Conservative - fascist – what is the difference?
The problem, reasons, and implications
Fascists often ask about their affinity with “conservatives”; should they support or ally with them? Non-fascists will argue that fascists are “right-wing”, just like “conservatives”. There is a common view that “right-wing” implies “conservative”. Oh, what to do? I am going to write about a “ball of wax” issue, where the surface of the ball presents a problem, but to understand it we must examine the whole ball. Here, too, you should be beginning to see what I put words like “conservative” in quotes. Frankly, most people do not know what they are talking about when using them, and such is one major reason why there is so much conflict in the world. On a more general plane the ignorance stems from a lack of understanding of philosophy and history, but moreover a lack of introspection about values. For the actual definition of “conservative” you will need to wait for a while, because you cannot understand the scope and gravity of the problem unless you look at what gave rise to it and how it affects other aspects of life. I will focus ostensibly on “conservative”, as a number of readers of Fascist Struggle have, themselves struggled with how they should embrace or reject being one. However, my method of addressing the content of this word applies to all vocabulary, words such as “left-wing”, “right-wing”, “reactionary”, and so forth. The nuances of words depend upon one's value system, because whatever you present to others is inherently laced with bias. You cannot escape yourself, and you see yourself through yourself. Objectivity is a chimera, but such does not mean that it is not necessary to do some introspection. Emerging from that self-examination will be the way you speak and write words and whether they apply to you. A second step is to be honest to others about those biases, explaining why you hold them but attempting to support your ideas with good peer-reviewed references. This trivializes the labels, but addressing the problem of their being misused is an exercise for us in how we identify what is about us. Remember, description is the first step in acquiring knowledge. If you do not see things as they are about you, the rest upon depending upon our descriptions will be jumbled and anarchic. Yet, words often are used incorrectly, even if ethical intent is noble. How, then, has this situation come to be?
My answer focuses upon its sustaining reason, a low-road, or guttersnipe ethos. I mean here placing “entertainment”, sports, sex, business, physical comfort, consumerism, and generally materialism above the love of truth. Overall, most social discourse in the United States is bereft of content, part of the reason being the decrepit state of the school system, an outgrowth of a shallow and degenerate value system. It also has to do with immaturity behind a playboy/playgirl mentality and distraction, where the central objective in life is “carpe diem” (live for the moment) and to have “fun”. I have to keep reminding my colleagues that 50% of all adults in the U.S. cannot read past the eighth grade (US illiteracy, 2018). 25% believe the Sun orbits the Earth (National Science Foundation, 2014). Half believe antibiotics are effective against viruses (Ibid.). I could go on about the lack of knowledge basic geography, like “About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. [18-24 year-olds] couldn't even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean's location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent” (National Geographic Society, 2006, p. 3 et seq.). These are not ravings of a distressed academic. Academics is at the low end of life's priorities. This also is coupled with the horrible reality of the homo sapiens sapiens subspecies of average intelligence, which is further being compromised by poor nutrition (most people being obese). There is a reason why scientists call it “intelligence quotient”; it is a scale, and scales rigidly imply hierarchy. As an aside, it is this average that demagogues advocating liberal democracy play upon in fooling the masses into voting repeatedly for corruption, incompetence, and oppressive authoritarian regimes. But, let's get back to data.
In the earlier part of 2018 the U.S. Congress assembled a bipartisan committee to review and report on the findings of the U.S. Department of Defense National Defense Strategy (NDS), a congressionally-mandated review of defense capabilities. This committee concluded:
Current trends, however, indicate that the number of people who have the required fitness and propensity to serve is in decline. In April 2018, service personnel chiefs testified that only one in four 17-to-24 year-olds meets the criteria to enlist in the military. This is due to several factors, including the rise in obesity, existing criminal records, and failure to meet basic educational requirements. Manpower challenges are further 47 complicated by the fact that, among those eligible for service, only one in four exhibits the propensity to serve. (Ibid., pp. 46-47).
In essence, poor schooling is placing the U.S. at risk, but I also add the central reason about variations in human abilities, and, above all, values.
Not only in the area of defense should we be worried but incorrect use of words not only shapes the direction of conversation but also can threaten society, itself.
Another reality faces us. In the development of civilization for so many millennia, we have come to a fork in the road where the survival of homo sapiens sapiens (the correct anthropological term for us as a subspecies) is at stake. Most persons have (or, at least should have) heard of global warming, the consequences of which are manifest as in polar icecap melting, glacial retreats, species die-offs, coral reef bleaching, dwindling water supplies, and intensified storm activity. I am not going to perseverate on what easily can be researched as “Holocene extinction”, or the Sixth Great Extinction, but those who are interested about the survivability of this subspecies would do well to research and read Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (2017) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - Fifth Annual Assessment (2018). The first was produced by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and outlines major problems threatening the very existence of humankind. The second states,
Future climate-related risks depend on the rate, peak and duration of warming. In the aggregate, they are larger if global warming exceeds 1.5°C before returning to that level by 2100 than if global warming gradually stabilizes at 1.5°C, especially if the peak temperature is high (e.g., about 2°C) (high confidence). (Ibid., A.3.2)
This report is referenced over six thousand scientists and warns, "Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050." (IPCC Press Release, 2018) to avoid runaway global warming.
