Fascism and Feudalism in the Post-modern era
April 22, 2003 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Please read what Trotsky thought of fascism from his pamphlet "FASCISM -- What It Is and How To Fight It". I'm much more interested in the "What It Is". This article from the Guerrilla News Network got me thinking about it. Trotsky does a lot of the definition here. The foreward by George Lavan Weissman contains such gems as:
The germ of fascism is endemic in capitalism; a crisis can raise it to epidemic proportions unless drastic countermeasures are applied.
and from elsewhere:
In order that the social crisis may bring about the proletarian revolution, it is necessary that, besides other conditions, a decisive shift of the petty bourgeois classes occurs in the direction of the proletariat. This gives the proletariat a chance to put itself at the head of the nation as its leader.
Oh MAN. I'm more fearful than normal about where the US is headed. And to throw some water on the flames, yes, I know that there isn't any systemic violence against the masses, but think of how the fear that's created by the administration takes the place of violence in cowing the populace.
posted by taumeson (43 comments total)
Please don't bring up the fact that Trotsky was a communist unless it's relevant. I'm interested in exploring:

1. is this relevant in the current world climate?
2. was it relevant when it was originally written?

Basically I find the parallels between what Trotsky saw in Italy and Germany to what I see in the United States to be....chilling.
posted by taumeson at 8:14 PM on April 22, 2003

(Sorry, blatant plug. Had to be done, though ;-)
posted by Mark Doner at 8:36 PM on April 22, 2003

The fact that trotsky was a communist is highly relevant, especially since his analysis of fascism is so highly colored by marxist social theory.
Anyway, while the US has been tending towards greater authoritarianism, the similarities with full-blown fascism are not yet strong. The trend ought to be reversed, but if you think we are on the cusp of a fascist dictatorship in this country, you're fooling yourself. Those that speak out against the government, such as yourself, are not censored, arrested or abused (except, perhaps, for very rare cases that aren't matters of government policy, e.g. right-wing cops getting out of line, etc). Control over the business sector by the government, or vice-versa, is not anywhere near as widespread as in pre-WW2 germany, italy, or spain.
posted by Mark Doner at 8:53 PM on April 22, 2003

Tamueson, if you're not familiar with David Neiwert, you should be. He's been asking and trying to answer just those questions over at Orcinus. I believe his next book (and the topic of a 12-part series of posts at the blog) is going to be about fascism, and how since the Republicans took their drive to the far right, the GOP is and isn't exhibiting fascist tendencies.
posted by jbrjake at 8:57 PM on April 22, 2003

mark: no, you're right, i dont think we're on the cusp. i find it scary how business and government are colluding, and how the precursors i've recently found out about are rearing their heads, what with the jingoism and all.

Control over the business sector by the government, or vice-versa, is not anywhere near as widespread as in pre-WW2 germany, italy, or spain.

posted by taumeson at 9:07 PM on April 22, 2003

Mark Doner, great job on bringing Trotsky's communism up without any relevance (saying it's relevant and then moving on to another point doesn't count). As for the fact that control over/by the business sector is not yet as widespread as in 1937 Germany, Trotsky is arguing in this piece that the first step of fascism is to root out all workers' organizations and replace them with a deeply penetrating administration whose purpose is to inhibit the workers from showing independent structure. Obviously, we are not at this point. But has the Bush administration shown a desire to deny unions power? Between the longshoremen, the Homeland Security department, and Chao's comments to the that labor meeting in Florida last month, I'd say the answer is a definite yes.
posted by jbrjake at 9:09 PM on April 22, 2003

I saw the episode of vote counting in Florida with the "shut them down" response from Republican operatives as the opening gambit of a fascism. This crew operates with the same threat of fear and violence as did the fascists of the 30's. These same tactics are being used by the current administration on the world stage, just as they were used in the election of 2000. He must be voted out of office.

I suggest you read Hannah Arendt. She will give more perspective on what Trotsky has written.

I wrote a piece on this topic for the launch of Gulf War I. I am considering how to respond in a continuation on Gulf War II. Thanks for the link!
posted by filchyboy at 9:11 PM on April 22, 2003

Here's a great quote from the pamphlet. Well, great if you're a paranoid lefty who likes playing the game "How is America at the beginning of the 21st century like Germany at the beginning of the 1930s?":

"The last election revealed -- and this is where its principle symptomatic significance lies -- a shift in the opposite direction. Under the blow of the crisis, the petty bourgeoisie swung, not in the direction of the proletarian revolution, but in the direction of the most extreme imperialist reaction, pulling behind it considerable sections of the proletariat.

