When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
I would turn Maya Angelou’s quote around and ask, if the Republicans have told us who we are for one hundred years, why didn’t we believe them the first time? They have been railing against Democrats and programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act as ‘socialism’ all this time. Trump parrots their historic rhyme as if it should strike fear in every red-blooded American. It seems as he and the Republican Party has conveniently forgot that they have had a long history of telling Democrats we are socialists and the country is socialists because of us. Now, once again, they threaten us all over again with the looming darkness of approaching socialism. Well, when are we going to believe them – we must already be socialists according to them and since we are a democracy, we must be Democratic Socialists, right?
In this post I would like to look at some of the history of the GOP’s political rhetoric starting in the 20th century. Socialism has been paying rent inside the heads for at least a century. What scares and feeds their negative fascination with socialism? Is it authoritarianism? Well, the Trumpsters have finally dispelled that myth. Authoritarianism is fine for them as long as the authoritarians are a ‘son of a bitch, but they are our son of a bitch’ and if it maintains a fevered, illusory pitch in right-wing favor. I would like to approach this topic in three major areas: a brief historic review of the GOP telling us the socialist sky is falling, the statistical facts history has told us about capitalism in the United States and, what often does not get reported, the ideological background that gives rise to these phantasms of the GOP’s obsession. First, a quick, relevant chronological perspective.
Coming out of the Renaissance Period it is hard to emphasize enough how much the Scientific Revolution from the 16th through the 18th century effected the world. It was generally thought to start with the Copernican Revolution beginning 1543. The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was founded in 1660. It began with Isaac Newton (1642 – 1726) accomplishing major breakthroughs in mathematics and astronomy and continuing through Charles Darwin’s (1809 – 1882) “Origin of the Species “.
This period saw major changes in philosophy, art, and architecture with Renes Descartes (1596 – 1650) doubting everything which could doubted to rococo in art and architecture. Rococo had incredibly detailed, exuberant, and elaborate curves, counter-curves, undulations, and textures. The 19th century was a time of immense optimism, shall we say positivism, about science.
The Industrial Revolution lasted somewhere from 1750 to 1850. Philosophical schools like German Idealism were going strong in Germany in large part due to the philosopher G. W. Hegel (1770 – 1831). Positivism and naturalism met in August Comte (1798 – 1857) and Charles Darwin extoling scientific observation. This is also the time when economics held great promise for establishing itself as a serious science. Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) wrote his famous “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of the Nations” in 1776; the same year the Declaration of Independence was being adopted in this country. Interesting to note that over one hundred pages in Smith’s work contained banking regulations. (see my post: The Free Market: Capitalism and Socialism https://www.mixermuse.com/blog/capitalism-and-marxism/the-free-market-capitalism-and-socialism-2/) Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) lived during the Industrial Revolution and famously coined the term ‘capitalism’ during this period in England.
Karl Marx wrote his three-volume series “Das Kapital” from 1867 to his death in 1883. Marx was a German philosopher who was ethically Jewish but not religiously Jewish. Friedrich Engels (1820 – 1895) worked with Marx to define what would later become Marxism. World War 1 occurred from 1914 to 1918 involving much of the world including Russia, Europe, England, and the United States. The Russian Revolution (1917 to 1923), long after Marx’ death, overthrew the Czarist monarchy. The authoritarian Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924) eventually won out over the Mensheviks, anarchists, and other counter-revolutionary groups of the day to establish the Communist Part of the Soviet Union.
The roaring 20s in the United States was a time of mass production for the mechanical horses (cars) and immense optimism about the promise of capitalism. I think Greenspan may have called that time a time of “irrational exuberance” as capitalists were given free reign and market safeguards withered away with the economic affluence of big industrialists. The Republican presidents Calvin Coolidge (president from 1923 to 1929) and Herbert Hoover (president from 1929 to 1933) were staunch capitalists. They made significant changes with banking regulation. The gold standard went away in 1933. The Great Depression stock market crash happened in 1929.
In the quotes below we can get a brief glimpse of this socialist ghost which has haunted us…
Republican Party Platform of 1908 (William Howard Taft Presidential Nomination)
The present tendencies of the two parties are even more marked by inherent differences. The trend of Democracy is toward socialism, while the Republican party stands for a wise and regulated individualism. Socialism would destroy wealth; Republicanism would prevent its abuse. Socialism would give to each an equal right to take; Republicanism would give to each an equal right to earn. Socialism would offer an equality of possession which would soon leave no one anything to possess. (https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/republican-party-platform-1908)
William Howard Taft (27th President of the United States: 1909 ‐ 1913 – Remarks Accepting the Presidential Nomination of the Republican Party)
In the ultimate analysis, I fear, the equal opportunity which is sought by many of those who proclaim the coming of so-called social justice involves a forced division of property, and that means socialism. In the abuses of the last two decades it is true that ill-gotten wealth has been concentrated in some undeserving hands, and if it were possible to redistribute it on any equitable principle to those from whom it was taken without adequate or proper compensation, it would be a good result to bring about. But this is obviously impossible and impracticable. (https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-accepting-the-presidential-nomination-the-republican-party)
In 1933, the newly inaugurated Democratic president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, facing the Great Depression, proposed the “New Deal” Social Security program. The American Liberty League, made up of wealthy Republican businessmen, started the “Stop Roosevelt” movement…
A key Liberty League charge was that Roosevelt and his advisers were secret socialists who sought to foist their alien program on the nation without the American people’s consent. Although Roosevelt had won the election in 1932, the League maintained that the American people had never supported the New Deal. They voted for Roosevelt because he promised voters to protect capitalism, not destroy it. It was only after the election that Roosevelt revealed his agenda of instituting European-style socialism upon an unsuspecting American public. Once the American people recognized what was happening-in the words of one Liberty League pamphlet, once they “awaken[ed] … to find the Roosevelt administration has virtually tricked them, and substituted the Socialist Party platform” for the Democratic Party platform-the people would surely vote Roosevelt out and restore Americanism.” Showing the American people, the truth about the New Deal was precisely what the Liberty League sought to do. (THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE AND THE RISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL NATIONALISM, Jared A. Goldstein, https://docs.rwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1193&context=law_fac_fs)
Father Charles E. Coughlin, Defender of the Faith but Hater of Social Security
Another influence on Depression-era public policy was the Union for Social Justice movement led by a radio preacher by the name of Father Charles E. Coughlin. Father Coughlin had a weekly radio program with 35-40 million listeners which he used to mix a little religion with a lot of politics. His enemies, in addition to the devil himself, were Roosevelt, international bankers, communists, and labor unions, and he was not shy in describing them in interchangeable terms. At the height of his popularity, Father Coughlin had a greater share of the weekly broadcast audience than Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey, and Larry King combined.
Although Father Coughlin’s main effort was to pillory his enemies, he did have a broad program of social reforms that included a deliberate inflation of the currency and the nationalization of all banks. He was also an anti-Semite and isolationist whose views were so extreme that the Catholic Church finally censured him and forced him to cease his political activities. In 1936, Coughlin, along with Townsend and the remnants of Huey Long’s Share the Wealth Movement, would join to form a third party to contest the presidential election in the hopes of preventing President Roosevelt from being re-elected. (Historical Background and Development of Social Security, Pre-Social Security Period, Traditional Sources of Economic Security, https://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html)
Harry S. Truman (Democrat – 33rd President of the United States: 1945 ‐ 1953 – Address at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.)
Right now, the main problem of the Republican leaders seems to be to find some new scare words. They have not had much luck along that line, lately. They tried using the phrase “welfare state” as a scare word for a while, but they discovered that the people are in favor of a government that promotes their welfare. So they dropped that one as a scare slogan. Then they tried “statism.” But my good friend Governor Lehman took care of that one in the New York election–and so they had to drop it, too.
Now, the Republican leaders have to go back to an old standby. Frankly, I don’t think it’s as good as some of the others, but it appears to be the best they can think of. Their current scare word is “socialism.”
It’s perfectly safe to be against “socialism.” The difficult thing is to make the country believe that the Democratic Party stands for socialism. How in the world can the Republicans persuade people that all you Democrats at all these dinners are socialists? I just don’t believe they can do it.
From Joe McCarthy in the 50s…
The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.
Our job as Americans and as Republicans is to dislodge the traitors from every place where they’ve been sent to do their traitorous work.
“Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity.” https://www.azquotes.com/author/32863-Joseph_McCarthy
From Barry Goldwater in the 60s…
The government must begin to withdraw from a whole series of programs that are outside it’s constitutional mandate – from social welfare programs, education, public power, agriculture public housing, urban development and all the other activities that can be better performed by lower levels of government or by private institutions or by individuals. (Barry Goldwater in The Conscience of a Conservative – 1960)
Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
it is Socialism that subordinates all other considerations to man’s material well-being. It is Conservatism that puts material things in their proper place— that has a structured view of the human being and of human society, in which economics plays only a subsidiary role.
John McCain (U.S. Senator from Arizona –
Interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday)
WALLACE: In your radio address yesterday, you raised the “S” word, socialism.
WALLACE: But you did it indirectly, so let me ask you for some straight talk. Do you think that Senator Obama is a socialist? Do you think that his plans are socialism?
MCCAIN: I think his plans are redistribution of the wealth. He said it himself, “We need to spread the wealth around.” Now, that’s one of…
WALLACE: Is that socialism?
MCCAIN: That’s one of the tenets of socialism. But it’s more the liberal left, which he’s always been on. He’s always been in the left lane of American politics.
That’s why he voted 94 times against any tax cuts or for tax increases. That’s why he voted for the Democratic resolution, budget resolution, that would impose taxes on — raise taxes on some individual who makes $42,000 a year.
That’s why he has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate.
WALLACE: But, Senator, when we talk…
MCCAIN: So is one of the tenets of socialism redistribution of the wealth? Not just socialism — a lot of other liberal and left wing philosophies — redistribution of the wealth? I don’t believe in it. I believe in wealth creation by Joe the Plumber. (https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/interview-with-chris-wallace-fox-news-sunday)
Finally, from “Think Progress” – A brief, 90-year history of Republicans calling Democrats ‘socialists’ This isn’t a new phenomenon.
President Dwight Eisenhower’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Oveta Culp Hobby, denounced a Democratic plan to provide free polio vaccines to children as a “back door” leading to socialized medicine.
Similarly, when President Harry Truman proposed a national health-insurance program in 1945, the American Medical Association (AMA) condemned it as “socialized medicine” and labeled Truman’s White House staffers “followers of the Moscow party line.”
Ronald Reagan — as their spokesperson for a campaign called “Operation Coffee Cup.” Launched to fight Medicare, Operation Coffee Cup asked doctors’ wives to invite their friends over to drink coffee and listen to a recording called “Ronald Reagan speaks out against SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.”
Future Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) attacked President Bill Clinton’s health care plan as “socialism now or later” and claimed it was a plan to seize “control of the health care system and centralize power in Washington.” Claims that the Affordable Care Act is a “government takeover” of medicine were a mainstay of Republican opposition to the law. In an October op-ed criticizing Democratic proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans, President Trump echoed the hyperbolic rhetoric of Operation Coffee Cup. (https://archive.thinkprogress.org/a-history-of-republicans-calling-democrats-socialists-777bcd2b7a6d/)
So, what is the revisionist, regressive and reactive path they would take us back to? While there has been much discussion on causes for the Great Depression, we know for a fact that Republicans Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were president in the twenties and up until FDR took office in 1933 just after the onset of the Great Depression. The right and some historians have made arguments since then that their policies were not the cause of the Great Depression. They generally point to international issues as the root cause. However, when it comes to another resident Republican President, George W. Bush, and the Great Recession, we are told by the right that, in spite of six years of Republican control during the Bush administration, the Great Recession was caused by Clinton and fair housing regulations on the part of Fannie and Freddie Mac. They do not accept the bipartisan, more balanced conclusion of the Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission that:
…the crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels. (See my post: The Housing Crisis – Research Revisited at https://www.mixermuse.com/blog/politics/the-housing-crisis-research-revisted/)
Contrarily and conveniently, they do not blame the international community who suffered as much in the Great Recession as we did in the United States for the failure; only supposed Democratic policies. Are we to believe that our housing excesses caused a world-wide recession all by itself? How could that possibly happen without a massive lapse in financial regulation which opened the housing market up to world-wide investiture and set the standard for their financial markets?
So, what is the deal? Is capitalism all the right cracks it up to be and socialism the doom of all mankind?
