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Andy Williams on Barack Obama: “Don’t like him at all … following Marxist theory … He wants the country to fail …”

From an interview in the latest Radio Times. Interviewer: Jane Anderson. Interviewee: singer and entertainer Andy Williams.

Although Williams is a life-long Republican, he was happy to hit the campaign trail with this buddy, RFK, and was the the Los Angeles rally where Kennedy was gunned down in 1968. “I was very close to Bobby and he asked me to be a delegate for him when he ran for president. He knew about me being a Republican, but just laughted and said, ‘Sign in as a Democrat and then change back afterwards’. Sadly, I never got to do that.

“I stayed at the hospital that night. I just kept thinking of my buddy … a young man who was full of life. I was very close to Teddy Kennedy, too, and his death recently brought it all back. What a tragedy. Had he lived, I think Bobby would have been a great president.”

Does he think Obama will make a great president? “Don’t like him at all,” Williams says gravely. “I think he wants to create a socialist country. The people he associates with are very left-wing … one is registered as a Communist. Obama is following Marxist theory. He’s taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail.”

Er, we’ll take that as a no, then.

I actually read this first in the Radio Times, which I purchased earlier this evening, and am now somewhat disappointed to discover that I am not the only one who thinks it worth paying attention to. Nothing like. The Andy Williams website has stopped working, although could just be me.

It was canny of Williams to preface his remarks with all that stuff about how he loved the Kennedys, and I’m glad the Radio Times included it. I think this could hurt Obama. It could really get this meme out there, where it belongs, beyond mere anti-lefty blogs like this one. It could get interesting watching all the lefties explaining how it ain’t so. The thing is, Obama was sold to America as Mr Nice. If his attack dogs go after Andy Williams for saying this, well, they risk looking like attack dogs. But if they don’t, well, you know, people might think that Williams is, as it were, right. People who hadn’t done so before are bound to start wondering.

Two questions. How are those Mainstream Media in the USA reporting this? And how long before someone calls Andy Williams a racist?

65 comments to Andy Williams on Barack Obama: “Don’t like him at all … following Marxist theory … He wants the country to fail …”

  • cjf

    “where it belongs, beyond mere anti-lefty blogs like this one”
    hunh ?
    The left versus right scenario is fairly discredited by most people outside the mainstream lunatics. Progressives are Stalinists; and, one-time allies of National Socialists.

    No real difference.

    Pre-voting age, I worked on JFK’s campaign. That ended with LBJ. Reagan did little enough but theater.
    The rest have followed the same course whether they
    were “left” or “right” All the same, one leading to the
    other until Hobama. The Haymarket candidate.

    Someone else left a comment on another topic posting. They said that they are not the liberals, we are.

    The link to the main interview didn’t work for me; but, the Google list said enough.

    The only good thing about obama is that he’s black.
    And, it is not the “right” bashing lefy that is now suffering Trotsky’s headache.

    Obama is the cure for Stockholm Syndrome.

  • Unfortunately Andy Williams is too far down the celebrity pecking order over here for anyone to care.

  • RAB

    Or even know about Walter.

    A huge star in his time, but one like Val Doonigan over here, that you have to be over 40 to have ever heard of.

    Still there are a lot of people over 40 in the States. Every little bit of recognition of Barry’s true colours, might just help in ensuring he only gets one term in office.

  • lucklucky

    It is inevitable. There will be a Civil War in Western Culture. New Borders and New Countries will be born. The Hate and the Cultural Split is not sustainable – We are too far appart to live in same place – I Love Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s , Jaguars, someone down the road hates them and wants them forbidden, we can add many more things some more serious some not to the list -but one thing is certain live in common is impossible .The only chance that doesn’t happens is that Artificial Islands and Space Stations get cheaper to make and new countries can be born without tearing the existing ones apart. Unfortunately no one is civilized like the Czechs and Slovaks so there is no hope that this can be made peacefully unless technological developments above are possible . There is no reason that we don’t split already besides a little hope that every day diminishes.

  • “Er, we’ll take that as a no, then.”

    The ‘Er’ in that radio quotation speaks volumes.

    It allows the Radio Times columnist to distance himself from the wild eccentric opinion being expressed.

    It is an expression of cultural solidarity with his British readers who will of course realise and agree that not only is this opinion eccentrically American but charmlessly earnest/insufficiently irreverent and frothy.

    Its a very British rebuke of his interview subject on the grounds of taking himself and his opinions far too seriously. It signals a lack of social grace. How vulgarly American.

  • guy herbert

    Barking. Just barking.

  • But what does the cookie bear think?

  • James

    I’d loved to have seen the look on the PC Radio Times interviewer’s face when he gave that response.

  • Seems like Emperor Obama just lost his pants.

  • hennesli

    This is huge. The opinion of an obscure ageing crooner could well turn the tide of public opinion against Obama.

  • Andywilliams.com is working. I don’t think Obama worries much about him, or else his attack-dogs have other priorities right now.

    We should also remember that Obama is the ultimate GramscoFabiaNazi. The projects take many years – decades even – and I’m sure he knows that the bulk of the US population is not ready for full-out-threats and widescale destruction of free institutions, such as has been recently increased in the UK. His healt care schmuck was just a dippy-dippy-toe in th water.

    The UK is very very much further down into the cesspit than the USA is, happily for Americans. WE should try to see these things wiht their eyes, if we still can.

  • Paul Marks

    Obama is below 50% in the most recent polls – and his main policy (the health care Bill) has 56% of the people against it.

    The “mainstream” media are not “mainstream” any more – their propaganda campaign worked last year (actually the media propganda campaign for Obama started in 2004), but now people are waking up.

    And, yes, the fall of Obama will drag the “mainstream” media down with him. And, if fortune is with us, the stinking “education system” of leftist controlled schools and universities also.

    Who is responsble for the decline and (hopefully) fall of Barack Obama?

    It is not Andy Williams – although it should be rememberd that quite a few people in the entertainment industry (even in Hollywood) dissented from the Obama cult from the start. So when we (I am thinking or myself) denounce “leftist entertainers” we should remember that.

