Define your terms

I couldn’t tell you why, out of the blue, I decided to look up the definitions of fascism, communism, and socialism. But at some point in my precaffeinated state this morning I decided it was a good idea. Those terms are tossed about so often, even by yours truly, and yet if pressed I could not accurately “compare and contrast” them as a teacher might have demanded.

The very first thing I encountered was this handy dandy chart, which I thought might also be useful to others. At the very least I decided to stick it here where I could easily find it again.

A lengthy, enlightening discussion precedes the chart, but the chart sums up the key points in a useful graphic.

I’m not sure why I jumped down this rabbit hole in the first place, other than the same passing curiosity that prompts me to look up something — anything — simply because the answer is at my fingertips. And to think there was a time when an aging volume of the World Book Encyclopedia (weighty, hardcover, with real paper pages!) was my only resource.

13 thoughts on “Define your terms

  1. Many use these terms freely in derogatory ways especially when one party blames the other for the challenges in America. But I think most people (maybe the silent majority) prefer to be in the middle where common sense lies. Capitalism + Social Programs (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) is good. And that’s mutwo cents LOL Gary

    1. Common sense!? Gasp! You remember common sense? I was beginning to think we’d never see it again. But yes, I’m in that middle group, somewhere, where I hope some common sense still resides. Some days I’m not so sure. Thanks for your two cents!

  2. At the risk of parsing the difference between might and may…
    I gonna play say hey:

    I’ve come to believe there are but two instrumental political governing philosophies …might makes right, or, we might be right .

    The first is idiosyncratic and insular, the latter, an often slow and discordant collective. In the democratic republic of the US of A…think unitary theory of the executive versus the peoples house and democratic administrative institutions licensed by the Congress. It a mess. And moved to the inevitable late stage capitalist take on guns and butter, but still better than, the blood and soil nationalist take of bombs away.

    Ya see, capitalist read Adam Smith on Wealth, but didn’t read his book on Morals. Might makes right Mavens, well hell, they don’t need to read, they have all the answers.

    Thanks for the chart Susan. I find its take on the foreign policy of the three ism’s most interesting.

    Thanks again.

    1. I think “It a mess” sums things up pretty well. We a mess for sure. As for they who don’t read and have all the answers … I dare not start. My mom taught me “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” But I guess I’ve already violated that rule a lot when discussing the sociopolitical scene.

  3. I guess this chart is pretty accurate, but (in my opinion) the “Individual Freedom” category is completely misleading at best.

    The fascist definition of “Limited (as it serves the State)” is the equivalent of the Communist version, which is “None” – AND the Socialist version should be “Government serves the needs of the collective” rather than “Government serves the needs of the individual.”

    Now that I think about it, several of the Socialist definitions are equally misleading…

    In Socialism, the state owns the means of production.  The individual has no standing and the welfare of those not part of the bureaucracy aren’t relevant except as the product of their labor.  The only way to enforce this authoritarianism is communism.  The term Democratic Socialism is a bastardized version of what we have here and now, but is NOT socialism. Just my opinion, FWIW.

    1. You read more critically than I. I don’t know squat about the details of fascism but agree that a Socialist government must serve the need of the collective, since under socialism, there would be no individual interests.

      I do agree we do not have true socialism in the US. Not even “Democratic Socialism.” Private ownership of the means of production is alive and well and the fat cats are getting fatter. No hint of collectives.

      I suppose a lot of it is a matter of interpretation, and I stopped worrying about the distinctions a long time ago. Trying to elect thoughtful, honest “public servants” is the best I can do these days, but even that seems increasingly futile. Bit by bit, the oligarchs are taking over.

  4. True Communism does not exist. Russia, China, S Korea…. they all have classes. With “true” Communism, all are equal. ie. A commune. In fact, I believe that closed Communism (does not interact with anyone else), money is not needed. All participate equally in their society. All have a purpose, a job.

    1. True communism doesn’t work because there’s always someone or some group that can’t resist the temptation to profit off the labor of others.

... and that's my two cents