The Political Spectrum (Part I): The Totalitarian Left from Communism to Social Democracy

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The "Right" versus "Left" convenient but capricious political arrangement came from the seating position of delegates to the National Assembly during the French Revolution, but it is at times a confusing concept and too often subject to media and academic bias and even misinformation. I have found it easier to have a political spectrum based on degrees of government control.

In the political spectrum concept of degrees of government control, the Total State or totalitarianism, exemplified by practical communism (i.e., as opposed to the theoretical, anarchistic communism, where the state is supposed to disappear once property rights are abrogated and which has never existed) becomes the extreme left. Anarchism (no government) is on the extreme right. Direct democracy (e.g., as practiced by the ancient Athenians) is center left; a representative republic (e.g., in the model of the ancient Roman Republic, which the American Founders imitated to some degree and adapted for a growing continental nation) occupies center right. Here roughly is my conceptualized political spectrum:
Political SpectrumBut I believe that the presumed evanescence of the political spectrum actually becomes a solid iron horseshoe, as we move to the extremes. The horseshoe then becomes over-bent and the tips of the extreme Left and Right come ever closer to almost touching at the ends. The gap between the tips of the horseshoe is the paradoxical chaos: anarchism and tyranny. Let us borrow the term coined by the late conservative journalist, Samuel T. Francis, Anarcho-tyranny, a state whereby the wildfire of anarchy is attempted to be squelched by the repressive fire of a police state of absolute tyranny.
 
In today's political climate, most American conservatives, I surmise, would fall into the category of Republicanism. Most modern liberals would fall in the range between democracy and socialism. In my estimation, one-third of all Americans tend to favor modern liberalism; one-third more lean toward conservatism; and the final one-third are "centrist," not because of conviction or superior knowledge, but because of superficiality and inattention. They tend to be the least informed of the electorate, and yet by another quirk of fate, these Americans frequently decide elections! And despite the liberalism of academia and the bias of the mainstream media, they frequently vote conservative. But that is America!
 
A word of caution is in order: The "classical liberalism" of the 19th and early 20th centuries would be more akin to today's conservatism than modern liberalism. Consider the tenets of classical liberalism: laissez faire capitalism, free trade, maximum individual liberty, minimal taxation, lesser government. "Modern liberalism," on the other hand, is more akin to the socialism of today's social democracies and favors more government involvement in the affairs of citizens, wealth redistribution via taxation, protectionism, and labor unions. I have placed Objectivism to the left of Libertarianism because of its founder, Ayn Rand. As a Russian expatriate, Rand never lost sight of the danger of collectivism and totalitarianism and never succumbed to the naiveté of the Libertarians.
 
Where is Monarchy? Absolute monarchy is to the left; constitutional monarchy is to the right in the political spectrum, specific placement depending on time, place, and culture.
 
Communism and Socialism

In modern political theory, though, there is a distinction between socialism and communism, and thereby their relative positions I have assigned them in the political spectrum. In Communism, the State, incarnated in one political party, owns all means of production, distribution, and even consumption, ostensibly under an egalitarian and "on need" basis. In practice, communist party officials, as political elites, are "more equal than others," and reserve to themselves their "fair share" at the expense of the masses. Moreover, communism comes about by the "class struggle" and imposition by force, popular revolution, for the establishment of the "dictatorship of the proletariat."

My own definition of modern socialism, if indeed there is a difference, is the assumption and maintenance of power by evolution; seduction of the population by political elites, who promise something for nothing but in reality take from some to give to others; the use of envy for class strife and incitement of the dark side of human nature to justify wealth redistribution by legalized plunder. This redistribution of wealth and management of power is carried out by political elites, who are above the rest of us and ostensibly protect us even from ourselves and for our own good. This unnatural "equality" is maintained by the State, largely controlling via regulation or taxation the means of production (e.g., factories, mines, etc), distribution (transportation, communication, etc.) or consumption of goods or services (e.g., food, health care, housing, education indoctrination, etc.). Both communism and socialism are derived from Marxist dogma, but this is frequently forgotten.

