Friday, October 25, 2002


Last Monday, I pointed out some of the weaknesses in the argument by Leftist economist Paul Krugman to the effect that inequality was increasing. I also said that I would leave it to people with better access to the statistics to do a real job on Krugman. That has now been done.



One of the readers of my article about Fascism on �Front Page� made the interesting comment that, when we talk about whether Fascism is of the Right or the Left, we need to remember that there are many extreme Rightists who would regard more moderate conservatives as Leftists. So who really is a Leftist?

In answer, I think a major point is that the further Left we go, the more government intervention in people�s lives is demanded and practiced. All governments exercise power over people�s lives in one way or another but the more Leftist you are, the more pervasive and all-encompassing you will want that government meddling, influence and direction to be. And by that criterion, Mussolini and the Fascists were FAR to the Left.

Note, however, that the intrusiveness of government into our lives is now very well advanced worldwide. ALL modern governments are more interventionist than they were 100 years ago. The 20th century was broadly a century of ever-advancing Leftism and we live at the end of that process. Government meddling and regulation CAN be rolled back -- Reagan and Thatcher showed us that -- but so far we have seen only a small amount of such rolling back. And, for all the Reagan/Thatcher efforts, the Western world is now more regulated and bureaucratized than it ever has been in history. Part of this is the work of the �Greens� -- who have managed to get an utter torrent of fresh regulation unleashed upon us. At least, however, government is not yet all pervasive and all-powerful in the modern-day Western world -- the way it was in extreme Left regimes such as Stalin�s, Hitler�s, Mao�s and Mussolini�s.

Although all the authoritarian governments that were responsible for megadeaths in the 20th century were Leftist, it must be noted that not all authoritarian governments are Leftist. Most governments throughout human history have in fact been authoritarian. They were usually called Kings or Emperors. And they were all pretty ferocious with those who were a challenge to their power. And they often came to power via military means. But, with very few exceptions, nobody would ever call them Leftist. Why not? Because it is WHAT THEY DO with their power that makes them Leftist or not. If they are just happy to stay in power they are neither Right nor Left but simply historically normal. But if they want to use their power to transform the whole of society and vastly reorganize everyone�s lives, however, they are Leftist.

Such military-based governments still pop up in the modern world too. The regimes of Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal, for instance, had a security apparatus that ensured that they stayed in power regardless of what their people might want but, aside from that, they just let people get on with their lives as before and in fact resisted change of most kinds.

Pinochet in Chile and Suharto in Indonesia were also undemocratic, military-based regimes that were unscrupulous in protecting their power but many of their other policies were more like Western conservative governments: They encouraged gradual and cautious change. They used their power to free up their economies --- thus extending the liberties of their citizens in important respects. Thus they were clearly not Leftists either.

Both the static Franco/Salazar type of regime and the progressive Pinochet/Suharto type of regime are often referred to as conservative but that simply reflects the fact that both opposed the large-scale forced reorganization of society that is associated with Leftism. Neither type of regime shows much respect for human rights or any other of the philosophies that characterize conservatives in the Western democracies.

As a libertarian, I deplore all government meddling in people�s everyday lives but one has to recognize that it is a matter of degree. And while all governments are tyrannical to some degree, Rightist governments are intrinsically less so. A Rightist philosophy does embody respect for the individual and his rights and choices. The mass murders of Stalin, Mao and all of the many other Communist regimes show us, however, how much respect for the individual is built into a Leftist philosophy. Once they obtain absolute power, Leftists have no respect for other people at all.



Scratch a Leftist and you will find a Stalinist underneath. Harry Belafonte certainly is a Stalinist. See Ronald Radosh. It makes more understandable Belafonte�s jealous attacks on influential black conservatives. Odd that it is conservatives who have mostly put US blacks into positions of power! Leftists only TALK about �empowerment�. Leftist talk is cheap. It is the same in Australia. Our first black Senator (Neville Bonner) was put into the Senate by the conservative side of politics.


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