Extreme right-wingers seem to be bandying about these terms interchangeably these days. I really don't get it. Why does the media focus on the idiots at the fringe? Why do they get so much airtime? They annoy me just as much as the extreme left-wingers who claim that 9/11 was the work of the Bush government. Then there's the comparison with Hitler (for both presidents). But that's another matter. Seriously. Why don't we hear more about people like this guy?
Anyway, so I keep hearing about how the Obama government is turning America into a Socialist nation... or maybe it's a Communist nation... no wait... it's Fascist. Either way it's apparently undermining the foundations of our republic and turning us into Russia... or maybe it's China... no wait... maybe it's Nazi Germany. Oh yes, before I get accused of being a crazy liberal let me say (as a disclaimer) that yes, I do lean a little bit left-of-center, but I don't agree with everything the left says. I'm also not a fan of big government. That being said, let's analyze three different political ideologies and see what they actually mean.
Communism is a political ideology as well as an economic system. Communism aims to create a classless society where everybody is equal. In an ideal communist-society, there is no government and everybody owns everything. People are nice to each other and no one really has any desire for power. It's one big party. Communism sounds pretty nice in principle. But since human beings are far from perfect and since there are many who are power-hungry and greedy, communism is impractical. Now obviously the United States is quite far away from being a communist nation. Firstly we are neither classless nor egalitarian. Finally, we have a government. Those who accuse the Obama government of turning America "communist" do so because they say that the government is getting too big - which contradicts what communism is about. Besides this main point, there are numerous other points that make America not communist, and that also show that it is not moving in that direction. Anyone who takes the time to look up what Communism really means, can see that. Those who say otherwise are either ignorant, deceitful, or fear-mongering.
Fascism isn't a party. Actually it's kinda like a party except the hosts tell you exactly what you have to do. You are also supposed to have fun even if the party consists of just knitting and cutting colored paper into random shapes. If you don't have fun, you can be killed or put in prison. Hell, even if you are having fun but the hosts don't think you are, you can still be thrown in prison... or killed. Also, don't even think of saying that the party sucks. You will be killed. Oh yeah, you also go around trashing other people's parties and killing them also. Fascism is a radical ideology. It advocates a nationalistic and authoritarian single-party state. Fascists believe that a nation (or people) can only advance by being in perpetual conflict with other nations (or people). The weak perish and the strong survive. Fascist governments are authoritarian and dictatorial. There is suppression of free speech, and opposition against the government is not tolerated. It's rather obvious that the United States if far from being a Fascist nation. Also, in no way is the current administration "Fascist" in any way (neither was the Bush administration). "Fascist" has turned into an adjective that people use, to label governments whose policies they do not like. The fact that those on the extreme right can speak and make their (ridiculous) theories heard points to the fact that the Obama administration is far from "Fascist". If the administration truly was Fascist, we wouldn't be hearing these dissenting (and downright crazy) opinions. So if you hear anyone use the term "Fascist", ask them what it actually means. You'll find that they really don't know what they're talking about.
Socialism isn't a concrete doctrine or ideology like Communism or Fascism. It's a set of theories of economic organization which advocate a society where the public or workers directly own and administer the means of production and its distrubtion and allocation. A socialist society is characterized by equal access to resources through an egalitarian method of compensation. Sounds nice, but once again, impractical. Human nature prevents a practical implementation of socialism. Finally I think most people are averse to a system where everything is publicly owned. People want something that they can call "theirs". Socialism in its purest form results in Communism. Now most rational people will look at Socialism and think of it as an idea that's nice and utopian, but ultimately impractical. Although socialism tries to address the inequalities between people, human nature will always get in the way. You either end up with free loaders living off those who work, or you end up with the ones with resources opressing everyone else. The fact remains that the United States is committed to being a capitalist nation. Forgive me for being cynical here, but the coporations and the politicians will never allow anything else. There's simply too much money in being Capitalist. Furthermore, if you analyze the Obama administration's policies they're not really Socialist. They're actually anti-worker and pro-corporate. Ironically, the final act of the Bush Administration was more Socialist than anything else: bailing out Wall Street. So if you hear more extreme right-wing nonsense about "OMG SOCIALISM", ask them exactly what it means and how these policies are Socialist. They may come back with vague statements about how Obama is "redistributing the wealth" or "promoting Government interference" or something like that. Redistribution of wealth by itself is not a "Socialist" policy. It will alleviate some problems, but it's not going to cause true economic change. For the United States to actually turn Socialist, a lot of things have to change. None of that is happening. The American people won't let it happen. "Socialism", like "Obama is Kenyan" is another red herring thrown out by the extreme-right. Rational folks, on the left and the right, don't take such things seriously.