Thus, Communism and Socialism, and as we shall see, Fascism and Nazism are all 5 Fathers of Communismcollectivist forms of regimes of the left in the political spectrum, as predicated by the tenets of excessive, oppressive, or brutally authoritarian governments. Many learned people cannot fathom the reality that socialism is a close kin to communism and Nazism is actually National Socialism — all of these "isms" are considered "working class movements" by those espousing them. The seemingly benign connotation of socialism today as democratic and altruistic would be a source of laughter to their innovators, e.g., Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), or their actual applicators, e.g., Vladimir I. Lenin (1870-1924), Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), Mao Zedong (1893-1976) or Fidel Castro (1926-).  All the reader has to do is visit the website of the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), read the Collected Works of Lenin, or listen to the speeches of Fidel Castro to learn that the communist demigods use the terms socialism and communism interchangeably.
 
Marx's Das Kapital is boring, tedious reading, but The Communist Manifesto is not. It is an incendiary document in which Marx tells the reader that he called his Manifesto "Communist" rather than "Socialist," simply because he did not want his Manifesto to be confused with some of the British and other good-intentioned European humanitarian and utilitarian movements then in vogue, which sometimes called themselves "socialist."
 
Lenin himself wrote that in the relentless march of history (positivism) and the class struggle (dialectical materialism or dialectics), the ultimate goal of socialism was communism and the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Lenin called the American and European liberals of his day, "useful idiots” and “fellow travelers” because they wanted to believe in the "worker's paradise" instead of the harsh reality of Soviet socialism. Lenin, not Stalin, heralded the era of the concentration camps and founded the infamous secret police, the Cheka, underFeliks Dzerzhinsky Feliks Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926; photo, right) in the USSR. It was Lenin who began the extermination of the Kadets (Constitutional Democrats) and even his leftwing Socialist Revolutionary (LSRs) opponents in the class struggle. Stalin only intensified the process and exterminated, not only the purported "enemies of the people" but almost wiped out the entire ranks of Lenin's old Bolshevik comrades, including Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Nikolai Bukharin, Karl Radek,  Antonov-Ovseyenko (leader of the Bolshevik Military Organization that stormed the Winter Palace during the 1917 October Revolution), Gleb I. Boky, Y. A. Ganetsky (Polish communist who was Lenin's liaison with the Germans during World War I and the sealed train affair), Leon Trotsky, etc. Nobody killed more communists than the communist-in-chief himself, Generalissimo Joseph Stalin!(1)
 
And yet,  class warfare, the inception of the labor camps, the gulag, the Red Terror, the extermination of class enemies and political opponents, etc., began with Lenin soon after the October Revolution of 1917; it intensified to a fevered pitch under Joseph Stalin, who exterminated not only class enemies, but also the Kulaks and even old Bolsheviks. Repression somewhat moderated under Nikita Khrushchev. That is why Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's (photo, left) The Solzhenitsyn in the gulagGulag Archipelago is subtitled "1918-1956." And yet even under Khrushchev we had the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the October Missile Crisis. Leonid Brezhnev, who engaged Richard Nixon and the West with detente, ordered the crushing of the Prague Spring of 1968 and the fatal invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Soviet repression did not end, in fact, until the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the USSR and its satellites (1989-1991). But authoritarianism, which seems to be an inherent part of the Russian character, persists to this day even under Russian democracy and Vladimir Putin (2011).(2)
 
A word about Fascism is in order:  It drained the Pontine marshes, established "peace" with the Vatican, and made the trains run in time, but like Nazism, it is a rabid, nationalistic variant of socialism whose economic essence is corporativism, a monopolistic partnership of business and industry corporate entities with the state as the senior, commanding partner. In Fascism, the means of production, distribution, and consumption are controlled by the state; whereas in communism, the state owns all means of production, distribution and consumption. Despite the modern liberal penchant for tarring conservatives as "Fascists," the truth of the matter is that these "left-wing" liberals as socialists are more closely akin to fascists than the "right-wing" conservatives!
 
