Posts tagged Socialism
Mussolini’s Idea of the State and Its American Defenders
All social theory can be reduced to two categories: those that conceive of society as the result of peace, and those for which the indispensable ingredient is violence. This is the fundamental distinction between liberalism and fascism, a point I discuss further in a book I released earlier this year called Fascism vs. Capitalism.
There is some confusion surrounding terms here. When Ludwig von Mises published his book Liberalism in English translation, he changed the title to The Free and Prosperous Commonwealth. He did so because by the latter half of the twentieth century, the word “liberal” no longer carried the meaning it once had. It had come to mean centralization, the welfare state, and a substantial government presence in economic and social life.
The liberalism I have in mind, of course, is not the modern liberalism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but the classical liberalism of Thomas Jefferson and Frédéric Bastiat. Classical liberalism, by contrast, believed in free markets, free trade, toleration, and civil liberties.
It represented a movement toward a theory of society in which human cooperation emerged spontaneously and without coercion, by means of the natural processes of the market economy. It recognized that society seemed to manage itself without the involvement of extraneous forces like kings, aristocracies, or parliaments, and that the intervention of those forces was more likely aimed at the enrichment of a favored group or of the state itself than of at the well-being of society at large.
The price system, a spontaneous product of the free-market economy, helped entrepreneurs arrange the factors of production in such a way as to produce those outputs most highly valued by society, and to produce them in a way that was least costly in terms of opportunities foregone. Individuals specialized in those areas in which they had the greatest skill or knowledge, and the resulting division of labor meant a vastly greater output of consumer goods for everyone to enjoy. None of this required the intervention of the state.
For the classical liberal, the state was almost an afterthought. Some would have it provide a few basic services, while others conceived of it as nothing more than a night watchman. Beginning with Gustave de Molinari, the classical-liberal tradition even groped toward the possibility that the state was a dangerous, parasitical, and ultimately unnecessary monopoly.
And, of course, it was against a backdrop of peace that the classical liberal described the progress of mankind.
Fascists looked at society and the state quite differently. The prosaic bourgeois virtues of commerce, of producing, trading, and earning profit, are viewed with contempt next to the code of the warrior, which is what the fascist truly respects. Greatness comes not through the ordinary pursuits of the market or the obedience to the duties of one’s state in life, but through struggle.
It is Benito Mussolini’s famous remark — “Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing above the state” — that truly sums up the essence of fascism. The good of the Nation, as defined by the fascist leader, surpasses all other concerns and allegiances. The fascist speaks of the Nation with a religious reverence. An Italian fascist youth movement in the 1920s composed the following creed:
I believe in Rome the Eternal, the mother of my country, and in Italy her eldest Daughter, who was born in her virginal bosom by the grace of God; who suffered through the barbarian invasions, was crucified and buried; who descended to the grave and was raised from the dead in the nineteenth century; who ascended into Heaven in her glory in 1918 and 1922; who is seated on the right hand of her mother Rome; and who for this reason shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the genius of Mussolini, in our Holy Father Fascism, in the communion of its martyrs, in the conversion of Italians, and in the resurrection of the Empire.
This devotion to the Nation is concentrated in allegiance to the charismatic leader. The untrammeled exercise of the leader’s will is a central ingredient in the realization of the Nation’s destiny. Moreover, the leader’s will must trump the array of activities that comprise the free market. The various companies, professions, unions, and government must work together with a conscious plan to ensure the best outcome for the Nation. This is why it is so preposterous to hear opponents of the market economy describe libertarians as “fascists.” No one could be more anti-fascist than a libertarian.
Political centralization was also central to fascism, for if the Nation is the embodiment of the people, and if it is through the Nation that every individual realizes his destiny, we cannot tolerate resistance by lesser jurisdictions within the Nation.
To say that there are fascist trends and features in the United States of today is not to say that this country is just like interwar Italy or Germany. There are some features of fascism as traditionally understood that can be found only faintly in American society today, and others than can be found not at all.
But it would be foolish to pretend that America is the very opposite of the fascist dystopias. Whether it’s the emphasis on centralization, the glorification of the police and the military, the yearning for a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, the elevation of “public service” above the services we freely provide one another on the market, the creepy and incessant references to “my president” or “our president,” or the depiction of the state as a quasi-divine instrument, the commonalities are neither trivial nor few.