The gigantic growth of National Socialism is an expression of two factors: a deep social crisis, throwing the petty bourgeois masses off balance, and the lack of a revolutionary party that would be regarded by the masses of the people as an acknowledged revolutionary leader. If the communist Party is the party of revolutionary hope, then fascism, as a mass movement, is the party of counter-revolutionary despair."
posted by jbrjake at 9:23 PM on April 22, 2003

may I offer a "damn hippies" by proxy?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:41 PM on April 22, 2003

Mark Doner, great job on bringing Trotsky's communism up without any relevance (saying it's relevant and then moving on to another point doesn't count).

Um, nice gratuitous insult. Come on, jbrjake, Mark did state the relevance: since his analysis of fascism is so highly colored by marxist social theory. If one sits down to read Marx, Engels, Lenin, or Trotsky, one will understand very little (well or accurately) if one does not know and pay attention to this fact. taumeson's suggestion, "please don't bring up the fact..." by your reading basically means, "I've got a neat idea for an experiment. Let's read Trotsky, not as if it's a document of Marxist agitation, but as if it's a bunch of oracular utterances from God, you know, something suggestive, like a poem about Dubya from some guy on the internet. I think he may be right." (Yes, I know what s/he really meant was "don't dump on Trotsky just because he's a communist"—in any case Mark didn't do that, since the social theoretical language and premises of Trotsky's writing are relevant (to anyone who wants to have a prayer of understanding or appreciating them).
posted by Zurishaddai at 9:43 PM on April 22, 2003

Oh, and on that note, I would like to take the time now to offer an extended exegesis of the salient points raised in my pampl-- AAH! ICEPICK!
posted by leotrotsky at 9:45 PM on April 22, 2003

This is interesting, but I think it grossly misunderstands what fascism is -- both Trotsky (if I may say so) and this Guerilla News article are just wrong. Fascism is not just authoritarianism. Fascism is a particular moral, spiritual, nationalist outlook which arose, very particularly, in the 20th century. King George did not believe in Fascism and his idea of government was very different from Hitler's or Mussolini's.

As I understand it from what I've read, fascism is a specific outgrowth of certain philosphical and political ideas popular around the turn of the 20th century. These ideas include Henri Bergson and the elan vital; ideas about group psychology and group behavior; theories of class struggle and structural societal evolution (such as Marxism). Fascism is a mutated version of the Marxist struggle: instead of a proletariat engaging in a class war, a nation is engaged in an unending struggle against other nations. The same rhetoric about the spirit of the group, the same notions of identical, interchangeable individuals (such as 'the worker'), and the same belief that struggle is inherent in the system are present in both Marxism and Fascism. This is evident in Weissman's forward, where he writes about the petty bourgeois as in an extremely structural way. He envisions a crisis wherein the people of a nation, acting as a body politic, all act the same en masse.

I think it's just really premature to claim that Americans are acting en masse in this way. America is quite divided politically. There is no revolution in search of a leader which can turn into the permanent revolution of fascism. There is simply nothing even approaching class warfare, populism, or a 'proletariat' in the U.S. The problem is that there is too little class consciousness.

I'm not questioning that our government is getting creepier and more authoritarian -- but I think that it's barking up the wrong tree to point to fascism as our future.
posted by josh at 9:51 PM on April 22, 2003

Don't forget to brush up on Umberto Eco's essay, Eternal Fascism: 14 Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. It's better than Trotsky's pamphlet, I can say that for sure.

1. Cult of tradition: check ('a charge to keep')
2. Syncretism: check (bomb saddam, ally with pervez)
3. Rejection of modernism: check (stem cells, anyone?)
action for action's sake: check ("fuck saddam: we're taking him out")
4. Disagreement is treason: check check check
5. Appeal to a frustrated middle class: check (Bush wants a tax cut for YOU!)
6. Obsession with a plot: check ("saddam caused 9/11")
7. Humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and power of their enemies: well, check for power, not for wealth (everyone was shocked by 9/11)
8. Life is permanent warfare: check (war on terror will never end)
9. Contempt for the weak: check ('Please don't kill me, Governor!")

I'll stop the list halfway through, since I kinda want sleep.
posted by jbrjake at 10:13 PM on April 22, 2003

posted by WolfDaddy at 11:20 PM on April 22, 2003

For the rest of your lifetime, the world is going to be run by Bush’s America.

