Obama and the Corporate State

For a while now I have been saying that Obama is not promoting Socialism, but rather an European-style corporate state -- where a troika of large unions, powerful politicians, and favored corporations worked together mainly to get themselves in power and to protect each other from competition.

It seems that Ron Paul sees it the same way:

Republicans and tea party activists are fond of accusing President Barack Obama of being a socialist, but today party gadfly Ron Paul said they had it wrong."In the technical sense, in the economic definition, he is not a socialist," the Texas Republican said to a smattering of applause at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

"He's a corporatist," Paul quickly added, meaning the president takes "care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country."

  • Uncle Kenny

    Well, it's important to get the terms correct, just as it was important to have the proper arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic. Socialist, fascist, communist, or corporatist will make little difference in the ultimate result for our society. All that said, you get one point for having your angle validated by, who again? Oh, yeah, Congressman Paul. Good on you.

  • morganovich

    i think this analysis is not quite right.

    he's more of a fascist.

    seriously, think about it. this is more of a Mussolini style situation.

    corporations exist to do the bidding of the government. so long as they do what we ask, they may have their fiefs, but as soon as they don't, regulate, confiscate, compel, and hector until they do.

    healthcare is a fantastic example. obama knows that rationing and massive price increases will be the results of his policies. thus, he sets up the insurance companies to be the bad guys and take the fall for it. they will have to deny care and raise prices (until they are driven out of business).

    then, a truly socialist system can be put into place.

    he is setting up capitalism as the fall guy for the failure of government intervention in markets.

  • Dr. T

    Obama does not want a corporatist state. He wants a fascist state where the government controls the corporations (and conveniently blames them for all the problems with the economy). Obama at times seems to be a corporatist, but if you look carefully you see that the government gains power over the corporations that suck up to it for favors. (Look at how beholden most agribusinesses are to the government.) Some corporate executives and shareholders will make more money in the short run, but the corporations that get favors will be government-controlled in the end. (Just look at GM, the commercial banks, and the former student load industry.)

    Obama also cares nothing for unions except for their ability to push his agendas. They are just ignorant tools who also will gain in the short-run but will become nearly powerless in the long-run. (After all, when government controls most of the corporations, it will no longer kowtow to union demands that will weaken the government-corporation entity. Watch and see what happens when the UAW tries to get big pay and benefit increases from GM-fed. The union workers will be in for a shock when the government says "No! And, by-the-way, strikes now are illegal at corporations with government ownership.")

  • Jody

    Distinction without a difference.

  • Allen

    While I agree that according to the technical definition president Obama is not a socialist, I'm not sure he's all that different from being one. After all, weren't Lenin and Stalin both technically not communists? Yet today we don't hesitate to call them that. I think the problem is that the definition is shifting and we have yet to recognize it as being so.

  • Val

    Jody, I am not sure there is even a distinction...

  • http://herdgadfly.blogspot.com/ gadfly

    Gosh ... it disgusts me to have to agree with George Soros who said:
    <i"Perhaps the greatest threat to freedom and democracy ... today comes from the formation of unholy alliances between government and business ... It used to be called fascism.”

  • bob sykes

    Dr. T is right. Obama's policies are classic Mussolini Fascism, which itself is a form of totalitarian socialism. In fact, considering Obama's virulent anti-semitism, you can make a case that he is a National Socialist. Hitler's economic policy was similar to Mussolini's, although his rationales were typical Germanic Romanticism rather than the pseudo-scientism of the Fascists.

    Ron Paul is an idiot.

  • caseyboy

    I think Obama's ties to the unions will outweigh any inclination toward profit making by Government Motors. GM will be kept alive, not to prosper, but to keep high employee pay and benefit packages in place. GM will become the host on which the auto union feeds in a parasitic relationship. When you suspend free market dynamics you can end up with some very unhealthy situations. And lets not forget the SEIU, whose members make up a potential "grass roots" political organization capable of Acorn like behavior. Fascist, socialist, corporatist? I'm not sure Barak even cares. He just wants to make sure his government is in control of everything.

  • Mercy Vetsel

    In other words, Obama is a fascist, albeit a democratic fascist or a soft fascist.

    Absolutely.

  • morganovich

    one of the most sinister aspects of this sort of fascism is that using/compelling private companies to further governmental agendas allows the government to have the best of both worlds:

    if the plan works, it's brilliant government policy protecting citizens from greedy corporations.

    if, as more often than not is does, it fails, then they can blame a "market failure" or "greedy capitalists" and tighten the regulatory noose further or outright nationalize private firms.

    the CRA has provided the template for this. force banks to lend vast amounts at below market rates to bad credit risks. then, when they fail, blame them and take control. repeat as necessary.

    health insurers are next. they are being placed between the hammer of having to increase coverage requirements and community rate applicants and the cost spiral it will create and the anvil of massive taxes on "cadillac" plans.

