Vail Valley Voices: Creeping toward socialism?
If you were to ask the average American what form of government we have in the United States, the likely response would be that we live in a democracy.
But what if I told you the United States is not a democracy? Rather, we are a republic, and ours is a republican form of government.
Millions of Americans are unclear about government in general. For example, most Americans view the political spectrum as going from the far left (socialism) to the far right (fascism) with democracies somewhere between. But nothing could be further from the truth.
To better understand the real political spectrum, we first need to introduce a new political paradigm, one that excludes party politics.
So let’s conduct a brief exercise. Begin by drawing a horizontal line across a sheet of paper. We’ll call this the political continuum.
Next, label the far left side of this continuum “total governmental control” ” government controls 100 percent of a society’s functions.
Then label the far right side of the continuum “no governmental control” ” government has zero control in a society (which is tantamount to anarchy).
You have just created a graphic of the political spectrum ranging from 100 percent governmental control on the far left to zero percent governmental control on the far right.
Now, this is where our notions of the political left and political right are in for a jolt.
Conventional wisdom tells us that socialism is a far-left ideology while fascism is an ideology of the far right. But conventional wisdom is dead wrong in this case because rather than being polar opposites, both socialistic and fascist governments are prime examples of governments seeking to exercise total control of their citizens.
From this perspective, any government ” whether socialism, communism, fascism or Nazism ” that seeks to exercise complete control of its citizens embraces an ultra-left ideology, making anarchy (no governmental control) the “ideology” of the “ultra right.”
For an example, let’s examine communism under Stalin and Nazism under Hitler. Both ideologies were competitors for the same constituencies. Each was a socialist utopian vision of the future. Both ideologies shared the same beliefs; i.e., free health care, guaranteed jobs, euthanasia, gun control, territorial expansion, confiscation of inherited wealth and a loathing of the free
marmarket and free speech.
In other words, both ideologies sought to insert the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life.
To expand this concept further, we see that on the far left, we have monarchies, dictatorships, etc., which are forms of government where one person exercises total control. As a practical matter, monarchs consult with and give power to their courts, advisers and noblemen, while dictators do the same with their commissars and other bureaucrats. Said differently, rarely does one man or woman rule absolutely; rather, far-left governments are usually run by a few elites and are in actuality oligarchies ” governments run by the few.
At the other end of the political spectrum we have anarchy, which is no government at all. And since anarchy is really a political vacuum, history has repeatedly demonstrated that political vacuums are filled by despots and eventually turn into oligarchies. A quick look at the African continent offers plenty of examples.
Obviously, some form of government is necessary for the well-being of society, which brings us to the middle of the spectrum. This is where we find democracies and republics ” limited government.
So what’s a democracy? Simply stated, democracy means majority rule. But what if you’re a minority in a democracy and happen to be a Jew or black or simply have long red hair, for that matter?
Suppose all the Christians decided to close every synagogue, or what if white people demanded that all blacks ride in the back of buses, or what if all the short-haired brunettes in America decided that long-haired redheaded people shouldn’t be allowed to vote? What then?
As James Bovard wrote, “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”
The problem with a pure democracy is that there are no constraints. If more than half the people in a democracy can be persuaded to do something, they can enact any law or issue any edict even if it’s morally wrong or patently reprehensible.
Which brings us to a republic, which, taken from its Latin roots, “res” and “publica,” literally means “the public thing” or “the law.” A true republic is one where governmental control is limited by law and as a result assumes government’s proper role: protecting the rights of its citizens. In the case of the United States, that law is the Constitution.
When placed within this context being politically to the left, i.e., “liberal,” or to the right, i.e., “conservative,” it takes on a different dimension. And predicated upon how much the government expanded during the Bush administration, it should be obvious that Dubya was considerably less conservative than he would have had us believe. Meanwhile, with Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s “stimulus bill” now signed into law, it appears Congress is doing its level best to continue the trajectory of ever more intrusive government.
Quote of the day: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” ” Ronald Reagan
Butch Mazzuca is an Edwards resident.