Intelligent Design

Were the Nazis on the Right or on the Left? Does it Matter?

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The issue of whether the Nazis were on the left or the right comes up most often in discussions of economics.  Some argue the Nazis called themselves socialists, and therefore they should be classified on the left.  The problem with that argument is that in spite of the fact that the formal name of the Nazi party translates to the “National German Socialist Workers Party,” they were not socialists.  The Nazis did not advocate for or impose the central tenet of socialism – the ownership of the means of production by the state.1  Yes, Hitler employed socialist sounding propaganda when it furthered his political aims (thus the name of the party), especially in attracting disenfranchised German workers.  But in actual practice, Nazi Germany was a capitalist country.  Therefore, despite the name of the party and some rhetorical sleight-of hand when it suited them, the Nazis were not socialists.

The second question in the title of this post is what I really want to talk about.  Because the real question concerns the political spectrum itself.  Yesterday I was reading a friend’s Facebook post, and this passage caught my eye.

Anyway… the situation forming in America is most comparable to what happened in pre Nazi Germany where the extreme left fought the extreme right for the control of the future of Germany.  You had the Nazi party on the extreme right… and we all know who was in charge there. On the left, though, representing the communists/socialists was an organization called “Antifaschistische Aktion” commonly known under the abbreviation (“Antifa”).

To which I responded:

One of the most fateful errors in all of history is the political spectrum that places Nazi Germany on the extreme “right” and Stalinist Russia on the extreme “left.” Those two regimes had far more in common than otherwise. And to suggest that they are somehow opposite of one another is insane.

My friend completely missed my point and pointed me to this Snopes article arguing that the Nazis, despite their name, were not socialists.  I say he missed my point, because, as I have already said, I agree that the Nazis were not socialists.  My point is that from a larger perspective, a perspective that takes account of political and not merely economic considerations, it is insane to assert that communism and Nazism are in any meaningful sense opposite to each other. 

The fundamental issue around which political systems should be classified is the degree of state control over society.  In this system of classification, totalitarian regimes fit on one end (it matters not whether one calls that end “right” or “left”) and liberal2 democracies fall on the other end.  Using this more accurate political spectrum, Nazism and communism are practically identical in every meaningful sense and fall on the same end of the spectrum.  Let’s start with economics.

Under communism, the state obviously has totalitarian control in the economic sphere.  After all, a communist country is, by definition, a country in which the state owns the means of production.  This is not controversial.  What may be controversial (but which should be obvious) is that the Nazis were very close to the communists in the sphere of economic control.  The Snopes article my friend sent me quotes a passage from the  2010 book Hitler: A Biography, by British historian Ian Kershaw that illustrates this point nicely:

[Hitler] was wholly ignorant of any formal understanding of the principles of economics.  For him, as he stated to the industrialists, economics was of secondary importance, entirely subordinated to politics.  His crude social-Darwinism dictated his approach to the economy, as it did his entire political “world-view.”  Since struggle among nations would be decisive for future survival, Germany’s economy had to be subordinated to the preparation, then carrying out, of this struggle.  This meant that liberal ideas of economic competition had to be replaced by the subjection of the economy to the dictates of the national interest.  Similarly, any “socialist” ideas in the Nazi programme had to follow the same dictates.  Hitler was never a socialist.  But although he upheld private property, individual entrepreneurship, and economic competition, and disapproved of trade unions and workers’ interference in the freedom of owners and managers to run their concerns, the state, not the market, would determine the shape of economic development.  Capitalism was, therefore, left in place. But in operation it was turned into an adjunct of the state.

Just so.  The difference between communism and Nazism is that under the former the state owns and controls the means of production directly, and in the latter the state allows the means of production to largely remain in private hands so long as the owners do exactly what the state tells them to do.  The two regimes are indistinguishable in terms of ultimate state control.  In both, the state directs ultimate goals and imposes an all-pervading top down control.

The fascinating thing here is that modern communist countries are exactly the same as Nazi Germany.  While calling themselves socialists, the Nazis oversaw a vibrant capitalist economy.  Today, there are 373 Chinese billionaires in a “socialist” country.  How can this be?  The answer is the same as the Nazi answer.  While continuing to call itself “socialist,” the actual Chinese economy is capitalism on steroids.  In both Hitler’s Germany and Xi Jinping’s China, the important thing from the leader’s perspective is not economic systems but ultimate state control of all spheres of life.

And that is why in politics, in every meaningful sense, Nazism and communism are indistinguishable.  In both systems, citizens do what the state tells them to do or they die.  This is not (or should not be) controversial, as witnessed by the millions of citizens murdered in both systems.  The only difference between Nazism and communism is one of degree, not kind.  And in terms of the scale of carnage, communism was several times worse in actual practice. In rough terms the Nazis murdered about 17 million people (including six million Jews).  The communists murdered many more (in addition to enslaving hundreds of millions).  In terms of the sheer number of people he murdered, Mao made Hitler look like a piker.  Add to this the murder count of other communist regimes (as documented in the Black Book of Communism), and we see that communists murdered approximately 100 million people, over five times the number Hitler murdered. 

Why does it matter how we classify Nazism and communism on the spectrum?  Because it has important real-world implications both domestically and internationally.  Let’s start internationally.  The fact of the matter is that Nazism is dead as a governing political philosophy.  There is not a single Nazi country in the world (ironically enough, Russia under Putin probably comes closest).  But there are several communist countries, China being the most prominent.  And in terms of sheer evil perpetrated, it is vitally important to remember that China is on the same end of the political spectrum as Nazi Germany (only worse in actual practice).  Mao killed tens of millions, and Xi stands in unbroken linear succession to Mao.  It is as if Germany had won the war (or brokered a peace), and the Nazi government were still in place.  If that had happened, Angela Merkel would be in linear succession to Hitler just as Xi stands in succession to perhaps the most evil man in the history of the world.

Wake up people!  Mao’s government is still in place.  His picture is on every Chinese banknote. Chinese students are taught to venerate him. His crimes have been stuffed down the memory hole. Yes, for a few years after Deng Xiaoping, we all hoped China was heading towards political liberalization.  It turns out that was a cruel mirage, as witnessed by the extinguishment of democracy in Hong Kong and the one million Uighurs languishing in concentration camps.  Thus, on the international stage, there are no Nazi regimes, but China looms large.  It matters that we classify Xi’s China on the same end of the political spectrum as Hitler’s Germany, because Xi’s China is evil in the same way Hitler’s Germany was evil.  At best it is a distraction to set these regimes off as opposites.  At worst, that sort of muddled thinking will cause us to commit egregious geopolitical blunders. 

