4.06.2008

Right, Left, It's All The Same, Anyway.

All of the bipartisan bashing in the last six or so years has just started to get under my skin. Now, that's not to say that I won't be allotting blame for a certain sect of people who just so happen to belong to a particular party, and who have gone above and beyond to not only tarnish the reputation of said party, but also put the final nail in the coffin of ethical politics...wait, was there ever such a thing?

I digress.

The fact of the matter is that the only reason either party can get away with any sort of bad behavior is through the indifference of the other party - the opposition. Furthermore, the only reason either party involves itself with bad behavior in the first place is due to the morals, or lack thereof of the current party members.

Let's not mince words, while politicians have always been a corrupt bunch, this latest batch's moral compass is so far off they couldn't storm their way out of a wet paper bag. Surge or not.

So what is the solution? Well for one, we need to stop the knee jerk reactions for five seconds, and let our minds do the work it needs to do before opening our mouths. Then we need to sit down and realize that party affiliation means exactly nothing. It's a word on a piece of paper. It carries no weight until someone decides to load it up.

Which brings me to the problem of loading words, particularly words that describe political affiliations. "Liberal" and "Conservative" and "Fascist". These words are being loaded like a sawed off, double barreled shot gun. The repercussions of such behavior is far more damaging than I believe most would like to admit.

The use of "guilt by association" is a typical loading procedure these days. Phrases such as "Fascist Liberalism" or "Fascist Conservatism" can be seen strewn all over the media, political blogs, and websites. They roll of the tongues with a disturbing ease of friends, neighbors, and passers-by. What does that mean you ask yourself? Oh, it must mean that Liberals or Conservatives are Fascists, run for your local opposition party headquarters!

Of course, I'm beginning to think they all are, but never you mind what I think.

The point here is that by adding that dreaded political F bomb, Fascism, the other party has just destroyed anything that the opposing side has to say, or offer. I will make this perfectly clear however, that while a hard right Conservative can certainly have Fascist tendencies (in the political order of things, it is a natural progression), if they are still working inside a Democratic Republic, and still operating under the rules of said government then they are not, in fact Fascists. And if they are so far to the hard right that they are Fascists, then just call them Fascists.

Same goes for the left side of the debate, only one thing needs to be made clear once again. The pairing of Fascist and Liberal is utterly absurd. It doesn't even make sense, there is no logical progression or comparative qualities here. If the person in question is acting like a Fascist, then I highly doubt they are a Liberal.

Again, it's all about the mud slinging.

In the meantime, while the two parties are hell bent on destroying each other We, The People are left with the very large task of creating at least a third party. That which will take the other two to task - not by loading words and slinging mud - but rather by taking this country back.

Political affiliation be damned.

27 comments:

Don Lewis said...

Don't know if I can go along with you quite on that one Anok. Fascism is National Socialism. It simply means a Business/government meld. Socialism just skips the pretense of private ownership and goes right to State ownership. It's hard to think of either of these as left or right. More like haves and have-nots. By the time you get to Fascism, the left and right have met on the other end of th circle.

At least thats how I see it. And of course, I'm never wrong.

Anok said...

But on ebig problem taht you miss is that FScism is all about teh state, and yes, business - so long as it benefits the state. Nothing is done to benefit the people, nor do they have any say.

Socialism - not even the most extreme left of government - does not do this. In fact the people are taken care of by the state, the individual is considered, and it is (supposedly) people powered. It is in fact much closer to (true) Democracy than it is to Fascism.

Don't get confused by the word Socialism in the National Socialist tag applied by Hitler, who was only modeling his new world from Mussolini - the True Fascist - not a National Socialist by any means.

Don Lewis said...

Hey! Back again.

I think maybe we should look at some examples of extremes. Extreme fascist state; Hitler's Germany. Killed millions, forced millions more into working for the state war machine, controlled schools, thoughts, starved the populace by crushing individual efforts, everyone feared the secret police, the leaders lived in luxury.