Americans no doubt recoil from or laugh at that passage from the Italian fascists I shared with you a few moments ago. But few Americans are in a position to render such a judgment. Most have absorbed the idea that their government, far from a merely utilitarian contrivance established to provide them with some basic services, as many early Americans doubtless conceived of it, is a redemptive force in the world.
John Winthrop appropriated a biblical image of the church when he spoke of his settlement of Puritans as resembling a “city on a hill.” By the time Ronald Reagan made that phrase a rhetorical commonplace in American politics, it had been fully secularized. Not the church but the American state would transform mankind as God’s instrument.
Americans, even (or perhaps especially) American Christians, are for that reason not scandalized at politicians’ appropriation of religious language to describe their government. It bothers them not at all to learn that the iconic Abraham Lincoln said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” American government ideals, or that when George W. Bush said “the light shined in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it,” by “light” he meant American government ideals.
In US history, presidents who avoided war, or who viewed the presidential office modestly and without messianic overtones, are neglected or even denounced by our official historians. You can guess at the views and activities of the presidents favored by the opinion molders. “Beware any politician who is ‘beloved,’” historian Ralph Raico once warned.
The cult of personality surrounding the US president has only grown over the past century, culminating in the creepy videos of schoolchildren pledging allegiance to Barack Obama and the YouTube videos of Hollywood actors promising their eternal loyalty. But some of those who ridiculed these ridiculous displays had themselves been part of the cult of George W. Bush. During the Bush years, Christian neocons made a video about the president set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s classic “When the Man Comes Around.” That song had been written about Jesus Christ. Here are some of the words they set to a video about George W. Bush:
There’s a man goin’ ‘round takin’ names. An’ he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won’t be treated all the same. There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down. When the man comes around.
Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom. Then the father hen will call his chickens home. The wise men will bow down before the throne. And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crown. When the man comes around.
That man, remember, was George W. Bush.
Americans are taught that they owe their freedoms to their government’s military. Whether it’s a country music concert, a sporting event, or even a restaurant chain, Americans are subjected to a ceaseless stream of reminders of what they allegedly owe to this particular class of government employees. (Let’s not forget the popular bumper sticker: “Only two defining forces have ever died for you: Jesus the Christ and the American soldier.”) How exactly their freedoms were threatened in any of the military conflicts in question is one of those impertinent questions one does not ask in polite society.
The propaganda has worked, to some extent at least. When Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which their government was spying on and lying to them, many listeners of right-wing radio demanded not that these activities cease, but that the leaker himself be silenced. The man who had embarrassed their rulers should be tried for treason and executed. I have heard this phenomenon described as a case of society-wide Stockholm Syndrome, and I don’t think that’s far from the mark.
If some of the superstitions of fascism have made their way into American life, it could be because both fascism and whatever it is that America has become share a superstition in common — namely, the state itself. The state has been cloaked in all manner of flattering but obfuscating rhetoric. The state looks after the general welfare, provides economic stability, protects us from the bad guys, prevents inequality, and binds us together in a common cause greater than ourselves.
It’s time we viewed the state for what it really is: a mechanism by which rulers enrich themselves at the expense of the ruled. Everything else is a smokescreen.
About the Author
Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. is chairman and CEO of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com, and author of Fascism versus Capitalism. Send him mail. See Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.’s article archives.
Image credit: https://mises.org
By Tyler Durden
Obama’s ‘Socialism’ Experiment Brought Home
Submitted by Martin Armstrong via Armstrong Economics,
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that.
Here are possibly the 5 key points about such an experiment:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Or in graphical format…
Obama to Top Brass: Will you fire on American Citizens?
The Obama administration is openly escalating its campaign against private gun ownership, and shaking up the top ranks of the military command structure — but is it also preparing to make war on the American population? According to a person identified as a former senior military official, the answer to that shocking question is yes.
World-renowned educator and human rights activist Jim Garrow says that the source, man regarded as “one of America’s foremost military heroes,” told him that President Obama is using a new litmus test for “determining who will stay and who must go” among top-ranked military leaders. That test is whether they will fire on US citizens or not. Garrow says that his source made the disclosure in order to “sound the alarm” over the administration’s plans.
