Calling a Spade an Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction

Tuesday, October 21, AD 2008

This started out as a reply to Chris’s “We’re All Socialists Now” post, and just kept going, so I decided to make a whole post out of it instead of clogging the comments.

There is a huge intellectual dishonesty in all of politics, in which it is never so important to simply call a spade a spade, but to distort it for political benefit. A spade to one party is the earth-tearing, vegetation-mutilating instrument of doom, while to the other party it is the vehicle of agricultural and personal independence.

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22 Responses to Calling a Spade an Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction

  • Great post, Ryan! I especially liked your final sentence.

  • I don’t think we should give ‘other’ people power over what we make. This violates the Principle of Subsidiarity. Jesus did say we will always have the poor. To take my money away from me and giving it to the ‘State’ to redistribute smacks, rightly or wrongly, of Socialism.

    Senator Obama’s heart is in the right place, but he wants to place the decision making abilities of how to spend your hard earned money into the hands of others that may or may not spend it correctly.

    I see where you are coming from about not pigeon-holing a candidate based on his plans. But if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck plain and simple. To obfuscate the issue of well Senator Obama ‘means well’ and he really wants to do good with other peoples money is not going to sell to most Americans.

    Good post though.

  • Thanks, Chris. But what, no comment about the bumper-stickers?

    Tito, I have no problem with saying that Obama’s policies smack of socialism, and I disagree with his solutions almost 100%. But the thing is, depending on which side you’re on, shouting socialism either overstates or understates the problem, and like people shouting “racism!” and “bigot!”, simply working on the accusation “socialist!” shuts down honest discourse.

  • Ryan, that entire ‘graph was a great one.

    Tito, I have no philosophical issue with the federal government using *some* of my money for legitimate purposes, even of a “social safety net” variety… after all, our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, so there is no *intrinsic* conservative objection to federal programs; the problem comes with inefficiency and unintended negative consequences, which is why the principle of subsidiarity is — as you indicate — so important. But I see no reason to be inherently opposed to federal programs, a view I occasionally (you think?) detect coming from the libertarian corner of the conservative tent.

  • No, Ryan. Obama is Jimmy Carter 2.0. Oh you might not have been around during Jimmeh’s time as president. Mortgage rates up to 19 percent. Sluggish stock market. Jimmeh telling us to just wear sweaters to conserve energy. Not to mention The Iranian Hostage Drama. Obama is a Socialist. Socialists aren’t compassionate. My City With All Its Works/pomps has been handicapped for six decades by the most onerous wage tax in this here nation. Why bedroom suburbs like King Of Prussia, Malvern, Cherry Hill have had humongous growth in last quarter century. Oh, City has had continuous Dem mayors since 1952 and City Council domination about that long. Current Mayor Michael Nutter is fine fella, three new Council members have issued strong budget-cutting suggestions they call the Freshman 15. Still the Socialist party. Hope you get a teaching job in the field for which you are receiving an edjermacation. Otherwise, stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Macy’s are always hiring. In the burbs.

  • Gerard,

    I think you missed my point, or maybe I didn’t state it clearly enough. Making a slogan out of “socialist!” certainly appeals to the base. I want to cry “socialist!” myself. But in terms of winning over undecided voters, especially those who see political dishonesty everywhere, that simply doesn’t work. My sardonic remarks about slogans was meant to emphasize that we try to reduce everything to soundbites in the mistaken belief that no one is interested in knowing the details. The point is that Obama has many of the right intentions–which endears him to people–but has horrible solutions. But you can’t convince people his solutions are horrible simply by shouting “socialist!” They need to be convinced, because when they hear you shout “socialist!” they’re not going to simply roll over and say, “okay, I believe you!”

  • Gerard E.,

    You’re referring to Philadelphia right?

    I believe Detroit has had similar problems.

  • Ryan- above post stands. Get clearer.

    Tito- correctamundo. My City of Brotherly Love the home of the NL Champeen Philadelphia Phillies whoo hoo Go Phillies Go.

  • Chris Burgweld,

    I don’t doubt that we do need to the Federal government in certain roles such as national defense and for natural disasters.

    Safety nets sure, but when we start looking more and more like western europe, you better believe that we are already on our way to becoming communists.

    Mikhael Gorgechev once commented on the E.U. that they have become more successful than the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact in their social policies than they (the Russians) could have ever imagined.

    When you get that kind of endorsement/adulation from a communist, it speaks volumes.

