Various Political Philosophies

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Anarchism – Mutualism

Anarchism, meaning “no rule”, includes any belief system which is opposed to the creation of a centralized government. Anarchism as a formal ideology became popular in 19th century Europe, where it was often the ideology of extreme social reformists and terrorists alike.

Mutualist anarchism is a modern variant which shares elements in common with social anarchism and anarcho-capitalism (although in practice its advocates have much more in common with the former). Mutualist anarchism holds that the means of production should be owned by the workers, who then function in a market economy.

What this means is that productive organizations – think of them as fulfilling the function of corporations or communes – must be owned and controlled by all of their workers as a group. These collective organizations can then trade with each other in a free market. Exactly how this is supposed to work is not something I have ever seen well specified – anarchists of any stripe are usually vague or simplistic when it comes to the practical economic and organizational side of their ideas.

At any rate, a Mutualist anarchist system is approximately what you would get if you took a modern democratic capitalist society, abolished the entire government, and somehow retained a free market without allowing any businesses not collectively owned by their workers. The greatest weakness of this idea, as with all branches of anarchism, is that without a central authority the system cannot be maintained unless the society believes in anarchism strongly enough that individuals and groups throughout society are willing and able to enforce it independently.

Anarchism-Social

Also known as: Anarcho-Socialism, Libertarianism (Left/European), Libertarian Socialism, Libertarian Communism, Anarcho-Syndicalism. “ANARCHISMSOCIAL”Anarchism, meaning “no rule”, includes any belief system which is opposed to the creation of a centralized government. Anarchism as a formal ideology became popular in 19th century Europe, where it was often the ideology of extreme social reformists and terrorists alike.

Social anarchism goes under many names, but they all refer to approximately the same beliefs. Note that when anyone from outside of North America refers to “Libertarianism”, they are most likely referring to a form of social anarchism, not US-style Libertarianism. The word “Libertarianism” was originally used to describe social anarchism, but in the US was appropriated by a new domestic movement, sometimes distinguished as Right Libertarianism, in the mid 20th century.

Social Anarchism of today is closely related to the original Anarchist position. Social anarchists believe that all forms of hierarchical power should be abolished, and that society should be run as a decentralized collection of egalitarian direct democracies. Not only state but also corporate power should be abolished. All productive enterprises should be owned collectively by the workers. Unlike Mutualist Anarchists, Social Anarchists do not believe that there should be a market economy to trade resources between groups. Resources should be produced for one’s use, not for profit, and decisions (such as resource allocation) should be made collectively by all those who are affected by them.

There is usually not much detail on how voluntary association and discussion could organize the highly specialized enterprise of an advanced economy – anarchists of any stripe are usually vague or simplistic when it comes to the practical economic and organizational side of their ideas. The greatest weakness of this idea, as with all branches of anarchism, is that without a central authority the system cannot be maintained unless the society believes in anarchism strongly enough that individuals and groups throughout society are willing and able to enforce it independently.

Anarcho-Capitalism

Also known as: Libertarianism (a variant of). Anarchism, meaning “no rule”, includes any belief system which is opposed to the creation of a centralized government. Anarchism as a formal ideology became popular in 19th century Europe, where it was often the ideology of extreme social reformists and terrorists alike.

Anarcho-capitalism is actually not derived from those roots, but is a variant of Right Libertarianism, originating in the United States in the mid 20th century. To this day, anarcho-capitalism is a small but vocal fringe ideology in the US and to some extent Canada, but is nearly nonexistant elsewhere. It is often regarded as an extreme subgroup of Right Libertarianism. Anarcho-Capitalists believe that no government of any kind should exist, and society should be wholly organized based on voluntary transactions, especially market transactions, in the context of a free market with private property rights.

The Anarcho-Capitalist model of social organization is usually based on one of two underlying ideals: Marketarianism or Propertarianism. Anarcho-capitalists believe that all transactions should be voluntary, but of course they cannot eliminate two forms of coercion.