Let’s get a few things cleared up right away. Most political scientists tell us there has never been a pure capitalistic state. Karl Marx first coined the term ‘capitalism’:
If the pure capitalism described by Marx ever existed, it has long since disappeared, as governments in the United States and many other countries have intervened in their economies to limit concentrations of power and address many of the social problems associated with unchecked private commercial interests. As a result, the American economy is perhaps better described as a “mixed” economy, with government playing an important role along with private enterprise.” (Moffatt, Mike. “America’s Capitalist Economy. ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, www.thoughtco.com/overview-of-americas-capitalist-economy-1147550)
Perhaps the Austrian Economists and the Mises Institute have articulated the purest theoretical formulation of capitalism. In their formulation, capitalism is absolutely self-regulating and can only be encumbered by government meddling in the form of regulations, cronyism, and corporatism. Mises considered himself to be a ‘liberal’ but not of the kind we generally think of today. Mises states in his work ‘Liberalism’:
The program of liberalism, therefore, if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership in the means of production. … All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand. (Mises, Liberalism, p. 19, emphasis in the original. See https://mises.org/library/mises-fascism-democracy-and-other-questions)
The notion of ‘property’ and the ‘individual’ are loaded words in the philosophy of the Austrian Economists. Let’s unpack them a little more. Mises writes,
It is always the individual who thinks. Society does not think any more than it eats or drinks. The evolution of human reasoning from the naive thinking of primitive man to the more subtle thinking of modern science took place within society. However, thinking itself is always an achievement of individuals. There is joint action, but no joint thinking. There is only tradition which preserves thoughts and communicates them to others as a stimulus to their thinking. However, man has no means of appropriating the thoughts of his precursors other than to think them over again. Then, of course, he is in a position to proceed farther on the basis of his forerunners’ thoughts. The foremost vehicle of tradition is the word. Thinking is linked up with language and vice versa. Concepts are embodied in terms. Language is a tool of thinking as it is a tool of social action.
The history of thought and ideas is a discourse carried on from generation to generation. The thinking of later ages grows out of the thinking of earlier ages. Without the aid of this stimulation, intellectual progress would have been impossible. The continuity of human evolution, sowing for the offspring and harvesting on land cleared and tilled by the ancestors, manifests itself also in the history of science and ideas. We have inherited from our forefathers not only a stock of products of various orders of goods which is the source of our material wealth; we have no less inherited ideas and thoughts, theories and technologies to which our thinking owes its productivity.
But thinking is always a manifestation of individuals. (Individuals, Reason, and Action, 06/05/2017, Ludwig von Mises, https://mises.org/wire/individuals-reason-and-action)
In Mises understanding action is determinate and circumscribes thinking. Thinking is always an individual who thinks in the service of action. There is no ‘group think’. On the surface, this seems perfectly practical and reasonable. From Mises point of view, it seems that anything which diminishes the absolute supremacy of thinking as always ‘individual’ for the purpose of action is ‘unthinkable’. Mises definition of thinking is an individual thinking for the purpose of action. What we have here is what philosophers call a tautology. A tautology is absolutely true by definition. An example of a tautology is A = A. Without doubt, by definition this must be true. It must necessarily follow and thus may be called deductive reasoning. It must necessarily be true as A is the identity that is repeated in exact equivocation. Not all deductive reasoning is true as the premises could be wrong but the reasoning, deduction from the given premises, could necessarily be deduced from the faulty premises. The key phrase for a tautology is ‘by definition’. If the definition of thinking is a person thinking, not a group, for the purpose of action, we symbolically have: Individual Thinks, Individual is not Group; Therefore, Thinking is Not Group. Truly, the conclusion follows the premises in a deductive fashion. It would seem that the deduction is sound and the premises are obviously true so we must have a tautology. Do we?
Let’s look at what Mises himself further states. He tells us there is a progression of thinking which happens from ‘primitive man’ to ‘modern science’. Um, science cannot think so he must have meant ‘modern man’. Ok, just a metaphor. So, thinking is passed down by the repetition of an action. Learning is the ritual of repetition and therefore, action. We simply pass ideas down by ‘think[ing] them over again’. Progress is the thought passed down to the forerunner. Tradition is the foremost vehicle of the word. The word is ‘linked’ with language. We ‘inherit ideas and thoughts’ like we inherit ‘products of various orders of goods which is the source of our material wealth’. What we have here in Mises thinking is a mechanism, a machine as metaphor, where we simply see the parts, observe the connections, and understand the finality of the purpose of the machine, the action it produces. However, the question which gets eradicated by Mises answer is, how did we learn language? Did someone teach us every word and the connections to the words were simply plainly seen by the student upon the teacher speaking each word repetitively? This sounds to me more like incantation than laying open the mechanism of language. It is absurd to think of language in this naive atomist fashion. It is just as absurd as Mises observation that a group can think.
What Mises has done is a reductio ad absurdum. It is absurd to tell us that someone or some process repetitively taught us words which we linked together by virtue of some simple connection which need not be explained to form ideas and language. The fact is there are whole schools of linguistics and philosophy which have made much better progress explaining how language works and none are so naive as to look at words like railroad cars on a train which flies down the tracks of history with the train having to get recreated by every thinking human the words get passed down to. We really do not understand the mechanism of language but one thing we know for sure, we did not get born, have someone or some process start spitting out words which we magically connected together and now we have no memory of that tutelage. There is a way in which language comes to us more as a wholes than as parts denoted by words. Here is the reason I have taken this detour: The word ‘individual’ has been thought with the same type of negligence. We assume since we have an individual body which thinks connected words called language to produce actions that this ends the matter. Our inhabitation sensed as ego is essentially and inseparably circumscribed by dynamics which cannot fit under the rubric of isolation. Language is a perfect example of this type of phenomena. The accounting does not add up if you follow Mises prescription. I will not go into this at this point, but I will simply put forward the thought that an ‘individual’ as the Mises Institute wants to think it is equally a reductio ad absurdum. Also, I will deal further with philosophy and linguistics below.
Furthermore, ‘individual’ without some equally primary notion of collectivity is like words to language under the metaphor of connected parts of a machine which gets rebuilt upon every new individual born into the world. I alluded to collectivity in my previous post (Clashing Histories – A Prolegomenon) but will go further later in the present discussion. I will add one more thing. I think the ‘free market’ is not so free as the capitalists would have us believe. Neither is it so horrible either as some would have it in my estimation. But, to think of a ‘free market’ with no government regulation as a well-oiled machine is to not understand there will be a government; the only question is, do the capitalists make the rules or the people. Just as there is a circumscription to thinking and language beyond mere repetitive words; there is a circumscription to individuals better taken up as a collectivity; there is an excess to the market which demands an exteriority in the form of rules and regulations which not only make the market more effective but, more importantly, make it possible for there to be any such thing as a market. It is in the interest of some to magically incant the ‘free market’; have us walk away shaking our heads in cultist delight; and walk away with their pockets full of all our watches. So, what has individualism given us on the flip side?
Even as Marxism has left its extremist mark so has ‘individualism’ become the fodder engendering everything from major distrust of the state and almost no centralization of government to adoption by radical right ‘individualist anarchists’. The Austrian Economists find their anarchist meeting point in the capitalist writer Murray Rothbard. Rothbard explains his conversion from minimal government to no government this way:
Either you had to go over to anarchism and scrap government altogether, or else you had to become a liberal, and of course that was out of the question for me to become a liberal. That was it. That was my conversion. (How Murray Rothbard Became An Anarchist, see http://voluntaryist.com/anarchism/murray-rothbard-became-anarchist-not-voluntaryist/).
While the Mises Institute has spent much ink trying to separate themselves from the Nazis and equally disassociate the Austrian born Hitler from any relevance to the Austrian School, a few facts are clear. Mises wrote,
It cannot be denied that [Italian] Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. (Mises, Liberalism, p. 51. See https://mises.org/library/mises-fascism-democracy-and-other-questions)
Apparently, Mises thought the only antidote to the rampant collectivism of his day was fascism. Perry Anderson, an English Marxist critic writes:
There was no more outspoken champion of classical liberalism in the German-speaking world of the Twenties [than Mises]. Yet the Austrian political scene, dominated as it was by the conflict between a social-democratic Left and a clerical Right, left little room for this outlook. Here Mises had no hesitation; in the struggle against the labour movement, authoritarian rule might well be required. Looking across the border, he could see the virtues of Mussolini. The blackshirts had for the moment saved European civilisation for the principle of private property: “the merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history.” Advisor to Monsignor Seipel, the prelate who ran Austria in the late Twenties, Mises approved Dollfuss’s crushing of labour and democracy in the Thirties, blaming the repression of 1934 which installed a clerical dictatorship on the folly of the Social Democrats in contesting his alliance with Italy. Perry Anderson, “The Intransigent Right at the End of the Century,” London Review of Books, vol. 14, no. 18 (September 24, 1992), p. 8; translated and reprinted with footnotes in Anderson, “Die eiserne Rechte am Ende des Jahrhunderts. Über Michael Oakeshott, Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss und Friedrich von Hayek,” Freibeuter, No. 55 (1993), pp. 17–18. (I am grateful to Professor Anderson for this reference.) Anderson goes on to claim that Mises also attempted an “exculpation of Austria,” by incriminating only Germany in the deeds of the Nazis. Anderson quotes from Mises’s Erinnerungen, (with a foreword by Margit von Mises and introduction by Friedrich August von Hayek [Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer, 1978], p. 91, emphasis in original), where Mises writes of the Austrians that they were “‘the only people on the European continent who’ — in the days of the Heimwehr — ‘seriously resisted Hitler.'” (Cf. Ludwig von Mises, Notes and Recollections, foreword by Margit von Mises, Hans F. Sennholtz, trans. [South Holland, Ill.: Libertarian Press, 1978], p. 142). On this fairly trivial point, Mises can perhaps be forgiven his Austrian patriotism. On his implicit support for the Austrian government in suppressing the Social Democrats, it should be noted that Mises held, correctly, that Mussolini’s “was the only government ready to support Austria in her fight against a Nazi take-over” in 1934 (Notes and Recollections, p. 140), and that the Social Democrats’ violent opposition to the alliance with Mussolini threatened to lead to a Nazi absorption of Austria (Notes and Recollections, pp. 140–141). ()
It appears that centralized, authoritarian governments do serve a purpose when violently opposing other statist governments. In order to protect private property in radical individualism the competition of free markets may not be enough to overcome ‘socialist’ evils. In this case, the much-maligned collectivity known as ‘government’ must emerge as protector of individualism and its anarchist neighbors even if it comes in a Nazi uniform. I contend that the thought of any such thing as a ‘free market’ and ‘individualism’ that pertains to any number of humans more than one will essentially and necessarily conjure up a ‘government’. The centralization of power in government is nothing other than a centralization of power in economic capitalism. As Nietzsche said, if there was no god one would have to be created, I maintain that if the free market had no government, one would have to be created. And who do you think would be all too happy to step into this ‘shall not have been a government’s’ shoes – capitalists perhaps? It seems that the shoe would fit.
The Mises Institute tells us that the U.S. is already fascist and has been for quite a long time. On their site they plainly write, “This describes mainstream politics in America today”.
Fascism is the system of government that cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police state as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive state the unlimited master of society.
This describes mainstream politics in America today. And not just in America. It’s true in Europe, too. It is so much part of the mainstream that it is hardly noticed any more.
If fascism is invisible to us, it is truly the silent killer. It fastens a huge, violent, lumbering state on the free market that drains its capital and productivity like a deadly parasite on a host. This is why the fascist state has been called the vampire economy. It sucks the economic life out of a nation and brings about a slow death of a once-thriving economy. (What is Fascism?, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., founder and chairman of the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, https://mises.org/library/what-fascism-1)
In the above cited article, Rockwell clearly calls for an anti-fascist movement which he writes,
In the fight against fascism, there is no reason to be despairing. We must continue to fight with every bit of confidence that the future belongs to us and not them.
Their world is falling apart. Ours is just being built. Their world is based on bankrupt ideologies. Ours is rooted in the truth about freedom and reality. Their world can only look back to the glory days. Ours looks forward to the future we are building for ourselves.
Their world is rooted in the corpse of the nation-state. Our world draws on the energies and creativity of all peoples in the world, united in the great and noble project of creating a prospering civilization through peaceful human cooperation. We possess the only weapon that is truly immortal: the right idea. It is this that will lead to victory.
In view of such noble declarations, let’s see if we can find other rhymes in history which set the same tone. The Mises Institute is the early and insistent proponent of such modern, historic revisionists as Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism”. (see my post here https://www.mixermuse.com/blog/politics/are-liberals-fascists-or-the-opportunity-for-fascism-to-flourish-you-decide/). They go to great effort to make Hitler a radical leftist. After all, they tell us, what else would “National Socialism” mean? Well if Hitler was a socialist it was only for the Aryan race and many of their closest fellow-founders did not make the cut if you know what I mean. And, oh yes, Nazi Germany did have private property which the government or Hitler could acquire or control like ’eminent domain’, the Defense Production Act and market collapse resulting in the foreclosure of ‘personal property’ in the United States. I do not know of any democracy in the world where ‘private property’ is considered ‘absolute’ and exempt from such provisions. As we saw in massive financial deregulation at the end of the Bush administration, the market can generate conditions under which massive home ownerships can go into default. What do the Austrian believers tells about market collapse, “buyer beware”. And now, we have seen how a virus can throw masses into unemployment and default on their property. We need to look further into the notion of the individual and property but for now let’s stay with our historic analysis. Far too often the web encourages facile and oversimplified explanations meant more for cathartic release instead of getting to the truth. Therefore, instead of throwing around accusations of Mussolini and Hitler as leftist, let’s look at the history in detail.
