When Did "Statist" Become A Dirty Word?

Scott Lemieux writes:

Iím somewhat puzzled by Matt [Yglesias]ís argument that a concern with Elana Kaganís civil liberties record is ďa quite different thing than the concern that Kagan isnít a ďreal liberalĒ in the Marshall tradition.Ē Brennan, Marshall and Douglas were much more civil libertarian than any of the Courtís current liberals, and thereís a real danger Kagan that Kagan would be more statist than any of them with the possible exception of Breyer.

(Emphasis supplied.) I think Lemieux has made Yglesias' point here. Indeed, the concerns of libertarians are indeed quite different from those of the traditional liberal - who views the state is a solution, not a threat. Of course, those holding these views often overlap, as they did in Justices such as Brennan and Marshall. But the concerns are, as Yglesias argues, distinct. I can assure you that you will see more libertarian concerns from Jeralyn than you will from me. And I suspect, you will see more statist concerns from me than from Jeralyn. But I imagine we both probably agree on most of these issues. I think Yglesias' point is that libertarian concerns are not equivalent to liberal concerns. I think that's right.

Speaking for me only

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    I had to check the meaning (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mike Pridmore on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 12:05:28 PM EST
    to be sure.  Dictionary.com says that a statist is someone who practices statism.  And it defines "statism" thusly:

       ˈsteɪtɪzəm Show Spelled[stey-tiz-uhm] Show IPA
    the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.
    support of or belief in the sovereignty of a state, usually a republic.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 12:07:49 PM EST
    The New Deal was statist.

    "Statism": (none / 0) (#5)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 02:06:23 PM EST
    as big a fear-mongering, dog whistle as that term is in the hands of rich people who dont like to pay taxes and want to pollute and exploit the wretched the way China and India does, without some form of it, we wouldnt have disaster relief, been able to fight "the last good war", have a system of highways, hospitals, any GUARANTEES of civil liberies, redress for the citizenry when the beloved "competition" of libertarians swings in the direction of amoral predation..

    And lets not forget "we the people" and representative democracy in all of this. Just because the state is no longer remotely represntative of all the people - primarily through the machinations of the best fall-back position of those against "statism", dosnt mean we-the-people cant make it so. Did the original founders fear "the mob"? Surely the ones who were incapable of anything but projecting their own fear and fatalism did..but not all of them did. Societies will always organize themselves and there's no reason why a people cant apply the lessons of history in refining the ways of doing so that maximize the serving of the public good - if there are still people out there who can consider the idea of something like the public good without lapsing into some kind of "they're coming to get us" paranoic hysteria.  


    But in many ways... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 02:28:36 PM EST
    the statists are "coming to get us".  If you prefer reefer to brandy, they might get ya...if you refuse to pay 7 dollars in tax on a 3 dollar pack of butts, they might get ya, really watch out if you don't wanna chip in for the next cluster bomb...it's not all a fantasy perpetuated by those who just want a license to steal...or better yet, a license to steal more...the statists have already provided a license to steal, but there is a cap.

    I mean there is a happy medium between anarchy and statism...or so I would hope.  The rub is finding it.  But the way the statists have been rolling the past 50 years, I feel pushed towards the anarchy column...though I guess it easier to see the bad news than the good. coming out of the state.


    We need to work to change (none / 0) (#8)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 02:43:25 PM EST
    the rules. Like it or not, there are always going to be some. Or you can get organized with some peaceful, like-minded people and go the commune route.

    At bottom, a lot of the freedom you're concerned with involves finding a way to uproot a VERY deepseated "divine justice-wrath of god" complex, that unfortuantely, I dont see going away any time soon. Mental illness - or something like it - is probably the no 1 problem in this country..undiagnosed because so many of them still know how to organize en-masse and vote..


    To be clear... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:14:06 PM EST
    I'm not against rules...thou shall not kill, thou shall not steal...I like those.  

    Statism seems to lend itself to different rules for different fools...thats what I can't stomach, as well as all the senseless rules.  I'm right there with ya that it could be a mental illness, or a serious conditioning problem, or both...and it ain't going nowhere.  


    The fools win out (none / 0) (#11)
    by jondee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:21:24 PM EST
    when the class-interest element is left out of the checks and balances concept.

    And when it becomes a no-no to talk about.


    Kdog, you sound like (none / 0) (#14)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:37:56 PM EST
    you might be a potential anarcho-syndicalist.