Remember the old adage “for want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of the horse, the battle was lost; for want of the battle the war was lost”? It may seem exaggerated to say, “for the want of a word the planet was lost”, but scientists are well aware of chaos dynamics that simply is another version of the reality of interdependence. Part of being a fascist is the recognition that we live in an integrated and organic world, where the malfunction of part of the organism can affect the health of the whole body.
Let me interject another note about these two reports. Look at the two reports and their level of readability. Think about the capabilities of the average person. If you cannot read past the eighth grade, let alone high school level, you will be hopelessly lost, if not deeply frustrated in fulfilling expectations that you will be well-informed voter. Intelligent policy making depends upon a high level of literacy, and if you cannot read at the level at which these reports are written you will not understand what is behind present circumstances in your environment.
But, for everybody – idiot, genius, specialist, and generalist like, misunderstanding starts with a word, and for those who can read and care enough about accuracy in meaning I present the following to place a number of commonly used terms in proper perspective.
Coming to terms
“Conservative”. “Liberal”. “Fascist”. “Democracy”. We hear these terms bandied about freely, but rarely do people know what they mean. A political candidate's support often accrues from a voter's idea behind such a label, a conception that stems from personal values. Yet, these (and other) terms not only are used loosely but are smeared across each other. We need a well-researched political dictionary to navigate our social world, as well as a substantial academic background. It is distressing to think, though, that so many public commentators who should know better often confabulate and misapply words. I see even academicians doing this constantly, as not seeming to be able to know what a fascist is, making fascist synonymous with Nazi. It is difficult to define one word without having to do the same for every adjacent one. Each word's meaning is inextricably bound to another in a large web of language and requires an understanding of its context in order for the meaning to be apprehended, as the Global Trends and IPCC reports amply demonstrate.
If I did these things in this article, you'd be reading a book. What I can do, though is present enough examples to establish a method of inquiry and warn you to be cautious in the future before supporting someone just because of a label.
What is the role of and way to use a label? Labels often tell us whether to support an idea or even to buy something. They are labels, or what we in logic call “naming”. You don't go to the store, read a label saying “beans” and purchase it thinking that it is potatoes. This is common sense. Yet, we see commentators referring to politicians as “conservative”, when, in fact, they want to turn the social clock back a few hundred years, thus making them “reactionary”. These commentators will point to a Democrat, calling her/him “liberal”, when, in fact s/he is conservative. Such misuse frames a conceptual shift in ideas, but not only that, when the term is applied in a broad-brush manner, not only does stereotyping occur but lost is the subtlety of social analysis. Labels are convenient; I'll grant that. Without them, we would have to enter into extended dialogues, supporting each utterance with a lengthy discourse, each word in that discourse requiring another, and so forth. Alfred Jules Ayer (1936), Language, Truth, and Logic, gives some good perspectives on the problem.
We use a word in the same way it has been used by others and throughout history. This means etymology. Hence, it is instructive to go back and read major works by theoreticians who label themselves with the word. A second way of understanding a word's use is how it has been used by most writers. A third way is qualified use, i.e., stating the special ways or limitations So, for the word “fascist”, for example, we'd go to an etymological dictionary or so and see where the word came from and how it has been used throughout history. We then would locate major works by persons calling themselves “fascists”. If we thought the word needed more restrictive use, there would be conditions stated, such as it being used only …
Rather than jumping to labels, it is more intelligent to identify a person's views in each social area – education, religion, economy, social services, and so forth. However, fascists have a unique social framework, one that liberal democrats and others miss. We need to be keenly cognizant of our own values. My prior articles in Fascist Struggle, “The necessity of fascism” and “Are you a Fascist or fascist” outline some fundamental thinking, but to recapitulate, the philosophy of modern fascism is that of a unified, integrated society, whose main orientation – not unlike that of Plato – is the love of truth, placing this above materialistic values. A fascist society is an organism in the form of the State, a being that has what I call a “high-road” ethos. This means that its core values center on the love of truth and the search for it. Yes, this is a rather lofty ideal, many persons saying that it is unrealistic. I will return to this in another context below; suffice it to say I cannot over-emphasize the importance.
The Political Spectrum
There is ample history about how the term “left” and “right” came about, the Wikipedia article, “The left–right political spectrum” being a good start. Those who sat on the speaker's right in the 1789 French National Assembly and supporting the old monarchical order were the “right wing”, those on the left side “left wing”, of course… Conversely, representatives wanting a revolution sat on the speaker's left, hence being called “left-wing”.
We should know up front that context and societal reference are critical in assessing one's views about the society or government. What is “left”; what is “right”? Political discussion often focuses on a “spectrum”, similar to a mathematical number line, extending from the left-hand side (“extreme leftists”) to the right (“extreme rightists”). You often will hear the view that the spectrum really is a circle, as it represents the degree of government authority, and both extremes argue for a lot of it. The anarchists pose a problem, their perhaps being located in the center of the authoritarian spectrum.
However, matters are not quite that simple, as society is highly complex, containing many facets – economic, political, educational, environmental, social, and even dietary. A person can take a wide range of positions, being highly conservative on economics and very anarchistic on social issues. When you refer to “conservative”, ask in what respect? For example, look at conserving the present economic system, remedying the defects with intervention (regulation, programs like the New Deal, and the 2008 Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP)), massive support for public schools, privatizing [fill in the blank], staying out of private social matters (using drugs or sexual behavior, as long it harms no one else). What is meant by “left”, “conservative”, or “liberal” in each of these? The task is not easy and is further complicated by dynamics and how well a person is informed.