    Is it television and radio people like Rush or Sean Hannity – who have indeed warned about Obama is from the start?

    Perhaps the best known broadcaster to dissent from the Obama cult is Glenn Beck (and, it should be noted, he tried to warn from CNN – i.e. he was reaching out to a nonconservative audience, before he decided the time had come to move openly to Fox News). Glenn Beck does indeed speak to crowds, and writes books, and invites on (hostile to Obama and comrades) Democrats (as well as Republicans and Independents) as part of his effort to find out as much as he can about the radical left and share the information he finds with other people.

    But Glenn Beck does NOT think he is responsible for the decline of Barack Obama.

    He thinks that Barack Obama is responsible for Barack Obama – that the policies that President Obama supports are so illogical so contradictory (for example endlessly saying the spending position is “unsustainable” and then demanding MORE spending) that ordinary people just sit at home thinking “what this man is saying just does not make sense”.

    Glenn Beck sees his role (and the role of Rush and Sean Hannity and so on) as simply telling these people “you are not alone – there are millions of people thinking the same as you are, and Obama did not just start saying crazy things recently, he has been on the far left all his life, listen to and look at this evidence….. and, by the way, some of these people who have brought this evidence to us are life long Democrats, here meet some of them they have agreed to come on the show….”.

    Barack Obama is a Marxist scumbag. I am not using loose insulting language – I am using descriptive language.

    That Obama is a Marxist is shown by a life time of association and a lifetime of his own political actvities, the evidence is vast.

    And that Obama is a scumbag is shown by his decades of corrupt activity in the Daley Machine (see Michelle Malkin’s “Culture of Corruption”) activity that left honest Marxists (and there are some) wanting to throw up.

    Most people do not want a Marxist and a scumbag to be President of the United States. Therefore the task is to bring the evidence to them that Mr Obama is a Marxist and a scumbag – and Barack Obama helps in that effort every day.

    For example, this week he is off to Denmark to lobbey for the 2016 games to be held in Chicago.

    Chicago is bankrupt and the Games normallly make a loss – so why is Obama doing this?

    Simple enough – various people in the polical machine of Chicago will personally financally benefit from the Games (even though the taxpayers of Chicago will be hit yet again) and one of these people is Valerie Jaret (spelling alert) who has worked with Barack and Michelle Obama from the start and is one of their top people (selecting Van Jones and the other Commissars).

    In short the people sitting at home thinking “why are Barack and Michelle Obama off to Denmark to lobby for the Games when there are all these important matters at home, and vital choices about war in Afghanistan is being left on hold, IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE” can be told the following.

    “It does make sense – just as soon as you understand that Barack and Michelle Obama are corrupt scumbags, and they want the Games in Chicago as a reward for some other corrupt people who have helped them, here are those people and here is the evidence”.

  • Kim du Toit

    Silly rabbits: if he’s a Republican — especially a Republican who dares whisper bad things about The One — then he’s a racist, by (leftist) definition.

  • Kim du Toit

    White Republican man = racist.


  • bgates

    The only good thing about obama is that he’s black.

    Would it be better if he were Hispanic, or worse?

  • vimothy

    So, what you’re saying is that Larry Summers is a marxist? No doubt Rahm Emmanuel is member of Hizballah, too.

  • No, Rahm Emanuel is just a useful idiot. Why do you ask?

  • vimothy

    A useful idiot for whom–the marxists or the Islamists? Is Summers a useful idiot as well?

  • The former. I don’t know enough about Summers to comment, but feel free to think for yourself. My question remains open though.

  • vimothy

    The answer to your question is obvious, as is my opinion of Summers. Only someone totally unfamiliar with the man’s work or biography could call him a Marxist, yet if the POTUS is a Marxist, what does that make his most influential economic advisor?

  • vimothy

    Paul Marx–are you aware that you sound like a crazy person?

    Samizdata, I could ask you the same question. I remember the liberal left turning into total moonbats when Bush was elected. Plus ca change, eh. It is quite sad though.

  • No, not obvious at all, neither is your opinion of Summers. And were Obama and Summers not separated at birth? No one here called Summers a Marxist, so my question remains.

  • vimothy

    If Obama is a Marxist, then his economic team must also be Marxists. This follows directly. However, they are not Marxists. Anyone who thinks that they are (Glenn Beck, other reality-phobic presenters on Fox News, e.g.), need only read their work to discover the truth. Not only are the economists working for Obama not Marxists, the policies they have enacted under Obama are consistent with their academic work (Bernanke, Romer, e.g.).

  • vimothy

    Alisa, I would reply but Samizdata won’t let me.

  • vimothy

    It’s probably a conspriacy!

    Maybe if I say it in few words: if Obama is a Marxist then his economic team must be Marxists as well.

  • Well, someone else will have to clean up all that straw then.

  • Paul Marx–are you aware that you sound like a crazy person?

    Paul Marks makes an argument. You’re just making a farting sound and so can be safely ignored.

  • cjf

    Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Republicanism, Democratism, Capitalism,..etcetera, aside, behind the curtain is Opportunism.

    I don’t seem to recall the verse of Kipling maybe “Arithmetic on the Frontier” (?):
    “The odds are on the cheaper man”

    Hindsight being better than foresight, the backward man may do well.

    All ideals seem nice; until put into the less than ideal
    container of human nature.

    Anyone know why the “left-wing” happy fest of G20 in Pittsburg had “left-wing” protesters ?

    Obama’s murderous economic (and other policies) aside he does have the inflammatory rhetoric down pat. But, time and place aside, why is his delivery like a white, preppy college snot ? To curry favor of blacks?

  • Vimothy, you are being much more clear now, and so I can now reply by saying that your assertion is absolutely baseless. There are great many reasons why a POTUS or any other head of state who privately subscribes to a certain ideology wouldn’t necessarily appoint people who subscribe to the same ideology. If this is not obvious, I am ready to elaborate and will begin by saying that Marxism does not concern itself exclusively with economics (in other words, it is an ideology, not merely an economic theory). This should cover your particular point of an ‘economic team’.

