How Is A Raven Like A Writing Desk? (Or: A Fascist, A Socialist And A Communist Walk Into A Bar. The Anarchist Ducked.)

Dear confused Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party members and general critics of President Obama,

It's really not logistically possible for the current administration in the White House (or ANY administration for that matter) to be “Fascist,” “Socialist” AND “Communist” at the same time. At least it's not possible when we apply the strictest and therefore most extreme definitions of each word – as many of you intend when you utter or write them. I suspect that those of you who use the words interchangeably are unclear on the basic concepts and are only familiar with the grand old tradition of casting them as epithets. (Some of you are also prone to throwing the word “Marxist” into the mix, but we won't go into great detail about that here because it's a specific KIND of Socialism/Communism.) You probably dozed off in Government or Political Science 101 when they were covered. It's okay, we won't judge you - because I have it on good authority that people who teach Politics can bore even themselves into a stupor on occasion.

"We're all a little mad here."
Attention RNC: I think I've discovered the perfect new slogan for your party.

I've called you all here today because we Liberals don't want you looking silly when you use one word and mean something else. Trust me, it's as embarrassing for us as it probably is for you. So as a public service, I'm going to provide you with the definitions of each concept (taken from the current edition of the Merriam Webster Dictionary). Next, we'll discuss each term and compare it with President Obama, his Administration and the way things are done in the United States in the 21st Century – with special attention to the years between 2009 and now. After we're done, do yourselves (and most importantly, the rest of us) a big favor. Please talk among yourselves and pick only ONE. Then, even if we don't agree with you - maybe we can actually understand what the heck you're talking about once in a while.

The Definitions:
A.) FASCISM (noun) frequently capitalized -
1 : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

B.) SOCIALISM (noun) -
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and
administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 : a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND COMMUNISM and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

C.) COMMUNISM (noun) -
1: a : a theory advocating elimination of private property
b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
2: capitalized
a : a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
b : a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production
c : a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably
d : communist systems collectively

Okay. Everyone take your time and read over those until you think you've got at least a basic grasp of them. Ready? Now I'll try to help make your choice a little easier by putting things in less politi-speak terms. (Before we go on: Yes. I'm aware that I'm vastly oversimplifying these complex social, political and economic ideas/systems. I'm doing that in the interest of time. I don't think any of us wants to be here until next January. Do we?)

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini:
Understudy to Adolph Hitler in "WWII" and generally regarded as the father of modern fascism.

Wait. "Andrea"? Seriously? Well that explains a few things.

(...severe economic and social regimentation)
Many of you (the wealthier ones in particular) are accusing the President of "redistributing wealth." If that were the case - IF- then it would be unlikely that he is a Fascist. Fascist leaders aren't big on sharing. Anything. With anyone. If the President was a Fascist, he wouldn't just take some of your money – he'd take all of it. And then your business and finally, your house. Then the big Fascist jerk would just keep everything for himself and the people he likes at the moment. (Unless he turned around and gave everyone the same amount from his plundered wealth, which is what a Communist leader would do – in theory, anyway. But we'll get to that later...)

(...a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control)
As far as I know, we still have to wait around for Congress to pull their heads out of their asses and legislate. Then we have to wait for the President to sign the legislation. Then we sit and wait for someone to challenge the legislation and get those glaciers of justice The Supreme Court into things just for giggles. And then maybe we get some new laws to follow – maybe. Sometimes we just go back to square one and start the whole mess over again. Really, when you think about it – it WOULD be a lot more expedient just to have one person legislating. But that would be Fascism, so...

(...forcible suppression of opposition)
The last time I checked, the President had no plans to eliminate voting rights or free elections. People who live under Fascist regimes don't generally get to choose which candidates they want to see in the big dance-off and then vote for them – sometimes they don't even get to vote at all. (You can keep pulling for the Republicans to do away with as much of that pesky "free elections" thing as possible by limiting or eliminating voting rights in this country - but then THEY'D be Fascists. And that would be bad too, right?)

(...a centralized autocratic government)
The government is not seizing and running businesses. Quite to the contrary, the jobs and functions once performed by the government are increasingly being delivered into the hands of private companies. So actually the only way that government could be getting "bigger" – as many of you claim – is if you believe that the private companies performing government jobs are now the government. Confusing, expensive, an accounting nightmare, and fraught with potential for abuses when the private companies aren't well regulated – but not Fascism.

