The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Slavery, Racism, and White Supremacy

By L.K. Samuels — Posted Aug. 14, 2019

The material below is mostly from chap. 5 in KILLING HISTORY: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum

The Democratic Party has of late been spewing out a narrative that everybody except themselves are infected with racism and white supremacy. These holier-than-thou provocateurs should be careful not to throw stones at the windows of their political opponents. Why? Because the leadership of Democratic Party still live in flimsy glass houses with closets full of white-hooded skeletons that symbolize a racist past.

        Of course, today’s modern statist Left and the Democratic Party has been diligent to hide their ancestors’ advocacy of slavery and its sidekick, coercive socialism. Only recently has it been established that the forefathers of collectivism had merged the system of chattel slavery with hard-core socialist principles. Moreover, not only did they espouse socioeconomic and institutionalized slavery, but they opposed the type of free capitalistic society that would usher in the age of Enlightenment and later, the American Revolution.

Obviously, this background of authoritarian socialism and slavocratic plantation life had to be concealed for self-surviving reasons. If the ugly institution of slavery were ever to be publicly associated with socialism and communism, the modern Left’s house of cards would tumble into the garbage pail of history. The public would quickly realize that Progressive political leaders are determine to employ legislation and bureaucratic excesses to compel people to strictly obey the government, and in doing so, become dependent upon the largesse of these powerful slave masters. In the statist Left’s reactionary crusade against liberal polity, the peddlers of involuntary servitude havepromoted agendas where they seek power over people, not power from people.

This kinship to socialism and slavery dates back to the era of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, both of whom regularly twisted the meaning of liberty, democracy, and equality to amplify their authoritarian socioeconomic agenda. For instance, Marx supportedblack slavery in America, writing in 1846 that: “Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies,… Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance.”

Under Fascist-Marxist socialism, the state apparatus has the authority to control, and coerce the populace, because individual rights to property, life, and self-ownership need to be abrogated. These socialist intellectuals revered dictatorship of the group (groupthink) and expected the socialist overseers to usher in classless equality and a bounty of free welfare benefits: shelter, food, clothes, and medical care. And yet, this socioeconomic structure matches the horrors of slavery that were instituted in the antebellum Old South, where the slaves were equally poor, subservient and dependent. They were free of material want but incapable of moving around without permission from a master.

One of the most astute articles to reveal the collectivistic ancestry of slavery, socialism, racism, and other detestation is Jarrett Stepman’s essay, “‘The Very Best Form of Socialism’: The Pro-Slavery Roots of the Modern Left.” Stepman introduces three major contentions that provide evidence to expose this long-standing political shell game.

First, the antebellum proslavery school attempted to quash the individual-liberty premises of the Founders and the free-Left roots of classical liberalism. They dismissed the Founders’ embracement of John Locke’s social contract and natural rights where governing entities “grow organically out of community.” These slavery apologists claimed that the state, not the untrustworthy “people”, should be the holder and grantor of all rights.

Second, the American revolutionaries in both in the North and the South viewed slavery as a wrong, a fading wickedness, perhaps necessary in the short term, but a moral and political evil to eventually abolish. But latter-day slavers of the 1830s and beyond considered this antislavery attitude outdated. They contended that chattel slavery was a positive good, under the theory that superior people should rule (supremacism), and that it was the duty of the state to care and manage the lives of the unfit and inferior (paternalism). So, to make their case and protect the institution, the pro-slavers defended the ideological integrity of institutionalized thralldom. They defended bondage as a panacea, wherein not only would society altruistically provide for the welfare of its less fortunate and unfit members, but would place them into protective custody. The proponents of the South’s slavocracy rationalized such treatment as humane—righteously taking a stand to faithfully fulfill society’s obligation to protect and aid those unable to provide for themselves.

This theory allowed early Democrats and mostly southern plantation owners to forge a distinct division between the privileged superior and the less-privileged inferior, between the indolent and the industrious. They saw this division as a recipe for a great civilization. One man who popularized the righteousness of slavery was U.S. Senator John C. Calhoun. He believed that the superior man brought order; the inferior man instigated chaos. In fact, the proslavery doctrinaires emphasized order as being far more important than freedom, and that individual rights were not something bestowed by God or nature.

Last and most important, the guardians of slavery and early proto-socialism opposed the concept of equality framed in the Declaration of Independence. Instead of equality of opportunity or equality under the law, proslavery apostles argued that society was based on the principle of human inequality in accordance to the “new scientific” knowledge about human nature and the organization of government. In other words, political officials in government should assume the role of arbitrators in determining who or what would be free and equal. The ideals of free choice and self-ownership did not fit well with those who wanted to micromanage the personal and economic behavior of society. They viewed rights as something granted by a wise and benevolent government, who had the omniscience to care for the public good. For instance, Calhoun did not consider humans as autonomous individuals, but that “instead of being born free and equal, [people] are born subject, not only to parental authority, but to the laws and institutions of the country…” As for “political rights,” Calhoun took the position that they “derive from the collective will of the people and are not natural.”

Once this proslavery linkage to socialism had been detected, scholars could now piece together the modern Left’s nefarious past. As it turns out, historically, the roots of the slavocratic-based statist Left are traceable to the forbears of the Democratic Party, whose proponents actively supported enslavement, lynching, segregation, racism, welfarism, proto-socialism, and white supremacy before and after the American Civil War.

In fact, some refer to the Democratic Party’s long-time support of slavery and supremacy as the epitome of a “thievery society,” where the societal collectives own and control everything, even people. Such a thievery polity would bestow on governing bodies the authority to steal anything with immunity, for whatever noble or ignoble purpose. Perhaps this is why William Lloyd Garrison, the most prominent abolitionist in the United States, denounced slavery as an institution of “man-stealing,” writing: “Every slave is a stolen man; every slaveholder is a man stealer.” The concept of self-ownership, which dates from John Locke, opposes slavery, socialism, and authoritarianism, because they would inhibit or prohibit individuals from pursuing ownership of property.  In this way, any Borg-like collective would have the authority, often over the wishes of individual citizens, to bar people from running their own lives as they see fit—literally making slaves of the populace.

Furthermore, it was these early Democrats who set in motion a movement to discredit the classical liberalism of the founders, abolitionists and those engaged in commercial trade. Lo and behold, the first notable public figure discovered to have heavily influenced the dissemination of proslavery ideology was John C. Calhoun, who, as a political theorist and Southern protagonist, tried to redefine “republicanism” as a species favorable to a positive view of slavery. A war hawk who agitated in Congress to declare war on Great Britain (War of 1812), Calhoun and his disciples rejected the Lockean view of the natural rights of all men, a free and open press, and free-market capitalism.

Such muddled thinking should not be surprising. Calhoun was one of the earliest Democrats, and he served under the first Democratic president, Andrew Jackson, who owned as many as 300 slaves during his lifetime. Not only did Jackson instruct the U.S. Postmaster General to obstruct antislavery literature from being delivered, but he introduced the corruptive “spoils system” to American politics. Jackson also spearheaded the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that forcibly relocated many tribes to the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), which resulted in more than 10,000 deaths. In What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker Howe wrote: “The Jacksonian movement in politics, although it took the name of the Democratic Party, fought so hard in favor of slavery and white supremacy, and opposed the inclusion of non-whites and women within the American civil polity so resolutely, that it makes the term ‘Jacksonian Democracy’ all the more inappropriate as a characterization of the years between 1815 and 1848.”