Domestically, despite progressives’ penchant for calling everyone who disagrees with them about anything a Nazi, the only real danger of authoritarianism in this country comes from the very people who make that claim.  Progressives have learned well from their Nazi forbearers.  For mid-twentieth century Nazis and early twenty-first century progressives, political rhetoric has nothing to do with truth and substance and everything to do with propaganda that demonizes the opposition.  Progressives call Republicans Nazis.  But in terms of pushing for state control of society, the Republican platform is as far from Nazism as it is possible to be.  Conversely, Progressives want to take over literally everything.  Consider the Green New Deal as just one example among many.  To implement that program (which has been endorsed by every major Democratic politician), the federal government would have to take over and control literally every sector of the economy.  Do progressives want to kill people who get in their way? Certainly they want to put them in jail. That was the purpose of opening a criminal investigation of companies that had the temerity to fund research that was not in line with the climate alarmist agenda. Putting people in jail is a start. Give them more power, and we will see where their abuse of it ends. My bet: To quote Chambers, “to a gas chamber, go!” Progressives should be classified on the Nazi/communist end of the political spectrum. And it is an intellectual outrage that the mainstream media classifies them on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Yes, it matters how we classify Nazism.  It matters because on both the international and the domestic stage, we have actors who are closely ideologically aligned with Nazis in the sense of advocating for state control of every aspect of our lives and persecuting those who oppose them.. And it matters because the media is lying to us about who those actors are.

To answer my friend’s comment, the violent struggle today is not between left and right. It is between the fascists who go under the antifa label and the fascists who go under the white supremacist/nationalist label. In the 1930s the Nazis and the communists fought one another. That is true. But it is a tragic mistake to believe they fought one another because they were on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Just the opposite is true. They were on the same end of the spectrum, and the reason they fought is that there was room for only one of them to govern from that end. The same is true today. It is a mistake to call some totalitarians “rightists” and some totalitarians “leftists.” They are both totalitarians and should be opposed for that reason. And that is why all mainstream Republicans and Democrats should join to oppose both groups. Sadly, while I see a lot of influential Republicans condemning both groups, the same is not true of Democrats. I have yet to hear a single prominent Democrat (including Joe Biden) condemn Antifa and BLM.

_____________

1 Socialists like to formulate it as the ownership of the means of production by the WORKERS instead of by the STATE.  But that is just silly window dressing that fools no one but the most gullible.  The only way for “workers” to unite to own the means of production is within a political structure, and whatever one chooses to call that structure, it is functionally indistinguishable from the “state” as that term is commonly understood.  To be sure, Marxist theory postulates that the “state” phase of communism will ultimately give way to stateless communism.  Of course, that never happened in any communist country.  In fact, just the opposite happened.  Instead of fading away, the state in each such country became an all-controlling Leviathan that dominated everything everywhere and never showed the slightest sign of fading away.

2 By “liberal,” I mean classically liberal in the tradition of the American founders.  I do not mean “progressive,” which expresses itself through authoritarian (some would say fascist) methods.  I do not take account of anarcho-syndicalism and radical libertarianism in the spectrum, because neither is currently of much practical consequence. 

37 Replies to “Were the Nazis on the Right or on the Left? Does it Matter?

  1. 1
    Dr.Ford says:

    I agree with this argument, though I wouldn’t use the word insane to describe the problem with the standard model spectrum, but rather that it is undefined. A spectrum is a tool and you need to define what is being measured. The above post defines what is being measured as the power relationship between the state and the individual. Or, to put it more precisely, the power that the state has over the lives of individuals vs. the power that individuals have over their own lives. This works well for a spectrum because there are two parameters that are reciprocally related. When one increases, the other decreases.
    Any increase in state power entails a decrease in the power of individuals and vica versa.
    If you choose left to mean the maximization of state power and the minimization of individual power then communism, fascism and progressivism fit nicely on that end.
    The polar opposite would be a form of government where individual power is maximized. The government defined by the founding fathers of the United States would therefore fit nicely on the right end.

  2. 2
    EDTA says:

    Indeed, we have to get away from having a single line as our spectrum also. I disagree with Wikipedia’s first entry, but at least their article is a start, showing a few examples of 2-axis spectra: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum
    And most of the ones that a google search turns up are also depressingly inaccurate…

  3. 3
    Dr.Ford says:

    The problem with this single spectrum is that all issues do not turn on the power relationship between the state and the individual. It’s easy to plot taxes on the line. Raising taxes increases state power so that would be a movement to the left. Lowering taxes increases individual power so that would be a movement to the right. The same goes for gun control or government regulations. Moral issues would have to be plotted on a different spectrum because they turn on theism vs. non-theism. Conservatives and Libertarians would occupy the same space on the political power spectrum but they are at odds on the theism/non-theism spectrum.

  4. 4
    David P says:

    As I read the first paragraph or so I thought, how refreshing to finally read something here political that’s kinda accurate. Then came this baloney:
    ” Progressives have learned well from their Nazi forbearers.”
    Seems to me Barry is the one with …..a penchant for calling everyone who disagrees with him about anything a Nazi.
    Conservatives are so desperate to not be associated with Nazis they make any feeble argument they can to put that label on progressives. Did it ever occur to you that not promoting certain people is better way to avoid certain labels as opposed to relying on fringe arguments to stick it on your opponents?

    Most progressives don’t need call conservatives Nazi’s, conservatives already have such a terrible track record lately.
    You do know that every person associated with Trump’s original campaign has been locked up now, right?
    20+ indictments over the Russian investigation?
    Current attorney general doesn’t KNOW it’s illegal to vote twice?
    Let’s promote the guy telling people to commit voter fraud. Let’s defend the guy using our own troops against it’s own citizens. What could go wrong keeping the people actively trying to destroy democracy in for another term?

  5. 5
    Eugene says:

    What is this obsession with Nazis and Hitler? Yes, they ended up engaging in genocide, and this was bad, and hence they can now be used as strong emotional labels to discredit one’s political opponents. I get that. However, it does not follow that their economic model was necessarily also somehow deficient just because they performed mass murders.
    …Capitalism a-la 19-th century is now dead. There are way too many available workers for the amount of work to do, which there isn’t much either as the scientific progress has slowed down dramatically. The market-clearing solution to this problem is politically unfeasible. Hence we will have to invoke major State interventions, delivering some combination of protectionism and wealth redistribution. To re-phrase, most of us would end up starving or dead without State intervention. Hence we are now all slaves to the State. It then follows that whoever controls the State, they are now also in position to tell us how to live our lives to satisfy their perverted sense of playing God. We are just fighting for what kind of life we would be allowed to live going forward as it now depends on who wins control of the State.

