Michael Engel: “Socialism for Smart Folks” | Connecting Point | Jan. 13, 2016


>>THERE IS NEW THINGS IN THE
TERM SOCIALISM, THAT’S DUE TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MAINLY
OF BERNIE SANDERS, A SELF PROCLAIMED DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST.
RECENTLY, WESTFIELD STATE POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR ERR
AT — EMERITUS, MICHAEL ENGEL,
TALKED ABOUT THE TERM, IN HIS BOOK, SOCIALISM FOR SMART FOLKS.
>>IT’S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I WROTE THE BOOK BECAUSE PARTLY
BECAUSE THE TEA PART RIGHT KEPT CALLING OBAMA A SOCIALIST.
I TAUGHT MARXISM AT WESTFIELD STATE AND BEEN INTERESTED IN A
LONG TIME. I THINK THE IMPULSE WAS THAT THE
WORD, SOCIALIST, WAS BEING MISUSED.
THERE IS NOT A SOCIALIST BONE IN OBAMA’S BODY.
SO, I FELT OK, I WANT TO — THIS STARTED AS A BLOG.
I WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK TRYING TO EXPLAIN WHAT AT LEAST WHAT I
THINK IT IS.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT
PROBLEM, IF YOU WILL, SOCIALISM HAS, MOST OF THESE SOCIALIST
STATES OF WHAT WE THINK OF OUR PLACES LIKE CUBA, NORTH KOREA,
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC, COMMUNIST, CHINA, AND ALBANIA, SO THERE ARE
NOT — THERE ARE NOT A LOT LEFT ANY MORE WITH THE DISSOLUTION OF
THE USSR. BUT, FOR THE MOST PART,
SOCIALISM HAS HAD REALLY BAD PRESS.
>>I ADDRESS THAT IN THE BOOK, I THINK.
>>YOU READ THE BOOK.>>I ADDRESS IT IN THE BOOK
SAYING SOCIALISTS CAN’T, YOU KNOW, YOU CANNOT SHUT STALIN TO
THE SIDE. YOU CANNOT SHOVE KIM, WHOEVER TO
THE SIDE. YOU CANNOT SHOVE ANY OF THESE
THINGS TO THE SIDE. WE HAVE TO ANSWER FOR IT, AND I
HAVE SOME EXPLANATIONS IN THE BOOK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WHY IT
TURNED OUT THE WAY THAT IT DID AS BEST I CAN.
BUT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT. SOCIALISM GOT A BAD NAME FROM A
LOT OF WRONG PEOPLE. MY FEELING IS, WELL, I WON’T GET
INTO THE EXPLANATION OF IT, BUT WE DO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT,
AND I DO IN THE BOOK.>>THE UNITED STATES HAS TO A
DEGREE, KIND OF A RIGHT WORD TILT, MORE THAN KIND OF,
RELATIONSHIP SINCE THE ELECTION OF RONALD REAGAN 35 YEARS AGO,
HARD TO BELIEVE. 35 YEARS AGO, 1980, AND EVEN
BILL CLINTON, AND BARACK OBAMA, PRETTY CONSERVATIVE GUYS, AND
THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE, SPINNING IN THEIR CHAIRS RIGHT
NOW, AND IF YOU COMPARE THEM TO THE EARLIER DEMOCRATS, OR TO
DEMOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY, THEY ARE NOT LIBERAL SOCIALISTS IN THE
WAY THAT WE USED THOSE WORDS TRADITIONALLY, AND THE WHOLE
IDEA OF SOCIAL WISDOM, REALLY, DID GET A REALLY BAD NAME, AND
SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO CONTROL
IT, THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO RUN IT, AND YOU WILL BE LIKE
CANADA, DOCTORS WILL TAKE OFF WHEN THEY MADE THE MONEY THEY
CAN MAKE AND BE IN FLORIDA. AND YOU SAY THAT THAT’S AGAIN,
ANOTHER PART OF THE MISUNDERSTANDING YOU THINK OF
WHAT SOCIALISM IS?>>THAT’S CORRECT, BUT I THINK
THE PENDULUM MIGHT GO SWINGING THE OTHER WAY.
LOOK AT THE CROWDS COMING OUT FOR BERNIE, AND WE HAVE TO
REMEMBER, THAT THE VERY PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE MORE RECEPTIVE TO
SOCIALISM DON’T VOTE. YOUNG PEOPLE, POOR PEOPLE.
THE VERY PEOPLE THAT MIGHT BENEFIT FROM THIS, DON’T HAVE A
VOICE OR EXPRESS THEMSELVES, SO THE RIGHT WARD TILT HAS A LOT TO
DO WITH WHO IS VOTING AND WHO IS NOT.
BUT, I THINK THAT BERNIE IS THE CROWDS HE’S BEEN RECEIVING,
PEOPLE ARE READY IS TO LISTEN TO THAT WORD, SOCIALISM.
>>AND WE SHOULD SAY THAT YOU ARE SUPPORTING BERNIE SANDERS,
IN HIS QUEST FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT, HE SAYS, I’M A DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST. YOU
SAY, THAT’S WHAT IT WOULD HAVE TO BE IN THIS COUNTRY WERE TO
ADOPT SOMETHING LIKE THAT. THERE HAS TO BE DEMOCRACY
INVOLVED. THERE HAS TO BE PUBLIC
INVESTMENT AT A HUGE LEVEL. FAR MORE THAN WE SEE PEOPLE
INVESTING IN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM NOW.
>>YOU ARE RAISING THE QUESTION OF, WHAT IS — TO MY MIND, THERE
IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIALISM, THAT ISN’T DEMOCRATIC, OR I WILL
PUT IT THIS WAY, IN THE AMERICAN CONTEXT, THE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT
HAS ALWAYS BEEN DEMOCRATIC. MY HEROES, EUGENE, THE MULTIPLE
TIME CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT, A MAGNIFICENT HUMAN BEING, AND A
SOCIALIST HERE IN AMERICA, HAS ALWAYS HAD DEMOCRACY AS ITS CORE
BELIEF.>>YOU TALK ABOUT HEROES, EUGENE
DIBBS, YOU IDENTIFY IN THE BOOK AND ALSO IN AN INTERVIEW I READ
WITH MASS LIVE AND THE REPUBLICAN, BERNIE SANDERS,
OBVIOUSLY, MICHAEL MOORE, THE FILM-MAKER, AND DR. MARTIN
LUTHER KING JR., AND I DON’T THINK MOST THINK OF HIM AS
POLITICS AND SUCH AND WHERE HE WAS GOING WHEN HE DIED.
>>HE WAS A REVOLUTIONARY. WHEN I TAUGHT ABOUT HIM IN MY
POLITICAL SCIENCE CLASS I SAID LOOK AT HIS LAST YEAR.
HE WAS TRYING TO BUILD A COALITION OF POOR PEOPLE,
MINORITIES, WORKING PEOPLE, UNIONS, THE PEACE MOVEMENT.
HE WAS, IN THAT SENSE, A SOCIAL REVOLUTIONARY, AND IMPLICITLY A
SOCIALIST, EVEN IF HE NEVER DEFINED HIMSELF THAT WAY.
>>LET’S HAVE YOU DEFINE BRIEFLY WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY
SOCIALISM. I AM SURE THAT PEOPLE WATCHING
ARE SAYING THE SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST, AND THAT’S
NOT WHAT AMERICANS OR WHAT MOST OF THE EUROPEANS POLITICIANS,
THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY MEAN WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT A DEMOCRATIC
SOCIALIST.>>WELL, IF YOU MEAN, DEFINING
SOCIALISM, I HAVE A LITTLE CHAPTER IN THE BOOK THAT POSES
THREE QUESTIONS. I WOULD DIFFERENTIATE SOCIALISM
FOR LIBERALISM AND CONSERVATISM. SOCIALISTS, BELIEVE THAT
CAPITALISM IS INHERENTLY UNFAIR. IT CAN’T BE MADE TOTALLY FAIR.
YOU CAN MODIFY THE INEQUITIES AS HILLARY CLINTON BUT IT IS A
METHOD OF EXTORTING WEALTH FROM THE BOTTOM AND MOVING IT TO THE
TOP. IF YOU DON’T AGREE WITH THAT,
YOU ARE NOT — THAT’S WHAT SOCIALISTS BELIEVE.
SECONDLY, A LOT OF WHAT BERNIE TALKS ABOUT, RIGHTS, A RIGHT TO
EDUCATION. A RIGHT TO HEALTH CARE.
A RIGHT TO DAYCARE, A RIGHT TO A JOB AND TO A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT,
LIBERALS DON’T TALK THAT WAY, CONSERVATIVES DON’T TALK THAT
WAY, AND SOCIALISTS DO TALK THAT WAY.
THEY TALK ABOUT A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE THOSE
THINGS HAPPEN, AND A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO PAY FOR MAKING
THOSE THINGS HAPPEN FOR EVERYBODY.
I THINK THAT THAT’S THE ESSENCE OF SOCIALISTS, AND OF COURSE,
THE DEMOCRATIC PART MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN THAT.
WE DON’T JUST SIT BACK AND COLLECT CHECKS.
WE HAVE TO BE INVOLVED DIRECTLY IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING THIS
HAPPEN.>>MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE IN
ACADEMIA, YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE POLITICAL SYSTEM.
YOU RAN AS AN INDEPENDENT, JUST WHAT, FIVE YEARS AGO, 2010, THE
OLD FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, WHEN IT WAS JOHN, AND
THERE WAS A VERY CONSERVATIVE TEA PARTY REPUBLICAN IN THAT
RACE. WE DID A DEBATE RIGHT HERE IN
THIS STUDIO WITH THE THREE OF YOU, AND IT WAS FASCINATING.
FROM SEEING HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS FROM THE INSIDE, IN THAT
EXPERIENCE, WILL AMERICANS — WE HAVE TERRIBLE VOTING HISTORY IN
THIS COUNTRY. 50% OF THE PEOPLE VOTE IN AN
ELECTION, IN THE NATIONAL ELECTION, AND WE THINK THAT
THAT’S PRETTY GOOD. WE’RE ABOUT TO — WE’RE TAPING
THIS ON ELECTION DAY, AND A LOT OF CITIES ARE EXPECTING 15, 17
YOU, 20% WHO KNOWS, WILL AMERICANS BUY IN BECAUSE YOU
HAVE TO IF YOU HAVE A SOCIALIST SYSTEM.
YOU HAVE GOT TO GET INVOLVED AND BE PART OF IT.
>>THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE PART OF A REEDUCATION PROCESS, AND IN MY
BOOK, I DO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE EDUCATION SYSTEM, IS I SAY,
PEOPLE LIKE JOHN DEWY, A SOCIAL I WAS, AND PROGRESSIVE EDUCATORS
WHO TALKED ABOUT EDUCATING KIDS, NOT THE WAY THAT THEY DO IT NOW
BUT ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN THEIR OWN EDUCATION.
IT WOULD HAVE TO BE THAT KIND OF REEDUCATION PROCESS IN THE, FROM
THE BOTTOM UP, NOT AUTOMATICALLY.
>>THE WHOLE IDEA OF THE DISCUSSION RIGHT NOW,
FASCINATING SOCIALISM FOR SMART FOLKS, AND MICHAEL ENGEL, THANK
YOU VERY MUCH FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US, SIR.
>>I AM PLEASED TO BE HERE. THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME.