First, some people will violate their ideals. Anarcho-capitalists are usually confident that private security forces and the like can enforce sets of laws that can be established by the market, but these views lead to the recognition that coercion will in fact occur in the society whenever people wish to pay for it in the free market.

Second, the system of private property itself must be maintained. Not only does this require coercion of people who do not agree with the property system to get them to abide by it, it also requires that in practice people are sufficiently willing and able to pay for that coercion that the system is maintained.

Anarchists of any stripe are usually vague or simplistic when it comes to the practical economic and organizational side of their ideas, and anarcho-capitalists are only a partial exception. They often concoct complicated economic concepts which supposedly explain how their system would work, but do not deal with the organizational aspect of how stable those economic concepts would be in a society where not everyone practiced the anarcho-capitalist ideal.

The greatest weakness of this idea, as with all branches of anarchism, is that without a central authority the system cannot be maintained unless the society believes in anarchism strongly enough that individuals and groups throughout society are willing and able to enforce it independently.

Capitalism

Capitalism is an economic system, rather than a philosophy or an ideology, but it is of great importance to political philosophies and ideologies to the extent that they support or oppose it. A

Capitalist economy is one in which private property rights of some kind exist, and privately owned goods can be traded on a market. In practice, Capitalism is never the sole basis of a nation’s economy. All Capitalist countries have economies which consist partly of a market which is regulated to some extent by the government, and partly of a government sector funded by measures such as taxation.

The non-market sector in modern Capitalist nations typically accounts for one third to one half of the total economy. Capitalism works quite well in practice for producing wealth, but does not inherently insure an equitable distribution of wealth. Most political ideologies and forms of government are compatible with a mixed economy (a Capitalist economy with a significant government sector, which could also be referred to as a Socialist component). Anarcho-Capitalism (only) is compatible with an entirely Capitalist economy.

Several major ideologies such as Marxism, Communism, and Socialism fundamentally reject the notion of a Capitalist economy as incompatible with their conceptions of social welfare.

National Capitalism

National Capitalism says that Capitalism is to be used for the good of the nation and of its workers. A company or corporation would not be permitted, for example, to close a factory in America and move it to another country if it meant American workers would lose their jobs. Any and all major business decisions that would affect the national or workers welfare would have to be reviewed and approved by a board.

Classic Liberalism

Classical Liberalism is an ideology that was considered “left wing” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and became dominant in the 19th century. It was eclipsed in the early 20th century at the beginning of the Progressive era. This ideology was most popular in Britain and the United States, and was advocated by many famous philosophers such as Adam Smith and the Utilitarians of the time.

Classical Liberalism advocated democratic government, protected rights such as freedom of speech and religion, and a relatively small state with an essentially laissez faire market economy. These ideas were not mainstream at the time, and the Classical Liberals won great victories as reformers. They were, in fact, largely responsible for the spread of democracy, freedom, and laissez faire economics.

Classical Liberalism is thus highly respected for its historical reforms, even though no significant modern philosophy actually agrees with its entire set of beliefs. Various ideologies, such as Liberalism, Conservatism, and Libertarianism, tend to claim that they alone are the one true inheritor or closest descendant of Classical Liberalism. This is, however, nothing more than an attempt to benefit from glory by association.

The facts of the matter are that all of these ideologies are heavily influenced by Classical Liberalism, and that many of the specific claims of that old philosophy are generally regarded as obsolete.

The adherence to laissez faire economics, in particular, was rejected in the Progressive era because the increasingly complex industrial economy was leading to a great many abuses and market failures, as well as substantial social inequality. Market regulation was introduced to counteract market failure, and social welfare systems were introduced to reduce the poverty and inequality that had remained despite productivity growth under laissez faire.

Communism

Communism, as generally used today, refers to the form of government practiced by the Soviet Union and the other countries of the now-defunct Eastern Bloc. These nations had totalitarian governments running centrally planned economies.