    3% profit margins will not be able to withstand this onslaught, especially as all the projected new customers will not materialize as they choose instead to pay the fines and only buy coverage when they are sick as happened in Massachusetts.

    this will not only drive the insurers into bankruptcy, but also set them up as the whipping boys for denials of coverage that do still occur.

    then, the feds can move an and institute single payor, as has been the plan all along.

    but, given how unpopular single payor is, they must first wreck the private option to stimulate demand for a federal takeover.

  • Methinks

    I completely agree with Morganovich.

  • Dan

    Come on, everyone. Do you know how ridiculous you sound calling Obama a facist? Comparing him to Mussolini? Please get ahold of yourselves.

    I voted for Obama, and I'm pretty middle-of-the-road. I don't think his healthcare plan is particularly good, but I also don't think it's the end of American freedom as we know it, the way so many of you seem to.

    I generally don't agree with Ron Paul on many things, but on this, I think he's closer to being right. Obama is not a socialist. He believes in the market economy. But I do agree that he verges on being corporatist (kind of like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, for that matter). In fact, all modern presidents have basically governed for the corporations, thinking that this is the best way to keep the economy growing (makes some sense, as the health of U.S. corporations is so essential for the health of the economy). To govern any other way wouldn't make much sense, though I think some presidents, like Bush and Reagan, and even Clinton, too often saw things through corporate America's eyes and not enough for the typical American. Obama is less guilty of that - I really believe he thinks he's helping the common man with his health plan, but I see it mainly helping insurance and drug companies.

    The military-industrial complex has generally ruled America for the last 50 years, and the White House has been a big help throughout this time. To single out Obama, as you're doing, calling him a socialist and comparing him to 1930s dictators, seems like a personal attack to me (just as it was personal when Democrats cast aspersions on Bush's IQ). We need to put things into better context and leave out the emotions.

  • mesaeconoguy

    Same here, hence Obamalini.

  • Steve

    As I have been telling anyone who will listen since before the election, Obama is a communist. Communism consists of a fascist state enforcing a socialist economy. Everything he does is focused on placing the federal government firmly in control of every aspect of the economy. He blames private enterprise for every failure of government intervention, the deadbeats eat it up, and voila, new regulations appear to limit salaries, prices, fuel use, and general availability of necessary goods and services.

    At least we can be sure that those greedy SOBs who work hard and fulfill their contracts won't get paid more than somebody who wears Obama t-shirts and collects their tax refunds for living.

    Whataguy.

  • http://gmsplace.com/ John Moore

    Obama seems to believe that the only organizations that are effective are huge and run top-down - government and big corporations. When he has a "summit," he has the big boys there - the chieftains of big corporations, not small business or individuals.

    He appears intellectually incapable of understanding capitalism and the power of a diverse marketplace to process information better than any hierarchy can.

    He is a fool - but then we've been discovering more and more about that for quite a while.

  • IgotBupkis

    > He is a fool

    This is an error in reasoning. It assumes his goals are that of The People he claims to represent. Obama ain't no fool. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing.

    There are those who would argue it's a Cloward-Piven Strategy. Given his anti-American upbringing and connections, this is not at all unlikely.

    It can also be argued that he is creating a "National Socialist" policy (sorry about the Godwin's Law thing, there, but, like paranoia, "sometimes they really ARE out to get you") setting up things with corporate ownership but state control. There is, of course, a breakdown at some point along this path, as even the most ignorant should be able to see.

    In either case, he is setting himself and his cronies up to seize power at the key point when things go to shit.

  • IgotBupkis

    > He is a fool

    This is an error in reasoning. It assumes his goals are that of The People he claims to represent. Obama ain't no fool. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing.

    There are those who would argue it's a Cloward-Piven Strategy. Given his anti-American upbringing and connections, this is not at all unlikely.

    It can also be argued that he is creating a "National Socialist" policy (sorry about the Godwin's Law thing, there, but, like paranoia, "sometimes they really ARE out to get you") setting up things with corporate ownership but state control. There is, of course, a breakdown at some point along this path, as even the most ignorant should be able to see.

    In either case, he is setting himself and his cronies up to seize power at the key point when things go to shit.

  • TVH

    The commenters here are a smart bunch.

    Liberalism must really be a mental disorder, because not a single liberal friend of mine (I live in Bellevue, WA--plenty of 'em up here) gets any of this.

    I say fascism or socialism, and they cover their ears and say "Nah, nah, nah, nah..."

    You're all right--the terms don't matter--a federal gov't. power grab to fundamentally change us to the USSA or some such is the progressive agenda.

    So, here's the key question...if you lived in a blue state and wanted to buy land or a second home in a red state that you could move to if all hell breaks lose, in which state would that be? Utah? Texas? Arizona (with the new AZ border enforcement law)? Idaho? Others? I'm thinking ahead here, and will probably be ready to jump when our beloved Governor Gregoire and the state legislature institute WA's first state income tax...

    Thanks for the suggestions in advance.

  • markm

    Is Ron Paul aware that Mussolini called his system "corporatist"? That might not mean the same in Italian, but any difference between Mussolini's Fascism and Obama's aims is one of degree, not of kind.

