David Boaz, writing for CATO, mocked Hillary Clinton for evading the question, “What’s the difference between a socialist and a Democrat?” The question was posed by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Boaz’s advice: Just Say No to Socialism, Hillary. “[S]eriously,” chides Boaz, “why is this a hard question? Here’s a clear answer:
“Socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production, and Democrats don’t.”
But it’s not clear. I think history, practice, and experience shows that socialism is possible without government ownership of the means of production. It’s called fascism, Western socialists’ answer to communism. Communism does feature total government ownership of the means of production. Fascism focusses on control, which it shares with communism. The communist wants control through ownership. The fascist seeks control through regulation, making private industry a conduit for government will. Isn’t that what ObamaCare did to health insurance companies?
Total government control without government ownership renders private ownership a hollow concept. That’s why I call fascism backdoor socialism. What’s the difference between fascism and socialism as defined by Boaz? Nothing but the technicality of “ownership.” But ownership without rights is not ownership. More fundamental to socialism than the means of production is the moral repudiation of the life of the individual. The individual’s rights to life, liberty, and personal pursuit of his desires, needs, goals, values, and happiness? They are at best secondary. Socialism is collectivism. Under collectivism, the individual’s only moral purpose is to serve the “greater good”—i.e., the will of the state—rather than his own flourishing.
Fascism and communism both seek total state control over the life of the nation through subordination of the individual to the collective. Both rely on aggressive physical force against the private sector. Both are socialist. Fascism is essentially communism without nationalization. Hitler described the fascist vision best: “Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”
The battle in America is between socialism and capitalism—with or without “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders and regardless of whether or not Hillary calls herself a socialist. I think we on the Right need to understand socialism as broader than the issue of ownership. Otherwise, we’re going to end up with some form of national socialism and wonder how we ended up there. We’ll own our “means of production”—and be just as subordinate to government as we would be under communism. We’re already well along that road. That would be just fine with the Left, who, by the definition cited by Boaz, wouldn’t ever have to admit that they are socialists.
Sanders’s Open Socialism Blows the Cover Off of the Left’s Stealth Socialism