  6. 6
    Belfast says:

    These arguments, predictably, founder into incoherence with the No True Scotsman argument.
    Nazis were not socialist because No True Socialist……
    Russian leaders were not communist because No True Communist…..

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, I actually disagree on the Socialist and Workers’ Party part, note the double emphasis. The times were the age of socialist thought in understandable reaction to oligarchy and robber baron capitalism. Just as, it was the age of social darwinism and eugenics. Even conservatives thought in terms of the inevitable triumph of socialism (including C S Lewis and IIRC Churchill), they just fought to stave it off for various reasons. What the Nazis did was subtler than Lenin then Stalin: using totalitarian approaches to engulf the capitalists, churches, unions etc through forming groups dominated by the Nazi Party and its bureaucracy. So, capitalists were cartellised and collectivised thus turned into pensioners of the Nazi state. The fate of Professor Junkers (a pacifist and socialist BTW as well as brilliant pioneer of Aviation) showed what happened to those who tried to be independent. He was hounded out to death by a former employee now a key Nazi figure, Milch. The state did a hostile takeover of the Society, but did so subtly. A very similar pattern obtained in Italy. We need to note, Nationalist China was essentially fascist too. I note, the other definition of ownership is not about who holds a piece of paper giving legal title but who holds effective control. By that criterion, totalitarian takeover of an economy and other institutions is inherently about state seizure of de facto ownership; and, about subjugation of people under de facto slavery too. Dr Junkers’ ghost can tell us all about how that worked. KF

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me briefly discuss the wider question, using the cube model I have suggested for several years now, here at UD.

    1: We can develop an historically anchored cube, with scaled axes for degree of power concentration, type/degree of leadership and legal framework. It allows us to fit both short term dynamics and more stable patterns.

    2: The workers/state ownership definition of socialism is flawed as it is not really economic but legal — ownership is about property. The true economic debate is on degree of centralisation of planning of the economy, thus role of markets, distortions, failures etc and linked tradeoffs.

    3: I find here Roger Garrison’s Austrian framework for Macro, with the Hayek value added triangle feeding consumption, a production possibilities frontier between consumption and investment and a loanable funds market highly useful, where governments become agents involved in production and investment.

    4: State seizure of control through totalitarian techniques, of course, leads to state domination of the economy and to the challenge that value is based on aggregation of micro scale actors making tradeoffs on opportunities foregone to make decisions on allocation of scarce resources and efforts. So, centralised planning runs into valuation and distortion problems, with totalitarian planning being manifestly fallacious as it destroys the market feedback.

    5: It is also brittle, prone to catastrophic failure. Some sort of indicative planning and influence through funding breakthrough study and research leading to innovation seems sounder. The US Space programme across the 60’s is a classic, we are still living from what it pioneered. But still, one is tickling a dragon’s tail and may destabilise.

    6: While the cube allows wide analysis, it shows a main trend: autocracy – oligarchy – lawful oligarchy [cf. classical Republics etc] – constitutional democracy – libertarianism with minimal government – anarchy and/or state of nature. The latter is a chaotic repeller pole that pushes a snap-back that often ends in the vortex of tyranny. Hard to climb back out.

    7: Until rise of printing, vernacular Bible (and the linked Protestant Revolution), literacy as a broad phenomenon, bills, tracts, newspapers, pamphlets, widely circulated books, Coffee houses etc, lawful oligarchy was the most that could be hoped for. The breakthrough making constitutional democracy possible was 1688 – 1787, in Britain and its breakaway North American colonies.

    8: It is closely tied, that we saw the rise of civil rights movements coming out of that, starting with slavery and the slave trade (the low hanging fruit).

    9: Where, rights are such that they reflect a binding moral claim to respect and protection. However, to justly claim a right one must manifestly be in the right as there is no just claim to subjugate another to uphold one in evil, tainting his/her soul. That centrality of natural built in morally framed law is precisely where modern legal positivism goes off the rails.

    10: We may now think with fresh eyes, duly informed by first duties of reason

    We can readily identify at least seven inescapable first duties of reason. Inescapable, as they are so antecedent to reasoning that even the objector implicitly appeals to them; i.e. they are self-evident. Duties, to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to neighbour, so also to fairness and justice etc. Such built in law is not invented by parliaments or courts, nor can these principles and duties be abolished by such. (Cf. Cicero in De Legibus, c. 50 BC.) Indeed, it is on this framework that we can set out to soundly understand and duly balance rights, freedoms and duties; which is justice. The legitimate main task of government, then, is to uphold and defend the civil peace of justice through sound community order reflecting the built in, intelligible law of our nature. Where, as my right implies your duty a true right is a binding moral claim to be respected in life, liberty, honestly aquired property, innocent reputation etc. To so justly claim a right, one must therefore demonstrably be in the right. Thus, too, we may compose sound civil law informed by that built-in law of our responsibly, rationally free morally governed nature; from such, we may identify what is unsound or false thus to be reformed or replaced even though enacted under the colour and solemn ceremonies of law. These duties, also, are a framework for understanding and articulating the corpus of built-in law of our morally governed nature, antecedent to civil laws and manifesting our roots in the Supreme Law-giver, the inherently good, utterly wise and just creator-God.

    Epictetus on inescapability of logic

    DISCOURSES
    CHAPTER XXV

    How is logic necessary?

    When someone in [Epictetus’] audience said, Convince me that logic is necessary, he answered: Do you wish me to demonstrate this to you?—Yes.—Well, then, must I use a demonstrative argument?—And when the questioner had agreed to that, Epictetus asked him. How, then, will you know if I impose upon you?—As the man had no answer to give, Epictetus said: Do you see how you yourself admit that all this instruction is necessary, if, without it, you cannot so much as know whether it is necessary or not? [Notice, inescapable, thus self evidently true and antecedent to the inferential reasoning that provides deductive proofs and frameworks, including axiomatic systems and propositional calculus etc. Cf J. C. Wright]

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Nazism and Communism, alike, are nihilistic, statist, lawless ideological oligarchies. Kissing cousins.

  10. 10
    willspeaks says:

    I have always thought that this was very simple if you don’t try and over think it.
    Left/Right is a linear scale and for it to mean anything, the poles have to be opposites.
    Complete State control/Left on one end and complete lack of State control/Anarchy on the other.
    That would place me, a small L libertarian about three quarters of the way to the right.
    Communists/socialist’s think that Fascist’s are right wing because they may be slightly to the right of them, but to me, they are both way over on the left side of the scale.
    Bastard brothers of the same ism.

  11. 11
    willspeaks says:

    I have always thought that this was very simple if you don’t try and over think it.
    Left/Right is a linear scale and for it to mean anything, the poles have to be opposites.
    Complete State control/Left on one end and complete lack of State control/Anarchy on the other.
    That would place me, a small L libertarian about three quarters of the way to the right.
    Communists/socialist’s think that Fascist’s are right wing because they may be slightly to the right of them, but to me, they are both way over on the left side of the scale.
    Ba$tard brothers of the same ism.