Systems, as well as the persons holding viewpoints change. How deeply does one hold a conviction? Would providing new information change that person? Early on in survey research methods Gabriel Abraham Almond in his The American People and Foreign Policy demonstrated this in 1950 by describing how the same sample of persons questioned about a foreign affairs event would switch their thinking, often only within a matter of days. The pattern continues, as you'll see by reading survey sites like Gallup or Pew. Survey research also is a highly problematical area, where the type of question and the manner in which it is framed can have a great bearing on the response. Quantifying political behavior surely is a long way from being a science, and one can talk only relativistically about the opinions of individuals and groups. This means highly qualifying assertions, subjectively evaluating them, and ensuring that what projections are actually borne out by actual events. This all says nothing about the bias of the political analyst and her or his own evaluation criteria. Political scientists are in a strange position of trying to emulate the methods of the real sciences, such as mathematics, physics, and biology, but everything breaks down when precision is involved.
Even with quantifiable items – economic (unemployment, production figures, budgets), government (no. of employees – types, etc.), education (levels, no. of students, literacy levels, etc.), military (tanks, planes, soldiers, etc. - there are issues with data gathering methods (as in survey instruments) interpretations, and applications. One may compare one quantized parameter to other such as charting the history of a country to see what boundaries mean stabilization, as in literacy rate divided by income level.
We will only give examples about how to quantify parameters. We want to see what change occurs per quantity of change of a parameter or one parameter compared to another. In this way we can quantify boundaries. I sketch one out a rough outline of many ways of representing political spectra.
Each curve in the vertical line marks the subset of the main parameter I am not an artist, but the vertical lines will curve at year dividers, as well as boundaries of sub-sets of parameters. The horizontal movement is towards and away from the red line (straight – ideal boundary), which would be considered the limit of system stability. Each parameter will have a change over time and stages (such as ∆Px/∆T over ∆Py/∆T).
An example is measuring definitions and degrees of corruption against other parametric changes over time. When is corruption the lowest and under what conditions? The Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International (2018) indicates that high corruption is proportion to the level of schooling, as well as income, just as Aristotle and Plato predicted it would be under such conditions 2400 years ago. Now, we look at the words “conservative” and “liberal”.
A word's meaning is defined by what it is not, i.e., its opposite. There are generically-oriented words that can modify many others, like “long”, “short”, “cold”, “hot”, and so forth. Often, the word is used in context, that is, “hot” in relation to what? In 200 degree heat a human cannot survive undressed. On the Sun it is rather cold. Hence, I will initially focus on “conservative” and then “liberal”.
Etymology – the history of use - sheds light on a word's meaning.
late 14c., conservative, "tending to preserve or protect, preservative, having the power to keep whole or safe," from Middle French conservatif, from Medieval Latin conservativus, from Latin conservatus, past participle of conservare "to keep, preserve, keep intact, guard," from assimilated form of com-, here probably an intensive prefix (see com-), + servare "keep watch, maintain" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").
From 1840 in the general sense "disposed to retain and maintain what is established, opposed to innovation and change," or, in a negative sense "opposed to progress."
As a modern political tradition, "antagonistic to change in the institutions of a country," often especially "opposed to changes toward pure democracy," conservatism traces to Edmund Burke's opposition to the French Revolution (1790), but the word conservative is not found in his writing. It was coined by his French disciples (such as Chateaubriand, who titled his journal defending clerical and political restoration "Le Conservateur").
Conservative as the name of a British political faction first appeared in an 1830 issue of the "Quarterly Review," in an unsigned article sometimes attributed to John Wilson Croker. It replaced Tory (q.v.) by 1843, reflecting both a change from the pejorative name (in use for 150 years) and repudiation of some reactionary policies.
Strictly speaking, conservatism is not a political system, but rather a way of looking at the civil order. The conservative of Peru ... will differ greatly from those of Australia, for though they may share a preference for things established, the institutions and customs which they desire to preserve are not identical. [Russell Kirk (1918-1994)]
Phrases such as conservative estimate (1874), in which it means "characterized by caution, deliberately low," make no sense etymologically. Related: Conservatively; conservativeness.
late 14c., "means of preservation, a preservative," from conservative (adj.). The political use is by 1831, originally in a British context. (Conservative – etymology, 2018)
Conservative”, when applied overall to a political view, has the same meaning as when used in other contexts; it means to preserve or keep the status quo. In our example of “right-wing”, preserving the monarchy would be conservative. In modern times, the French literary romanticist Viscount Francois-René de Chateaubriand is reputed to have coined the term in 1814. (Hamilton, 2007) He favored the monarchy and started Le Conservateur, or “the conserver” in English. Edmund Burke, considered a conservative, reviled the French Revolution for its excesses and principles of equalitarianism. In modern parlance, the conservative wants to preserve the status quo, or current order. Of course, this is impossible, as everything is in a state of flux, but the conservative wants to preserve as much as possible. That is, any adaptation must be kept to a minimum. A conservative could be a 2018 left winger if socialism, let's say, were the prevailing political economy. This example, alone, illustrates that one cannot always use “conservative” and “right wing” interchangeably. It is best to think of “right wing” more in terms of favoring inequality of social status and income and “conservative” as keeping the status quo, be it capitalist, corporatist, socialist, or whatever.