At the conclusion of World War 1, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne and Germany was immediately transformed from a constitutional monarchy to a republic in signing the Treaty of Versailles. The republic was called the Weimar Republic. It lasted from 1918 to 1933. The treaty imposed harsh economic penalties on the Germans. There were multiple political groups in the republic on both the left and the right. However, the right increasingly became more powerful as hardships got worse for the German people. Here is a quote concerning the ideological makeup of these groups and how they differed:
The parties on the left were strong supporters of progressive taxation, government social welfare programs, labor unions, equality and economic opportunity for women. They were less nationalistic, militaristic and antisemitic than the parties on the right. They favored greater government involvement in—and control of—business and industry and were to varying degrees anti-religious. Still, there were strong differences and major conflicts between the two major leftist parties. The Social Democrats were strong supporters of the Republic and democracy while the Communists were opposed to both, favoring a Russian style communist dictatorship. The parties on the right were strongly nationalistic and supported large military. They were opposed to social welfare programs, labor unions and progressive taxation. They favored an economy directed by industrialists and landowners with large estates. They were antisemitic and favored traditional roles for women. The Nationalists were a more traditional Conservative Party, while the National Socialists were a radical party wanting revolutionary change. Both parties publicly supported the Churches and the role of religion in society but some elements in the Nazi Party harbored hostility to traditional religion. (Weimar Party Politics, Professor Paul Bookbinder, University of Massachusetts Boston, https://www.facinghistory.org/weimar-republic-fragility-democracy/readings/weimar-political-parties) I highly recommend the previous link for a more concrete picture of Germany from the end of World War 1 to the rise of the Nazis.
Regarding private property in the Third Reich, here is an interesting academic paper on the role of private property in the Third Reich…
Abstract. Private property in the industry of the Third Reich is often considered a mere formal provision without much substance. However, that is not correct, because firms, despite the rationing and licensing activities of the state, still had ample scope to devise their own production and investment patterns. Even regarding war-related projects freedom of contract was generally respected and, instead of using power, the state offered firms a bundle of contract options to choose from. There were several motives behind this attitude of the regime, among them the conviction that private property provided important incentives for increasing efficiency. (The Role of Private Property in the Nazi Economy: The Case of Industry, Christoph Buchheim and Jonas Scherner, University of Mannheim, Germany, https://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Workshops-Seminars/Economic-History/buchheim-041020.pdf)
All one needs to do is look at the historic rhyme we see going on in our country to understand why the Nazis had much more in common with the Republican Party in the U.S. than the Democratic Party.
For that matter, of course, there are still genuine fascists and proto-fascists with us today. They go by such names as the Aryan Nations, Christian Identity, or National Socialist Movement. And they’re all aligned, politically, to the far right. Their spinoffs, such as the Patriot/militia movement, were all right-leaning movements with substantial interaction with mainstream conservatism, as I’ve documented at length. Indeed, the militia movement’s own bastard brainchild — the Minutemen — is now being ardently adopted by a variety of supposedly mainstream Republicans. The ultimate Newspeak, (http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2005/10/ultimate-newspeak.html)
We should also add to the groups mentioned above the Atomwaffen Division (neo-Nazis), Thicc Boog Line, PATRIOT Wave and Boogaloo Nation all of which are cited in the Center For Strategic & International Studies brief cited further down (Right-Wing Terrorism, page 5). Yet, if you look on the web, the historic revisionists will have us believe that the Nazis were your average Democrat of our day. This brings up another important point. Socialism was popular and practiced in much of Europe at the time Hitler was coming to power. Here are some facts and actual statements from Hitler and Mussolini on the alleged ‘socialism’ of the Mises Institute fascists:
“Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere.” (Benito Mussolini, 1935, The Doctrine of Fascism, Firenze: Vallecchi Editore , p. 32)
Concerning the Dachau concentration camp:
One of the oldest Nazi concentration camps, Dachau is located approximately 15 km north west of Munich. Its establishment was announced by Heinrich Himmler on the 20th of March 1933, just under two months after the Nazis seized power. Two days later the first prisoners were brought to Dachau, mostly communists and social democrats. (https://www.holocaust.cz/en/history/concentration-camps-and-ghettos/dachau-2/)
Statements from Mussolini:
Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production…. Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and for by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied – the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society….
The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State…. (In 1932 Mussolini wrote (with the help of Giovanni Gentile) and entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism., Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.html
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power. (Benito Mussolini from Encyclopedia Italiana, Giovanni Gentile, editor)
In 1932 Mussolini declared that the 20th century would be the “Fascist century” by stating:
If it is admitted that the nineteenth century has been the century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy, it does not follow that the twentieth must also be the century of Liberalism, Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the “Right,” a Fascist century. (Mussolini, Doctrine of Fascism, 1932, http://www.historyguide.org/europe/duce.html)
Statements from Hitler:
National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with the democratic order. (Hitler to Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction, pg. 186)
Marx believed nationalism was an artifact of capitalism and the bourgeois state and not compatible with socialism. This is rather long diatribe by Hitler (sorry) but listen for the voice of modern-day right- and left-wing extremists in it and determine for yourself which one it reminds you of. Here are some excerpts from a speech in 1921 by Hitler:
And thus the Left is forced more and more to turn to Bolshevism. “In Bolshevism they see today the sole, the last possibility of preserving the present state of affairs. They realize quite accurately that the people is beaten so long as Brain and Hand can be kept apart. For alone neither Brain nor Hand can really oppose them. So long therefore as the Socialist idea is coined only by men who see in it a means for disintegrating a nation, so long can they rest in peace.
But it will be a sorry day for them when this Socialist idea is grasped by a Movement which unites with it the highest Nationalist pride, with Nationalist defiance, and thus places the Nation’s Brain, its intellectual workers, on this ground. Then this system will break up, and there would remain only one single means of salvation for its supporters: vis. to bring the catastrophe upon us before their own ruin, to destroy the Nation’s Brain, to bring it to the scaffold – to introduce Bolshevism.
So the Left neither can nor will help. On the contrary, their first lie compels them constantly to resort to new lies. There remains then the Right. And this party of the Right meant well, but it cannot do what it would because up to the present time it has failed to recognize a whole series of elementary principles.
In the first place the Right still fails to recognize the danger. These gentlemen still persist in believing that it is a question of being elected to a Landtag or of posts as minister or secretaries. They think that the decision of a people’s destiny would mean at worst nothing more than some damage to their so-called bourgeois-economic existence. They have never grasped the fact that this decision threatens their heads. They have never yet understood that it is not necessary to be an enemy of the Jew for him to drag you one day on the Russian model to the scaffold. They do not see that it is quite enough to have a head on your shoulders and not to be a Jew: that will secure the scaffold for you.
In consequence their whole action today is so petty, so limited, so hesitating and pusillanimous. They would like to – but they can never decide on any great deed, because they fail to realize the greatness of the whole period.
And then there is another fundamental error: they have never got it clear in their own minds that there is a difference or how great a difference there is between the conception ‘National’ and the word ‘dynastic’ or ‘monarchistic.’ They do not understand that today it is more than ever necessary in our thoughts as Nationalists to avoid anything which might perhaps cause the individual to think that the National Idea was identical with petty everyday political views. They ought day by day to din into the ears of the masses: ‘We want to bury all the petty differences and to bring out into the light the big things, the things we have in common which bind us to one another. That should weld and fuse together those who have still a German heart and a love for their people in the fight against the common hereditary foe of all Aryans. How afterward we divide up this State, friends – we have no wish to dispute over that! The form of a State results from the essential character of a people, results from necessities which are so elementary and powerful that in time every individual will realize them without any disputation when once all Germany is united and free.
And finally they all fail to understand that we must on principle free ourselves from any class standpoint. It is of course very easy to call out to those on the Left, ‘You must not be proletarians, leave your class-madness,’ while you yourselves continue to call yourself ‘bourgeois.’ They should learn that in a single State there is only one supreme citizen-right, one supreme citizen-honor, and that is the right and the honor of honest work. They should further learn that the social idea must be the essential foundation for any State, otherwise no State can permanently endure.
Certainly a government needs power, it needs strength. It must, I might almost say, with brutal ruthlessness press through the ideas which it has recognized to be right, trusting to the actual authority of its strength in the State. But even with the most ruthless brutality it can ultimately prevail only if what it seeks to restore does truly correspond to the welfare of a whole people.
That the so-called enlightened absolutism of a Frederick the Great was possible depended solely on the fact that, though this man could undoubtedly have decided ‘arbitrarily’ the destiny – for good or ill – of his so-called ‘subject,’ he did not do so, but made his decisions influenced and supported by one thought alone, the welfare of his Prussian people. it was this fact only that led the people to tolerate willingly, nay joyfully, the dictatorship of the great king.
And the Right has further completely forgotten that democracy is fundamentally no German: it is Jewish. It has completely forgotten that this Jewish democracy with its majority decisions has always been without exception only a means towards the destruction of any existing Aryan leadership. The Right does not understand that directly every small question of profit or loss is regularly put before so-called ‘public opinion,’ he who knows how most skillfully to make this ‘public opinion’ serve his own interests becomes forthwith master in the State. And that can be achieved by the man who can lie most artfully, most infamously; and in the last resort he is not the German, he is, in Schopenauer’s words, ‘the great master in the art of lying’ – the Jew.
And finally it has been forgotten that the condition which must precede every act is the will and the courage to speak the truth – and that we do not see today either in the Right or in the Left.
There are only two possibilities in Germany; do not imagine that the people will forever go with the middle party, the party of compromises; one day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to dissociate themselves from it. And that party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead us to complete destruction – to Bolshevism, or else it is a party of the Right which at the last, when the people is in utter despair, when it has lost all its spirit and has no longer any faith in anything, is determined for its part ruthlessly to seize the reins of power – that is the beginning of resistance of which I spoke a few minutes ago. Here, too, there can be no compromise – there are only two possibilities: either victory of the Aryan or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew.
It is from the recognition of this fact, from recognizing it, I would say, in utter, dead earnestness, that there resulted the formation of our Movement. There are two principles which, when we founded the Movement, we engraved upon our hearts: first, to base it on the most sober recognition of the facts and second, to proclaim these facts with the most ruthless sincerity.
And this recognition of the facts discloses at once a whole series of the most important fundamental principles which must guide this young Movement which, we hope, is destined one day for greatness:
1. ‘National’ and ‘social’ are two identical conceptions. It was only the Jew who succeeded, through falsifying the social idea and turning it into Marxism, not only in divorcing the social idea from the national, but in actually representing them as utterly contradictory. That aim he has in fact achieved. At the founding of this Movement we formed the decision that we would give expression to this idea of ours of the identity of the two conceptions: despite all warnings, on the basis of what we had come to believe, on the basis of the sincerity of our will, we christened it ‘National Socialist.’ We said to ourselves that to be ‘national’ means above everything to act with a boundless and all-embracing love for the people and, if necessary, eve to die for it. And similarly to be ‘social’ means so to build up the State and the community of the people that every individual acts in the interest of the community of the people and must be to such an extent convinced of the goodness, of the honorable straightforwardness of this community of the people as to be ready to die for it.
2. And then we said to ourselves: there are no such things as classes: they cannot be. Class means caste and caste means race. If there are castes in India, well and good; there it is possible, for there were formerly Aryans and dark aborigines. So it was in Egypt and Rome. But with us in Germany where everyone who is a German at all has the same blood, has the same eyes, and speaks the same language, here there can be no class, here there can be only a single people and beyond that nothing else. Certainly, we recognize, just as anyone must recognize, that there are different ‘occupations’ and ‘professions’ [Stände] – there is the Stand of the watchmakers, the Stand of the common laborers, the Stand of the painters or technicians, the Stand of the engineers, officials, etc. Stände there can be. But in the struggles which these Stände have amongst themselves for the equalization of their economic conditions, the conflict and the division must never be so great as to sunder the ties of race.
And if you say ‘But there must after all be a difference between honest creators and those who do nothing at all’ – certainly there must! That is the difference which lies in the performance of the conscientious work of the individual. Work must be the great connecting link, but at the same time the great factor which separates one man from another. The drone is the foe of us all. But the creators – it matters not whether they are brain workers or workers with the hand – they are the nobility of our State, they are the German people!
We understand under the term ‘work’ exclusively that activity which not only profits the individual but in no way harms the community, nay rather which contributes to for the community.
