One of the things that drives me nuts in this propaganda-driven world is names. The fact that we call each other names at all is first, of course. After that, the idea that we call —and get called — the wrong names. I can put up with the political names that actually represent me, but if you’re going to dislike my views, at least talk about my actual views, than some random category that doesn’t represent me at all. To that end, I want to straighten things out with facts as far as I know them. I won’t make a judgement, I’m just going to explain, I hope it helps make things easier between people to mean the same things when we talk.
Part 1 — Politics vs. Economics — not always the same.
The first misconception is that the opposite of “democracy” is “communism”. Communism is about money and who owns what. Democracy is about politics, it’s about who makes decisions about the way things are in the country. The opposite of Communism is Capitalism. There are a whole lot of things that are “opposite” of democracy, including “oligarchy” and what we had under a king. By the way, the term Oligarchy means, “a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.” It, as we’ll see later, is the opposite of democracy.
Capitalism is the older of the two types of economic systems. That’s the one we have in America. Communism is the one that Russia and China used to have when I grew up. Now, my friend Jen, a history teacher, reminds me, the only actual Communist country still left is North Korea. Russia has become an Oligarchy and China is moving towards capitalism economically. Economically, an oligarchy means that the people will all the power also have most of the money.
Capitalism is the idea that people who have money or ideas own those things. They convince others to make those things. Those people who make things are workers. The owners pay them for their work. The owners pay other workers to sell those things. In the end, though, the owners make the bulk of the money because it’s their idea, their product, and they own it. They also take the risk by putting it out there. If it fails, in whatever way, the owners take the risk and therefore the pain. This used to apply to land owners and farms as well. They owned the land, the workers got paid, or protected by the owners or something. The land owners were in charge of, and responsible for everything.
Communism is an economic theory, proposed by Karl Marx, that says, in essence, that the workers do the work, therefore they should get the profits. Any profits made should get divided up and given to everybody. I don’t know enough to say where ideas come from, or who puts up the money, and who decides to put them on the market. As far as who is responsible if things fail, but I assume that everybody is because that’s the way it turns out now, here — the workers get the blame. Since the economy is controlled by the workers and the public as a whole, everybody should feel the pain of failure.
Now, to be totally fair and honest, there’s another part to the capitalist world: stockholders or investors. Stockholders don’t come with the ideas, nor do they build or sell them. They use their money to own a piece of the product’s profits, if it succeeds, or losses if it fails.. They lose if it doesn’t go well, but they are not creators or workers.
Also, to be fair, there has never been a perfect example of either of those systems. Hard-core Communism yields authoritarian leaders or dictators in reality. So does hard-core capitalism, not because of the theory, but because human beings, who can be kind or they can be jerks. Human flaws, magnified in leaders and their policies, create really flawed societies. Human goodness, magnified in leaders and their policies, create better functioning societies.
Part 2 — Who’s Who in Politics
We usually talk about left and right in politics. I think it was the French legislature that was first set up according to parties. One group sat on the right side of the room, another on the left side of the room, with moderates in the middle.
I’m going to start on the left and move toward the right on the political spectrum.
On the left are people who want change. Right now, their party is the Democratic Party. They are liberal, (open) in their understanding of what is and can be. On the far left are radicals who want a lot of change and they want it now! They tend to use violence to get what they want. Then there are progressives, who want change and are constantly pushing for it, but understand that change doesn’t go as fast as radicals want it to. Then there are liberals who want change to happen but aren’t as forceful about it. They are okay with change when it happens, but they don’t often push for it. Moderates liberals have to think about changes that happen before they agree to them. On the far left in WWII was the violent Stalin and supposedly “Communist” Russia. I say “supposedly”, because economics don’t have to be violent, but violent revolution has been part of Russia’s historic leadership.
On the right side, conservatives want things to stay the same. Right now, their party is called the Republican Party. Starting from moderates, we move to moderate conservatives, to “regular” conservatives who don’t want things to change unless you can a) prove that they must and b) that your plan is better than what they already have. After that, you have “reactionaries” who want things to back the way things were before usually when they were in power. Reactionaries want things, for example, to go back to a White society, run by Christians, landowners, and men. Far, far right people are reactionaries and — in their purest, most violent form are “Fascist”. In World War II, Hitler was a Fascist, as was Mussolini, and Japan’s leader.
Part 3 — Between Right and Left — a free America
In theory, as borne out during World War II, America is neither violent Leftist (Russia) nor violent Rightist (Fascists). In theory, America is about ideas, and people argue about them. The best idea, proposed by the best debater, wins. The people all have a say in things, but not purely. They make their opinions heard to those people who represent them. Those people make laws after arguing/debating. This is supposed to provide the best laws for the people who elected them.
Steering the balance between Right and Left is The President. We the People elect the President, whom we think is capable and has good ideas for our country. If they don’t have great ideas, they know people who do. Those people present ideas/policies that become the President’s laws proposals. The President and Congress generally duke it out verbally to come up with the best policies for people.
Now here’s where it gets weird: The people we elect to represent us are supposed to both represent us and be trusted to do that. If they don’t represent us, we are supposed to protest. If they can’t be trusted, and/or they actively hurt us, they are corrupt and should be thrown out of office.
Part 4 — Back to Names and Name Calling…
One of the strange things happening in America is that people call liberals “unpatriotic”. This is usually done with disgust in the voice and an eye-roll. Liberals aren’t bad or good, more or less patriotic. They’re just liberals. Conservatives aren’t bad or good, and they usually aren’t “fascists”. In fact, very few liberals even use the word “fascist” about Conservatives unless they actually are.
But here’s the weird part, this President, along with Right-wing radio use the word “fascist” a lot. And they mix it with to call us Fascist Leftists. There is no such thing as a Fascist Leftist! Fascists are the opposite of Leftists! You can’t be one and the other. It’s that simple.
Going back years, for example, Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase “Femi-nazis”. By that, he means feminists, or left-leaning women. In fact, Eva Braun would be a female Nazi. In America, what we would now call “Karen’s” would be actually closer to femi-nazis. Women on the very conservative right — the lady screaming about being anti-abortion in the 1980’s — was the actual femi-Nazi.
About me? I’m a progressive Democrat, who likes the idea of more people getting what they need, and representing more people as American, including Blacks, Women, Hispanics, and people who are all over the place sexually. Economically, I’m closer to socialism than capitalism , but I’m not violent, and I shouldn’t be scary to you. If my wanting more people’s voice to be heard and included in the debate that is our electoral system, then well, that’s just too bad. If wanting more people to eat, have a place to live, and get health care is scary to you, that’s you are immoral, not me.
Resisting in Peace,