  • Maybe if I say it in few words: if Obama is a Marxist then his economic team must be Marxists as well.

    You fail to understand that the key to achieving political aims is to work with people who will help you achieve those aims, regardless of the details of their ideology (a point all too few libertarians/classical liberals seem to grasp).

    If you are a Marxist who wishes to increase the control of state over society, then you work with people who also wish to see that happen, regardless of whether or not they are ideologically pure or wish to go as far as you do.

    Generally, not always, but generally, you can tell where a persons meta-contextual underpinning come from by looking at who they chose as friends. Was Williams was an exception? Well I have an unreformed communist as a chum in Croatia based on some personal favours that were done, but if you look at the vast majority of my politically/philosophically aware chums, it is not hard to guess where I am coming from.

    Just look at the people in Obama’s past and even without looking at his actual policies, a little abductive reasoning gets you pretty close to a compelling hypothesis of what underpins his world view… then examine his actions in that light and the theory “Obama is a marxist” is quite a supportable one.

  • vimothy

    You’re just making a farting sound and so can be safely ignored.

    When in Rome, eh, UKIP, ahem, sorry, “Albion”…? (And I thought that Paul was making an assertion rather than an argument, but perhaps its subtly eluded me).

    Alisa: my assertion is hardly baseless. If Obama is a Marxist, why is his administration filled with necons and neoliberals? (And, wubble, why do socialists hate him?) To get him into power, right, and then he gives a haughty laugh as he plunges America headfirst into the Islamosocialist abyss…

  • vimothy

    Perry: what has happened here? I know that you are not responsible for the comments but this is full-blown paranoia of the most ludicrous, Bushitler stripe.

  • If Obama is a Marxist, why is his administration filled with necons and neoliberals?

    Perry has answered that quite well. These people are useful, either through being idiots, or through sharing some of Obama’s objectives, or both. But if you insist that Obama is not a Marxist, contrary to all evidence connected directly with him (as opposed to evidence connected with people he happened to appoint to various posts, not to mention actual Marxists/communists he did appoint to some other posts), then feel free to stick to that opinion.

  • vimothy

    The comments section is very frustrating. I have a 300 word response, which does not seem excessive, yet I cannot even post it as individual paragraphs; the damn site seems to want single sentences. This is very frustrating. I have no links in the text. I am not a troll. I am just trying to have a conversation. You may find that tinkering with your smitebot helps that along. Just a suggestion.

  • vimothy

    Alisa: I don’t think he did. The Samizdata smitebot keeps eating my response but hopefully someone will clear it or tell me how you make posts over a few words stick to the wall.

    Let me make an observation. No one has presented any evidence that Obama is a Marxist in this thread, other than the fact that some singer or Film Actors Guild member thinks that he is.

    I know lots of socialists, anarchists and hard leftists. None of them are happy with what Obama has done whilst in power. I know plenty of centre leftists and there are plenty of them who ain’t happy either.

    The logic you are applying here is totally flawed, and is the kind of thinking that you should generally avoid, viz, I have friends who are libertarians, and I am a libertarians; Obama has friernds who are Marxists, therefore he must be a Marxist.

  • vimothy

    the key to achieving political aims is to work with people who will help you achieve those aims, regardless of the details of their ideology

    Let’s slow down. Obama’s ideology, we infer (for reasons that I think are logically flawed, but let’s leave that to one side for now), is Marxist. His economic team’s ideology, we know, because we read their research, is neoliberal. Obama (the possible but disavowed Marxist) works with avowed neoliberals to further the goals of his ideology. His economic team, presumably, operate according to the same calculus—yes?—furthering their own distinctly non-socialist goals. (A world of delicious possibilities opens up here: is Austan Goolsbee more occluded than Glenn Beck? It seems incredible, but is certainly one possible implication of the argument advanced here).

    So why should we give more weight to the potential for Marxist policies than neoliberal ones? Here I think that you should be specific, Perry, and actually state those policies that you think are socialist. I will be interested to see if there are any that are not economic or, if they are, not policies that Republicans would have enacted in their turn (bank bailout, e.g.).

    Finally, I think that using the political leanings of one’s friends as an objective measure of political affiliation is not creditable. I personally know numerous wacky, anti-science, anti-trade, reality-phobic leftists. We have arguments all the time. Hence my nickname: vimothy right-wing mcveigh. Does that make me a socialist? I rather think not. Perhaps in the same way that you know Obama’s ideology better than his supporters (let me tell you, the wacky leftists are not very happy with Obama, whom they consider to be a neocon–isn’t that strangely symmetrical?), you know mine better than I do? As for the past, well, I mean, Hitchens, Horrowitz, Kouchner, Fischer, etcetera, etcetera…

  • Vimothy, there are many here that regularly post very long comments, and they show up just fine, and not all are necessarily Samizdata-friendly, so to speak. Personally though, I say whatever that bot is doing, let it keep doing it. If you want me to read a 300 word essay (essay not being part of a conversation), maybe you should get your own blog.

  • vimothy

    Obama is a socialist in the same way that Bush was a fascist, i.e. not at all. Can you point to any specific policies that are socialist?

  • vimothy

    It is far from being an essay–anyway, Perry’s comment was over 200 words long and it was actually addressed to him.

  • Obama is not a socialist, he is a Marxist. For evidence read his biographies, paying particular attention to his upbringing, and to people with whom he has been closely associated throughout his adult life.

    You are right, 300 words is actually much less than what it sounds. I am a translator, so for me 300 words means at least an hours’ work…

    Anyway Vimothy, you have been given all the preliminary info you might need. You can go read up, or keep sticking your head in the sand. Be good.

  • Relugus

    *deleted* This topic is not about George Bush.

  • Relugus

    Bush’s welfare programmes in action:

    *deleted* stay on topic or go away.

  • Paul

    Wow, this from the mouth of a white, senile, bigoted, washed up singer (Andy Williams). Due to their lack of leadership, ideas and vision of where our country needs to go the Republican Party is show casing the only thing they have to offer, the scraping of the bottom of their intellectual barrel.

