by Jessica Pacholski
The left and right symbolism in politics comes from French Parliament. Those who sat to the right were Royalists or conservatives, those who sat to the left were Liberals or radicals. Liberals, after the Revolution, at first advocated Laissez Faire capitalism, while the right wanted to keep the Aristocratic Mercantilism model. Early on in our own country we saw a mimicry of this, the original Left or liberals were the Anti-Federalists, men like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, and the Right were the Federalists, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. The battle was one between a loose federation of states and freedom in trade and banking, similar to the one outlined by the Articles of Confederation, and a centralized consolidation of power, trade and banking through the government. The compromise of these two competing ideologies was the formation of a Constitutional Democratic Republic. This is technically what the government of this country is supposed to be, a Republic, meaning a nation ruled by law as outlined in the Constitution, which was written to constrain the power of the new Federal government and insure the rights of it’s people.
This leads to the next question: What was the economic system proposed by the “right” of the time? Hamilton and his supporters wanted to recreate the English government and banking system here, Mercantilism. What is Mercantilism? Mercantilism is where there is a strong and vigorous central government control of banking and credit and trade, by use of policies such as protectionist tariffs, at the expense of the people. It produces monopolies and a powerful guilds that use their political power to keep themselves free from competition. This leads to the next question: What is laissez faire capitalism? A free market where the government puts little constraint on the peoples’ trades and banking systems with competition in currency based on a gold or silver standard. In other words, the people reserve the right to work and create their own currencies without the coercion of government. There is no central, or fractional reserve, banking and the laws are protective of the consumer rather than the corporation. Redress of grievance is possible because the rights of the people outweigh the rights of the corporations and the government.
Let’s look at the terms I mentioned in this light. Do we have a “free market” system here? No, we do not. We have a Keynesian system. Keynes advocated protectionism, tariffs, inflation of currency, and government interference in industry with central control of currency and banking, in other words a neo-mercantilism. Central control of money and credit and industry are also facets of “socialist” economics and governments. Two examples of socialist governments are fascism and communism. Mussolini was attributed as describing “fascism” as “corporatism” where the government and the corporations were tied together, however the real author is still unknown. It is an accurate description as far as I can tell. It really was just a 20th century form of Mercantilism, the bureaucratic and wealthy corporate classes taking the role of the old Aristocracy. There is also the strong militaristic streak and a promotion of nationalism. Communism takes many of the same steps fascism does, central control of industry and banking are crucial. Based in Marxism, it describes the power struggle as being one between the workers and the bourgeosie. His theory was that the government running industry and banking can end this and make everyone absolutely equal in society. However, it has the same side effect that fascism does in that the bureaucrats become the all powerful class and there must be constant pressure on the people to conform to their ideology through the use of force. Socialism is the economic system to both of these political philosophies and is used often to grow the power of the state has over it’s citizens.
The U.S. is already a “socialist” country, we are simply told we have a “free market” “capitalist” system of economics now. Not only that, we are an Empire as well. We have the worst of both worlds, jingoistic militarism and redistribution of wealth through taxation that has led to the ever widening gulf between the rich and the poor here. Our corporations and government have completely merged and our two party system would better be defined as fascist vs communist rather than republican vs democrat. Limited government, free market, pro-civil liberty, anti-war individuals are now know as “libertarians” (although I’ve been called a “fascist” more than once, usually by a Democrat, and I’ve been called a commie more than once, usually by a Republican) and are the smallest group in the voting population. It’s a strange idea, that the principles this country were founded on could be considered “fringe” or “kooky”. Yet I believe what Patrick Henry believed, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!”. That means to me freedom in my professional, as well as my personal life. I want freedom in economics as well as in speech, freedom to bear arms as well as freedom to love whom I want. I want to live my life and let others live. If that makes me a part of the fringe, then I stand proudly with them.