No government is universally accepted by the people. There are always critics and detractors. What I'm generally sad about is the current state of political debate (if it can even be called that) in our country (and it's not limited to the current "debate". It dates back to the early days of the Bush administration). It's full of vitriol, fear-mongering, and hyperbole. In general I wish the media would focus on rational views from the moderate left and the moderate right. There is very real rational opposition to the Obama administration's plans, and there are very real concerns. These are the things American people need to hear instead of garbage like "Bush planned 9/11" or "Obama is not actually an American and he wants to kill all the old people!".
77 thoughts on “Communism vs. Fascism vs. Socialism”
Well said, Patheticus!
@Roland Hall: @Patheticus:
No they’re not. If you actually look up the definitions of Fascism and Communism, you’ll notice that they’re different from Socialism (although Communism is related to Socialism). Fascism is completely unrelated to Communism.
Names don’t mean anything. You’d know this if you actually looked up the history of the Nazi party. Hitler initially called it the National Socialist Workers Party because he wanted to attract workers to his party and thereby build up his base. One of the first things he did when he gained power was to abolish worker’s rights. That’s not very “Socialist” of him. Nazism is an example of fascism, its name notwithstanding.
Not at all. Nazism is on the right of the political spectrum. Overt nationalism, a strong attribute of Nazism falls on the right of the political spectrum.
I’m not trying to indoctrinate anybody. Also, Liberalism is not necessarily socialism. Perhaps you shouldn’t be throwing terms about without understanding them. Really, just spend an hour or so going over these political ideologies and the history of the Nazi party and you’ll understand better.
Communism vs. Fascism? It comes down to who owns the means of production in a state. Both are forms of socialism. Another fundamental difference is who makes the decisions. Under one the party who is supposedly freely elected representatives of the proletariat. In the other, those who rule are those with the biggest stick. Neither protects individual rights and those who dare to differ from the collective are eliminated. Both will kill you if you do not submit. Right/Left is meaningless in the context you use. Liberalism is a bastard term as well. Today we have modern liberals who tend to be Progressives, Socialists, and collectivists – all who advocate power to their special interest (e.g. poor, handicapped, ethnic groups) and believe ‘gummint’ should compel compliance. Classic liberals founded this nation and some Libertarians hold some of their beliefs. The ‘right’ has different special interest groups and like the left believe ‘gummint’ should be used to compel compliance. In terms of classic liberalism, both extremes are horrific forms of ‘gummint.’ Sadly, we veer toward both ends of the spectrum, depending on what the flavor of the year is in vogue now-a-days. Lost now to both parties is the foundation on which our country was formed. Read the Federalist Papers and you will understand how alien this place is now to what it once was and how much we have lost as individuals.
Folks, read the defination of Facism above again. It is a near 100 % match for Communism as practiced by the Soviet Union and its satelites in the 20th century.
The Spoiled Brat Hegemony (aka, the “Left,” aka, “The Way of the Child”) LOVES to complicate things, don’t they?
Capitalism = the owner runs it.
Fascism = the owner owns it, the govt. runs it.
Communism = the govt. owns it and runs it.
Capitalism is NOT the antithesis of Socialism: it’s Individualism.
Individualism = a Man owns his success or failure.
Socialism = a Man’s success or failure can be made to be another’s.
Obama IS clearly a Marxist (and, therefore, a Socialist). Period. You can’t compare him to other failed World leaders using a standard template as we have a Constitution protecting US from HIM. Imagine what Obama would be doing right now if there wasn’t a Constitution to stop him? Why do you think he’s putting hacks on the Supreme Court?
P.S. The Right and Left are OPPOSITES, hello! Communism and Fascism are NOT opposite one another. Communism is the left of the Left. Fascism is the right of the Left.
Funny how all the right wingers come out to protest about fascism.
First of all, anyone who talks about Soviet Russia as a communist state doesn’t have a clue as to what communism actually is. Labels don’t make claims true. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany WERE very similar. Why? because they were totalitarian states. One man to rule them all….heh. Everything else is just window dressing. Totalitarian states are the exact OPPOSITE of communism where everyone governs his/her own self. Democracies fall somewhere in between.