  • Laird

    Let’s start with some definitions (these are from The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics):

    Socialism is “a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production.”

    Fascism is “socialism with a capitalist veneer. . . . Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the ‘national interest’—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. ”

    So, where does that put Obama? He has eviscerated the bankruptcy laws and taken control of General Motors (giving substantial ownership to his friends at the UAW, at the expense of bondholders) and appointing his own “czar” to run it; he is pulling out all the stops to complete the governmental takeover of all aspects of the health care industry; he used “bail-out” money (in some cases forced upon unwilling recipients) as a trojan horse to gain control of the banking industry, as is now apparent from increasingly restrictive regulations and the brazen attempt to control executives’ pay; the US mortgage industry is almost completely nationalized through its 90%+ domination by federally-owned Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the irrational FHA and VA loan programs (OK, Fan & Fred were nationalized during the Bush administration, so Obama can’t be charged with that one, but he certainly supported the takeover and clearly has done nothing to reverse it); there is a current proposal for the federal government to completely take over the student loan industry, eliminating even the vestigial private component; just today his EPA Administrator announced that the agency is proposing sweeping new regulations to limit “greenhouse gas” emissions from large plants even in the absense of any legislative authority to do so (I guess Obama just got tired of waiting for Congress to act on “Global Warming” so he decided to wave his royal scepter and make it happen on his own accord); need I go on?

    Few of these actions constitute actual governmental ownership of the industry involved; most merely amount to absolute and total governmental domination of the industry while ownership is nominally left in private hands. So after reviewing that litany of sins, I guess vimothy is correct: Obama is not a socialist (at least, not by the evidence of his actions to date). He is an outright fascist, in the literal sense of the word.

    But George Bush a fascist? Not even close. That’s a charge levelled only by the ignorant and the dishonest.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I don’t think there’s anything especially socialist or communist about either Obama or his associates (with a few exceptions). What there is is a bunch of corrupt pols who want to expand government so they’ll have more opportunity for corruption. Nattering on about ‘isms’ just obscures this fact.

  • His economic team’s ideology, we know, because we read their research, is neoliberal.

    “neo-liberal” means a “classical liberal”: a limited government supporter of capitalist market economics … i.e. the opposite of how “liberal” is used in the USA.

    So who exactly in Obama’s administration are arguing for “neo-liberal” policies of sound money, several property rights, denationalisation, sweeping deregulation and a smaller state?

    And if a comment get nabbed by the smitebot, wait for it to get moderated, do not keep posting variations on a theme or it appears you trying to figure out how it works and you get black listed like all the bots that probe us daily… and moreover the moderation probably just deletes all but one, usually the last, unread (or maybe all) because life is too short.

  • Paul Marks

    Vimothy – when did I mention Larry S. or Rohm E.?

    I was talking about Barack Obama.

    “But if a man has non Marxist associates he can not be a Marxist”.

    O.K. so let us take a man whose kin include me (an anti Marxist) my late father Harry Marks (an anti Marxist) and who worked with Denis O’Keefe (one of the leading anti Marxist sociologists in Britain) for 20 years.

    Clearly such a man could NOT be a Marxist – accept he was, he was (or is – if he is still alive) my half brother Tony Marks.

    My father was not always an anti Marxist either – he was once a leading member of the Communist Party in the East End of London.

    I also know the signs of when someone stops being a Marxist – because people did change sides during the Cold War (honestly change sings). And you know vimothy – Barack Obama shows NONE of those signs (none of them at all).

    You see a “crazy person” talks of stuff they know nothing about – someone like you vimothy.

    Someone like Glenn Beck I will accept – he has no personal experience of this world (the world I have lived in all my life – the struggle between Marxists and anti Marxists) but at least he bothers to read what Obama has said over the years and who he has associated with.

    Right from Frank Marshall Davis onwards (and of course the mother and the three hours of political education per day before Barack was even old enough to go to school).

    I might grit my teeth when Glenn Beck talks about “social justice” as the main Marxist doctrine (actually classical “scientific” Marxists rejected “social justice” as they rejected all “non-scientifc” ethical concepts – it only came back into favour with Marxists in recent decades) but at least Beck TRIES to be correct.

    You do not bother vimothy – you are just concerned with defending the Marxist scumbag Barack Obama and you do not care what you have to say to do so.

    So perhaps it is not correct to call you “crazy” vimothy (or whatever your real name is)…

    By the way – say you were correct and Barack Obama was NOT a Marxist.

    Why is it a good thing to have a corrupt Chicago Machine scumbag as President of the United States?

    Or are you going to pretend that Barack Obama and Michelle Obama do not have a record of decades of being corrupt Chicago Machine scumbags?

    Or that they are carrying on with their corrupt scumbag activity right now – in Denmark.

    Although Barack Obama may throw Valerie Jarrett (“who has been like a sister to me”) under the bus now she has been exposed.

    After all the Rev. “Audacity of Hope” Wright got thrown under the bus when his “Liberation Theology” got exposed (the theology Barack had not noticed in his 20 years going to the church under the man who was “like a father to me”).

    Van Jones got thrown under the bus as well – although he just went back to the nice job at the Apollo Alliance (the people who wrote the almost 800 billion Dollar corrupt “stimulus” Bill) you know the Jeff Jones outfit (doubtless Jeff Jones is not a Marxist either – the Weather Underground of Jeff Jones and William Ayers were fluffy really).

    I wonder when you will get thrown under a bus vimothy.

    After all you are a lot less important than any of the people mentioned above – and Barack Obama would sacrifice any of them in a heartbeat.

    My guess is that he would even sacrifice Michelle if she became a real problem (anything but go down himself).

    “I love this women with all my heart, and she is the mother of our beloved children – I had no idea whatever that she was involved in these things, I feel as if my heart has been cut out of chest and I ask all Americans for your support in my time of pain”.

    Do you think the high ups really care about you vimothy?

