The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #89973 Message #1704989
Posted By: Don Firth
28-Mar-06 - 05:04 PM
Thread Name: BS: More liberal bias in the news
Subject: RE: BS: More liberal bias in the news
Rarelamb, are you there? As I said (quoting The Terminator), "I'll be back!" And here I am. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, or pop open a beer, lean back and prop your feet up, and settle in. This is a long one. [By the way, with the exception of a few short passages from other articles, a phrase or two here and there, a couple of quotations, and a dictionary definition, none of this is "cut-and-paste." It's all my own writing. Incidentally, I keep some of my longer posts as possible material for future articles, so I'm not just piddling my time away writing something that the intended recipient probably won't actually read.]
I've been this route before, but some people just don't get it, others don't want to get it, and some folks come in late and. . . . Well, for whatever reasons, it bears repeating as often as necessary for folks to understand it, even if they don't like it. After all, it's mostly a matter of definitions. But, of course, part of the usual one-upmanship in political discussions in which the goal is to win, not to arrive at rational concept of a just and equitable government (equitable for all its citizens, not just the wealthy and powerful), is to evade, distort, or ignore what words really mean. Such as:
Liberalism = fascism? I don't think so.
Fascism is a bit difficult to define succinctly, because it comes in several different flavors. But it is characterized by dedication to authoritarianism (the government is all-powerful), with a strong emphasis on nationalism and militarism. It also has no qualms about riding rough-shod over any concept of individual freedom and civil rights. The private citizen has no rights.
That doesn't sound like liberalism to me. But I'll get to that later.
The general trend of fascist economic theory (disorganized and contradictory at best, because it distorts conventional economic theory in order to achieve the goal it desires in spite of established facts) is designed, in most cases, for the mutual benefit of government and business: augmented central planning powers, one of the main aims of which is protection of corporate interests and maximization of profits. Protection of corporate power is an essential part of fascism. This should come no surprise when one of the inventors of fascism in the twentieth century, Benito Mussolini, said of it that "Fascism should more properly be called 'corporatism,' because it is the merger of state and corporate power." [The "logo" of fascism, and the name itself adopted by Mussolini, is the fasces, a bundle of sticks (the corporations) tied around an axe (the power of the State), symbolizing that they form a single unit and act together.] In short, under fascism, a revolving door exists between business and government. The interest of the government and the interests of the corporations are the same.
[This should give pause to those who can see nothing wrong when the former CEO of Halliburton is the current Vice President, and one of the corporations that is making the biggest profits out of the Iraq war—through no-bid contracts—is none other than Halliburton. And Dick Cheney is not the only high-level corporate executive who is also holds a high-level office in the current government of the United States.]
There is nothing inconsistent between an economic system characterized by unbridled laissez-faire capitalism and fascism. In fact, to the corporations, a government in which corporate heads write the laws and issue the executive orders is a consummation devoutly to be wished! No unions, no anti-trust laws, no minimum wages, no consumer protection, no environmental restraints—no restrictions at all. Absolute laissez faire. And if the business/country deems that it needs something from another country, such as a natural resource, and if that country proves uncooperative, economic blackmail (sanctions) or use of the military are perfectly acceptable procedures. [Sound familiar?]
There is nothing compatible between fascism and democracy. True democracy—an honest plebiscite—would constitute a danger to a fascist form of government.
Okay. It should be obvious from the above that any attempt to try to equate liberalism with fascism is the product of either a warped sense of humor or a complete break with the real world (or—quite probably—overdosing on the writings, both fiction and non-fiction, of Ayn Rand and her followers). But let us press on and take a look at liberals. For example:
Liberals are often accused of being socialists.
Under pure socialism, the economic means of production are controlled by the people. This control may be exercised either by such agencies as workers' councils or unions, or it may be exercised through state agencies. A primary concern of socialism, and one of its defining features, is to strive for social equality and an equitable distribution of wealth that would serve the interests of society as a whole. A pure socialist system that advocates collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods is a bit hard-charging, and it does have its drawbacks.
But you will note that there is nothing incompatable between socialism and democracy. In fact, socialism requires a democratic form of government. Without honest plebiscites, as was the case with Russian Communism, the power becomes centralized (State Socialism) rather than dispersed, hence, a distortion of the whole idea of socialism ("a betrayal of the revolution!"). Marx's prediction that "the dictatorship of the prolatariat would "wither away" was wrong. Dictatorships of any kind never "wither away." They must either be overthrown, or allowed to crumble under their own weight, as the Soviet Union did.
The goal of a socialist government is the economic well-being of the populace as a whole. The goal of a fascist government, ultimately, is world domination, economic, military, or both, to control all factors in order to maximize profits for the corporate State. Individual rights are superseded by the needs of the State.
