So I thought it pertinent to find out what Sklar says about socialism and capitalism today, and what he thinks about the direction Obama is moving our country in. The results will prove surprising, especially to John Judis.
First, Sklar- who coined the phrase “corporate liberalism” that became a mainstay of the New Left in the 60′s and 70′s- disagrees with Judis’ belief that the “mix has increasingly tilted toward socialism.” His argument, to the contrary, is that for decades, America has had an appropriate mix that already incorporates elements of what is traditionally called capitalism and socialism; that is why it is a mix. Sklar, like Judis, defines himself as a man of the Left, and in an article he has been circulating, titled “A letter to a Long-time Friend and Fellow Left-winger,” Sklar shakes things up. Sklar considers himself to be a “Freedom Leftist” who believes in a pluralist-democratic and “publically accountable left” as opposed to Obama who he considers a “left sectarian doing his mass work.” At his core, Sklar writes, Obama’s “world view is ‘Third-Worldist’ sectarianism.”
More surprising for a man of the left, Sklar believes that “Bush has been one of our more effective and progressive-left Presidents in domestic and international affairs.” Sklar believes that Obama’s economic proposals are based on high-tax, protectionist and a slow-growth program. Bush’s in contrast, was based on a lower-tax, low-cost energy, “high-growth/job stimulus” program, and was not “ensnared in the green business/academia lobby agenda of high-cost energy,” which would work to both restrict economic growth and workers’ incomes.
Moreover, Sklar is concerned, as he writes, that Obama will make “central to his presidency” what he calls “proto-statist structures characteristic of fascist politics- that is, ‘social service’ political organizations operating extra-electorally and also capable of electoral engagement,” that will lead to “party-state systems…in which the party is the state.” Thus, he notes that during the campaign, Obama favored armed public service groups that could be used for homeland security, that would tie leadership bureaucracies to him through the unions and groups like ACORN.
Thus Sklar argues, in a letter he provided to me written to a columnist in April of this year, that the real issue is not whether we move to socialism but whether we can maintain a liberal democracy based on the mix that nurtures “Liberty and Equality and Progressive Development.” This, he writes, is “something the Bush/Cheney administrations championed, and the reason I, a person of the left, strongly supported them, including the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the (world) war against Islamist imperialism.” (my emphasis.)
Finally, in a personal letter to me, Sklar calls for a unified liberty movement of people who see themselves on the left or liberal side, and those who see themselves as conservatives, to defeat “the state-command sectarians,” and bring together those on the democratic left and right in an effort to rejuvenate “the prospects of liberal democracy.”
Clearly, the man who mentored John Judis has quite a different perspective on what to do to save our country—one that is more in accord with the views of a Jonah Goldberg than of John Judis. Sklar tells me that I am not a conservative, but a freedom leftist, as he is and beckons me to join his movement, but I guess he wouldn’t welcome John Judis into the ranks.