Sunday, January 16, 2005

Comparison of Totalitarian Systems

Howard Johnson: But I have one question: as despicable as Hitler was (and I make absolutely no defense for him, why do the liberals never use the other group of totalitarians, the Communists, in their examples of genocide and cruelty. Mao and Stalin made Hitler look like an amateur, killing more than three times as many people as Hitler (and there were others in Vietnam, Cambodia, and other places where the Communist terrorists could add millions more to that number). I've always wondered why the Communist brand of totalitarianism has always been soft-pedaled by the liberals while the industrial complex totalitarianism has been vilified. Personally, I think that's hypocritical and both extremes of domination should be vilified.

ANDREW YOUNG REPLIES: Speaking as a liberal who believes in Libertarianism and of true democratic rule with individuals taking more responsibility for the running of their society, I will try to answer your question. I agree that Communism also led to great evils being perpetrated on mankind during the 20th Century but the reason we liberals do not talk about it with reference to Bush is that fascist extremism has different philosophical roots to communist extremism. We perceive politics as a linear spectrum of ideas and not, as some claim to think, as a closed circle with fascism approaching communism at some point.

Certainly the dire consequences of totalitarianism in terms of the torture, death and the extermination of dissidents are similar to both movements but the psychological, philosophical and political roots which leads to these excesses are very different. Politically extremist regimes are simply wrong-headed and bound to fail. Liberal "intellectuals" constantly try to warn of the stupidity of extremism and constantly suffer the consequences of persecution by the intellectually challenged extremist who will always seek to shut us up. First the extremist will express contempt for all "intellectuals" and learning, then they will seek to censor or burn our work and finally they will imprison, torture and murder us when their pathetically limited level of patience has been exhausted. They will always shoot the messenger who is telling them exactly why they are failing long before admitting that the reason they are failing is their own stupidity.

If we liberals thought that Bush was approaching a political extreme via the communist route we would compare him to Stalin or Mao and warn of those dangers. He is not, so Communism is irrelevant.

There is nothing about simple George that suggests that he could ever believe that the way to political power is to brainwash the populace into embracing utilitarianism as a moral philosophy or that people should work in collectives under the direction of a state planned central economy. Communism fails because such a system does not match the innate nature of the human animal. Humans are selfish ethical egoists and need to be motivated by appeals to self-interest rather than to collective interests. We can feel some compassion for others but we cannot, in general, live our entire lives in the service of the needs of others. Impoverished Christian Missionaries, doctors working cheaply for the Red Cross and lawyers working for the poor are all wonderful examples of what Jesus Christ and Karl Marx would approve of, but they are the exception, not the rule. Also topdown central planning of an economy is desperately inefficient and cannot ever keep pace with things like fashion or rapidly changing technological developments.

No, Bush believes in the unfettered use of capital to generate wealth and in the survival of the fittest, or to put it another way, "capitalism red with blood in tooth and claw". That is ironic really considering this particular Neo-Nazi movement's aversion to Darwinism as an explanation for the evolution of life on Earth! It was ruthless 19th Century capitalism that led to Marxism as a reaction to all the horror and misery such capitalism left as a wake of despair. Marx famously predicted that ruthless capitalism would eventually collapse under the weight of its own contractions, but then he failed to notice the equally impressive contradictions in Marxism. Ruthless capitalism leads to a kind of neo-feudalism with the Prince in his castle enjoying a much higher standard of living than the peasant working down in the fields below. Fascism is a descendent of feudalism in that it is a more modern expression of the domination of the many peasants by just a few Princes and the brawny thick headed military henchmen in the employment of the Princes. For "Prince" in a modern context (read the capitalist politician) that has no real need to be on the payroll of the state because he has enough capital working for him already to not need the extra income, although extra income is never to be sneezed at of course!

Many people have been suckered into believing that they are capitalists simply because they work in a capitalist society. If you have to work, gentle reader, you are not a capitalist. Capital provides income through investing in businesses where other people do the work. If you are a capitalist you do not have to do any real work personally, your capital works for you while you can sit comfortably in your castle while watching the dividends hit your bank account on your computer monitor. In this global economy the business does not even need to be located in the fields near your castle anymore. If the peasants work for less in China it makes perfect sense for your capital to give you a higher income from China. What of the peasants down in the field below your castle who you used to employ (and pay) to generate your wealth you might ask? "Let them shift for themselves" is the cold and unfeeling reply!

So, there you have it. You are either a capitalist, in which case you are part of the political "base" of simple George, or you are just little people peasants, employees, of no consequence. There are only a few ways forward if you are little people. The industrial military complex needs lots of weapons produced domestically in the USA, so that industry clearly cannot be exported. So you could be employed to make bullets to kill foreigners for reasons that you will never be able to understand. You could volunteer to be a military henchman working for the Prince and go and have your arms and legs blown off in Iraq by a people who never asked you to invade their country and who, not unreasonably, want you to leave. You could go to work in a service industry that cannot be exported to China or India, like being a cook, hairdresser, farm labourer or gardener to a capitalist Prince. However you might lose that kind of job to a cheaper Mexican if you dare to ask for too much money. Hmm, the prospects do not look all that good do they? Do not expect a pension, free health care or necessarily even food and shelter in your old age. Emigrate is my advice. The USA used to be the "land of opportunity" but those opportunities are rapidly diminishing under this neo-feudal fascist regime. The destruction of educational standards in the USA, the brainwashing of the citizenry to be devoted and loyal nationalistic "patriots", the desire of many to be led trustingly like sheep to slaughter has ensured the swift and peaceful ascendance of your new ruthless masters. Will the people of the USA ever realise that they are in really deep political, moral, financial and social trouble? Probably not anytime soon!

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posted with permission from the author

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