Neither private property, any form of market, or democracy existed under Communism. In fact, Communist countries lacked any form of legally guaranteed rights and their entire system of law was often vague and subject to interpretation, at best, and meaningless at worst. Although originally based on Marxist ideals, Communism in practice quickly departed from these.

Economically, all aspects of society were centrally planned by interlocking bureaucracies. Both the production and the distribution of wealth were centrally planned. The government was dictatorial, with leaders chosen for life by a small Party elite from among its own membership. The totalitarian nature of the Communist governments meant that they attempted to extend their ideology to all aspects of life. Active support of the state was required, not just resignation to its control, and no social organization was permitted to exist outside of the influence of the Communist ideology.

Communist ideology itself was primarily influenced by the original Marxist ideology, and called by revolutions by the workers to seize the means of production, so that they could control the economy and prevent their labor from being exploited. Although Communism is often described as a form of Socialism or as equivalent to Socialism, Socialism actually describes an economic system.

Communist countries used economies based on central planning, which is one form of Socialism, they were primarily distinguished by their totalitarian governments (Socialism is compatible with many forms of government). The Communism of the Soviets was not the same as the original Communism proposed by Marx, and thus many modern Marxists say that the Soviets were not “true Communists”.

The Marxist usage is generally regarded as defunct, however, and thus it is not only acceptable but typical to use the word “Communism” to refer to the system of government used by the Soviet bloc nations.

Fascism

Fascism was unique among the radical forces produced by the early twentieth century, developing out of World War I without any clear predecessor in the nineteenth century. It first emerged in Italy in 1919, catapulting its leader, Benito Mussolini, into the premiership three years later and then to the creation of a new political dictatorship beginning in 1925. The term fascism, however, would later be applied to an entire cluster or genus of new revolutionary nationalist movements in Europe between the world wars, of which the most important was German National Socialism, or Nazism, for short, so that the Italian origins of the first fascism would often be overlooked, attention focusing primarily on Germany. The initial, or “paradigmatic” fascism nonetheless had specifically Italian roots and characteristics.

The term comes from the Italian fascio, derived from the ancient Latin fasces, which referred to the bundle of lictors, or axe-headed rods, that symbolized the sovereignty and authority of the Roman Republic. From approximately the 1870s, the term fascio was used in Italy in the names of radical new social and political organizations, normally of the left. Thus the revolutionary nationalists who sought to create a new left nationalist league in 1919, in the aftermath of World War I, formed a Fascio di Combattimento, transformed two years later into the new Fascist Party, and so a radical new “ism” was born.

Italian Fascism began on the left, seeking to combine strong nationalism with modern developmentalism and an aggressive new style of activism that prized violence, idealism, and anti-materialism. While reinforcing Italian colonialism, Fascism originally embraced national liberation and rejected extreme imperialism and racism. Mussolini did not create the movement but skillfully guided himself to power as its Duce (Dux, or leader), at the same time moving the party to the right and engaging in practical compromise with Italy’s established institutions. Though Fascists invented the term “totalitarian” for their new system, Mussolini was unable to complete a Fascist revolution and instead presided over a somewhat limited, semi-pluralist political dictatorship.

Though Fascists were at first wary of and even hostile to Hitlerism, the Nazi leader sought Mussolini as his chief ally. The Duce allowed himself to be convinced by the end of 1937, introducing Nazi-style racist and anti-Semitic legislation in Italy despite the membership of many Jews in the Fascist Party. Participation in World War II as Germany’s ally produced the downfall of Mussolini in 1943, but in German-occupied northern Italy the Duce was installed as leader of a new puppet Fascist-based Italian Social Republic, which waged a savage civil war against Italian anti-Fascists in 1944-1945.

Though approximately thirteen thousand Fascists were executed by partisans at the end of the war, the official purge of Fascists conducted by the new democratic system in Italy was limited and half-hearted. Thus the great majority of Fascists survived, and for nearly forty years neo-Fascism would be stronger in Italy than anywhere else in Europe.

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