What is “conservative” about the conservative, then? Logically, we have to identify a starting point to gauge, as the term is relative. That is, you are conservative in relation to what? The U.S. emerged from a monarchy, first as a federation in 1781 with the Article of Confederation and in 1789 as the United States of America. At that time, to preserve the monarchy, as the British Loyalists were trying to do, was to be conservative, i.e., preserve. We know whom the revolutionaries were. In 2018 the 1766 revolutionaries are today's conservatives, if not outright reactionaries (wanting to go back to 1776 times). Again, remember, that the 1776 revolutionaries wanted a free market capitalism apart from the British monarchy.
What about “conservative” relating to the “individual”? Here is where a divergence occurs, some conservatives preferring a limited role for government, the individual having more liberty. Here, a sidebar is necessary and one further emphasizing how a word's misuse can seriously lead you astray. You often will hear people worrying about their “freedom”.
Remember in contract theory that freedoms are unlimited in Hobbes' state of nature, but are given to the sovereign, and the sovereign then dispenses liberties to the citizens. (Note, also, the John Locke – Second Treatise of Civil Government, from whom the framers of the Constitution relied upon heavily, was a contract theorist, following in the footsteps of Hobbes, author of Leviathan.) Liberties are a subset of freedoms.
Only the sovereign has freedoms. The citizens never have freedoms, only liberties. The technicality and fiction is that the people are sovereign. The next time you hear anyone screaming about their “freedom”, remind them of this essential historical fact that they never will have any freedom as long as there is a sovereign (regardless how venal and incompetent), and what they should be demanding in a real sovereign, i.e., the State. Back to what “conservatives” believe …
Other conservatives, those closer to monarchical sympathies, see the individual supporting a rigid social order, exemplified by Edmund Burke. These differences stem from the baseline with which a person not wanting change identifies.
In essence the term is relative, suggesting various political spectrum, one often characterized as being from left to right, those advocating less authority on the right, those wanting “bigger government” on the left. However, the divergence referred to above between those of the Burkean type and modern day conservatives wanting less government, contradicts the spectrum.
Those calling themselves “conservative” in the U.S. often regard humanity as inherently evil (as in “original sin”) - (narcissistic, greedy, etc.), and needing guidance. Yet, a number of the “conservatives” minimize the role of the State, preferring to defer to religion and its authorities, and these sects can be even more ruthless than that of any government. An outgrowth of seeing humans as essentially being evil is the “natural law” of Social Darwinism, where the “best and the brightest” emerge from destructive competition and where other do not have the responsibility to assist nor should assist.
Now, let's visit the “opposite” of “conservative”: “liberal”.
“Liberal”, “liberal”, and their derivatives
Generically, the word “liberal” stems from the Latin “liber”, or “to free”. Earlier in this work, we visited this word in the context of “liberty” and “freedom”.
Herbert Spencer (1885) in his Man Versus the State complained about those who presumably advocated more liberty:
They have lost sight of the truth that in past times Liberalism habitually stood for individual freedom versus State coercion. ” (State capitalized) (Spencer – Man...p. 4) …Liberalism has to an increasing extent adopted the policy of dictating the actions of citizens, and, by consequence, diminishing the range throughout which their actions remain free. (Ibid., p.5)
The gaining of a popular good, being the external conspicuous trait common to Liberal measures in earlier days (then in each case gained by a relaxation of restraints), it has happened thug popular good has come to be sought by Liberals, not as an end to be indirectly gained by relaxations of restraints, but as the end to be indirectly gained. And seeking to gain it directly, they have used methods intrinsically opposed to those originally used. (Ibid., p.7)
To be noted is the upper case “l” in liberal. During the 1970s, attempts were made to give the word liberal” as one who adheres to classical economic liberal doctrine, i.e., laissez faire, or free-market capitalism with little or no government regulation. Adam Smith (1723-1790) in his Wealth of Nations wrote of the “invisible hand”, a self-regulatory mechanism of capitalism, even while condemning rents as non-productive income and acting to the detriment of business, a discussion to which we'll return later. However, the common usage of “liberal” since Franklin D. Roosevelt's time has been associated with social change, often prompted by government regulation. This was another turning point (Spencer being a first) where “liberal” became “Liberal”, a proper noun reputedly describing those calling themselves “liberals” but favoring government regulation over unrestrained capitalism. Here, the social change was coupled with attempt to save a failing capitalist order (an order the Liberals supported, but with modifications) from the devastating effects of the Great Depression of 1929. There is a wealth of literature describing the parallels between the Roosevelt's New Deal (albeit very necessary to help people survive) and fascism of Benito Mussolini (Flynn, 1944), as in the National Recovery Act of 1934. In essence, the Liberal economics of heavy regulation preserved the private ownership and control of the means of production, along with the heavily regulation of the unions. A major difference between fascism and the New Deal was that formal institutions were established in Italy, such as the Dolpvaro (Pitigliani, 1933) and the Chamber of Fasces, whereas in the United States, the relations between management, labor, and corporate owners were more informal and by laws. However, with both, there was a merging of corporate and State power, and since the 1930s, such as evolved into a more generic political-economic form of corporatism that includes worldwide many industrialized states, such as those in the European Union, China, and India. This is in contrast to the various socialisms, where the social ownership and control of the means of production is the foundation of political-economic programmes, and others, such as capitalist countries (rare, now), where there is a minim of government regulation and laissez-faire economics is the political-economic programme. I will return to these ideas in a different vein below in discussing capitalism.