President Jackson’s influence upon the modern, statist Left is now recognized as substantial. According to Andrew Jackson’s biographer Robert V. Remini, “Jacksonian Democracy…inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history—Populism, Progressivism, the New and Fair Deals, and the programs of the New Frontier and Great Society.” This is what historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., discovered in research for his 1945 classic, The Age of Jackson: modern liberalism’s pedigree dates back to Jackson, a main branch in the family tree of FDR’s New Deal.

But it was Calhoun who was the leading protagonist for the institution of slavery. Growing up in a household of slaves in South Carolina, Calhoun believed that slavery improved society by diminishing the potential for private gain and by nurturing civic-mindedness. In other words, Calhoun proposed that government should be the mediator in decisions over who gets rights and privileges, and who gets to wear leg irons. Under Calhoun’s political theories, the Lockean principle of the “consent of the governed” was readily dismissed, as only certain people were deemed worthy of representative self-governance. Equality could exist and be exercised, but only for those deemed worthy of being equal. It was as though inequality was the new equality, mirroring George Orwell’s allegory in Animal Farm, which, in sharp criticism of communism’s distorted claims of equality, highlights a small, elite drove of pigs who proclaim: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This perspective illustrates the hypocrisy of governmentalists who juxtapose the inequality of the lesser citizens with the equality of the more privileged.

To the dominant slaveholders, liberty was seen as a “reward of the races or individuals properly qualified for its possession.” Under this slavery–socialism axis, individual rights did not reside within every individual. Instead, rights were reserved only for those who were regarded as “intelligent, the patriotic, the virtuous and deserving,” as claimed by Calhoun. This interpretation voided the essence of the Declaration of Independence, where the Founders affirmed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….”

Because Calhoun treated the conferring of individual rights as a power reserved for officials of the state, anybody could be legally downgraded to unworthiness and be subjected to governmental or private bondage and dependency. Like most proslavery adherents, Calhoun’s two main pillars with which to promote slavery were white supremacy and paternalism.

In fact, under Calhoun’s vision of governance, an individual of any race or group could be designated a slave—even unfit whites. Again, this argument was alien to the Founders, who saw slavery as a short-term necessary evil that was destined to be extinguished. Calhoun regarded the institution of slavery as not only good for the slave owner, but also for the slave. In his famous “Slavery a Positive Good” speech of 1837, Calhoun declared that slavery is “instead of an evil, a good—a positive good.” Calhoun envisioned slavery as a time-honored tradition that made society prosper and civilizations progress. In essence, if it was good enough for the Greek and Roman civilizations, it had to be a worthy institution for America.

After the Confederate States of America lost the Civil War in 1865, it was the Democratic Party who became center stage in opposing any civil rights protections for blacks. They opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which the Republican congress passed, over President Andrew Johnson’s veto. The law was simple and pertinent; it was “designed to provide blacks with the right to own private property, sign contracts, sue and serve as witnesses in a legal proceeding.”

Worse still, it was the Democratic Party which founded the Ku Klux Klan in order to keep blacks suppressed and to keep them from owning guns. According to Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia University: “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy. It aimed to destroy the Republican Party’sinfrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.”

Likewise, Allen W. Trelease, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina, documented the same offensive history, writing that during this period, “the Klan became in effect a terrorist arm of the Democratic party.”

But it was the influential George Fitzhugh who crafted the most infamous arguments to bolster slavery—proclaiming in 1854 that “Slavery is a form, and the very best form, of socialism,” and that “socialism is the new fashionable name of slavery.” Fitzhugh attempted to recast plantation life into an “agricultural collective and slavery into a benign condition” of government dependence, which prompted many Southern whites to support him.

Some of Fitzhugh’s harshest criticism was reserved for the evils of a free society. He considered free societies of open capitalism and economic mobility recipes for failure. To Fitzhugh, the capitalist, free-labor society was “diseased” in that it exploited workers.

He argued in his books and pamphlets that society required socialism and slavery so that man’s greedy human nature would be destroyed. In justifying slavery, Fitzhugh wrote: “free society is a failure. We slaveholders say you must recur to domestic slavery, the best and most common form of Socialism. The new schools of Socialism promise something better, but admit, to obtain that something, they must first destroy and eradicate man’s human nature.” In an era devoid of political correctness, Fitzhugh felt perfectly justified in affirming that slaves were better off than the free laborers in the North. He wrote: “The slaves are all well fed, well clad, have plenty of fuel, and are happy. They have no dread of the future—no fear of want.” This proud Democrat even referred to his slavery-socialist movement as communistic—writing in his second book that “Slavery is a form of communism.” Fitzhugh was also noted for fervently opposing private property.

Not only did Fitzhugh dub free society “a monstrous abortion,” but he criticized the Declaration of Independence as “exuberantly false and arborescently fallacious.” He opposed letting people handle their own affairs, and believed that people should be unequal before the law. He asserted that “the bestowing upon men equality of rights, is but giving license to the strong to oppress the weak.” Alongside his socialistic and “communist” disposition, Fitzhugh took the position that liberty and free competition encourage the “strong to master the weak” and therefore secure their success.

Not surprisingly, Abraham Lincoln abhorred Fitzhugh’s proslavery stance. And yet Fitzhugh’s first book greatly influenced Lincoln’s commitment against the institution of slavery. He found Fitzhugh’s slavery-based sociological theories horrifying in that they seemed to justify slavery in every possible way. According to Lincoln’s law partner, William Henry Herndon, Fitzhugh’s writings “aroused the ire of Lincoln more than most pro-slavery books.”

Southerners like Fitzhugh pushed the Democratic Party towards a socialist-slavery plantation society that would impose a dependency on government largesse under the shadow of paternalistic racism. His was a popular voice in justifying slavery, finding support among many politicians, slaveholders and newspapers, including the influential Richmond Enquirer.

The intellectual attack upon liberty, free-markets, and equality by Fitzhugh and the slavery proponents signaled the beginning of the Democratic Party’s anti-Founders movement to invalidate the original intent of the creators of liberalism.

In 2017 a movement emerged to demand the removal of all Confederate statues and monuments across the South, which many contend symbolize the evils of slavery, racism, and white supremacy. Good enough, but something was forgotten. Ironically, where was the outcry to sweep away the Confederate perpetrators who established, financed and fought to preserve those iron shackles of slavery? Where was the demand to depose the political party that has been synonymous with such racist, antiquated views for so long—the Democratic Party? Why aren’t the Democrats included in this noble campaign to consign race-based subjugation to the dustbin of history? This is the real atrocity: toppling the statues of racists, but not those who built them.

Historically, the Democratic Party was culpable in institutionalizing slavery, racism, white supremacy, Ku Klux Klan, segregation and Jim Crow laws. But this is not ancient history. In 2010, Hillary Clinton lavished praise on her old comrade Senator Robert C. Byrd, a recruiter for the KKK who led a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She referred to Byrd as “my friend and mentor.”

