Sunday, August 30, 2015
Mister Pot meet Mister Skillet: Defining America
I noticed their rather loose use of the terms "socialist", "Leftist", "Communist" (or the more purgative word "Commie"), "Progressive" and "Liberal". They seem to throw these terms around indiscriminately or use them interchangeably as if they meant one and the same. Of course, they don't. Nevertheless, this got me to thinking---what does government behave like? It certainly doesn't behave as "socialist". This would imply that control would rest with the people; that there would be no Wallstreet, private banks, income gap, and so forth for instance. Socialism means the common ownership of the means of production with an eye toward equality---social, political and economic---for all the citizens. On the Authoritarian Scale, Socialism rates relatively low though it is strongly centralized. Communism means that the State owns everything and the people work for the State. That means little or no private ownership of property, businesses, banks, or anything else. As expected, a centralized government of this nature would rate very high on the Authoritarian Scale. Does either of these sound like the government you know?
Under Nazism, which is a form of Fascism, the government was highly centralized, often operating under a dual governing system whereby government appointed department heads would often be in direct competition with party officials who were operating under similar authority. The idea was to foster internal competition and, thereby, creating a more innovative and efficient system (this rarely happened and often resulted in conflicting policy directives). The government was overseen by a single leader---Der Fuehrer---while departments operated more or less autonomously. Under Nazism, individual unions were disbanded and replaced by a single national union---the German Labor Front or DAF--- while many of the earlier union demands were made into law. Nazism rated high on the Authoritarian Scale.
That means there could be an increase in certain social programs (typically Left) while decreasing corporate regulation and increased cooperation with the wealthy while taxpayers paid for bad business decisions or business related expenses. It is high in terms of centralization and is often accompanied by a police state along with a strong Executive. Like Nazism, Fascism is also highly martial, meaning a strong military and an influential military industrial complex. Under Fascism there is typically a large gap between the wealthy and everyone else. Unions, under Fascism, were largely co-opted into supporting corporate dictates or banned and outlawed. Fascism rates moderately high to high on the Authoritarian Scale.
There you have it. Now, after you've had an opportunity to review each, which one do you think we have today? Are we the emerging "socialist" or Communist nation that those on the Right claim? Is the Left destroying Wallstreet and eliminating corporate influence over government? Or do you see corporate power over government as the central problem? Is Wallstreet exerting too much power over the direction of US domestic and foreign policy? Is the military industrial complex more or less influential? What do you think about the power of unions---have they become stronger or have they largely been co-opted by big business or even made ineffectual?
What's your opinion about individual freedom---is personal freedom expanding or are we "under the microscope" more today? What about government regulation of business, wages and the income gap, quality of life, the Middle Class, social programs, and personal opportunities? Are they growing or contracting in relation to yourself and other individuals?
I think most of you will agree that our current social, political, and economic situations doesn't favor ordinary individuals. Wages, in terms of buying power, has been on the decline since the late 1970's. Individual freedoms have also decreased since 9/11 while there's been a marked increase in government surveillance by various national security agencies as well as serious infringements on the Constitution and Bill of Rights---all for our own protections naturally---not to mention the militarization of the police. Taxes and job security certainly don't favor the Middle Class (or what's left of it).
As I often mention, we are no longer the democratic government of our Founding Fathers. The 2014 study by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Ben Page of Northwestern University confirmed what the majority of Americans intuitively knew---we've become an oligarchy. The government is no longer "our" government. It serves the interests of the 1% , which includes a handful of corporations. There's one more thing I should mention about Fascism, and that's it tendency to demonize what it fears the most. By demonizing socialism or certain individuals or countries, it is attempting to implant a negative image in your mind in order to build up an automatic rejection. Fascism was successful with that tactic in Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Romania and elsewhere. There's no reason to think it won't be successful here. So, the next time someone claims America is becoming "socialist" or "Communist", be sure to point out their mistake.
The 10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto
14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism
Socialist Party USA Principles
The Socialist International Declaration of Principles
The Transformation of American Democracy to Oligarchy
The Libertarian Party Platform