You might as well get used to it.
posted by Bletch at 12:39 AM on April 23, 2003

Bush is a fascist, America is Nazi Germany, the US "empire" is going to take over the world, God please just take a deep breath, count to ten and think! I am so tired of all this talk about how America is some sort of horrible ogre killing and infecting the rest of the world with its destructive liberal democracy and its capitalism (better known as the evil that misdirects people from the workers' paradise existing in the slums of Cuba and North Korea). If Bush counts as a fascist, then so does Lincoln (he suspended the writ of habeas corpus and censored the press- both actions Bush has not taken) or Adams (he helped pass the Alien and Sedition Acts which severely limited liberties). The problem with putting any creedence in what Trotsky says is you have to take into account the fact that he was a communist. And all communist countries have taken on aspects of fascism from militarianism (USSR, N.Korea, China) to the end of a free press (USSR, China, N.Korea, Cuba) to horrendus human rights abuses (USSR, China, Cuba (not as much so for Cuba), N.Korea, Cambodia) So the system that Trotsky presents as an opposite (and better) to the capitalism is just, if not moreso morally bankrupt. Do you know what complete collusion between business and government is called? Communism.
posted by mr. man at 2:14 AM on April 23, 2003

Bletch that article captured my utter state of despair about the world.
But of course the exile had predicted all of this three years ago.
I had this conversation about fascism in the US with a friend living in the US recently. We seemed to agree that the creation of an atmosphere were "security" was seen by the population as a greater priority than democratic liberties, combined with a state of semi-permanent war, for the past 15 years, a war which has most media (even the usually less shrill CNN), politicians and personalities waving the flag of "patriotism" and america's strength, is very worrying. Especially when combined with a deep recession.
Anyway for a thorough review of Marxist perspectives on fascism see this Dave Renton paper.
And mr. man: Trotsky was murdered by Stalin for advocating a much less repressive version of communism.
I know of no Trotskyite that would consider any of the countries you mentioned (except maybe Cuba) as Communist, Socialist, or in any way even desirable societies.
posted by talos at 2:43 AM on April 23, 2003

Trotsky was murdered for being an annoyance to Stalin. Trotsky's version of a Soviet Russia is largely conjecture, but one can see that when Trotsky held power, he had no problem with brutality. (i.e., Kronstadt.) During his exile, he certainly talked a good game about the horror of Stalin, but they were birds of a feather.
posted by Snyder at 6:47 AM on April 23, 2003

taumeson -

Your mother and I have asked you repeatedly to stop avoiding taking your medication - you're disturbing the citizens with your paranoid ranting......
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:59 AM on April 23, 2003

Yes Taumeson,

Why don't you sit down and watch a nice reality based TV show, like the bachelor, and don't worry our insignificant little head about illegal wars, rougue super powers, and the patiot act eroding our civil liberties. You want news, watch Fox Cable and CNN, they'll tell you what you need to know. Really, with all this alarmist talk, I might have to place a call to tips, are you sure you're not an Al Qaeda operative?

Next you'll probably bring up the fact that there's more evidence of terrorist trainning going on in Florida than there is in Iraq, and we can't be having that!
posted by prodigalsun at 7:08 AM on April 23, 2003

I think we sometimes get hung up on specific definitions of what fascism is rather than recognizing the different forms it may take, forms it may not yet have taken in other nations, but could assume, say, in the U.S.

*shameless plug alert*

I'd written Orcinus on this topic, as it's one I've written about and been viewing through a certain prism of apprehension lately. I frankly do perceive the seeds of fascism to have been sown in the U.S., but it's a sort of "from the ground up" fascism that I think is fundamentally different than the top-down fascism of Nazi Germany.

Josh, you say that There is no revolution in search of a leader which can turn into the permanent revolution of fascism, but I don't know that I quite agree with that. I don't think it may be in search of a single leader, but I think the movement is there.

Realistically, I define "fascism" in this context as fanatical, ideologically driven hatred of the left. There is, of course, the same kind of hatred of the left for the right - but it has not achieved the same prominence.

With Rush, Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, Michael Savage, et al, the far right has an unprecedented platform to air its views - views that increasingly define those on the other side of the divide not merely as incorrect, but criminally - treasonously - so.

When the likes of Cal Thomas advocate such things as a "cultural war crimes tribunal," you have to wonder how far the right is from suggesting that its opponents face actual, legal tribunals - and be forced to swallow the punishments they might mete out.

