We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Ann Althouse, a prominent law professor, teenager in the ‘60’s, dismissesAndy Williams as too “square” even back in the ‘60’s to be taken seriously now, when he says President Obama is “following Marxist theory.”
I tested Williams’ squareness on my sons, now 4 and 9, this morning by showing them a YouTubeof Andy Williams singing the theme song from Exodus, “This Land Is Mine.”Both loved it.But, are they biased because we’re Jewish?No.Both’s favorite TV show when younger, after the usual run of kiddie shows, was reruns on PBS of Lawrence Welk’s show.They both loved the melodious and understandable lyrics along with the lively and friendly performances.
So, are my sons square?Or, does Ann Althouse’s comment reflect a deprived upbringing, lacking personal connectionto the emotions and tastes of an earlier generation?I choose the latter but what is important about this minor brouhaha is what it reflects about us.
Ann Althouse is known for her scholarship on federalism and the Constitution, so she is concerned with past debates and their effect on and application to current events.In this, she may be cognizant of philosopher George Santayana’s famous comment about “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but may have missed his other comment, “the equality of unequals is inequality” while arguing for equality of opportunity.
Most people are not scholars of the myriad origins, forms and history of Marxism or Socialism.These terms are usually short-hand for categorizing redistribution of results among unequals, from those who earned the results to those who haven’t.That’s a sticky argument, as others argue unless those who haven’t are provided means to opportunities then they are less likely to obtain results commensurate with their skills and efforts.
The problem lies in discerning the boundaries, and aside from legislative and court determinations each individual must choose.I say “must” because the extent to which government decides the boundaries is inescapable upon each individual.
Most liberals tend to come down on a more expansive view of redistribution.Hence the epithet of “Marxist” or “Socialist” from some of those more conservative.
Many investigators who have studied President Obama’s past associations, to the limited extent they have been discovered, document his closest formative influences and choices to be among those quite radical and even avowedly “socialist” or “Marxist.”The major media has essentially ignored this pattern, or restrained coverage when they no longer could.
Does this matter?
To me, not as much as some of the investigators among my friends. I tend to be something of a behaviorist, believing that what one sees now is most important, and recognize all's ability to change.Others whom are friends are less concerned with the observable and the now. As one I respect says, “My hope is that he will get real very soon on lots of fronts as he experiences the push back and the immovable objects….Personally, I will give it more time to see how his presidency develops.”
Fair enough.And, while recognizing the observable and the now, incomplete when one considers the actual actions of President Obama that irremediably affect our and other nations’ inhabitants futures.
It’s unnecessary to be sucked into semantics or history.Only open eyes are necessary.That’s why this seemingly minor brouhaha is receiving such play among commenters. Some see Andy Williams' comment as an eye-opener and some see it as "square," but once again the real issue is missed. What will be history is now being shaped, and cannot be avoided by retreat to the past or hope for the future, nor need analogies be made. The observable and now are real and tangible enough.
Recently, at parents' night, my son's American Survey (history) teacher asked the question "How would you grade Obama?"
She looked at me, told me to be quiet because she KNEW I'd give him an "F". I chuckled, said I'd be quiet only because anything I said would provoke discussion, but that I'd give him a "C-". She was shocked. I replied (later) that I think he's unimpressive. I don't see him as a "Marxist" OR a "Socialist", though it's clear he feels the government can fix everything. He certainly hasn't tried to use it to fix everything (yet).
More importantly, though I'm Libertarian, I do recognize that government CAN provide some good if used properly. To that end, I think Obama has done a very few things well. Certainly his demeanor and his general outlook is pleasant and forthright. On race, he initially bungled the Gates issue, but made a diving save which helped defuse an otherwise potential problem. Not a top notch performance, but hardly a fail.
Where I DO see failure is on the things he clearly believes:
1. that conversing with our global opponents in a dignified manner will "help" with our relations (while history shows otherwise)
2. that the government CAN and SHOULD solve every problem (it can't and it shouldn't)
3. that you have to take on every problem at once because everything is a crisis (I still haven't heard one of his supporters who bristled at Bush's "hubris" say anything about this remarkable display of hubris)
4. that equality of all kinds is something that can be imposed by rule of law, rather than simply equality of liberty which allows for the natural formation of equality of other kinds
5. that the Constitution should tell government what to do, rather than limiting government (while the Constitution itself was DESIGNED TO BE a limiting document).
Publius wrote that if men were angels, we wouldn't need government. Of course, by believing that government can be all things to all people, you NEED angels in government. Clearly Obama believes he is this angel.
"Where I DO see failure is on the things he clearly believes:
...2. that the government CAN and SHOULD solve every problem [encountered by the "oppressed"] (it can't and it shouldn't)..." And this is not a practical definition of modern Gramscian-influenced Marxism, outfitted with our 21st century post-modern baubles? Oh, also, Althouse voted for the O. Don't expect her to be able to invariably provide a convincing critique of "His Emptiness."