Social Democracy
 
As much as many proponents of Social Democracy (SD) would like to forget,  social democracy is derived from Marxist ideology. Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) and Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919) were the patron saints of Marxism and Social Democracy in Germany at the turn of the century. Later they participated in the Spartacist League and founded the Communist Party of Germany. Their counterpart in Russia was Georgi Plekhanov (1856-1918; photo, right),Georgi Plekhanov the father of the Social Democratic Party of Russia to which both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin belonged before the SD split into the more moderate, democratic Mensheviks and the conspiratorial, communist Bolsheviks. After the October 1917 Revolution, it was Lenin and his Bolsheviks who came to power. The Mensheviks then went into exile, and those who stayed in Russia were hunted down by Lenin's Cheka or exterminated by Stalin's security apparatus and the gulag concentration, labor camps.
 
The derivation of Social Democracy from Marxism is not denied or contended by their European Social Democratic parties today. And in the U.S., as time passes, many Americans, particularly in the South, agree with Ronald Reagan, who was once a democrat, and said that he did not leave the party; but that the party moved so much to the left that it left him!
 
I have been told that socialism and communism have been dead since 1989. I wish that statement were true. The death of socialism, like that of Mark Twain's at one time, has been greatly exaggerated! The sudden death of socialism would have astounded a legislator from Vermont, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), an avowed socialist, even when it was not fashionable to admit being one in the U.S. Congress. Senator Sanders would be greatly shocked to learn that his ideals became defunct after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989! Today, in fact Sen. Sanders has 89 socialist colleagues in the U.S. Congress, all Democrats, who are members of either the Congressional Democratic Caucus or the Democratic Socialists of America.
 
Despite the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialism in the Western democracies and in the U.S. hasFall of the Berlin Wall continued to grow. The central and Eastern Europeans who have experienced the full brunt of socialism and communism are no longer bragging about Marxism or social justice, and are trying to move as far away as they can from collectivism. But it is difficult for people who have become dependent on government to move away from it and regain personal autonomy. The Western Europeans in Spain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, etc. are stuck in the mud with
socialism, and their economies are collapsing from debt and their overindulgence, but when they try to dump Karl Marx and socialism, they get riots, as we have seen repeatedly in France, Greece and even Great Britain. It is a vicious cycle of dependency that is very difficult to break once instituted.
 
And now domestic socialism is affecting the U.S. as well. If we were to try to end welfarism and dependence and return to America's work ethic and individual initiative by returning to the mandates of our Constitution by ending judicial activism, rejecting the wide interpretation of the welfare and interstate commerce clauses, changing the tax code to a flat tax or a national sales tax — then it is very possible that we could expect riots and perhaps even looting and burning by those classes of citizens that Jean Jacques Rousseau called the noble savages.

Read Part II of this article.

References and Notes
 
1) If one book had to be selected that most accurately describes, epitomizes, and exemplifies the evils of totalitarianism and communism, it would be Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece,  The Gulag Archipelago (1918-1956) — An Experiment in Literary Investigation,  Parts I-II (1973) and The Destructive Labor Camps and The Soul and Barbed Wire, Parts III-IV  (1975). Translated into English by Thomas P. Whitney.
 
2) Including the main story, Alex Goldfarb's Death of a Dissident---the Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB (2007) is an excellent book on Vladimir Putin's post-communist Russia.

Written by Dr. Miguel A. Faria

Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr. is a former Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine; Former member Editorial Board of Surgical Neurology (2004-2010); Member Editorial Board of Surgical Neurology International (2011-present);Recipient of the Americanism Medal from the Nathaniel Macon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) 1998; Ex member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2002-05; Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002); Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995), Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997), and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).

A shorter, edited version of this article was published on October 7, 2011 at GOPUSA.com.

Copyright ©2011 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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Repression

I recall a similar political graph from high school notes on power politics. You may be interested in Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians."

