Fascism, Communism, and Socialism, What Should We Believe:Â We’ve got a real debate in our country over socialism, is it a good thing or a bad thing? What about fascism? And what is Communism? We don’t really even know what these terms mean anymore. Yet, a lot of our young people are actually supporting some of these things while not even knowing what they’re supporting.Â Mark David Hall joining us to bring some clarity on the subject. Read below or tune in now to learn more!Â
Air Date:Â 12/11/2017
Guests:Â Mark Hall, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Â However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. Â This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, and the president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator.
Find out more about us at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. Two websites, lots of information at both, check them both out today.
Later in the program, Mark David Hall joining us. David, Tim, we’ve got a real debate in our country over is socialism a good thing orÂ bad thing? What about fascism? What is Communism? We don’t really know what these terms even mean anymore. And a lot of our young people are actually supporting some of these things not knowing what they’re supporting.
Millennials in the Culture
I would say the majority of young people actually. So, not even just a lot, a majority of young people are supporting these. It’s significant to point out that young people don’t know anything. They only know what they’ve been told, what they’ve been taught. So even as we–
You going to criticize?
They don’t know anything? Sure they do – they know what they have been taught.
Well, that is true.
Unfortunately, in some cases.
Well, but here’s, to me, one of the funny ironies about it is millennials or gen-Z-ers, they get maligned so much in culture for having these stupid ideas and stupid beliefs. And, well, there’s no doubt it is stupid, but they didn’t make these up.
And you can say that as a millennial.
I am a millennial, yeah. But we didn’t make these ideas up. So if 52 percent of young people are saying that socialism, and communism, and fascism, are to be preferred over capitalism–
Which is a poll that’s out.
–as in they prefer that over the capitalistic economic system. They say, “This is what we want.” Well, they didn’t just make that up. They didn’t say, “You know what I think, I think fascism is awesome.” Somebody had to teach them and communicate to them on some level.
Millennials Have Bought into This Hook Line and Sinker
And so not only do we have a battle of helping the next generation realize how bad this is, the battle is actually whoever’s communicating in the next generation, that we have to get them to shut their mouth from communicating falsehoods and non-realities. But the millennials have kind of bought into this hook line and sinker. Â So now we do have a problem trying to help Millennials understand that, “Hey, socialism is not the best form of government.
Communism, Fascism, those are not great things. In fact, no form of government has killed more people than fascism and communism in the last several hundred years.” And yet for some reason, we think it’s a good idea. We have our work cut out for it.
We have our work cut out for us, but it’s a fairly easy solution in some ways because they do know what they’ve been taught, but they’ve never been taught results. And so this is an oversimplification, but say, “Okay, you like socialism. Show me one example in the history of the world where it brings increased freedom, increased prosperity, and more of the good stuff where it gives you more opportunity.” And you can’t do that – it’s just not there.”
So they don’t know the consequences. This all sounds good on paper, I mean, a rock ought to file on paper, but when you put it in there it doesn’t fly.
The helpful side of this is, is there is nothing in history that supports the position they’re now taking, but they don’t know that. So, that is one of the things that”ll be out there. But, Rick, you said that there is all this confusion over the “isms,” the various “isms,” and quite frankly, it’s kind of hard to define some of those “isms” at some point in time. Say, what is the difference between socialism, and fascism, and capitalism, and communism, and all the “isms”?
And so we’ve got a question on that from one of the listeners and we thought, “Let”s get a guy on here who can really tell us well about that. Professor Mark David Hall of George Fox University out in Oregon. Very conservative Christian university, but a great guy man.
Man, his books are really good, we’ve had him on before. He writes about several of the Founding Fathers we just don”t hear about today whether it”s Roger Sherman, or James Wilson, or others. He’s just a really, really, good scholar and a good teacher. I really appreciate all that he does. Great guy, so he’s the right guy to answer this question.
Mark David Hall our special guest today. Stay with us. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Alexis De Tocqueville, a political official from France, traveled to the United States in 1831 and penned his observations in the now famous book, “Democracy In America.”
Being from France, what he found in America was completely unexpected to him. He reported, “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. And the longer I stayed there the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this. In France, I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America, I found that they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.”
Did Tocqueville recognize that it was Biblical Christianity and the morals it produced that made America great? For more information about Alexis Tocqueville and the positive influence of Christianity in early America go to WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Mark David Hall is back with us from George Fox University.Â Â Good to have you back, sir.