  12. 12
    willspeaks says:

    Sorry for the second post, it was taking a long time and I thought they were not going to let me say bastard:)

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Similarly, the transition to lawfulness occurs as there is a critical mass that recognises the premise of justice rooted in built-in moral law and the neighbour-duty premise reflected in the golden rule. The result is growth of a body of law, with decrees and precedents, agreements etc all playing a part. The need for coherence drives reforms such as Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis and the much later formalisation of common law in Blackstone, but of course Alfred’s Book of Dooms is also there. Constitutions emerge as supervisory, framework law that specifies and delimits the state’s power. Deuteronomy, arguably, is a pioneer. This points to why legal positivism is dangerous and to why totalitarian lawlessness is so regressive, ruinous and murderous.

  14. 14
    john_a_designer says:

    I think the key characteristic which distinguishes fascism from Marxist-communism is nationalism. “Fascisms” tend to be highly nationalistic, so in that sense they are viewed as “right wing”– thus you have German fascism, Italian fascism, Spanish fascism, Argentinian fascism etc.

    On the other hand, according to one on-line Marxist source:

    “Socialists [Marxists] are internationalists. Whereas nationalists believe that the world is divided primarily into different nationalities, socialists consider social class to be the primary divide. For socialists, class struggle–not national identity–is the motor of history. And capitalism creates an international working class that must fight back against an international capitalist class.”

    http://isreview.org/issues/13/.....art1.shtml

    Marxists therefore had a much more ideological, class oriented and subversive strategy which aimed to topple other “oppressive” governments from within by class revolution. Fascists like Hitler and Mussolini relied much more on military power as a means of political expansion. Therefore Marxist would see fascists as oppressors and themselves as liberators.

    Both fascism and Marxist-communism have a strong emphasis on state control along with the denial of individual rights and freedoms. Marxists, of course, rationalize this by arguing the denial of liberty is temporary but necessary.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    WS,

    you reflect much the same result I have as an alternative spectrum, but the history of L/R is a significant factor rooted in sitting based on agreement/disagreement with monarchical traditionalism — a type of lawful oligarchy — in European legislatures. The right was the position of honour and was held by the traditionalists. Recall, the Catholic Church is a remaining elective monarchy [similar to the now defunct Holy Roman Empire].

    Eventually socialist radicalism [eventually dominated by Marx’s thought] became the dominant view on the left. In that world, the USA was an isolated radical experiment.

    WW1 broke monarchy — the Russian, Ottoman, German and Austrian monarchical empires became defunct — and the attempts to internationalise socialism themed uprisings failed, splintering the left, and already in the war Mussolini had been a nationalist.

    This is key, it is the point where the Right lost its original meaning and the spectrum became incoherent and outdated.

    The Frankfurt School and Fascism are both derived from that ferment. In Russia, Stalin’s Socialism in one state prevailed over Trotsky’s internationalism. The latter fled to Mexico, where he was murdered on Stalin’s order. Marx’s eschatology failed and when Stalin hoped to get Kondratiev to confirm that the Depression was the emerging grand crisis, the latter’s discovery instead of the generation(s) length long wave led to his being shot on Stalin’s order.

    Stalin’s early WW2 strategy was shaped by the same thought, only to have Hitler invade Russia.

    Post war, he subjugated Eastern Europe, supported the defeat of fascism in China and pushed forward in Korea. He was checked at Berlin and Korea. Under his successors, the de facto WW3 played out to expansion in the ME, Asia, Latin America and Africa until the W, post Vietnam, was in visible global retreat. Reagan, Thatcher, John Paul II and others broke that and the shattered Soviet Economy led to collapse 89 – 91.

    China effectively reverted to Fascism under the name of Communism. (In practice, it can be hard to tell the difference, once symbols and slogans are set aside.)

    After 30 years, Frankfurt School culture form marxism fronted by critical theories and using red guards as cannon fodder, is making a 4GW push for power in the USA. It will predictably fail but will do a lot of damage in the US and — given that the US is a geostrategic pivot and dominant maritime power guaranteeing commerce — globally.

    Chaos has been set loose.

    KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, that approach is there but would — with some merit! — redefine Stalin as Fascist, with his rejection of Trotsky’s internationalism. Defeat in Poland must have taught him a strong lesson. KF

  17. 17
    john_a_designer says:

    I think fascist sometimes gets used too loosely to mean any kind of politically inspired street thuggery, bullying or repression of free speech etc.– but these things are just as typical on the far left as they are on the far right. But again, I still think the idea of nationalism is important is distinguishing fascism from Marxist communism. The Marxism that is presently entrenched on U.S. university campuses is a cultural form of Marxism that comes to us via the Frankfurt school which expanded Marxist ideology from the oppressed working class to other oppressed classes– blacks, women, gays etc. (Thus the mantra: race, class, gender.) Ironically, as the last Presidential election demonstrated, at least in the U.S., the left and far left have pretty much written off the working class. For sure, American workers still want economic justice but I don’t think they see Marxism as the solution. Why? Because they want to own property, become prosperous and live comfortable lives. Historical economic Marxism is just too extreme, besides the fact it has never worked.

    American cultural Marxists, none the less, have a deep distain for American nationalism and patriotism (which despite left wing propaganda are terms which can be used interchangeably), as well as traditional moral and religious values. So again, they are going to label anything that they see as too nationalistic or patriotic as “fascist.”

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let’s dissect the usual source for progressivist-tinged conventional [UN-]wisdom, Wikipedia:

    >>A political spectrum is a system to characterize and classify different political positions in relation to one another. These positions sit upon one or more geometric axes that represent independent political dimensions.[1] The expressions political compass and political map are used to refer to the political spectrum as well, especially to popular two-dimensional models of it.[2][3][4][5]>>

    – reasonable so far

    >>Most long-standing spectra include the left–right dimension which originally referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution (1789–1799), with radicals on the left and aristocrats on the right.[1][6]>>

    – the historical root

    >>While communism and socialism are usually regarded internationally as being on the left, conservatism and fascism are regarded internationally as being on the right.[1]>>

    — progressivist conventional UN-wisdom and a root of blood libel material to the “nazi” accusations being tossed around in the US

    — such lumping without allowing for corrective balancing carries the suggestion that political “conservativism” is closely akin to Nazism

    >>Liberalism can mean different things in different contexts, being sometimes on the left (social liberalism) and other times on the right (conservative liberalism).>>

    — Liberal, of course, was what is better termed classical liberalism, now essentially “Conservativism,”

