Columnists

Monia Mazigh
Why Obama is not a socialist

| January 18, 2013
Photo: Edgar Zuniga Jr./Flickr

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The Economist, the famous British magazine, in its first issues of 2013, ran on its cover a picture of U.S. President Obama wearing a striped shirt and a beret. It was a joke and a criticism directed towards Obama's politics.

In simple words, The Economist was clearly saying that the U.S. was becoming another version of France, a country with a long and strong history of social programs.

Of course, it didn't take long to have all the French media unleashing their wrath against those bad 'English' people with horrible taste.

The main point of the conservative right-leaning magazine was to pursue the same trend, started earlier in the U.S., of portraying Obama as a socialist and making fun of American politicians and their mishandling of the "fiscal cliff".

I find it very strange how a supposedly serious magazine, read by the world elite, falls into these simplistic stereotypes and this sort of misinformation. Not because I am particularly fond of French economic programs but because it is simply wrong to say that Obama is a socialist president.

Since he arrived at the White House, Obama has continued many of the economic policies of his infamous predecessor. For instance, Obama appointed Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, for another term. This alone was a signal to mega corporations and to Wall Street actors that the fiscal and monetary policies of his predecessor would survive.  Moreover, the $800-billion stimulus package Obama was quick to offer immediately after his election was not meant to help the poor, or help workers who lost their houses due to the financial crisis, but rather it was intended to bail out corporations and banks who until then didn't take any concrete steps to regulate their 'generous' bonus payments to their CEOs and other top executives.  

Even Obamacare, the medical insurance system that is still so controversial in the U.S., has nothing to rival the French program. In a nutshell, this system will work with private companies. So it is not the federal government who would fund this program; it is the individuals' responsibility to buy a policy through private insurers.

So far, I simply can't understand how all these economic policies under Obama would qualify him as a socialist.

What about the never-ending soap opera-type 'drama' between Republicans and Democrats on how to reduce the U.S. deficit in order to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff"? Wasn't that concrete proof that the Obama administration was hurting the rich and helping the poor? Isn't that another indication that America is following in the steps of France where the failed attempt of Francois Holland to increase tax rates for the rich was aborted by the French Senate in the midst of another ugly public tantrum by the famous French actor Gerard Depardieu?

First of all, I am not sure of the longevity of this fragile agreement between Obama and Boehner, the Republican White House speaker. This agreement can implode in the near future or used as a political carrot for Obama. Second, Boehner offered to support a 'symbolic' tax increase on the super-rich in return for massive cuts in social entitlement programs. Indeed, as a counterpart to the tax increase, the Republicans got the promise to see $1 trillion in cuts in the federal health-care programs for the elderly and the poor, Medicare and Medicaid, and the federal retirement benefit program. Basically, it is a loss-loss situation where the relative burden on the rich will be transferred on to the poor!

Finally, the slow dismantling of union organizations from the labour scene, first in the state of Indiana and then in Michigan (under the indifferent watch of Obama), comes to refute the false message of the Economist and right-wing think-tanks with respect to the 'true colours' of Obama. 

President Obama is nothing more than a president of a failing empire stumbling in the dark, trying to save the ship of capitalism with small wood patchworks and some rusted nails. Once again, The Economist got it all wrong!

Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She campaigned tirelessly for his release. Mazigh holds a PhD in finance from McGill University. In 2008, she published a memoir, Hope and Despair, about her pursuit of justice, and in 2011, a novel in French, Miroirs et mirages.

Comments

I find it laughable that anyone felt that Obama was a socialist! The very idea gives me the giggles.

The Economist didn't get it wrong, Monia. You did. Obama is a socialist who practices socialism for a minority, also known as corporate socialism. Socialists of that sort are also called fascists. Facsism, despite the efforts of experts in fascism to complicate the subject, is simply what you get when you have the political and capitalist classes jointly running the country, excluding the rest of society, whatever they (the fascists) say.

All the facts you recited are correct and well known by all sides in the class war. Expect the Economist to 'get it wrong' again. And again and again, along with the entire Right. It's just attitude. And a message. Of course the Economist knows Obama isn't a socialist of the sort you mean. He believes in inequality. His actions reveal what he believes, or, more accurately, what he 'chooses' to believe (which is all that matters). You can't be a proper (egalitarian) socialist 'and' a fascist. You can't be an 'imperialist' (Hollande) and a 'socialist'. The Economist isn't berating Obama. It's actually berating the exploited out there who might get the idea that they too can have socialism and that org is selling magazines in the process. It's a great job if you are willing to sell your soul to get it. Only elites and their tools can have socialism (collective problem-solving and society-building), which they will never call socialism for then even the sleepiest, most propagandized among us would start to see the true depth of darkness and perversity of these captured governments and that world.

Even here, Elites don't desire that we be entirely in the dark. There's no glory in that. They like us to know that they are crushing the life out of us. Our knowing equals their glory, something that good writers (often but not always) can't seem to grasp and/or include in their analyses. But that's in the realm of individuals.

Those individuals depend for their life, their comfort and security, on the functioning of the institutions that have been built to help them keep their system of exploitation in place. Institutions don't have egos. And that's probably good for exploitative elites or by now their sick system would be in tatters. For, One thing which that macho crowd is good at is pushing until things break. Mind you, even institutions can break. We've seen some big ones recently break (Lehmans, AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae). It's amusing, sort of, to watch elites scamble when their institutions (usually through criminal actions) falter. The instinct is pure socialist. 'We' support them, whether all of us want to or not. ("The Crisis That Won't Go Away," by Phil Gasper. http://bit.ly/xqmTDu)

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