Mises and Marx Missed the Mark, and So Did Mussolini
OPINION: Oddly Enough, Extreme Leftist, Rightist, Libertarian, and Statist Ideologies are all too Far From Center to Work Well
Marx and Mussolini called for extreme evolutions of socialism, Mises called for an absolutist return to individualist liberalism, but all miss the mark.
Or, poetically, “Mises and Marx Missed the Mark, and So Did Mussolini”.
Liberalism (and by extension the conservatism that opposes this in liberal nations), in both its classical and social forms, is not without its problems.
A democratically minded and liberal Republic has vices and virtues (so says Montesquieu in his Spirit of the Laws at least), in fact each type of government has vices and virtues and the constitution of a state and the culture of a state should seek to balance these.
Fear is the virtue of despots and tyrannical states and duty to state is the virtue of Monarchies and Plato’s timocracies. Mussolini wanted to answer the mixed-Republics vices as they arose after WWI with an autocratic timocracy, its focus on intense aggressive nationalism created a tyrannical and despotic government, because the virtues of fascism demanded it.
Liberty and Equality are the virtues of Democracy.
Marx sought to pushback against liberalism by creating his scientific socialism (the doctrine that became Communism). But Marx did not seek liberty, he sought only equality. Marx sought to answer the economic, political, and social inequality born from the oligarchy that arose from liberal democracy with a planned economy and the elimination of classes (he sought extreme equality). However, from this overly equal doctrine tyranny arose, because the virtues of Communism demanded it. As Plato warned us, Democracy breeds Tyranny due to an excess of equality and liberty.
Of course, that brings us to Mises.
Mises sought to pushback against expansive socialism in the WWI and WWII eras by turning to pure free-market individualism, by turning to pure liberty. Mises sought to answer the economic, political, and social equality born from the statism that arose from left and right-wing populist statism (socialism, communism, and fascism) with pure liberty (he sought extreme liberty). However, from this overly liberal doctrine is a recipe for tyranny. Again, as Plato warned us, Democracy breeds Tyranny due to an excess of equality and liberty.
Mises dream of pure individual liberty never led directly to tyranny, not in the way fascism and communism did, this is because it is not statist on paper. This ideology built the Gilded Age, this ideology affected the 1920’s in America (under Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, but especially Coolidge), and this ideology inspired Reagan, but this ideology has never had full reign. It has always been limited by government, and this is because its virtue of pure liberty from state demands no state intervention (thus it really does ward of statist tyranny). However, Mises’ doctrine has a Catch-22, it breeds a tyrannical oligarchy that acts as a state and begins to starve the citizens of social equality, moving the state toward a pre-Solonic Athens. Without restraints the Oligarchy acts as an archaistic Oligarchy/Democracy hybrid. It has many virtuous features, but it also has an inability to restrain itself and thus lends itself to a number of extremes.
The reality is none of these is the answer to the vices of a liberal Republic, instead, an adherence to the virtues of a liberal Republic and a tempered use of equality, liberty, and national statism used as an aristocratic restraint is the key.
In other words, a liberal democracy is a mixed-Republic with a separation of powers that draws from the social and classical left and right, from the individualist and collectivist doctrines, from the liberals and statists, from the aristocracy to the anarchistic and communal, and pulls from it an alchemic mix that breeds the virtues of a Republic.
The virtues of a republic are a love of the virtues of all government types, a tolerance of the moderate vices of all government types, and a fear of the extreme vices of deficiency and excess of all the government types.
A Democratic Republican Liberal must tolerate and even love minor inequality, while at the same time love essential equalities, they must love rugged individualism, but must appreciate the collective, they must have healthy fear, but not be ruled by it, they must feel honor and duty to the state, but not become despotic in their nature, they must love trade, but appreciate fairness, etc.
This is to say, because the answer is a balanced center, extreme solutions to inequality don’t work.
Marx and Mussolini both thought the liberal century was dead, but a close reading of Plato shows us that there isn’t some hidden type waiting in the wings that no one has thought of, instead human nature is a constant and the attributes of real governments are just a manifestation of the underlying human condition.
All free states are capitalist, because people naturally desire to create and trade, all free states are democratic and liberal, because people naturally desire to express themselves, all states are statist, because authority and delegation are required, all free states are technocratic, because one of humankind’s primary assets is intelligence, all free states are moral (not in having a state religion, but in a metaphysical sense), because another asset is empathy, emotion, and metaphysical morality, all free states have a civil religion, because we all have a collectivist desire to find metaphysics in the collective physic.
In other words, it is complex, but the general answer is balance. Represented on a few chart, it looks like this:
|Spheres||Empirical (sphere of facts based on experience)||Rational (sphere of facts about ideas)|
|Natural Philosophy (sphere of facts based on experience)||Physics (Pure Empiricism)||Logic (Pure Reason)|
|Moral Philosophy (sphere of facts about ideas)||Ethics (Philosophy-in-Action)||Metaphysics (Pure Philosophy)|
|SPHERE OF ACTION||VICE OF DEFICIENCY (FAR-RIGHT)||THE LEFT-RIGHT MEAN||VICE OF EXCESS (FAR-LEFT)|
|Liberty||Overly Authoritative / Classically Conservative||Liberal||Overly Liberal / Classically Liberal|
|Equality||Extreme Inequality (Individual Focused) / Socially Conservative||Equal||Extreme Equality (Collective Focused) / Socially Liberal|
See: The Spheres of Human Understanding and What is a Polity?
BOTTOMLINE: Extremes corrupt democracy, thus a liberal Republic must avoid extremes despite its democratic mindset that allows for rouge doctrines that try to solve the vices of the liberal state with extremes that ultimately breed tyranny and despotism. I.E. The virtues of a Republic safeguard a Republic, and to the extent a Republic lets extremists of any sort corrupt the spirit of the laws by making them extremely aristocratic, timocratic, oligarchical, or democratic (thereby unbalancing the system in spirit) is to the extent that the long-or-short road to tyranny begins. The problem is of course, liberalism and democracy breed factions, and factions respond to the vices created by past factions who created vices in the Republic in an effort to create their own extreme virtues. It is a vicious cycle, but the government type itself contains its own remedy as sure as it contains its own poison.
Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. – James Madison
"Mises and Marx Missed the Mark, and So Did Mussolini" is tagged with: American Politics, Individualism and Collectivism, Left–right Politics, Socialism