Katyn massacre!

US witness report found on Stalin's Katyn massacre
The Associated Press, Jan. 8, 2014

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A researcher says she has uncovered vital testimony by a U.S. officer whom the Nazis forced in 1943 to watch the exhumation of Polish officers killed on Soviet leader Josef Stalin's orders.

Krystyna Piorkowska said Wednesday she found the May 10, 1945, report by Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr. in archives near Washington. It provides evidence of Soviet responsibility for the 1940 massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest and other places in the then-Soviet Union. Van Vliet's later, longer report is considered missing, which has fueled speculation that the U.S. silenced the truth. Van Vliet was a POW in Germany when he was taken to Katyn to see the evidence. Until 1990, Moscow blamed the Nazis, but then admitted Stalin ordered the massacre.

The Vital Center

Has the author not read Arthur Schlesuinger's "The Vital Center"? He had a thesis much like this, but instead of a horseshoe he had ideologies arrayed along a circle, with the totalitarianisms of the left (communism) and of the right (fascism and national socialism) differing very little. He had liberal democracy being their opposite, rather than anarchism.

Political Spectrum and Vital Center

My political spectrum is quite different from Schlesinger's conception for a number of reasons. In the Introduction to his 1998 transaction edition of his book, The vital Center, Arthur M Schlesinger Jr. (1917-2007), wrote: "The 'vital center' refers to the contest between democracy and totalitarianism, not to contests within democracy between liberalism and conservatism, not at all to the so-called "middle of the road" preferred by cautious politicians of our own time. The middle of the road is definitely not the vital center: it is the dead center. Within democracy the argument adheres to FDR's injunction to move always "a little to the left of center."

An unabashedly liberal politician and intellectual, Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, objected to the use of the term "vital center" in reference to domestic politics, such as conservatism vs liberalism. I, on the other hand, dissected domestic, as well as international politics and put them in their historic context. Instead of democracy being the center, I put it left of center, whereas Republicanism was placed right of center.

Additionally, I used the term and located "social democracy" farther to the left and "Objectivism" and "Libertarianism" to the right, explaining why their locations in the horseshoe. I placed totalitarian systems, all birds of a feather (who fly together), including communism, Nazism (socialism) and fascism, to the Left, as they all restrict personal freedom and subjugate the individual to the State. I explain this more fully in the text. Finally, the gap in the horseshoe is left out in Schlesinger's Vital Center, which is another major flaw in his conception. All in all, he tends to muddy the waters, while I try to elucidate the realities of the political philosophies of the day.

We have some excellent articles on Stalin, Churchill, World War II and politics that are very relevant to this discussion. Just use our magnificent site search engine. Thank you, Stefan, for your informative comment and contribution. I welcome you to become one of our many knowledgeable readers and posters. Cordially,

Dr. Miguel A. Faria

Reich and potential Nolan influence

Enjoyed your article Professor Faria.

1) Your comment: "I have found it easier to have a political spectrum based on degrees of government control" is reminiscent of the David Nolan position, codified in "The World's Smallest Political Quiz." It states:

"Virtually all political action can be divided into two broad categories: economic and personal ... since most government activity occurs in these two major areas, political positions can be defined by how much government control a person favors in these two areas."

I was curious whether you are familiar with the advocates.org quiz and its premise?

2) Also, do you mind mentioning some of the influences that have shaped the outlook and political spread you espouse in your article? (Do I also see some Burnham and Sowell in there?)

3) And finally, with respect to your important interest in understanding the nature and dynamics of "Left" and "Right" (an interest I deeply share) and the relative spread of the political spectrum, you might at some point enjoy Dr. Wilhelm Reich's psycho-emotional, bioenergetic perspective, particularly as articulated by Drs. Baker, Konia and Harmon:

The Sociopolitical Spectrum, Part 1: Ideology is a Secondary Factor in Defining the Sociopolitical Spectrum (Harmon)

The Emotional Plague - The Root of Human Evil (Konia)

Man in the Trap (Baker - chapter on The Socio-Political Character Types)

Thanks,
Tom D.

