "Agree" instead of "Strongly Agree" on some of the questions.

According to the graph you posted, you are to the left of Bush or McCain. According to the graph from the site you referenced, Bush and McCain are to the right of you.

So yes, the buy mandate is "authoritarian". We agree there.

More government control and regulation of an industry is not more "capitalist". But I would agree that removal of the public option moved the bill a little to the right of where it was originally. The only reason the public option wasn't there is because he couldn't get the votes.

Who owns the insurers? Do they make a profit?

Of course it's capitalist. A regulated market is still "free" compared to what socialists have, which is an OWNED or completely CONTROLLED market. You are forcing people to buy insurance from private companies who operate for profit. So it's really authoritarian capitalism. We are forcing people to enter into a private market so capitalists can make a profit from their purchases.

The public option wouldn't make the whole system "socialist." It would make THAT PART of the system socialistic. A single payer system would be socialist. But ironically, lacking the element of force to engage in commerce, it wouldn't really be "authoritarian" either.

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I also disagree with where they put Palin, McCain, Obama, and Biden on the compass.

You know that there is a big (economic) difference between McCain vs say Barr or Baldwin but the graph makes them look very close. Also Palin should be to the economic right of McCain.

It should be (left to right) McCain - Palin - GAP - Barr - Baldwin. Agree?

My personal economic views based on what I know about each of those people and myself is that I would probably be in between the GAP and Barr.

Of course you disagree. The website, quiz and graph are only authoritative inasmuch as you agree with them. When they are used to demonstrate you are wrong, then they are actually the ones that are wrong.

Equivocation. In this case, also moving the goalposts. You won't abide by your own standards, why should we expect your arguments against the President to be consistent.

And no, I don't agree. If anything, I'd have Palin to the left of them all, but it ain't my graph and it ain't my quiz and I ain't the one trying to use it to "prove" the President is in the same category as East friggin' Germany.

Reminder of the definitions:



: of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority <had authoritarian parents>


: of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people <an authoritarian regime>



noun \ˌli-bər-ˈter-ē-ən, -ˈte-rē-\

Definition of LIBERTARIAN


: an advocate of the doctrine of free will


a : a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action b capitalized : a member of a political party advocating libertarian principles


It depends on how it would be implemented but... Where is the "free will" when I have no choice of health care? With a single payer system I get what I get with no choice. I submit to authority.

The health care bill is the way it is because Obama had to compromise to get votes. His preferred choice was the public option but his ideal system would be single payer as evidenced in the video.

First, I don't bind myself to your simplistic view of the dictionary definition of libertarian. Libertarianism versus authoritarianism, in the sense this quiz defines and utilizes those terms, deal with scope of government control over the person. It's not an economics issue, it's a political issue. A force issue. So removing the element of forcing one person to engage in market economics at the benefit of another at the point of a gun (which a true single payer system would in fact remove), you are left with left/right, not authoritarian/libertarian. Economically, single-payer is socialist. But since you are given healthcare that is paid for by the government and you are not being "forced" to engage in the market in any sense for the profit of another, it is hardly authoritarian.

Further, this is done in a democratic arena. You get to vote. From YOUR definition of "authoritarian," "of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people <an authoritarian regime>." Of course, the problem with that is it lacks the specificity necessary to deal with the particular issue here. The sense of "authoritarianism" meant by this quiz is, as is obvious from perusing the questions, whether government gets to tell people what to do, how to act, force them to make certain choices over others, etc. Almost NO ONE in this country is out there saying "I don't want to go to the doctor when I want -- you can't force me to have healthcare!" As pertains to the authoritarian/libertarian scale, single-payer is really more neutral than anything, since it is merely government provision of something everyone needs and wants to begin with. So the question is how is this service financed? In single payer, it is financed by the government providing health insurance for everyone. Definitely socialist (as pertains to insurance -- NOT socialist as pertains to providers, for what it's worth). Hardly authoritarian.

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I said...

First of all I agree with you that single payer is "socialist". As for whether single player is authoritarian or libertarian, it depends on how the system is implemented. If the government told me which doctor I could go to and what treatment I would get it would be more authoritarian. I would be "submitting to authority". However if I had some kind of choice in the doctor I see and the treatment I get then it would be more libertarian. Since nobody has proposed a single-payer health care bill in congress *yet* it's purely speculation as to how this would be implemented. I think it would most likely be authoritarian because the government would be choosing how to spend its money but again, without an actual bill proposed *yet* we don't know.

Okay, so now you're saying you don't know if President Obama is an authoritarian socialist, and the whole discussion has been an exercise in question begging?

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I thought we were talking about health care. Not all of Obama's core beliefs.

FACT: Obama is on record saying that he supports a single-payer system and that ideally employer coverage would eventually be gone in 10-20 years. As you have said yourself, "A single payer system would be socialist.".

FACT: Obama has signed into law the bill that forces people to buy insurance. This was after a compromise of him losing out on the public option. As you have said yourself after I raised the question "Forcing people to buy health care. Is that more authoritarian or libertarian?". Your answer: "Authoritarian"

But again, this is just one issue (health care). Obama's core beliefs is a much broader and complex topic.

The subject hasn't changed. Not at all. And you taking two unrelated (and in fact contradictory) issue positions -- forcing people to purchase healthcare versus having the government provide them healthcare -- and attempting to conflate them into "authoritarian socialism" is pretty lazy. You've been corrected twice, so I have no choice but to conclude that your falsehood is deliberate.

And you were asked about the President's core beliefs, and YOU brought up healthcare. Do you have anything else?

P.S., if you want to talk about the DSA stuff, I'd direct you here:

I'm copying these posts there anyway, so we may as well have the conversation in one locale.

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