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The only spectrum that makes sense

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jun. 08, 2021 - 4:21 PM

The only spectrum that makes sense

Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at

In classes on government and political science, with few exceptions, students are taught that the so-called “political spectrum” looks like this: Communism and Socialism reside on the Left, Capitalism and Fascism dwell on the Right.

Various mixtures of those things lie somewhere in between.

This is false and misleading. Toss it into the trash bin and demand a refund from the teacher who presented it as fact, or as any kind of insightful educational tool.

At the very least, a spectrum that looks like that should raise some tough questions. Why should socialists and fascists be depicted as virtual opposites when they share so much in common — from their fundamental, intellectual principles to their methods of implementation? If a political spectrum is supposed to illustrate a range of relationships between the individual and the State, or the very size and scope of the State, then why are systems of Big State/Small Individuals present at both ends of it? The placement that makes the most sense is one that puts Communism, Socialism and Fascism on one side, and close together.

Some say that Communism and Fascism cannot be similar because communists and fascists fought each other bitterly. Hitler attacked Stalin, for example.

This objection is equivalent to claiming, “Al Capone and Bugs Moran hated and fought each other, so they can’t both be considered gangsters.”

We should remember that Hitler and Stalin were allies before they were enemies. They secretly agreed to carve up Poland in August 1939, leading directly to World War II. The fact that Hitler turned on Stalin two years later is nothing more than proof of the proverb, “There’s no honor among thieves.”

Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Mussolini were all peas in the same collectivist pod. They were all socialists. They all sought to concentrate power in the State and to glorify the State. They all stomped on individuals who dissented. They all denigrated private property, either by outright seizure or regulating it to serve the purposes of the State.

Consider these remarks of the two principal Fascist kingpins, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Ask yourself, “Are these remarks materially different from what Lenin, Stalin and Mao — or even Marx — believed and said?

In a Feb. 24, 1920 speech outlining the Nazi 25-Point Program, Hitler proclaimed, “The common good before the individual good!”

In a speech to Italy’s Chamber of Deputies on Dec. 9, 1928, Mussolini declared, “All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State!”

Mussolini virtually plagiarized The Communist Manifesto when he said, “We want an extraordinary heavy taxation, with a progressive character, on capital, that will represent an authentic partial expropriation of all wealth; seizures of all assets of religious congregations.”

This line from Hitler’s May Day speech in 1934 could have come straight from Lenin: “The hammer will once more become the symbol of the German worker and the sickle the sign of the German peasant.”

On and on it goes. Based on what they said and what they did, it is ludicrous to separate Fascism from the Left and make it out to be some radical version of Capitalism. Fascism belongs firmly on the Left with its loony socialist and communist cousins.

Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at