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Barack Obama is not a communist, a fascist, a Muslim, a Marxist, a Progressive (in the pre-1920s meaning of that word), or even a socialist. Obama and those who control much of America’s academia, mass media, and entertainment industry — plus a number of trade unions and hundreds of foundations, think tanks, and front groups — are believers in a new, very American form of leftism. It is very statist, very dangerous for freedom, and economically destructive. But we first have to identify what “it” is. Our difficulty in doing so has been a huge reason why we have not persuaded more people — though goodness knows a lot of people have woken up and now realize that there is a huge problem here.

Yet calling Obama those various names doesn’t persuade a large portion of the American population because they sense that these definitions aren’t accurate. They can come up with valid counter-arguments or be fed phony ones by schools and media. And all of those who rage in the comment sections of websites aren’t persuading anyone of anything except, perhaps, that Obama’s opponents are delusional. You may not like hearing that, but it’s the truth.

I’m amazed and amused by people who say that Obama cannot be a leftist because he–gasp!–appointed people from Wall Street to his cabinet and favors certain specific companies and banks. Excuse me, but you are merely saying that by engaging in corruption and getting some favored capitalists to give him big campaign donations in exchange for favors, Obama shows that he isn’t an “honest” leftist. Íf the left can get support from some such people, it would be foolish to throw away the chance. Refusing to act like that was how the Old Left and the New Left of the 1960s behaved, and we saw what happened to them.

We are in a totally new era. The nineteenth and early twentieth century debates and categories no longer hold. Indeed, when the New Leftists climbed out of the wreckage of the 1960s to early 1970s, they realized this and successfully built something very new. (If you are looking for a “prehistoric” founding document in terms of some important themes, albeit very much altered, read the original Weatherman Manifesto and then delete all the hysterical parts. Dress it up in a suit and tie and seat it behind the desk of a professor, foundation director, reporter, or politician.  I don’t have the space here to explain this point in detail.)

Let’s start with the word “socialist.” The European socialist (or social democratic) movement was strongly anti-communist. Did they hate their countries? Remember, these were the people who remained patriots during World War II — that’s one of the main reasons they first broke with the communists. The European socialists gave up the idea of abolishing capitalism many decades ago. While some parties were further to the left (notably in Spain and Sweden), most had settled into relatively moderate positions. When was the last time they nationalized anything?

Moreover, remember that European statism is as much of conservative origin as of socialist origin. Consider France, a country whose high degree of centralization goes back to feudal times and Napoleon, not to mention the Gaullists. America is very exceptional all right, but only because it broke with both European conservative and leftist models. The welfare states there were the results of multi-partisan efforts.

Have European socialists — I’m not talking here about left-wing academics and journalists — fallen in love with Barack Obama? Not at all. They might like Obama more than George W. Bush, but they liked Bill Clinton even more. Not only do they not see Obama as a comrade, but they could probably give him good advice about why his policies will inevitably fail. They may not have the answers for their own countries, but they understand capitalism and how to make it work (and they want to make it work) far more than he does.

So here’s a key point: Obama and his ideological comrades–let me call them the New New Left (NNL)–are to the left of almost all of the European socialist parties.

Are Obama and company a Marxist group or a bunch of communists (referring to the movement begun by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and run thereafter by Joseph Stalin)?

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