And then there is the anti-Semite and racist bigot Louis Farrakhan, who threw his support behind the political campaigns of Barack Obama. Recently, Louis Farrakhan revealed that he and his Nation of Islam funded Barack Obama’s rise to political power. As a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobia, who once praised Adolf Hitler as a “very great man”, Farrakhan disclosed in 2016 that he supported Obama “when he was a community organizer… We backed him with money and with the help of the [Fruit of Islam] to get him elected.” Repeatedly, Democrat politicians, tainted by the legacy of slavery, racial supremacy, segregation, Jim Crow laws and involvement with the KKK, have been financed by campaign surrogates who harkened back to the old Dixie Democrat party. Imagine what would happen to any politician who took campaign money from the white supremacist, Holocaust denier and anti-Semite David Duke? Many Democrats, Progressives and Women’s March leaders in 2018 have refused or hesitated to rebuke Farrakhan’s reactionary views. The hypocrisy of Democrats who allegedly promote a no-tolerance view of bigotry is deafening. Apparently, the democrat apple does not fall far from the racial-prejudice tree.

But there is more to Farrakhan. He does not reserve his wrath only for Jews, but also takes potshots at other races. In a Reuters Television interview on October 4, 1994, Farrakhan stated: “Many of the Jews who owned the homes, the apartments in the black community, we considered them bloodsuckers… And when the Jews left, the Palestinian Arabs came, Koreans came, Vietnamese and other ethnic and racial groups came. And so this is a type, and we call them bloodsuckers.”

What all of this historical evidence confirms is that the Democratic Party has the ugliest history of any American political party. Isn’t it time to expose and take down the political party responsible for establishing the Confederacy, slavocracy, dependence, and a racist legacy, instead of just removing a few bronze statues?

Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0961589310?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860


New Book Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum

Almost Everything About the Political Spectrum Is Dead Wrong!

If the two polar opposites are Communism versus Fascism, what is in the middle? Is everyone not on the extreme ends half communist and half fascist? Nobody believes that, but the old yet current political spectrum prescribes that exact political scenario. So what happened? In an effort to rewrite history, the political dichotomy has been deliberately broken, falsified, sabotaged, and made meaningless, causing the public to lose their way through the contorted political maze.

With well over 1,500 footnotes from historians and political scientists, this book refurbishes the political spectrum and restores it to its original French Revolution roots and a common sense approach. Now anyone can navigate the political swampland with a faithful compass to triangulate one’s own political position, and peel back layers of distorted history.

Some of the lesser-known historical facts revealed in this book include Mussolini’s two decade advocacy of Marxism, where for over six years he was both a Marxist heretic and an Italian Fascist, combined into a Fascist–Marxist duopoly and ideology. In 1919 a red armband-wearing Hitler became an elected official in the communist-run Bavarian Soviet Republic. He later proclaimed himself a “Social Democrat.” Most of the major Nazi and Fascist leaders were Marxists, or hard-core socialists who opposed both the bourgeoisie and capitalist Jews.

Paperback and e-book of Killing History available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0961589310?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Book Price: $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-9615893-1-8  E-book $9.99

L.K. Samuels is also the author of In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, 2013, and editor and main contributor to Facets of Liberty, 1985

Monterey Herald, published June 6, 2019

America will reject socialism, again

The Heralds’ commentary “Boos for a slam on socialism by our state Dems” is correct in its position that most Americans view socialism as abhorrent and tyrannical. Our American anti-socialist attitude intensified after we were forced to spill blood and resources to fight the armies of socialism in Europe during World War II.

Joseph Goebbels famously framed World War II in 1939 as a battle between capitalism and socialism. Not long after National Socialist Germany invaded Poland, Goebbels declared that “England is a capitalist democracy. Germany is a socialist people’s state” and “English capitalists want to destroy Hitlerism.”

Hitler made a similar statement in 1941. After gloating over his past military victories against the West, he proclaimed that “It is already war history how the German Armies defeated the legions of capitalism and plutocracy.”

Indeed, if the Democrats want to win big in the next political bout, they should steer clear of embracing any variant of socialism. Socialism has always been the enemy of a free American republic.

–Brandon Kelsey, Marina

Comparison of Nazism and Stalinism

Another great link that has been making the rounds on social media. This one reveals the ideological and socioeconomic similarities of Nazism and Stalinism. This material was originally available on the “Comparison of Nazism and Stalinism” Wikipedia page, but was removed by editors for some reason. Over 130 footnotes, mostly by historians and political scientists.


December 27, 2018

What Hitler a Communist? What was His Relationship to Communism and Later to Social Democracy?

Was Hitler a Communist and later a Social Democrat? New evidence has been discovered by German historian Thomas Weber that has been published in several of his books. There is now a website with the new information, which had been available on the “Bavarian Soviet Republic” Wikipedia page until an editor censored the material despite its noteworthy footnotes. Link below


November 27, 2018

Why Do So Many Anti-Water Activists Advocate Stealing?

(One-half page advertisement in the Carmel Pine Cone, Oct. 12, 2018)

–Using the POWER of the STATE to Steal!–

Because, like thieves of the night, they believe that since they breathe, everyone owes them stuff. If they cannot buy Cal Am by voluntary means, they will simply use the power of the state to take it. And if there is resistance, the thieves will simply pull out their state-issued guns and take everything by physical force, reminiscent of the ugly ideologies that plagued Europe in the 1930-1940s.

To invade and pillage others was the typical mindset of the German National Socialists and Italian Fascists. They not only plundered other nations but many minorities as well, stealing everything they owned, their homes, businesses, clothing, even gold fillings from their teeth. One German businessman wrote of this state thievery in Günter Reimann’s The Vampire Economy (1939), asserting that “These Nazi radicals think of nothing except ‘distributing the wealth’” and are involved in the “confiscation of private property.”[1]

Mussolini also favored abolishing private property, arguing in a convoluted socialist way that “private property is theft” and then suggesting that its abolishment would move Italy “through the phase of collectivism forwards to the ultimate goal of communism.”[2]

Originally, eminent domain in America was solely employed to get ownership of road easements in order for the public to maintain them. Now, everyone’s homes, businesses and property are under an authoritarian chopping block.

There is no moral principle which allows someone to steal what they cannot get through voluntary exchange. It is simply a form of “legalized theft” that has been used by every tinhorn dictator and ideological extremist since the dawn of mankind.

Most parents tell their children: “Don’t hurt others and don’t take their stuff.” You would think that stealing would be unacceptable by the 21st century! But these anti-water activists simply harken back to the old brutal days when “might made right.”


Stealing Is Still Wrong!

 Vote NO on Measure J

Paid for by the Committee Against Fascist Economics (CAFE), Libertarian Party of Monterey County (LPMC) and Seaside Taxpayers Association (STA)

The material comes from the forthcoming book– Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle Between the ‘Free Left’ and ‘Statist Left’  — by L.K. Samuel

[1] Günter Reimann’s The Vampire Economy: Doing Business under Fascism, Auburn: Alabama, Mises Institute, pp. 6-7, 2014, first printed in 1939.

[2] Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini, New York: NY, Vintage Books, 1983, p. 23

 October 12, 2018

We Don’t Need Need Public Fascism Now!

(One-half page advertisement published in the Carmel Pine Cone, Oct. 5, 2018)

The United States and our Western Allies fought German National Socialism and Italian Fascism during World War II to defend liberal capitalism. That point was made crystal clear by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, who defined World War II in stark economic terms, declaring that “England is a capitalist democracy. Germany is a socialist people’s state.”[1]

To seize (steal) private property and companies was the essence of Marxist-inspired Fascists and their efforts to plunder other nations, races, private property, and private businesses. The National Socialists were serial kleptomaniacs who believed they could take whatever they wanted for what they deemed was the public good. Their motto, “the common good before the individual good”, allowed the National Socialists to engage in what Hitler called “social justice,”[2] social engineering, and nationalistic policies. Under the yoke of authoritarian socialism, they established a centralized welfare-warfare state determined to militarily conquer the world. After all, the “origins of fascist ideology” was “Marxism.”[3]

The United States was able to stop Germany’s and Italy’s socialization and fascistization of Europe. It is time to do the same here and stop this social-fascistization of the economy from plaguing America.