    >>Those with an intermediate outlook are sometimes classified as centrists . . . . >>

    — the debate is, centre of gravity of politics vs “extremism”

    >>The terms right and left refer to political affiliations originating early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789–1799 and referred originally to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France.[6] As seen from the Speaker’s seat at the front of the Assembly, the aristocracy sat on the right (traditionally the seat of honor) and the commoners sat on the left, hence the terms right-wing politics and left-wing politics.[6]>>

    — yes

    >>Originally, the defining point on the ideological spectrum was the Ancien Régime (“old order”).>>

    — Centre of gravity, the traditions then sought to be conserved, even if significantly reformed

    — Likely, some version of what developed in the UK was viewed as a model, but then the King and Queen were beheaded and Robespierre et al imposed the terror

    >> “The Right” thus implied support for aristocratic or royal interests and the church, while “The Left” implied support for republicanism, secularism and civil liberties.[6]>>

    — much more lurked, such as stability and lawful order, thus how to proceed with studied reforms; overtaken by destructive events

    >>Because the political franchise at the start of the revolution was relatively narrow, the original “Left” represented mainly the interests of the bourgeoisie, the rising capitalist class (with notable exceptions such as the proto-communist Gracchus Babeuf). Support for laissez-faire commerce and free markets were expressed by politicians sitting on the left because these represented policies favorable to capitalists rather than to the aristocracy, >>

    — these were part of the reform programme to move beyond mercantilist thought in an age of emerging industrial revolution

    >>but outside parliamentary politics these views are often characterized as being on the Right.>>

    — notice the 230 year time frame shift? That’s a clue to how outdated and incoherent all of this has become.

    >>The reason for this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that those “to the left” of the parliamentary left, outside official parliamentary structures (such as the sans-culottes of the French Revolution), typically represent much of the working class, poor peasantry and the unemployed. >>

    — In short there was radicalism beyond the centre of gravity of reformers; this triggered the explosion to follow

    >>Their political interests in the French Revolution lay with opposition to the aristocracy and so they found themselves allied with the early capitalists. However, this did not mean that their economic interests lay with the laissez-faire policies of those representing them politically.>>

    — radicalism vs reform, the terror is cleverly glided over in silence

    >>As capitalist economies developed, the aristocracy became less relevant and were mostly replaced by capitalist representatives.>>

    — What! Where did 130 years of history to WW1 and aftermath go?

    >>The size of the working class increased as capitalism expanded and began to find expression partly through trade unionist, socialist, anarchist and communist politics rather than being confined to the capitalist policies expressed by the original “left”.>>

    — In short, Marxism took over the Left, shifting classical liberals and supporters of free enterprise etc in their view to the despised right

    >> This evolution has often pulled parliamentary politicians away from laissez-faire economic policies,>>

    — dodging the Marxist issue

    >> although this has happened to different degrees in different countries, especially those with a history of issues with more authoritarian-left countries, such as the Soviet Union or China under Mao Zedong.>>

    — 100 million ghosts request a word with the moderators

    >> Thus, the word “Left” in American political parlance may refer to “liberalism” and be identified with the Democratic Party,>>

    — again, dodging

    >> whereas in a country such as France these positions would be regarded as relatively more right-wing, or centrist overall, and “left” is more likely to refer to “socialist” or “social-democratic” positions rather than “liberal” ones.>>

    — pointing to incoherence and dodging Marx

    — Notice, Marx has not explicitly come up

    KF

  19. 19
    Querius says:

    Wow, such o trove of cogent and well-informed posts . . . thank you! Here’s what I’d add:

    Hitler instituted what was called “the Leadership Principle.” Society was organized into a hierarchy of identity groups and each group had a leader. Each group of leaders had a leader on up the Leader of the German People. Hitler believed the German people had a manifest destiny to guide the evolution of Homo sapiens–the Nazis were convinced that they had the capability and thus the moral obligation to do so.

    – Lenin was led by a vision of the collective and hoped to educate and convert other countries to become Soviets of their own as happened early on in Hungary for a while. His message of hope and triumph was conveyed through billboards, newspapers, and collectives.

    – China was similarly led by Mao, but his successors abandoned the Marxist model because they concluded that Communism had failed the Chinese people. Thus, they established an inherently unstable hybrid system: authoritarian, corrupt, and nominally socialist. Their control over their people is now taking a new dimension with “social credits,” electronic monitoring of social media with the expectation of positive reinforcement (not just compliance) by each individual. This position is analogous to the BLM position that inaction is violence and parallels the selective censorship of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

    I agree that a one-dimensional political spectrum is hopelessly flawed. Certainly one of the dimensions should be an economic one, another should reflect political rights, representation, freedoms, and redress. And a third dimension should address social care. There might be more. Perhaps there should also be a dimension devoted to the level of corruption: bribery, blackmail, physical and social violence, monopolies, payoffs and honorary positions, etc.

    The question is “How do we govern ourselves and how do we prevent the concentration of power that inevitably results in economic, political, and social oppression?”

    Favorite quote from Eastern Europe at the end of WW2: “Capitalism is one man oppressing another, while Socialism is the exact opposite.”

    -Q

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, interesting. Actually, under the label of Communism, China has become effectively fascist — again. Under the Nationalists, it had been that. Arguably, the US under Wilson and Roosevelt, had trends in that direction too. I note that the one man oppressing another view is deeply flawed, there needs to be a sharp revision of thought in terms of the scarcity, significance and value of invention, innovation, entrepreneurship and investment services – all of which are extremely high risk. KF

    PS: I have never really liked the historical balance of attempted definitions of Fascism and ended up giving my own summary on the broader leadership principle i/l/o political messianism as idolatry and given the superman concept:

    FASCISM: At heart, it is the notion that in a day of “unprecedented” crisis that targets a large — locally dominant or pivotally influential — perceived victim group or class or religious or racial/national body, a super-man figure emerges to rescue the victims; one who is beyond ordinary human powers and limits (including those of morality and just law). A political messiah who stands as champion for the identity group to save it, defending it from the various scapegoated out-groups who are held to be to blame for the victimisation of the in-group. That super-man political messiah then seizes power and is widely recognised as a man of “destiny.” In an atmosphere of hysteria, slander and propagandistic deception that is usually multiplied by chaos and violence or at least riotous assemblies in the streets baying for blood, the power blocs, political, legal, military, corporate, religious, etc then align with him, giving him effectively unlimited power in the face of a crisis. We have now reached the threshold of tyranny. And because of the perceived unprecedented crisis, that super-man “people’s champion” figure is cheered on and supported in taking extraordinary measures; measures that sacrifice liberty and justice for the sake of the promised utopian order. And so reigns of terror and aggressive wars naturally emerge. (Cf. here on the last couple of times around, with particular reference to arms races and where they often lead.)
    _____________

    [NB: Fascism is generally tagged as a “right wing” phenomenon, but this is actually misleading, as for instance the single most destructive fascist party ever was the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, the Nazis.