More than ever before, these voices dominate the public debate; do they truly represent anything close to a majority? Probably not, but a majority has not stood up and demanded accountability, preferring to live their own lives while those who would seize power get on with it. "Decent men" become part of the movement. Which is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany.
posted by kgasmart at 7:36 AM on April 23, 2003

And it's always interesting and useful (imho) to check out an Index of Logical fallacies which could help you filter the tons of rethoric used both by "fascists" and "communists" , the two most popular faces of extremism.
posted by elpapacito at 7:42 AM on April 23, 2003

kgasmart, you only have to look to France to see how a society can appear to be moving as a whole towards the far-right, while in fact staying firmly planted in the center when the rubber hits the road. Yes, we have incorrigible, crazy conservatives at work in the United States -- but they flourish because of apathy and uncertaity, not because of convictions one way or the other. It seems to me that 50% of America definitely isn't on the far right; further, those on the regular old normal Republican right are becoming consistently more alienated from the far-right as well.

In every country there is an element of the far-right, and at times of crisis or confusion it becomes especially visible. Yet to think of any of these cowpokes -- Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Ann Coulter (!) -- as being leaders capable of inciting fascism is laughable. These people are on the margins anyway. Just because David Horowitz writes for Salon and tours college campuses to universall boos doesn't mean they are prominennt voices or representative in any way.

I also don't think it's inappropriate to get hung up on what fascism means. There is simply no word I can think of which is more politically charged than 'fascism' -- no political accusation more vague, and more potent, than accusing someone of being fascist. Yet talking about the current right as 'fascist' is not a productive way to fight them, because it's (IMO) inaccurate.

Again, the far right sucks -- and so does an atmosphere of fear. But there are simpler, simpler explanations for all of this than 'Bush et. al. are fascists' or 'America is fascist.' America is scared, economically depressed, and politically confused by a set of problems which are broader in their scope than anything faced in recent history. Punditry -- not fascism -- is on the rise in every quarter as a result.
posted by josh at 7:58 AM on April 23, 2003

Yes, we have incorrigible, crazy conservatives at work in the United States -- but they flourish because of apathy and uncertaity, not because of convictions one way or the other. It seems to me that 50% of America definitely isn't on the far right; further, those on the regular old normal Republican right are becoming consistently more alienated from the far-right as well.

Josh, again I agree that the far right doesn't have a majority of Americans in its camp - but the Nazis never got a clear majority of the German vote either. You don't have to have that; what you do need is "apathy and uncertainty," and we certainly see that now, in spades.

What you need is a population terrified of terrorism - which we are - and a movement that promises not only to put those fears to rest but to "deal with" those deemed treasonous, whose weaknesses would make the nation unsafe. You've read the Goering quote.

There has been little of the internecine violence that plagued other fascist movements, but in fact I think some on the far right are quite capable of it. That it hasn't come to this is a godsend, but I'll tell you - if the war in Iraq was still raging, if the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations were still going on, I think we would be descending to that place.
posted by kgasmart at 8:11 AM on April 23, 2003

Snyder, though no big fan of Trotsky personally, I find the criticism of Trotsky based on Kronstadt a little bit misleading. It was certainly the case that other governments showed similar brutality when crushing rebellions against their rule (i.e. the stamping out of the Spartacist rebellion and the Bavarian Republic in Germany, or even the Ludlow massacres in peacetime USA).
Trotsky's defence for this is pretty much "it was war and we were surrounded" (actually it was even more pathetic than that), a defense that doesn't sound very plausible since the rebel sailors were in favour of making the Soviets (councils) stronger, hardly counter-revolutionary one would think).
I'm therefore with Bookchin in that "The Kronstadt uprising, in effect, remains as a lasting challenge to the Bolshevik concept of a party's historical function and the notion of the Soviet Union as a "workers" or "socialist" state". But that does not mean that I find at all plausible, the supposition that Trotsky would be as violent and homicidal as Stalin was. These are two different issues.
posted by talos at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2003

kgasmart, I think that this debate could rage on and on forever .... forgive me if I'm misstating it, but you seem to be saying that we have sufficient conditions for fascism, whereas I'm saying that we don't have fascism yet in the U.S. I suppose that in a way these positions are not incompatible.

