United States — May 30, 2012 11:36 pm

Liberalism versus Socialism

By

In 2008, President Obama made this statement of principle, otherwise known as a gaffe: “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” John McCain used the opportunity to call him a socialist. So did Rick Perry in his 2012 campaign. Mitt Romney has so far preferred using code. But as the campaign gets tougher, he too might start using the S-word. Especially now that France has chosen to exhibit a real live specimen of the species in the Élysée.

So what is socialism? What makes a socialist different from a liberal?

Philosophers of liberalism and socialism actually have very different visions for the world. They don’t disagree at all on the idea that spreading the wealth around is good for everybody. In fact, this idea finds one of its greatest expressions in the work of the philosopher of welfare liberalism, John Rawls. He proposed two principles of justice, one of which—the “Difference Principle”—claims that inequalities are permissible if and only if they benefit the worst-off person. Since many inequalities arising from the free market violate this principle, some wealth must be redistributed.

The difference between liberals and socialists, rather, is founded on their different answers to this question: Can the principles by which I vote differ from the principles by which I live?

Liberals say yes, they can. Rawls, for example, said that you must be guided by  principles of distributive justice, such as the Difference Principle, only when you think about the basic structure of society. Roughly, those times are when you self-consciously think of yourself as a citizen: when you vote, when you debate political ideals, when you think about those ideals in your time alone. Otherwise, you don’t need to heed principles of distributive justice.

So a liberal allows you to accept a salary that is four, ten, 100 times greater than that of the least well-off person in your society, so long as, when you step into the voting booth, you don a new hat and act so that all inequalities are arranged to benefit the least well-off.

That picture deeply disturbs socialists. Jerry Cohen, the preeminent contemporary philosopher of socialism, wrote:

“Liberally minded economists take for granted that economic agents are self-seeking, or, like James Meade, they think that they should be, and then they want people as political agents to act against the grain of their self-interest: pile up your earthly goods on the mundane plane of civil society but be a saint in the heaven of politics.”

Cohen didn’t think that that was a good idea. He, like other socialists, thought that a well-ordered society is not just a mass of persons who each has the right amount of goods. All people should unite in bonds of fraternity, mutual respect, and regard for each other’s dignity. And those things cannot grow in the moral-political schizophrenia allowed by liberalism. So “the personal must be made political”: principles of justice must be made principles of life.

This translates into greater wealth redistribution because one justification for inequalities is now unavailable. Liberals, per the Difference Principle, might allow people with scarce talents to receive relatively high salaries because (a) everyone is made better off when those people work those jobs, and (b) those people will only work those jobs when they are given incentives. But if you are applying the Difference Principle to your own life, you can’t say “I am permitted this salary, because that is the only way I will work this job at these hours.” For that is not the only way you could work. You could choose to work your job for benefits equal to that of the least well-off person. And that is what the socialist demands.

Clearly America is not a socialist nation. That possibility is a long way away; and, the liberal might argue, there it will always remain. Inescapable human frailties make it impossible. Concern for others will not motivate enough people to work all the arduous though necessary jobs. Nor might the socialist ideal be desirable: the price of communal ties is individual liberty, and it might be better for each of us that we not have a close, and therefore demanding, relationship with each person who is to provide us with some good.

But the socialist can point to other nations, such as Sweden or Denmark, in which, supposedly, a true egalitarian ethos has taken hold, nations which have not only generous social welfare provisions, but also citizens who are shocked by accepting privileges for themselves which others do not have. And to address the desirability of such polities, she can point experience of the people who live in them. They tend to be happier than we liberals.

 

Photo credits:

Front: Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer (whitehouse.gov) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/18/obama-hollande-afghan-compromise

http://www.edgeblog.net/2009/5-myths-of-modern-liberals/

  • Eli Kozminsky

    Thank you for writing an even-handed and erudite study of the “s”-word (the one with more than four letters). 

    But are you sure that the difference between liberals and socialists isn’t founded on their different answers to THIS question: Who should own the means of production?

