Socially Liberal, Fiscally Liberal
By socialism, I mean government intervention on a small scale. Think Alaska’s Permanent Fund, which draws revenues from oil companies to distribute an annual monetary stipend to state residents. That model is overwhelmingly supported by Alaskans and has shown sustainable growth over its five-decade lifespan (in addition to spillover economic benefits). It’s also smarter than the average wealth transfer, taking into account fund size, growth, and government spending needs in its calculation of dividend amount. If this is socialism, it’s socialism with an economic conscience.
Amlo’s politics, called “Cardenismo,” are based on the legacy of Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico’s president during the Great Depression. He championed a government-led recovery built on public works projects and intervention in key industries. He fostered the young Confederation of Mexican Workers, still the country’s largest union (with over 11,000 chapters). He drafted women’s suffrage legislation, though it would take 16 years to become law.
Hofstadter originally published the essay to explain the rise of his generation’s alt-right: A loose coalition of conspiracist anticommunists that opposed President Dwight D. Eisenhower, public works projects, and free speech. A cornered animal of sorts, the pseudo-con regularly made fretful lunges in defense of its political life. It was the woman who complained about “eight more years of socialism” after Eisenhower’s 1952 election. It was the delegate to the Omaha Freedom Congress who denounced Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren for his “middle-of-the-road” thinking and, paradoxically, his supposed communist sympathies.
To many, myself included, Hawking’s life of the mind stirred a genuine sense of human goodness. Hawking never treated his disciplines (cosmology and theoretical physics) as the private property of intellectuals, nor did he hesitate to poke fun at himself or his work. He regularly published literature for the laity, including the bestselling volume “A Brief History of Time,” which topped the London Sunday Times bestseller list for over five years. His visibility had powerful consequences outside of science too: Hawking embodied the wide gulf between condition and pathology. All who watched him knew that his physical impediment was no handicap to greatness.
This unfortunate admixture has prompted many to question the South Africa of the last 25 years: the sentimentalism for Nelson Mandela, the prospects of a “rainbow nation,” the potential for postcolonial “constitutional order.” In a sense, South Africa has put itself and the world on notice: Radicals are not to be discounted.