    The biggest mistake in political theories is thinking of fascism as an aberration, even as an aberrent socialism. Rather, Socialism is one of many cover stories for fascism. Communists murdered factory owners and appointed bureaucrats in their place, while Fascists and Nazis threatened them with death camps and appointed bureaucrats to oversee them, but the only real difference was that the Fascists didn't go as far - yet. Soft socialists leave the owners theoretically in place, but gradually undermine both ownership and control. And they pretend to be nonviolent, but ask the Branch Davidians what happens when a group refuses to fit into the system...

    Some form of fascism is the natural aim of governments, at least as long as governments are formed by people who worked for such jobs. That is, the people in charge were attracted by the chance to stick their noses deep into others' business, and/or the lure of using force to reward friends, punish enemies, and skim rewards for themselves. (Don't forget that taxation is an exercise of force!) The stronger and more intrusive the government, the more rewarding it is for the governors. And so governments naturally drift towards fascism unless they are somehow restrained. They can pretty it up with Marxist rhetoric or in many other ways, but the reality underneath unrestrained governments varies little.

    Medieval kingdoms often avoided this. Quite often the heir would be someone who would rather just enjoy his wealth than spend long hours getting involved in the details of his subjects' lives. And often feudal lords kept the monarchy quite weak - even too weak to effectively enforce the law. (E.g., at one time the French king could not even bring to account a lord who raped and murdered a hundred children - it took a Church court to condemn Gilles de Rais on the theory that he must have been doing something satanic with all those little boys...) But by the 18th Century, the kingdoms that still functioned had developed parliaments and layers of bureaucracy to vex their subjects with petty regulations and taxes. And that's where the American Revolution started...

    The authors of our Constitution didn't know the word "fascism" (or "communism", or "liberal"), but they quite well understood that governments would seize all the power they were allowed to - and also that keeping government to weak was just an invitation to be governed by others. So they tried to hit a balance of restrained but still effective government. The problem is, we no longer follow the Constitution as they understood it...

  • Dave

    Look how successful European corporations have been as compared with those in the States; we still lead the way with development, innovation, new ideas, etc. Why would we want to be like Europe? It's bad enough that we're taking on their socialized medicine idea.

  • Vootie

    > He is a fool

    This is an error in reasoning. It assumes his goals are that of The People he claims to represent. Obama ain't no fool. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing.
    There are those who would argue it's a Cloward-Piven Strategy. Given his anti-American upbringing and connections, this is not at all unlikely.
    It can also be argued that he is creating a "National Socialist" policy (sorry about the Godwin's Law thing, there, but, like paranoia, "sometimes they really ARE out to get you") setting up things with corporate ownership but state control. There is, of course, a breakdown at some point along this path, as even the most ignorant should be able to see.

    In either case, he is setting himself and his cronies up to seize power at the key point when things go to shit.

  • Michael Miller

    Corporations are fully compatible with socialist theory. They don't particularly like free markets. Guarantee them enough profits and fixed percentages of the market and they will gladly accept the shackles imposed by the state. ADM has been around for a long time.

    “He’s a corporatist,” This stuff is totally old hat. Roosevelt II was a corporatist too. The big corporations were swimming in profits during WWII, and almost no one complained about the entire economy being planned and controlled out of a hand full of grimy Washington offices by people like John Kenneth Galbraith. The only free economy was in the black market. {wiki JKG and you'll get it}

    Things improved a little for the free market after the war, and considerably after 1980 when there was an embracing of many aspects of free market theory by the intellectual/political establishment.

    Obama's head is back somewhere in the 1930's. If you say he's a corporatist I would agree, and,if you said he's a socialist, I would agree with that too.

    We have been corporatist/socialist country since 1933.

  • Michael Miller

    Corporations are fully compatible with socialist theory. They don't particularly like free markets. Guarantee them enough profits and fixed percentages of the market and they will gladly accept the shackles imposed by the state. ADM has been around for a long time.

    “He’s a corporatist,” This stuff is totally old hat. Roosevelt II was a corporatist too. The big corporations were swimming in profits during WWII, and almost no one complained about the entire economy being planned and controlled out of a hand full of grimy Washington offices by people like John Kenneth Galbraith. The only free economy was in the black market. {wiki JKG and you'll get it}

    Things improved a little for the free market after the war, and considerably after 1980 when there was an embracing of many aspects of free market theory by the intellectual/political establishment.

    Obama's head is back somewhere in the 1930's. If you say he's a corporatist I would agree, and,if you said he's a socialist, I would agree with that too.

  • Michael Miller

    Where else will Obama raise money for his re-election? When it comes to raising money they are all corporatists. There is nothing new with this idea.

  • Michael Miller

    Fascism is a particular flavor of socialism. Hitler was once asked to explain the difference between between his party and the communists who were then murdering each other in the streets of Germany. Hitler said there are no differences, we are the same.

  • markm

    Michael, there were two differences. Hitler was smart enough not to murder the men who knew how to run industrial concerns - if they cooperated with his regime. And every now and then, he would tell the truth about his plans.