YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

May 12, 2018

Ludwig von Mises’s Socialism

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von Mises SocialismI have some agreements, disagreements, and there are open questions regarding the renowned economist’s book denouncing the socialist movements of the nineteenth century and then, the Soviet revolution of 1917.

Agreements: 1.von Mises is a fan of science and Enlightenment. And yet, he does not denounce religion, but rather complains that “socialism” is a form of religion. But, like the 18th Century Enlighteners, he has standards, and affirms the meritocracy. (This separates him from populists.)

2. von Mises is appalled by the repressiveness of Big Government (socialism and communism).

Disagreements 1. Affirming supply and demand (the free market), von Mises favored open borders. This is an outmoded standard, taken up by liberals and globalists. von Mises’s standard made sense at the time he was writing this (in the early 20th century), but would he have agreed with the multiculturalists? Perhaps he would have, as he affirmed (somewhat?) the validity of racial and gender differences.

2. von Mises includes in one bag, social democrats (following FDR’s New Deal) and communists. I agree that Big Government/bureaucracy) is a bad thing, but have taken pains to distinguish liberals from communists (especially following the Popular Front Against Fascism (1935). Liberal anticommunism still prevails. Liberals of course co-opted some socialist demands, but distorted them, especially in their avid support of labor unions (also criticized by 1930s radicals).

3. The Enlighteners were empiricists, yet von Mises provides no facts to support his thesis that capitalist institutions do not exploit the workers.

Open question: Is Nazism to be grouped with Socialism? von Mises, using the standard of state control of prices and interest, said yes. Since he did not treat the cult of the Leader (or other cultural factors), I remain unconvinced.

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January 21, 2013

Citizen Obama, political pluralism and the elusive search for Unity

Raft of the Medusa

Raft of the Medusa

Although POTUS nodded in the direction of “the enduring strength of our Constitution” and quoted lines from the God-given Declaration of Independence, and with a cynical reference to “American exceptionalism,” the statism of Citizen Obama’s second inaugural brought us closer to the French Revolution, with its Jacobin emphasis on equality of condition, than to the American Revolution that promised a meritocracy grounded in equality of opportunity. (Recall that France, unlike England, always had a strong central state; recently France voted in a Socialist government that has levied a 75% income tax on the rich.)

What struck me about today’s awesome inauguration speech was its frank partisanship, indeed, its appeal to class warfare, but not only did Citizen Obama appeal solely to his Democratic constituency, he defined “the Nation” in terms that can only be described as anti-pluralist and either socialist or proto-fascist (see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/20/an-awesome-inauguration/, also https://clarespark.com/2012/09/05/proto-fascism-and-the-democrat-peoples-community/).  If Citizen Obama has his way, political pluralism will give way to one party dictatorship, perhaps to rule by executive decree. (See the juridical thought of Carl Schmitt, who made the transition from social democracy theorist to Nazi without difficulty.)

Many “rightist” pundits have noticed the offensive against the Republican Party, that reiterated accusations made by the hard Left during the waning New Deal years that Republicans were, by temperament and policy, Nazis. The line continues that all Republicans are Southern racists, while the Democratic Party, as led by Obama and his multiculturalist followers, are the true inheritors of the civil rights movement, making corrections and reparations to overcome the white male supremacy that was supposedly the basis for American nationality pre-Obama. In this, he has the support of the New Left and the American Studies academics—and all of the cultural studies crowd, who take pride in their freedom from “economic determinism.” In other words, they cannot explain the difference between the economic policies of Lord Maynard Keynes versus Friedrich Hayek versus Milton and Rose Friedman.

guilt and anxiety

But we must not push the analogy to the French Revolution too far. For the French Revolution came to signify war and Napoleon’s bourgeoisification of Europe.  Echoing (?) the infamous appeaser Neville Chamberlain, Obama stands for “peace in our time.” In other words, he is boiler plate anti-imperialist and antiwar, except for the class war necessarily waged on behalf of “the rising middle class,” his new name for what used to be called “the working class”.  Even progressives used to know a petit-bourgeois radical (Obama) when they saw one, but today’s progressives have abandoned accurate nomenclature for populist, triumphalist politics. “Off with their [Federalist] heads.”

Many of the pundits on Fox News recognized the speech for what it was (a socialist screed), while a few seemed to expect a call for a middle ground, that no man’s land where erstwhile progressives feel comfortable in making compromises for the sake of ‘social cohesion’ and ‘political stability’. These are the buzz words of ‘moderate’ conservatism, the “Democratic” inheritors of the New Deal  and Wilsonian “internationalism.”

With the country divided and anxious, this day of bogus unity and bogus reverence for the American Constitution can only be a caesura in an ongoing civil war that was present from the beginning of the United States. (For a recent installment see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/24/culture-wars-and-the-secular-progressives/.)

barack-obama-family-supreme-court-john-roberts-michelle-sasha-malia-inauguration

October 14, 2012

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