The Colorado State Board of Education is reworking its public school history curriculum to present an accurate account of World War II and the Holocaust. Board member Steve Durham, a conservative, believes this should include an explanation of terms like Nazism, fascism, and socialism to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the systems of government, political economy and ideology of the period. Predictably, Durham has been attacked by some lefty defenders of socialism. So, let’s define terms.
Socialism, the brainchild of Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto in 1848, was created in the cause of “social justice” as an alternative to capitalism. He called for the abolition of private property to be replaced by government ownership of the means of production, determining what will be produced, how it will be produced, and how income will be distributed. The foundational credo of Marxist socialism is, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Market competition, meritocracy, incentives and individual freedom are sacrificed.
Marx’s premise was that ultimately human nature can be perfected, and individuals would abandon their self-interest and materialism to the collectivist benefit of society. Human beings aren’t like bees in a hive or ants in a colony. The fallacy of that fundamental premise — still desperately embraced today by utopian, ivory tower intellectuals and academics on the left — is the foundation on which socialism collapses. And it’s why purely socialist economies that punish ambition and success while rewarding sloth and dependence on government largesse at the expense of others are doomed to poverty and failure. In essence, Marxism or socialism flies in the face of human nature and always will.
Socialism morphed into totalitarian communism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), combining economic socialism with a political system. Instead of a capitalistic demand-driven economy, it was a command-economy with government commissars and bureaucrats controlling everything. The political system was a one-party state. Only the Communist Party was allowed, headed by the all-powerful Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Government ruled with an iron hand, controlling the media, suppressing religion and free speech. The secret police shipped off political dissidents to slave labor camps in Siberia, known as the Gulag Archipelago.
In the wake of World War II, countries of Eastern Europe were annexed by the Soviet Union with its people imprisoned behind what Winston Churchill figuratively dubbed an “Iron Curtain.” (Communist East Germany built the, literal, infamous Berlin Wall to keep its citizens from escaping.)
Today’s version of democratic-socialism in free countries is a mixed economy with heavily-regulated markets and private enterprise co-existing with government-owned companies. High taxes fund an expansive welfare state with generous social payments. Government spending consumes a high percentage of GDP.
The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Modern Economics offers this definition of fascism: “A totalitarian, collective system of government in which central control is exercised over all economic, political and social activities…Private ownership of production is maintained, but extreme restrictions are imposed on private economic freedoms. Decisions on production, investment, prices and wages are all subject to arbitrary government control.”
Safire’s Political Dictionary traces the root of the term “fascism” to the Italian word “fascio,” for a bundle or group. So, it’s inherently collective, like socialism. Socialism, communism, fascism and Nazism are all variations of political economies of the left. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler were cut from the same cloth. Marx was dedicated to international socialism. Hitler was a national socialist (hence, the abbreviation “Nazi”). Rather than world socialism, his goal was world domination under the delusion that pure-bred German Aryans were the “master race,” and as an excuse for exterminating the Jews. In constructing his Third Reich, Hitler borrowed from Mussolini’s fascist model of government in Italy after World War I.
Beyond its ideology, fascism is also about brutal tactics. Mussolini’s Black Shirts was a militia of thugs that disrupted rival political gatherings and beat up participants. Hitler’s Brown Shirts did the same. In the U.S., that’s what Antifa thugs do. But Antifa has no coherent ideology, it’s an odd stew of communist, socialist, and anarchist would-be revolutionaries who employ fascist behavioral tactics while ironically calling themselves “anti-fascist.”
This is akin to the left’s absurd labeling of American conservatives or Republicans as fascists because they believe in limited government and individual liberty, just as our nation’s founders did. It’s leftists who want unlimited government and control of our lives in the name of “social justice” and “equity,” which equates to the socialist notion of equal outcomes as opposed to equal opportunity. The U.S. federal government has a Department of Justice sworn to defend the Constitution, enforce our laws and conduct our courts, not to redistribute income. There’s no Department of Social Justice. That’s just a political slogan.
Along the American ideological spectrum, Republicans and conservatives who believe in limited government are regarded as on the political right while big-government Democrats and progressives are on the political left. For example, the Communist Party of the United States, which was a “bro” of the Soviet Union, is still indisputably left-wing. So why did American leftists insist on labeling brutal communist dictators in the former Soviet Union as right-wingers? The explanation is in the twisted leftist mind-set that the right is evil while the left is virtuous.
Similarly, “fascist” is just a curse-word leftists throw around with no rational meaning. Kind of like a four-year old calling another kid a do-do head.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
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