Vote Yes for freedom by voting NO on Measure J

Paid for by the Committee Against Fascist Economics (CAFE), Libertarian Party of Monterey County (LPMC) and Seaside Taxpayers Association (STA)


The material comes from the forthcoming book– Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle Between the ‘Free Left’ and ‘Statist Left’ — by L.K. Samuels

[1] Joseph Goebbels, “Englands Schuld” (“England’s Guilt”), Illustrierter Beobachter, Sondernummer, p.14. Late fall of 1939. http://research.calvin.edu/german-propaganda-archive/goeb47.htm

[2] Adolf Hitler, “Why We Are Anti-Semites,” an August 15, 1920 speech in Munich, Hitler declared: “we do not believe that there could ever exist a state with lasting inner health if it is not built on internal social justice…”

[3] Zeev Sternhell, with Mario Sznajder, Maia Asheri. The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution, Princeton: NJ, Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 5.

October 5, 2018

Stop the Fascist Takeover of Cal Am

This material will be part of a half-page advertisement published in the Carmel Pine Cone, Sept. 28, 2018, to oppose Measure J

A group of social activists are attempting to use eminent domain tactics to engineer a government takeover of a privately-owned water company.  So what does that have to do with historical Fascism? Plenty!

For instance:

  • The 13-point plank of the 1920 National Socialist Program demanded the “nationalization of all trusts” (corporations).
  • In 1934, Mussolini boasted that “Three-fourths of the Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.”[1] And in 1939 “This level of state intervention greatly surpassed that in Nazi Germany, giving Italy a public sector second only to that of Stalin’s Russia.”[2]
  • In 1937 Göring decided to nationalize private deposits of iron ore, “taking control of all privately owned steelworks and setting up a new company, known as the Hermann Göring Works.”[3]
  • By 1943, state ownership in the Third Reich had expanded rapidly where “the number of state-owned firms topped 500.”[4]
  • In 1944, Albert Speer, Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and War Production, worried about a complete government takeover of the private sector in Germany, warning that “a kind of state socialism seemed to be gaining more and more ground, furthered by many of the [Nazi] party functionaries.”[5]
  • Albert Speer also mentioned that Hitler would go into tirades over companies that were bringing in “high earnings without work.” Shouting to Speer, Hitler declared: “One of these days I’ll sweep away this outrage and nationalize all corporations.”[6]
  • Fascism was a “very specific revision of Marxism.”[7]

Vote yes for freedom by voting NO on Measure J

Paid for by the Committee Against Fascist Economics (CAFE), Libertarian Party of Monterey County (LPMC) and Seaside Taxpayers Association (STA)

[1]  Gianni Toniolo, editor, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, Oxford: UK, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 59; Mussolini’s speech to the Chamber of Deputies was on May 26, 1934.

[2]  Martin Blinkhorn, Mussolini and Fascist Italy, New York: NY, Routledge, 1991, p. 26.

[3]  Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, New York: NY, Penguin Press, 2005, p. 372.

[4]  R. J. Overy, War and Economy in the Third Reich, Oxford University Press, 1994, p.16.

[5]  Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, New York: NY, Simon and Schuster, 1970, p. 359.

[6]  Albert Speer, Spandau: The Secret Diaries, New York, NY, Pocket Books, 1977, p. 84

[7] Zeev Sternhell, with Mario Sznajder, Maia Asheri. The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution, Princeton: NJ, Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 5. Sternhell is one of the world’s leading experts on fascism.

The material comes from L.K. Samuels forthcoming book: Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle Between the ‘Free Left’ and the ‘Statist Left’

September 26, 2018

The Socialist Economics of Italian Fascism

By L.K. Samuels

The economics of Italian Fascism is often ignored or trivialized because so much of it is found in today’s world economies. Consider some of the components of fascist economics: central planning, heavy state subsidies, protectionism (high tariffs), steep levels of nationalization, rampant cronyism, large deficits, high government spending, bank and industry bailouts, overlapping bureaucracy, massive social welfare programs, crushing national debt, bouts of inflation and “a highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure”[i]

On numerous occasions, Benito Mussolini identified his economic policies with “state capitalism”—the exact phrase that Vladimir Lenin used to usher in his New Economic Policy (NEP). Lenin wrote: “State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our Soviet Republic.”[ii] After Russia’s economy collapsed in 1921, Lenin allowed privatization and private initiative, and he let the people trade, buy and sell for private profit.[iii] Lenin was moving towards a mixed economy. He even demanded that state-owned companies operate on profit/loss principles.[iv] Lenin acknowledged that he had to back away from total socialism and allow some capitalism.

Mussolini followed Lenin’s example and proceeded to establish a state-driven economic model in Italy. In essence, Mussolini’s fascism was simply an imitation of Lenin’s “third way,” which combined market-based mechanisms and socialism—similar to Red China’s “market socialism.” In short, Lenin’s revised Marxism culminated in “socialist-lite” policies that helped inspire Mussolini to craft his own Italian-style fascism with a right-wing socialist twist. Thus, one could argue that Lenin’s politics were the first modern-day version of fascism and state-corporatism.

Economist Ludwig von Mises, who fled the Nazi conquest of Europe, contended that the “economic program of Italian Fascism did not differ from the program of British Guild Socialism as propagated by the most eminent British and European socialists.”[v] [vi]

In The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Sheldon Richman succinctly states: “As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer.”[vii] He contends that socialism seeks to abolish capitalism outright, while fascism gives the appearance of a market-based economy, even though it relies heavily on the central planning of all economic activities. According to authors Roland Sarti and Rosario Romeo, “[U]nder Fascism the state had more latitude for control of the economy than any other nation at the time except for the Soviet Union.”[viii]

Interestingly, Mussolini found much of John Maynard Keynes’s economic theories consistent with fascism, writing: “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”[ix]

After the worldwide Great Depression, Mussolini became more vocal in his claims that fascism explicitly rejected the capitalist elements of economic individualism and laissez-faire liberalism.[x] In his “Doctrine of Fascism,” Mussolini wrote: “The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. . . . Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”[xi]

As the effects of the Great Depression lingered, Italy’s government promoted mergers and acquisitions, bailed out failing businesses and “seized the stock holdings of banks, which held large equity interests.”[xii] The Italian state took over bankrupt corporations, cartelized business, increased government spending, expanded the money supply, and boosted deficits.[xiii] The Italian government promoted heavy industry by “nationalizing it instead of letting the companies go bankrupt.”[xiv]

Fascist leaders deemed Italian corporations as “revolutionary,” and claimed that the corporative state would “guarantee economic progress and social justice.”[xv] Italian Fascist theories of corporatism arose out of revolutionary and national syndicalism that often paralleled the activities of the trade unions, craft guilds and professional societies. Mussolini acknowledged Fascism’s socialist roots and influences. Among those whom he acknowledged as influencing Fascism were French Marxist Georges Sorel and French Revolutionary Unionist Hubert Lagardelle.[xvi] Moreover, Mussolini was a union man: he decreed mandatory unionism for all Italian workers. It is true that Mussolini banned strikes, but Lenin had done the same in the Soviet Union.