Comments
  1. Dr. Engel was one of my professors at WSC, from 1976-1980. He was one of the best, and no I was not converted to socialism. He demanded participation, from writing, speaking, and THINKING – all fast becoming lost arts.

    I hope Bernie gets nominated, because the discussions between him and the DONALD will be awesome, and ideas that should be debated at a national level. Dr. Engel claims that TRUE SOCIALISM has yet to be implemented. Equally, I would say that TRUE CAPITALISM has also yet to be implemented. What we have today, is a bastardized form of crony capitalism. We need to have the discussion, and hopefully, it will be for the better.

    I was 17 in Dr. Engels class, and shared my thoughts then, that although Socialism may be an ideal, it has not, and could not ever succeed. Whether one lives in a commune, or a country of 300 million, INDIVIDUALS have an INHERENT SELF INTEREST – not selfishness, but self interest. It is this SELF INTEREST, that gave us electricity, the automobile, DNA testing, and the computers we use to share ideas over the internet. Just because one is motivated by self interest, or self preservation, does not mean one does not have a sense of community or the collective.

    Dr. Engel taught, that politics was merely about "who gets what". Some 40 years later, I would agree. It is why conservatives, like me, do not identify with any political party, we believe in the INDIVIDUAL, and INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. I would rather teach my kids, my values, my view of the world, than have a COLLECTIVE teach them what they believe – the less government, the better. It is also why TRUE CONSERVATISM is at such a disadvantage, we do not group ourselves, or others for the redistribution by the SMART PEOPLE.

    D.M.

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