The Fire Department Is Not Socialist

Fascism is an extreme version of the Tea and Koch Party and Socialism is an extreme version of Occupy Wall Street. Well, it’s quite a bit more complicated, but that’s the rough alignment. Fortunately, most people in both groups are no where near the extreme.

  Republicans like to call people socialists.  

  • Michele Bachmann calls Newt Gingrich a “frugal socialist.”
  • Michele Bachmann calls G. W. Bush a “socialist.”
  • The Wall St. Journal calls the Federal Reserve “socialist.”
  • New Gingrich calls the Congressional Budget Office a “social institution.”
  • Fox News calls the Muppets socialists.

And they all call Obama and the Democrats socialists. The idea is that if it’s related to government and you don’t like it, then it’s socialist.

But until the Republicans started this name game, socialist meant government “owning the means of production.” You can define “production” pretty broadly, but traditionally it did not mean the fire department, even though those departments are quite productive. And it did not mean the defense department or the police department.

Presidential hopeful Rick Perry wants to eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education and, when he can remember, Energy. They’re “socialist” because he doesn’t like them. They have nothing to do with actual socialism, which means having the government own banks, steel mills and car companies.

Socialism vs. Fascism

Hitler’s first target for destruction, was the German Socialist Party. The socialists fought Franco. He was a fascist. At first however Hitler subscribed to socialist views regarding capitalists, hence the name National Socialists. However once in power however the conservatives Hermann Göring and  Heinrich Himmler moved Hitler away from these views and Germany end up essentially fascist. Big capital was allowed to operate profitably provided it cooperated with the state, and workers were completely excluded from power.

The difference between the two can be summarized roughly as:

  • Under socialism the government—not capitalists—own the major industries.
  • Under fascism, the big capitalists basically own the government.

Here’s a little more detail:

What is Socialism?

Republicans now uses “Socialist” instead of “Communist” or Commie — the terms they used in Senator McCarthy’s (R-WI) right-wing witch hunting days of the 1950’s. But look in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Socialism means the government owns “the means of production,” and that paychecks are “unequal” and people are paid according to “work done.”
That means the government, and not capitalists, would own things like auto plants, oil refineries, and perhaps services like: restaurants, banks, police, parks, and libraries. The idea was that the government would earn a profit, and people would be paid for work. (I once ate in a government restaurant in semi-socialist Yugoslavia.)
So, has Obama nationalized any banks? No. Oil refineries? No. The only thing even close is that the government will basically extend Medicare to about 10% more Americans who didn’t have health insurance. So if you think Medicare is socialist because the government has taken some business away from our wonderful health insurance industry, then that’s a bit of socialism. But compared with public schools, police, roads, and parks, it’s tiny. And most people think that roads-and-parks “socialism” is just fine.

Was Hitler a Socialist?

Don’t believe everything Hitler and Rush Limbaugh say. Hitler called his party “National Socialists.” North Korea calls itself the “Democratic People’s Republic.” What? You’re not buying what Dear Leader tells us? So the truth was the opposite of what Hitler said. No! Hitler and Rush would not lie to us, would they?
Hitler was a Fascist. He hated the Socialists, Communists and trade unions most. After he set the Reichstag fire in February 1933, he pinned it on the Communists and banned the German Socialist Party. Communists and Socialists were swept into concentration camps or forced to flee the country. Rush would have been thrilled. (Truman Libarary xlnk.gif)