Labels coming unstuck
OK, thing are all so screwed up, all I can do is lay it out as I see it. Not that I expect people to agree, mind, but that’s part of the fun, right?
Ideas are sticky. They roll through peoples’ heads and pick up a lot of other stuff which doesn’t actually have anything to do with them. So, systems of running an economy, such as capitalism and socialism/communism, accumulate around them ideas about government and society that actually have no logical or causal relationship to them.
There is no reason, in logic, why an economically socialist country should not be racist or sexist in its social structures and behaviours. Equally, there is no reason for a capitalist society not to be tolerant and open. Both socialism and capitalism can operate in either dictatorship or democracy.
BUT, we take one set of economic and social ideas, which become have stuck together by historical accident, and label them Left. We take another set, equally accidentally associated, and label them Right. Then expect them to remain always in these opposed stances.
But if we follow the logic proposed by both sides, without pre-choosing a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, we find that, according to the adherents of the other side, both must end in totalitarianism, so we do not have a spectrum, but a circle which leads to the same place whichever direction you go in.
So let’s look at it another way.
Fascism has at its core the Classical concept that the individual cannot be trusted with freedom, because he/she will choose selfishly and to the detriment of society. or, in the words of Machiavelli:
It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope.
So the Fascist state sets out to subordinate each and every individual to itself. In order to do so, it creates an entity, an idea: the State, the Party, the People. This is the entity to which each individual owes obedience, loyalty and duty, and their entire lives are shaped and controlled around that idea of service. This builds a hierarchical society where those who serve most loyally — whether competent or not -are the ones who climb. The apparatchiks. That was the type of society Hitler created in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Stalin in Russia and Mao ZeDong in China. Whether the central idea was called the Volk, the Reich, the Communist Party or the People, the mechanisms of government were identical. Fascist states can operate a socialist economy or a capitalist one, since Fascism is not an economic system. However, they cannot operate a totally free market, since, like everything else, the market must serve the state, so even capitalist Fascists exercise some degree of control over markets. Nor does a Fascist state necessarily discriminate on grounds of gender, race or sexuality. The origins of Fascism lie in ancient Rome (the society whose values Mussolini based his Fascism on), where all citizens were expected to serve the Senate and the People without question or complaint. But the Roman Empire was the most racially-diverse and religiously tolerant society of its time. Bad attitude to women, but I never said they were perfect!
Socialism, you may be surprised to learn, is primarily an economic system, not a governmental or social one. It is a ‘from the bottom up’ system where the contribution of the labourer is deemed as valuable as that of the managers or directors who oversee the process. Given an assumption of finite resources and the equal value of all work, this mandates that everyone should receive what he needs, in return for doing what he can. Since everyone, therefore, has an equal stake in the success of whatever project or work they’re involved in, the idea that one person ‘owns’ the work, or its end product, is meaningless. But socialist economics can operate in a democracy or a dictatorship, and they do not have to be non-racist or non-sexist.
I could go on, but you get the idea. We have taken one set of ideas, which have been lumped together on the basis that, in the last two centuries, the wealthy were largely socially conservative, and labelled them Right wing. We have taken another set of ideas, based on a middle-class assumption of what the working class wanted and needed, and labelled them Left-wing. Because of where people sat in Assemblies during the French Revolution.
Now, of course, the labels have lost their glue. They’ve become faded and grubby and are about to fall off just as the ideas inside them are peeling away from each other.
So we have Trumps’ America, which some people (I’m looking at you, Umair) insist on calling Fascist because ”Who else puts people in camps?”. Every combatant nation in WW2, for one! Britain placed Italians and Germans (except, for some reason, the Windsors/Saxe-Coburgs) in internment camps. America did the same to Japanese-Americans. Not concentration camps? A rose by any other name still grows in horse-shit, my friend! Not to mention the PoW camps. What the Nazis had that others didn’t was Death Camps. Places designed specifically for mass exterminations. Thus far, I don’t see Trump suggesting that anyone be gassed, and I’d like to think that even his most ardent supporters would draw a line at that!
No, if Trump set up a paramilitary force like the SS and sent them out to enforce uniformity, his own grassroots supporters would be the first to take pot-shots at these harbingers of Federal tyranny! Because whatever Trump himself stands for, or thinks he does, his supporters are those who cling to a specific notion of what an American is. A rugged, armed, self-reliant individualist who takes care of himself and his family and takes orders from nobody! A country in which a third of households own firearms and in which approximately two million people live off the grid is not a place where fascism can develop easily. A country in which the Federal government has only limited authority over individual states, many of which could become economically independent, is not one in which a uniform social, cultural and political structure could be imposed without the risk of secession and armed conflict.
So, while many see America as the most Right-wing country in the developed world, it is highly-possible that, precisely because of the ‘Right-wing’ views of so many of its people, America could descend into anarchy. A state in which individuals and/or communities become isolated from each other and wholly self-reliant, ignoring government, law enforcement or any kind of authority.
Meanwhile, the British working classes, who badly want a more Socialist economy, voted a Tory government in because they believed that the threat of domination by the same country their parents and grandparents fought so hard against was worse than the fear of five more years of austerity!