    Liberals, in the very American sense, would (likely) answer that private individuals should be owners of capital. But in response to some of the excesses of untrammeled capitalism, they make provisions for, say, a social safety net, or state investment in human capital. This way, liberals can satisfy the Rawlsian difference principle by ensuring that inequalities exist only insofar as they serve the general welfare, either by providing funds for a safety net via taxation or raising the net prosperity. (More important to no-modifer liberalism is Rawls’ first principle of justice: an equal and maximal scheme of liberties for everyone in a given society.)  

    Socialists, on the other hand, would answer that society (hence, “social”-ism) or the state should own industry. Capital is publicly run. This idea predates G.A. Cohen by more than a century (and Marx! though by less time), so I’m not sure the ethos idea is really the essential characteristic. Cohen’s egalitarian ethos works to reveal how Rawls’ Theory of Justice creates a system of cold incentives–rather than a deeply moral framework for society. But I’m not sure a socialist ordering of society necessarily assuages Cohen’s moral concerns (I don’t think he was so sure, either). The state could own all of industry, but an egalitarian ethos may still be lacking absent legal and regulatory coercion. Perhaps this is one reason why Marx calls for a revolution in consciousness in order to inaugurate communism, a system which he viewed as a seismic improvement over socialism.  

    Consider this, as well: One of Cohen’s own illustration of his criticisms is a comparison of Germany, where CEO’s on average make ~6:1 the salary of the lowest paid people in their companies, to America, in which they make ~30:1 (if my memory serves me correctly). Does the strong presence of an egalitarian ethos in “liberal” Germany somehow render the country “socialist”? I don’t think so. 

    Note, too, that Scandinavian countries resemble “liberals” more than “socialists” under my definitional suggestions. Typically, these countries are considered “social democracies,” a postwar model featuring highly “free” markets (see the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index thingy if you don’t believe me) and a mondo welfare state. I’m of the opinion that America differs from these countries in degree–not kind. 

    If you’re looking for summer reading, G.A. Cohen’s “If You’re An Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich?” is a  fascinating and all-around witty exploration of this topic.

  • Eli Kozminsky

    *Sorry: I should add that Germany was selected for comparison with the USA because, at the time of Cohen’s writing, the countries had similar productivity, per capita income, HDI rankings, etc. Ceteris paribus, the salient difference in this analysis was corporate culture. 

  • ShadrachSmith

    There are only two forms of government, and they are:

    The Leviathian or Natural Rights. Stated otherwise, either government exists to control the citizen’s lives, or to serve the citizen’s needs. Either government is the purpose of human existence, or an accessory to group relations.

    Either the government can take whatever it wants from you, or that power is limited by a social contract. For you Marxists/Socialists/Liberals or whatever else you may call yourselves to obsess over the nuances of your different paths to tyranny is arcane hair-splitting. Nobody cares.

    I told you that part so I can tell you this part.

    The most ignorant, annoying, intellectually vapid political argument of the left is contained in the statement: You don’t even know what socialism is. It is used by all leftists to dodge responsibility for the cold fact that yes, the government control of your life does in fact come from Nietzsche’s philosophy by way of Marx and has been reiterated into intentionally incomprehensible Rawlsian gibberish. Just so you can say, “You don’t even know what it means.”

    Well, ladies, neither do you. Do you mind if I vote for the other guys?

  • http://www.facebook.com/charlie.hartford Charlie Hartford

    I’m assuming this post is a joke, but on the off chance that it isn’t: “Nietzsche by way of Marx?”  Seriously, there is nothing in the substance of your post that is worth responding to – you clearly have read neither Marx or Nietzsche. If you had, you would know that Nietzsche wrote after Marx and despised socialism. Perhaps you should actually engage with the ideas of the thinkers you criticize before leaping to the ludicrous conclusion that all political philosophy can be reduced to Hobbes and Locke. 

    Also, read up the on the repression of the Paris Commune and tell me who the Leviathan is in that story. 

  • ShadrachSmith

    No, my post isn’t a joke, neither is it about timeline.