    I doubt it – I think if you proved a problem (or if they wanted to distract attention from someone more important) they would throw anyone to the wolves.

    “We are shocked, SHOCKED, by this corruption – we had no knowledge of it, it was all the junior people,very junior people like….”

    And then they would use your real name.

  • Paul

    Wow, this from the mouth of a white, senile, bigoted, washed up singer (Andy Williams). Due to their lack of leadership, ideas and vision of where our country needs to go the Republican Party is show casing the only thing they have to offer, the scraping of the bottom of their intellectual barrel.

  • Maz

    Paul – you’ve rather given yourself away by suggesting that one of the reasons to disregard Williams’ comments is that he’s white. And last time I looked, the Radio Times wasn’t a Republican party show-case.

    Incidentally, this might be of interest…


  • vimothy

    Samizdata Illuminatus: Who are Obama’s neoliberals? (Incidentally , I don’t agree with you that it necessarily has anything to do with “sound money”. You may be confusing neoliberalism with so-called “supply side economics”). His economic team, as I’ve said. Summers, Geithner, etc. I think that you’d struggle to name economists who aren’t neoliberals. Rodrik? Stiglitz (borderline)? Wolff is an honest to God socialist. I think that’s it…

    Laird: Obama is not a fascist either. The logic of the bail-outs is straightforward. You may disagree with that logic, but it is quite clearly addressed at stemming the fall in aggregate demand and stabilising the financial sector. I think that it could have been done better. I favour, per Sumner and Svensson, a forward leaning monetary policy that explicitly targets expectations, and believe that monetary policy in Q3 & Q4 2008 was contractionary across the developed world. Had this not been the case, I do not think that we would have needed the same level of fiscal expansion, since by now banks (and non-banks) are clearly being hurt as much from the negative feedback from the crisis (i.e. the recession) as the crisis itself.

    Furthermore, there is a certain amount of academic work that these policies build on. Obviously, there are a lot more academic papers on monetary than on fiscal policy (Christie Romer is a notable exception). But everyone can see that there is a problem at the “zero bound” — hence the name — even while we might disagree over the efficacy of (unconventional) monetary versus fiscal policy at this limit.

  • Summers, Geithner, etc. I think that you’d struggle to name economists who aren’t neoliberals.

    I think you clearly do not understand classical liberalism then, not even slightly (and neoliberal is a redundant term frankly unless you mean something completely different by it). Unless you explain what you actually do mean, your comments are not really going to add much.

    If you support a massive regulatory regime of state controls, you ain’t a classical liberal. And if you support profligate debasement of the currency, again you ain’t a classical liberal because you think the medium of exchange is a political tool. Classical liberalism is not a single ‘ideology’ but it is pretty much defined by the notion that the state must allow market mechanisms to work, rather than replacing them with politically directed regulatory mechanisms (i.e. as a general rule, no regulation is better that this or that regulation)… unless an economists agrees with that, the details of their views hardly matter if you are trying to figure out if they are classical liberals (or “neoliberals” if you prefer).

    And as for the term ‘fascist’… the economics (as opposed to the politics or even ideology) of fascism are based upon the nominal private ownership of the means of production (as opposed to direct state ownership in a overt socialist system) but in a way that decouples ownership and liability from control… in other words you may ‘own’ the means of production, just as long as you use them in accordance with national political directives. Also you may be liable for things you have no control over (and in that sense at least the US legal approach to a great many things rings several alarm bells).

    The Soviet Union had “design bureaus” such as Yakovlev, which were certainly not “companies” in any real sence… Nazi Germany had actual companies like Heinkel… but clearly Heinkel could only operate within a narrow regulatory framework and various political demands (although from a managerial point of view, the German approach was manifestly more capable of generating innovation).

    Now sensibly, not all state regulation of the economy should be called ‘fascist’ as magnitude and scope do matter. However when the regulatory regime of rules and directives becomes dense, pervasive and often mutually contradictory, and it is more or less impossible to do anything without finding your actions circumscribed by a thicket of state imposed rules, then you are in an economic system that can quite reasonably be described as ‘fascistic’.

    In fact all the overt/self described fascist economic systems (such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Romania etc.) have been a mixture of nominally ‘private’ businesses and socialist style nationalised ‘businesses’ (usually on the grounds they are ‘strategic’ or just on the basis that fascist ideologies have tended to be somewhat less internally coherent ideologically than self-described socialist ones).

  • vimothy

    you clearly do not understand classical liberalism… not even slightly

    Perhaps, perhaps. I did at one time think that I was a classical liberal myself, but maybe I am actually a fascist. When I say “neoliberalism”, I am thinking of the Washington Consensus, which both Summers and Geithner strongly supported in their times at the WB and IMF respectively. Summers has also been cutting taxes and deregulating for his entire political career (his academic work is similarly disposed). I would have thought that this is common knowledge, but even a cursory google would familiarise you with their biographies.

    As for your aside on fascism… I’m not sure what to make of it. Is it also your contention that the US economy is fascist? Fascistic?

    One should note that all interventions into the US economy by the Obama administration have been responses to the crisis. They followed similar responses from the Bush admin. Had McCain been elected, his responses would also have been similar (though of course the exact ratio of stimulus tax cuts to spending would have differed). These interventions are clearly driven by a desire to support the fragile financial sector and boost aggregate demand, not by any a priori desire for the government to control the economy. Persistent drops in nominal GDP would be a disaster that no amount of appeals to classical liberalism can prevent.

    Finally, I have never argued for “profligate debasement of the currency”. I am not sure why you have brought this up. I favour floating exchange rates. Perhaps you think that classical liberalism is synonymous with the gold standard, but I fear that you will remain obscure if this really is so. Fixed exchange rates transmit shocks very quickly. This is surely one of the lessons of the Great Depression. Strategic currency devaluation & inflation (particularly inflation expectations) boosts aggregate demand, reduces the real interest rate, reduces (there are caveats, obviously) real sovereign debt, rebalances deficits, and so on. This is surely another lesson of the Great Depression. Indeed, this is one of the reasons we have a monetary policy.