Lenin (and Stalin, and elsewhere, Mao's and Castro's and Tito's) extreme socialism. Killed millions, forced millions more into working for the state, controlled schools, thoughts, starved the populace by crushing individual initiative, everyone feared the secret police, the leaders lived in luxury.

Now adays, even the milder socialist states are headed to more fascist-style governments. It's an easier way to work in a modern world. But for some reason, the leadership remains in the same hands.

It isn't the style that make the difference, it's the desire for power over others. To the man or woman who's kids are dying from lack of food, or the people in the re-education camp, I would imagine a fascist and a communist would look pretty much the same. And do.

Your thoughts? Or are you getting tired of me? :)

Anok said...

No way am I tired of you!

OK, so you are arguing extremes - and I agree with your argument there. If you think of the political spectrum as a circle, rather than a line then the upper most ideologies - the very extreme ones being topped off by Fascism, then yes either left or right can go off the map extreme. However I would say that at whatever point the left or right crossed the line into Fascism, they ceased being whatever political ideology they were, and just became Fascism.

I would like to know though, just for reference, which Socialist countries you are thinking of when you say they are moving towards Fascism? Because there is room for argument there, depending on your definition of Socialism.

With regards however, to US politics, which is obviously what I tend to concern myself with most - using the term Fascist along with one of the party names is just silly. Even though I do it sometimes myself, it really is just silly.

Of course, I do worry that there are some people here, in the US who would like nothing more than to enter into a government set up that would eventually lend itself to the slippery slope into Fascism. Whether they know it or not....it is what they are pushing for.

Don Lewis said...

We're not actually in disagreement here Anok. And as for the US, both parties are really getting behind the "private company/government regulation" that is the defining relationship of "National Socialism" or Fascism if you prefer.

As for which previously socialist-leaning Countries are getting more fascist in their governmental style, I have to say: most of them. England, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, etc. etc. they are all "privatizing" much of their infrastructure and those previously State-owned industries.

Mind you, if they were really doing so, it would probably be a good thing, but when you look at who's buying them from the governments, it's pretty much the same people who were running those places in the first place (or the usual international players, much the same) It's a great way to double-dip!

It's all a flim-flam game.

So hunker down and enjoy the ride. :)

JafaBrit's Art said...

Typical propaganda techniques, and tiresome waste of time discussing anything with someone (from either side) that resorts to it.

As for some countries veering towards fascism.I was disgusted to read that some local councils in England pay informants to spy on their neighbours and families for such infractions as flytyipping or leaving trash cans out on wrong days etc. Some wheelie bins have spy cams to make sure people are recycling properly.

Anok said...

Don, I agree with you to an extent, but for different reasons. I would like to point out that England, France, Germany and Sweden are not Socialist countries, and even Russia in recent times has moved towards the same Democratic Republic governmental system that we have. (Or similar, I'm sure they are still working out the kinks ;))

Of course East Germany was Communist or Communist leaning from '49 to '90, give or take a few years, and depending on who you talk to.

Each country is actually moving, slowly to the right of center towards Fascism, not to the left towards Fascism. They are embracing both the political and economic ideals of a Democratic Republic - regardless of the head of state's position, embracing corporatism etc...

They are not making a leap from Socialism to Fascism, however. It is an evolutionary process. The question has changed and the parameters have seemingly widened to include a variety of hybrid governments. When the reality of it is that there aren't hybrid governments per se, but only question of "at what point did thus and such country cross over from x government to y government, and how long before it becomes z government?"

Anok said...

Jafabrit - I agree those rumors are really worrisome, and intrusive.

JafaBrit's Art said...

what rumours?? The one's about webcams, and hiring neighbours to spy? Those are not rumours anok, the councils have acknowledged they have cameras in wheelie bins and have paid council tenants to spy.

Or were you referring to the many rumours that extremist groups put out about each other?

Anok said...

Oh, no I thought the spying thing was still in the rumor phase. I didn't realize they had admitted to anything....

Wow Jafa....that is extra disturbing....

sonia said...

