Economics, Historically, History, Politics

Sorting Through the Politics of Labeling

(Previous posted, but has been edited and reposted with additional information)

Fascism.  Nazism.  Communism.  Liberalism.  Conservatism.  Socialism.  Marxism.  Capitalism.  Corporatism.  Statism.  Libertarianism.  Despotism.  Progressivism.

How does one navigate through all of the overlapping meanings?

George W. Bush was called a fascist and compared to Hitler.  The comparisons were absurd, just as they are for Barrack Obama to receive them.  Until one is responsible for the murder of 6,000,000 people, we can leave those comparisons behind.

But, it is time to lay to rest the notion that Hitler’s Germany was led by a “far right” regime.  The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, translated to English from Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei, which was shortened to Nazis, was a national socialist party.  As their leader, Hitler was a national socialist.  National refers to their German supremacist beliefs.  Socialist refers to their belief that many industries should be publicly owned.

Hitler, during his rise to power, was later quoted by fellow Nazi and confidant, Otto Wagener as saying a Nazi Germany will “find and travel the road from individualism to socialism without revolution.”  Hitler believed the state could control without owning.  Hitler was also quoted by Wagener as saying, “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish, we shall be in a position to achieve.”  Joseph Goebbels wrote in his private diary five days before Germany attacked Russia that Jewish Bolshevism would be uprooted in Russia and “real socialism” planted in its place – “Der echte Sozialismus”.

In a speech Hitler gave on May 1, 1927, he stated, “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”  Nazi Germany established price and wage controls and vastly expanded public works.  The Nazi Party included in its 25 point manifesto:

  • 13) We demand the nationalization of all trusts.
  • 14) We demand profit-sharing in large industries.
  • 15) We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.

In 1936, Hitler approved the “Four year plan” to systematically take over control of the German economy, including the private sector and business media.  Ludwig von Mises summarized it well:

The second pattern [of socialism] (we may call it the Hindenburg or German pattern) nominally and seemingly preserves private ownership of the means of production, and keeps the appearance of ordinary markets, prices, wages, and interest rates.  These are, however, no longer entrepreneurs, but only shop managers.  These shop managers are seemingly instrumental in the conduct of the enterprises entrusted to them; they buy and sell, hire and discharge workers and remunerate their services, contract debts, and pay interest and amortization.  But in all their activities they are bound to obey unconditionally the orders issued by the governments supreme office of production management.  This office tells shop managers what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to who to sell.  It assigns every worker to his job and fixes his wages.  It decrees to whom and on what terms the capitalists must entrust their funds.  Market exchange is merely a sham.

One reason Nazi Germany was at odds with Communist Russia was the sham had to have some basis of truth.  Germany still believed in some forms of varying economic classes and private property where Communist Russia looked to have everything controlled through a central government, including the churches.  Nazi Germany did attempt to form a Protestant Reich and band all the varying Protestant churches together to exert some control over them, but it was a failing effort.  The Catholic Church saw Nazi Germany as a bulwark against the spread of communism, but Nazi Germany saw the Catholic Church as a threat.  Nazi Germany wanted to establish a concordat which is a regulating of the relationship between the Church and the state.  It amounted loosely to a truce between the Reich and the Church.

Where Marxism is the purest form of Communism and Laissez Faire is the purest form of Capitalism, it is important to note that neither can actually exist in it’s purest form.  Where Communism is the equal sharing of miseries through everything being controlled by the State, Marxism requires no State since everyone would voluntarily live within this equally sharing society.  Utopia if you will.  Laissez Fair is virtually the same Utopian belief from the opposite end of the spectrum.  This is the belief that it is unnecessary for government to involve itself in economic transactions between people and/or businesses.

Government is necessary not to restrain freedoms, but to protect them.  Not to create an atmosphere of an equal sharing of miseries, but to protect our inalienable right to pursue happiness.

Liberal is supposed to represent a respect for freedom.  American LIberals are purported to represent the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party has too often been the antithesis of freedom.  It has been the Party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow, the party of the KKK, and the party of segregation.  It has too often been against the ideals of free market capitalism and the proponent of social justice.  Conservative, to “conserve” generally means to “control”.  American Conservatives are generally associated with the Republican Party.  The Republican Party establishment in recent decades has been in bed with big government Democrats, but the Republican Party has since been turned back to their Classical Liberal philosophies with the grass roots influence of the Tea Party.

Classical Liberalism is what our Founding Fathers intended of our great nation.  Liberal to them meant free and impartial.  It stood for freedom and liberty.  It was synonymous with limited government protecting individual inalienable rights tempered by personal responsibility.

We could go on and on into perpetuity about the differing and overlapping terminology, conflicting and hypocritical definitions, the fight for use or meanings of certain terms or phrases, but to what avail?  I found a video that simplifies the styles of government we have available to us.  It is my hope this video in simplifying governing options leads to a simplification to your broader view of the role of government.

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