While Garrow will not yet reveal the identity of the source, it’s important to note that Garrow himself is a man of considerable accomplishment. He is the founder of the Bethune Institute, which has established hundreds of schools throughout China. Three years ago, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work though a group called Pink Pagoda, which combat “gendercide” in China — that is, the practice of rescuing baby girls who had been abandoned or targeted for infanticide because of the government’s one-child policy. He was personally involved in helping to save the lives of more than 50,000 Chinese girls. He joins Gary Franchi on WHDT World News to discuss this new “Litmus Test.”
Next News Network’s WHDT World News Program airs daily at 6pm and 11pm Eastern on Comcast, DirecTV and Over-the-Air and Online at http://usmediavault.com/
By Robert Higgs
Private investment is the most important driver of economic progress. Entrepreneurs need new structures, equipment, and software to produce new products, to produce existing products at lower cost, and to make use of new technology that requires embodiment in machinery, plant layouts, and other aspects of the existing capital stock. When the rate of private investment declines, the rate of growth of real income per capita slackens, and if private investment drops quickly and substantially, a recession or depression occurs.
Such recession or depression is likely to persist until private investment makes a fairly full recovery. In US history, such recovery usually has occurred within a year or two after the trough. Only twice in the past century has a fairly prompt and full recovery of private investment failed to occur – during the Great Depression and during the past five years.
In analyzing data on investment, we must distinguish gross and net investment: the former includes all spending for new structures, equipment, software, and inventory, including the large part aimed at compensating for the wear, tear, and obsolescence of the existing capital stock; the latter includes the gross expenditure in excess of that required simply to maintain the existing stock. Therefore, net investment is the best measure of the private investment expenditure that contributes to economic growth.
As the figure shows, net private domestic fixed investment (a measure that excludes investment in inventories) reached a peak in 2006–2007, declined somewhat in 2008, then plunged in 2009 before reaching a trough in 2010. Although it recovered slightly in 2011, it remained 20 percent below the previous peak, and the pace of its recovery to date implies that another three or four years will be required merely to bring it back to where it was in 2007. With adjustments for changes in the price level, the projected recovery period would be slightly longer. (Using the price index for gross private domestic investment to obtain real values, we find that real net private domestic fixed investment is now at approximately the same level it had attained in the late 1990s.) To understand why the current overall economic recovery has been so anemic, we must understand why net private investment has not recovered more quickly.
Thanks to patrick gandy (@shineing)
When arriving home this evening I was overjoyed to find literature from the Mitt(ens) Romney campaign waiting for me. My mind was thrilled at the possible ways that I, a personal freedom loving and Constitutional supporting American could contribute to the cause!
Upon opening the information I find it nicely wrapped in a folded poster promoting Mitt(ens) Romney for us to proudly display. Also was the contribution form, as all candidates supply. I went to work rapidly with the contribution documentation, hoping to hurry and get it in the mail for it’s return trip.
After filling all the required information out, plus a few additions of my own, I find that the enclosed envelope was only wide enough to hold a personal check. Funny how things work out sometimes. Not to be discouraged I fold the paperwork and move to the fold-out sign provided. Quite the slick little sign, but very low budget artwork and design. Romney flew to the EU to gather contributions but no evidence based on the simple sign, oh well.
All documentation is prepared for the travel back to some Romney campaign headquarters located at, oh really, who cares. So I take the “doctored” campaign paperwork, well folded, along the the cut up sign, custom cut to fit the envelope (adding weight) and I begin to stuffing the envelope. Mind you, this IS legal and not related to state GOP leaders helping to stuff ballot boxes!
By Steve Forbes
This article originally appeared int he Feb. 27, 2012 issue of Forbes magazine.
You thought socialism was dead, other than in miserable countries such as North Korea and Cuba? Think again. It’s alive and well at the Federal Reserve, and we and the world are paying a price for it.
Our central bank tries to manipulate our economy in ways befitting a Soviet commissar. Take interest rates. Fixing the price of money is a form of price control, pure and simple. Until Ben Bernanke our central bank was content to fix short-term interest rates, which he announced would be kept at virtually zero through 2014. But in the aftermath of the financial crisis Bernanke is, in effect, dictating the price of all money, regardless of duration.