    Nietzsche furnished the best philosophical justification of the Leviathan to date. That the furry mustache came later in time, does not change the fact that it is Nietzsche who provided the best philosophical justifications for both Marx and current Leftist thought. For you poor guys, Nietzsche is as good as it gets in trying to justify tyranny in the name of advancing humanity. 

    All the other justifications for reducing free men to serfs, are simply less good, less sound, less able to withstand utilitarian analysis.

    Are you keeping up yet :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=744265022 Adam Kern

    Thanks, Eli, for your thoughtful comment. Another friend of mine made a very similar point. I’ve realized that I set up this article in a slightly misleading way. I should not speak of this question as grounding THE difference between liberals and socialists. Liberalism and socialism are broad ideologies with many variations. This is one way of making the cut. The primary point of interest is the Rawls/Cohen debate. These are both very interesting and powerful views, and I wanted to explain them a little bit in this space.

  • Grom

    Are you for real?

  • Pingback: Haidt and social « @ITGeek on … most everything/anything

  • remaining free

    It’s all Hegelian Dialectical horseshit designed to confuse those incapable of deeper critical thought. In a word they advocate a philosophy of theft, designed to ruin economies and the independence and freedoms of the individual man. Liberal, socialist or communist, all are cleverly cloaked arguments for institutionalizing theft, differing only by degree and pace, they all go the same place, serfdom. Free markets being dangerously self serving? How about free consumers being totally free to choose, both their jobs according to wanted skills expressed by those same people and the product that those skills produce. The sincere re-distributors do not understand free markets and those that manipulate them fear free markets while the rest go along for the ride unaware of the magnitude of the well flavored poison they imbibe..

  • disappointed

    This is an astounding misrepresentation of Rawls.

    First, Rawls isn’t a “welfare liberal.” He doesn’t call himself that, and he raises questions about interpersonal comparisons of the good, which are essential to welfarist calculations. Rawls does present a thin conception of the good, one that focuses on primary goods which are general all-pupose means to achieve the rational aims that an agent might have.

    Second, this piece misrepresents Rawls when the author claims that the principles of justice do not reach beyond the ballot box. Rawls has a conception of the rightness as fairness that is broader his conception of political justice, but founded on the same principles. He also thought that the adoption of a sense of justice by society at large is an important part of ensuring that a society structured around Rawls’s principles is stable. While Rawls does not think that, e.g., churches or private clubs need to be organized around the principles he lays out for society at large (such as the difference principle), he does think that people in society must adhere to a sense of justice in their own lives. He’s also explicit that we all have a duty to pursue and preserve just institutions.

    Third, Rawls does not think that liberalism and socialism are mutually exclusive. He thinks that while certain social arrangements–such as lasseiz-faire capitalism, a command economy, or a welfare (!) state–are ruled out by the principles of justice that he outlines, he thinks that these principles do not determine whether society should be organized as either a property-owning democracy or according to liberal socialism. So it would be right to say that liberalism as Rawls conceives of it is not mutually exclusive with socialism per se.

    Rawlsian liberalism is, however, exclusive with some forms of socialism in two ways: First, many socialists (such as the Marx) have been skeptical of the legitimate role of basic rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom to choose one’s vocation, freedom of movement, etc. Rawls argues that such rights, as well as fair equality of opportunity, should have priority over ensuring that individuals in society receive equal shares of primary goods. Second, some socialists, such as G A Cohen, argue that the difference principle is inadquately egalitarian, since it would justify extreme inequalities so long as such inequalities are to the benefit of the least well-off (relative to available alternatives). While I’m not sure that Rawls is committed to rejecting more egalitarian arrangements (the difference principle is something like, “allow only inequalities that benefit the least well-off,” not, “accept all inequalities that benefit the least well-off”), he believes that rejecting inequalities that benefit the least well-off in that exchange is without justification. Later in A Theory of Justice, he suggests that such arrangements may be grounded in envy, which destablizes the public acceptance of the principles of justice.

