Yesterday on Twitter there was a hashtag going out #FessUpFascist. Of course as expected, many on the right were bemused about what they believe was humorous that liberals, who they see as fascist, would refer to the right as fascists. Many posts questioned the intelligence of those, including yours truly, for making such an accusation. From my point of view, people who like to call the people they don’t like politically, fascist, socialist commies are the ones who need a course in basic political thought.
This requires some reading and reflection on your part to gather what I’m about to say. In other words, I imagine those on the left will read and understand and those on the right either won’t read and/or will totally disagree because of the bubbles they create for themselves. As I tried to point out last night, those on the left believe in intellectual curiosity, growth and aspiration while those on the right don’t. However, I’ll acknowledge now, it’s really not that simple.
To start, there are two basic views of politics these days, Conservatism and Liberalism (Progressive). Many see themselves on either side of the divide exclusively. However in reality, most people have characteristics of both views.
Conservatism: (Latin: conservare, “to retain”) is a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional institutions and supports, at most, minimal and gradual change in society. A person who follows the philosophies of conservatism is referred to as a traditionalist or conservative.
These are generally people who oppose change because they are comfortable with how things are, they reminisce on how things “were in the good old days.” They prefer things simple and orderly. They abhor complexity and value strength over anything else. Conservatives were the Tories in the days of the revolution. They opposed rebellion and preferred to stay with the established English way of life and governance. They didn’t want a change, just an accommodation.
Liberalism: (from the Latin liberalis) is a broad political ideology or worldview founded on the ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as capitalism (either regulated or not), constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights and the free exercise of religion.
Note that the latter part of the definition refers to beliefs ascribed to the conservative movement (capitalism, constitutionalism, free exercise of religion) These are liberal values as documented throughout time. They are also conservative ideas. The only difference is in the specific details. However, this is an example of how many beliefs between liberal and conservative views cross the aisles if people are so willing to accept it and discuss it outside the pure ideology and rigid views of the people they surround themselves with. Liberals made up the majority of those who started the revolution against the long-established English system of governance.
What follows is not complete by any means, but it is a start to show where I’m going on this rant:
Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order. This movement, in its Marxist-Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the “socialist world” (socialist states ruled by communist parties) and the “western world” (countries with capitalist societies).
Now if you read this, the Soviet Union had some issues with that definition. The “communist state” was not truly Marxist because there was clearly a class system in place. As George Orwell pointed out in Animal Farm, “all animals are equal, it’s just that some animals are more equal than others” The state did run the means of production, government control of business and the needs of the people were dealt with, but extremely rationed and curtailed while the upper class basked in the life of luxury while the people barely eked by. It was more authoritarian than what Marx and Engels envisioned.
Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and a political theory advocating such a system. “Social ownership” may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, direct public ownership or autonomous state enterprises. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. They differ in the type of social ownership they advocate, the degree to which they rely on markets versus planning, how management is to be organised within economic enterprises, and the role of the state in constructing socialism.
As applied to a political system, socialism is what the basis of “We the People” is. Forgetting the economics of the matter, it is a system of government where the people as a whole, through elected officials determine how the society will be treated and in the best of all worlds, set up an even playing field. Yes, it involves regulations and redistribution of wealth to ensure that those who have benefitted from the society in which they thrive, give back to others who cannot quite handle things on their own. It isn’t government control of business, but it is regulation to ensure the people are protected. In terms of business, the NFL is a socialist economic establishment. The military, police, fire-fighters, teachers, social security, medicare and Medicaid are socialist programs that the people of the nation pay into to keep society running. There is no authoritarian control except through reasonable regulations.
Capitalism is an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit. competitive markets, wage labor, capital accumulation, voluntary exchange, and personal finance are also considered capitalistic. competitive markets, capital accumulation, voluntary exchange, and personal finance are, however, not capitalism, and are often a part in non-capitalist systems such as market socialism and worker cooperatives. There are multiple variants of capitalism, including laissez-faire and state-capitalism. Capitalism is considered to have applied in a variety of historical cases, varying in time, geography, politics, and culture. There is general agreement that capitalism became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism.
This applies to many political ideologies. Capitalism is actually in play in modern “Communist China” and was and is part of the English Monarchy. It was and is the driving force in our nation’s development. Whether is be totally private, or socialized via the State through regulations, a need not covered by the state is identified and exploited for profit if they are successful. However, to apply a pure Capitalist doctrine on needed services like police, military, healthcare only service to place a profit margin on the service and either increases the cost to the consumers or results in a shoddy product or both. This is why the best capitalism is one that is regulated by government of the people, in other words socialism. In short, capitalism and socialism are not mutual exclusive economic or political systems. They can and do work hand in hand.
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek elevation of their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry and culture through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through discipline, indoctrination, physical training and eugenics. Fascism seeks to eradicate perceived foreign influences that are deemed to be causing degeneration of the nation or of not fitting into the national culture.
As stated above, capitalism applies to other political doctrines. This is one of the most egregious combinations. Fascism, rather than government regulating business for the good of the people, is business regulating and controlling government and as a result, the people for the good of the business. Mussolini was a media tycoon, a businessman who took control of Italy with his fascist movement. As Hitler did in Germany, the fascists broke up and crushed the unions, established monopolies, required citizens to partake in the services of private corporations to enhance their profits. That is the economic history of fascism. As the people became more devalued for the sake of the profits for those in business and government, other atrocities occurred.
Libertarianism refers to the group of political philosophies that emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with a government of small scope relative to most present day societies or no government whatsoever.
I have found this philosophy fascinating as have many who follow it blindly. I have to agree with its most prominent voice Ron Paul in regards to our military exploits around the world and the resources wasted on the Drug War. The concept of limited government is fine, but to a point. No government is a suicide pack. In short, some Libertarian ideas actually do go the right direction provided it doesn’t infringe on the well-being and safety of others. Some government is needed in that regard to keep the playing field level. Again, if capitalists were given total freedom via a Libertarian world, what would they do to harm the consumers for their profits. Who oversees it. A free market only works if consumers have a multitude of places to go for services. In a Libertarian world, monopolies become the norm and if you can only go to one place for services, well, you’re screwed. And on a side note to Ron Paul, though he professes to be a strict Libertarian, there is nothing in the doctrine that allows for government control of the bedroom of women’s rights. That runs counter to the philosophy. So Ron really isn’t a pure Libertarian.
Which leaves me to my final point and basis of this long rant. There are extreme views and extremists in our country to say the least, but very few if any are purely connected to one particular view or philosophy. I only cited a few doctrines up there, but anyone reading and understanding the definitions of each of them may find some personal views of themselves applied to these varied doctrines. I see myself as progressive because I seek change for a better world that cares for the people, I also see myself as conservative and libertarian because I believe government should only be as large as necessary to keep things even, safe and protective of the people, no more. I see myself as a capitalist that is governed by government regulations. I don’t however see myself as anything that applies to fascism.
So to answer the question at the top of this rant, there really isn’t any such thing as a pure fascist, socialist commie because in their pure forms, all three doctrines contradict each other. Sorry Fox, its doesn’t add up. However, individuals to some minor degrees may have views that apply to those three doctrines and even more, but that requires complexity of thought and understanding that many who make such an accusation are unable to articulate or identify other than using the labels.