It would be difficult to find a progressive on the planet that would agree with the following proposal to the issues we face in society:
“You know what? We should bring back Apartheid.”
The suggestion from the outset sounds absurd, and one would think immediately of South Africa and the words that have come to be associated with that regime and that period of racial discrimination and oppression. One would more than likely assume this person to be a bigot and not entertain the notion of giving him or her a platform to air their views.
The above is just one example of an idea that people at the time thought would be a great idea and would mean progress or a solution to a problem which either in practice was unachievable or led to the opposite of what it intended to achieve resulting in oppression and tyranny. A progressive minded person would also hardly accept the proposal to abolish democracy and freedom in favour of a totalitarian dictatorship or a theocracy as we have seen from history that this idea has been tried in a number of different cases and most of us in the western world know which of these systems we would prefer to live under, a Liberal, capitalist, democracy.
But there is one movement that has slipped through the net, which had achieved political prominence and resulted in tyranny and oppression but yet its followers and advocates have remained uncompromising in their beliefs, with no shame, that speak in a language of peace and non violence and push to bring down the Liberal world order and replace it with its own. This ideal is communism.
Communism manifested itself in the former Soviet Union; it was an oppressive regime that eventually fell with the symbolic event of the Berlin wall coming down and the reunification of East and West Germany. In accordance with the trend of all other regimes that have been defeated or self defeated because of their faults, communism should have been thrown in the rubbish bin of history and any new proposals for change should be new just as communism too was once new, yet until this day we still find advocates for this proven to be oppressive regime in practice. If one points to the Soviet Union as a challenge to a communist, a common response is for them to claim, “that wasn’t really communism.”
Well what was it? The economist Friedrich Von Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdom pointed out that any planning of the economy will require a central authority with absolute power, we have learned from Lord Acton’s famous quote that “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Communism gives absolute power to the state and therefore those running the state become corrupt. The Liberal idea is that power should be dispersed; in a Liberal democracy power is distributed between the state and the private sector, the market. The objective is to limit one authority’s ability to attain absolute power, whether that is the market or the government having absolute power but to create the balance whereby there is competition, capitalism does not thrive without competition and therefore monopolies are dangerous for capitalism, democracy and progress.
It is primarily for this reason that communism turned out not to be the Utopian paradise that it sought to be. If we look at the Kibbutz movement for example, such a system was only sustainable provided that everyone was willing to accept that they must think of the collective before themselves, such pioneers of the State of Israel were not born with these ideals, they were taught them by youth movements, and those who wanted to practice such ideals, moved to Palestine and joined a Kibbutz voluntarily and those who didn’t want to, didn’t. It worked well in so far as that it was voluntary. The following generations of Israelis born and raised on a Kibbutz started to look at the world outside of the Kibbutz at opportunities that the city had to offer them that the Kibbutz could not offer them, or who simply did not share the values of the Kibbutz and had further ambitions than milking cows or working in a factory. Fortunately a member of a Kibbutz can leave if they wish to, but the Kibbutz will eventually become unable to sustain itself if all of its members decide to follow in their footsteps.
Most of us have learned the lessons of history but we still find that they persist in our societies advocating what will become tyranny but claiming to be the heirs of peace, anti-war and the voice of freedom and equality. The question is how has this become so?
I will attempt to explore why this is so and why the term right wing has come to be associated with evil and left wing has remained in people’s minds immune from wrongdoing.
Communism and the former Soviet Union was not the only manifestation of left wing Marxist thinking. Such ideas embodied themselves in other movements and regimes as well, including fascism and socialism. The term fascism has been misplaced (on purpose) as a right wing ideology, in spite of the fact that almost all evidence of influence on fascist regimes point to the contrary. Fascism is at best the right end of the left, as opposed to the far right beyond Laissez-faire capitalism. The author Jonah Goldberg in his book Liberal Fascism notes that:
“Certain quarters of the left assert that “Zionism equals racism” and that Israelis are equivalent to Nazis. As invidious and problematic as those comparisons are, why aren’t we hearing similar denunciations of groups ranging from the National Council of La Raza – that is, “The Race” – to the radical Hispanic group MEChA, whose motto – “Por La Raza todo. Fuerro de La Raza Nada” – means “Everything for the race, nothing outside the race”? Why is it that when a white man spouts such sentiments it’s “objectively” fascist, but when a person of color says the same thing it’s merely an expression of fashionable multiculturalism?
The most important priority for the left is not to offer any answer at all to such questions. They would much prefer to maintain Orwell’s definition of fascism as anything not desirable, thus excluding their own fascistic proclivities from inquiring eyes. When they are forced to answer, however, the response is usually more instinctive, visceral, or dismissively mocking than rational or principled. Their logic seems to be that multiculturalism, the Peace Corps, and such are good things – things that liberals approve of – and good things can’t be fascist by simple virtue of the fact that liberals approve of them. Indeed this seems to be the irreducible argument of countless writers who glibly use the word “fascist” to describe “bad guys” based on no other criteria than that liberals think they are bad.
Fidel Castro, one could argue is a textbook fascist. But because the left approves of his resistance to U.S. “imperialism” – and because he uses abracadabra words of Marxism- it’s not just wrong but objectively stupid to call him a fascist. Meanwhile, calling Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, and other conservatives fascists is simply what right-thinking, sophisticated people do.
The major flaw in all of this is that fascism, properly understood is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been a phenomenon of the left. This fact – an inconvenient truth if there ever was one – is obscured in our time by the equally mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites. In reality, they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space.”
(Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism)
When one refers to Nazism it is generally portrayed as being a phenomenon of the ‘far right,’ the clue is the name for a start. Nazism is National Socialism. National socialism and fascism are hardly ideas influenced by liberal; individualistic, free market economic thinking. They are both populist movements seeking to eradicate the class struggle and create national unity. National unity or any kind of unity unfortunately often is very hard to achieve without a common enemy, it is for this reason that I feel that both Israeli and Arab leaders in spite of their words of looking for peace or looking to defeat the other side, both are nationalist movements that are strengthened by the need for unity against those who are hostile to the people, or external threats to their existence or survival. In some instances that enemy or threat is real, in others it is fabricated or exaggerated. Hitler found that in the Jews, without someone to blame for the troubles Germany suffered as a result of the treaty of Versailles he may not have arose to power.
Both Hitler and Mussolini were always members of left wing parties, Mussolini wrote for L’Avvenire del Lavoratore (The Future of the Worker) the socialist parties newspaper, where they differed from traditional international communism was that they came to believe that the appeal of solidarity based on class was not as strong as ones kinship to the nation and fellow countrymen. Fascism and National Socialism therefore were left wing pragmatists, who gave up on the universal goal of spreading communism to other peoples but only wished to transcend the class struggle and to confine the benefits to that of their own nation.
But nonetheless this does not make these totalitarian regimes, right wing. It is merely an embarrassment to the left, and has been very successful in misleading the public up until this very day that Nazism and fascism is something that the left have had nothing to do with and is somehow a product of the “far right”, it is as I mentioned earlier the far right of the left at best.
It has been cleverly crafted that fascist and Nazi are of the worst things one could be branded as yet the left have successfully managed to convince people that these tendencies come from the right, and that communism as practiced by the Soviet Union was somehow not true communism. That being the case, I suppose that one could argue that apartheid wasn’t really what apartheid was supposed to be about, perhaps it wasn’t supposed to be about segregation and discrimination but it aimed to create a system to preserve identities in a difficult situation, but if implemented properly may have resulted in something similar to what is trying to be achieved in the Middle East of a two state solution, two states for two peoples.
The left have for a long time been infiltrating themselves into calling themselves something that they are not, because it makes them sound innocent, we have in recent years heard people refer to a group known as ‘the Liberal left’. Perhaps 50 years ago these two words together would have been considered an oxymoron. Liberal is not left, socialist is left, communist is left and fascist too is left. We also have long heard of the United States of America referred to as a fundamentally ‘right wing nation’. They are right wing, not because they are ‘fascists’ or ‘Nazi’s’ but because they are ‘Liberals’ and ‘Republicans’, both are right wing parties.
In Britain we have seen how the Labour Party became more Liberal in its policies as it changed its platform under Tony Blair from Labour to New Labour, which essentially sought to emulate the Liberal Democratic party in America. And we have seen the Liberal Democrats in Britain fill the space that Labour vacated on the left. And we now see more and more left wing policies taking over the American Liberal Democratic party under Barak Obama’s leadership.
In Israeli political history the pattern has too not deviated much. The left wing parties in Israel were very uncompromising in their policies. Left wing Zionism too had utopian, peace loving ideals of the highest nature, but that didn’t change the fact that in practice it was under left wing governments and leaders that all the way up until the 1970’s led Israel through all of its wars, had a prejudiced attitude towards Mizrachi Jews, the religiously Orthodox and despised the non socialist opposition let alone issues with the Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Today the adherents of the left in Israel fall into two camps, those who still identify with the movements goals and history and those who seem to wish to disassociate themselves from the history of the Israeli left. They would typically look at the Israeli left and its faults and too say, “That wasn’t really what labour Zionism was supposed to be about.” And then proceed to demonize the ‘evil’ Jabotinsky, Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu. But it is just the frustration that an idea that inspired so many people to create a better and fairer world, didn’t work in practice.
The Israeli left have long called Jabotinsky a fascist, the same way that conservatives in America are referred to as fascists by the American left, which could not be further from the truth, Jabotinsky was a liberal full and through.
Why is all of this so important, because it has blurred our outlook on where the true dangers we all face really lie and from where they are likely to spring up. We focused too much on watching groups like the BNP, and we now find ourselves surprised to find enemies from the left. We should not be surprised at all to find anti-Semites on the left. Marx in spite of his Jewish origins was an anti-Semite, Hitler was from the left, Stalin and Lenin were of course left and not immune from anti-Semitism, and even Oswald Mosley was a member of the Fabians society in the 1920’s and 30’s. Or up until today we see anti-Semitism in Ken Livingstone and George Galloway who incidentally would probably be referred to more as Labour back benchers or the left of the left.
I am not saying that all forms of left wing political theory are anti-Semitic but it is far from immune from it. I am however saying that liberalism which has been significantly better for the Jews (not only Jews but everyone) than communism is not the source of fascism, or Nazism.
The New Liberal Left has not forgotten about the Jews, nor have they given up on their attempt to bring an end to capitalism. It will typically adhere to the view that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and hold double standards towards those who it perceives as powerful and oppressive and always rooting for whom it sees as the underdog.
It is the task of the true Liberals to reclaim their political history by exposing to the world that fascism is a left wing problem and that to be right wing means to believe in individual freedom and democracy. The propaganda has reached unbelievable lengths; you will notice how the few Liberals who have spoken up against either Islamism or communism today have been branded as Islamophobic, Neo-cons (which seems to have become a code word for Imperialistic Nazi) or bigots. It is time for the Left to take responsibility for their history and for Liberals to stand up for themselves, and some day, people will look at a pin up of Che Guevara on a wall as if it were a poster of Hitler today.