Under the fascism of the corporate state, “planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission.” These measures restricted new business from forming or expanding.[xvii] [xviii] Moreover, “levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and ‘excess’ incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or ‘loans.’”[xix]

By the mid-1930s, corporate statism and regulatory concentration had caused the Italian credit system to be put “under the control of the state and parastate agencies” and, by late 1930s, about 80 percent of available credit was “controlled directly or indirectly by the state.”[xx] As war with Ethiopia approached, Italy’s government imposed price controls, production quotas, and higher tariffs. A large trade deficit swelled, which led to more restrictions on imports, tighter controls on foreign exchange, and greater controls over the distribution of raw materials.[xxi] As Mussolini moved towards “autarky” or self-sufficiency and imposed more protectionist laws, Italy’s “government spending rose and budget deficit increased sevenfold between 1934 and 1937.”[xxii] [xxiii] With the passage of the Bank Reform Act in 1936, the Bank of Italy and most of the other major banks became government entities.[xxiv] One year earlier, the confiscation of capital had begun with state edicts requiring all banks, businesses, and private citizens to surrender their foreign-issued stocks and bonds to the Bank of Italy.[xxv] Mussolini doubled the number of Italian bureaucrats under an enormous bureaucracy of committees. By 1934, one Italian in five worked for the government.[xxvi] There was a labyrinth “of overlapping bureaucracies where Mussolini’s orders were constantly being lost or purposely mislaid.”[xxvii]

In May 1934, as the Institute of Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) started to take over bank assets, Mussolini declared, “Three-fourths of [the] Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.”[xxviii] [xxix] In 1939, Italy saw the highest rate of state-owned enterprises in the world, outside of the Soviet Union.[xxx] In that year, the state “controlled over four-fifths of Italy’s shipping and shipbuilding, three-quarters of its pig iron production and almost half that of steel.”[xxxi]

By September of 1943, Mussolini was heading a Nazi puppet state called the Italian Social Republic (RSI) in which he proposed additional “economic socialization.” He began to display a renewed interest in his earlier radicalism. Claiming that he had never abandoned his left-wing ideals,[xxxii] “he returned to a type of socialism which once again attacked capitalism,” in an effort to “annihilate the parasitic plutocracies.”[xxxiii] In February 1944, Mussolini’s government devised a “socialization law” that called for more nationalization of industry and under which workers would participate in managing factories and businesses, along with land reform.[xxxiv] The Italian Social Republic “obsessively emphasized” commitments to socialization and a “variety of fascist equalitarianism and an amplified fascist welfare state.”[xxxv]

In essence, the economics of Italian Fascism was Marxist and syndicalist-inspired—and far more left-wing socialist than the economies of many current western nations that embrace a mixed economy of socialism, welfarism, and unionism. Now, if only economists and historians would, even if belatedly, recognize that fact.

Posted at the Library of Economics and Liberty – July 6, 2015


[i] Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism 1914-1945, Madison: Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1995, p. 7.

[ii]  V. I. Lenin, “The Tax in Kind,” written April 21, 1921, Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 329-365.


[iii] V. N. Bandera “New Economic Policy (NEP) as an Economic System,” The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 71, No. 3 (June, 1963), 265-79: p. 268.

[iv] V. N. Bandera “New Economic Policy (NEP) as an Economic System,” The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 71, No. 3, (June, 1963), 265-79: p. 268.

[v] Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Constitutions for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain, London: UK, London, New York, Longmans, Green & Co. 1920.

[vi] Ludwig von Mises, Planned Chaos, Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson: NY, 1970, p.73, first printing 1947.

[vii] Sheldon Richman, 2nd edition, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, short article “Fascism”, Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, 2008, source: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html

[viii] Franklin Hugh Adler, Italian Industrialists from Liberalism to Fascism: The Political Development of the Industrial Bourgeoisie1906-1934, New York: NY, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p 347; original source: Rosario Romeo, Breve Storia della grande industria in Italia 1861/1961, Bologna, 1975, pp.173-4; Roland Sarti, Fascism and the Industrial Leadership in Italy, 1919-40: A Study in the Expansion of Private Power Under Fascism, 1968, p. 214.

[ix] James Strachey Barnes, Universal Aspects of Fascism, Williams and Norgate, London: UK, 1929, pp. 113-114. This book bears the imprimatur of Benito Mussolini.

[x] Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism, London: UK, Victor Gollancz, LTD, 1936, p. 134.

[xi] Mussolini, My Autobiography, New York: NY, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928, p. 280.

[xii] Michael E. Newton, The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 170.

[xiii] Jeffrey Herbener, “The Vampire Economy: Italy, Germany, and the US,” Mises Institute, October 13, 2005. http://mises.org/daily/1935

[xiv] Michael E. Newton, The Path to Tyranny: A history of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 171.

[xv] Martin Blink Horn, Mussolini and Fascist Italy, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 29.

[xvi] Sternhell, Zeev, Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, English translation ed., Princeton: NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986, p. 203.

[xvii] Sheldon Richman, 2nd edition, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, short article “Fascism”, Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, 2008, source:http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html

[xviii] Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism, London: UK, Victor Gollancz, LTD, 1936, p. 418.

[xix] Sheldon Richman, 2nd edition, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, short article “Fascism”, Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, 2008, source:http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html

[xx]  A. James Gregor, Italian Fascism and Developmental Dictatorship, Princeton: NJ, Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 158.

[xxi] Alexander J. De Grand, Italian Fascism: Its Origins & Development, Lincoln: NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1982, p. 106.

[xxii] Michael E. Newton, The Path to Tyranny: A history of Free Society’s Descent into Tyanny, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 173.

[xxiii] Alexander J. De Grand, Italian Fascism: Its Origins & Development, Lincoln: NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1982, p. 108.

[xxiv] Alexander J. De Grand, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: The “Fascist” Style of Rule, second edition, New York, NY, Routledge, p. 52.

[xxv]  Jeffrey Herbener, “The Vampire Economy: Italy, Germany, and the US,” Mises Institute, October 13, 2005.

[xxvi] George Seldes, “The Fascist Road to Ruin: Why Italy Plans the Rape of Ethiopia,” The American League Against War and Fascism, 1935. Source: http://fascism-archive.org/books/fascistroadtoruin.html.

[xxvii] Jim Powell, “The Economic Leadership Secrets of Benito Mussolini,” Forbes, Feb. 22, 2012. Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2012/02/22/the-economic-leadership-secrets-of-benito-mussolini/

[xxviii] Gianni Toniolo, editor, The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, Oxford: UK, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 59; Mussolini’s speech on May 26, 1934.

[xxix] Carl Schmidt, The Corporate State in Action, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1939, pp. 153–76.

[xxx] Patricia Knight, Mussolini and Fascism (Questions and Analysis in History), New York: Routledge, 2003, p. 65.

[xxxi] Martin Blink Horn, Mussolini and Fascist Italy, 2nd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 1994, p. 35.

[xxxii] Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini: A Biography, New York: NY, Vintage Books, p. 31.

[xxxiii] Stephen J. Lee, European Dictatorships 1918-1945, 3rd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 2008, p. 17.

[xxxiv] Stephen J. Lee, European Dictatorships 1918-1945, 3rd edition, New York: NY, Routledge, 2008, p. 171-172.