Now, liberals specifically:
I posted a dictionary (Merriam-Webster) definition of "liberal" above. But I will post it again, so you won't have to keep scrolling up and down.
lib•er•al adj.Although there is a fairly broad spectrum in what might be described as the "liberal position," most liberals tend to favor a number of measures that some folks insist on calling "socialistic." These include universal health care, minimum wages, a solid social security program to ensure a comfortable retirement for the elderly, and a viable welfare system for the minuscule percentage of the population who are unable to fend for themselves. This is a matter of equity, and they are the marks of a civilized country. Liberals also tend to favor "socialistic" government regulatory agencies, such as
a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry;
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded;
c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism;
d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
—anti-trust laws (to preserve competition and its benefits), As we have seen in the past (the late 1800s-early 1900s, robber-barons, company towns, the use of the National Guard to keep striking workers in line, the "Everett Massacre" [look it up], etc.) unrestricted capitalism would simply run amok and lead the nation to something like fascism, or force it to sink back into a modern caricature of feudalism.
—a Securities and Exchange Commission (to oversee investments and the stock market, to prevent scams and the cheating of investors),
—consumer protection agencies (to assure quality and safety in products, consumables, and pharmaceuticals),
—and a number of other regulatory agencies to—frankly—keep businesses honest.
—Also, the all-important environmental protection agencies (to preserve the planet and make certain that there will be a future for future generations to inhabit).
And, as Little Hawk aptly notes above, some of the necessary functions of government include providing for and maintaining an educational system, building and maintaining infrastructure such as highways, bridges, and public transportation, and, in general, doing those things that the people cannot do for themselves. Or that it is not desirable that people attempt to do for themselves, such as law-enforcement and a military (unfortunately, still necessary in this, as yet, uncertain world), and the provision of a system of courts to oversee justice and provide a means of non-violently resolution of disputes. Without government-provided law enforcement and courts, you would have such things as a vigilante "justice" and disagreements escalating into modern variations of the 'range wars" of the Old West. Also, without government provided and maintained infrastructure, there would be no rational system of streets, roads, highways, and bridges—only a disorganized hodge-podge of toll-roads, isolated communities, and no public transportation. In short, back to medieval times! This would render commerce (which, I believe, capitalism depends on, does it not?) impossible.
I do not advocate a socialist government. What I do advocate is what is usually referred to as a "mixed economy." This takes advantage of the best parts of capitalism, providing incentive to entrepreneurs and fair profits to business, but keeping it restrained from its natural tendency to go off the rails and maximize profits through dishonest practices and exploitation, while at the same time providing its citizens with infrastructure and services that they are unable to provide for themselves and that private enterprise is either not interested in providing or cannot seem to provide at reasonable cost (e.g., health insurance).
It's a matter of hard-headed practicality. If you see this as "socialistic," and therefore evil, then perhaps you should take a deep breath, clear you head, and take another look at whether a little "socialism" really is all that evil.
If equal before the law and equal opportunity are essential parts of the American Dream, then it is the liberals and the progressives who are dedicated to bringing that dream about for the entire population, not just the privileged few.
It is interesting to note that there are European countries now extant in which the citizens chose their leaders democratically, have all the freedoms we have, have good quality universal health care (free in most countries), minimum wage laws, excellent care for the elderly, and the other social programs outlined above, and who, in addition, have laws restricting the number of hours per week a person can be required to work and mandating paid vacations of five weeks or more per year. [NOTE: this is not particularly objected to by business owners because they have seen, through their own experience, that a rested and alert employee is a much more efficient and productive employee—something employers on this side of the pond, who regularly require their employees to work many hours of overtime, seem to be a bit dim-witted about.] They also have far more enlightened drug laws and far fewer people languishing in prison for minor offenses—and no capital punishment.
"But," you say, "they pay very high taxes!" Yes, their taxes are fairly high. But not as high as some would have you believe, however. Nevertheless, look what they get for their tax money!
It's interesting to note some of the more-or-less intangible spin-offs of many of these dreaded "welfare societies." According to travelers I have conversed with, the citizens of these countries are generally happier, more relaxed and easy-going, and are far less driven than most Americans, have much more leisure time, and spend more time with family and friends. They may not have two cars, or a car at all, but public transportation is frequent, fast, and cheap. They enjoy life, so say my informants, a helluva lot more than most Americans (constantly pressed for time, overworked, acquisitive for things despite a mound of debt, eating on the run with a cell-phone grafter to the side of their head, and generally a bit manic). Most modern European countries have a lower infant mortality rate than the United States does (and there is a whole table of health statistics that makes the U. S. look pretty backward in comparison to most modern European countries). And the economies of these countries are sounder than ours!
But there are those, friend rarelamb, who condemn them because they are "socialistic." Well—perhaps you and those of like mind should reexamine your values.
[In the back of my head, I can hear that idiot cliché response to much of what I have just said: "If you think it's so much better over there, why don't you just shut your mouth and go there?" Well, because I am a patriotic American, I have what may be thought of as a naïve faith in the eventual attainment of the American Dream. I hate to see that dream turn into a nightmare of fascism—especially theocratic fascism—and I'm going to stay here and fight like hell to prevent it.]
Yes, I'm a liberal. You're damn straight I'm a liberal!