3. And in the third place it was clear to us that this particular view is based on an impulse which springs from our race and from our blood. We said to ourselves that race differs from race and, further, that each race in accordance with its fundamental demands shows externally certain specific tendencies, and these tendencies can perhaps be most clearly traced in their relation to the conception of work. The Aryan regards work as the foundation for the maintenance of the community of the people amongst its members. The Jew regards work as the means to the exploitation of other peoples. The Jew never works as a productive creator without the great aim of becoming the master. He works unproductively, using and enjoying other people’s work. And thus we understand the iron sentence which Mommsen once uttered: ‘The Jews is the ferment of decomposition in peoples,’ that means that the Jew destroys and must destroy because he completely lacks the conception of an activity which builds up the life of the community. And therefore it is beside the point whether the individual Jew is ‘decent’ or not. In himself he carries those characteristics which Nature has given him, and he cannot ever rid himself of those characteristics. And to us he is harmful. Whether he harms us consciously or unconsciously, that is not our affair. We have consciously to concern ourselves for the welfare of our own people.
4. And fourthly we were further persuaded that economic prosperity is inseparable from political freedom and that therefore that house of lies, ‘Internationalism,’ must immediately collapse. We recognized that freedom can eternally be only a consequence of power and that the source of power is the will. Consequently the will to power must be strengthened in a people with passionate ardor. And thus we realized, fifthly that …
5. We as National Socialists and members of the German Workers’ Party – a Party pledge to work – must be on principle the most fanatical Nationalists. We realized that the State can be for our people a paradise only if the people can hold sway therein freely as in a paradise: we realized that a slave state still never be a paradise, but only – always and for all time – a hell or a colony.
6. And then sixthly we grasped the fact that power in the last resort is possible only where there is strength, and that strength lies not in the dead weight of numbers but solely in energy. Even the smallest minority can achieve a might result if it is inspired by the most fiery, the most passionate will to act. World history has always been made by minorities. And lastly…
7. If one has realized a truth, that truth is valueless so long as there is lacking the indomitable will to turn this realization into action!
These were the foundations of our Movement – the truths on which it was based and which demonstrated its necessity.
For three years we have sought to realize these fundamental ideas. And of course a fight is and remains a fight. Stroking in very truth will not carry one far. Today the German people has been beaten by a quite other world, while in its domestic life it has lost all spirit; no longer has it any faith. But how will you give this people once more firm ground beneath its feet save by the passionate insistence on one definite, great, clear goal?
…thus we were the first to declare that this peace treaty was a crime. Then folk abused us as ‘agitators.’ We were the first to protest against the failure to present this treaty to the people before it was signed. Again we were called on the masses of the people not to surrender their arms, for the surrender of one’s arms would be nothing less than the beginning of enslavement. We were called, no, we were cried down as, ‘agitators.’ We were the first to say that this meant the loss of Upper Silesia. So it was, and still they called us ‘agitators.’ We declared at that time that compliance in the question of Upper Silesia must have as its consequence the awakening of a passionate greed which would demand the occupation of the Ruhr. We were cried down ceaselessly, again and again. And because we opposed the mad financial policy which today will lead to our collapse, what was it that we were called repeatedly once more? ‘Agitators.’ And today?
And finally we were also the first to point the people on any large scale to a danger which insinuated itself into our midst – a danger which millions failed to realize and which will nonetheless lead us all into ruin – the Jewish danger. And today people are saying yet again that we were ‘agitators.’
I would like here to appeal to a greater than I, Count Lerchenfeld. He said in the last session of the Landtag that his felling ‘as a man and a Christian; prevented him from being an anti-Semite. I say: my feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. It points me to the Man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to the fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as sufferer but as fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through that passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and of adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have not duty to allow myself be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. And as a man I have the duty to see to it that human society does not suffer the same catastrophic collapse as did the civilization of the ancient world some two thousand years ago – a civilization which was driven to its ruin through this same Jewish people.
Then indeed when Rome collapsed there were endless streams of new German bands flowing into the Empire from the North; but, if Germany collapses today, who is there to come after us? German blood upon this earth is on the way to gradual exhaustion unless we pull ourselves together and make ourselves free!
And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress which daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see it work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week it has only for its wage wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people is plundered and exploited.
And through the distress there is no doubt that the people has been aroused. Externally perhaps apathetic, but within there is ferment. And many may say, ‘It is an accursed crime to stir up passions in the people.’ And then I say to myself: Passion is already stirred through the rising tide of distress, and one day this passion will break out in one way or another: and now I would ask those who today call us ‘agitators’: ‘What then have you to give to the people as a faith to which it might cling?’
Nothing at all, for you yourselves have no faith in your own prescriptions.
That is the mightiest thing which our Movement must create: for these widespread, seeking and straying masses a new Faith which will not fail them in this hour of confusion, to which they can pledge themselves, on which they can build so that they may at least find once again a place which may bring calm to their hearts. (Adolf Hitler, Speech of April 12, 1921, http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/111hit1.html)
And of course, from Mein Kampf…
2. The danger to which Russia succumbed is always present for Germany. Only a bourgeois simpleton is capable of imagining that Bolshevism has been exorcised. With his superficial thinking he has no idea that this is an instinctive process; that is, the striving of the Jewish people for world domination, a process which is just as natural as the urge of the Anglo-Saxon to seize domination of the earth. And just as the Anglo-Saxon pursues this course in his own way and carries on the fight with his own weapons, likewise the Jew. He goes his way, the way of sneaking in among the nations and boring from within, and he fights with his weapons, with lies and slander, poison and corruption, intensifying the struggle to the point of bloodily exterminating his hated foes. In Russian Bolshevism we must see the attempt undertaken by the Jews in the twentieth century to achieve world domination. Just as in other epochs they strove to reach the same goal by other, though inwardly related processes. Their endeavor lies profoundly rooted in their essential nature. No more than another nation renounces of its own accord the pursuit of its impulse for the expansion of its power and way of life, but is compelled by outward circumstances or else succumbs to impotence due to the symptoms of old age, does the Jew break off his road to world dictatorship out of voluntary renunciation, or because he represses his eternal urge. He, too, will either be thrown back in his course by forces lying outside himself, or all his striving for world domination will be ended by his own dying out. But the impotence of nations, their own death from old age, arises from the abandonment of their blood purity. And this is a thing that the Jew preserves better than any other people on earth. And so he advances on his fatal road until another force comes forth to oppose him, and in a mighty struggle hurls the heaven-stormer back to Lucifer.
Germany is today the next great war aim of Bolshevism. It requires all the force of a young missionary idea to raise our people up again, to free them from the snares of this international serpent, and to stop the inner contamination of our blood, in order that the forces of the nation thus set free can be thrown in to safeguard our nationality, and thus can prevent a repetition of the recent catastrophes down to the most distant future. If we pursue this aim, it is sheer lunacy to ally ourselves with a power whose master is the mortal enemy of our future. How can we expect to free our own people from the fetters of this poisonous embrace if we walk right into it? How shall we explain Bolshevism to the German worker as an accursed crime against humanity if we ally ourselves with the organizations of this spawn of hell, thus recognizing it in the larger sense? By what right shall we condemn a member of the broad masses for his sympathy with an outlook if the very leaders of the state choose the representatives of this outlook for allies?
The fight against Jewish world Bolshevization requires a clear attitude toward Soviet Russia. thou cannot drive out the Devil with Beelsebub.
If today even folkish circles rave about an alliance with Russia, they should just look around them in Germany and see whose support they find in their efforts. Or have folkish men lately begun to view an activity as beneficial to the German people which is recommended and promoted by the international Marxist press? Since when do folkish men fight with armor held out to them by a Jewish squire?
There is one main charge that could be raised against the old German Reich with regard to its alliance policy: not, however, that it failed to maintain good relations with Russia, but only that it ruined its relations with everyone by continuous shilly-shallying, in the pathological weakness of trying to preserve world peace at any price.
I openly confess that even in the pre-War period I would have thought it sounder if Germany, renouncing her senseless colonial policy and renouncing her merchant marine and war fleet, had concluded an alliance with England against Russia, thus passing from a feeble global policy to a determined European policy of territorial acquisition on the continent.” (Mein Kampf, 1926, http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/111hit1.html)
So, according to Rockwell and the Mises Institute the only thing that can save us from the “vampire economy” is vulture capitalism? What a choice! We are faced with the diabolical “executive state” as opposed to the capitalistic ‘market executive’. Apparently, the ‘true’ Antifa[ascism] is the ‘free market’ eerily reminiscent of fascism which is the true ‘socialism’. Does this mean the White Supremacists and Aryan Nation are secretly anti-fascists as they fight the “police state”, the attack on “fundamental rights and liberties to individuals”, the “parasite” which “centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers” (or did he mean Jews). Dizzying don’t you think; perhaps, that is the point. Let’s take a look at what, according to the Mises Institute, was formerly known as fascist right extremists but are now known to really be socialist left extremists, are doing to defend the faith.
The formerly known as right extremists would have us believe that leftist groups including leftist anarchists are responsible for most terror attacks. This is patently false. In June 2020, the Center for Strategic & International Studies released a brief detailing terrorist attacks from 1994 to the present. It finds that the majority of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. have been committed by right wing extremist groups.
The data show three notable trends. First, right-wing attacks and plots accounted for the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994. In particular, they made up a large percentage of incidents in the 1990s and 2010s. Second, the total number of right-wing attacks and plots has grown substantially during the past six years. In 2019, for example, right-wing extremists perpetrated nearly two-thirds of the terrorist attacks and plots in the United States, and they committed over 90 percent of the attacks and plots between January 1 and May 8, 2020. Third, although religious extremists were responsible for the most fatalities because of the 9/11 attacks, right-wing perpetrators were responsible for more than half of all annual fatalities in 14 of the 21 years during which fatal attacks occurred. (Center For Strategic & International Studies, The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States , page 2, https://www.csis.org/analysis/escalating-terrorism-problem-united-states)
From the charts contained in the report shown below, right wing and religious groups have been responsible for the vast majority of terrorism cases in the U.S. since 1994. As the Christian right so often reminds us, leftist tend to be atheists in these left-wing radical groups.
The Department of Homeland Security (DNS) has been sitting on a report at Trumps request which agrees with these findings. A whistle blower has released a draft of the report. From Politico:
The document discusses white supremacists in greater detail when introducing the section titled “The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland.” Once again, language in the earliest draft is slightly stronger than the language in the subsequent drafts. The earliest draft introduces the threat from terrorism this way:
“We judge that ideologically-motivated lone offenders and small groups will pose the greatest terrorist threat to the Homeland through 2021, with white supremacist extremists presenting the most lethal threat,” it reads.
None of the drafts POLITICO reviewed referred to a threat from Antifa, the loose cohort of militant left-leaning agitators who senior Trump administration officials have described as domestic terrorists. Two of the drafts refer to extremists trying to exploit the “social grievances” driving lawful protests. (Politico, “DHS draft document: White supremacists are greatest terror threat”, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/04/white-supremacists-terror-threat-dhs-409236)
And from GIZMODO:
So it’s similarly not much of a surprise that a federal whistleblower complaint obtained by the New York Times and CNN on Wednesday claims that the White House put pressure on the feds to turn a blind eye as well. According to the complaint, top Department of Homeland Security officials including its particularly pliable acting chief Chad Wolf ordered changes to intelligence reports that would parrot Trump’s lies that the anti-fascist movement is the largest existential threat to the survival of the country.
DHS brass ordered that reports be changed to downplay the threat of white supremacist terrorism and falsely portray antifa groups as a major terror threat, per the complaint. The document also alleges that DHS officials demanded evidence that large numbers of foreign “known or suspected terrorists” are entering the U.S. through the southern border and that former DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen lied to Congress that thousands had done so. (This is hot bullshit.) Orders also came down demanding the cessation of “intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference” in the 2020 elections, a sore spot for Trump. (GIZMODO, Whistleblower: DHS Goons Whitewashed Intel to Downplay White Supremacist Threat, https://gizmodo.com/whistleblower-dhs-goons-whitewashed-intel-to-downplay-1845006934#:~:text=The%20draft%20DHS%20report%20also%20makes%20clear%20that,from%202018%20to%202019%20by%20a%20massive%20margin.)
And recently from Chris Wray of the FBI:
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that the agency has made about 100 domestic terrorism-related arrests since October, and the majority were tied to white supremacy.
“I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence, but it does include other things as well,” Wray said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, referring to cases in fiscal 2019, which began Oct. 1. (The Hill, FBI’s Wray says most domestic terrorism arrests this year involve white supremacy, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/454338-fbis-wray-says-majority-of-domestic-terrorism-arrests-this-year)
Just stop and think about it from what you have seen and heard. Who are these guys standing around with long guns at the Black Lives Matter protests? Are they the gun toting liberal always talking about the 2nd Amendment and jamming the Supreme Court with gun friendly Justices? Have you seen Antifa standing around in black with cannons strapped around their neck? No, you haven’t. We all know who they are. They are the ‘Proud Boys’, Boogaloo, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters. And, if there were all these violent radical leftist groups causing all the problems in the riots, why aren’t there any ‘O.K. Coral’ style shootouts going on at those protests between the right and lift extremists? The simple and plain answer is there are no leftist militia groups at these protests. The President and his white, gun toting boys would have you believe Trump over you own eyes and ears. By the way, strap in because these right-wing nut jobs are planning on a civil war after the election. Ah, well maybe they are just standing around with guns to look pretty and get their picture taken with their manhood strapped around their chest.
