communism

Why Is It OK To Laugh At Communism?

This week we discuss why we find buying each other communist memorabilia amusing but would not feel the same about fascist merchandise. We also question the rules around humour and what makes one ideology an acceptable target, but another not? Will Nic stop using his treasured Soviet tea set?

Photo by Kirill Sharkovski on Unsplash

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Could peaceful, purist socialism actually work?

Real socialism, apparently, has never been tried. For the group of socialist purists that believe a peaceful voluntary system could work globally, it could be a workable reality. We discuss the specifics of such a plan, and how it might work in practice. Could it be that they’ve cracked a way of beating a free market system of productivity and choice?

——
Please visit our website to download or stream all our previous episodes and to read our articles.
Remember, you can now subscribe on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWzAT–UxzErq_UU5SCUtFg
Please reach out to us on Twitter:
You can find us at the following podcast aggregators, and more:
Please subscribe and leave a review.  We don’t want your money – just share, listen, subscribe and watch!

Why people call themselves centrists

Centrism is one of those terms that people put a lot of effort into claiming. It doesn’t seem to matter where the political Overton Window is, people (and parties) always try to insist that they have the centre ground.

People tweet about how centrism is the best way. That being a centrist means realising your side doesn’t have all the answers. That centrism is somehow synonymous with reason, with the sensible middle ground. The non extreme view.

Here in the UK, there’s lots of talk about how Britain is crying out for a new centrist party.

Why is this?

I believe it is firmly routed in the way politics is taught in the West. Think about it, for a minute. What is everybody taught from a young age? Communism is on the far left and Fascism is on the far right. Most people, understandably, want to be as far away from those two abhorrent ideologies as possible. Certainly anyone who has any grasp at all of 20th century history. And where is the furthest away from both of those on the standard, left/right political spectrum? The very centre.

I believe this is the reason why so many people claim the centrist position, even when they all disagree where it is. They want to believe that their position is reasonable. That their views are what normal people should have (if only they had the same information as them, as if often the case). Stray from the very centre? That’s a slippery slope to extremism, my friend!

One of the problems here is, of course, that Communism, Socialism and Fascism are all so similar. The idea that they are somehow on opposite ends of the spectrum falls down with minimal scrutiny. One of the reasons for this is that the political spectrum is not just left/right. The political compass, with its four quadrants, isn’t perfect but is a lot better.

The additional axes on the spectrum detail the difference between authoritarianism and libertarianism, whether you believe in force or freedom. A fan of state regulation? Top half. Tariffs on external goods? Top half. Nationalisation? Top of the top half. Believe in free markets? Bottom half. Free speech? Bottom half. Think everyone should be able to run their own lives? Bottom half.

It’s that authoritarian/libertarian axis that’s far more important to me. It doesn’t bother me if you’re on the left or the right, as long as you don’t want to run everybody else’s life. If you want to live in a commune, feel free? As long as you don’t expect me to subsidise you. If you want to control my life, however, I don’t care which side you’re on.

The standard left/right paradigm doesn’t really have anywhere for classical liberals or libertarians, either. Where am I supposed to go? Liberals are usually branded right wing simply for being ‘not left wing’, but nobody can ever explain to me the connection between small government, freedom loving Austrian economists and totalitarian, big state fascists.

Ask a random person now where they’d put people who want small government & low taxes on the standard scale and I bet 99% of them would place them on the right – regardless of whether they attribute those things as positive or negative in political or social terms.  The same applies these days to freedom is speech.  Safe spaces, no-platforming, thought crime – these are features of the current left.  If you advocate true freedom of speech with no exceptions then you are automatically considered far right.

Ask those same people how those stances can lead to fascism and you’ll just hear crickets.

Maybe they’ll argue that by defending people who share (in their minds at least) abhorrent views, it somehow encourages and promotes those views and makes them spread.  Heaven forbid that the light of day would allow intelligent people to challenge and refute what is necessary, and present evidence to counter the negativity.

But what they miss entirely is that fascism was about not being allowed a voice, by having to adhere to the party line or be “disappeared” by the secret police.  Doesn’t sound like free speech to me.

And the idea that by thinking you may pay too much tax is somehow a route to racial superiority is as laughable as it is sad.  Fascism and the right wing have been wrongly equated for too long.  If anything left and right have now lost all meaning in political and social terms.

It’s no wonder people and their politicians have grabbed onto centrism with both hands as a way of distinguishing themselves from the extremists.  The trouble is though, freedom now seems to be an extreme ideology.  When did that happen?

Government – everyone thinks they can run it better

People who are “literally” communists are basically saying they could have done communism better than all the ways that have already been tried.

Ignoring the fact that all the ways tried so far have all been communism or socialism, it leads me to think that this highlights an important part of why government does or doesn’t work.

For a while we believe that if only the right people come to power that everything will be ok.

“Once our guys are in, things will get better”

But then, it became clear to me at least, that there are a number of problems that aren’t always obvious.

I suppose the obvious one is the maxim that power corrupts.

Another is that the only people who become political leaders are those who want power, which are the people you least want to have it.

But each of them think that they will do it better, only to discover that the same big-state issues will always exist.

One thing it curiously made me think about recently was our monarchy in the UK.

Now lots of people on the right and left in politics think that in a democratic society, it is clear that we should abolish the monarchy.

But this is where our constitutional monarchic system has its genius. It’s responsibility without power. It’s power that you aren’t allowed to use. That you must not use.

It’s an argument I heard once that totally converted me to a monarchist. That and the three word argument that I have heard a few times against a democratically elected head of state: President Tony Blair.

If only our government had the same mantra. That it was their responsibility to hold on to power but not to wield it, in favour of it being wielded directly by the people.

That they were custodians of power, there to stop others from taking advantage of that power.

It’s very unlikely to happen, but we need to recognise where the British system of government has got things right, and a head of state there to make sure nobody becomes head of state is pure genius.