    Fascists generally are clever enough to strike deals with existing power blocs, and so establish a sort of state controlled cartel based economy. But the central pivot is the state and the politically messianic man who embodies the state.

    Statism — dominance of the society by the state in the name of the people — is inherently of the left. For mind-blowing reading, cf. Daniel Pipes here. A clip is instructive:

    >> Benito Mussolini was a leading Socialist figure who, during World War I, turned away from internationalism in favor of Italian nationalism and called the blend Fascism. Likewise, Adolf Hitler headed the National Socialist German Workers Party.

    These facts jar because they contradict the political spectrum that has shaped our worldview since the late 1930s, the political spectrum which places Communism at the far Left, followed by Socialism, Liberalism in the Center, Conservatism, and then Fascism on the far Right. But this spectrum . . . reflects Joseph Stalin’s use of the word “Fascist” as an epithet to discredit anyone he wished – Trotsky, Churchill, Russian peasants – and distorts reality. Already in 1946, George Orwell noted that Fascism had degenerated to signify “something not desirable.” >>

    Given what is happening again in our day, we need to re-think and more accurately understand Fascism and its poisonous spiritual root in political messianism. as well as in Nietzschean super-man nihilist amorality, and the onward roots of that in ideological evolutionary materialism as Plato highlighted in The Laws, Bk X, 360 BC.

    All of which, of course, points ominously to the Christian eschatological expectation and warning against an ultimate false politico-religious messiah figure expected to dominate the world, known as The Anti-Christ or the Man of Sin or The Beast of 666 — a veiled allusion to the demonically mad Roman Emperor who scapegoated and murdered many Christians to divert blame for the AD 64 fire in Rome, Nero Caesar.]

    Boiling down: Fascism is an irrational — hysterical and brainwashed — cultic political reaction to difficult circumstances, manifested in worship of the state as saviour of the dominant “victim group”, multiplied by blind loyalty to the projected political messiah and usually intensified by the focussing of “legitimised” hate, slander and blame on designated scapegoat groups and individuals.

    If we look hard in the mirror, too often — if we are honest, we will recognise ourselves in this summary.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, I should add that while economics is an important focus in policy and governance (i.e. how the big decisions are made and how they are made to stick) it is not central. We are dealing with politics thus how power and subtler influences are developed, concentrated and deployed through formal and informal governance. Wealth and linked tax revenues, credibility to get loans etc are important but absent lawful order that protects the means to gain and substance of honestly acquired property, wealth is just invitation to target and rob, often under fig leaves of restoring justice. The further point is, economies are always planned and there is a conceit that some cluster have super-insight and can centrally plan. Not so, value is an aggregate from the micro level as people, families, firms etc make allocation decisions driven by intent constrained by scarcity. Thus, it is highly perishable and cannot be centralised and worked through in good time to make sound decisions well enough to have effective central planning. Instead states can intervene to provide and support key services and open up possibilities, e.g. the Moon shot programme. Coming back, I therefore subsume economics to other things, lawfulness, state power. Top level leadership patterns are also historically dominant, hence autocracy – oligarchy – lawful oligarchy – constitutional democracy — libertarianism – anarchic chaos and/or state of nature. That is actually an emergent trend, e.g. from 1688 – 1787 on a basis was there for a lawful state with an agreed supreme regulatory body of law (Constitution) and democratic accountability for those entrusted with delimited power for definite limited times. From this, many onward reforms become possible. However, undermining the principle of built in moral government and a cluster of societal buttresses destabilises and leads to chaos which is a repeller that readily triggers snap-back to tyranny. KF

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: What happens after the larger than life founder figure political messiah passes off the scene? Lesser men in his shadow try to institutionalise. So we see oligarchy, which can easily disintegrate into byzantine court factions vying for power leading to reigns of terror and onward emergence of further strong men who enshrine the founder figure, forming a cult. The issue becomes ideology vs lawfulness as our built in law does not go away, where ideologies of extremism will tend to suppress its claims and the rising nomenklatura will want to become a self-perpetuating nobility. Monarchy in all but name is possible as emerged in N Korea. A more stable outcome would be a life peerage with election of successors by the peers; as happened with the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire. Disintegration through emergence of warlords is also possible, as we have seen in several weak states. Doubtless, other possibilities exist. KF

  23. 23
    harry says:

    Theories of government can be assessed in terms of power and morality, after one has a grip on the origin of the state and its fundamental purpose. This assessment leads one to the conclusion that subsidiarity and morality are necessary to avoid tyranny.

    The natural origin of the state:

    The state separates civilization from savagery. The need for civilization, or the state, was expressed by a 2nd century Bishop of Lyons, St. Irenaeus:

    For since man, by departing from God, reached such a pitch of fury as even to look upon his brother as his enemy, and engaged without fear in every kind of restless conduct, and murder, and avarice; God imposed upon mankind the fear of man, as they did not acknowledge the fear of God, in order that, being subjected to the authority of men, and kept under restraint by their laws, they might attain to some degree of justice, and exercise mutual forbearance through dread of the sword suspended full in their view, as the apostle says: “For he bears not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, the avenger for wrath upon him who does evil.” (Romans 13:4) … Earthly rule, therefore, has been appointed by God for the benefit of nations … so that under the fear of human rule, men may not eat each other up like fishes; but that, by means of the establishment of laws, they may keep down an excess of wickedness among the nations.
    — Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 24, #2)

    Irenaeus, of course, saw the emergence of the state from a theistic point of view, but still makes the essential point: civilization is better than savagery. “Murder and avarice,” or, the more powerful killing the less powerful and taking their belongings for themselves, doesn’t work very well. Some group of people took charge at some point in the distant past and established the state; Christians like Irenaeus would say this was in God’s providence. However self-serving and tyrannical the government they established may have been, its founders likely considered themselves benevolent, setting up a system where “men may not eat each other up like fishes.” Whatever that system was, it was better than the reign of theft, murder and anarchy. Laws could be enforced because the state was more powerful than the most powerful individual.

    From a naturalistic point of view, the following can be concluded:

    Humanity preceded the state and brought it into existence.

    Therefore the state exists for humanity, not humanity for the state.

    Therefore it is humanity that bestows and withdraws the state’s right to exist, not the state that bestows and withdraws humanity’s right to exist.

    Therefore the state has no authority whatsoever to “legalize” the murder of innocent humanity — its primary and original purpose was to prevent theft and murder. That is why civilization is better than savagery.