Is this the Twentieth Century's most famous Socialist society? Possibly.
Let's ask the Howells about sharing with Gilligan, Skipper, the movie star and "the rest."

Well, to begin with, any society that taxes its citizens and corporations, then does things with that money that protect the country and improve living conditions (and lots of other government-y things) for those citizens and corporations is, in the strictest sense of the word, slightly "Socialist." BUT that's not the same as taking money from some to hand to others (or "redistributing wealth"). It's essentially "charging" citizens and corporations so the government can do its job and provide that wide variety of services that – while they don't necessarily all apply at all times to all people – often have the potential to apply to almost everyone at some time, in some way.

So let's go with “pure” Socialism in this instance and not muddy the waters discussing a modified system like the ones in England or France. And no matter how you spin it, the way things work here (“Ya pays your taxes, Ya gets your services”) is not "collective or governmental ownership and administration." Nor is it anywhere near "no private property." So “pure” Socialism isn't really looking so good to describe the President and our government either. Although if “pure” Socialism does somehow turn out to be the case (like if the changeover was made while everyone was watching “American Idol” finals and not paying attention to what Washington was up to that evening), don't worry too much. Because “pure” Socialism is sometimes just a rest stop on the road to ...

You have to feel a little sorry for poor Freddy Engels (center). "Who?," you ask. Exactly.
I guess every comedy team needs a  Zeppo.

Unless we somehow jumped straight from Capitalism to Communism – which would be some nifty trick in a country the size of ours – we'd probably see ourselves headed down this road with a lot of advance warning. (See: Socialism above) Probably. (See: “The American Idol Finals Coup,” also above) Okay, now I'm not sure anymore either because I'm almost positive that “Idol” thing could happen. So let's check just to be safe.

(...a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed)
I think we've covered the "private property" concept pretty thoroughly already. Moving on. Next, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm sure I don't own any part of Citibank or Chevron or G.E. If I did, I'd have seen my picture on the cover of “Fortune” or “Forbes” – or at the very least, “People's 50 Most Beautiful & Wealthy Post-Boomers Rapidly Creeping Up On 50” issue, right?

Okay, so technically a lot of us own a tiny part of those companies and others like them through a mutual fund or something similar - but if we're going to count that as “goods owned in common,” then the STOCK MARKET would be Communism. (As we all know very well – it isn't.) As for that goods "available to all as needed part," if that's the case I NEED Donald Trump's private plane to fly to Las Vegas to see a concert this weekend. (Yeah, I know – not gonna happen.)

(...a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production)
We don't have "a single authoritarian party." We still have a multi-party system. Just ask the new kids - The Tea Party.

Ironically, the last piece of the Big Communist Picture sounds a lot like what many Conservatives and Libertarians claim they want to happen. (For our purposes, we'll follow Marxist theory here because – well, that whole sometimes using "Marxist" when you mean "Stalinist" thing is becoming a problem for some of you.) You see, in Marx's theory Socialism leads to the ideal state of Communism and the way to win the game is to make sure ALL of the goodies are eventually distributed equally – and then the government "withers away.”

Gosh, when you look at it that way, maybe all this talk about the President trying to turn the U.S. into a “Communist State” is just “smaller and smaller government” advocates (like Libertarians) wishing out loud. Or maybe it's part of a secret joint Republican-Libertarian plan to get people used to the idea before THEY spring it on us.

Hmmm... I think if we're all going to watch the “Idol” finals, we should DVR it and watch it later – when we can find somebody to keep an eye on those sneaky bastards while we're busy.

"How is a raven like a writing desk?" It isn't. And President Obama isn't a Fascist, a Socialist or a Communist. He's President of The United States of America, a Democracy. Period. To accuse him of being anything else is either ignorant or crazy.

"When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, and the White Knight is talking backwards, and the Red Queen's off with her head - remember what the Dormouse said, 'Feed your head. Feed your head.'"
- Jefferson Airplane

Do yourself a favor. Read a book. But eat dessert first,


P.S. - In case you missed President Obama's recent historic inaugural speech, here it is in all its "Liberal" glory.
President Obama's second inaugural address (January 21, 2013)

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