Think of a liberal as one wanting to be free of social constraints and not looking to preserve or repeat the past, where there were social and economic inequalities. Liberals (lower case “l”). Also have been associated with promoting humanitarian values, where there is more of an egalitarian distribution of wealth, that is, one based on equal opportunity and effort exerted according to one's ability. In modern parlance, though, those calling themselves “liberal” may ostensibly advocate egalitarianism but may think that reforming the prevailing system can bring about what they seek. Yet, reforming does not mean changing the fundamental system, and, in fact, evidences support for it. There are gray areas in which a liberal may, in fact, be more conservative, not wishing to change the prevailing order. For example, Obama was a conservative, albeit more liberal than, let's say Trump is. All in all, though, both are conservative but to varying degrees.
These methods are not quite enough, though to use a word with accuracy. In political science there is structure, function, and social area. For example, you can be conservative in educational policy but “liberal” on religious issues, as was seen above in my rough sketch of a political spectrum.
Those calling themselves “conservative” and “fascist” have a common ground in wanting order. One of my favorite quotes is:
SOCRATES: Then the house in which order and regularity prevail is good; that in which there is disorder, evil? And is not the virtue of each thing dependent on order or arrangement? Yes, I say. And that which makes a thing good is the proper order inhering in each thing? Such is my view. And is not the soul which has an order of her own better than that which has no order? Certainly. And the soul which has order is orderly? Of course. And that which is orderly is temperate? Assuredly. And the temperate soul is good? (Plato, 2008)
Order is displayed by logic and mathematics, and if you have any sympathies for Pythagoras and Max Tegmark (physicist), you will appreciate that order is innate. Going further with the digital physicists, you'll also appreciate that order is expressed by the simplest form of arithmetic: binary, symbolized by the familiar 0s and 1s used by computer scientists. From the simplest levels through societies this order permeates. If the order is compromised, all of this breaks down into what physicists know as “entropy”, the dispersal of energy and coherence.
Another similarity is how humans are regarded in terms of their “nature”. Are they predisposed toward the darker side, as in wanting more to be selfish and ignoble? Or, are they really “good at heart”? More often than not, they are guided by passions than reason. Humans are unequal, and left to their own devices will quarrel among each other are destructively competitive.
Reference frames by their very nature are conservative. If there is not stability, order, and consistency throughout time, there is anarchy and uncertainty. Scientists and mathematicians, in this sense, have to be conservative. In fact, all academicians have to be. Let's go further, If we did not have starting points that remained the same over time, we'd all be lost – literally. Think of GPS. On an on it goes, we all are conservative to some basic extent by necessity. All of the above goes to show that we have to be exceedingly careful about how we use labels, and without the preliminary qualifications, it is best not to use them unless your audience has that background.
Notice that there is no subheading “dissimilarities” in this paper, because a separate discussion is needed about applying the terminology to the fascist world. The preceding discussion will help us to focus on who we are as fascists.
By now, it should be coming apparent how “conservatism” relates to fascism, but let us distinguish an attitude towards change and a framework for political discourse. What sets fascists apart from the rest of modern political thinking is the idea of society being organic and formally organized as the State. The Industrial Revolution was foundational in providing the current social environment, as it set the stage for the social framework and its organizations we see today. To those having gone through high school world history courses, the transition from feudalism to capitalism should be common knowledge. Petty merchants seem to have been around from time immemorial, peddling what they could make but did not need I exchange for things that they did need or want. The demarcation between feudalism and these peddlers was more formalized by merchants establishing themselves outside castle walls, their aggregations ultimately developing into cities. What most people do not realize are the philosophical foundations of these two systems. In the West, at least, Feudalism was borne of a politicization of the Christian religion, itself supplanting the Roman empire as it decayed. A reading of Patriarcha of Sir Robert Filmer (1680) will give the flavor of the Divine Right of Kings ideology (Patriarcha, 2018). I'll leave it to you to perseverate on feudalism, while I advance to that which concern us in relation to conservatism. It is capitalism and its value system that conservatives want to keep. Count here the U.S. Republican party, as well as a very high double-digit percentage of the Democrats. As you may notice, I am attempting to condition “conservative” in two ways by restricting it to a social area upon which the rest of modern society depends for its identity, as well as focusing on the ethos giving birth to the “ism”. So, what is it that conservatives want to preserve? It is the system, as well as the thinking underpinning it.
“Capitalism” refers to a market economy, where the production and distribution of goods and services are privately or individually owned and occur through ostensibly free exchange. Capitalism is all about enhancing material gain. I include its successor, what I call “vulgar corporatism”, to distinguish it from a different type of corporatism (I use the upper case, “Corporatism”) as a social decision-making unit found in the State. We all (or should) know about Wall Street, banksters, and institutions spanning the globe, like the oil, telecommunications, and computer corporations. These are the organizations effectively running liberal democratic regimes. The similarity among capitalists ends with controversy over the amount regulation by the government.
Laissez-faire capitalism, as advocated by libertarians, means literally, from the French, “leave to do, or make”, or allow to operate on its own with no social intervention. This mentality assumes that humans are rational beings and market forces will follow Adam Smith so-called self-regulatory “invisible hand”. The metaphysics supporting it is the same as that of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, ghosts, and Unicorns. Keynesian economics, after the economist Lord John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s, with his The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, said that massive government intervention and deficit spending in the economy help preserve capitalism. Keynes' “mixed economy” economy solutions to preserving the capitalist order were followed later by "new neo-classical synthesis", a mixture of traditional Keynesian economics and classical theories. It is attempts such as those of Keynes that promoted modern day vulgar corporatism, which peeks through the veil of neo-liberalism.