    More generally speaking, while some liberals are socialists (and, therefore, vice versa), liberals tend to differ from non-liberal socialists in that the latter do not typically accept the priority of your standard civil liberties to social equality, while the former do. Sometimes non-liberal socialists are sceptical of the distinction between society at large (including the market, the family, and relationships between individuals) and the civil institutions to which we direct claims regarding our civil liberties.

  • http://howlatpluto.blogspot.com/ LFC

    This piece summarizes pretty accurately, I think, G.A. Cohen’s point about applying principles of justice to one’s personal life and decisions and not only to ‘the basic structure’ of society. But to set up Cohen vs. Rawls as socialism vs. ‘welfare liberalism’ is questionable. Socialism, like most isms, is too contested an idea/ideology to associate it just with one contemporary philosopher, however incisive. And like a previous commenter, I question the labeling of Rawls as “the philosopher of welfare liberalism.” Also, it should be noted that the difference principle is not the only limit on inequality in Rawls’s view (a point that has probably been made more than once in the voluminous writings about Rawls). While the difference principle *might* allow someone to earn 100x more than the least well-off person, other aspects of a Rawlsian well-ordered society might preclude that degree of inequality.

  • http://howlatpluto.blogspot.com/ LFC

    ok, I see below that Adam Kern already said he shdn’t have set this up as liberalism vs socialism but as Rawls vs Cohen. Shd have read that first. I would still have some qualms about the piece, though.

  • addfa kjjal

    First, Rawls isn’t a “welfare liberal.” He doesn’t call himself that, and he raises questions about interpersonal comparisons of the good, which are essential to welfarist calculations. Rawls does present a thin conception of the good, one that focuses on primary goods which are general all-pupose means to achieve the rational aims that an agent might have.

    Second, this piece misrepresents Rawls when the author claims that the principles of justice do not reach beyond the ballot box. Rawls has a conception of the rightness as fairness that is broader his conception of political justice, but founded on the same principles. He also thought that the adoption of a sense of justice by society at large is an important part of ensuring that a society structured around Rawls’s principles is stable. While Rawls does not think that, e.g., churches or private clubs need to be organized around the principles he lays out for society at large (such as the difference principle), he does think that people in society must adhere to a sense of justice in their own lives. He’s also explicit that we all have a duty to pursue and preserve just institutions.

    Third, Rawls does not think that liberalism and socialism are mutually exclusive. He thinks that while certain social arrangements–such as lasseiz-faire capitalism, a command economy, or a welfare (!) state–are ruled out by the principles of justice that he outlines, he thinks that these principles do not determine whether society should be organized as either a property-owning democracy or according to liberal socialism. So it would be right to say that liberalism as Rawls conceives of it is not mutually exclusive with socialism per se.

    Rawlsian liberalism is, however, exclusive with some forms of socialism in two ways: First, many socialists (such as the Marx) have been skeptical of the legitimate role of basic rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom to choose one’s vocation, freedom of movement, etc. Rawls argues that such rights, as well as fair equality of opportunity, should have priority over ensuring that individuals in society receive equal shares of primary goods. Second, some socialists, such as G A Cohen, argue that the difference principle is inadquately egalitarian, since it would justify extreme inequalities so long as such inequalities are to the benefit of the least well-off (relative to available alternatives). While I’m not sure that Rawls is committed to rejecting more egalitarian arrangements (the difference principle is something like, “allow only inequalities that benefit the least well-off,” not, “accept all inequalities that benefit the least well-off”), he believes that rejecting inequalities that benefit the least well-off in that exchange is without justification. Later in A Theory of Justice, he suggests that such arrangements may be grounded in envy, which destablizes the public acceptance of the principles of justice.

    More generally speaking, while some liberals are socialists (and, therefore, vice versa), liberals tend to differ from non-liberal socialists in that the latter do not typically accept the priority of your standard civil liberties to social equality, while the former do. Sometimes non-liberal socialists are sceptical of the distinction between society at large (including the market, the family, and relationships between individuals) and the civil institutions to which we direct claims regarding our civil liberties.

