It really upsets me when people throw out attack code words to accuse people of not being as 'American' as they are, for daring to have different beliefs and / or ideas than they do... especially when the people using those words don't even know what they mean. In those cases, they hear someone use a word like 'fascist', 'socialist', or 'communist' to describe someone that they don't like and they simply start to parrot the usage of those words when they talk about those people.
Just to have a common starting point, I have copied the text below verbatim from the desk reference book 'The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge' (second edition, 2007), AND included links to the Wikipedia pages for the same terms. Personally, I don't like the Times Guide's entry on Socialism because it actually doesn't really talk about Socialism except as it supposedly related to Soviet Communism / Marxism-Leninism, that is why I included the Wikipedia links, to provide information from more than one source.
Now, I want to make people aware of a logical fallacy which some people will use to try to turn such information to the advantage of the argument that they want to make. This fallacy is that they will take one or two specific traits of a decription and say that their appearance is proof that the person they hate IS whatever they want to call them. It doesn't work that way. You have to build your case using ALL of the traits. It is the "all ducks are birds, but not all birds are ducks" reality. It is like a personality profile which one company I worked for made all of their managers take. I did some research on my own and found out that the standard which the instrument was developed against was criminals in prison instead of normal people. This test, therefore, would say that if you answered like a criminal you were likely to be a criminal, instead of designing it to say that while many criminals would answer a particular question in a particular way, the standard is what percentage of the NON-criminal population would ALSO answer the question the same way.
Another point I want to make before I give you the information is that fascism is a NATIONALIST philosophy. Islamic extremist (indeed, ANY extremist who are trying to bring the world under a common creed, like a religion WITHOUT the emphasis on a specific nation-state) can NOT be fascists... and, thus, the term 'islamofascists' is non-sensical on its very face. The two concepts are anthical to each other so, please, can we kill that term and leave its use to idiots... like the ones who came up with it?
Rhys M. Blavier
Authoritarian Forms of Government:
Authoritarian governments are intent on maintaining social control; their citizens are subject to state authority in many aspects of their lives. This type of government normally demands strict obedience – and may obtain that obedience through oppressive measures.
Like a democracy, an authoritarian regime can be a very stable system that adheres to a constitution. But normally an authoritarian government does not allow free elections; more than one political party; checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judicial branches; an independent judiciary; or civil liberties.
Dictatorship: A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government ruled by a dictator who has no legal, constitutional, social, or political restrictions on his power. Dictators often head military governments, a situation that has occurred in some Latin American, Asian, and African nations.
Totalitarianism: A totalitarian system is one in which the state regulates all aspects of private and public behavior. This type of government attempts to mobilize the entire population towards an official state ideology. A totalitarian regime typically outlaws activities that are not sanctioned by the state, and it often uses repression or state control of all activities. Citizens have been persecuted in totalitarian states for reasons of religion and ethnicity, as well belonging to trade unions or plotical parties. Authoritarian regimes often maintain power through the use of a secret police force, heavy propaganda distributed through state-controlled media, restricted speech, a tightly controlled judiciary, single-party politics, and mass surveillance and terror tactics. Often totalitarian governments feature a personality cult revolving around the leader. The former Soviet Union is a prime example of a totalitarian state, as is North Korea.
Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless society based on common ownership of property and the means of production. A communist government has a one-party system with an allegiance to Marxism-Leninism (as in the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe) or Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought (as in China). The Communist Party is the only legal political party. Most communist states feature centrally planned economies. There are few individual rights for citizens, no genuinely free elections, and no independent judiciary.
Fascism is a set of authoritarian ideologies that focus on state control of individuals in the interest of forging national unity, usually based on ethnic, religious of cultural considerations. It emphasizes conformity to forge a mobilized polity. Mussolini's Italy is generally thought to be the first Fascist government, and Mussolini himself defined fascism as the merging of corporate interests with the state. Fascist nationalism was hostile to both socialism and feminism, and attempted to create a new elite acting in the name of the people. This form of government tends to be headed by a charismatic leader and focused on glorifying the military. Fascist regimes have included Nazi Germany under Hitler and Spain under Franco.
Socialism, in theory, envisages a socio-economic system in which wealth and property are divided equally and are controlled by the people. In the mid-19th century, Karl Marx helped establish the modern socialist movement with is writings, in which he called for abolishing money, markets, and capital, and the use of people's labor as a commodity. For Marxists, socialism was the transitional stage between capitalism and communism, in which the state would take control of the means of production. Once private property was abolished, the state would wither away and people would move on to a higher stage of communism.
The most famous example of socialism was the system put into practice by Vladimir Lenin in 1917, when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) took over Russia. The CPSU sought to "build socialism" by bringing all of the means of production (except agriculture) under state control, and creating a mechanism of central planning for the entire economy. This proved to be very difficult to implement, and unworkable as envisaged; gradually, the Soviet Union developed into a bureaucratic authoritarian state, while continuing to maintain publically that their socialism was on the path to communism.
Original content © copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier
Transcribed content © copyright 2007 by The New York Times Company
Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.