Sunday, August 25, 2013

Individual Rights

In our political discussions, certain words are usually tossed about.

Capitalism. Communism. Socialism. Fascism.

And now more lately, Corporatism.

There’s an intriguing bunch of “isms”. The definitions, theory, and practice of these “isms” have taken on numerous forms and functions; and they often stir up a lot of confusion and anger.

According to some definitions, I am both a capitalist and a socialist.

Just to help navigate through this discussion, I include as footnotes, definitions of the four “isms” from both Miriam-Webster and the American Heritage dictionaries. Corporatism is still being defined, but as they say of porn, we know it when we see it, where corporations have more rights than people.

Socialism as theory can be rigid, but is very flexible in practice. The same is true with Capitalism and Communism.  Fascism and Communism can be very rigid in both theory and practice, yet capitalistic and socialistic aspects endure under them. Dictatorship under any “ism” results in democracy being crushed, though.

This is exemplified by the corporate/government nexus we have that is tightening its grip as we speak. Yes we have fascistic mechanisms too. What we see growing in the US is antagonism for democracy. We have corporations and government eager for war, building a surveillance state and militarizing police departments.

We need corporations and business. But we need them to mind their own business, not meddle in our public elections.

It is not anti-business or anti-capitalism to want free public elections. I have a 401k and other investments. Does that make me a capitalist?

I've always thought we need regulated commerce. Is that socialism? Does that make me a Socialist? I've agreed that government should provide for the general welfare. Is that socialism? Does that make me a Socialist?

Is the Constitution a manifesto of Socialism?

No. But these are clearly socialistic. No nation is exclusive of capitalistic or socialistic systems. They would not function as free societies without a blend, or checks and balances, of “isms”. All “isms” can be exploited and twisted for abuse.

Socialized public service is not the same as a socialized economy. We don't have a system of worker ownership of production. We have been doing quite well with that mix of democracy, socialism and capitalism.

 But we have rigid ideologues who can't see this simple reality.

Democracy, voter registration, and poll access are being restricted, not the right to private property.

There’s a Forbes article called “Is Obama a Socialist?” (To them, of course Obama is a socialist)

A comment that follows makes a good point.

Obama does not advocate for the elimination of private property so he is not a socialist.

Conservatives do not do themselves any favors labeling everyone they don’t like “socialists”. The ordinary American has largely come to think of “socialism” as “A government that helps people” and “capitalism” is “A government that does not help people”, which is fundamentally incorrect but the inevitable result the conservative attack upon any who advocates for the government helping the ordinary citizen being labeled a “socialist”.

Sound familiar?

Americans are caught in an ideological war between two extremes where only one exists in reality. We don’t have a socialist economy or a socialist government. There’s no movement to abolish private property. We do have crony, cutthroat and corrupt capitalism waging a war on democracy from within the government.

The fictitious “socialist” agenda of no private property is being attacked by a real agenda that wants to accumulate ALL property, wealth and political power. They also want their financial risks socialized but their profit privatized. Hello Wall Street.

This is the real threat and danger of unregulated capitalism. The only cure is a socialized system of balance, with regulation of commerce and promotion of the general welfare. And I don’t mean corporate socialism where we keep bailing out the failed capitalists.

Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills

In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

Now what are we going to do about banks writing their own legislation and regulations? Let the “free market” decide? Vote for the next candidate in their pocket? Or regulate them?

Giving banks and corporations the privilege of person-hood and citizenship, allowing them to use bribery money as “free speech” is the recipe for more disaster. Citizens United v FEC has wiped out McCain-Feingold. We need a law that both limits private campaign contributions, and addresses the issue of corporate money in our public elections.

I suggest we let the Constitution guide us. We agree a corporation is an artificial (man made) group of persons, property and money, a collective bound by their shared interest in productivity and profit. All we need is a law that says, regarding elections, a corporation is not a person, and not entitled to the same rights as we the people. I include unions. A union is also not a person.

Corporations, unions, and other artificial entities may keep their right to free speech in advertising their products and services, legal representation in court, and even lobbying politicians. Those are enough rights for a collective.

So with such a law, not one living soul would have his rights restricted. Some fat cats will bitch because their privilege of having their additional collective right to political speech will be gone. Their individual rights would be the same as yours, mine and every person.

Who was it who said:

“At the root of all their conceptual switches, there lies another, more fundamental one: the switch of the concept of rights from the individual to the collective—which means: the replacement of “The Rights of Man” by “The Rights of Mob.”

Since only an individual man can possess rights, the expression “individual rights” is a redundancy (which one has to use for purposes of clarification in today’s intellectual chaos). But the expression “collective rights” is a contradiction in terms."

Yes, that was none other than Ayn Rand.

Individual rights. This is what equality means.

Rights are individual, or not at all.

This is what Americans need to learn. This is what democracy needs to survive.


From Miriam-Webster Dictionary:

Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

Communism : 1. a: a theory advocating elimination of private property
b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
2 a : a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
b : a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian
 party controls state-owned means of production
c : a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably
d : communist systems collectively

Fascism: A political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2 . a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

Socialism: 1: various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

2:a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

From The American Heritage Dictionary:

Capitalism n. An economic system characterized by freedom of the market with increasing concentration of private and corporate ownership of production and distribution means, proportionate to increasing accumulation and reinvestment of profits. 2. A political or social system regarded as being based on this.

Communism n. A social system characterized by the absence of classes and by common ownership of the means of production and subsistence. 2. A political, economic or social doctrine aiming at the establishment of such a classless society. 3. The Marxist-Leninist doctrine of revolutionary struggle toward this goal, the political movement representing it, or loosely, socialism as practiced in countries ruled by Communist parties.

 Fascism n. A philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism.

Socialism n. A social system in which the producers possess both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods. 2. The theory or practice of those who support such a social system. 3. Under Marxist-Leninist theory, the building, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, of the materiel base for communism