  • Christopher Hartly Holte

    The argument isn’t between socialist and liberal, it’s between the attribute of pragmatism versus dogmatic or doctrinal rigidity. There are plenty of folks who believe in things that can be called socialist who are pragmatic, and there are plenty of liberals who are rigid about at least one or two subjects. And the tea party has inherited dogmatism, yet the old conservatives could compromise when necessary.

  • adplatt126

    I’m sorry, you need to spell out the connection between Nietzsche and tyranny. I am both an avid fan of Nietzsche and also an avid anti-statist. I believe Charlie has exposed you here. Have you even read Nietzsche? Honestly? He wasn’t even a political philosopher, and didn’t as far as I know, ever defend statist solutions or policies, but what he did say on socialism was as such (quite brilliant really): “Socialism ― or the tyranny of the meanest and the most brainless, ―that is to say, the superficial, the envious, and the mummers, brought to its zenith, ―is, as a matter of fact, the logical conclusion of “modern ideas” and their latent anarchy: but in the genial atmosphere of democratic well-being the capacity for forming resolutions or even for coming to an end at all, is paralysed. Men follow―but no longer their reason. That is why socialism is on the whole a hopelessly bitter affair: and there is nothing more amusing than to observe the discord between the poisonous and desperate faces of present-day socialists―and what wretched and nonsensical feelings does not their style reveal to us! ―and the childish lamblike happiness of their hopes and desires. Nevertheless, in many places in Europe, there may be violent hand-to-hand struggles and irruptions on their account: the coming century is likely to be convulsed in more than one spot, and the Paris Commune, which finds defenders and advocates even in Germany, will seem to have but a slight indigestion compared with what is to come. Be this as it may, there will always be too many people of property for socialism ever to signify anything more than an attack of illness: and these people of property are like one man with one faith, “one must possess something in order to be some one.” This, however, is the oldest and most wholesome of all instincts; I should add: “one must desire more than one has in order to becomemore.” For this is the teaching which life itself preaches to all living things: the morality of Development. To have and to wish to have more, in a word, Growth―that is life itself. In the teaching of socialism “a will to the denial of life” is but poorly concealed: botched men and races they must be who have devised a teaching of this sort. In fact, I even wish a few experiments might be made to show that in socialistic society life denies itself, and itself cuts away its own roots. The earth is big enough and man is still unexhausted enough for a practical lesson of this sort and demonstratio ad absurdum― even if it were accomplished only by a vast expenditure of lives―to seem worth while to me. Still, Socialism, like a restless mole beneath the foundations of a society wallowing in stupidity, will be able to achieve something useful and salutary: it delays “Peace on Earth” and the whole process of character-softening of the democratic herding animal; it forces the European to have an extra supply of intellect, ―it also saves Europe awhile from the marasmus femininus which is threatening it.” – Nietzsche

  • ShadrachSmith

    Your response to a two-year-old post is a personal record for me.

    Rather than random quotes, I will simply observe: the Übermensch is justified to do pretty much as he wills with the masses. If you re-read my bolded clause for content you can see how ruthless people can and do utilize Nietzsche’s moral justifications for tyranny by whatever name.

    I regret that you chose to impugn my scholarship, that insult prompts me to observe: I spelled out the evil side of Nietzsche’s political influence in my own words in one simple declarative clause…you will never be able to do that on the best day of your life.

    If you can’t see my point, try to communicate with me using declarative sentences rather than random, disjointed references. You know how paragraphs work, don’t you? You have a topic sentence, then supporting information. Whatever form you used for your last post came out the other end as incomprehensible gibberish. Blame my reading comprehension if you wish, but it really is gibberish :-)

