This-ism, That-ism – too many “isms”!

Allow us to help you to separate the wheat from the chaff

Note: The following information was gleaned from only the most basic of research. Feel free to do your own, and, if you find anything seemingly contradictory to what you see below, then please comment to that effect.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you have likely heard words like socialism, communism, Marxism, statism, capitalism, and so on being bandied about freely with little, if any, explanation as to their intended meanings. Certainly, you have a gut feeling about whether a particular word represents something good or something bad, but you’re not really sure what it means.

What you find here is, admittedly, a simplification — perhaps an over-simplification — since all of the ‘isms’ exist, or have existed, in many different flavors. Also, when two different people talk about fascism, for example, they might not have the same idea of what it is. We have tried, therefore, to distill each down to its bare essense, at least as far as it appears to us.

Capitalism
Requires that factories and other businesses are privately owned and not owned by the government. Private ownership of property, whether it be personal or business, was one of the primary goals of the founders, because they understood that true freedom cannot be claimed without the ability of the individual — not the government — to own property.

Here’s what John Adams, second president of the United States, had to say upon the subject:

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”

And Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States:

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

And James Madison, principal author of the United States Constitution and fourth president of the United States:

“It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot be separated.”

Socialism, marxism, and communism …
… Have in common government ownership of businesses, so you might say that, in this respect, anyway, they are the opposite of capitalism. And all seek to achieve the equal distribution of wealth. You cannot achieve that, however, without the forcible confiscation of property from those who have more in order to give to those who have less. Socialism differs from communism (and Marxism) primarily in the means by which they come into power – see below.

Socialism
Generally taken to mean public ownership of business and equal distribution of wealth. Proponents believe in taking over by way of the ballot box. In order to come into power, they must, over time, increase the numbers of those who would benefit from a redistribution of wealth. They do that by increasing entitlement programs to the point where those who would be “given to” can out-vote those who would be “taken from”. Socialists have infinite patience and have been working to transform this country almost from its inception. According to Karl Marx, the object of socialism is communism.

Communism
Communists are, you might say, impatient socialists. They believe much the same as Socialists, only they aren’t content to wait for victories at the ballot box, nor are they content to assume the risk that they might lose. The only other option is, then, violence. Communists come into power by way of the forcible overthrow of the existing government, either directly, or by the fixing of elections. Then, they reduce the number of opponents by the simple expedient of killing them, or, if they are feeling generous, by imprisoning them in some gulag never again to see the light of day.

As we said earlier, communists, like socialists, believe in the public ownership of all business. To that, communists add the requirement that there be no religion. Socialists, we might then assume, would tend to tolerate religion but minimize its effect by other means.

Marxism
The communist ideal was described by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel in The Communist Manifesto, written in 1848. Marxism is, then, generally speaking, another term for communism. You might say that Marxism is ‘the perfect communism’ which, due to it’s many flaws, has never been achieved.

Fascism
The main difference between fascism and socialism is that fascists may permit some nominal and insignificant private property ownership.

Statism
A somewhat general term meaning that power is vested in the government rather than in the people.

Summary
Socialists are people who believe that everyone but you has a right to what you earn and/or produce. That is absolutely and irrefutably un-American. So, socialists cannot, then, in spite of all of their rhetoric to the contrary, legitimately claim to be patriots, since they do not love the country as it was founded, nor the principles upon which it was founded, but love it, rather, for what it ‘could become’ — a socialist (so-called) utopia.

“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
— Benjamin Franklin

In other words, when the net takers (those who get back from the government more than they pay in) outnumber the net payers (those who pay in to the government more than they get back), then the descent into the abyss of socialism becomes inevitable and irreversible.

So, to simplify things, capitalism is consistent with the principle of liberty, and all of the other “isms” are not.

Jere Moore
Jere Moore has been blogging about political matters since 2008. His posts include commentary about current news items, conservative opinion pieces, satirical articles, stories that illustrate conservative principles, and posts about history, rights, and economics.

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