    Or, wait, I’m getting confused – Is Milton Friedman a Marxist too?

  • Laird

    vimothy, in your haste to deny that Obama is a fascist (or is acting like one, in any event) , you simply ignored my litany of governmental takeovers (de facto and de jure) of the private sector. Whatever the merits of “bailouts” and “stimulus” plans (this isn’t the place for that debate), those are simply cash injections and could have been accomplished without the government seizing effective control of the industry involved. With every nook and cranny of the Obama administration desperately scrambling to increase the span and scope of its control over the private sector, you’ll need to provide more than your bare, unsupported assertion to prove that Obama is not a fascist.

    “Is it also your contention that the US economy is fascist? Fascistic?”

    I think the evidence strongly suggests that it is fast becoming precisely that.

  • Summers has also been cutting taxes and deregulating for his entire political career (his academic work is similarly disposed). I would have thought that this is common knowledge, but even a cursory google would familiarise you with their biographies.

    No need to google on my part, really, 🙂 But unless he is working with Obama to be deregulating and cutting taxes right now, he ain’t a “classical liberal”.

    As for your aside on fascism… I’m not sure what to make of it. Is it also your contention that the US economy is fascist? Fascistic?

    Increasingly so, yes. Most western economies are heading that way and have been for a while now, with pervasive political control of the economy via-regulation rather than direct nationalisation. The extent to which the control is pervasive… i.e. total… as in totalitarian… is the extent to which it moves into following a fascist economic model.

    But rather than burden this comment unduly, for my views on what Guy Herbert calls ‘soft fascism’, take a look here and here.

    One should note that all interventions into the US economy by the Obama administration have been responses to the crisis.

    Not so simple, but…

    They followed similar responses from the Bush admin. Had McCain been elected, his responses would also have been similar (though of course the exact ratio of stimulus tax cuts to spending would have differed)

    I agree completely.

    In all the ways that really matter, McCain differs from Obama only in the magnitude of rate of overall increase in state power and intervention, not aggregate policy direction, in oh so many ways. I have been saying this since before the election as well as after.

    These interventions are clearly driven by a desire to support the fragile financial sector and boost aggregate demand, not by any a priori desire for the government to control the economy.

    Now there I think you are demonstrably wrong. Demonstrably because Obama (and McCain for that matter and Bush before him) have been saying exactly how they intended to regulate this or that for years, so it is hard to see how you can argue they intended to do anything other than what they said. The desire for a more powerful state under their administration is very much an a priori objective (in truth I would argue it is the central objective, with everything else as mere detail).

    Nothing Obama is doing should come as any surprise to anyone who has been listening to what he has always said he would do. He is just the latest iteration of the well known political machine he came from.

    The current economic crisis was a direct consequence of a politically driven (and indeed mandated) credit bubble, married to massive pervasive and systemic moral hazard caused by decoupling risk from penalty (if you are deemed “too big to fail” then what possible reason do you have to not take risks that can lead to failure, given that failure will not be politically permitted?)… and so when you say:

    These interventions are clearly driven by a desire to support the fragile financial sector and boost aggregate demand, not by any a priori desire for the government to control the economy.

    O rly?

    “The desire to support the fragile financial sector” (i.e. reinforcing the moral hazard by funding risk with other people’s tax money) and “boost aggregate demand” (i.e. re-inflating the credit bubble) means doing more of what caused the crisis in the first place.

    This is not crisis-driven behaviour, it is the same pre-crisis modus operandi, just on an even more epic scale. We are exactly where these policies were bound to end up (and as only the Austrian School predicted).

  • vimothy

    Laird: There seem to be two arguments here.

    1, that Obama is friends with Marxists, that people normally make friends along the lines of political affiliation, and that therefore Obama is a Marxist.

    2, that the bailouts are ipso facto evidence that Obama’s administration is fascist.

    The first is clearly incorrect, a kind of logical fallacy.

    The second I actually have addressed. But let me underline it for you. The responses to the crisis are exactly that: responses to the crisis. They are not driven by ideology (once again, if you think that Larry Summers is a Marxist, you have not been paying attention). They are driven by the desire to shore up a disintegrating financial sector and a desire to boost aggregate demand. The logic is simple. Without financial intermediation, firms will not be able to fund capital investment, and the economy will continue to contract. If nominal GDP continues to fall, the economy will enter a deflationary spiral. This is the subject of (what I would have thought of as) widespread consensus. Once again I have to ask—was Milton Friedman a Marxist? A fascist?

    Are these policies optimal? Unlikely. Are they ever optimal? I doubt it. Is the outcome better than if we had said “sod it” and let banks and non-banks fail in droves, a la National Bank Act era USA? Obviously yes.

    As I’ve said, I view monetary policy in Q3 & Q4 2008 as being highly contractionary across the board in all developed countries (off the top of my head, anyway–perhaps I’m overlooking someone/where). Had central banks addressed themselves to the signals rather than worrying excessively and (as we now know) unnecessarily over inflation, I think that, despite all the problems in the financial sector, the crisis would have bottomed out into a more typical recession, rather than the massive drop that we experienced. So think of it as a failure of government policy, by all means.

    Now, the logic of the bailout of the financial sector is a thing in itself, and we can discuss it if you like, but it is certainly not ipso facto evidence that Obama is running a fascist economic policy—merely that his administration is responding to the crisis in whatever way it can.

  • Fascists and Marxists have often overlapped and indeed crossed over in both directions (Mussolini being the best known example). Hayek pointed out the socialist roots of fascism a long time ago. Indeed I have a communist chum (yes incredibly I do… long story) who still describes himself as a communist but now supports “social markets” and “worker’s council limited liability companies” as a way to get to the worker’s utopia.

    The notion that Marxist statists and Fascists statists are diametric opposites actually borders on comical (that is not a dig at you, vimothy, but rather at the accepted political cannon that prevails in much of the world despite all the evidence to the contrary).