Ever since Hitler and Mussolini lost that little war 60-odd years ago, the words "fascist" or "nazi" are rarely used to describe actual followers of those ideological movements. Instead, those words have become simple curse words, just like "asshole" or "motherfucker", and they have to be treated as such.

Your point is still valid as far as the coarsening of the political discourse in general is concerned, but I seriously doubt that creating a third party might solve THAT particular problem.

It's actually quite comforting that "fascist" and "nazi" are used as curse words. It's proof-positive that those ideological movements are dead and have little influence today. If they were powerful and popular, nobody would dare to use them like that.

Notice that few people use the "muslim" as a curse word. But we are slowly moving in that direction...

Anok said...

For once, I agree with you Sonia, as in all of what you said. Huh, imagine that! *grin*

I really do just get annoyed though, when the mudslinging stoops to that level....to the extent in which it has. I mean, if you've got a person who really is that far out there, and their political aspirations are teetering on Fascism, OK then, use it. But using it to describe every little position you disagree with, or just to poison the well...

It's going to make that term so common place that it won't carry any meaning any more. Everyone will be Fascists. Meh.

I will say that I hear "Muslim" or "Islam" used as a derogatory term here much more so than other places. It would seem. Ugh, that goes right up my nose...

Dave Dubya said...

Allow me to offer some definitions of terms, first from my American Heritage Dictionary and then my personal take. These are simplistic descriptions, but highlight the differences.

Liberal - Having, expressing, or following social or political views or policies that favor non-revolutionary progress and reform, and also favor the freedom of individuals to act or express themselves in a manner of their own choosing.

Conservative – Tending to favor the preservation of the existing order and to regard proposals for change with distrust.

Fascism - A philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism.

Socialism - A social system in which the producers possess both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods.

Communism - A social system characterized by the absence of classes and by common ownership of the means of production and subsistence.

My take.

A Liberal is more open to understanding social, cultural, religious and economic characteristics and differences of people, with the goal of promoting peaceful and cooperative co-existence. Liberals more often question authority, assumptions and beliefs. Liberals tend to value shared responsibility.

A Conservative is less open to understanding social, cultural, religious and economic characteristics and differences of people, with the goal of promoting peaceful and cooperative co-existence. Conservatives less often question authority, assumptions and beliefs. Conservatives tend to value personal responsibility.

Fascism is the nexus of military/industrial complex and authoritarian government that employs a foreign policy benefiting business to the detriment of civil liberties and citizen participation.

Socialism is government regulation of business and providing services primarily for public benefit. It also allows more civil liberties than Fascism or Communism.

Communism is authoritarian government ownership and control of the means of production and distribution with extreme social control.

I hope this helps. Feel free to disagree or amend.

Don Lewis said...

I'll accept your offer, as I believe that these definitions no longer (if they ever did) have any basis in reality.

Liberals in the early days of the United States were those who favored limited government and conversely strong personal responsibility. A Jeffersonian Liberal of the time for example would not understand government provided health care, the military draft, a federal (or even state) education department, capitol gains taxes, and about 80 percent of the current Government system.

Conservatives of the time favored a stronger Federal system and more shared responsibilities.

These terms have switched, switched again, melded together and split apart. But neither today's conservative or liberal leadership has any interest in individual liberty. Both philosophies now favor a more powerful central state, although both emphasize different aspects of that increased state power.

Fascism was originally considered a left-of-center system of governance (See Roosevelt's early support for a fascist system.) It was only after its disagreements with the communists and it's war with the Allies that it was relegated to the "right". After all, both systems share many common traits, in practice if not in theory. Both call for the sublimation of individual liberties in favor of the collective, both require a strong central government to control and direct the citizenry, and both avoid market forces for determining policy, but depend instead on projections that frankly are determined by political expediency, but not reality.

Socialism as currently practiced, has in my opinion more similarities to fascism (the political and economic system, I'm not talking about jack-booted thugs) than to communism. Most industry in today's socialist systems remain in private, or at least non-direct governmental hands. The operational and distributive regulation of these businesses and industries is a function of the government.

