Barry Rubin has written a piece describing Obama as a new kind of leftist:
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…
So what are we dealing with here? A radical leftist movement pretending to be liberal, growing out of the New Left of the 1960s, painfully aware of how the far left miserably failed in American history, and trying to create a twenty-first century stealth leftism. The first step was to gain hegemony in the key institutions that created ideas, rather than the factories that created material goods. They succeeded brilliantly.
The next step was to shape millions of Americans, especially young Americans, to accept their ideas that the United States was a force for evil in the world, a failed society, a place of terrible racism and hatred for women, and a country where the vast majority didn’t have a fair chance because the system was unfair. In fact, if you take away the varnish rhetoric, they argue that America is a virtual dictatorship of a small minority of wealthy people who just set everything up for their own convenience.
I kept reading Rubin’s piece to see what was so very very new about this, because it just didn’t seem new to me at all. It seemed rather old, actually, and known by the name Fabianism—and in fact, I’ve long thought of Obama as a type of American Fabian.
Who were the Fabians? They were British socialists who got together in the late 19th century and believed in peaceful gradualism:
The Fabian Society is a British socialist organization whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means….
An explanatory note appearing on the title page of the group’s first pamphlet declared:
“For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.”…
The first Fabian Society pamphlets advocating tenets of social justice coincided with the zeitgeist of Liberal reforms during the early 1900s. The Fabian proposals however were considerably more progressive than those that were enacted in the Liberal reform legislation. The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a minimum wage in 1906, for the creation of a universal health care system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917.
There are differences, of course (particularly in foreign policy), as befit a different time and place. But the similarities are striking, as is the fact that the Fabian Society was manned (and womanned) by intellectuals and artists, especially writers.
I’m hardly the first person to make the comparison. Just Google “Obama Fabian” and you’ll see. One of the earliest articles on the subject was this one by Jerry Bowyer, appearing in Forbes around the time of Obama’s 2008 election. I wrote much the same about Obama in October of 2008; although I didn’t actually use the term “Fabian,” that’s what I was referring to.
I’ve never ascribed to the “Obama isn’t intelligent” philosophy. He may not be wise, but he’s very smart about the things that especially interest him. One of these things is political strategy of the Alinsky variety. Another is “progressivism.” A third is how to appear to be moderate and soothing, and thus ingratiate himself with enough of the public to win an election.
[NOTE: The title of this post comes from this song.]