    Power and Morality

    Unbridled, unregulated capitalism, or, as Kairosfocus put it, “oligarchy and robber baron capitalism,” or the state becoming to a large extent a subsidiary of multinational corporations as we see today – what ever you want to call it – it has in common with socialism/communism a concentration of power in the hands of a few people.

    A concentration of power in itself isn’t necessarily evil. Once could imagine a saintly king who was just and demanded just behavior from his subjects. The problem with that is that all to often, as Lord Acton pointed out, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And even if a society considers itself blessed because it lives under the rule of a saintly king, his son will most likely be a tyrant when he inherits the throne. History demonstrates that concentrations of power nearly always become tyrannical, whether the tyrants ferociously defend unbridled, unregulated capitalism or ferociously defend communism.

    To avoid tyranny concentrations of power must be avoided. Under subsidiarity power and authority is intentionally diffused across levels of government, and down through the levels as close to the people themselves as is possible and practical. The American Founders set up a government based on subsidiarity; they established a separation of powers among legislative, executive and judicial branches of government — a diffusion of power. Their intention to avoid concentrations of power is explicitly expressed in the 10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Subsidiarity avoids concentrations of power. Since power has been diffused, injustice, where it arises, isn’t monolithic and invincible as is the case with injustice perpetrated by a concentration of power. Under a tyrannical concentration of power the people have violent revolution as their only option in ending injustice.

    Under subsidiarity, individuals have as much freedom as is possible and practical because the system was designed to do just that. This is where morality comes in. If one uses his freedom to establish a restaurant and then, to make a little more money, keeps unsold food longer than is safe instead of throwing it out, and his customers get food poisoning, his lack of morality creates a need for more government regulation. If the states allow injustices like slavery, it creates a need for the federal government to come in and bring it to and end. Immorality creates the need for regulation at a higher level. Pervasive immorality, always pushing power and authority up to a higher level because freedom was misused at a lower level, ends in more regulation of lower levels enforced by the power and authority at a higher level. This process ultimately leads to tyranny enforced by a concentration of power at the highest level. Immorality leads to tyranny.

    Today, it isn’t a matter of a civilization having gone bad due to pervasive immorality, it is a case of civilization being thrown out altogether. Remember, the state has no authority whatsoever to “legalize” the murder of innocent humanity. The notion that the state has such authority was condemned by the whole world at the Nuremberg Trials, the prosecutors of which treated abortion as a crime against humanity.

    It has turned out that the Nazis only lost the war of weapons; they won the ideological war. The modern militantly atheistic state again claims for itself the authority to “legalize” the murder of innocent humanity as a matter of social policy. Two-billion innocent unborn children have been murdered since this began. That is more people than the entire human population of planet Earth at the beginning of the twentieth century. That is humanity eating each other up “like fishes.” This is a return to savagery, just as the Nazis returned to savagery, no matter how well the savages in charge hide behind the trappings of civilization.

    And what do the “fish” look like? Take a long, hard look at this photograph of a living, quite beautiful unborn child at 18 weeks after conception; it appeared on the cover of an April, 1965 edition of LIFE Magazine.

    Living, beautiful child at 18 weeks after conception

    Countless millions of such beautiful children have been brutally murdered. When we end this and restore civilization, let’s set it up under subsidiarity, which will be reestablishing the America we had after we had ended slavery and shortly thereafter criminalized deliberately taking the life of the child in the womb. That America had finally reconciled its jurisprudence with the principles its Declaration of Independence had proclaimed. The government’s obligation to protect the inalienable human rights to life and liberty had finally been applied to ALL humanity.

  24. 24
    Querius says:

    What an excellent post, Harry!

    As Mao once said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

    And Al Capone supposedly once said, “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”

    On a nice walk in the country today, I thought about the manifestations of power and the effects of its concentration and abuse. These domains include:

    Physical
    Legal and policy
    Economic and monetary
    Mass communication
    Logic and persuasion
    Data and information
    Morality

    Maybe I missed a few. Each of these involve freedom, coercion (good and bad), and corruption. Each of these can be exercised by individuals, various institutions, and the state.

    Let’s take just one for example. Economic.

    Economic freedom allows me to choose if, when, and how I spend or obtain money for my labor. Coercion subjects me to de facto slave labor or forces me to spend money on substandard products and services or spend money on over-priced items, such as $12 for an aspirin in a hospital, or makes me wait in line for hours. Economic corruption destroys competition, neutralizes regulatory controls, or violates health and safety considerations as is the case with tainted food, contaminated medicine, or dangerous products.

    Other popular abuses of power are easily recognized:

    – A university that expels a student on allegations, ignoring due process
    – A communications provider that censors certain users
    – A governmental agency that enforces laws only on some individuals and not others
    – A politician who requires a donation to a charity run by a spouse or other relative before accepting an appointment
    – A charity that spends nearly all donations on fundraising and a high salary for the chief executive.

    The “Subsidiarity” that Harry mentioned tends to prevent concentrations of power and exposes companies, institutions, and state agencies to much more scrutiny than they are comfortable with.

    -Q

  25. 25
    Mac McTavish says:

    I have always thought that classifying ideas as left, right, socialist, etc causes more problems than it solves. Why can’t we just evaluate proposed policies based on their pros and cons?

    For example, I would consider myself a fiscal conservative. By this I mean that government should never spend more than it has, and that there should be serious limitations on a government’s ability to tax and increase taxes. That is why I vote Republican more often than not. But I also believe that we have an obligation to support the weakest amongst us. And that is why, on occasion, I have voted Democrat.

  26. 26
    EDTA says:

    Harry @ 23. Very well said. Thank you.

  27. 27
    Querius says:

    Apparently one is expected to accept shrink-wrapped political positions without regard to their underlying compatibility. For example, how is it that . . .

    – Conservatives are supposed to be opposed to conservation efforts?
    – Conservationists are opposed to clearing out piles of dead brush from forests and controlled burns, which has resulted in devastating mega fires?
    – Those who support carbon neutral energy are against green nuclear power?
    – Progressives are against increasing civil liberties and reforming corrupt state and city management?
    – The politicians who advocate greater social safety, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods, are opposed to funding the police that protect them?
    – The people who led the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s now promote strict enforcement against free speech on college campuses?
    – The rioters who oppose government oppression strongly advocate for a more oppressive type of government, one in which they would simply be shot for rioting?

    But, we don’t have a choice. You have to vote for a package deal and then, once a politician is elected, they only represent their packaged party platform.