The socialist-leaning government, unwilling or unable to operate using market forces, regulates by consensus of special interests (Often the industries themselves, but other interests as well.)

In other words, and using technical terms, ALL systems of government are Flim-Flam games, with the Right selling snake oil and the Left hawking lizard grease. In the end the leaders of the (insert name here) party have discovered that its a lot easier to collect the fruits of the proletariat than it is to do the digging themselves.

Gee, did that sound cynical?

Dave Dubya said...

Anok,you accurately point out the most common usage of these terms. The words have all been transformed into verbal clubs used by all factions against each other.

You're right, too, Don. These definitions fall short in describing the realities that are in a constant intertwining flux, within shifting contexts.

None of these systems were developed within the global corporatism that is now insinuating itself into the world's governments. It's all a whole 'nother beast now.

And, as you mentioned, ultimately it boils down to the haves and have nots.

Daniel Owen said...

I just have a book coming from the library called "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning" by Jonah Goldberg. I'll report back. But let me say here that the over-lap between authoritarians of any label is considerable, just as the overlap of libertarians of any label is considerable.

You'll find Kev Livingston sucking up to Castro sucking up to Juan Peron sucking up to Hitler sucking up to Mussolini.

Anok said...

Dave Dubya - I pretty much agree with your assessment.

Don, although I agree with you about the flim flammining and the snake oil and lizard grease I have one major disagreement.

Fascism was never considered left of center. Fascism was the political and governmental brainchild of Mussolini, who was always hard right.

Daniel...Goldberg, eh? Lemme know what you think ;)

Dave Dubya said...

If Goldberg's interview at salon.com is any indication, I would urge a reader of "Liberal Fascism" to buckle in for wild ride of circular illogic.


http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/01/11/goldberg/

Daniel Owen said...

Anok -- Mussolini began as a socialist. Errico Malatesta met him before he became a fascist and wrote a letter to Luigi Fabbri saying he thought Mussolini was a pompous big-mouth who'd never come to much. Ah, the irony.

Anok said...

Eeeeh, you're stretching the truth their, Daniel. Mussolini was born and raised in a Socialist family, but turned Nationalist in 1913, and simultaneously expelled from the Socialist party. After which he joined the military and fought in the war that the Socialist party was seriously opposed to. Furthering himself even more so from Socialism and the Socialist party.

It wasn't until after the war that he formed the Fascist party - formed by a nationalist, a person who was hard right - not left of center.

Ergo, Fascism was never left of center.

Anok said...

I should add to that last comment - I forgot I had said "always hard right" in my previous comment. I should have made that clearer - always hard right not meaning his whole life....meaning that he wasn't a left leaning politico who started Fascism as a left leaning ideology - it was always hard right when it was brought into existence.

I just could have said it better :P

Don Lewis said...

But Anok,

I think at the time of Mussolini, the concepts of Left and Right were still being defined. Many US socialists admired Mussolini and his policies. And in certain respects, socialism is a philosophy much closer to fascism in its dependence on, and control by a large central authority.

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976721152

Try checking out this guys link. You may not agree with his some of his selections, but it is a novel approach. And on the whole I think I'd agree with his results.

Daniel Owen said...

All I know is that Malatesta met Mussolini when he was a socialist and didn't like him much. He was a socialist before becoming a nationalist.

Daniel Owen said...

Don Lewis -- As Oswald Spengler said, everybody is a socialist nowadays. Libertarian/Austrian types call currently existing capitalism socialist. Individualists call free-market exchange socialist. Marxists and fascists call monopoly capitalism socialism. Anarchists, syndicalists, and libertarian socialists call a voluntary cooperative economy socialist.

To be glib, I could say all human social structures are "socialist" and that the only distinction is between corporatism and syndicalism.

Syfted said...

It feels like a lot of things are being missed that need to be evaluated before we even get into the socialist/fascist argument. Anok makes a few claims in the beginning:

“…the only reason either party can get away with any sort of bad behavior is through the indifference of the other party - the opposition.”