At this point, with so many fallacious equivocations centered on the notion of socialism, I would like to focus attention on its historic content to see if we can get some further clarification on the topic. Outside the purely theoretical thinking of the Austrian Economists (for further information, see my series starting with this “Fundamentalism in Market Economy: The Austrian School and Regulation” here https://www.mixermuse.com/blog/politics/fundamentalism-in-market-economy-the-austrian-school-and-regulation-2/), I think the closest we ever came to a pure capitalistic economic system was during Karl Marx’s time in England. The frame from which he wrote was during the Industrial Revolution (1750 to 1850). He wrote towards the end of the period. During this period people lived in extreme poverty. Child labor laws were non-existent. Employers literally worked their employees to death in coal mines with extraordinarily little pay. Even apologists for Austrian Economic theory do not deny the deplorable conditions while trying to, yet again pin the blame on socialism and not on capitalism (“Child Labor and the British Industrial Revolution” https://www.mackinac.org/3879). Let’s remember that also during this period philosophers were highly influenced by the positivism of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. I do not think there was ever a period in the Occident after classic Greece where there was so much enthusiasm about reason. Many folks these days know little about Marx and the times he lived in when they make apocalyptic claims about Marx as if he were a contemporary. The fact is you cannot understand Marx without understanding his historic context. Since he was among the first to think in depth about the differences in capitalism and socialism, we should try to get a brief glimpse of his ideas in his context and then see how they may be applicable to our day.
Marx looked around and saw budding capitalism in the age of brutal feudalism. He did not see hope for a better future in capitalism. He saw massive human suffering and death at the hands of capitalists. He was alarmed by the potency of a system which held the potential to make brutal monarchs look like a bunch of bumbling idiots. Marx saw capital as a kind of Hegelian abstraction. Abstraction was not necessarily a good thing for Hegel or Marx. Hegel’s whole intended direction was towards making abstractions concrete; more relevant to its concept, its Idea (Begriff). Marx thought Hegel, in founding his philosophy on Idea, missed the concrete reality of labor. What Marx saw of capitalism was that it favored an abstraction of value as concrete Idea over the reality of value as the product of work. Monetary value was an abstraction which replaced the product of labor with an Idea, a denomination. Marx saw the real value of labor as what was necessarily, increasingly diminished over time by the capitalist, the bourgeoisie, in converting the labor of the worker (proletariat), vis-à-vis the abstraction of capital, into profit for the private owners of production (or means of production). In the horrors of industrial England at the time Marx saw no other outcome except that the proletariat would revolt against the bourgeoisie due to massive suffering and death of the workers. He saw this as a necessary result of the Idea as capital.
Marx, following the Hegelian tradition, described in great detail what he saw as a natural progression from capitalism to socialism to communism. Influenced by Hegelian dialectics, he believed he had shown the necessary and sufficient economic progression wherein a cultural, historic transformation over time would infuse human purpose and fulfillment from the product of their labor. Instead of laboring meaninglessly for a paycheck to pay debts which can never support a living wage, he thought the deepest human satisfaction came not from the product of a life-long, pre-occupation with merely selling their labor for mere survival but from the satisfaction of producing in a market economy. He idealized the barter system over the abstract system of capital because the product of the laborer was much closer to the output of his work. The laborer in a barter system was not at the mercy of a boss whose job was to realize a profit from the laborer. In capitalism, the owner of production set up an antagonistic system whereby the capitalist (boss) had complete control over the product of the laborer’s work – with one goal in mind, to capitalize labor into the personal gain of the owner. It was quite apparent in England at the time that this disadvantaged the laborer and condemned the laborer to a lifetime of discontent, dissatisfaction, suffering and early death. Marx called this outcome alienation.
Marx thought socialism would culminate in the last step, communism. In communism there would no longer be private property. A classless society and the people (the State for Marx) would own all means of production. Capital would be no more as communism would provide “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. He believed that after the proletariat overthrew the capitalist there would be a transitional period called socialism wherein there would be a mix of private and public ownership of the means of production. Inevitably, Marx thought this period could not be sustained and all ownership of the means of production would be public, owned by all. It is easy at this point to think of the public as a statist government. However, this is not how Marx conceived it. As we have seen, some in the Republican Party and the Mises Institute already believe that the United States is statist. However, many people in the United States still think of the U.S. Government as ‘by the people and for the people’. This notion is more akin to Marx’ idea of public ownership. Marx and Engels both thought that capitalism would not go willingly in certain cases and violence and revolution would be the natural result of ‘capitalist dictatorship’ as they deemed it.
At this point, let me say clearly and directly that I personally do not in any way advocate violence of any kind. I condemn anyone who advocates violence in the strongest possible terms. To the degree that Marx or Engels may have advocated and participated in violence as in the Revolutions of 1848 to overthrow brutal monarchies in Europe, I can only say that while I understand how desperation and violence begets other violence (as we saw in our own revolution with England), I think philosophy takes a wrong turn when it becomes so destitute as to prescribe ends justify means paradigms. Scholars have argued that Marx was simply describing an inevitable outcome of capitalism not advocating it. I do not believe the case is quite that clear in either the philosophical writings of Marx’ or his political involvements. Long after Marx’ death, the later darkness of Lenin and Stalin demonstrates how philosophy in the service of violent revolution can easily be adapted by despots into an absolute, apocalyptic nightmare. In this post I am simply trying to do the best I can to explicate a subject which has been used maliciously by extremists on both sides to justify violence and human suffering.
Philosophy has always been the scapegoat for human tragedy. Most people are not philosophers. When mass atrocities and injustice occur, it is not because people start reading Karl Marx and debating the academic subtleties of it. Historically, people who reach a certain level of suffering and injustice at the hands of the powerful react with violence as their last resort. Academics make terrible warriors (watch Monty Python if you doubt this). Philosophy may come in later as a justification for violence, but philosophy is not what drives violence. It is human suffering that drives violence. My argument to the radical individualists among us is that it is in their interest to support Welfare State policies as little as they can to keep their gravy train going. Stop debating the subtleties of Austrian Economics if you want what your version of the ‘free market’ means. Get on with the job of keeping others satiated enough not to interfere with your grand plan. I suppose the ‘radical individualists’ benefactors are already on to this. In any case, if people want something to fear it should be the devil we know, not the one we don’t know. Poverty, lack of education, income inequality, climate change, social, ethnic, and racial injustices are reaching critical mass and the right wants to have a discussion about the evils of socialism? Give me a break.
Nowadays, the workers, the proletariat, may ‘own’ property but interest-bearing mortgages always have the final say of who the property actually belongs to. In the Great Recession an out of control, world-wide free for all in financial derivatives resulted in the massive loss of ‘personal property’. Even as Hitler always had the power to take ownership of any property he desired, market excess and deregulation can and has resulted in massive property losses (shall we say, ‘the statist market’?). The transient nature of property in capitalism AKA, the ‘free market’, runs contrary to private ownership, as it is always contingent on market conditions. It is also subject to governmental policies such as ‘imminent domain’ and the Defense Production Act as previously stated. Every capitalistic country in the world has similar issues and policies. The simple fact is, there is no absolute guarantee of private property ownership in the ‘free market’. There is the illusion that a legal contract subject to various conditions in and out of your control make you a ‘property owner’. However, intrinsic powers to the ‘free market’, government and health can always make it possible for others to legally acquire your property. I maintain that even the ‘real’ property owners which own the ‘means of production, the bourgeoise as Marx deems it, are themselves also puppets of a market in which ‘risk’ can result in their demotion to the lower class. Certainly, there are no absolutes in existence. We are always on precipice of non-existence, angst, and insecurity. The government is not the answer to this as proponents on the right have slanderously accused it of being. The government can be just another insurance policy when other vehicles fail to keep society in somewhat equilibrium. Power, contingency and security are always necessarily present together in any social arrangement. Another way of saying this is that power congeals into contingent pockets. You can call these ‘pockets’ government, property owners, investors, autocrats, etc. The illusion that capitalists has propagated is the same as Hegel’s conception of the master-slave relation in which the slave is told, made to believe, that he is really the master and the master is really the slave. Let’s look at this further.
For Hegel, the master must always be in bondage to his mastery of the slave. The master was never truly free but by virtue of being the master, alienates himself from his engagement in the world, in work and production, in order to reap benefits from the labor of the slave in material goods. On the other hand, the slave did not have to spend all his time defending his position as a slave but was free to engage in the world of work, production, and satisfaction from accomplishment of his task. This meant the slave was free to be fully engaged and therefore not perpetually alienated from the world of labor and production. In this, the slave became free and the master became the slave. Marx thought that in the master-slave relationship capitalism did not enjoin the master to a dialectical lifetime of slavery and the slave to dialectical freedom from bondage as the bourgeois Hegel surmised. In actuality, the master was still the master and the slave was still the slave. It seems paramount to me to understand this Hegelian-Marxist riddle. It also gives insight into why many whites in our country do not understand why capitalism doesn’t pull minorities out of poverty and why minorities still think of themselves as victims of slavery. In modernity, the slave is told that they are the master; that he or she is the ‘potential’ property owner or the ‘potential’ owner of the means of production. The slave is perpetually immersed in a flood of marketing which promises all the benefits of mastery if only the slave works harder and longer for less pay to hold on to their ownership and virtual mastery. While this scheme is conceived of by both Marxists and Capitalists at times as static, it is really dynamic as ‘property’ is transferable under many market conditions, government conditions and health conditions. More importantly, it discounts the barriers to entry such as bias and ‘good ‘ol boy’ favoritism.
Marx saw how this dynamic introduced a third dynamic into the dialectic of the master and the slave which condemned both to an alien radical exteriority, a third nonhuman other, where neither master or slave could even possibly object to but simply play out whatever changing or non-changing roles they inherit. He called this impenetrable, intractable alien other ‘capitalism’. Both master and slave are helpless to extract themselves from it. In this historical, contextual, linguistic adherence to a non-present, neutral other (abstraction), all possibilities are preconditioned, subsumed, and extinguished without regard to such soothing and praising aphorisms as ‘free will’ or ‘free market’. While much has been written about this with regard to Mary Shelley’s work Frankenstein, I would renew this intentionally Marxist allegory of Shelley to encompass a somewhat altered conception (perhaps).
Instead of the monster being the proletariat what if we think of the monster as this alien, non-human other which dictates the behavior of bother the master, Victor and the slave, Igor. Both are consumed and held captive without any excess to the production of the monster. This third, alien other dictates any conditions and possibilities for the master and the slave without the slightest awareness that they are pawns in a dynamic they have no power over or even conception of. A neutrality, not a he or a she, determine both origin and fate in this sealed, hideously submerged, and intractably bond as Victor’s quest for the creation of life, or perhaps, the maximization of profit. When Prometheus, the monster is killed by Victor and Igor by stabbing him in his divided, two hearts both Victor and Igor go on their merry way as inseparably bound friends with a history of ever-changing roles, from master/slave to bourgeois friends. However, Igor still has the eyes of the dead man, the real Igor Straussman. Victor transforms the ‘going under’ of his ‘greatest creation’, Prometheus, into his ‘greatest creation’ Igor. The monster has, in Hegelian terms, been sublated (aufheben) in the happy union of Victor and Igor only to live on the dead eyes of Igor. In Marxists terms, the lifting up of the bourgeoisie results in the dead eyes of the proletariat while the beast, Prometheus, can never again come to presence but becomes the abstract (unseen) determinacy of both master and slave.
Marx thought that ownership of the means of production would provide release from illusional abstractions, from metaphysics, from the monster. The Austrians believe the individual absolutely released from collectivism will usher in the needed authenticity to ‘free’ individuals in the market to be their own origins in which all meaning and purpose (or what there is of it) are completed. However, both have proven time and again that the monster still remains. Shifting sands of time simply seal their fait au complet. The illusion of power may be the product of both the master, the property owner, and the slave, the virtual or disenfranchised owner. Satisfaction is always promised but never delivered. In this then, we see what both the Marxists and the Austrians detest – the Welfare State. First, let’s set up the background leading up to the Welfare State.
