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« Dictatorships’ death toll: 262 million murdered in the 20th century -- and not by war | Main | Senate bill would allow 103 million more immigrants by 2026? »

May 15, 2006


Christopher Taylor

If they can’t distinguish between freedom and repression, if they worship power for power’s sake, they are the Right.

I really want to encourage you to study conservatism more. You really misunderstand it. Really, really.

Frank Warner

As always, there are the reasonable conservatives, who generally want limited government. (By the way, reasonable liberals don't want unlimited government, either. The Left was founded on the idea of challenging unaccountable authority.)

Then there is the ultra Right, a fanatical fringe that is all-too- comfortable with all-powerful governments that place national order, national pride, national values, national expansion or even national business above democracy and individual liberties.

The Axis powers of Germany, Japan and Italy were examples of ultra-Right regimes. Those, the Left opposed.

Saddam's Iraq is a more recent example of an ultra-Right dictatorship. In the face of Saddam's fascism, the Left became the Right. Ultra Right.

Christopher Taylor

Just for the record: Nazi Germany was socialist. Not hard-right. The Taliban is a better example of hard-right, although it's more religious than political.

The thing is, Frank, there's no political power whatsoever in the United States for that kind of extremism, not the slightest shred of it.

Frank Warner

You'll get a major argument from socialists about Nazi Germany being socialist in anything but the name National Socialist.

Nazis still had big capitalist businesses building the Nazi death machine.

I'm no expert on Nazi social programs, but did Hitler do much about income redistribution or land reform or promoting labor unions?

I'd say Nazism was ultra Right.

The United States doesn't have any movement that compares in any significant way with fascism, and that's primarily because our democratic institutions are working.

Those institutions could falter in a major crisis, like an economic collapse that puts tens of millions out of work or a war that claims tens of thousands of lives. But we don't have the kind of widespread fear and anger that feed tyrannical movements. Even with all our idiosyncrasies, we Americans are fairly level-headed.

At home, our freedom is reasonably safe. The sad part is that too many free Americans don't see a point to liberating the oppressed or toppling tyrants in lands that aren't free.

jj mollo

The Soviet Union was considered leftist because it arose from a mass movement of radical egalitarianism. It became in time the complete opposite, an abusive oligarchy usually associated with the Right. The names Right and Left have been distorted by history -- mainly because Leftists have been in denial about the nature of Communism. Nazis are definitely on the Right, however, as are all dictatorships, monarchies, and mafia-run nations.

Many people, not me, think that the terms are so distorted by now that they are worthless for clarifying political classification. A very good alternative classification structure designed by Jerry Pournelle, uses two dimensions, statism and rationalism. Scroll down for a good graphic. He manages to show how Communism and Fascism are dramatically different on the rationalism scale, but very similar on their willingness to grant excessive power to the state.

Liberalism has generally been a move from the Right toward the Left, but never going too far. From abuse of power toward the proper use of power. Toward more equal treatment under the Law. Toward universal suffrage. Toward more equal distribution of Wealth. It is not a radical philosophy except in demanding inalienable human rights. The United States, by the way, is, no matter what Rush may say, an extremely liberal nation. Even so-called conservatives are opposed to the unrestrained use of state power. They are only conservative within the context of that radical document, the Constitution.

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