I’m a sucker for a good turn of phrase

I am really a sucker for a good turn of phrase, great poetry, or good lyricism in a song. Growing up I read “Look Homeward Angel” to rags simply because Thomas Wolf’s prose is so good. I completely disagreed with his manic depressive angst, sturm and drang, but I kept coming back for lines like “Oh most weary unbright cinder.” etc.

Yeat’s Second Coming also really sang to me, even though it’s very apocalyptic. However nowadays I look for things a bit more inspirational, and less depressing.

For my previous post I was poking around the net for inspirational poetry / prose when I remembered the great soliloquoy from Savannah at the end of “Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome”. So I found it, and put the words in the previous post so I can go back and re-read it on occasion easily.

Afterwards I went back to the site I found it at, and strange enough it was a teaching plan for an advanced placement comparative government class. Passing strange indeed, and potentially very cool. However then I read the lesson plan and the teacher’s notes and was taken aback by a point of silliness that went into this.

Here’s the example, Italics are mine:

2. Project a transparency of the Circle of Ideology. Ask students to review and define the four models of ideological activity: authoritarian socialist, authoritarian capitalist, democratic socialist, and democratic capitalist. Ask the class to give examples of each: the United States and Japan (democratic capitalism), much of Western Europe and Canada (democratic socialism); Nazi Germany, Iraq, and some Third World nations (authoritarian capitalist); and the former Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba and Vietnam (authoritarian socialism).

Witness first the oxymoron — authoritarian and capitalist do not go together. The precepts and conditions for capitalism require individual rights to property, intellectual and material — that’s not possible in a monarchy or matriarchy. True capitalism also requires the right to trade property freely, again not possible in an authoritarian state. Hence, “authoritarian capitalist” as a description of a government is a complete oxymoron.

Now look at the two concrete examples of “authoritarian capitalism”… Nazi Germany — anyone who’s read “Mein Kampf” can tell you that it’s half socialism, and half racist mystic nationalism. Nazi Germany and Hitler were antithetically opposed to Capitalism, look at Hitler’s attacks on banks and banking, the nationalization of some industries, if you doubt.  Then there’s Iraq… authoritarian capitalism my ass. The Baath party is/was undeniably socialist, as were the major precepts of the Sunni rulling class. If the state can take your property at the whim of an individual, then you are most certainly in a feudal/totalitarian or socialist/authoritarian state, you are most certainly not in a capitalist state. ( and yes, I understand emminent domain — there are protections to ensure that takings by the state serve the public good, and that the individual is duly compensated. The individual can appeal to the courts and law etc. It might seem a fine distinction, but it’s truly not. When the state can take your property .. or in Saddaam’s case, your daughters, without appeal via force then it’s nothing like the emminent domain clause of the US Constitution.)

Wondering why teachers would work so vigorously to deny a socialist system government when it’s readily apparent, I went looking on the net again for the the political classification system they used for the class, the “Easton Paradigm” Essentially complex process wonkery to get to forgone conclusions that are narrow, just where you end up with most process diagrams of this nature.

I prefer simpler diagrams that stick to essentials, these are all flawed, and there really needs to be a third dimension, perhaps one to portray stasism versus dynamism, ala Virgina Postrel’s thesis behind “The Future and its Enemies”, however these are all better than the Easton paradigm and comparative process. While diggin through these I noted that even Jerry Pournelle, whom I respect and admire also magically transformed Nazism to its own category, separate from run-of-the-mill socialism.

That caused me to poke around on wiki a bit more (Wiki reminds me of the Galactic Encyclopedia Samuel Delaney poked fun at in “Empire Star”.) So I read a few articles, all seeming in agreement that the National Socialist Party of Germany somehow was not socialist…. hrmmm … was I missing something? The differentiation hinged on Facism, racism, and Nationalism… which led me here to a disputed article on facism.

I submit that the article will stay in dispute, and that the students exiting the AP course on comparative governement will remain confused — my thesis being that in both cases the proponents are failing to recognize the essential form of government. 

It’s also a very important essential — last century somewhere between 100 million to 150 million people were murdered by various flavors of marxist/socialist/communist governments. ( The counts vary widely depending on whose tally you take, a good reference start point can be found here & here.)

Somehow when a marxist state is discovered murdering its own citizens, it magically transforms in the lexicon to “authoritarian capitalism” or “Facism” or “totalitarianism” or anything but socialism. All of Europe’s modern socialist democracies somehow classify Nazism as the right. Mass murdering states can’t possibly be socialist according to most political scientists.

Let’s posit for the moment that there is a magic point of demarckation — the socialist state transforms in microseconds to mass-murdering (facist, capitalist, rightist) state. If that’s the case then all political science majors are still missing the key essential. What is the flaw in socialism that causes it?

Instead of trying to whitewash, instead of trying to distance socialism from mass murder, they should  be trying to find and fix the flaw if they trully believe in socialism. Too many countries in the world are still under socialist and communist governments to ignore this essential. If we don’t want major upheaval in Europe this century then we better get cracking, n’est ce pas?