The situation in American politics is dangerous and getting worse. To fully appreciate the dangers, we need to rigorously define our terms.  Terms like “left” and “right” are spatial metaphors with no literal applicability to politics. If they are to have any meaning, “left” must be defined as collectivism (the dominance of the group/state over the individual) and socialism; the  “right” means inalienable individual rights and capitalism. Otherwise, they are vague, meaningless terms which I advise my Logic students to sedulously avoid.

If we do jettison such figurative language, then the theme of this essay expressed in literal terms is: American collectivists/socialists push the country toward race war.

In America, “the Left” is generally taken to mean socialists and semi-socialists largely influenced by Marx and his intellectual heirs. Such thinkers view human society not in terms of individuals but in terms of groups, specifically economic classes.  They hold a class war ideology according to which the poor are oppressed by the rich, capitalism perpetuates and exacerbates class oppression, and, by some coercive measures–either via massive tax-based redistribution of income or by bloody revolution–economic equality must be attained. Are contemporary U.S. Marxists full socialists of this kind, i.e., Communists? Not yet. Even Bernie Sanders does not yet call for the abolition of private property and full government control of the economy and of our lives. They are still mixed-economy, semi-socialist welfare-statists. However, over the decades, they inch inexorably closer to the socialist end of the mixed economy, and further from the capitalist.

Full socialism means that an individual’s life has been socialized. It does not belong to the individual. Rather, it belongs to society as a whole, to the state. Recall the Khmer Rouge’s (Cambodian Communists)warning to its victims: “Losing you is no loss; keeping you is no specific gain.”[i] The individual, in and of himself, has no moral value on such a code. He acquires value solely via service to the state.  Capitalism, on the other hand, full capitalism, real capitalism, laissez-faire capitalism, means the system of individual rights. It is the political-economic system in which an individual’s life belongs to him/her–and in which the moral legitimacy of the state lies in protecting his right to his own life and all that this entails.

“[I]t is logically senseless…to maintain that Communism is the Political Left and that Fascism/National Socialism is the Political Right. Where, on the political spectrum, would that place individualism, inalienable individual rights, limited Constitutional government, and laissez-faire capitalism? In the middle? How is individual rights the middle ground between two forms of collectivism that virulently deny the right of an individual even to his own life?”

Further, we must remember that Communism is but one species of full socialism. There is another species, equally baleful: National Socialism (Nazism). National Socialism holds that the state is all-powerful, an individual’s life belongs to the volk (people), moral worth is attained only by selfless service to the state, and the state can dispose of an individual’s life for any reason it deems appropriate. Hitler reputedly stated: “There will be no license, no free space, in which an individual belongs to himself. This is Socialism.”[ii] The Nazis likewise perceive the social world not in terms of individuals but of groups–in this case, not of warring economic classes but of warring races or nationalities.  As one example, during World War II, the National Socialists construed the struggle as, in part, Germany versus Britain; the Communists viewed it as, in part, the German-British working class versus the German-British owning class. The Nazis are indeed national socialists, whereas the Communists are international socialists, construing the good versus evil battle as a struggle between international economic classes.

Further, Fascism, including the German National Socialist version, “may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood…”[iii] (whether at the hands of Jews or a cabal of shadowy international financiers and business interests). Fascism in all iterations involves the “primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right…and the subordination of the individual to it…[and] the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies…”[iv]

Economically, Nazis permit bankers, industrialists, farmers, and so forth, to remain at their work; no longer as owners but now as servants of the state, whose dictates, if they disobey, entail death. Private property, under National Socialism, exists only nominally; full power of right and disposal, of both property and persons, resides with the state. Communists, on the other hand, waging unremitting class war, nationalize farms and industries, and annihilate the owning class.

In brief, full socialism of either iteration is totalitarianism–total life-and-death state power over the life of an individual.

A vital point of clarification: National Socialism is as fully socialist as is Marxism/Communism. One difference between the two is that Communism is class-war socialism–and National Socialism is race-war socialism.

So it is logically senseless, for example, to maintain that Communism is the Political Left and that Fascism/National Socialism is the Political Right. Where, on the political spectrum, would that place individualism, inalienable individual rights, limited Constitutional government, and laissez-faire capitalism? In the middle? How is individual rights the middle ground between two forms of collectivism that virulently deny the right of an individual even to his own life?

No, logically, there are only two choices: 1. We reject as inapplicable to political discourse the Left-Right spatial metaphors altogether–and discuss collectivism/socialism versus individualism/capitalism, or 2. We define the Political Left as collectivism/socialism in any of its iterations–and the Political Right as individualism/capitalism.  If and only if we choose the latter, does it make sense to continue using the Left/Right terminology as a convenient shorthand.

Andrew Bernstein’s America’s Coming Race War is continued in The Contemporary American Left Embraces Racism (Part 2 of 4).

America’s Coming Race War

 

References

[i] Quoted in Jean-Louis Margolin, “Cambodia: The Country of Disconcerting Crimes,” 577-635, in The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, editors, Stephane Courtois, et. el., translators, Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer, (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1999), 597.

[ii] Hitler quoted by Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940), 191. Scholars believe that Rauschning lied about interviewing Hitler. But this quote attributed to him captures perfectly the essence of National Socialism. Related, there is no doubt that Hitler wrote: “This self-sacrificing will to give one’s personal labor and if necessary one’s own life for others is most strongly developed in the Aryan. The Aryan is…greatest…in the extent of his willingness to put all his abilities in the service of the community….True idealism is nothing but the subordination of the interests and life of the individual to the community.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf,  tr. Ralph Mannheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943), 297, 299.

[iii] Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Vintage Books, 2005), 218.

[iv] Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, 219.

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Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the City University of New York. He lectures all over the world. He is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. He has written numerous books, including his novel, A Dearth of Eagles, recently published and available from Amazon.

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