  • adplatt126

    Ok first of all, this is a Disqus post. LOL! Second of all, four fifths of my entire post is a quotation! Thirdly, I really didn’t have sufficient faith that you would or could understand Nietzsche to spend ample time organizing my argument formally (if this was possible). My fears were proven right, because afterward, you openly confessed to not being able to understand Nietzsche. At all. Well, maybe that explains why you have no idea what you’re talking about. Lastly, I don’t think you should be in the business of doling out grammar lessons. The use of a paragraph after a colon above is not strictly correct. Why would you separate by a paragraph two directly and intimately related ideas like this anyhow?
    You haven’t spelled out the evil side of Nietzsche’s influence. What you’ve done is offered a sloppy piece of conjecture to support your impoverished understanding of the philosopher.
    It seems like you are arguing that Nietzsche invented tyranny or despotism. But tyranny and despotism are as old as time itself. Monarchy has been the dominant form of government throughout history.
    What you haven’t done, because you can’t do it, is give some examples of when or how Nietzsche has supported the rule of a single overlord or support the nonexistent connection between Marxism and Nietzsche which you allege exists, with some hard evidence. The fact that Nietzsche does lend some support to the view that the ubermensch is above the law, there is very compelling reason to believe he meant this in a specifically personal and private sense. That a man defends a lot of or even excessive freedom in the private sphere does not at all mean he believes in it for political leaders. In fact, often, as say in anarchy or extreme forms of libertarianism, the very opposite is true. Those who believe in private liberty, oppose state liberty, in a type of inverse, dualistic relationship.
    If on the other hand it is true, that the Nazis used Nietzschean type arguments to justify Aryan supremacism, I’d like to invoke the historical record. Hitler’s sister actually had to alter Nietzsche’s writings to make them comport to Nazi opinion. But why would she have to do that if, as you say, Nietzsche laid the groundwork for Nazism? Needless to say, the argument that a belief in superior people, who are to Nietzsche quite rare, somehow helped cause Nazism, is not so much different than saying that Nietzsche helped cause murder and theft. If in any sense, Nietzsche’s ideas can be connected to Nazism, it’s not so much through the ideas themselves, as inane interpretations of them. In this regard we may agree. Much as you have a remarkably weak understanding of Nietzsche’s worldview, any Nazi who used his scholarship to defend his views, likely had a like flimsy understanding of Nietzsche. But alas, any view if distorted enough, can help to justify any other, if a mind is sufficiently deluded to distort it so extremely. Exhibit A: you.
    You claim that Nietzsche justified the leviathan? No, not really. Can you furnish me some examples of this? Hobbes justified the leviathan. Nietzsche not so much. There seems a disturbing trend in right wing religious circles to vilify Nietzsche because of his godlessness and perceived amorality and anti-traditionalism, which seem anathema to the American tradition, without any understanding of his actual views. The claim that the ubermensch is permitted to do whatever he wants with the masses, is really not true. This is not really what Nietzsche had in mind at all. As I’ve stated, the ubermensch despite the appellation, is not really an over-person, as in ruling over others. He is an overperson, as in being superior, but not in any genuinely political sense, but rather a moral or character-based sense. There is as far as I know, no support for your view in the literature. This seems to me a common misunderstanding of the concept, much like the Jefferson quote: “all men are created equal”, which is not some universal declaration of human equality, but a claim set out to deny the view that any group of people has the right to rule over another without their consent. It is convenient in that it sort of connects Nietzsche to “bad” twentieth century events, but the problem is that the connection is tenuous, if present at all.
    In reality, better explanations for Nazi or Marxist behavior come right from human nature. No explanation needs to be given to account for why Nazis followed orders or conformed to prevailing attitudes or practices. There is no evidence that your average German soldier had any real knowledge of Nietzsche’s oeuvre. But if he did, what he’d come to understand is the Nietzsche’s overman was a private, individualistic concept. It was deeply opposed to slavery of all forms, whether that be slavery to religious dogma or to the state itself (which is why anarchists, or perfect anti-statists, often laud his philosophical positions). The Ubermensch concept is more of an extreme form of transcendentalism than some kind of Machiavellian view of the world. It is actually perfectly opposed to both blind service of the state and the kind of amoral pragmatism most despots practice. If you want to understand Nazism and Marxism start first with their utopian visions, collectivistic values, worship of government etc. Nietzsche’s writings are quite short on all of this.
    Now one could allege that Nietzsche’s areligiosity brings down a vital buffer that limits state domination of society, but the problem is that Germany in the early 20th century was not an areligious society. Not nearly as areligious as our own for example. It was in many ways more religious than many of its neighbors at the time. Only in some instances does religion ward off state domination. In other instances the state may fuse with conservative segments of society, which is why most historians characterize Nazism as right-wing, because Hitler used nationalist, racialist, and religious tendencies and power groups to his advantage, which stands in stark contrast to most Marxist governments which actively seek to abolish religion and class/group distinctions. Witness for example in our own society, how “faith” has seemed to merge with “military service”. This is of course no accident. The power structure by co-opting religion, is using religion against the people. It has convinced the people that serving the state is in the people’s interests, even though it isn’t. It has also convinced the people that serving the state is serving the country. The exact opposite is true. Needless to say, governments will often take on allies like corporations, in the name of economic growth or religious leaders in the name of righteous or honest government, despite the fact, that business allying with government is often perfectly anti-capitalistic, and those government officials who ally with religion are the most corrupt of all, and use their religiosity as a type of veil to conceal their true nature.
    You don’t need any overman concept in other words to explain how totalitarianism creeps into a society. Just look at our own: a wholesome, religious, anti-Nietzschean bunch of politically correct, social Marxist idiots. All that is needed to understand this is to understand the goals of the power structure and its endless propaganda, and the willingness of the population to allow the burgeoning police and surveillance state to grow without limits because “America is noble and righteous and good, and our military is honest and ethical” and all these other falsehoods and absurdities that the power structure enforces and mandates the rabble believe to serve its own causes and industrial allies. I hope you have been disabused of the false view that Nietzsche is required to understand or explain totalitarianism, let alone types as disparate as Marxism and Nazism (which were in total war with one another for their own existences in WW2). Our government supported the Marxists remember, keeping the only true global threat in play. All that is needed for totalitarianism or statism to develop is an overly content, deluded or inattentive citizenry that does nothing when its government unlawfully grabs power, ignores the constitution, or engages in large scale corruption, against the wishes of the people. Apathy can do that as much as fanaticism.

