US President Barack Obama has decided to normalize relations with Cuba. Since 1960, the United States has attempted to isolate, weaken, and ultimately destroy the Castro regime by cutting off diplomatic ties, imposing a trade embargo, and preventing American tourists from visiting Cuba. Given that the US has been following this strategy for 54 years but the Castros remain in power, it’s reasonable to question the efficacy of that policy. So let’s look into it.
Oftentimes when we discuss whether or not economic inequality is justifiable, we have the tendency to consider only the most extreme form of the left wing position. The right often defends its model of the market economy by comparing it to the old communist states, to the Soviet Union–countries in which everyone, at least in theory, had the same income. In places like the Soviet Union, incentives fell apart. If you will be paid the same amount no matter how much work you do, there is little reason to do additional work. The trouble is that this argument straw mans all left wing positions as strictly egalitarian. The left wing position need not be that societies should be perfectly economically equal, it need merely be that much of the economic inequality we see is superfluous and unnecessary. That is the argument I intend to make today.
I found myself in another lecture on Marxism yesterday. Why do I say “another”? I did a cursory search of my own website and found that just shy of a year ago, I was responding to a lecture about Marxism on this blog. In that piece, my focus was primarily a criticism of the solutions Marx and the Marxists offer. Specifically, I was objecting to the Marxist belief that it is possible for people to be socially rewired so as to become more altruistic or otherwise capable of working hard without a scale of variant material incentives. Rereading that argument, I found myself agreeing, but I also found my critique had deepened, that there was somewhat more to it than I said last year. That’s what I’d like to develop today.
I have some new thoughts today concerning where the modern emphasis on democracy comes from. Why have so many states decided to become democracies, and why do so many people consider all alternative governments unsuitable? There’s no news story to link you to, no current events connection, this post is just from my mind to yours, dear reader. So let’s get started.
How many times have we heard this one? “Obama is a socialist”, they say, “he’s just like [insert Communist boogie man here]”. There’s an obvious thing being missed by the right when they call Obama a socialist, and that’s that there are endless variations on socialism. So that brings us to our question for today–if Obama is a socialist, what kind of socialist would he be, and who should the right be comparing him to?