President Obama’s attack on business owners and entrepreneurs…
If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
…is one of the most outspoken ideological statements by the president since he rose to the national political scene at the 2004 Democrat party convention. This statement is not just another radical liberal rant against “the wealthy” – it is in fact a to-the-core socialist declaration of intent. In this statement the president embeds the very essence of Marxist theory: the notion that workers, not business owners, create value.
This is not a conspiratorial interpretation. It is an analytical fact, attainable by anyone who takes five minutes off from Twitter and Facebook and studies up on Marxism.
In a way, I understand that the president still holds dear the values he was brought up with. I, too, was raised a socialist, and I spent a lot of time in my late teens and early 20s trying to make sense out of Marxist theory. It takes a lot of time to get a grasp on it, so when people come to a point where they think they understand Marxism they feel smart. At that point they don’t want to let go of it, primarily because it would feel like they have wasted a lot of time. They also would not feel as smart as they thought they were if they had to admit that they were wrong. Nevertheless, you have to dismiss Marxism – the nicest thing to say about it is that it is intricate nonsense.
A more appropriate label would be that it is academically endorsed totalitarianism.
I abandoned Marxism when I realized that reality spoke louder than this analytical fiction. The president, on the other hand, apparently still believes in Marxism. Therefore, it is worth the while for all of us who do not want an America based on Marxist doctrine to take a moment and understand the foundations of the president’s theoretical approach to reality.
To do so, forget for a moment about the Soviet Union. Pure-bred Marxists do not believe that the Soviet Union was built on Marx’s ideas, and will therefore have a line of defense against the association of their theory with its more elaborate practice to date. Instead, let’s go one step beyond that and take a brief look at the theoretical foundations of Marxism and socialism, its political practice.
Socialism rests on four cornerstones:
- The principle of redistribution. Socialists, and their ideological errand boys among America’s gullible East Coast liberals, always want new redistribution programs. The more, the merrier. The vast majority of government spending here in America, federal as well as at the state level, is designed to redistribute money and in-kind services between private citizens. The philosophical foundation of this principle is, according to socialists, the equality of humans: because all humans are equal, socialists say, they all have the same right to satisfy all of their needs. As a result, socialists claim that government has an obligation (much stronger than a right) to take from those who have more and give to those who have less. Anyone who wants to see what this leads to, this side of the Berlin Wall, need not look farther than Greece.
- The labor theory of value. A staple of classical economics – which includes Marxism – is the axiom that economic value is proportionate to the amount of labor that goes into producing it. From this theory they derive a disdain for profits which could be defined as unjust according to the Marxist version of the labor theory of value. This theory is also the base for why many on the left fail to comprehend the use of a financial system – their theoreticians will say that there is no labor base for its value – and their lack of comprehension of the modern monetary system. The labor theory of value is also what the president relies on when he says that “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
- The falling profit margin. A somewhat eclectic, and often overlooked, component of socialist theory, this one is as purely Marxist as anything can be. It has been given more prominence in modern socialist theory than it had in the early decades of the 20th century. It is used as an analytical vehicle to explain why Capitalism is unstable and unsustainable. Every time there is a recession socialists claim that Capitalism caused it because of the desire among Capitalists to accumulate ever more capital. Everyday socialist rhetoric does not talk about capital accumulation – they call it profits – and so they tie profits to recessions, unemployment and poverty. This motivates socialist attacks on private entrepreneurship as well as big corporations, and drives them to demand punitive taxes on profits and wealth.
- Reform vs. revolution. Most of the socialist movement is reformist in the sense that it uses the means of legislative powers to achieve socialism. This is known as “social democracy” and distinguished from revolutionary “communism” by the preferred means of agenda advancement. The two have a common theoretical origin, predating Marx but earning its “scientific methodology” from him. The original socialist movement was entirely revolutionary, but the early versions of parliamentary democracy in Europe encouraged some socialists to split off from the revolutionaries. This “Bernstein faction” has proven a lot more politically resilient than its revolutionary cousin. The primary means of reformist socialism – or, again, social democracy – to expand government is taxation for the purpose of entitlement spending.
These cornerstones are not isolated, but interact and blend to feed the socialist policy agenda. Most daily practitioners of socialism are not aware of them, though the closer you get to the academic core of the modern American socialist movement, the more able people are to elaborate on these cornerstones. This means they are able to make a strong intellectual case for how they want to see America transformed.
A very important reason for learning more about the cornerstones of Marxism and socialism is that it helps us grasp the long-term nature of liberal statism. Even though few if any liberal statists would admit it – probably because they are unaware of it – their political agenda has a long-term goal defined by the four cornerstones of socialism. It helps us see how the long-term socialist strategy to advance government sprawls way beyond the limits of liberalism. The false notion of economic redistribution, e.g., is embraced even by social conservatives today, who mistakenly believe that government should provide education and even health care. These social conservatives have been lured into believing that access to education and health care services is a means to an end – equality in opportunity – when in reality government-provided education and health care is redistribution in itself. In other words, examples of the first cornerstone of socialism put into political practice.
There is a lot more to be said about socialism, and how to fight it. When time permits, I will be happy to be your guide on another excursion into the intellectual backwoods of Marxist liturgy.