Howdy partners. As my third blog, I have no idea if anybody cares about political concepts and themes. However, I’m continuing to write about them anyway. Why? To STICK IT TO THE MAN, that’s why.
So what is the alternative to American ideas of representation, checks and balances, and slight democracy you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked, and I’ll answer. Keep in mind this blog addresses the big isms, and I will not be going through procedural structures like parliamentary systems. However, I will say that parliamentary systems have the executive (presidential) and legislative (Congress) components in one building to make decisions … which is more efficient, but definitely not as compatible with American values of paranoid checks and balances. But wait … Nebraska’s government comes close with a unicameral government. Also, I think there’s another state with a unicameral government, just not sure which one. After all, we have 50 states!
Back to business. Now to the nitty gritty:
The FASCIST regime!
OK, we know there were some fascists in history (Germany, Spain, Japan, and Italy). I’ll go ahead and use the most-common example, Germany. So how did Hitler rule? As a dictator. What is a dictator? Somebody who has absolute decision making power, and dictates all facets of policy. Essentially it’s a president without a congress or judiciary; rather, the big guy calls the shots. This system is actually very effecient, because decisions are made way faster (I know some of you are annoyed at how slow American politics reacts to stuff) … but there are obviously drawbacks. Yikes.
A fascist mentality focuses on the state (by the way, I’m also writing a blog called “What is a State?”). While I won’t go into what a state actually is, I will say that it is a country — simple enough.
So how did Hitler get elected? There was a democratic election. Well, the voter turnout was quite low (I believe 20% turnout or so — I suppose similar to the United States), and the people that voted I speculate were really into his ideas.
So what were his ideas? Fascist ideas! First, Germany owed a whole lot of money to the rest of Europe after WWI, which made Hitler mad (btw, Germany just recently paid off debts from WWI). Second, Hitler thought that the German people were the most-superior people on the block, and the reason that they lost WWI was that they allowed too many different people in the country (Germany was a very open community pre-WWI). So, Hitler basically blamed WWI on his own people — because they allowed too many people into his elite German club.
So what were his selling points? First, he was an orator, and got people worked up into a frenzy. Think of a mob mentality, where people do things they wouldn’t normally do, but do so because of the energy of the crowd. Extreme things people do in this atmosphere include car burning, looting, targeting minority groups, and other generally ridiculous things. Think of when a sports team loses, and the angry crowd storms the city … now multiply that because Germany lost an entire war AND was forced to pay money to other countries. Hitler made the people into one mass of mob. In this mob, he convinced the people that Germany COULD be the best — but some people have to go. This is a form of hyper-nationalism. And, after all, Hitler was democratically elected, had legitimacy, gave people jobs and a country to believe in.
His strategy grew increasingly frightening, of course. He took Austria and Poland, and nobody did anything (after all, Germany was in an economic mess, and they assumed Hitler would stop once he got some land). However, Hitler rearmed Germany, took over west Europe, and even turned on his Russian allies. Not to mention that he followed a plan to rid Germans of “lesser people” in a few steps. 1) Deport them, 2) isolate them to figure out what to do with them — while using them as slave labor — and, ultimately, 3) the final solution.
Fascism is on the extreme right of the political spectrum. This means that the there is an extreme emphasis is on traditional values (Germaic traditions), the state (Germany itself), and identity (natural-born ethnic Germans). Essentially an us vs. them mentality.
Now, we have a political right in the United States, but nowhere near that extreme (I hope). The most extreme is probably the Tea Party — their ideas are only slightly fascist, though not to the extreme that Hitler’s were.
So, in one sentence, fascism is the rule of the idea that the state should be prioritized over everything else.
The COMMUNISTS ARE EVERYWHERE!
No doubt this is the most misapplied political theory in the world. Probably because it’s primarily an economic theory, and there are no political systems proscribed in the Manifesto. So, communism ended up having a dictator as well. Because … well, why not? After all, how can the entire working class rule a community? It can’t, thus making communism very difficult apply.
