September 23, 2009

Is it Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Totalitarianism? You tell me.

Huge H/T for New Conservative Generation: on this post. It is great.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Which of these things is just like the other?

Read the blogs, the protest signs and there are proclamations for and against the forms of economics and governments in the title of this post. There are assertions and objections being made all the time. Do you really know what they mean? Here are the definitions according to Webster.
Totalitarianism - centralized control by an autocratic authority
Communism - a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b : a totalitarian system of GOVERNMENT in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production
Fascism - 1 a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic GOVERNMENT headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
Socialism - 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
Capitalsim - an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market
Now let’s put those definitions to the test. I’m going to give you some political scenarios and you tell me what direction government and the economy are moving.
1. A loan from the government to a private company is used by the government executive to take majority ownership of companies in the auto, banking, and insurance industries.
2. Push for and establish regulations and laws to allow the executive of a government to seize control of any private financial institution it deems to be in danger of collapse
3. The executive of a government establishes authority to determine the wages of employees of a private company
4. The executive of a government establishes authority to fire employees of a private company
5. The executive of a government requests authority from the legislature of a government, to bring the IGs who provide oversight of the government executive, under the executives direct control
6. The executive of a government proposed that the supply and production of energy be set to a specified limit set by the executive
7. The executive of a government seeks to end the private market for student loans
8. The executive of a government promotes legislation that would allow the executive to determine the supply and production of health care to lower costs
9. The executive of a government uses money authorized to bail out financial institutions to nationalize the car industry
10. The executive of a government uses and establishes positions of power that answer directly to the executive
If you answered capitalism, wanted to answer capitalism, or tried to find a moral equivalent for why capitalism is like or worse than the government executive, then you are likely to be supporter of totalitarianism.
If you just learned that you support totalitarianism, then you probably have a Philosopher-King mentality. I’ve often referred to the Philosopher-King mentality in my posts. It comes from Plato’s Republic. Plato philosophized that the best form of government would be a philosopher-king system, where a single individual, with unlimited power would be in control of all aspects of government (this was the king side). That individual would be very intelligent, always put the needs of the people first, and would make nothing but rational decisions (the philosopher part). Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Perhaps you feel this way about our current President. You believe him to have a superior intellect. You trust him. You are certain he has the people’s best interest in mind. You have no problem with him taking the helm of important issues in your life and you feel that you are better off for it. That’s your right and you might even be correct to do so.
The problem with Plato is that he never thought about the Philosopher-King in the long term. The truth of history and rulers is that for every great, kind, and self-less authoritarian there are thousands of horrible, selfish, and petty authoritarians. Any one ruler may achieve the impossible and bring about peace and prosperity for their nation. I won’t say it’s not possible, but I will ask, for how long? Who will take the mantle after? Just look at hypocritical republicans. Those that had faith to hand the keys of power to Bush now fear what that power means in the hands of Obama. Those that had faith to hand the keys of power to Obama will fear what that power means in the hands of Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin.
There is something interesting in the definitions of Communism and Fascism (socialism too, since Marx argues that it's simply the second stage before communism). They both have the tenants of totalitarian rule in them. I wonder why?
The history of the world is crystal clear that all forms of government save those based on individual liberty and free markets, lead to some form of totalitarianism. You are your own guardian of your rights and property. They do not require a government to fulfill them, just a government that cannot interfere with them. A government that cannot interfere with individual rights is one that is checked by individuals who are working to ensure that government stays within its limitations. By the way, for those of you confused and there are many of you. Individual freedom does not equal anarchy - 1 a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government. If you need proof, go get a history book on the US.

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