Socialism and capitalism are economic systems and can be used by any governmental form. Most use a blend of both. Nazi Germany had many capitalists within it as long as they got along with the fuhrer. Capitalists existed in Soviet Russia, albeit, underground…wink…wink…with a cut for government officials. It could even exist in a truly communist “area”. I say area because a true communist form of governing is stateless. I’ll quote this excellent treatise on communism http://dbzer0.com/blog/misunderstanding-communism-its-not-anti-individualism “Under communism people are supposed to have the liberty and the capability to do whatever they wish, as long as this does not inhibit the liberty and capability of others to do the same.”
This is the start of your Strawman. Please read up on the definitions again.
Erm, no. Do you have any citations or explanations? This is just stupid and pointless hyperbole. None of Obama’s policies have been “socialist”. I don’t see your ilk railing against the interstate system, the police force, or firefighters? If you really hate socialism maybe you should call the police force and tell them not to show up at your house because you don’t like “socialism”. At the same time you can call firefighters and tell them not to come to your house when it is burning down because of “socialism”. Also, make sure you don’t drive your car on the roads and the freeway because “OMG SOCIALISM”.
Obama’s neither a Marxist or a Socialist. These things are usually said by people who have no idea what these terms mean. The irony is that I just explained all of this in my post.
I am very conservative and what we have in the good old USA at the moment is a plutocracy. It has nothing to do with Liberal or conservative. The deciding factor is money. The candidate who has the most money wins over 75 percent of all Federal level elections. The large majority of Governors, senators, and representatives are multi-millionaires. There is no way either major political party is going to serve the people. They are Globalist Plutocrats that only serve other plutocrats.
I appreciate the fairly clear explanations here and I agree it’s something people need to read up on before throwing terms around. Communism seems to be quite similar to the Anarchist idea of mutualism: which is more in terms of economics but pertains to all goods and services for the benefit of all. And as you say, while it sounds nice, could only be effective on a small scale.
All politics aside, America has changed a lot since 2001, and not towards “socialism” but perhaps slightly towards fascism. Obviously you have your conspiracy theorists and what not, but I think Aaron Russo made some good points in his documentary.
Also you say mainstream left and right are opposites, emphasized with capital letters to show how cereal you are — what exactly would you say, policy wise, is different between Bush and Obama (also can apply to establishment reps/dems) Perhaps Obama ending the war and bringing all the troops home and refusing to sign the National Defense Authorization Act because he cares about civil liberties?
Or if you take Bush, his refusal to sign off on things like TARP, No Child Left Behind, and Medicare because he’s a FIRM believer in small government and free-markets?
Obviously that’s what would be the case of rhetoric actually matched policy anyway!
Fascism is also an alliance between govt and monopolies. While socialism is where – we the people – collectively own businesses, fascism’s engine in cludes lawmakers and leaders being propped up by corporate money.
Like alliances of church and state, poisonous to liberty and democratic republicanism
You are quite correct that we have moved towards fascism. We have serious problems with both economic fascism and religious fascism. Citizens United is a fascistic ruling. Teabaggers; the weak vs the strong, reeks of fascism. Christian fundamentalism smells almost as bad as the alleged, “Islamofascists”.
All this makes your head spin. Where does Social Justice tie into these ideas. Obviously, equal opportunity is being turned on its head to mean equal results. The only thing I would like Obama to come out and say is what he would consider the maximum total rate of tax we should pay. Then we would know where he falls within the above lines. State runs the business. State tells you how to run the business. Or State stays out of your business.
I personally think there are too many useful idiots out there, content to let someone else take care of them. When you die, will they be able to say that you were effective in improving society through your deeds or goods and services you provided, or were you a leach on society.
Don’t be a leach.
We can all agree that we have to have a government to set the table in order to create business and jobs. Just look at corrupt countries like most of the ones in Central and South America. But at one point, if the government is going to control everything, I’ll shut down my business and wait for Obama to make my house payment too.
This could’ve been a great and informative article, but the party bashing makes the entire article questionable, at best.
Why is it that writers cannot just shut their own mouths and do what they do best? The best writing is no bias at all, you failed on that. Sorry, but there it is.