  • Gerard,

    I’m not sure what you’re after, then. If we’re worried about not just intent, but effectiveness, then simply crying “socialist!” to make your point is like using socialism to dig us out of poverty. The intent is in the right place, but the implementation is lacking and actually counterproductive. I agree that Obama’s policies will dig us deep into the welfare state and cripple us economically. But I didn’t write this post to talk about his policies specifically, but how we think we need slogans to save us, and how slogans obscure the issues at hand. Your description of Philadelphia’s plight under socialist management is excellent discourse on why socialism is bad, and is a huge step up from just crying “socialism!” And I don’t believe that someone supporting a socialistic model is evil and devoid of compassion. Misguided, yes; lacking information, yes; stuck in a dreamworld, yes; possessing even a corrupted form of compassion, yes. In order to convince people that socialism is wrong, you can’t simply say “socialism…baaaaaaad.” You have to have explanations. Details, not slogans.

  • Ryan- socialism never works. Inner cities or whole countries. Why Cuban cab drivers are still tooling around in 1959 DeSotos. Why the mainland Chinese people are flocking to the big cities and working their youknowwhats off. Why big cities like mine repeat the same problems while the two main daily papers- subscriptions both waaaaay down- call for more of the same solutions. Socialism takes the human spirit out of the equation. We do really well for ourselves and our families when the wraps are off. The American Dream and so forth. Capitalism is like democracy- not the best idea, but a whole lot better than anything else. Explained?

  • “socialism never works”

    Words to live by. I believe Obama and his backers wish to convert the US into a socialist state of the West European variety. Statements to the contrary are mere campaign ephemera.

  • I think the real problem is when people call an “Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction” a spade.

  • Gerard.

    Ah. As so many times I have experienced in life, we’re not connecting because we’re not even arguing the same issue. You want to argue “socialism is wrong”. I want to argue “shouting slogans doesn’t help a candidate in the political realm.” These aren’t even close to the same issue. And as long as you want to make the issue socialism itself, nothing I can say about my post means anything, because my post is not meant to address whether or not socialism is wrong. Similarly, I can argue until I’m blue in the face that we shouldn’t rely on cheap slogans (as good as they feel to say), and you won’t be satisfied because I’m not addressing the issue of socialism.

    If you want, I can make my next post about socialism and its evils, how it is degrading to the human because work is made for man, not man for work, and how work is one of the highest forms of thanksgiving we can give to God, and how socialism turns the whole thing upside down, treating man as purely material, crushing the human dignity by rendering meaningless work and its glorifying aspects, and how socialism leads to the utter economic collapse of a nation even without consider the dignity of a human being. But that wasn’t the topic of this post. The post was about slogans, how they do injustice to candidates, how they provide a cheap, ineffective shortcut to actually defining the issues, looking at specific policies, comparing and contrasting, and making a strong, recognizable case that one’s plan works over the other.

    I would also like to note the following: I wrote “Saying that Obama is a socialist is not calling a spade a spade; it is calling a back-hoe loader a spade…” The order there was intentional. I don’t think calling Obama a socialist is a good thing because I feel the danger he represents is so much bigger than working towards socialistic policies, as many times bigger as a back-hoe loader is bigger than a spade.

    Lastly, (and this is tongue-in-cheek), how can you say that socialism doesn’t work? It does what it purports to do–level the playing the playing field. Of course, that level is abject poverty for all…

  • Heaven knows I enjoy a good hair-splitting session over language matters. But I think part of the problem with parsing the definition of a socialist is that many people who self-identify as socialists have worldviews fairly similar to Obama’s (or perhaps to his left, if that is possible.) The definition seems to have evolved from its orginal form. It happens.

    It’s a bit like the present use of the term “anarchist.” This one really gets my goat (remember what I said about enjoying hair-splitting?) because I was always under the impression that anarchists believed in the abolition of all government. I thought of anarchists as a sort of extreme libertarian. Then I learned that “anarchism” was being embraced again on college campuses, but what was being sold as “anarchism” looked an awful lot like old-fashioned Marxism (which is anything but anarchic) to me.

  • Shoot–that was actually me.

  • Yes, I’ve been cynically amused that the new “anarchism” is basically socialism with lots of talking about how one is really far too sophisticated to believe in the “modern nation state” — but since all these rubes have inflicted one on us we might as well have it give us everything we want.

  • That sort of “anarchism” is just a pose, a faux radical stance adopted by people who, for some reason, want to think of themselves as something different from your garden-variety leftist. But yeah, an “anarchist” who supports government healthcare and gun control is just confused. It’s as if one of the colonists (in Ben Franklin’s era) had claimed to be a radical democrat, but none of his policy proposals involved voting or representation; instead, every proposal involved strengthening the monarchy and giving it more power.

  • The free market or the slave market; pick one.

  • Micha,

    Again, I don’t understand your post. Could you please explain?

    Thanks,

    Tito

  • What a load of crap!

  • d,

    No need for that type of language here. I’m sure you could have expressed yourself in a much more dignified manner.