By owning so many long-term government bonds, Bernanke has created an artificial shortage of these financial instruments. Like a good central planner, Bernanke is using his policies to subsidize the still rapidly growing, gargantuan debt of the U.S. government. He also holds a huge stash of mortgages so that mortgage rates can be kept low in order to revive the battered housing industry. Big companies also find credit abnormally easy to get.
All of this means the government is picking winners and losers. And in this case the losers are savers. Bernanke & Co. want to effectively force Americans to put their cash in riskier assets, such as stocks.
Another category that’s hurting is small business. Bernanke pays a nominal interest rate on reserves that banks leave at the Fed—a totally risk-free return. On paper an institution would do well lending to a local restaurant or dry cleaner, where rates are significantly higher. But if it does, it had best be prepared to undergo a regulatory third degree.
Ben and his apologists say that one of the Fed’s mandates is to bring about full employment; therefore, it must engage in these statist actions. History, however, shows us that the best thing a central bank can do to create prosperity is to keep the currency stable in value. Whenever the dollar veers in value, as it’s done chronically since the link to gold was severed 40 years ago, market distortions result and capital is misallocated.
The Fed’s socialist tendencies, as one would expect, ride roughshod over property rights. If you sold a bottle of wine for five loaves of bread and Washington came along and confiscated two of those loaves, that would be “takings.” The Constitution guarantees that the government would have to pay you for that seized property. Yet the Federal Reserve routinely confiscates people’s property when it undermines the value of the dollar.
One inconvenient fact Bernanke and his acolytes ignore is that before the creation of the Fed the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 4%. Since then the average is just about 3%. But in this hyperactive Bernanke era we’ll be lucky to get a long-term average of 2%.
You have probably seen the images by now. Athens on fire, the city literally burning as politicians within parliament voted to pass tough austerity measures to meet the demands of the EU and IMF, Greece’s international lenders. This story is about more than just austerity and riots – it’s wealth-extraction amidst economic collapse at work. The Greek economy is in the 5th year of a recession, which is a nice way of saying that it is in a depression. Money supply continues to contract, deposits are being drained and liquidity has dried up. The economy is in a free fall, and there is no bottom in sight. The proposals for recovery through “austerity” are just another way to keep the political system in place for as long as possible with the hope that the elites will be able to ride this storm out and come out the other end richer and more powerful than every before. We break down how exactly that works with Capital Account producer Demetri Kofinas.
And while we’re on the issue of debt, let’s take a look at how the US is dealing with it. US President Barack Obama released his 2013 budget today. While it will be analyzed, touted, and attacked, why should you care, or rather, why should you not care? We’ll tell you. And more economists come out saying the Federal Reserve is making a big mistake if it sticks to keeping interest rates near zero for the next three years. We look at how the Fed got here – it’s evolution into central planner, buyer of junk, war enabler, and firefighter of the economic fires it creates itself. We speak to G. Edward Griffin whose been opposing the Fed since at least the 1960s. G. Edward Griffin is author the bestselling book The Creature from Jekyll Island, which has been recommended by Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul on his reading list and which reportedly informed Dr. Paul’s writing on the Fed in his own books on the subject.
Griffin also takes us back in time, and reminds us how the Fed even came to be — the money trust meeting in secret on Jekyll Island in order to draft a cartel agreement that would eventually be known as the “Federal Reserve Act.”
Today, I am going to do something that I have never done: I am going to devote virtually my entire column to posting another man’s words. That man is the man who should be President of the United States: Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. The following is a written transcript of a speech Dr. Paul gave on the floor of the US House of Representatives back in 2007. Had Congressman Paul been elected President in 2008, the country would be four years into the greatest economic, political, and, yes, spiritual recovery in the history of America. As it is, the US is on the brink of totalitarianism and economic ruin. And you can mark it down, four years from now it won’t matter to a tinker’s dam whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney was elected President this November. Neither man has the remotest understanding of America’s real problems nor the courage and backbone to do anything about it if they did understand.
Read the following. This is a man who understands the Constitution. This is a man who understands sound economic principles. This is a man who understands liberty and freedom. This is a man who has the guts to tell the truth. This is a man who has put his life and career on the line for the principles of liberty for more than two decades. This is a man who has returned every dollar that he has been paid as a US congressman to the taxpayers. This is the man who should be President of the United States.