@magnoliasouth: Rather than accusing me of bias, could you please point out the sources of bias in my article? Thanks.
I agree with this article 90%. The only big thing I disagree with is calling TARP (the Bush Bailout) Socialist. It is not at all. If it were, the government would completely take control of the said bank permanently, use it to be the sole provider of banking services, and allow it to be run by the people. The bailout was Keynesian, because it was an attempt to stimulate the economy by boosting aggregate demand according to the multiplier effect, but all it did was line the pockets of greedy bankers and give them even larger bonuses and retirement packages.
I’m afraid all our rights are eroding away little by little. No one would have thought years ago, but that’s what happens when a nation declines
*Disclaimer – I study applied communism, fascism, capitalism and socialism and have been for 16 years now. I have many theories of non-ideological human proggression but all of the theories as well as practices show Communism is most successful for individual as well as man-kind overall’s advancement and progression in human ergonomics and life standard efficiencies.*
Okay, I am hearing alot of idiocy from capitalists and wanna be fascists who are low class capitalists. If you think about it, NO SYSTEM IS PERFECT as not everyone likes just one ideology. Those who are commenting above and defend capitalism or the United States in modern practice or who hate the most recent administrations appear as if they have NO clue what they are talking about and are just those fear-mongering, uneducated, or elite “self-ists” who just want what works FOR THEMSELVES AND THEMSELVES ONLY. If EVERYONE, or atleast those defending modern socio-economic practices would open up to true DEMOCRACY and socialy responsible practice, we would ALL be happy with our selves. Because that is what we TRUELY want! SELF GRADIFICATION. If we all wish to maintain the standard of living we in the “west” enjoy, then those defenders of selfish proclaimation above better damn well get off their asses and work as a team for thier neighbour! And if we are truely moraly correct and care about our loved ones (because love is man’s greatest gratification), im damn sure we would give our lives in labour in order to give the best we could possibly give them. And if the world IS, or even isnt supposed to all be friends…..we still need to WORK TOGETHER! Even if it is just for ME, MY LOVE, MY FUTURE. The only way we made all we have now in the “west” is through human co-operation (not “teamwork” cause not everyone likes humanity or has loved ones. Like imagine a guy who wanted a chair and didnt know carpentry right…..you need a carpenter and its not like you wanna pay him…..so….do him a favour later…and he/she is your friend now). IMAGE WHAT THE WORLD WOULD BE…IF WE ALL WORKED, LIVED, AND LOVED TOGETHER. We would be the “west” times a thousand. Thanks.
How can communism be the most successful if there has never been a true communist state? For someone who had been “studying” this for years, you think you would know this. You should have said ” in theory it is most successful” because that’s all it has been… A theory or an ideology.
Forget the name of the Nazi Party and look at its platform. With the exception of issues of immigration and German nationalism it was a leftist document complete with class warfare.
True communism is not possible on a large scale without totalitarian enforcement. On a small scale I suppose the Jewish Kibbutz settlements achieved some levels of communism.
How can that be since wealthy men financed the American Revolution with business funds.
I’ve been researching (for my book) and found quite a bit of copy and paste in this article. Hum… can we say plagiarism? Aside from opinions about the comparisons here, you need to be true to yourself first. VERY rough book.
@Dolly Madison: Hello Dolly,
I didn’t intend plagiarize; the last time my blog went down (before I decided to host on DreamHost) I had to manually recover my WordPress database and a few entries were clobbered. This article used to have a list of references at the end (mainly from Wikipedia). I haven’t really looked at this article in a long while, but thank you for alerting me to this fact; I will add the references back to this article. Could you please define “quite a bit”? Significant portions of this article are my own to the best of my knowledge, with the exception of definitions of the terms.
Interesting article. Thanks!
In regards to your words below, which was was written in 2009, I’d like to know your thoughts on these two statements now…
“Furthermore, if you analyze the Obama administration’s policies they’re not really Socialist. They’re actually anti-worker and pro-corporate.”
“For the United States to actually turn Socialist, a lot of things have to change. None of that is happening. The American people won’t let it happen.”
I’d also like to know in what direction you think this administration is and has been taking the American people down.
Amy lehmann smells
Many fascist countries haven’t survived by war or expansionism. You got some things of it right, but your lack to understand that fascism depends on the NEEDS of the nation and his people. Its not a ideology like Communism or Democracy.