  • vimothy

    I think that this idea of deregulation and tax cuts as an end rather than a means is a caricature of classical liberalism that will serve no one well, least of all classical liberals. The idea that policy should not respond to the environment is madness. Just cut taxes and deregulate away and all will be fine. Except taxes were cut and the financial sector deregulated (Larry Summers, take a bow). The result was booming deficits, a financial crisis of a scale not seen in over seventy years and a recession that, certainly until the (fascist) bailouts and economic stimulus, was tracking or exceeding the Great Depression on all relevant indicators.

    No one is going to listen to the supply-side faith based economics that says nothing other than “taxes and regulation: bad”. We are going to have to get a lot smarter or get used to being completely ignored. In any case, institutions matter. For instance, the Fed is a clear improvement over the National Banking Act, if we are interested in reducing aggregate volatility and preventing banking failure. Should we do away with central banks because that’s the classical liberal thing to do? Is it even the classical liberal thing to do? I doubt it.

    The actual issues surrounding regulation of the financial sector are complex—regrettably so, but they need to be addressed. We have experienced National Bank era runs in the wholesale credit markets. This must be prevented in the future. It’s not a question of deregulation being the classical liberal thing to do, and so therefore we shouldn’t try to regulate the shadow banking system. It’s a question of wanting to avoid systemic collapse. Capitalism will benefit from efforts that address this source of fragility.

    I mean, let me give you a specific example. The 1997 Market Risk Amendment gives banks the ability to calculate their risk based capital ratios based on their VaR models if they hold assets in their trading account rather than on their banking book. As you can imagine, this creates significant opportunities for regulatory capital arbitrage, to say nothing of providing an excellent transmission mechanism for panic and wealth destruction during the deleveraging process. Is this an issue for classical liberalism? Is it fascist to want to examine these issues and prevent banks from reducing their risk based capital ratios in this manner, given the costs?

  • vimothy

    Should have added the following:

    “As you can imagine, this creates significant opportunities for regulatory capital arbitrage, to say nothing of providing an excellent transmission mechanism for panic and wealth destruction during the deleveraging process, since assets held in the trading account are subject to fair value accounting rules.”

  • vimothy

    Perry: a few things before I punch out for the day.

    I agree with you that fascism and socialism are a lot closer than is generally accepted. They are both anti-liberal “movements of a new type”. However, I generally try to steer clear of this debate because it seems like it inevitably leads to partisanship and preaching to the choir.

    I do not think that your use of the term fascism is analytically useful for two reasons. Firstly, because if our definition of fascism is so broad that it could reasonably include almost all governments, there is no basis for differentiation. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it makes your position totally transparent and thus all the easier to dismiss: “Yeah, but those libertarians think any government involvement is fascism, so who cares?”

    Finally, I just wanted to note that it is definitely not the case that only Austrian School economists predicted the crisis. I could list maybe twenty economists that did and of that group only William White and perhaps Doug Noland could be described as Austrian. The two most famous economists—Nouriel Roubini and Robert Schiller—are mainstream neoclassical economists, although possibly mavericks. The list is really mostly populated by post Keynesians like Michael Hudson or Wynne Godley. Godley’s stock flow consistent macroeconomic models, incidentally, have to my mind been totally vindicated by the crisis. He has been correct to an eerie degree.

  • I think that this idea of deregulation and tax cuts as an end rather than a means is a caricature of classical liberalism that will serve no one well, least of all classical liberals.

    As I said earlier, classical liberalism is not a single unified set of values. Classical liberals fall into two broad categories:
    1. small state consequentialist classical liberals (who do not see deregulation and tax cuts as an end in and off themselves but rather the means to an end, the end generally being more wealth (always) and more liberty (usually)
    2. moral classical liberals (which tend bleed into ‘non-anarchist-libertarians’), who usually accept the consequentialist technical position but see a smaller state as mostly as a moral imperative and thus less tax and regulation is indeed a end in and of itself.

    The two groups also overlap (Milton Friedman started as the first and moved slowly into the second group as he grew older).

    The idea that policy should not respond to the environment is madness.

    If you take the view that state action is intrinsically linked to economic problems in the first place, it is hardly madness to want less, rather than just different, state action. For example the reason I rarely discuss the policies of the Fed is that I think national central banks are huge part of the systemic problem… thus I am not that interested in the current antics of this or that chairman when the only useful argument for me is the one about the existence of the Fed.

    Just cut taxes and deregulate away and all will be fine.

    I take it you have not read much Austrian economics then. No, things will not be fine, because markets solutions are not about things always being fine, they are about adapting to a dynamic world better than most politically driven methods.

  • Bod

    To embellish Perry’s point, just as many libertarians (if not most) believe that just as mankind is not perfectable, most of them also recognize that markets are not perfect, and never will be.

    Schumpeter’s concept of Creative Destruction is a feature and not a bug of free market economics, ensuring that ‘commercially unfit’ industries and companies disappear, their resources (particularly personnel) are released for society to re-use in an efficient and timely manner, despite the obvious discomfiture this causes for the individuals concerned at the time.

    When command economies create firms and industries that are “too big to fail”, all they are doing is tying up resources (most especially humans) in entities which are “too big to fail right now”. The distortions created by such behavior means that the resulting recoil which inevitably occurs when the firm or industry is no longer supported by the state, is of such magnitude and intensity that society’s ability to absorb the impact is greatly diminished.

    Inevitably, when whole industries fail, the event precipitates a systemic rout which have the potential to destabilize adjoining sectors. And such failures in whole industries would, I propose, only occur in command economies, because if the component firms within that industry are not being allowed to die off one-by-one, that’s sending a message to society.

    Even the U.S. canal network didn’t die overnight, and when it went dark, it went dark progressively, as the owners made rational decisions about the profitability of each route. Contrast that with Amtrak which could easily go dark overnight if Federal support is one day removed.

    Getting into why heavy-handed command economies actively encourage and support firms that become ‘too big to fail’ is another subject entirely, and OT here, but there’s plenty of reasons available to demonstrate why this is so.