Nazis-Communists

Correspondence from Dr Blaylock, 8/1/12

Dear Miguel,

Yes, and it was interesting that at the Nuremberg trials, the Soviets made the US delegation agree that they would never refer to the Nazis by their proper name the German Workers National Socialist Party--rather as Nazis. The American literary left and the idiot media then attached the name "right wing" and Fascist to the National Socialists implying that American conservatives were themselves Nazis. This prevented the simple-minded public from ever making the connection to collectivism--I.e. That the Soviets and the National Socialists were not opposites, they were collectivist competitors.

This is why, as you well know, in school we are never taught about the German-Soviet honeymoon of September 1939 through June 1941 and that during this period of engagement, American communist sabotaged US military industry, which ended only when Hitler turned on Stalin on June 22, 1941. There is a tremendous book written in 1944 by John T. Flynn called As We Go Marching--I know you would love it. It is one of the most beautiful analysis of the collectivist systems I have ever seen.

Isn't it ironic that so few movies have ever been made on two of the greatest mass murderers in history. I have only seen two movies on the Soviet Gulag.

Russell

Dr Russell L. Blaylock is a retired neurosurgeon, world renown nutritionist and neuroscientist, and the author of a number of books and papers, including Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills (1994), Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life (2002), and Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients (2003), and writes a monthly newsletter, the Blaylock Wellness Report (Newsmax.com).

Great Educational Tool

Great article, and the horseshoe image is a perfect way to explain the political spectrum! If every political science textbook explained the ideologies as you have done and with as clear a depiction as your spectrum, students would be so thankful :) What a clear and straightforward article. Thanks!

The Russian Political Spectrum and the Protest Movement 2012!

The 2012 (March) Elections are causing great consternation. Russia continues to experience increasing demonstrations by protesters accusing the Medvedev-Putin administration of electoral fraud, and protest rallies are now calling for fresh parliamentary elections.

According to the BBC, "The parliamentary elections on 4 December were criticized by observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), who said there had been "severe problems with the counting process. They said the poll was slanted in favor of Mr Putin's party, United Russia, and that there had been irregularities including the stuffing of ballot boxes."

It appears that Russia's tiny, liberal opposition, barely standing not only to Putin, but also against the menacingly authoritarian massive "right" flank, does not seem to stand a chance. The autocratic legacy of Stalin still lurks in the shadow of the Russian nation. The grim Russian authoritarian past does not seem to allow poor Russia to move irresolutely toward a future of freedom.

I propose that conservatives most adopt a "wait and see" attitude while we give moral support to those Russians who genuinely seek freedom and a brighter, more civilized future for their country. In the meantime, we most make sure that the US and the West must be prepare to protect our national and collective security, and economic interests. The US would be wise to proceed with the anti-ballistic missile shield to protect European allies against Iran or instability anywhere in the region, including the possibility of an unstable Russia.

80-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the collapse and closing down of the USSR on December 25, 1991, almost exactly 20 years to the day, has now asked that Putin steps down and follow Gorbachev's own example.

But the Communist Party leader, Genandy Zyuganov, who commands the strongest threat to Putin, then joined the administration in disparaging the protest and supporting the Kremlin.

"Putin's United Russia party lost 25 percent of its seats in the election, but hung onto a majority in parliament through what independent observers said was widespread fraud. United Russia, seen as representing a corrupt bureaucracy, has become known as the party of crooks and thieves, a phrase coined by Alexei Navalny, a corruption-fighting lawyer and popular blogger and leader of the demonstrations," reported the BBC. See my full essay on this topic under "Articles" posted today. MAF



Fransini Giraldo is a Colombian girl who dances her own style of Salsa. In this video, she dances to the rhythm of Sonora Carruseles de Colombia, presumably in the Colombia countryside. Published July 16, 2013.