While Marx’s argument certainly rings true for many American workers it has undergone many permutations in history, state, and philosophy over the subsequent centuries. Socialism has taken many forms since Marx. Certainly, from Stalin and the Bolsheviks, socialism in its quest for a classless society became yet another tragic authoritarian, elitist class from which the monster devoured its prey. Whether you call fascism another form of socialism or not, it also clearly, has shown no mercy to its victims. Both strains certainly did end up in centralized statism, the ever-congealing, changing face of power. The metaphysic of the absolute individual promises freedom from collectivity, anarchism from power structures, as if one could finally be purified of the sin of power with the power of the ‘free market’. This monster may yet be the greatest Prometheus our economic science has ever created. In the baptismal water of the market, all power will find its rightful place, its Darwinian purity, in the survival of the fittest. The war of all against all will defeat all other wars. ‘Free market’ capitalism as the ultimate statement of metaphysical individualism will be the quantum mechanics of the quanta, underlying all time-space gravitation behemoths, collectivism, and usher in the background noise of quanta popping into and out of existence as absolute individuals declaring I am that I am, I was that I was. From this at least the individual can think, “I had the unfettered ability to sink or swim in an unbounded, universal ocean of potential where statist power can never be centralized into market killing, governmental land”. What a thrill – really?
Anyway, socialism encompasses widely divergent practices and beliefs. There are anarchist socialists on the left that do not believe in any form of centralization. There are market socialists which have little or no problem with private property. There are democratic socialists and authoritarian socialists. If you call yourself a democratic socialist, an essential part of the name is democratic. The people decide democratically what they socialize and what remains private (sound familiar?). Some have argued that Marx did not subscribe to an authoritarian version of socialism. Socialism was the first phase of a radical transformation of capitalism to the second phase which was called communism. Certainly, in Hegelian fashion, there are indications in Marx’ writings that he saw socialism as an evolutionary step in human development that was inevitable and could not be forced unnaturally. As Hegel perceived what he deemed as the emergence of subjectivity in Christianity to be a natural evolving and occurring epoch in history of Spirit so, Marx perceived socialism as a natural consequence of the ‘redistribution of wealth deemed as ‘free market’ capitalism’ favoring the bourgeoisie (the wealthy which own the product of its laborers) over the proletariat (the workers who’s labor is purchased for ever diminishing returns). The result of this stratification of wealth and labor was a class society. Critics of socialism decry it as a ‘redistribution of wealth’ as if it is something peculiar to socialism. This may serve their rhetorical purposes but actually, redistribution of wealth always occurs whether it be the ‘free market’, tax dollars, cronyism, or corporatism. Distribution of wealth is not static but dynamic as it is the concretion of ever re-congealing power structures. It is not a matter of the ‘free market’ OR redistribution of wealth. It is a matter of how it gets redistributed and by whom.
Power congeals whether it is the ‘free market’ or government. The most pertinent question is how does it congeal? Doing nothing to determine how power congeals is tantamount to giving carte blanche to whomever welds the biggest club. From the enlightenment optimism in democracy, we find the absolute and most fundamental axiom of democracy – the people decide whom wields power. Therefore, our Founding Fathers built checks and balances into the system. The tried to find a balance of federalist and states power to decide. They knew the executive, the judicial and the legislative were necessary and equal parts with no one part gaining power over the others. In that time, it was impractical for the whole country to be as involved in the process of democracy so they made our democracy a representative democracy where we elect the leaders which form the nucleus of the government. Part of the reason they did this is because they just did not have the mechanism to be more inclusive of the whole country. Now, with technology we do have the mechanism to be more expansive in how we select our government officials and the laws we need to protect it from threats within and without. We still have such antiquated electoral processes as the Electoral College which has become an encumbrance to fair democracy. We have been highly negligent to update some needed changes to Social Security which was always meant to be a supplement to income not a replacement. In 1939 social security checks were based on 40% of the first $10 of average salary plus 10% of the next $200 of average salaries. Many older people now use it for their main source of income which makes it exceedingly difficult to provide a livable wage. Older people often must choose between food and medications. When Social Security was first devised, the retirement age for full benefits was 65 which was within a year or two of life expectance. Life expectancy now is 77.9 years. We have made some particularly good changes such as the Supplemental Security Income for the disabled signed by Nixon in 1972. However, our democracy has been terribly slow to address urgent needs such as poverty, income inequality, gender, and racial inequalities. This is inexcusable. Why? Because a decay and rottenness in our checks and balances have let non-democratic interests determine our policies. This is call cronyism and corporatism.
When the people in a democracy forego their duty to preserve and protect the democracy, there are those which are far too willing to jump in and set their own agendas. One thing we should learn from the Trump presidency is that the checks and balances we all thought would protect us are outdated and ineffective now. When the Justice Department is under the Executive branch, it is ripe for being used as a mechanism for a police state under the Executive. When the CDC can be used for campaign purposes and not for controlling disease, we have a problem. When the Supreme Court can be changed ideologically for decades by ever changing rules in the Senate majority, we are in trouble. When intelligence can be compelled under the service of the executive to downplay threats for political purposes, we are in real danger. At the present time, democracy is teetering on the precipice of authoritarianism. We must acknowledge that check and balances are no longer working as designed so we can update and systemically change them to protect the choice of the people. As I stated before, power congeals. Without necessary protections, those with vested interests are all too willing to step in and milk the system for their own benefit. This is no different from the workings of the ‘free market’. If you genuinely want a ‘free market’, the checks and balances, regulations, must be employed wisely to prevent monopolies, price gouging, market manipulation and competitive barriers. The market Austrians would tell us to either make the government small enough to drown it in a bathtub or get rid of it altogether. They would have regulations be a thing of the past. What we would have is Machiavellian-styled government and Darwinian-styled markets. Survival of the fittest would not be the Austrian Economists but their benefactors. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that cronyism and corporatism decay our democracy, but they have found no will to change it because the American public has found no will to change it. It is estimated that 50% of eligible voters do not event vote in a presidential election much less a down the ballot election. We are on the verge of getting what we deserve unless activists, the American people, put a stop to it. The vacuum made by lack of public involvement is being filled not by the people but by vested interests. Let’s take a deeper dive into Mises philosophy.
Mises admittedly comes surprisingly from a Kantian background. Mises represents a school of philosophy called praxeology. From the Greek word it literally means the study of action. This is where we get such words as practice, practical and pragmatic. Praxeology is a school which came out of the analytic tradition of philosophy in the early 20th century. Analytic philosophy is immensely popular in the United States. The analytic philosophers gravitated heavily towards linguistics. Continental philosophy (meaning continental Europe) is the history of philosophy from classic Greece to the current day. Analytic philosophy grew out of continental philosophy. David Hume was a British philosopher in the late 18th century who reacted strongly to the idealist school of philosophy in England at the time. Hume was a close friend of Adam Smith. Hume admired Smith’s work on economics. Hume is known as an empiricist. Hume reacted vigorously to the history of philosophy. He thought continental philosophy was too occupied with theory. He thought philosophy needed to take the same road science took in observation, description, and behavior. Accordingly, he focused on impressions of sensations and impressions of reflection. He believed sensations were primary. As such, he thought there were relations of ideas and matters of fact. Ideas happened a priori, that is prior to the phenomenal world of sensations. He reasoned that casual relations were not based on a priori ideas but on experience. Therefore, cause and effect are rooted in experiences which are repeated and from which we draw the notion of cause and effect. This is empiricism, observation derived from sensations. This is similar to Mises notion that “It is always the individual who thinks” and that “thinking itself is always an achievement of individuals” and “man has no means of appropriating the thoughts of his precursors other than to think them over again”. “The foremost vehicle of tradition is the word. Thinking is linked up with language and vice versa.” “Language is a tool of thinking…” “The history of thought and ideas is a discourse carried on from generation to generation.” “But thinking is always a manifestation of individuals. the passing down of language is simply the repetition of learned words on the part of every human.” From the repetition of words linked into ideas we learn language and from experiences that are repeated we learn cause and effect. Hume was still doing continental philosophy, but many believe this was the early beginnings of analytic philosophy. One of the most significant philosophers in continental philosophy is Immanuel Kant. Kant tells us Hume rescued him from his dogmatic slumbers. Kant disagreed vehemently with Hume’s assessment that cause and effect were not a priori. Kant thought that Hume had lapsed into skepticism. Mises starts from Kant’s foundational work of apriority. Mises believes in apriority but founds apriority in action not understanding. Many Kantian scholars thought that Mises took a mistaken turn from Kant’s ground-breaking work. This discussion will require a much more involved rendering than the scope of this post. As such, I will save it for another upcoming post. However, I did want to allude to these beginnings in Austrian Economics. The topic of philosophy and linguistics in the analytic tradition is highly informative of Austrian Economics.
Jumping ahead, one thing I want to bring out from the previous discussion of philosophy is that praxeology is highly transactional. We have heard this word used in conjunction with Trump. However, it is certain he has no explicit awareness of praxeology. Transactional-ism is the reciprocating action of praxeology. The transactional practice reflects a long history of analytic philosophy. It has always been the intellectual foundation of Republican and right-wing politics. Transactional-ism is highly reactive. As such, it prioritizes the dynamic interaction of forces over the reflection on those forces. From this proceed the notion of the market where, what is primary, is the free interaction of market forces from which the Austrians want us to believe comes the greater good. They contend the market greater good is egalitarian left to its own devices. Perhaps it may also be Darwinian as the survival of the fittest (or most powerful marketeers). But perhaps, according to some of them, the greatest good is the survival of the fittest since species survive by better adaptations and go extinct by inferior adaptations. Therefore, the greater good from a purely praxeological perspective may be reduced to simply the survival of the fittest. If it applies to animals why not humans? So, in this free exchange of market power relations, the fittest are filtered from the inferior.
Starting with Hitler’s propaganda and modern technologies coupled with marketing science we have seen a fundamental shift in how power itself gets shaped. Now, power is not the more powerful clubbing someone over the head but shaping the world such that facts, cause and effect assumptions, meanings of words and ideas (like Hitler was a socialist or Democrat) are created a posteriori (contrasted with a priori), after the fact (e.g. from action, market action) by powerful benefactors. To borrow, perhaps steal is a better word, from a Hegelian metaphor which will be discussed further down, the slave is provided with a virtual reality from which the slave is not cognizant of his servitude but reasonably left to believe, from his synthesized virtual reality, a world of facts, cause and effects, meanings and ideas which supplement values adopted by the benefactors adherents. These values prop up the adherent’s faith in the ‘unfettered free market’ which promises to solve all social ills or at least deliver its prize to the fittest. In many cases, for those disenfranchised, it delivers life-long bondage to the masters of the market and the benefactors of propaganda and rhetorical power. From the far-right’s perspective of the rewards of their own action, this then would situate the slave’s rightful place. So, what we are left with is, “Is humanity ready for the next step, the work of thinking critically and acting accordingly or, is the right correct in its assessment that humanity is effectively at its best in servitude to the market fittest?” The left’s reaction to this cannot be back to larger clubs but to reality, education, scientific and historic facts coupled with critical thinking. How can socialism remedy this drive toward market absolutism and thought manipulation by the fittest to address the gaping holes of social dystopia?
As mentioned, today there are many versions of socialism which admittedly would not fit in the Marxist ideology. These socialist feel no need to claim ideological pureness with Marx as many on the right have falsely assumed. Nowadays, socialists can range from and subscribe to individualism over collectivism, private property over state owned property, decentralization over centralization, market socialism over state-controlled economies. It is purely the fictitious manipulations of Republicans to declare that all socialists have a hidden agenda to violently convert the U.S. for an atheistic, communist states.
Socialism is a rich tradition of political thought and practice, the history of which contains a vast number of views and theories, often differing in many of their conceptual, empirical, and normative commitments. In his 1924 Dictionary of Socialism, Angelo Rappoport canvassed no fewer than forty definitions of socialism, telling his readers in the book’s preface that “there are many mansions in the House of Socialism” (Rappoport 1924: v, 34–41). (Socialism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socialism/)
Many countries all over the world, including the U.S., incorporate some form of socialism. Why? Because there are holes in capitalism which historically have not lived up to the hype and some other mechanism is needed to address human suffering and inequities. Let’s take a look at some of the problems capitalism has been unable to solve for decades despite the hype by those on the right. I am going to include a lot of the perennial problems which ‘free market’ capitalism has not been able to address below. The data is highly detailed with charts and sources. Therefore, I am going to finish my discussion before presenting these facts to make it easier for the reader.
Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance were not the result of Marxists. While many Republicans initially opposed them as socialism, these programs have received too much support from our democratic form of government for the political nay-sayers to speak too loudly these days. However, there is one thing Marxists and Republicans actually agree on – the evils of the Welfare State. We all know the blow back from Republicans on the ‘let ’em pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ rhetoric. However, Marxist have long since decried the Welfare State as a miserable condition resulting from bourgeois capitalism. They see the welfare state as an attempt to plug holes which can only be addressed by systemic change in economics.