    -Q

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, actually, party platforms seem to be almost irrelevant. You have entrenched ideologies embedded in a range of institutions, pointing to needed generation-length reformation, backed up by court reforms. KF

  29. 29
    Querius says:

    KF,

    You’re right on “party platforms.” They represent only a potential agenda for politicians to advocate. I should have stuck with “a package deal” of beliefs typically associated with a political party. These political attachments are analogous to decorator crabs (Majoidea) that attach items from their environment to their bodies as camouflage.

    Yes, I agree with you on the generations of reform needed. This reform covers four areas:

    1. Political anti-corruption. This issue is considered the biggest cause of poverty worldwide. Reducing corruption requires transparency, apprehension and punishment of violators, and an dramatic increase in general ethical standards and personal honor over gutter opportunism.

    2. Recognition that equality of opportunity is all that government can assure, not equality of outcomes. As Thomas Sowell pointed out in his book, The Quest for Cosmic Justice, governments should strive for traditional justice and not try to take the place of God.

    3. Recognition that emotional intelligence is an oxymoron.

    4. That people, especially children, are no longer relentlessly propagandized for the candy-land wonders of a socialist utopia, but rather challenged with the principles and trade offs of the rule of mankind.

    -Q

  30. 30
    john_a_designer says:

    History informs us that Hitler and Nazis came into power democratically. A number of our interlocutors argue that moral obligations and universal human rights are subjective values which ultimately we create. When challenged with the question of how you can create a moral and just society which protects human rights they argue that we have to establish a consensus. Isn’t that what the Nazis had when they came to power in 1933, a consensus? When the Reichstag passed the Nuremberg laws which discriminated against and disenfranchised German Jews in 1935 it passed by an overwhelming majority. So did that make discrimination based on race moral? Did it mean that there was nothing really wrong in denying German Jews their rights? …that it was okay for German society to treat them as subhuman… to exterminate them like rats?

    When Nazi leaders and judges defended themselves at war crimes trials in 1945 and 46 they pled not guilty because they were just following orders or obeying the law. Were allied prosecutors wrong when they argued that there was a law above the law? Were the Nazis only wrong because they lost the war? Logically moral relativism argues that they weren’t really morally wrong, just unlucky.

  31. 31
    Querius says:

    Very good points, John. When moral judgments in a special court that can hang the person on trial are being evaluated, it drives home that the biggest moral failure is losing a war, an electoral majority, or a Supreme Court majority.

    For example, a One World Court perhaps 50 years from now might take the latest cognitive data from developing human fetuses provided by scientific research and determine that abortion was murder. As a result, abortion doctors might stand trial as a modern equivalent of Dr. Mengele.

    So you can see why the relativism crowd is desperate, even hysterical, to keep the current laws on abortion unchanged!

    Relativists hold a very fragile and vulnerable position. This is not far-fetched. Look at all the white politicians who thought it would be funny in college to dress up in “blackface” and are now desperate to locate and destroy any incriminating photographs of themselves.

    -Q

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    The need is to explore the nature of law, with particular reference to efforts to sever law from justice as a built in principle embedded in our nature. That is the context of the rejection of cultural and institutional relativist arguments made by nazi war criminals on trial. That is the higher law that is thereby made into such a mystery by cutting us off from 2500 years of thought on law and justice.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    Cicero, to the witness stand:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC, being Cicero himself]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man.

    [–> Note, how justice and our built in nature as a morally governed class of creatures are highlighted; thus framing the natural law frame: recognising built-in law that we do not create nor can we repeal, which then frames a sound understanding of justice. Without such an anchor, law inevitably reduces to the sort of ruthless, nihilistic might- and- manipulation- make- “right,”- “truth,”- “knowledge,”- “law”- and- “justice”- etc power struggle and chaos Plato warned against in The Laws Bk X.]

    We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    Thus:

    We can readily identify at least seven inescapable first duties of reason. Inescapable, as they are so antecedent to reasoning that even the objector implicitly appeals to them; i.e. they are self-evident. Duties, to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to neighbour, so also to fairness and justice etc. Such built in law is not invented by parliaments or courts, nor can these principles and duties be abolished by such. (Cf. Cicero in De Legibus, c. 50 BC.) Indeed, it is on this framework that we can set out to soundly understand and duly balance rights, freedoms and duties; which is justice. The legitimate main task of government, then, is to uphold and defend the civil peace of justice through sound community order reflecting the built in, intelligible law of our nature. Where, as my right implies your duty a true right is a binding moral claim to be respected in life, liberty, honestly aquired property, innocent reputation etc. To so justly claim a right, one must therefore demonstrably be in the right. Thus, too, we may compose sound civil law informed by that built-in law of our responsibly, rationally free morally governed nature; from such, we may identify what is unsound or false thus to be reformed or replaced even though enacted under the colour and solemn ceremonies of law. These duties, also, are a framework for understanding and articulating the corpus of built-in law of our morally governed nature, antecedent to civil laws and manifesting our roots in the Supreme Law-giver, the inherently good, utterly wise and just creator-God.

    The rise of Atheistical and hyperskeptical notions to dominance has wreaked havoc in uncountable ways, this is one of them.

    KF

  34. 34
    Querius says:

    KF,

    Nice–very appropriate!

    Cutting the legs out from under civil law results in capricious and arbitrary exercise of power enforced by a succession of propaganda, social ostracism, persecution, incarceration, and genocide. By denying any underlying truth, the emergent tyrannical rulers of such a society dehumanize their subjects, impoverish them, murder them, and ultimately go insane.

    This has been demonstrated repeated in history, which is why it’s so important to the current demagogues to erase history and promote “emotional intelligence.”

    In other words, welcome to day zero. Tabula rasa.

    And someday, when we look back on the smoking ruins of what was America, the ideologues can once again first solemnly say, “See, that disproves American exceptionalism,” followed by “Yes, but that wasn’t true socialism!” And they’ll blame it on “the Jews” as usual.

    -Q

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, they will fail but will do incalculable damage in the US, while opening doors for geostrategic vultures. The world will begin to pay for the current march of folly. KF

  36. 36
    Truthfreedom says:

    33 Kairosfocus

    The rise of Atheistical and hyperskeptical notions to dominance has wreaked havoc in uncountable ways, this is one of them.

    Atheism is the biggest scam ever. A bunch of deranged children playing at being grown-ups and failing miserably.

  37. 37
    Truthfreedom says:

    The Utter Failure of Materialism as a Worldview

    The ideology of scientific materialism became dominant in academia during the 20th century—so dominant that a majority of scientists started to believe that it represented the only rational view of the world. This dominance has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the study of mind, consciousness, and spirituality. Furthermore, faith in this belief system as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality has compelled many scientists to neglect certain aspects of the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature.
    https://www.interaliamag.org/articles/mario-beauregard/

    Bye-bye materialism. You won’t be missed.

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