    Thanks G... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:40:41 AM EST
    an anarchist offshoot I was not familar with...I've got homework to do:)

    I'm definitely down with this nugget...

    anarcho-syndicalists deny that there can be any kind of workers' state, or a state which acts in the interests of workers, as opposed to those of the rich and powerful

    Ain't that the truth...every government ever known, be it capitalist or communist or in between, has served as a protection racket for either the rich or the politically connected.  A state serving the interests of common people is indeed impossible...well played, anarcho-syndicalists.


    Very big back in the day (none / 0) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 08:14:21 AM EST
    when we had an actual left in this country in the '30s, not to mention a serious labor movement.  They're still around.  They tend to fight a lot with the Trotskyites. :-)

    State vs you (none / 0) (#20)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 10:29:51 AM EST
    This reminds me of a bumper sticker the antiwar.com folks sell: "It's not left vs. right. It's the state vs. you." I love it so much I want to emblazon it across my office wall.

    We have our answer.... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 10:37:16 AM EST
    when did "statist" become a dirty word?

    When it came to mean "the state vs. you"!


    I think you are spot on with the (none / 0) (#12)
    by ZtoA on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:40:14 PM EST
    "divine" complex.

    Everyone seems to want their neighbor regulated and have freedoms for themselves. Who gets to pollute, get medical procedures, have their herbs and herb regulated or restricted, dangerously speculate in financial markets, keeping weapons, using weapons, and communication privacy issues - to name a few. Everyone is pro-regulation and pro statism for others, and pro-freedoms for themselves.

    Of course it gets much more complex than this where benefits and freedoms are shared like in financial regulation. Where's the "divine justice-wrath of God" for unethical and dangerous Wall Street speculators?

    Also, what are on the books are then subject to enforcement or non-enforcement (like under Bush) which basically takes the regulation off the books.


    The DLC decided Wall Street was (none / 0) (#19)
    by Rojas on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 08:30:38 AM EST
    off limits a couple of decades ago. You may have noticed, we built prisons for everyone else. There will be no wrath of god nor will the golden goose be subject to regulation. These are the deities from which life springs eternal.

    China is an excelent represnative (none / 0) (#15)
    by Rojas on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 10:14:03 PM EST
    of a statist society as is Walmart at a macro level. And you will note both have approximately the same respect for both individuals and intellectual property.

    Statism is right there with Fascism (none / 0) (#16)
    by Rojas on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 10:47:40 PM EST
    Because they are practically indistinguishable.

    I didn't understand Ygelesias's point (none / 0) (#3)
    by david mizner on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 01:12:52 PM EST
    (partly because his post was poorly written) and I don't understand yours.

    "libertarian concerns are not equivalent to liberal concerns."

    Well, no, not exactly but "libertarian concerns are essential to liberal concerns. They're a subset, just as workers rights concerns are. You can be a strong liberal justice without a strong belief in civil liberties. Period.

    I mean: "you cannot be" (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by david mizner on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 01:13:20 PM EST
    Just so you know, (none / 0) (#7)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 02:35:42 PM EST
    there was an Obama person interviewed this morning on MSNBC during the 9am hour who was explaining that Obama doesn't want to be publicly lobbied about the choice of a nominee.  He's meeting with a whole bunch of people and feels that he will get the kind of input he thinks will be valuable.  So internet postings with regard to nominee choices, it seems, will be summarily ignored.

    BTD, based on what that lady said, you need an invitation to the White House to register an opinion on the nominee.

    I thought that to be a trully egalitarian sentiment from our President!  /snark

    Doesn't want to be lobbied? (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 08:35:21 PM EST
    Oh, well, then.  OK.

    Nice of them to let us all know explicitly they don't give a flying ** what we think.

    The man doesn't want to be lobbied...

    Is he going to let us know when he does want to be lobbied so we can lobby?  Or is that by invitation only?


    Who doesn't Obama want to be lobbied by? (none / 0) (#23)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Tue Apr 20, 2010 at 03:04:29 PM EST
    He certainly doesn't mind being lobbied by the military-industrial-congressional complex, nor the big pharma/health malfeasance mob.

    Mr. Smith, not (none / 0) (#10)
    by Emma on Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 03:20:28 PM EST
    Mr. Smith -- stay home!

    At least they're being upfront (none / 0) (#22)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 11:24:11 AM EST
    Not attempting to fool us rubes into thinking we are part of the process or, for that matter, the country. But please, keep sending them your money and your votes!