[xxxv] R.J.B. Bosworth, Mussolini’s Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915-1945, New York, NY, Penguin Press, 2006, p. 523)

December 9, 2017

Unions in Italy and Germany during the Age of Fascism

By L.K. Samuels

It might be surprising to some, but both Italian Fascism and German National Socialism were closely related to and supportive of trade unionism. Historically, both French and Italian fascism emerged out of a major trade union movement known as “revolutionary syndicalism” (syndicat means trade union in French), which first came into prominence in France in the early 20th century. It was spearheaded by Georges Sorel, a French Marxist, who advocated street violence and thuggery during general strikes to overthrow capitalism. In his own words, Sorel wrote that violence is acceptable if “enlightened by the idea of the general strike.”

But Sorel was no ordinary Marxist. As one of the intellectual heavyweights behind revolutionary syndicalism, Sorel was an inspiration to both Marxists and Fascist alike, including Benito Mussolini, who referred to him as his mentor. Mussolini idolized Sorel, claiming: “What I am, I owe to Sorel.” And Sorel returned the favor, calling Mussolini “a man no less extraordinary than Lenin.”

Mussolini’s affinity with trade unionism is obvious; he was not only a leader of the Italian Socialist Party, but according to historian Denis Mack Smith, a hard-core Marxist, who “once belonged to the Bolshevik wing of the Italian Socialist party.” Interestingly, Mussolini was for about six years both a Marxist and a Fascist leader. He founded the Fascist Revolutionary Party in 1915, supported Lenin’s October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and called himself the “Lenin of Italy” in the 1919 election. In other words, Mussolini was what I call a “Fascist-Marxist.” Not until around 1921 did he begin to pull away from Marxism, mostly due to Lenin’s unpopularity over the economic collapse of Soviet Russia’s economy that had caused massive unemployment.

The revolutionary syndicalist movement was well steeped in the ideology of Italian fascism. According to Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, a leading authority on Fascism, “most syndicalist leaders were among the founders of the Fascist movement,” where “many even held key posts” in Mussolini’s regime. In fact, Marxist-inspired “Italian revolutionary syndicalism became the backbone of fascist ideology,” which means that a large sector of the trade unionism birthed fascism—to be later known as Fascist Syndicalism.

As a union organizer and agitator who instigated strikes and violent riots against Italy’s invasion of Ottoman Libya in 1911–1912, Mussolini sought an economic policy that was “productivist” instead of “distributionist” to fulfill Karl Marx’s prophecy that a nation needed “full maturation of capitalism as the precondition for socialist realization.” Marx argued that only an advanced industrial system could provide the productive capacity for the proletariat to bring about their historical worker-state destiny. In other words, to progress to a fully socialized worker state, Italy required a high level of industrialization, which, during Mussolini’s time, was stuck in a mostly rural, poor and underdeveloped condition. To increase industrial capacity, Mussolini permitted Edmondo Rossoni, a well-known revolutionary syndicalist leader, to head  Italy’s General Confederation of Fascist Syndical Corporations in an effort to equalize worker and employer power under a corporate syndicate structure. Rossoni and his Fascist syndicalists believe in “fusing Nationalism with class struggle” and that workers should eventually take control of all industrial factories, once they had “mastered the requisite competence to take command.” Mussolini’s opinions towards fascist unionism had a similar ring, saying: “I declare that henceforth capital and labor shall have equal rights and duties as brothers in the fascist family.”

National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis)

What about the National Socialist movement in Germany? The Nazis not only courted workers and unionism, but they even put “Workers” into their official party name—National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They appeared so pro-worker that the foreign press during the 1920s simply referred to Hitler and his socialist party as the “National Socialist Labor Party.” The National Socialists went out of their way to get workers support. In some cases, the Nazis even allied with the Communist Party of Germany, demanding better wages for workers. Hitler’s “brownshirts” and red-flagged Communists marched side by side through the streets of Berlin in 1932, and violently destroyed any busses whose drivers had failed in participate in the worker’s strike. In fact, the biggest voter contingency for National Socialist candidates came from German factory workers.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor he declared May Day of 1933 a paid national holiday and threw elaborate celebrations with songs, speeches, marches, and fireworks. The Nazi’s slogan for this people’s community celebration was “Germany honors labor.” The prospect of national unity with the Nationalism socialist seemed so high that even the German Free Trade Unions encouraged their members to participate in the activities.

After Hitler rose to power, the National Socialists became the quintessential worker state, eager to identify Germany as a “proletarian nation” that would struggle against “plutocratic nations.” After all, Hitler repeatedly lauded the virtues of labor, pronouncing in the Völkischer Beobachter that “I only acknowledge one nobility—that of labour.”

Despite slews of pro-worker platitudes by the socialist dictatorship, the reality was that the state was now calling all the shots. In the case of trade unions, Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini did not just outlaw labor unions under their regime; they nationalized them as would any good socialist.  Of course, such nationalization would be in accordance with orthodox Marxist doctrine which demanded state ownership and control over all independent organizations. But they were even more draconian. They made membership in the union mandatory. As noted by Italian historian Gaetano Salvemini “In [Fascist] Italy and [Nazi] Germany the official unions have been made compulsory by law, while in the United States, the workers are not legally obligated to join the company unions but may even, if they so wish, oppose them.”

Hitler and Mussolini were simply imitating Lenin, who had earlier closed down all independent labor associations, factory committees and worker cooperatives, banned strikes, walkouts, and lockouts. Lenin even forced workers to work a slavish 80-hour week.  After the Bolsheviks banned all labor unions, one unionist “described the unions as ‘living corpses.’” Any Russian worker who participated in general strikes was arrested, imprisoned or shot. Under Lenin’s regime, workers had no real representation or bargaining rights and were treated like industrial serfs who were chained to their factories. Although Hitler and Mussolini followed Lenin’s nationalizing craze, their treatment of workers did not mimic their Russian counterparts.

Of all the fascists, Hitler was vigilant in keeping many of his promises to labor.  Under the newly created German Labor Front (DAF), the Nazis set high wages, overtime pay was generous, and dismissal of workers by employers was difficult to execute, but inflation and stricter labor laws eroded much of that advantage. Headed by Robert Ley, the German Labor Front preferred nationalized enterprises over privately owned companies since it held a bias against liberal capitalism. But its main mission was also to satisfy workers enough to prevent rebellion against both industrialists and the national socialist state.

In any event, following the Nazis’ “Socialism of Deed” ideology, all sorts of revolutionary new social and entertainment programs were provided to German workers via the “Strength through Joy” (Kraft durch Freude, or KdF), considered the world’s biggest tour operators. The KdF program, which was designed to provide affordable leisure activities, included such amenities as subsidized domestic or foreign vacations, parks, ocean cruises, construction of worker canteens that provided subsidized hot meals, factory libraries and gardens, sport facilities and swimming pools, adult education courses, periodic breaks, orchestras during lunch break, tickets to concerts and operas, no-cost physical education, gymnastic and sports training. The DAF-subsidized holiday vacations were so popular that by 1938 over 10.3 million Germans signed up.

But the debt was piling up. After years of Keynesian-style deficit spending for expensive labor and welfare perks, along with military spending, National Socialist Germany was at the brink of bankruptcy. Many historians, such as Götz Aly, argue that as Germany’s economy faltered, Hitler was forced to resort to military adventuring just to prop up his dying, bankrupt economy. The failing economics of socialism and coercion resulted in a horrific war that compelled the Nazis not only to plunder conquered nations, but to rob and liquidate minorities in order to pay for Nazi Germany’s exploding deficits.