    Until last summer, I’d propose that almost nobody would have challenged the assumption that Lehman Bros was indeed “too big to fail”. But here we are. I’m confident that within 24 months, GM and Chrysler will also become ‘not too big to fail’. And they won’t be alone.

  • Paul Marks

    On the economic crises:

    For an Austrian School account – see Thomas Woods “Meltdown” – how government intervention caused it and further government intervention will make it worse (over time).

    “But I am not an Austrian School person – I am a follower of Milton Friedman”.

    O.K. read the account of Thomas Sowell (long time friend and follower of Milton Friedman) – his “Housing: Boom and Bust” also takes the position that the present crises was caused by government intervention and further government intervention (however much it boasts the stock market and the housing market in the short term) will make things WORSE over the next few years.

    Marxism and Keynesianism.

    Actually Vimothy is CORRECT – Karl Marx himself would have opposed Keynesianism.

    However, Vimothy is sadly out of date – Maurice Dobb and Pierro Straffa combined Marxism and Keynesianism some 60 years ago now.

    So it is fine for Barack Obama to cooperate with nonMarxist Keynesians – this has been approved in Marxist circles for many decades (although I still think it would have drived Karl Marx himself into a rage).

    Barack Obama himself.

    Parents both involved in pro Soviet activity.

    No they did NOT meet at the Selma bridge protest (as Barack Obama repeatedly claimed) – they met at their Russian language class.

    “But Barack could have reacted against his parents ideas” – true, but there is no sign he did.

    Three hours of political education a day from his Mother (even before young Barry was old enough to go to school).

    After his mother died there was Frank Marshall Davis (one of the first Marxists to try and combine Marxism with “social justice” – Glenn Beck please note this was regarded as deeply unsound in Marxist circles when Davis first did it back in the 1930’s).

    Then there was the time at Occedental – then Columbia (many Marxist conferences attended – not part of his formal causes, he was a movement man).

    Then he was called to Chicago to take his place in Marxist dominated Foundations (groups they had taken over for the money – and to reach the people, William Ayers far from being the only Marxist).

    Then a period in Harvard Law (got in due to the influence of a pro terrorism academic “Islamic Socialist” – true Karl Marx would have despised that guy, but in Hyde Park Chicago all the leftist factions have got together) then back to Chicago to further his work as Community Organizer (i.e. agit prop man).

    Trainer for ACORN (Wade and Dale Rathke ring any bells?) and their lawyer.

    And, of course, the twenty years in a Marxist Liberation Theology “Church”.

    Active cooperation with some of the Marxist groups BUT NOT ALL OF THEM.

    There seems to have been a divide in Marxist circles in Chicago at that time over whether or not to join the corrupt Daley-Durbin machine.

    Obama very much in the “pro” Machine camp (and therefore an enemy of the anti Marchine Marxist faction) his marriage reflects his committment to the Machine (and to his own political future).

    The Machine of Mayor Daley Jr made a choice to cooperate with Marxists who would cooperate with it – not just Obama, but also William Ayers (teacher training) and so on.

    As for appointments.

    Van Jones certainly not an isolated case.

    For example Mark Lloyd – Diversity Commissar.

    A man with a fanatical hatred of free speech and a hero worship complex for Chevez.

    What was that vimothy?

    “I am sorry, Obama clearly is a Marxist”.

    Or are you too much of an arsehole to apologize?

    By the way sorry to hear about the loss in Denmark today – last place I believe.

    Valerie Jarrett and the rest of the corrupt scumbags are going to have to something else for money.

    You know perhaps they might even WORK for money.

  • vimothy

    Perry, I remain bemused at a definition of classical liberalism so reductive that it might admit Clinton or Bush while they deregulate or cut taxes but not Adam Smith when he advocates a public education system. I also find it hard to imagine a “moralist” case for minimal government / libertarianism that is not grounded in consequentialism. But I guess I am happy to remain ignorant of this particular bywater. And will you be moving to Somalia anytime soon?

    It is ironic that you simultaneously advocate Austrian capital theory and claim that the Fed is the source of all systemic risk. But I suspect that this has more to do with a desire not to think about any of the difficult questions than any deep engagement with Austrian macro. It is quite easy to demonstrate that the US financial system was a lot more volatile prior to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System, a counterfactual that should not exist were your position correct. It is also quite easy to demonstrate that increased financial liberalism and disintermediation is associated with increased volatility. Thus you appear to be arguing for both more financial crises and less crisis management. Perhaps it is a good thing that you have an absolutist philosophy of libertarianism to fall back on.

    Bod, your post is something of a non sequitur. (And weren’t we, at one point, arguing about whether or not Obama is a Marxist revolutionary)? No one here is arguing that markets don’t have utility. No one here is unfamiliar with Schumpeter, or with the concept of creative destruction. It is actually a point of fact that a very significant strand of libertarianism does indeed believe that markets are perfect. For instance, there is the modern Chicago / Freshwater School with its RBC and Walrasian auctioneers presiding over markets where prices continually adjust across an infinite horizon. There is the first theorem of welfare economics, which states that, as long as certain (actually, very severe) conditions are met, the allocation of goods by the market is Pareto optimal. There is the (much maligned but very useful) efficient market hypothesis. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Moreover, at no point, in your post do you even discuss what makes financial intermediaries systemically important or how this might impact the rest of us beyond a vague appeal to creative destruction. Nor do you address the inherent sources of instability within the financial system, for instance the inherent long vs. short maturity mismatch of banks that necessitates a lender of last resort.

    Don’t like the Fed? Suggest an alternative institutional arrangement. The rest is noise.

  • Perhaps it is a good thing that you have an absolutist philosophy of libertarianism to fall back on.

    Which is why I will not even bother replying to you as to say I am far from an absolutist ‘libertarian’ position would be a masterly understatement (assuming you even know what one would look like if you saw it, which I doubt), particular as you claim I say all sort of things I did not (hint: the Fed is a source of systemic risk, but it is far far far from the source of all)… ergo you ain’t worth debating.

  • wild bill

    The trouble with obama he thinks he is God. God knows he is God. enough said