January 17, 2020
A Century of Democrat Socialism
By E. Jeffrey Ludwig
Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was a response to a crisis in America’s economy. Stock prices were crashing, businesses were failing, and unemployment was soaring. FDR’s popularity was engendered by his ability to generate hope that there could be relief, recovery, and reform that could bring us out of our straitened circumstances, and keep us out. His policies were aggressive and his uncanny paternalistic communication skills -- such as his fireside chats on the radio -- endeared him to the masses. When he said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” he highlighted the deep-seated fear of tomorrow in the hearts of the citizenry.
FDR introduced “socialism-lite” into American politics and economics with the implementation of Keynesian or demand-side economics, as it is sometimes called. However, the economic theories created to justify increased governmental spending were advanced by John Maynard Keynes, a British economist who did not portray himself as a socialist. Instead of a balanced budget goal, deficit spending by government was justified by Keynes. Government expenditures were increased, which required increased borrowing of funds and increased printing of money (we went off the gold standard in 1933 which enabled greater printing of currency). The increase of the money supply led to an increased rate of inflation. With more dollars chasing fewer goods, prices rise. But this inflationary trend was offset by the multiplier effect whereby the number of economic transactions produced by the increased supply of money more than offset the inflationary problems. Government spending could thus bring about a stability in economic markets that regular supply and demand curves in a laissez-faire market could not by themselves achieve. This influx of money into the economic system is still called “priming the pump.” However, modern critics of Keynesian deficit spending will now suggest that deficit spending at some point produces grave distortions. Overspending encourages crony capitalism, and that dependency upon government means more economic regulations which stifle economic liberty and even our God-given personal freedom.
However, Socialism from its inception went a giant step further than priming the pump, and called for government ownership of large sectors of the economy. The 1912 Socialist Party Platform, for example, called for extensive government ownership:
1. The collective ownership and democratic management of railroads, wire, and wireless telegraphs and telephones, express service, steamboat lines, and all other social means of transportation and communication and of all large-scale industries.
2. The immediate acquirement by the municipalities, the states, or the federal government of all grain elevators, stockyards, storage warehouses, and other distributing agencies, in order to reduce the present extortionate cost of living.
3. The extension of the public domain to include mines, quarries, oil wells, forests, and water power… The collective ownership of land wherever practicable, and in cases where such ownership is impracticable, the appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all the land held for speculation and exploitation.
Thirty-six years later, in 1948, the Democratic Party split into three parts: the Dixiecrats with their segregationist program, the mainstream New Deal Dems under Truman who would carry on their Keynesian programs, and the Progressive Party under Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice-president during his third term, that adopted a socialist ideal of government ownership. He had been pushed out of the vice-presidency and later as secretary of Commerce because of his hardline leftist views. Their platform stated:
“The Progressive Party will initiate such measures of public ownership as may be necessary to put into the hands of the people's representatives the levers of control essential to the operation of an economy of abundance. As a first step, the largest banks, the railroads, the merchant marine, the electric power and gas industry, and industries primarily dependent on government funds or government purchases such as the aircraft, the synthetic rubber and synthetic oil industries must be placed under public ownership.” Again, public ownership was a cornerstone of their pro-Marxist agenda.
In 2018, seventy years after the Progressive Party was swallowed by defeat, the Socialist Party Platform nevertheless continued to echo the same outdated and useless cry for government ownership. It stated. "We call for social ownership and democratic control of productive resources, for a guarantee to all of the right to participate in societal production, and to a fair share of society's product, in accordance with individual needs."
That point expresses the desire for governmental ownership of the means of production, an axiom of Marxist theory under the principle “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.” That same Socialist platform has 246 bullet points. They want to see this vast number of changes take place under governmental authority in the USA. Yet there is not one word about the Bill of Rights or the freedoms established by the Constitution, no mention of the foundational freedoms and legal rights of our society.
Now we are in 2020 and see that the Democratic Party has identified itself with proponents of the so-called Green New Deal. In reality, it has joined with the hard left that has, since 1912 and later in 1948 and in 2018, called for government ownership of huge sectors of the economy which are listed here. In the Green New Deal proposals, our chief concern is that section which reads, "providing and leveraging, in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing), technical expertise, [and] supporting policies,…." The key word in this “Green” obscurantist lingo is “ownership.” Healthcare, agriculture, energy production (gas, electricity, oil), education, technology, and who knows what else will be owned by the government in the name of “climate change” to insure the well-being of American citizens and of the world. Climate change has become the buzzword substituting for the longstanding Marxist “class struggle.”
There is a direct line of identity from the Socialist Party of 1912 through the Progressive Party of 1948 through the Socialist Platform of 2018 to the left-wing candidates that are offering themselves for the Democratic Party nomination, most especially Bernie Sanders (a self-designated Democratic Socialist) and Elizabeth Warren. The others are chameleons, who, unlike Harry S. Truman, do not have the gumption to flatly repudiate the Green New Deal and the Socialist agenda even where they are not wholly in agreement with it. Just their willingness to compromise and “be flexible” in listening to the left-wing bilge itself reveals a weakness of character and a lack of commitment to American principles of free enterprise and Constitutional integrity. Therefore the hard-leftist doctrines of the Socialists and Communists which -- while partially implemented by the Democrats in the past going back to Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt -- are now in the ascendancy and must be given a message of utter repudiation.