  • ShadrachSmith

    I don’t care if you like Nietzsche, he built a morality without acknowledging the spark of divinity that dwells in every human spirit. He built a morality without due regard for his fellow man. So, his followers cannot logically appeal to the Golden Rule, or Kant’s categorical imperative for you secular fans, his morality suits the ruthless and brutal right down to the ground. That’s just a fact, Jack. Not my fault.

  • adplatt126

    Why should he acknowledge something for which there is no evidence? Nietzsche instructs us to deny the afterlife and other extraneous concepts so that we focus on the one life we have, for which there is real evidence. He claims that the root of religiosity is dissatisfaction with this life. He instructs us on the other hand to revel in this life, to focus on this life, to maximize our experiences in this life, and actualize ourselves in this life because it’s the only one. He acknowledged the only thing that exists. This life. What he exactly prescribes morally is open for debate. But what he says is that we must develop our own secular morality, in an ongoing process of creativity.
    He exposed and denied Christianity for what it is, namely a system as totalitarian and illogical as any earthly empire or potentate. The interesting thing about the West is that it really began to thrive when Christianity became a private affair (like Nietzsche’s morality, but thanks more to particular Christian sects and their activism than Christianity or Christian scripture itself as a whole) and government ceased to be truly religious. Coincidence? Now, you can witness the West’s decline as government again becomes a religious affair. Our idols are now the tyrannical American imperial state itself and multiple sick forms of egalitarianism, which Christianity has come to adopt wholesale, standing not so much as a buffer against radical leftist propaganda but indeed aiding in its expansion.

    http://emanuelspraguer.blogspot.com/

  • ShadrachSmith

    Dude, I told you once: Nietzsche doesn’t instruct “us”.
    Whether religion is a cultural positive is an open question, leaning heavily yes.
    Believe whatever you want. I appreciate the time and effort you put into our conversation, read Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty if you are looking for a roadmap, Nietzsche isn’t it.

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