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How Marxist is Barack Obama? September 15, 2012

Posted by Sobek in History.

Would you believe “more Marxist than Lenin”?  Because that’s what I’m about to argue.  There may or may not be a picture of a giraffe involved.  Who can possibly say, in this crazy, mixed-up world?

Let me start with a shout-out to The Great Courses, a lecture series by The Teaching Company.  These are college-level lectures on all kinds of great topics, from history to literature to science and math to music.  They are a bit pricey, but my local library has hundreds of these things, so I’ve spent the last, I dunno, year or so learning all kinds of cool stuff during my daily commute.  I have to start here because I need to provide some historical background for one aspect of why Obama sucks.

One of the many that I’ve enjoyed so far is a history of Russia by Mark Steinberg.  There is a lot in there that applies in frightening ways to contemporary America, but I want to highlight one thing in particular: the New Economic Policy, or NEP.

Between 1917 and 1922, the Bolsheviks (the Red Army) fought a bloody civil war against the White Army.  It’s hard to describe the Whites with a broad label, because the one thing they agreed on was that they all hated the Reds.  The Whites vastly outnumbered the Reds, the latter of whom were mostly holed up in and around Moscow.  Up until the end, you could very confidently predict that the Bolsheviks would lose, because of White superiority in terms of manpower and territory.

Part of the reason the Reds ended up winning was their systematic forced-requisitioning of grain from the peasantry.  Basically the army found a field full of grain and demanded a percentage of it, with or without pay, and if the farmer refused he was shot.  This made the Reds very unpopular amongst the peasantry, but rather popular with the soldiers and factory workers who kept the army supplied, because the Reds’ highest priority was keeping the military machine running at all costs.  That’s not to say the Whites were out committing atrocities as well – they also forcibly requisitioned grain, but they were less systematic and organized about it, so they didn’t get as much.  Long story short, the Reds won.

Which you would know if watched the movie

That means Soviet Russia was now a glorious worker’s paradise full of prosperity and plenty, or rather it would have been if not for saboteurs (read: anyone who you wanted to call a saboteur).  See, at a certain point, the peasants figured out that there wasn’t much benefit of planting a field full of wheat if you’d only get yourself shot for your trouble, so they either stopped planting altogether, or they only planted barely enough for their families (easier to hide that way).  As it turns out, getting shot in the head is a singularly poor motivation for contributing to the GDP.

This did not make things easier for the Reds, who came to power by promising prosperity that was conspicuously absent.  In 1921, they faced the Kronstadt Rebellion, which was a revolt of sailors who wanted to out-left-wing the Reds, and also not starve to death.  Lenin summoned a meeting of Party Leaders and made two complimentary proposals to deal with the situation.  The first was to use violent force to crush all dissent (I know, right?), including the Kronstadt Rebellion, which resulted in about 14,000 deaths.  The second was the NEP, and this is where things get really interesting.

Lenin decided that the best way to ease the terrible poverty was to ease up on all the freakin communism for a little bit.  Let that sink in for a bit.  The Communists had nationalized everything when they overthrew the Czar and the short-lived democracy, but during the NEP they told farmers they could plant whatever they wanted, and sell for whatever price they wanted.  The government retained ownership of heavy industry and international trade, but allowed small-scale entrepreneurship back into the country.  As a result, Lenin was bitterly criticized by his fellow-travelers, who accused him of betraying the cause.  Oh, and the other result is that the GDP grew 80% between 1921 and 1925.  It’s really, really weird what happens when you incentivize production and you get more stuff as a result.

To go back in time a little bit, when Russia entered World War I, its economy was already seriously backward compared to western Europe, but the stresses of war plunged the GDP to 20% of its original level.  In 1921, the economy was still in the toilet because Russia had never stopped fighting itself, even after pulling out of WWI.  But by 1925, the Russians had rebuilt the economy to pre-war levels.  That’s not to say they were a rich country, but they also weren’t starving in the streets anymore.  (Can you imagine what America would look like if our economy grew 80% over the next four years?  Paul Ryan can, baby.)

So let’s go back to my headline: how Marxist is Obama?  Submitted for your consideration: Vladimir Lenin was willing to massacre hundreds of thousands of his own people to retain political power.  Between the Civil War, suppressing rebellions such as Kronstadt, and ordering his Cheka secret police to kill as many as 500,000 people, he was a man who was comfortable with bloodshed.  Here’s a nice bumper sticker for you: “We did not hesitate to shoot thousands of people, and we shall not hesitate, and we shall save the country.”  And yet this same guy knew the only way to preserve his own power was by abandoning Communism and letting people control their own economic destinies.

Let’s contrast that with Barack Obama.  Wait, first let’s take a look at a Leninist giraffe:

Lookin’ a little skinny there, bud.

Okay, now let’s contrast that with Barack Obama.  The President would rather be held in contempt of court (not that that means anything to him) than issues drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico.  Here’s an estimate that, as of March 2011, the administration’s illegal action had cost about 19,000 jobs nationally.  He’s more committed to his ideology than to the jobs that the Keystone Pipeline would bring in (the Chamber of Commerce estimates that number at 250,000.  Note that according to that link, the State Department claims it’s closer to 5,000 or 6,000, but what the Holy Hell is the State Department doing estimating job creation numbers?).

I won’t keep going with more examples – partly because the numbers involved are always estimates, which makes them subject to dispute, which ignores my whole point.  In one instance after another, over and over again, Obama has acted with reckless disregard for his own political future by refusing to yield on his big government mindset, in spite of overwhelming and relentless data showing it to be a total failure.  ObamaCare will kill jobs, Dodd-Frank is killing jobs, Lily Ledbetter is killing jobs, regulation after regulation after regulation is costing us money and killing jobs.  And still he will not yield, will not admit that his core philosophy has been proven disastrous over and over again for the past century.

In 2008, Obama promised “we’re going to keep on trying a bunch of stuff until something works.”  Apparently what he meant by that was “guys, all this socialism we’ve been trying hasn’t worked.  Any ideas?”  “Well, we could try more socialism.”  “Awesome!  Well, I’ve got a tee time, so make that happen.”  The one thing he has yet to try is letting the American people go about their business without strangulating federal regulations.

Obama is more dedicated to government control of the economy than Vladimir Lenin.  That’s your happy thought for the day.


1. geoff - September 18, 2012

Uncertainty is death to business, and Obama has brought:

Uncertainty in future tax assessments
Uncertainty in health insurance costs
Uncertainty in regulatory oversight

But not just uncertainty, of course – it’s uncertainty biased toward the negative side. And when he’s not undermining all their financial forecasting and business planning, he’s busy lecturing them on their faults, the foremost of which is . . . making money.

2. So, How’s The Senate Looking? « Innocent Bystanders - October 19, 2012

[…] a better man than Obama might have been able to turn things around, but I knew Captain Stupid was too committed to his ideology to do […]

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