I think that our current conditions are not without precedent, though: think about Vietnam, when there was violence, and when half the population really believed in the domino theory and thought that protestors were helping the Communist cause (this was true up until the last year of Johnson's administration). Was Johnson a fascist? Was America fascist then? I would say no -- the government was screwed up and people were confused and incensed, but we were far from fascism. And I don't understand how apathy leads to fascism more than to anything else. To say that Germans post-WWI were apathetic doesn't seem historically accurate. Hitler was capitalizing on a strong nationalist sentiment, a sentiment which was sweeping much of Europe then
posted by josh at 8:37 AM on April 23, 2003

I'm late in this discussion, but I just wish that any time you see the name josh you would put mine under there instead. Very nice josh, certainly couldn't have said any of the things you put better!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:26 AM on April 23, 2003

I'm reading from a lot of folks that America does have the seeds of facism sown within it...but that that might not be all that new. But we've certainly had remarkable changes in the past two years that push us closer to facism than ever before.
  • a scared populace wanting answers
  • a boogeyman/spacegoat (terrorism)
  • making dissent treasonous
  • re-embracing of old traditions
It seems that in any type of (western) government, you have three main classes at work: the proletariat (working class), the bourgeois (middle class), and the elite. These classes are rarely stable, always trying to get more for themselves. When the elite take control (which happens more often than not, because of the influence over government and business they have), you have feudalism. When the proletariat take control, you have communism. When the middle class takes control, you have fascism. America is a state that is skewing towards "service" oriented jobs, that makes the bourgeois into a well-paid working class. It seems that the middle class is expanding, and it's skewing right.

I feel there is a singularity somewhere close in time. I'd love to figure out what it is that's going to push America over the edge.
posted by taumeson at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2003

Talos> There is the White Sea Canal too, let's not forget. Sure, Trotsky didn't kill people on as wide a scale as Stalin, but that was because Trotsky never had the power Stalin did. Whenever he was given a mandate by the Soviet state, he was happy to be as brutal as possible in carrying it out.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:50 AM on April 23, 2003

heh, the google ads didn't have much material for this thread...
posted by jacobsee at 11:10 AM on April 23, 2003

Part of Stalin's brutality lay in his views, he was the Party thug, but part of it grew with his authority over time. As his power grew so did his brutality which in turn increased his power until you have a holocaust on the scale that Stalin committed. Trotsky was the idea man of the Party, the people person, although we can only speculate what would have come from his regime over time, perhaps Stalin's brutality is what kept him in power so long, maybe dictator Trotsky's usurpers would have been all that much more brutal. All totalitarians are brutal, that is the nature of authoritarian regimes.

Is the US as polarized as Weimar Germany? Certainly not. Does it have the seeds of polarization, possibly, any nation with nationalism does, but we are far from the level of divide that got the Nazis into power nor would we stand for the authoritarian rule that the Germans had survived under the Kaisers much less what Hitler later imposed. What does it mean to be American anyway? Is it a racial and cultural difference as it is to be a German (race still excludes any non-German from citizenship in Germany)? Is it one culture or religious belief? Certainly not, and that makes all the difference in the world between 2003 USA and 1930 Germany. Remember it was "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer" One people, one nation, one leader with the pure German race being the first of these. I don't hear anyone in the Bush administration calling for a pure American race to rule the world, maybe they just know how to spin it better now?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:24 AM on April 23, 2003

I'd love to figure out what it is that's going to push America over the edge.

North Korea nukes the west coast.

I've been watching too much 24...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:36 AM on April 23, 2003

mr. man:

not so much. I'll certainly agree that the 'communist' regimes you've listed did commit horrendous atrocities, but, then, it is easily arguable that they were far from ideal implementations of the concept. Not to derail too horribly, The U.S., our model democracy, has been home to all kinds of nastiness over the years, including but not limitd to, slavery, economic slavery, the only uses of atomic bombs on human populations, Japanese internment camps, use of military force to quell political uprisings, use of legislation to destroy entire popular movements (see American socialism circa 1910-1920), and, of course, the occasional war of conquest and aggression (Texas, Phillipines), or even genocide (Our gift of smallpox-infected blankets to a certain indian tribe is the first documented use of biological warfare). Does this mean that democracy is inherently flawed, or simply show that the victors are writing the history books?

