Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Which is which again?

The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal. [...]

Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it -- at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life and death over the citizens. [...]

Under both systems, sacrifice is invoked as a magic, omnipotent solution in any crisis -- and "the public good" is the altar on which victims are immolated. But there are stylistic differences of emphasis. The socialist-communist axis keeps promising to achieve abundance, material comfort and security for its victims, in some indeterminate future. The fascist-Nazi axis scorns material comfort and security, and keeps extolling some undefined sort of spiritual duty, service, and conquest. The socialist-communist axis offers its victims an alleged social ideal. The fascist-Nazi axis offers nothing but loose talk about some unspecified form of racial or national "greatness" . The socialist-communist axis proclaims some grandiose economic plan, which keeps receding year by year. The fascist-Nazi axis merely extols leadership -- leadership without purpose, program, or direction -- and power for power's sake.

-- From Ayn Rand, "The Fascist New Frontier", cited in Ayn Rand Lexicon, Binswanger, ed., Signet 1986

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