The relationship between Marxism and the welfare state is complex. Since there is not one ‘true’ Marxism but many and since the experience of the welfare state under advanced capitalism has proved to be quite diverse, we should hardly expect to find a single and wholly consistent Marxist explanation of welfare state development. And so it proves. Some Marxists have seen the welfare state principally as a controlling agency of the ruling capitalist class. Others have seen it as the ‘Trojan Horse’ within which socialist principles can be carried into the very heartlands of capitalism. Again some Marxists have argued that the welfare state provides the indispensable underpinning for a market-based social and economic order, whilst others have seen it as incompatible with the long-run integrity of a capitalist economy. A number of Marxist and neo-Marxist commentators have managed to affirm all of these principles more or less simultaneously! At the same time, both Marxism and the welfare state have a history. It is clear that the welfare state as an object of Marxists’ inquiry has changed through time and so (often in response to these changes) has the intellectual apparatus with which they have sought to explain it. In this chapter, we try to make sense of this diversity of Marxist explanations and consider whether Marxism can still tell us anything useful about welfare states. (Pierson C. (1999) Marxism and the Welfare State. In: Gamble A., Marsh D., Tant T. (eds) Marxism and Social Science. Palgrave, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-27456-7_9).
There is no doubt that these programs have provided a necessary stopgap to human suffering and misery which capitalism, in itself, could not and cannot resolve. Republican advocates most effective response is to ignore that problems, strike terror in the hearts of Americans for attempting to address the problems, or sabotage and modify the programs so they can reenforce private market interests which make the programs more costly and inefficient. More costly and inefficient programs: 1) enrich private interests, 2) setup the program for ‘I told you so’ rhetoric when the programs fail. Two quick examples of how costs are raised because of this type of cronyism are the additional 12% cost of Medicare Advantage for many services already provided under standard Medicare. Medicare Advantage was setup by Republicans. Additionally, the requirement Republicans put on Medicare Part D – Prescription Drugs not to allow ‘free market’ tools to get costs down – lower negotiated costs from bulk purchasing. (see my post Problems with Medicare and Medicaid at https://www.mixermuse.com/blog/politics/problems-with-medicare-and-medicaid/) Who do you think benefits from this requirement and who suffers from it?
While Democrats have long heralded the need for social welfare programs, the Republicans have kept eerily silent about solutions or even critical about proposed solutions. We can see a contemporary, typical Republican reaction to ‘Obama Care’. The Republicans have tried to repeal it in the courts and change public opinions with their ‘socialist’ attacks. While they have promised a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, it has never surfaced. The fact is, as we all know, they do not have a replacement. The reality is they would prefer to go back to a time when health care was private, and cronyism and corporatism feed the jowls of pork feed politicians. See the discussion and charts below on for-profit prisons and education, gun lobbyists, and detention centers for immigrants to see some current situations which mirror the way capitalism incestuously feeds on government with private business.
For many of us that still have a conscience, we cannot sit idly by and watch these inadequacies in capitalism result in massive suffering and death. It is as simple as that. We are all too eager to see more cost-efficient solutions but repeating history without ever learning from it is not an option. If responding to the suffering of the other is ‘elitism’ as some on the right think, so be it. However, proponents of the necessary evil of a ‘Welfare State’ are caught between right-wing capitalists and the revolutionary left-wing communists. Both sides lob their missiles onto those of us in between. The communists may be right that we are only prolonging the misery of the bourgeois state. The right can call us socialists as if we haven’t heard that before. Call it what you will, it is a necessary and immediate response that is called for now. The ideological implications from both sides need to wait for a more fair-weather day if there is to be one after climate change has its season.
In the data below I detail issues which capitalism has not been able to successfully address. These include topics such as income inequality, poverty, minimum wage, health care, mental illness, homelessness, climate change, education, prisons, transportation and long-term research and development.
Income inequality is a direct result of ‘individualism’ which gets disproportionally elevated in capitalism. It is disproportional because it grossly exaggerates the worth of the executive over the workers. Executives also receive massive stock options as they gain ownership in their companies. In a democracy, the electorate sets the expectations and laws they would like to be governed under. As voters we are owners of our country. We have a vital interest in setting the standard by which we and the rest of the world judge ourselves. As of 2017 we had 40 million people living in poverty. The is over 12% of our population. Additionally, our federal poverty level reflects a much lower living standard than any of the other G7 countries. Even more so, since 2017, covid-19 has increased the number in poverty exponentially. Personally, I would not care how much a CEO makes as long as we were not neglecting the people which own the country, the voters. As shown in the data below, “From 1978 to 2018, CEO compensation grew by 1,007.5% (940.3% under the options-realized measure), far outstripping S&P stock market growth (706.7%) and the wage growth of very high earners (339.2%). In contrast, wages for the typical worker grew by just 11.9%.” I would think most people, most voters, would think this to be ludicrous. Why don’t we expect companies to make their employees part owners of the company they work for? Why don’t we expect all workers to have some share in company stocks? Especially, in light of massive social problems. Even the White House tells us “Falling consumer spending has major effects on overall GDP growth, as it accounts for roughly 68 percent of GDP.” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/depth-look-covid-19s-early-effects-consumer-spending-gdp/) ‘Job creators’ may sound good but money spenders are the engine of our economy. Spreading the wealth stimulates spending and creates demand and therefore, jobs. The economy is made stronger when consumers spend money. There was time when unions were the instrument which gave employees a share of company profits. For years, unions have been in decline while executives have received exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and stock options. Why have we neglected the welfare of our country to reward the few? Simple, because we have allowed it.
We have been sold a bill of goods about how unregulated capitalism generates affluence for the masses. Well, where is it? The historic data certainly has not made a particularly good case for these claims. The Austrian types do not think we even have capitalism yet. They tell us going further away from regulation and free reign of the market will change the trend and finally, the promise of capitalism will arrive. How can anyone think power brokers, whether from the government or the market, would cease to seek more control at the expense of the weak and less powerful? This is an idealistic pipe dream which hides the true benefactors of such nonsense. Either we the people set the limits and expectations for the country and our markets or others will continue to do so at our expense.
The case for climate change has been solidly made by science. The market will not and cannot demand clean energy. It is powerless as carbon-based energy is far too entrenched in the market power structures. This is a clear case where we the people have our very survival at stake. Unless we, the shareholders of our country, demand change the market will leave our planet barren of life. If we do not vote change in government now and join the rest of those countries trying to hold back the tide of destruction, laissez faire will let the market decide to decimate the planet. Unbridled individualism means unbridled individuals will decide our fate. Does anyone really think that unrestrained capitalism as the highest expression of individualism will magically inspire environmentalism? Does anyone think Republicans will take up the banner?
I would like to draw attention to long term research and development briefly. Capitalism must exist by profit. The more capital expense there is to start a business, the harder it is for the business to succeed. The Washington Post recently reported that over 100,000 small businesses ‘have closed forever’ due to the pandemic. This demonstrates the short term need for businesses to make a profit. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/12/small-business-used-define-americas-economy-pandemic-could-end-that-forever/). From 1994 to 2015, the chart shown below in the data shows many companies go out of business within a few years. The market intrinsically favors short term profits as capital investment and long-term research makes it difficult to recover startup expenses and turn a profit in the short term. Scientific and academic research has historically been funded by grants given by the government. This has gone flat in recent years (see the chart in the data section). Social problems and science are major areas where capitalism has not been able to, in Adam Smith’s idea, address how market competition drives cost down and quality up. There are markets where capitalism works exceedingly well. It has succeeded in many areas that lend themselves to short term, higher profit margins. Certainly, a smaller number of longer-lived, multinational corporations have also been incredibly successful. However, as the chart shows, many of those corporations have a hard time making it past 20 years. The market has also helped many workers attain a higher standard of living without alienating them from the product of their labor. However, the results have been mixed with regard to other problems which simply cannot be addressed by the ‘free market’ alone. To realize this is not to say that all capitalism is bad which is ridiculous. However, we must allow ourselves to recognize its failures and find other ways to address these fundamental problems.
Socialism is nothing other than what has evolved in this country for over a hundred years. The Republicans are correct in telling us this. They just need to lose the sneer and quit trying to make it an all or nothing, capitalism or socialism, apocalyptic event. The rhetoric is too old to get a rise out of all but the most ardent devotees of their faith. Problem solving is quite different from power acquiring. We need to decide if we are going to solve problems or let the free acquirers of power decide for us. The problems we have will not simply go away. Climate change is one example where freewheeling, unbridled capitalism only exacerbates the problem and time is running out. Raking forest floors will not cut it. Clorox bleach and light will not make covid-19 go away. A never-ending promise for a health care plan will not get the job done. Absurdly varying Income disparity will not address poverty, gender bias and race relations which affects all our lives. The do-nothing approach is making these issues worse and worse over time. It has become abundantly clear with the Trump administration that democracy is in the balance and they are putting their fingers on the scale. We may not be revolutionary communists as the right would have it or pie in the sky capitalists but the need for concrete action should put all ideological differences in the rear view mirror until we can put hard work into addressing these issues.
Technology and marketing science have shaped our collective virtual reality so manufactured facts, cause and effect assumptions, twisted meanings of words and ideas no longer work in our best interest but against our desires for a better future and even our very existence on the planet. Individualism has become elitism and hero worship not for the many but for the few. If individuals do not rise up and take hold of our collective interests our future will disappear in the haze of apathy. Only involvement of the electorate and the work of critical, fact-based thinking on all out parts can change this. Socialism is not the root of all evil. Socialism is nothing other than what we as a collectivity demand – nothing more; nothing less. Next time someone comes up to you in the dark and says Boo! Socialism! …just turn on the light.
Data and Statistics Section
Prior to Social Security many elderly people suffered and died in utter destitution.
A woman in South Carolina scrawls a note to a man in Washington whom she addresses as “Dear Mr. President.” “I’m 72 years old and have no one to take care of me.” Another letter comes to the White House from Virginia. “I’m a 60 year-old widow greatly in need of medical aid, food and fuel, I pray that you would have pity on me.” Letters such as these came by the thousands from old folks across the country to the President, to Mrs. Roosevelt, to almost every one in Washington whose name was familiar to them.
Typical Letter to President Roosevelt, Appealing for Old-Age Pensions
(General Welfare Federation of America, https://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html)
When Social Security was first devised the retirement age for full benefits was 65. This was almost exactly the life expectancy for that time. Life expectancy now is 77.9 years (National Center for Health Statistics).
The 1939 amendments made a seemingly subtle but, in reality, a fundamental change to the benefit formula. Retirement benefits were to be based on average wages, not cumulative wages. Specifically, they equaled 40 percent of the first $50 of average monthly wages (AMW) in covered employment, plus 10 percent of the next $200 of AMW. (1930s: Program Beginnings, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v66n1/v66n1p1.html)
Income Inequality has been around and growing from unchecked, unrestrained capitalism for decades. The AFL-CIO tells us,
CEO pay continues to outpace the pay of working people. In the past 10 years, CEO pay at S&P 500 companies increased more than $340,000 a year to an average of $14.8 million in 2019. Meanwhile, the average production and nonsupervisory worker saw a wage increase of $836 a year, earning on average just $41,442 in 2019. (https://aflcio.org/paywatch/highest-paid-ceos)
If you do not believe them search by company name or ticker or just look at the chart on the link above. Pew Research tells us,
Over the past 50 years, the highest-earning 20% of U.S. households have steadily brought in a larger share of the country’s total income. (Pew Research, 6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S., https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/07/6-facts-about-economic-inequality-in-the-u-s/)
Pew Research tells us the highest-earning 20% of families made more than half of all U.S. income in 2018. This increased from 43% in 1968 to 52% in 2018.
Pew also tells us the U.S. has the highest income inequality among G7 countries. From 1970 the income gap between blacks and whites is substantial as of the 2018 data Pew has shown. From 2007 to 2016 only the top fifth richest families have gained wealth. The rest has lost wealth. From 1970 to 2018 middle income groups have been going down a upper income groups have gone up.
Income inequality in the U.S. is the highest of all the G7 nations, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (Pew Research, 6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S., https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/07/6-facts-about-economic-inequality-in-the-u-s/)
Income disparities are so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent, according to data analyzed by UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 39 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 196 times the income of the bottom 90 percent. (Inequality.Org, Income Inequality in the United States, https://inequality.org/facts/income-inequality/)
And from Citi – Global Perspectives and Solutions a new report on income inequality for blacks tells us:
The analysis in the accompanying report shows if four key racial gaps for Blacks — wages, education, housing, and investment — were closed 20 years ago, $16 trillion could have been added to the U.S. economy. And if the gaps are closed today, $5 trillion can be added to U.S. GDP over the next five years.