Here, a crucial transition occurs, based on ownership and control. Simply stated, ownership means receiving the material benefits of production; control means directing the factors of production, although not necessarily receiving the benefits. More often than not, control is through the managers and corporate bureaucracy. The start of the 20th century saw labor through unions and corporate ownership violently confronting each other over wages and factory conditions. Italy and Germany saw massive street riots, with the looming threat Soviet-style communism taking over. In both countries arose authoritarian rule – Italian fascism and German National Socialism - but with variations in structure and philosophy. Elsewhere, it was Roosevelt's New Deal, Phalangism in Spain, and the Japanese with their specialized way of propping up capitalism.
Unless you understand the following, “capitalism” will be just another “ism”. You need to know what the very assumptions are. There are two basic forms: the petty capitalist, and the bourgeois capitalist. The former is a simple peddler, a person hawking wares or services. S/he is a “sole proprietor”, or owner. Everything s/he sells s/he gets paid the full purported value. That is, s/he is paid the full value of her/his labor. The bourgeois, on the other hand, hires others to do part of the work, but expropriates what part of what normally would be paid the worker. The ostensible justification is that that this expropriated part goes towards providing the land and capital to produce the good or service. The reality is that another and more substantial part goes to the bourgeois as personal profit. True, the bourgeois has to be made for her/his time in coordinating resources, and so forth, but there is a range (admittedly somewhat subjective) beyond which legitimate compensation is far exceeded (as evidenced in radical income stratification) that places the “entrepreneur” (euphemistically called) into the range of being an outright parasite on the worker. A detailed description of these arrangements is accurately described in Karl Marx's 1863 Theories of Surplus Value. As you can imagine the bourgeoisie have hated this book since its publication. There are other sources of wealth for the capitalist.
Overpricing as second form of profit, where the price exceeds the actual cost in producing. You have heard perhaps the expression “what the market will bear”. Another expression is “supply and demand”. While there may be some truth in all this, an overarching reality is propaganda that reduced to its basic form is psychological warfare, an outgrowth of the basic predatory mentality. I have hammered away about illiteracy rates, average intelligence, and so forth, but it does not take a genius to see that the less sophisticated a person is, the more easily they can be convinced of an idea. Just go to any advertising book or course programme, and you'll see at the core of advertising a focus on psychology. I laugh at the expression by capitalist apologists that it is the “price” that is causing the problems. I reality it is the capitalist parasite seeking to raise it to “what the market will bear”. It is the pig, not the price that is at fault.
A third form of profit is rents, something that just about everyone knows. I'd be here for a month of Tuesdays listing all the places where rents are jacked up to unaffordable levels when more people move into an area. Everyone knows (or, should know, at least) about slumlords. They also should know about more and more homeless people being evicted from homes for which they cannot pay high rents extracted by the parasitic rentier, or landlord. Another source of profiteering is the rich buying up “distressed” properties, those that have gone into foreclosure or have been run down for the lack of maintenance, limited income residents not being able to afford the upkeep. Search for phrases like “nothing down - buying houses”, and every parasite and wannabe parasite comes crawling out of the woodwork, preying on less fortunate persons. Buying tax deeds still are another way of acquiring properties. In other words, enough persons have fallen on hard times so as not to be able to afford home ownership, and under capitalism there is a no-holds barred in exploiting these people.
Speculation is a favorite way for those having a lot of wealth, such as with securities, the stock market, commodities exchange, credit swaps, and so forth. The wide range of such scams and their consequences can be appreciated by reading Wikipedia's article, “Financial crisis of 2007-2008”. “Investing” is another form of speculation. I marvel about where all these individual large-scale “investors” have gotten their wealth. It surely was not by working in the average job. “Institutional” investors merely are umbrellas where wealth is pooled, but those running these institutions are not on poverty row, either.
Interest is another form of profit, most persons being familiar with savings accounts as the most rudimentary form and benign. Adjunct ed to this are other forms of bankster parasitism, such as raising up credit card interest and charging exorbitant transaction fees for withdrawing your own money from an automatic teller machine (ATM).
Now, in bringing together and analyzing all these observations, what is the common denominator? Ideally, it is the “bottom line”. That is, you want to maximize profits. You want to income exceeding the outgo to the greatest extent possible. In the ideal situation, you'd have a spigot out from which flows money, a goose laying golden eggs. Look up “money tree”, another metaphor for thinking like a parasite, especially if you can think of a way of not even watering and feeding the tree! Only the capitalist would not want even to feed the goose! This means that the capitalist would not have to pay for the land, labor, or capital (the classic three ingredients for a business) and extract as much money as possible for the sale of goods and services. Now, think of the charges leveled at a person collecting welfare: “something for nothing”. Tell me how different this is from the mentality of the capitalist. In essence, capitalism in its rawest form is founded on a welfare mentality. How ironic it is that the most shrill voices against “big government”, the poor”, and social services come from the most vociferous of capitalists, the libertarians. Think further about a predator. Who really are the “welfare cheats”, with all the tax breaks, subsidies, and a huge police and military to protect their holdings?