Despite all of the special programs lavished on German employees and citizens, the DAF was still considered the most corrupt of all institutions under Hitler’s administration. Obviously, to mandate union membership and compel workers to pay union dues without recourse is a recipe for abuse and corruption. This is exactly what happened to the Nazis. Soon after Robert Ley took command of the German Labor Front in 1933, he freely embezzled union funds for personal use, despite an exorbitant salary. He lived high on the hog with a luxurious estate, a handful of villas and a fleet of cars. Ley was arrogant, often drunk, and prone to womanizing. He ran his department like a personal fiefdom, ordering around his subordinates and workers. He even secured bribes from party officials, politicians and industrialists to meet his high standard of living. Sounds familiar?


Many American unions, especially those of government employees, mirror the exact policies and tactics of Fascist syndicalism, giving employees little representation, especially as to where and how their dues are spent. Whether in Nazi Germany or America, when the state forces workers to pay a union bribe just to work in an industry, tremendous power has been transferred from the individual employee to a coercive collectivity—nothing short of how the fascist-socialists emasculated their workers. And this is where the distinctly American idea of freedom of choice has been abandoned to the violent thuggery and corruption that has shadowed many labor movements.

Sadly, today’s unionism is actually no different from yesterday’s Fascist syndicalism, where union bosses were officially granted a monopoly of power sanctioned and backed by governmental laws. Someday the American public will wake up and recognize these dreadful similarities, but will it be too late?

Post by the California Policy Center, April 12, 2017

The Dangers of Stealing Private Property

By Lawrence Samuels

Posted 11-18-2017

There have been calls in the Monterey Peninsula community for a detailed financial study of the Cal Am public buyout. Such a study will unequivocally prove that a forced buyout would be extremely expensive to consumers. That is a given. It will take a billion or so to buy Cal Am and maybe another 2 to 3 billion dollars to service the 30-year loan, culminating in sky-high water rates and property taxes. But while such a study would be fruitful, it should be a secondary concern to the public. The primary danger of eminent domain is the bad consequences for a liberal society built on choice and liberty.

The seizure of private property not only gives eminent domain the illusion of being moral and legal, but that government takeovers can be extended to any private asset for any reason. Such unfettered authority conveys a carte blanche for potentially anything private; even to deny the self-ownership of people as if we still lived under feudalism. The stealing of property from an individual or group gives the impression that such criminal activity is somehow constitutional. But historically, this was never the case.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provided a clause to prohibit expropriating property without compensation. At the time, the “Public Use” clause dealt only with roadways, since there were no government-owned and operated schools, hospitals or other facilities in 1700s America. Most roadways were private easements that allowed public travel, but were poorly maintained and rarely upgraded. Most Americans willingly donated or sold road easements to government agencies in order to have them assume financial responsibility for maintaining and repairing thoroughfares. Nonetheless, eminent domain powers were rarely carried out since the public considered such actions a violation of property rights.

But then came the 20th century which ushered in a radical change in attitudes towards the power of the state. The Founders’ anti-state sentiment was replaced with the concept that any politician or government could be trusted to do good works. Many Americans no longer saw government as an evil force just waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting people with despotic ambitions. No, it was now believed that the tyrannical traits of government could be reformed and domesticated, even made benign. It became fashionable to believe that the state could be easily defanged and neutralized by intellectual persuasion. In this environment, the political elite would be trained not to harm a fly. Of course, history proved them terribly wrong.

Europe was first to experience the fully protruding claw of totalitarian regimes, exposing the folly of misjudging the truly horrific nature of political institutions. With the rise of ideological armies and dictatorships during and after World War I, collectivism, socialism, and violence took classical liberal and monarchic governments by storm. Europeans experienced firsthand the savage and genocidal temperament of unfettered governments as they barreled over property rights, pillaged the public trust, and confiscated assets from individuals and companies without any thought of compensation. The greatest admirers of state-sanctioned kleptomania were revolutionary socialists, fascist syndicalists, and national socialists who favored a hodgepodge of ideologies that espoused racism, nationalism, classism, tribalism, anti-Semitism, and statism, all in opposition to the John Lockean concept of individual rights.

These European collectivists were extremely hostile to private property, liberal capitalism, and individualism, and wanted to concentrate political power for social justice ends. Mussolini, a former Marxist, declared that Fascist Italy would “impose social order” on society. Not to be outdone, Hitler, in a speech to factory workers, promised to create a “socially just state.” And to achieve their particular ideological determinism, they were willing to confiscate the property of racial minorities, outcasts, opponents, and almost anybody else, eager to redistribute the plundered spoils. For instance, by 1943 the Third Reich had taken ownership of 500 companies in key industries, along with more property seizures in conquered nations. These ideologues were so determined to seize private companies and create new government ones that Albert Speer, Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production, worried that “a kind of state socialism seemed to be gaining more and more ground” in National Socialist Germany. In the case of Fascist Italy, Mussolini went hog-wild with nationalizing the greater part of his economy, boasting in 1934 that “Three-fourths of the Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.”

A number of German Industrialists were extorted, threatened or imprisoned, such as Fritz Thyssen, who, after criticizing the invasion of Poland in 1939, was stripped of his political privileges. His company, the United Steelworks (Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG) with over 200,000 employees, was nationalized. He had to flee to France, but was captured by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp.

The Founders were wise to oppose government ownership, wishing to avoid the type of harsh authority that monarchies mercilessly wielded on their subjects. In England, for example, the King claimed ownership of all land and people, far and wide, and if a starving peasant killed a deer in the forest, he would be hung if caught. The Founders hated such practices so much that they put into place policies to give Americans and immigrants free land across the entire continent.

Eminent domain is a horrendous injustice. Dubbed “Negro Removal” during 1950-60s by the black community, eminent domain seizures can only lead to greater losses of liberty. Why not just let Cal Am decide if they want to sell their water company? What’s wrong with choice? Why put a threatening sword over a company’s head? Why expropriate private property like the German National Socialists, Italian Fascists, and Russian Soviets? Such confiscatory policies are not American, but actually an authoritarian type of “ism” that should be foreign to every American.

Lawrence Samuels is the author of the 2013 book, “In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics, and Human Action.” He has a forthcoming book on the political spectrum scheduled for 2018.

Assessing blame for water price

Published in the Monterey Herald – July 31, 2017

By Lawrence Samuels

Special to the Herald

A report from the Food and Water Watch has Cal Am water rates as the most expensive in the nation. Maybe. But who is really responsible for the high rates?

The story began with a 1995 proposed dam in upper Carmel Valley. The dam would have been the lowest-cost alternative since the fresh water is already free, naturally. Moreover, the dam would let the river flow during the dry summer months to accommodate the steelhead salmon, red-legged frog and other important species. Easy peezy. But no, the radical environmentalists said that a desalt plant would be better, although far more expensive. The dam was voted down. The cost of water seemed to be unimportant.

When the dam was no longer politically viable, the radical environmentalists changed their tune. No, the desalt plant would not do. As for the temporary government agency—the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD), explicitly organized to resolve our water problems—they seemed impotent to do much of anything. After spending around $100 to $150 million dollars to find a new water source, there was little to show. In fact, the taxpayers’ money spent by MPWMD would have provided the lion’s share of the funds to build a dam. Ironic.