[Ron Paul’s speech begins here] For some, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. For others, it means dissent against a government’s abuse of the people’s rights.
I have never met a politician in Washington or any American, for that matter, who chose to be called unpatriotic. Nor have I met anyone who did not believe he wholeheartedly supported our troops, wherever they may be.
I hope all take the opportunity to read the full story above!
Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!
By Tom Mullen on Mon, 03/05/2012
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
Non-Aggression Is Not Pacifism (Libertarians Hit Back)
Heading into “Super Tuesday,” many conservatives lament that they do not like any of the remaining Republican candidates for president. Romney is too moderate, Gingrich too much a “Washington insider,” and Santorum both an insider and a guaranteed loser against Obama thanks to his willingness to bare his soul about some of his more outlandish socially conservative views.
That leaves Ron Paul, who would seem to be the ideal conservative candidate. Paul’s Plan to Restore America actually cuts $1 trillion from the federal budget in his first year as president, including eliminating the Department of Education that Ronald Reagan promised to abolish.
Paul is the only candidate that actually disagrees with President Obama in principle on “spreading the wealth around.” Paul doesn’t just nibble a few pennies away from financially insignificant welfare programs. He actually has a funded plan to let young people opt out of Medicare and Social Security. This is really a plan to responsibly end these programs. Government-mandated programs only survive because people are forced to participate. If conservatives really do oppose socialism, they should agree with Paul on this. Where do they think Social Security got its name?
For a large group of conservatives, they are with Paul right up until he explains his foreign policy. Suddenly, not only does the courtship end, they stop taking calls and change their phone numbers. That’s unfortunate because most conservatives make this decision upon a completely distorted view of Paul’s foreign policy.
All of Ron Paul’s policy decisions are based upon the same underlying principle: the libertarian principle of non-aggression. As he stated during my own interview with him last year (about the 7:30 mark here), “That’s the moral principle. The legislative principle is really in the Constitution.” Based upon this principle, the government is never allowed to initiate force against the innocent. That means that it cannot redistribute wealth, it cannot stop you from harming yourself with drugs or other vices, and it cannot start a war with another nation.
This is not some new age idea from the early libertarian movement of the 1970’s. This is the foundation of the founders’ philosophy of government. Thomas Jefferson made it explicit when he said, “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”
Jefferson’s first order of business upon reaching the White House was to cut military spending dramatically. His goal was a military establishment adequate to defend the nation but inadequate to the imperial designs of Federalists like Alexander Hamilton. However, when the Pasha of Tripoli declared war upon the United States, Jefferson did not hesitate to send in the Marines for a quick and decisive win.
The confusion starts when Paul’s policies are described as “dovish” or “soft” on Iran or other supposedly belligerent nations. People unfamiliar with libertarian ideas may honestly misunderstand them. Others deliberately distort them. Let there be no confusion. Non-aggression is not pacifism. Libertarians hit back.
Indeed, Paul has said that if the people really do want to go to war, then he would ask the Congress for a declaration of war. He rarely gets time to explain why this is important. The declaration of war involves a debate about whether a state of war already exists. That’s why it’s so important. The declaration of war power doesn’t authorize Congress to start a war. It allows them to direct the president to end it. Check the language of every declaration of war that Congress has ever made. They all support this interpretation.
Active duty military seem to understand this implicitly, which is why they overwhelmingly support Ron Paul. They are ready to risk their lives for their country, but only when their country is truly in danger. Why don’t most conservative voters agree with them? They decorate their vehicles with stickers saying “Support Our Troops” but do not support the candidate that the troops want to be president.
It is no accident that the United States has never really won a war since Congress stopped declaring them. Instead, we send our troops into some far-off land for decades at a time with no clear definition of victory. Their hands are tied with confusing rules of engagement that keep them from winning and prolong the war. This is good for those who profit from war but bad for the troops who risk or lose their lives.
None of this happens in a Ron Paul presidency. Instead, war is far less likely to come at all, which is a good thing. If it is forced upon us, Ron Paul will have it properly declared by the Congress and then will fight it to win. Make no mistake. Of all of the Republican candidates for president, only Ron Paul will win the next war.
 Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Francis Walker Gilmer June 7, 1816 from The Works of Thomas Jefferson edited by Paul Leicester Ford G.P. Putnam’s Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1905 pg. 533-34