This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published January 28, 2011 on The Washington Times website.
Socialism – the abolishment of private property – sometimes advances at the point of a gun. At other times, it advances by co-opting the language of freedom.
In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Obama paid homage to the free market and families while driving home his central point that government knows best.
He began and ended with stories of individuals doing great things. He even said families are important and called for a five-year freeze on domestic spending. In between, he promoted more spending under the guise of “investment,” boasted of government takeovers of health care and student loans, blamed George W. Bush for the economic mess (“a legacy of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago”), took nasty shots at the oil and health insurance industries, and engaged in class warfare:
Before we take money away from our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break. It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.
Mr. Obama also said he would begin to consider protecting the border, something he is under oath to do now but is not doing. There was a sprinkling of pseudo-Reaganesque rhetoric, such as: “America’s moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity.”
But Reagan had a reliable moral compass. Mr. Obama is making it up as he goes along, slapping a moral sticker on anything that advances his left-wing agenda, however immoral it may be. This would include the lame-duck Congress’ imposition of lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender military law, which will homosexualize the armed forces and require “training” of hundreds of thousands of servicemen that will violate their faiths and consciences.
Tough cheese, Mr. Obama says. “It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.” This is socialist talk for “Resistance is futile. America’s plunge into depravity and moral confusion cannot be reversed. We won’t let it.” As with his economic policies, this will take plenty of coercion, which is the progressive coin of the realm.
A free society with free people and free markets runs on incentives. Socialism always depends on coercion. That’s because it is anti-God to the core and sheds the restraints of religious teaching. Socialism seizes and perverts the biblical notion of charity, turning it into an excuse to empower the state. Because it can advance only at the expense of existing institutions and because it so violates human nature and natural human relations rooted in the family, socialism is at war with normalcy itself. Hence the Obama administration’s warm embrace of abortion, homosexuality and confiscatory taxation, all enemies of the family.
Men do not naturally place the needs of strangers ahead of the needs of their own families. In fact, the Bible warns that it’s a sin not to provide for one’s own. Charity happens after that primary duty, and it is best realized on a personal level, where the giver’s sacrifice is voluntary and the giver is aware of the impact of his charity.
In 1859, Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species.” Ironically, although it would appear to militate against natural equality among men, Darwin’s theory of evolution hastened the rise of socialism because it undermined man’s belief in the Bible as God’s inspired word. Darwin’s reliance on “natural selection” helped usher in materialism, the belief that only the physical elements as perceived by man’s five senses are real – or matter. This fit the new doctrine of Marxism, in which man’s soul was subordinated to strictly material, economic concerns. It also fits today’s “progressive” agenda.
Marx himself told his colleague Friedrich Engels, “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history.”
Both the Nazi-fascist version of socialism and the Communist Party version emphasized the primacy of the state over the individual, the family and the church; ultimate control of property; the crushing of dissent; and control of the press. They were two sides of the same coin, even though they bitterly hated each other, with national socialism vying with international socialism (communism) for domination.
A common myth perpetuated in academia and the media is that a straight-line axis would put the Nazis on the far right and the communists on the far left, with America somewhere in between. But the communists and Nazis are both, in fact, on the far left of the axis. On the far right would be anarchists, who believe in no government. America, with its limited government and guarantees of individual liberty, would be somewhere in between.
Socialism, while masquerading as a sort of compassionate megacharity, is really a confiscatory system that ultimately requires force. Peter is robbed to pay Paul. This ensures the support of a growing number of Pauls, who develop an entitlement attitude and dependence mentality. It also ensures that the Peters are disconnected from the supposed charity done in their name with their taxed income. This breeds indifference to genuine suffering because it is assumed that the government will take care of everyone’s needs.
In his State of the Union speech, Mr. Obama talked a good game about America’s free-market economy, but he couldn’t resist giving government the lion’s share of credit:
Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact.
It got a laugh, but it’s a reminder that for Mr. Obama and other progressives (i.e., socialists) government spending – not freedom – is the engine of progress.