Other alternatives to provide water got the attention of Clint Eastwood, who offered to donate a large parcel of land for a reservoir near Carmel River in early 1990, a project called the Cañada Reservoir Project, which most people wholeheartedly supported. That is, almost everyone except the MPWMD that had elected a number of radical environmentalists who opposed the lower-costing water gift. The project died. Apparently, cost was again no object.

It took the local city mayors’ Monterey Regional Water Authority to get a desalt plant off the ground after almost 25 years of do-nothing. But here again, the radical environmentalists sued, obstructed, and delayed in every possible way to stop the desalt plant. This pattern only increased water rates. And even if Cal Am had been a public entity, the water rates would still be high, since the State’s court order forced the water provider to get customers to use less water, thereby making the production of water more expensive per gallon.

So, what is the game plan of radical environmentalists? We know they don’t like water because it might inspire some growth, despite the harsh restrictions against building anything in Monterey County. Maybe they simply want to show their political muscles by actually stealing the water company before they eminent-domain whole neighborhoods into wildlands, returning Monterey to its pre-Columbian days. But that would bring up another problem; water would be fairly cheap then, and the make-water-expensive crowd could never allow that.

Lawrence Samuels is the author of the 2013 book, “In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action.”

September 12, 2017

Using eminent domain against Cal Am is like stealing

Published in the Monterey Herald, June 29, 2017

By Lawrence Samuels

In an effort to expand the government sector, Public Water Now not only advocates a buyout of California American Water, but if the water company refuses to sell, an expropriation of their business. This ideology of stealing has an ugly history that few people today would publicly support.

The story begins with Willian Lloyd Garrison, leader of the American Abolitionist movement that eventually led to the demise of slavery. Garrison was famous for labeling slavery “manstealing,” a word that connected enslaved labor with a type of stealing. At the time, most Americans saw stealing as morally wrong, so Garrison’s association of slavery with stealing was a powerful argument against the theft of a man’s time, life and assets. So, in this sense, the ballot measure proposed by the pro-eminent domain ideologues to forcibly seize Cal Am, is reminiscent of antebellum slavery.

Garrison was also a proponent of “self-ownership,” meaning that people owned themselves and therefore cannot be stolen and enslaved. He worried that if government itself attained the authority to legally steal, it could take anything by force. Government law had already given private citizens that power, but if government itself engaged in such authority, to legally steal people and their belongings, another kind of enslavement would rise.  John Locke had earlier addressed this issue, warning that without private property rights the individual had no rights whatsoever.

There were numerous ideologies in the 20th century that opposed classical liberalism by promoting stealing in the name of community good; plundering nations and minorities. In fact, these collectivists from the 1920s-1940s believed that the state could take anything from anybody, even their labor. One such social justice militant in 1920 Germany demanded the “nationalization of trusts” (corporations) and “the common good before the individual good.”

Of course, the pro-stealing cohorts don’t like being victims of stealing themselves. They would rather be the stealer, not the stealee. So, to avert this dilemma, they seek political dominance with the muscle to impose their brand of utopia upon society.

Nonetheless, one could argue that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander? If stealing becomes acceptable, should we eminent domain Public Water Now supporters, confiscate their homes and bank accounts for the common good, bulldoze their buildings for public parks? Wouldn’t this be the appropriate karma?

But alas, this scenario would lead to a kleptomaniac society where nobody owned anything and the bigger the brute the greater his violent plunder. Fortunately, America was founded on the idea of equal treatment for everyone, which would include the owners of Cal Am. That should be the focus of Public Water Now, not its political demand to steal from others.

Lawrence Samuels is the author of the 2013 book, “In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action.”

Why so hell-bent?

May 5, 2017

by Lawrence Samuels

George Riley and his crew of anti-water advocates say they want to save money for ratepayers by seizing control of Cal Am and turning it into a government agency. Well, the opposite will happen if such a measure passes. Since Cal Am has no intention of selling, ratepayers will have to pay attorney’s fees to prevent the takeover. On the other side, taxpayers will pay attorney fees to a government agency to pursue the eminent domain procedures against Cal Am.

Most citizens will pay for both attorneys, on both sides. The court battle could last for a decade, costing tens of millions of dollars or more.

Why spend so much money to exchange one monopoly with another? If Cal Am had been a government entity, ratepayers would still have to pay higher water rates due to the State of California’s order to sell less water. Moreover, there would still be a huge cost of building the desal plant.

Why is Riley so hell-bent on taking over companies by force, like the leaders of Italy and Germany in the 1930s and 1940s? Why would anyone want to emulate such horrendous ideologies? Whatever the motive, Riley’s actions will be extremely expensive.

(Letter to editor published in the Carmel Pine Cone concerning a 2018 ballot measure to eminent domain the local water company.)

September 12, 2017

Lawrence Samuels: Sailing into uncharted fascist waters?

POSTED: 04/29/2017 Monterey Herald

By Lawrence Samuels, Guest commentary

In response to the Herald’s reflections on the denial of free speech at UC Berkeley (“The battle over free speech on campus”), the question that begs to be asked is whether the political left has sailed into uncharted “fascist” waters. Are they intolerant, closed minded and violent? After all, the use of violence to silence opposition was a trait of the squadristi thugs in fascist Italy and the brownshirts in National Socialist Germany. But many prominent historians would take a different opinion, arguing that the extreme, modern left has always exhibited these reprehensible traits, essentially since they were the ardent midwife at fascism’s birth.

Historically, the “ideology of fascism,” which first surfaced in France, was according to one of the world’s leading experts on fascism, Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, “a revision of Marxism” that was assisted by the pro-violence teachings of Georges Sorels’ “revolutionary syndicalism.” A. James Gregor from UC Berkeley concurs, professing that “Fascism’s most direct ideological inspiration came from”… “Italy’s most radical ‘subversives’ — the Marxists of revolutionary syndicalism.”

Even Hitler was heavily influenced by such collective ideology, who was elected Deputy Battalion Representative of the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1918. Here, he followed the Jewish Marxist reformer Kurt Eisner, who was eventually assassinated. In solidarity, Hitler attended Eisner’s funeral, where photographs showed him wearing a black armband on one arm and the red communist brassard on the other.

So, what is the actual meaning behind the left and right? Historically, the political spectrum first appeared during the French Revolution. The original leaders of the French Revolution were the bourgeoisie, capitalists, merchants and artisans who first attacked tax collectors before assailing the Bastille in 1789. According to their seating arrangement, the left wing was the classical liberals, which included Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson under the “Girondins” faction of the Jacobin Club. They lowered taxes, limited government, supported private property rights and emancipated the Jews. The right side represented the authoritarians and monarchy.

But by 1793, the revolution was hijacked by Robespierre’s social revolutionaries (Montagnards faction) who sought greater power for government to impose social changes. On Oct. 31, 1793, 22 free-market French Deputies were charged with treason and guillotined, ushering in the Reign of Terror, where even Thomas Paine was arrested, jailed and almost guillotined.

So, what to make of all of this? It appears that the left is sometimes the right and the right is sometimes the left. It behooves political writers to first define ideologies before quickly slapping them with inaccurate left or right labels. Maybe this is why American is so divided today. Maybe nobody understands the nuances of the political spectrum and the ideologies that inhabit them.

Lawrence Samuels is a local author with a forthcoming book on the political spectrum.

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