To be honest, I'm not too hot on communism, because a) I think the whole worker's rebellion thing is getting kind of dated, and b) it's kinda foolish to base your lifestyle on an economic system. (This goes equally well for capitalism, which, it should be noted, I love.) However, the conclusion that all communism must lead to Soviet-style near-fascism is something that bugs me to no end.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:43 AM on April 23, 2003

For heaven's sake, let's not go overboard. Sure, the liberals are discouraged and leaderless, and the right is getting more determined and powerful by the day, but they're still a minority, the far right, anyway. That extremist does have some scary followers, but come on, he could never actually take power. The country has strong traditions and wouldn't put up with any sort of coup or wild change of course. President Hindenburg wouldn't allow it.
posted by languagehat at 12:27 PM on April 23, 2003

Think about the lawlessness that's gone on since, oh, Nixon.

Nixon: break-ins, coverups, and full pardons
Reagan: Iran-Contra affair
Clinton: untold deaths and shady dealings

What's to say the next president won't have armed thugs with enough impenetrable layers (some with extra-secret Executive Privilege®!!) of plausible deniability between them and himself?
posted by taumeson at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2003

Clinton: untold deaths and shady dealings

What's to say the next president won't have armed thugs with enough impenetrable layers (some with extra-secret Executive Privilege®!!) of plausible deniability between them and himself?

Talk about your paranoia! What's to say? The constitution, the people, the 50% of Americans that didn't vote for Bush. For god's sake people Weimar Germany had open, armed battles in the streets (including artillery and heavy machine guns) between Communists, Brown Shirts and Middle-Right police, I live in DC and I haven't seen one barricade with an extremist militia behind it on any streets around here yet. Sure there's some token White Supremacy nuts out there, but I haven't seen guys openly pushing Jews or black people around in the main business areas of our major cities like the Brown Shirts did in the Weimar Republic. There have been no assassination attempts or bombings in political offices. Come to think about it there are no bread lines around corners or soup kitchen riots either. That doesn't mean it can't ever happen, but jeez, the parallel is a bit premature.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:28 PM on April 23, 2003

kaibutsu- I wasn't saying that all communism must lead to Soviet totalitarianism, just the fact that every communist regime has led to near-fascism. (with the exception of Cuba, at least in the mass-killings department). People can talk and talk about the wonders of "real" communism until their faces turn blue, but one fact remains: communism cannot, will not, work on a large scale, it is simply far too idealistic. And while Trotsky was murdered by Stalin and did present a "softer" communism, he was part of a communist regime that murdered countless people, led by Lenin (he set up the precursor to the KGB). So all of Trotsky's talk really just made him a hypocrite.
posted by mr. man at 4:32 PM on April 23, 2003

it is simply far too idealistic

It's more that the theory behind it is bad. The labour theory of value just doesn't work properly, and when your entire political and economic system is based on extrapolations of it, you're in a bit of trouble.

posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:38 PM on April 23, 2003

Insofar as I can tell, there have essentially been only three communist regimes: The Soviet (sattelite states included), The DPRK (China), and Cuba, which is sort of its own little "Soviet-Lite" brand... Given that Cuba is a direct spinoff of the Soviet model, and China's government was influenced by te Soviets and a liberal helping of Confucian wierdness, I can't really say that there's been enough experimentation done to determine that "communism cannot, will not, work on a large scale". Why can't the same argument against idealism be made against the founders of the U.S. government, a good half of whose major influences were full-on philosophers? Remember that the American liberal democracy was a radical thing when it was proposed... Idealism doesn't neccesarily equate to governmental failure.

I'm not arguing this because I think Trotsky was a swell old chap, mind you, but rather to promote healthy reasoning over McCarthyism when governments of a form contrasting with the American is discussed.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:12 AM on April 24, 2003

North Korea nukes the west coast.

I've been watching too much 24...

I hope that's not any kind of spoiler. Some of us are only on episode seven.
posted by Summer at 3:40 AM on April 24, 2003

kaibatsu> Because Marxism is founded on certain economic principles which are demonstrably wrong, whereas liberalism is not. The supposed power of Marxism comes from its ability to predict the course of history by the study of the interaction of these principles with one another. But, if the principles are wrong, then the predictions one derives from them are equally wrong. Liberalism, by avoiding the "scienticious" air of Marxism, remains a much more cogent and robust philosophy.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:50 PM on April 24, 2003

I hope that's not any kind of spoiler. Some of us are only on episode seven.

It's difficult to tell at the moment, but it wasn't intended as such.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:49 PM on April 24, 2003

Thanks, pseudo. That's the kind of argument I can accept and even agree with. >: )
posted by kaibutsu at 3:02 AM on April 25, 2003

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