Socialism or Fascism?
by Jacob G. Hornberger
What an exciting political circus! With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump leading the race in their respective parties, it seems that Americans might well be treated in the fall to the type of political conflicts that have long characterized Europe. Socialism or Fascism? Which will it be?
Although Clinton is not as honest as her opponent Bernie Sanders regarding her political ideology, the fact is that she is as socialist as he is. Like all liberals (i.e., progressives), Clinton believes that the primary purpose of government is to take money by force (i.e., taxation) and give it to others. From each according to ability, to each according to need is how Karl Marx put it.
Socialists also believe in government-owned enterprises, such as the Postal Service, the Federal Reserve, Amtrak, and public schools.
Fascism, on the other hand, leaves people free to keep their own money but then places it under the control and direction of the government through edicts, orders, directions, or manipulation. It entails an integral relationship between business and government, with government in charge of dictating to businesses what they are to do and not do in the greater interests of the nation. This is the economic philosophy of Donald Trump.
Now, that’s not to say, however, that the ideological and philosophical lines between Clinton and Trump are clearly defined. There is obviously plenty of overlap.
For example, both Clinton and Trump are fervent believers in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, all three of which originated among socialists in Germany. It’s not a coincidence that these three federal programs have been a core element of Cuba’s economic system throughout the Castro regime. They are pure socialism.
I would be remiss, however, if I failed to mention that there is sometimes a difference between the advocates of socialism and fascism when it comes to Social Security. The best example of that difference occurred many years ago in Chile.
The socialist who had been elected president, Salvador Allende, supported the type of Social Security system we have here in the United States, one where seniors rely on the government to seize the income of young people and give it to them.
Once the CIA and the Pentagon ousted Allende from power and replaced him with the military strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet, it was expected that Pinochet would impose a system of economic fascism on the country, especially given his deep admiration for the Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco, who deeply admired Adolf Hitler, whose economic philosophy was fascist but who referred to himself as a “national socialist.” In fact, the term “Nazi” is an abbreviation of “national socialist.”
So, it was no surprise when Pinochet replaced Allende’s socialist Social Security system with a fascist one, one whereby people would be “free” to keep their own money but would be required by law to deposit a portion of it in government-approved retirement accounts.
On the fascist side, both Clinton and Trump are also both fervent believers in government-business partnerships, trade restrictions, sanctions, embargoes, economic regulations, licensure laws, zoning laws, and a host of other governmental controls on private property.
They are also fervent believers in the drug war, the federal program that places people into jail for ingesting a substance that public officials don’t approve of.
And let’s not forget the U.S. national-security state, the totalitarian-like apparatus that was grafted onto our federal governmental structure to fight the Cold War. Both Clinton and Trump love it and believe in it, both of them thirsting for the opportunity to run its death machine.
One of the characteristics of fascism is that its proponents look for scapegoats to distract people’s attention away from the fact that the government is responsible for their woes. Clearly, Trump is a master at this tactic, with his angry tirades against illegal immigrants and Muslims.
Fascists also place national greatness at the top of their priorities, subordinating the personal interests of individuals and businesses in the process. The fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who Trump likes to quote, embraced this aspect of fascism. Or as Mussolini’s cohort Hitler put it, “The public weal before the private gain.”
Even though Clinton portrays herself as a voice of moderation when it comes to illegal immigrants and Muslims, the fact is that she has long been an ardent proponent of both the war on immigrants and the war on terrorism, both of which have ending up subjecting both of these groups of people to horrible abuse.
No matter who wins the presidency, the losers are going to be the American people. Whether it’s more socialism or more fascism, this is not going to lead to a happy state of affairs for America. Instead, it will continue to lead our nation into even darker waters.
For one thing, there is the out-of-control federal spending on all the welfare-warfare state programs, spending that continues to far exceed tax revenues. That means severe economic and financial crises, during which the federal government is going to be looking for wealth to seize wherever it can find it.
For another thing, there will continue to be foreign crises, as a result of foreign interventionism. The national-security state’s death machine will continue to kill more people, which means a growing threat of anti-American terrorism. There will also be crises with Russia and China because crises are what keep people afraid, passive, and deferential.
The crises mean more economic privation and more loss of liberty. Don’t forget that we already live in a society where the government can confiscate any amount of income it wants by simply increasing the tax rate and eliminating deductions. We also live in a country where the government wields the omnipotent power to assassinate, incarcerate, and torture its own people without trial and due process of law, so long as it first labels the victims “terrorists.”
If Americans decide that they instead would like to live in a normal society — that is, one that is free, peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous, then they will have to reject both socialism and fascism. That’s what libertarianism is all about — the rejection of statism and the embrace of individual liberty, free markets, and free enterprise — that is, a society in which economic enterprise is entirely free of government control — a society in which people are free to live their lives the way the want so long as their conduct is peaceful — a society in where there is a separation of economy and the state and a separation of charity and the state.
Americans living today have the opportunity to lead the world out of the statist morass into which it has been plunged. All it takes is wisdom, courage, and insight. All it takes is a will to reject socialism and fascism in all their variations. All it takes is an embrace of libertarianism, one of the greatest and most glorious philosophies in history.