The predator seeks out the most advantageous situation for obtaining food: weak or sick animals. Go back to my examples above. I re-introduce here the fact about the average person's abilities, again calling attention to intelligence, literacy, income, and so forth. These are the conditions that compromise an individual and for which the capitalist searches. What I find egregious, besides the capitalist, is how governments stand idly by while all this happens, hypocritically wringing their hands about poor people, the slums, and so forth, all the while knowing they have the power to do something. I look harshly on verbiage that refers to a person “earning” millions or billions of dollars, when the truth is that these are predators and parasites, the same ones that pass back and forth between the world government and the world of non-government, ripping off every person they come into contact with. I also think of Orwell's famous last lines in his 1945 book Animal Farm: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." It is redundant to say “predatory capitalist”, as it is like “predatory hyenas”, as you'd be hard pressed to find the latter who does not have the adjective attached. It is just the nature of the beast; it is inherent.
So, what might the dry academic say? System inputs are land, labor, capital, and workers, where a small set of individuals own and control the means of production and distribution, and the workers have only their labor power to sell. The output is goods and services, with the excess profits, some of which are in the form of unpaid wages to the worker (surplus value). In terms of system stability, capitalism has evolved from a simple person or small business selling goods and services in an unregulated environment to the aggregation and concentration of corporate power, exemplified by the “Robber Baron” period of the late 1800s, where there was little regulation and workers generally were wage slaves. Today, essentially the same exploitation exists, albeit masked by some regulation, propaganda, and elimination of the most egregious of circumstances like 12-hour days, minimum wage, occupational safety laws, and child labor. Yet, income stratification continues unabated, with the average person finding it more difficult even to get by. Just check out the rising personal debt. . The way capitalism has adapted can be found under Liberalism, National Socialism, Americanism, and even some forms of fascism, all forms of vulgar corporatism. Note that I make reference to “vulgar corporatism” to distinguish it from the Italian fascist system of Corporatism (upper case “c”). Keep in mind that the word “vulgar” refers to “unrefined”, “common” and without a coherent philosophical direction.
“A terrible indictment that capitalists inherently are predators”, you may say, but this is not to assess blame to those who simply have not examined themselves in a critical light. People in capitalist countries have been raised to be ideologues, and for centuries liberal democrats have taken advantage of intellectual inequalities to dominate the landscape. We all have been victims of the deceit and greed, but once aware, there is a choice to assume a new consciousness. I will continue below under the heading “fascism”.
For further reading I provide the following references:
Marx, K. (1867) Capital – Vol. I. https://ia800503.us.archive.org/6/items/CapitalVolume1/Capital-Volume-I.pdf
Smith, A. (1902) The Wealth of Nations. New York: P.F. Collier and Son. https://ia802606.us.archive.org/25/items/wealthofnations00smituoft/wealthofnations00smituoft.pdf
George Reisman Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics* http://capitalism.net/index.html
Mises, L. von (1988). Human Action. Auburn Alabama: The Ludwig von Mises Institute. https://ia902706.us.archive.org/18/items/HumanActionScholarsEdition/HumanActionScholarsEdition.pdf
Henry Hazlitt, H. (1952). Economics in One Lesson. New York: Pocket Books. https://fee.org/media/14946/economicsinonelesson.pdf
Max Weber; Peter R. Baehr; Gordon C. Wells (2002). The Protestant ethic and the "spirit" of capitalism and other writings - (Penguin Books, 2002) translated by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells
To preserve such an anti-civilized system like this advocates of capitalism banded about “liberal democracy”, the key word here being “liberal”. Here is where it is critical to understand the historical backdrop of the feudal system from which capitalism departed by camping outside the castle walls. For a long while, the royalty was quite content to let matters be, as long as they did not threaten the prevailing order. The 1776 break between the North American colonists and the British Crown is well known, but it too is in the same physical arena as those merchants outside those castle walls. The word “liberal” (2018) is from the Latin, “liberalis”, meaning “free from restraint”. Recall also my discussion above about the contract State, “liberty”, and “freedom”. So, I ask, “restrained from what? What are those seeking liberation to be free from?” Obviously, capitalists want to be allowed to do their capitalism unhindered. If you read carefully the works by capitalist advocates, especially the modern ones like Hazlitt and von Mises, you will discover that there is an antipathy between the capitalist and government, the latter, just by its nature being an authority or regulatory of interactions among individuals.
You should know what this is; if you don't you are deep trouble. Moe closely you need to focus on the State and its philosophical underpinnings, in particular, those set forth by Plato in the Republic, Emile Durkheim in his The Division of Labor in Society (1893) and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in The Philosophy of Right (1821), works which can be searched on the Internet and downloaded free of charge, the recommended website being www.archive.org .
Right out of the box fascists are not capitalists, meaning, obviously they do not want to conserve the prevailing system of capitalism. Two essential reasons are ethos and the idea of society. Liberal democrats and the system they protect through demagoguery – capitalism, plying on the ignorance of the masses are all about materialism. To be somewhat crude, valuing materialism as the highest ethos is no better than an animal with its survival instinct. Indeed, you will find at the core of capitalist behavior social Darwinism, the idea of “may the strongest win out over all the others”. It is the ethos of predation, arguably the most primitive of values. It is not about cooperation, community, working together to make the world a better place to live, integration, and certainly not about the search for truth. It is all about greed, consumerism, and taking advantage of others to achieve the objects of material desire. The liberal democrat knows about the gradiation of human capabilities, from the most severely physically and mentally compromised to the genius who is of prime physical fitness. Not unlike a crocodile or hyena the capitalist as social Darwinist and the liberal democrat sycophants will do whatever it takes to deprive their victim of life or resources. To them there is no higher value involving the betterment of others. Ayn Rand is perhaps the best example of a libertarian, one advocating virtually no government, save for that to act minimally and optimally to protect the predator-capitalist.