Now, what is it?
At the root of commu-nism is, in fact, the root of the word ‘community,’ or ‘commune.’ Communism is not a political system. Instead, it is a reaction to it’s arch enemy, CAPITALISM.
What do we know about capitalism? Capitalism says that the best way to get people to interact with others is through capital. How? Well, somebody has capital (money or machines), and then employs other people to make a thing, or borrow money. The person who owns the capital (the capital-ist) makes more capital, and the workers get paid something as well — dictated by the capitalist. Then, profits from a newly formed business should be reinvested back into the business to make better (or new) products, and then the business grows. The capitalist gets money, the workers get money, and, eventually, the state gets money. Then, other people join in on the fun, make new businesses, and challenge our original capitalist, which pushes everyone to make the best things at the lowest prices (because of competition). Then everybody gets involved. Everybody’s happy right?
The disgruntled Marxist-communist theorist comes along and looks at the capitalist. The Marxist then looks at the workers and says “this is not cool, man.”
“Why not?” The capitalist asked.
“Because, man, these workers are slaving away for your products. They do the same thing every day, and it’s boring, and all you see them as is cash cows. Then, you make most of the money, and distribute hardly anything to the worker. You know, without the workers, you would be NOTHING, punk,” the communist replies.
Communist theory is a reaction to capitalism. So what happens when you make it a government? It generally becomes one dude telling others how to think, and if you don’t think it, then you’re out of the club. So, for Hitler, you had to be German to be in the club; for Stalin, you had to think the same way the party does or you’re out. After all, some dude (Marx) wrote about communism, but there were no viable ways to create a communist political system … although China has made it, thus far (more on that to come).
So our friend Joseph Stalin becomes leader of the Soviet Union. Pretty cool, eh? WRONG. He is a dictator, just like our friend Hitler. The communist government distributes food, controls all manufacturing (communist cars!), and maintains the workforce. This is called a command economy. Problem is, it takes a ridiculous amount of planning to do effectively, and things always go wrong. In Stalin’s case, he starved lots of people because demand was miscalculated, and maybe a bad crop year made the whole thing collapse. Further, he induced the paranoia that if you didn’t buy into what “the party” wanted, then you were a traitor … and had you purged. All in all, it is very possible (and I think a fact) that Stalin killed more people than Hitler over the years. So why does Hitler get the worst wrap? Because the fascist state kept very good records, was caught red handed, and people found out very publicly after the war.
So now you have a Soviet Union that operated under the assumption that EVERYONE buys into the idea. If you don’t, then you probably have to be deported, jailed, or killed. Think of modern-day North Korea (the only contemporary completely authoritarian state). This effect is called TOTALITARIANISM. This effect is distinct from a good, old-fashioned dictator who would just tell everyone what to do.
So, communism is opposite of the political right, and is now the political left. The extreme left side of the spectrum emphasizes community, absolute equality of goods and the such, no privacy, and people being connected in a social sphere. See graph:
The graph above is what the author of that article says is the “traditional” political spectrum, and then goes on to develop a new idea of the spectrum, which, I would say, is very wrong. But, if you want to read it, have at it.
In one sentence, communism is a reactionary economic theory to capitalism that degenerated into a frightening political system where “the party” was the only source of thinking — and if you thought differently you were “taken care of.” Russian (or Soviet) mafia-style.
WAIT, what’s the difference between FASCISM and COMMUNISM?
The primary difference is that one uses the state to get popular support, and implement policy all for the state (I.E. “We MUST do this for GERMANY!”); and the other implements policy on for “the worker” (I.E. “We MUST fight the EVIL capitalists for our fellow workers or they will enslave us!”).
There are similarities. First, they both have secret police … although for different reasons. Hitler had secret police to hunt down non-Germans and protect himself with the elite SS, while Stalin had KGB secret police so they could find party traitors. Second, both systems have a dictatorial system of politics. So both Stalin and Hitler were making decisions for the state, and could make decisions without consulting anybody.
