A few days ago, one of my correspondents on the “LeftLibertarian2″ mailing list produced a rant that expresses some of the frustrations I myself have had of late in my political discussions with non-libertarians, at least as well as I could if not better.
So, with his kind permission, I present the following from Jay P. Hailey:
My discussions with people in my enviroment sugggests that they could not tell the difference between between fascism, corporatism and socialism.
Attachment to the state seems to be an emotional process, not a rational one. Saying “We don’t need a state” often provokes a fearful, angry or dismissive reaction.
Once people accept the premise that the state exists, and that it’s okay for a state to use coercion or force against individuals for the benefit of all – That’s about as far as the analysis and consideration of the organization of it goes.
People seem to associate “fascism” with little men shrieking about Jews, black uniforms and goose stepping marches.
I say, “No, look, seriously. It fascism. it works just like that, see? what we have and facism? government/private partnership? There you go”
And they say “Is NOT! We haven’t annexed the Sudetenland! We haven’t invade Poland! I don’t see any swastikas!”
I can think of three movies, Robocop 2, Starship Troopers and V for Vendetta where a lot of the signage, flags and design work were deliberately evocative and reminiscent of the German national socialists.
And still people did not see it.
I try to point out that a lot of totalitarianism is about selling the public. It’s about spin, public opinion control and pressing emotional buttons in the human psyche.
it seems a lot of people can’t see past the immediate branding and logos.
Like pointing out that a Dodge Stratus and Ford Taurus of similar vintage are functionally identical. “No they’re not! One has a dodge on the hood, one has a ford!”
“Both are similarly laid out to accomplish similar ends, burning gasoline to produce go.”
“Are not! The measurements, door shapes and specific details are all different!”
“Well, okay, let;s look at the ackerman angle and the purpose that serves in steering the vehicle.”
“I don’t want to hear it. They’re different cars. You are an irrational conspiracy theorist, a radical and you spend too much time focusing on obscure details that don’t matter!”
The term fascism has lost any useful descriptive power because it’s too closely associated with Hitler (ignoring Mussolini, Franco and the rest).
Similarly, Corporatism is poisoned, too. If I use it to mean corrupted “crony capitalism” People wonder why I support liberty and gold backed currency. (Since “everyone knows” the “free market” leads to “corporatism”)
Hell, even the term “Crony Capitalism” while pithy and evocative is inaccurate, because you’re not investing capital in production when you bribe a congressmen to legislate in your favor.
Unless your product is noise and hot air. As they say “Talk is cheap because the supply exceeds the demand.”
So that’s just corruption. There’s no capitalism involved.
I tried to ressurect Mercantilism for a while. I figured that it’s descriptive but hasn’t been poisoned by bullshit modern associations or lies.
Someone one said, paraphrasing that it wasn’t working for them because it felt like having a political argument with a character out of a Dickens novel.
(Oh, and that f-er, Dickens… oooooo. “everyone knows” you see, that the industrial revolution was a hellish death trap for the working class until Marx and the Fabians set them free.)
Just like “Everyone knows” that unresricted free markets lead to corporatism, facism and oppression of the masses.
I find myself battling the battles of assumptions, bullshit, fear and ignorance.
I say that distinctions between early 20th century mercantilism, imperialism, corporatism, fascism and socialism are lost on most folks.
They really don’t believe half of it happened, and the other half, they could ‘t tell you if it was Socialism or Fascism in action.
A lot of basic assumptions of Fascism – The superiority of the State, the idea that the collective good of the nation has a pre-emptive claim on any individual’s wealth or personal property – That nation-States are lead by great leaders who represent the will of the nation made manifest.
Phrase these things subtly enough and normal folks will totally buy it.
They FEEL better when they’re part of a state and can tell themselves that the victims who are murdered, tortured or completely ganked are part of a minority who brought it down on themselves.
They can justify being stolen from because it’s “Fair” and happens to everyone.
Makes me crazy.
I am pretty sure most folks could care less about whether their state is socialist or fascist, so long as they aren’t getting bombed, and the state branding logos are cool and tough looking enough.
And when I retreat back to first principles “Don’t hurt anyone. Force and Coercion are bad ideas and unethical to boot. The good of the many does NOT outweigh the good of the few or the one.”
I get told I am hopelessly naive and radical.
So, parsing whether Orwell’s dire (and all too accurate) warnings were rooted left or right wing political ideology
I think that’s not entirely useful. Winston Smith can’t tell and doesn’t care if he’s living in a socialist or a fascist hell.
In the end Oceana would look the same either way, because both boil down to the supremacy of the group over the individual, and the “Need” for all individuals to be controlled for the good of the collective.
Most people in the U.S. couldn’t tell you if thosee are fascist or socialist cameras going up every where.
I couldn’t tell you.
But I can tell you this – the idea that good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one – Most of our neighbors accept that idea, Strongly.
I really don’t think it makes a difference in the long run if the good of the greater whole is the fascist greater whole or the socialist greater whole.
I think they’ll each wind up in pretty much the same place.
Just a few of the advertising slogans might read differently. Coke v Pepsi. Whatever.
It’s about control, fear and trust.
Our neighbors fear and distrust us and each other. They want security through control.
My attempts to point out that yes, it can, does and is happening here meet with denial.
“Nope. No police state. No fascism. No oppression. Ain’t happening. There are no swastikas.”
Forgive me for rambling. I am really sleepy!
G’night. Keep the flame alive, even if only in your heart for now.
Someday, maybe if we hang in there long enough, our neighbors, friends and family, having tried everything else may grudingly give the NAP a try.
We just have to keep plugging.
G’night, Jay, and thank you.