These gaps exist based on systemic issues that caused and continue to cause discrimination against Blacks over the years. The gaps in many cases remain wide 60 years after the Civil Rights Movement. In some cases, including in homeownership rates and college degree attainment, the gaps are wider now than in the 1950’s and 1960’s. For each of the gaps faced by Blacks, we identify the degree of the gap between Blacks and whites in wages, labor segmentation, education, wealth, housing and investment and identify the impact closing each gap would have on the U.S. economy. Finally, we outline how we believe governments, corporations, and individuals can work together to eliminate these gaps for good. (Citi-GPS, Closing the Racial Inequality Gaps: The Economic Cost of Racial Inequality in the U.S., https://www.citivelocity.com/citigps/closing-the-racial-inequality-gaps/)
The Economic Policy Institute reports,
CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978
Typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time
The increased focus on growing inequality has led to an increased focus on CEO pay. Corporate boards running America’s largest public firms are giving top executives outsize compensation packages. Average pay of CEOs at the top 350 firms in 2018 was $17.2 million—or $14.0 million using a more conservative measure. (Stock options make up a big part of CEO pay packages, and the conservative measure values the options when granted, versus when cashed in, or “realized.”) CEO compensation is very high relative to typical worker compensation (by a ratio of 278-to-1 or 221-to-1). In contrast, the CEO-to-typical-worker compensation ratio (options realized) was 20-to-1 in 1965 and 58-to-1 in 1989. CEOs are even making a lot more—about five times as much—as other earners in the top 0.1%. From 1978 to 2018, CEO compensation grew by 1,007.5% (940.3% under the options-realized measure), far outstripping S&P stock market growth (706.7%) and the wage growth of very high earners (339.2%). In contrast, wages for the typical worker grew by just 11.9%. (Economic Policy Institute, https://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-compensation-2018/)
During the 1950s the wealthiest Americans were taxed at 91% over $200,000 ($2,000,000 in today’s dollars)
How could it be that the tax code of the 1950s had a top marginal tax rate of 91 percent, but resulted in an effective tax rate of only 42 percent on the wealthiest taxpayers? In fact, the situation is even stranger. The 42.0 percent tax rate on the top 1 percent takes into account all taxes levied by federal, state, and local governments, including: income, payroll, corporate, excise, property, and estate taxes. When we look at income taxes specifically, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid an average effective rate of only 16.9 percent in income taxes during the 1950s.
The 91 percent bracket of 1950 only applied to households with income over $200,000 (or about $2 million in today’s dollars). Only a small number of taxpayers would have had enough income to fall into the top bracket – fewer than 10,000 households, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Many households in the top 1 percent in the 1950s probably did not fall into the 91 percent bracket to begin with. (Tax Foundation, Taxes on the Rich Were Not That Much Higher in the 1950s, https://taxfoundation.org/taxes-on-the-rich-1950s-not-high/)
The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s
Over the next three decades, the top federal income tax rate remained high, never dipping below 70 percent.
The Census Bureau tells us that poverty went up dramatically during the Great Recession years and as of 2019 has come down to 12.3%.
(Poverty: 2018 and 2019, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/acs/acsbr20-04.html)
This trend will certainly go back up as the covid-19 virus is sure to have a cataclysmic effect on the poor. The poor are the most susceptible to downward changes to the economy. Crime statistics are already going up substantially as violent crimes continue to increase dramatically. The Wall Street journal reports that since January 1 of this year to August 2nd shooting victims in New York City were up 81% and shooting incidents were up 76%. (What’s Fueling New York City’s Rise in Violent Crime? There Are Several Theories, https://www.wsj.com/articles/whats-fueling-new-york-citys-rise-in-violent-crime-there-are-several-theories-11597064288) this trend has been reported in many large cities.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (U.S. Department of Labor, Minimum Wage, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage#:~:text=The%20federal%20minimum%20wage%20provisions,employers%20must%20comply%20with%20both.)
For individual states, the minimum wage (MW) can vary:
|Consolidated State Minimum Wage Update Table
(Effective Date: 09/01/2020)
|Greater than federal MW||Equals federal MW of $7.25||No MW Required|
|29 States + DC, GU, & VI||16 States + PR, CNMI||5 States|
As of September 1, 2020, Consolidated Minimum Wage Table, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/mw-consolidated
Let’s relate this to the federal poverty level up to 1985:
(Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate: 1959 to 2017 [<1.0 MB], https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.html)
(Poverty Rates by Age: 1959 to 2017 [<1.0 MB], https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-263.html)
The federal poverty guidelines as of January 15, 2020 are:
Family Members 1 – $12,760 at $7.25 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $15,080 per year
Family Members 2 – $17,240 at $7.25 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $15,080 per year for one working full time, for both working full time 30,160 per year
Family Members 3 – $21.720 at $7.25 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $15,080 per year for one working full time, for two working full time 30,160 per year
Family Members 4 – $26, 200 at $7.25 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $15,080 per year for one working full time, for two working full time 30,160 per year
Does anyone believe the poverty levels support a living wage at federal minimum wage levels which 18 states and territories require?
Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee have the solution – no minimum wage at all required.
The 29 states which require higher minimum wages than the federal level average $10.58 per hour
Family Members 1 – $12,760 at $10.58 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $22,006 per year
Family Members 2 – $17,240 at $10.58 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $22,006 per year for one working full time, for both working full time 44,013 per year
Family Members 3 – $21.720 at $10.58 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $22,006 per year for one working full time, for two working full time 44,013 per year
Family Members 4 – $26, 200 at $10.58 per hour for one year 40 hours per week, 52 weeks in a year comes to $22,006 per year for one working full time, for two working full time 44,013 per year
Who’s earning the federal minimum wage? The food service industry has the highest proportion of workers earning the minimum wage. Two percent of food service workers earn the federal minimum wage, with another 12% earning below the federal minimum wage. Unlike other industries, more than half of these employees (servers, cooks, cashiers, etc.) are paid at an hourly rate. Personal care occupations, including manicurists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists, have the second largest proportion of workers at/below minimum wage (3%).
(Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population, https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-population/?dataView=0&activeTab=graph¤tTimeframe=0&startTimeframe=10&selectedDistributions=uninsured&selectedRows=%7B%22wrapups%22:%7B%22united-states%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D)
As of 2018, due to the Affordable Care Act there were 18.2 million fewer uninsured people in the U.S. In 2018 an estimated 30.4 million people in the U.S. still do not have health coverage. Uninsured working age adults are disproportionally low income, Latino under age 35. (Who Are the Remaining Uninsured, and Why Do They Lack Coverage? Findings from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2018, https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2019/aug/who-are-remaining-uninsured-and-why-do-they-lack-coverage)
Among the public overall, 63% of U.S. adults say the government has the responsibility to provide health care coverage for all, up slightly from 59% last year. Roughly a third (37%) say this is not the responsibility of the federal government, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted July 27 to Aug. 2 among 11,001 adults. (Increasing share of Americans favor a single government program to provide health care coverage, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/29/increasing-share-of-americans-favor-a-single-government-program-to-provide-health-care-coverage/)
The mortgage delinquency rate jumped nearly four percentage points to 8.22% during the second quarter of 2020, when the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic really began taking hold, a new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/08/18/mortgage-delinquencies-spike-due-to-covid-19-what-to-do-if-you-cant-pay-your-loan/#6cf8ef647fa7)
(THE COVID-19 EVICTION CRISIS: AN ESTIMATED 30-40 MILLION PEOPLE IN AMERICA ARE AT RISK, https://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/The_Eviction_Crisis_080720.pdf)
To be clear, the study finds that temperatures in about a fifth of this historical period were higher than they are today. But the key, said lead author Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University, is that temperatures are shooting through the roof faster than we’ve ever seen.
“What we found is that temperatures increased in the last hundred years as much as they had cooled in the last six or seven thousand,” he said. “In other words, the rate of change is much greater than anything we’ve seen in the whole Holocene,” referring to the current geologic time period, which began around 11,500 years ago. (The Atlantic, We’re Screwed: 11,000 Years’ Worth of Climate Data Prove It, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/03/were-screwed-11-000-years-worth-of-climate-data-prove-it/273870/)
The morning after the 2016 general election ushered in the Donald Trump presidency and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, stocks of for-profit education companies spiked, and mere days later, investors on Wall Street declared “the cloud has lifted” on the prospects for investments in the for-profit college industry.
Concerns that these schools pushed desperate students into useless degree programs that led to massive debts and few prospects for jobs –all at taxpayer expense – had prompted the Obama administration to crackdown on for-profit colleges.
But by December, before Trump had uttered a single word of support for these schools, investors had already “poured hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to The Wall Street Journal, into large for-profits such as DeVry Education Group, Strayer Education, Bridgepoint Education, and Grand Canyon Education. (Why Republicans Are Rebooting the For-Profit College Industry, https://ourfuture.org/20171215/why-republicans-are-rebooting-the-for-profit-college-industry)
(Center for Responsive Politics, https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/industries/summary?cycle=2019&id=q13)
Prisons and Immigration
From year 2000 to 2018 private, for profit prisons has had a 47% increase in the number of prisoners. In 2016 a Department of Justice Report found private prisons had a 28% higher inmate-on-inmate assaults and more than twice as many inmate-on-staff assaults compared with federally run prisons. The problems were so bad that in 2016 the Obama administration began to phase out private prisons. From 2000 to 2016 immigrants detained in these facilities increased by 442%. When Trump got in office the administration began to robustly support private prisons again. A pro-Trump PAC, the presidents inaugural committee and the Trump family business benefited from these for-profit facilities. Is it any wonder that the Trump administration signed an executive order called “Enhancing Public Safety Interior of the United States” which massively increased the immigrant enforcement in the United States? Attorney General Bill Barr rescinded a decision which let immigrants bond out of these facilities until their hearings forcing them into unlimited detention in them. And for good measure a long-standing legal decision which limited immigrant children to be held in detention for no more 20 days was challenged by the Trump administration. Needless to say, the private prisons and detention centers have been huge contributors to Trump and Republican candidates. (my summary from this article – How Private Prisons Are Profiting Under the Trump Administration, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2019/08/30/473966/private-prisons-profiting-trump-administration/)
Mass transportation in cities has long been funded by tax dollars…
Many states use common funding sources to support transit: motor fuel taxes, state transportation funds, general funds and automobile-related fees or taxes. (On Track: How States Fund and Support Public Transportation, https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/on-track-how-states-fund-and-support-public-transportation.aspx#:~:text=Many%20states%20use%20common%20funding,automobile%2Drelated%20fees%20or%20taxes.&text=While%20the%20most%20common%20state,types%20of%20program%20support%20exist.)
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that public-private partnerships have accounted for 1 percent to 3 percent of spending for highway, transit, and water infrastructure since 1990. (Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation and Water Infrastructure, https://www.cbo.gov/publication/56044)
The federal government subsidizes intercity travel in various ways. For example, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation—or Amtrak—received appropriations of about $1.5 billion in 2017 and $1.9 billion in 2018 to subsidize intercity passenger rail services. The 2018 figure includes $650 million in grants for the Northeast Corridor and debt service and about $1.3 billion in grants for the national network that Amtrak operates. For comparison, Amtrak’s capital spending in 2017 was $1.6 billion and its operating expenses totaled $4.2 billion (including $0.8 billion in depreciation and amortization costs).
Another form of federal subsidy for intercity travel is the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which received $150 million in discretionary budget authority and $122 million in mandatory budget authority in 2017; the latter came from overflight fees that are charged to aircraft that fly through U.S. airspace but take off and land in other countries. As of September 2018, the EAS program—created by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 to maintain airline service in communities that had been covered by federally mandated service—subsidized air service in 63 communities in Alaska, 2 in Hawaii, 1 in Puerto Rico, and 108 in the continental United States (CONUS). Based on EAS data available for those CONUS communities, the federal subsidy per airline passenger in 2017 ranged from $14 in Joplin, Missouri, and Cody, Wyoming, to $536 in Alliance, Nebraska.( Eliminate Funding for Amtrak and the Essential Air Service Program, https://www.cbo.gov/budget-options/2018/54773)
Science and Long-Term Research
The federal government spent $116 billion on research and development (R&D) in 2017, an amount equal to about 0.6 percent of gross domestic product. That money funds basic scientific research, research that applies scientific understanding to achieve specific practical objectives even if those objectives might not have any predictable commercial appeal, and R&D that serves a governmental mission—such as securing national defense or maintaining public health. In addition to its intended purposes, CBO projects that federal spending for R&D increases macroeconomic output through its effect on private-sector productivity. (Estimating the Long-Term Effects of Federal R&D Spending: CBO’s Current Approach and Research Needs, https://www.cbo.gov/publication/54089)
(Bureau of Labor Statistics, Establishment survival, https://www.bls.gov/bdm/entrepreneurship/entrepreneurship.htm)
(Data check: U.S. government share of basic research funding falls below 50%, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/data-check-us-government-share-basic-research-funding-falls-below-50)
In our country we have coops in industries such as small farms where the workers actually do own the ‘means of production’. Some have tried to equate communism with the idea of a coop which certainly has some resemblance to socialism. However, for Marx, private property would not exist at some point during the transition from socialism to communism.
We also have labor unions. When they work best, they provide labor effectively partial ownership of the means of production.