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Ron Radosh

I was a friend of Marty Sklar since 1955, when I first met him as an entering freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  His name had been given to me by a friend in New York City, who said that Marty was a leading figure on the left in Madison, and would gladly take me under his wing. He was also my graduate teaching assistant in the U.S. history course I took in Madison.

Since that meeting, I have been engaged with Marty for over half a century, agreeing and disagreeing with him about history, politics, and the state of American society. Throughout these years, one thing was constant about Marty: he said in 1955 — and held to this belief up to his passing — that he was a socialist.

Marty’s definitions of socialism, however, were something other than how most people would define that system. I have written about his concept before at PJ Media, particularly in this column, in which I tried to explain his original theory called “the mix,” in which he argued that all modern societies are composed of elements of both socialism and capitalism. This led him to argue that he considers himself to be a “Freedom Leftist” who believes in a pluralist-democratic and “publicly accountable left,” as opposed to Obama, whom he considers to be a “left sectarian doing his mass work.”

At his core, Sklar writes, Obama’s “world view is ‘Third-Worldist sectarianism.’” Moreover, he argues that Obama’s economic proposals are a high-tax, protectionist, and slow-growth program. Those of Republicans, in contrast, were based on a lower-tax, low-cost energy, “high-growth/job stimulus” program, and are not “ensnared in the green business/academia lobby agenda of high-cost energy,” which would work to both restrict economic growth and workers’ incomes.

Here is what Sklar wrote in 1999 in an essay titled “Capitalism and Socialism in the Emergence of Modern America,” which appears in Reconstructing History: The Emergence of a New Historical Society. His paragraph defines how he looks at both capitalism and socialism:

Social change in [the Progressive era] inaugurated an incessant interaction, both antagonistic and complementary, between capitalism and socialism that shaped and reshaped American society in the twentieth century. The continuing corporate reorganization of enterprise and the national economy has in its essence involved the meshing of capitalism and socialism in an American society distinguished politically by liberal democracy. … The rise of corporate capitalism in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century may therefore be understood as also representing the early phases of a sociopolitical reconstruction of American society based upon a hybrid of capitalism and socialism in a liberal democracy.

Sklar was insistent on the principle that state and society had to be separate from each other, and that the individual and liberty had to be protected against all encroachments by the state against individual citizens. Capitalism, he believed, broadened individual initiative and guaranteed principles of liberty and efficiency, as well as egalitarian values and behavior.

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22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem isn't getting things the problem is stealing things including time and effort.

The problem isn't social obligations i.e. helping the needy, the problem is restricting freedom to question or reject the means of fulfilling those obligations, perhaps because those charged with administering them are corrupt and greedy.

Is stopping a large corporation from buying a large tract of land, putting up housing for workers to rent (which is automatically deducted from their pay) and allowing the distribution of goods (at inflated prices) only at company-owned stores an unfair regulation of business?
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Socialism is contrary to human nature as well as contrary to liberty.

Get over it and grow up!
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
We need more socialists like him.

Not quite, Ron. Perhaps you meant "we need more socialists to be like him." I wish grounded rational men and women of the left could crowd-out utopian America-loathing radicals from the ranks of the Democratic Party.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm doubtful rational or moderate people of those aspects would be any different from the radicals, actually.

I know in the French Revolution, even when the Jacobins slaughtered, the Girondquists, who were moderates, still committed slaughter as well. Heck, both Rousseau and Voltaire, who are about as diametrically opposed as left and right, still agreed ultimately that the Church and all Christian-based morality needed to be shattered.

Just read this if you don't believe me regarding moderates and radicals in the French Revolution: http://www.culturewars.com/CultureWars/Archives/Fidelity_archives/parricide.html

Also, Voltaire basically created a six-step plan to eradicate Christianity, and this was despite quarreling with Rousseau as being politically different. Just read Timothy Dwight's speech.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hope he rests in peace, although admittedly, if he's a socialist, he's automatically bad, with all due respect to Radosh. Doesn't matter if he praises individualism. Sartre also praised absolute individualism alongside Foucault and others alongside them, praising the so-called freedom of the 60s, yet they supported Communism, even praising in Sartre's case Che Guevara as being "the most complete human being of the century," alongside various other Communist movements, and there was no revolutionary socialist movement Foucault didn't like, even those who slaughtered people for being gay.

Besides, absolute individualism, better known as anarchy, isn't good either, as shown with the French Revolution (which is as anarchistic as possible).
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Socialism is a function of collectivism. Total socialism is a total collectivism - otherwise known as communism. Partial socialism is partial collectivism. Our Founding Fathers authorized limited socialism - limited collectivization - socialism limited to military power, post office, federal highways, regulation of commerce and treaties with foreign powers, and to borrow and coin money. All other powers were left to the states or to individuals. Federal funding (and therefore control) of retirement and disability benefits, healthcare and education is not an enumerated federal power in our constitution and thus represents an un-constitutional expansion of American socialism.

Collectivization of the people's property means power – power to the small group of people who collect the property – power to the government – the opposite of power to the people. Limited government means limited power - limited socialism. If our federal government desires or needs power not granted to it by our Constitution, with the understanding that any additional power does not violate the God-given natural rights of the people as enumerated in our Declaration of Independence – human rights which our Constitution was intended to secure – then additional power must be measured out to the federal government – by the people – via amendments to the Constitution. In this way We the People - through our Constitution - are the measure of its power - thus limiting its collective power and securing power to the people as intended by our Founding Fathers.

"By bringing the whole of life under the control of the State, Socialism necessarily gives power to an inner ring of bureaucrats, who in almost every case will be men who want power for its own sake and will stick at nothing in order to retain it... It cannot be said too often – at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough – that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of." George Orwell

http://thomasgwyndunbar.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/george-orwell-review/

23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Sklar was insistent on the principle that state and society had to be separate from each other, and that the individual and liberty had to be protected against all encroachments by the state against individual citizens. Capitalism, he believed, broadened individual initiative and guaranteed principles of liberty and efficiency, as well as egalitarian values and behavior."

In what is this person a socialist? The only way you get socialism is by massive state "encroachment" on individuals in the market. I bought the book and am eager to read it, but it all sounds very anomalous.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
We need more socialists like him... Perhaps, perhaps not. The revolution will always devours its own. The progressive collective and its nomenklatura can never fail. It can only be betrayed.

Western Judeo/Christian civilization will protect the innocent and the feeble - as best it can. The secular Socialist collective will "protect" the innocent and feeble by distorting the definition of innocent and feeble and disappearing any "issue" that might undermine its authority.

Sklar betrayed the collective. Socialism always fails the innocent and feeble by granting an arbitrary dependence. Sklar would never acknowledge that fact. May he rest in peace.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
It sounds like Sklar was a good socialist. I am reminded of a Chinese friend who once said I was a good communist because of my generosity in some situation. I corrected him, no a good capitalist.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
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