“…the only reason either party involves itself with bad behavior in the first place is due to the morals, or lack thereof of the current party members.”

“…party affiliation means exactly nothing. It's a word on a piece of paper. It carries no weight until someone decides to load it up.”

First, with regards to indifference; Anok, your statement is woefully incorrect. Whenever the member of one party makes a bad social move, the opposing party will do either one of two things. They will either let the actions of the individual hinder the status of his party, or they will denounce the actions of the individual in an attempt to undermine the status of his party. Let’s look at a recent example, that of Larry Craig.

Craig’s actions were socially “bad” for the Republican Party, but great for Democrats. The Democrats let Craig get chewed up by his own Party; those who once backed him were forced to distance themselves from him. Furthermore, Democrats were then able to utilize Craig’s actions to portray him and his associated Party as hypocritical. One thing is certain- Democrats were not indifferent. They cared very much- in fact, they reveled in it.

What about Bill Clinton? Were the Republicans indifferent about his affairs in the White House? I think not; Republicans have been mocking and deriding the man for his actions ever since.

Second, neither party, I think, would like to involve themselves in these affairs. Democrats would have much preferred it if Clinton stayed far away from Lewinsky. Republicans tried their hardest to distance themselves from Craig. Political parties are simply forced to put up with the garbage generated by scummy politicians. In the end, the negative actions of those politicians are just a nuisance.

That brings us to your last claim, that “party affiliation means exactly nothing.” Parties are formed in order to get candidates elected. Anok does not seem to have a grasp on the differences between a “party” and an “ideology.” Terms like “liberal” and “conservative” define ideologies. Terms like “Republican,” “Democrat,” and “Nazi” define parties. Parties exist to get candidates elected. Ideologies exist to define political thought.

Party affiliation means that you have decided to throw in your lot with a group of people following a general, overarching, and often broad ideology in order to help those people get candidates elected. Party affiliation does not “mean nothing.” Party affiliation is, in fact, extremely important, because it means that you’ve thrown in your $0.02 to aid certain candidates in the election.

Ron Paul is a libertarian. Ron Paul ran on a Republican ticket because he hoped that the Party would aid him in the election. The party did not- which is thus why Ron Paul couldn’t make it. If the Party had backed Paul, he would have stood a shot at winning the election. But under a third-party ticket, Paul will likely not see the oval office.

Daniel Owen said...

So in other words, Syfted, "party affiliation means nothing." If Ron Paul thought the Republican Part would give him a leg up (did he?) he was extremely foolish.

The depths to which "part affiliation mean nothing" are demonstrated by the fact that Ron Paul supporters have equally come from Republican, Democratic and "a-political" demographics.

kdawg68 said...

haven't been able to read all the comments, but the OP struck me as spot-on, Anok.

I'm tired of it as well. Hell, one of the reasons I left our old community haunt was because I tired of being associated with nazism/fascism whenever generalized by someone on the left.

I was reminded again of the letters between longtime rivals and friends T.Jefferson and J. Adams. There's a great Jefferson quote from one of their later letters, which I've taken as an attempt to forgive some of the political mud-slinging they did to each other: "As long as their are governments, men will disagree on how to run them." He goes on about how each man is blinded by their belief in the truth.

I find this to be largely correct. There just seems to be an overall surrendering of decency anymore these days though. There was a time when you could discuss politics with folks without the 5th-grade name calling. Now that seems largely impossible. Too many folks with axes to grind and agendas they are marching to.

Regarding the two party system- it seems to me they exist purely to perpetuate each other. Think about it. You need Republicans because the alternative is darned Democrats. You need Democrats because the alternative is vile Republicans. This all smacks me as fishy.

I've long wanted to do a controlled expirement. Have one party come out and publicly claim that 2 plus 3 equals 5 and then wait and see what sort of rebuttle will come from the other side - as surely one would be forthcoming.

I suppose it's time to put the old "Judean People's Front" bumper sticker on the car again. :)