Also, for a real thrill, Google some Communist and Fascist art from back in the day … it spawned a whole subset of weird, industrial, group-think, leader-glorifying art. However, some good communist artists would be Frida Kahlo and her husband … what’s his name.
Check some of this stuff out:
So, the real difference is that one harnesses the imagination of what the state could be, and the other harnesses the imagination of worker rule (carpenters, mechanics, and construction workers unite!), abolishing private ownership of property (we all can share, man), and living in a community of like-minded peeps (which, if you have read my other blog, you know is OPPOSITE of classical liberalist claims).
So you can see why communist regimes were a threat to American emphasis on liberty (DO WHAT YOU WANT), freedom of speech (WRITE WHAT YOU WANT), and democratic representation — not to mention all the capitalists.
WAIT, I’ve heard that China is COMMUNIST/CAPITALIST — How do you explain that one, fool?
It’s true. China has found a way to blend the two. Here’s how it’s done:
First, you allow capitalists to come in, build businesses, employ people, and pay them literally whatever you want. After all, the first principle of business is to 1) minimize your production cost, and 2) maximize your profits.
Then, they said, “We’ll allow this, but all policy in the state will be made by Party leadership.”
This essentially means that the political stuff is all decided on by the crusty, old communists in the country (kind of like our crusty, old white dudes in Congress). So, internet is regulated, human rights practices are questionable, and policy is aimed at generally controlling people so they don’t get too radical with new ideas.
So, economics are free, but speech is not! Plus, they have the largest government in the world (and even have a young communist league). So, if you want to stick it to the man, maybe China is for you.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE DIRTY SOCIALISTS I KEEP HEARING ABOUT?
Well, that’s obviously another topic, and this blog is probably too long anyway. However, Karl Marx (our communist OG theorist) envisioned socialism as a transition that bridged capitalism and communism. Essentially, it is the idea that people are alienated, and they they need to work together and connect with one another to form a social environment. This, for Marx, had to happen before people could even think about abolishing private property (things), and actually live in an environment where nobody is enslaved by capitalists (or anybody else for that matter). So in Socialism, the collective social network rules, and not any singular conception of how it should be … because, after all, your social life is the only thing that matters (I.E. not your political, professional, or personal life).
So, Marx was trying to figure out how to find a way to 1) not have people make interest off of money (because interest is profiting off of somebody for no reason), 2) make sure people are engaged in society and decision making (because nobody wants to have no friends), and 3) abolish concepts of “mine” and “yours.” Very utopian, I know. The trouble comes when you try and implement a political system to do all that … every time it degenerates into a dictator scaring everybody 24/7. Also, Marx essentially said it would take a violent revolution to overthrow capitalists and the idea, so he wasn’t all that pacifist.
So, the ideas are provocative, but nobody knows how to make it work. I’ve heard some people say that the internet is fostering some sort of socialism. Hmmm … but there are still lots of people who just look at cats and harass people on the internet. Not to mention new illegal markets are coming up like human trafficking, and all sorts of other amazingly illegal things. I heard there is some weird currency called Bitcoin that allows you to buy all sorts of illegal things … I get lost with these ideas.
So … is socialism a bad idea? Not sure, you take a stab at it. Essentially the question still goes back to how people behave, and whether or not people can change. I would venture to say that we’ll have a better idea in 30 years. With massive data collection (NSA!!!!!!), social media connecting peeps, new marketing campaigns, and people actually getting more information and education, maybe some of those “mine,” “yours,” “us,” “them” ideas will just fade away. OR, the reactionary ideas will become violent (look at ISIS and the advocation of old-school, traditional, fire-and-brimstone law!). Also, the propaganda level these days is out the roof, so BE AWARE!
Either way, it’s something interesting to think about.
So … THINK ABOUT IT! Cheers you political animals.