Even a cursory reading of Durkheim and Hegel will be a sufficient answer to the predator ethos and what to do about it. At the core is the highest ethos, the valuing of and search for truth, the same ethos recounted by Plato, Aristotle, and philosophers, in general. In his Republic, Plato outlines the foundation of a society predicated on this value. Hegel and Durkheim fill in the blanks, making the idea operational both in terms of detailed philosophy and practice. Modern fascists, like Gentile, Pitigliani, and Palmieri top the cake with icing.
It should be reasonably clear, now, about whether and how fascists relate to “conservatism”, the preference being not to look at the very confounded meaning of the word but to our social and political philosophy. After reading Herbert Spencer and his tirades against the State and defense of capitalism, it should be abundantly clear that a defense of capitalism is antithetical to supporting the State.
Fascism, just by its very nature, cannot in the present environment be regarded as conservative, because around us is a capitalist environment. Capitalism is about materialism. Fascism is about something far more elevating, the search for truth and people working together to achieve it.
Life is all about values and words act as a barometer to indicate what is most important to a person. Fascists I think sometimes forget what separates them from the rest of the population. If you are a fascist you champion:
c. 1300, "knowledge, body of knowledge," from Old French filosofie "philosophy, knowledge" (12c., Modern French philosophie) and directly from Latin philosophia and from Greek philosophia "love of knowledge, pursuit of wisdom; systematic investigation," from philo- "loving" (see philo-) + sophia "knowledge, wisdom," from sophis "wise, learned;" of unknown origin. (Philosophy, 2018)
Now, go to Plato's Republic and read the central idea of the State: the pursuit of truth, or wisdom. Then, go to Hegel's Philosophy of Right, the foundation of fascist thinking. The raison d'etre of the State is religion, not in the vulgar sense – a sectarian belief – but the larger sense taken from the Latin, to cohere, or bind. What makes sense of our world. Who are we, why are we here, and what is our future?
Yet, all the ideals and quest for meaning in life is in vain without a coherent social entity to direct these, and such is the State. Becoming a fascist, I see as a rebirth of consciousness on two fronts – philosophical and social. It starts with a therapy (mirror) by introspecting about values, in particular that about truth. This is not a new idea, as Oriental philosophers have known for thousands of years. There is something more noble than material gain. Plato described it. From the love of truth emerges constructing a path towards it, a socialization, since we after all among others, each dependent upon the other, integrated as society. Fascism is not about hate. Fascism is a unifying philosophy.
Hate does not define fascism.
Peace, love, community, cooperation, integration, and, above all, the love of truth define who we are. Those are the values I think we all want to conserve.
Ayer, A.J. (1936). Language, Truth, and Logic. New York: Penguin Books. https://ia802605.us.archive.org/10/items/AlfredAyer/LanguageTruthAndLogic.pdf
Conservative – etymology (2018). Conservative. https://www.etymonline.com/word/conservative
Edelman, E. and Roughead, G. (2018). Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and
Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission. United States Institute of Peace:
Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States. .
Flynn, J.T. (1944). As We Go Marching. New York: Free Life Editions. http://www.myrmikan.com/pub/aswegomarching.pdf
Global Trends (2017). Paradox of Progress. (NIC 2017-001) U.S. National Intelligence Council: Director of National Intelligence. https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/nic/GT-Full-Report.pdf
Hamilton, C. (2007). The Scary Echo of the Intolerance of the French Revolution in America Today. Columbian College of Arts and Sciences: History News Network. https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/43075
IPCC (2018). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Fifth Annual Assessment (2018). http://www.ipcc.ch/ and http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sr15/sr15_spm_final.pdf ;
IPCC Press release (2018). Press release: Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (PDF) (Report). Incheon, Republic of Korea: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 7 October 2018.
Liberal (2018). https://www.etymonline.com/word/liberal
National Geographic Society (2006). “National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study" The National Geographic Education Foundation National Geographic Society May 2006 May 2006 http://www.nationalgeographic.com/roper2006/pdf/FINALReport2006GeogLitsurvey.pdf Se also for other data: National Geographic Society (2002). “National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Survey" https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/attachment.php?
attachmentid=301605&d. ; https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/11/geography-survey-illiteracy/
National Science Foundation (2014). “Science and Engineering Indicators 2014” Chapter 7 Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding P. 7-23
Philosophy (2018). Philosophy. https://www.etymonline.com/word/philosophy
Patriarcha (2018). Patriarcha.
Pitigliani, F. (1933). The Italian Corporative State. London: P.S. King & Son. https://ia800805.us.archive.org/27/items/TheItalianCorporativeState1933ByFaustoPitigliani/The%20Italian%20Corporative%20State%20%281933%29%20by%20Fausto%20Pitigliani.pdf
Spencer, H. (1885). The Man Versus the State. New York: Richard Kennerly 1916 London: Williams
Transparency International (2018). Corruption Perceptions Index. https://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
U.S. Illiteracy (2018). Literacy Project Foundation, http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/ ;