As I’ve said before I studied Political Science for my Bachelor’s Degree. Now, most of my studies were in international relations, but of course I had to take some introductory classes in political theory. In one of my classes we were discussing the “political spectrum,” basically how various titles are assigned to the left of the right. Now of course my professor (one I truly admired and liked, he years of practical experience in the FBI studying terrorism) took the typically approach. He explained typically the extreme left is associated with socialism, while the right is labeled fascists (or Nazis) with anarchists occupying the extreme.
Now, I’ve always wondered why these associations were made and how the labels were determined. I see why anarchists lie on the extreme right, but why are fascists placed on the same path? To me I’ve never fully seen a difference between socialism and fascism; I saw this as the perfect opportunity. Here was a teacher I liked explaining the “spectrum” and describing which extremes typified which parties. So I asked this question, “Why are Nazis and fascists, like Hitler or Mussolini, labeled as right wing leaders? What’s the difference between how they ran their countries and how Lenin, Stalin and Mao ran theirs?” My professor looked up from the board where he was diligently drawing and told me socialists focus on the economy, while fascists run a military state. So I asked again, what’s the difference in outcomes, I mean the right typically wants a smaller government and less interference? That’s why true anarchists fall to the extreme right. He then stumbled around before concluding that’s the accepted way of identifying political tendencies.
I don’t think this is an adequate explanation. Let me explain. Let’s examine the outcomes of Hitler’s fascist party and its implementation of laws with the Soviet Union. Hitler controlled his population in many of the same ways the Soviets did. The Reich had secret police, outlawed privately owned guns, burned books, limited religion and forced “undesirable” people into camps or exterminated them. The Soviets had similar policies. Religion was limited, guns removed, books arguing against socialism banned and let’s not forget gulags. Hitler promised to turn around the economy through various programs; Stalin also promised wealth, but instead starved millions of Ukrainians to death. The point I’m trying to make is that fascist regimes, in practice, look the same as socialist ones. Both have too much government intervention, both feel they can run your life better than you can and ultimately both harm their populations.
If the political spectrum is based on socialism on the left and anarchy on the right, then Nazis and fascists fall to the left, not the right. Anarchy is the total absence of government, while fascists still assert government control over citizens (even if it is in the name of nationalism). The distinction is hard to find and I think it’s unfair to lump Nazis into the right’s camp. American conservatives are considered on the right, and while they may favor a strong military, a true conservative calls for less government. While no one on the right is pushing for anarchy (and there are few true anarchist movements) they do tend to believe James Madison’s theory of government. Madison wrote in Federalist #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Conservatives want a small, controlled government. We understand a government is necessary for a stable society, but we want a small citizen controlled government. Now consider the American left. What types of policies do they typically support? Do they favor smaller government with less intervention? Not typically. The left wants more control, more intervention into our businesses, our finances and our lives. Sure, they probably aren’t socialists (or Nazis), yet. But, the left still pushes for larger government and more intervention. More government control, regardless of the name, achieves the same results.
It’s time to change the way the political spectrum is viewed. On the extreme left are fascist and socialists, on the extreme right anarchists. American conservatives bear no resemblance to fascists (or socialists); however, the farther left a government swings the more it looks like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. This is mostly theoretical and America is a fairly centralized political climate, but think about the consequences of moving further left. Examine the extremes and the direction policy moves, then start evaluating your vote and what you want it to stand for. In both extremes there is oppression and fear, but in the American political scheme the right isn’t advocating anarchy, just individual rights without government intervention. Stop calling Nazis right-wing, they’re not even close, start considering what the outcomes of these movements are. On the left, more control. On the right, individual freedom tempered with governmental protection. Think about the end-game, look long and hard at fascists and socialism, is a similar (even watered down) government what we want?