Sunday, June 9, 2019

Bill Crawford: It's Not Socialism Unless We Say It Is Socialism


Yes, it really is a word. Back in the day we thought we were something because we could spell what we thought to be the longest word in the dictionary. Didn’t really know what it meant, but we had the spelling down.

It's one of the many isms of little popularity today in contrast to those that never fade, but persist. Racism, for example, is our persistent shadow in Mississippi.

Then there are those isms that ebb and flow. Back in popularity today are capitalism and socialism. Ebbing somewhat are their cousins, fascism, communism, and totalitarianism.

My favorite word architect, conservative columnist George Will, wrote recently about Republicans and socialism.

He said that Senate Republicans voting to revive the not-dead-after-all Export Import Bank is an example of socialism. In so doing he defined the essence of socialism as “government allocation of capital.”

He claimed the bank “exists to allocate credit by political criteria rather than the market's efficiency criterion.” He lamented that only 16 GOP senators, “mean what they say when praising free markets and limited government.”

Thirty-seven Republicans, now apparently neo-socialists, voted for reviving the bank.

This starts to expose the hypocrisy in today’s conservative consternation about socialism.

Will says Senate Republicans' Export Import Bank vote "is a redundant reminder that the rhetorical discord between the parties exaggerates their actual differences.”

Republicans tend to rant against socialism with regard to programs that benefit the poor and elderly, e.g. welfare and Medicare, but stay quiet about it with regard to programs that benefit corporations and businesses, e.g. the Export Import Bank. Democrats tend to do the opposite.

Will calls this “politicizing the allocation of resources.”

We see this at play in Mississippi. For example, our Republican leaders thwart expanding Medicaid to benefit the working poor, then jump all over providing financial benefits to corporations like Continental Tire.

This business example is widespread in Mississippi. It forms the foundation of our economic development programs. Capital is allocated to companies through tax rebates, tax credits, tax breaks, the federally funded Community Development Block Grant program, and the state funded Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority bond program and Small Municipal and Limited Population Counties grant program. All are among the 53 such programs listed on the web site.

We don't see conservative Republicans in Mississippi rail against socialism when a new, subsidized economic development project gets announced in their hometowns.

This headline on Will’s column tells the story – “On this policy, Republicans are socialists. They just don't want you to know.”

The reality is a complex democratic republic like ours needs a mix of capitalism and socialism to function. Whether it is the allocation of capital to areas of human needs or to areas of employment needs, both have a role. The extent and cost of those needs should be the discussion, not to go all in on unrestrained capitalism or socialism.

The ism that describes this is pragmatism. That great socialist Ronald Reagan practiced this in his advocacy for expanding the earned income tax credit to aid the working poor.

The ism that describes conservatives' current disingenuous position on socialism (see the 193 isms listed at is “perspectivism.” It holds that “judgments of truth and value depend on an individual’s context or viewpoint.”
In other words, “it’s not socialism unless we say it is.”

Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.


Rod Knox said...

Well what about that fascism 'ism'? Everywhere on right wing political forums the Democrats are attacked as fascists when that is totally contrary to the facts

it seems that the truth is Right wing authoritarian government is fascism which is being cheered mightily in Red states.

Anonymous said...

Not going to consult the list of 'isms' but there has to be one to explain how someone like Crawford writes this column, including this line --"Republicans tend to rant against socialism with regard to programs that benefit the poor and elderly, e.g. welfare and Medicare, but stay quiet about it with regard to programs that benefit corporations and businesses" ... -- yet never comes close to mentioning his own blind spot, i.e. his unabashed full-throated (and wildly misguided) boosterism for Kemper.

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone states in a fairly coherent manner, the political truth that neither party wants the lumpen masses to understand. It's all bullshit. Their love for unbridled capitalism and hate of anything socialist depends entirely on who gets the benefit. When it benefits their side, they simply use the nuance of language to call it something else, when it benefits those "other people" it's red socialism. In the meantime the stupid ass masses blame each other and create divisions within their own ranks to fight over the crumbs of the pie that fall off the master's table. Because Mississippi is the most ignorant, the divisions are deepest.

And the crumbs are the smallest.

Anonymous said...

When I get it, it's a subsidy. When you get it it's socialism. What's complicated about that?

Rod Knox said...

I sometimes get the impression that if a worthwhile candidate were ever on a ballot in Mississippi they would be elected.......... But then worthwhile candidates are too smart to let themselves become drug down to the state's poor reputation.

Anonymous said...

Love how Crawford likes to pound on MDA's programs and actions. Seems like he didn't do that during those years he was Deputy Director of MDA. Don't find any record of his trying to eliminate those programs.

And don't see him acknowledging those state leaders (Reeves in particular) that have attempted to reign in MDA's free-wheeling activities these past few years.

Guess Crawford is just kinda like Joe Biden - don't pay attention to what I've done, just listen to me as I revise my stances today.

Anonymous said...

1:51 - Your analysis seems a bit out of whack. Something in your equation ought to apply to 'skin in the game'. If you've never put skin in the game, helped pull the wagon, contributed to a pot in the middle of the table...yet you still drag part of the pot, that's socialism. And those who allow you to sit at the table are socialists.

On the other hand, if you've taken turns at pulling the wagon, putting an ante in the pot, contributed over the years to the pool, and you eventually receive a pittance of it back, that's simply participating in a system of rewards for your efforts.

Do you really not see how this works?

Anonymous said...

1:51 PM Bingo

Anonymous said...

4:58 Skin in the game? So what? We're talking about the reality of political doubletalk and propaganda. If I can sell you the idea that socialism is whatever I want it to be, my bullshit is effective no matter
what your little red book of definitions says it has to be.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a red book of definitions. I simply understand the difference and I know what it means to pull the wagon. You don't understand he value of that or the rights granted by having hitched up to that wagon.

Anonymous said...

The "politicizing of the allocation of resources" is the core issue....who gets what, and under what justification. Government should provide support and accountability, but to what degree? This is the debate, discussion, argument, and civil war of our time.

Anonymous said...

12:59 Congratulations and thank you for your wagon pulling and skin you have put in the game. However the article in discussion concerns the practice of defining the efforts of those whom we do not agree as a certain repugnant "ism" while defining our own similar benefits as something proper and acceptable. Obviously you are immune to such practice by virtue of your wagon pulling. But there are people out there who cast those "other people" as "socialists" when it serves their purpose then look the other way when the pork is on our table. Not you of course.

Again, when I get it, it's a subsidy. When you get it it's socialism.

Anonymous said...

9:16 - Read this three times and tell us what the hell it means. Thanks.

"...practice of defining the efforts of those whom we do not agree as a certain repugnant "ism" while defining our own similar benefits as something proper and acceptable".

If that's not one of the most disjointed, discombobulated, drug induced partial sentences ever, I don't know what might be.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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