Foldvary on the Concept of “Forward”

Co-editor Fred Foldvary has an excellent post on the historical meaning of the Obama campaign’s choice of the word “Forward” as its political slogan. He writes:

The issue here is not about any political campaign, but the social concept of “forward.” Socialism is, first of all, a family of concepts. Some socialists seek greater statism, the control of society by the state. Other seek “social democracy,” whereby people vote on the major policy options. There are also socialists who seek to put the means of production, land as well as capital goods, in the hands of worker cooperatives.

Usually the “forward” thinkers seek, if not as an ultimate goal, then as the instrumental goal, a governmental control at least of the “commanding heights” of the economy: the financial system, the highways, education, medical care, and retirement pensions. Socialists seek strong controls on the remaining private production, and they also seek an equalization of wealth through a massive redistribution, with highly progressive taxation.

But the world has already experienced the results of “forward” policies in the failed economies of the old USSR, the China of the 1950s and 1960s, Cuba, North Korea, and Eastern Europe. The “forward” socialists seek a progression to the failed past. Of course they claim that their brand of socialism is different from that of the collapsed USSR, but the evidence of history reveals what was attempted in practice world-wide, even when it differs from hypothetical doctrines.

And this, too:

Instead of “forward,” a better metaphor may be “upwards.” Upward takes us to a higher place, and also to the origin of a flow such as a river. But how do we know which way is “up”?

Do read the whole thing, and what do you guys think of Dr. Foldvary’s suggestion of moving “upwards”?

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