Mark David Hall:
It’s great to be back. Thank you.
Understanding the “isms”
Hey, we’ve got a listener question and David thought it’d be great if we could get you to help us answer it. Somebody was listening to one of our other programs we had with Congressman Bob McEwen on socialism and they said, “Look I’m interested in clearly understanding the differences here of fascism, communism, all these other “isms.” And so when you get that question as a professor on these subjects how do you answer that?
Mark David Hall:
Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s a hard question to answer in a very concise form. So, when I teach my introduction to political theory class, we”ll read Adam Smith and talk about capitalism over a couple of days. We’ll read Mussolini and talk about fascism over a couple of days. We’ll read Karl Marx and talk about communism over a couple of days.
So, there really is a lot of depth we could go into, but here’s a real simple answer to at least begin our conversation. I would say, first of all, if we limit ourselves to thinking about economic systems, it’s maybe the easiest way to begin.
Capitalism is a system in which most property, particularly the means of production, the farms, and the factories, and such, are owned by private individuals or private companies. You have the rule of law and you have prices that are determined by markets, so you have a free market economy.
Communism to go to the exact extreme is where in fact the state owns most of the means of production. The state actually owns and controls the factories and the farms and that sort of thing. Now, individuals under a communist regime might still own the clothing on their back and so forth, but almost all the big stuff, the important stuff, is owned and controlled by the state. And you don’t really have the rule of law and you have the state attempting to dictate prices, you don’t have free markets.
Socialism then is somewhere in the middle and it could be leaning heavily towards communism or could be leaning heavily towards capitalism. So, within a socialist regime, the government will actually own some of the means of production. Perhaps a major car company, perhaps the banks, things like that. But then, other things, other companies within a socialist economy might be in private hands. The government tends to regulate the economy much more heavily. But there still is some free market forces at its core–
It’s kind of a mix.
Mark David Hall:
It”s a mixed system between capitalism and communism.
Are We Confused as a Public as to How Similar Socialism Can be to Communism?
What do you think is, in this era — people run from the word “communism,” but they’re starting to embrace the word “socialism.” Â So, as a general rule, are we confused as a public as to how similar socialism can be to communism?
Mark David Hall:
I think the reason for that is, and I run into that all the time with college students, is oftentimes the reading material about or hearing politicians talk about the Scandinavian countries that probably are accurately described as socialist countries or maybe socialist countries leaning towards capitalism. So the government owns some of the means of production. There is heavy, heavy, government regulation, but a lot of this sounds really good to people right. If a woman gets pregnant she or her husband has a right to take a year off to be with their baby – paid for by the state.
Scandinavian Â Countries
And when you hear something like that it’s like, “Wow, what a great deal.” Lots of guaranteed vacation time, higher minimum wages, required numbers of women on corporate boards, and that sort of thing. So, there’s a lot of things that might sound very attractive about these Scandinavian countries.
And I think the problem is, even if we agree we might think some of that is attractive, whether or not we could take what works in relatively sparsely populated homogeneous countries, bring that to a country like America that is very complicated and large and very different. I think it’s really comparing apples and oranges. It just can’t work.
But I think that’s what a lot of young people think when they say they like socialism better than capitalism. They have a very optimistic view of socialism and they also conflate capitalism with greed. If you watch the movie “Wall Street” they do that very explicitly and I don’t think greed really has anything at all to do with capitalism. There’s people acting according to their self-interest of course under capitalism, but that doesn”t have to be in a greedy immoral way.
“It’s Not Because of Benevolence that the Baker Bakes my Bread”
Adam Smith famously said, “It’s not because of benevolence that the baker bakes my bread.” And what he meant by that is not that the baker was a greedy man, but he wakes up early in the morning and works hard to make very good bread so that I as a consumer will desire to go into his shop and exchange money for that bread.
The baker”s acting out of his self-interest. Â But in doing so he’s acting in my self-interest because I get someone else to make me a really nice loaf of bread in exchange for money that I earned doing something else at which I have a competitive advantage.
Mark, this is Tim Barton, and one of the things as you’re talking about socialism, even with fascism, it seems like that in your description those might be very similar things. Do you see a nuance of a difference between them? And specifically why I’m leading into this question is since so many young people think socialism is so cool and so sexy. Fascism is not something that generally they would want to be a part of. But do you see those as very similar systems?
Mark David Hall:
They certainly have similarities. I think a big difference is fascism oftentimes included a partnership between privately owned corporations and the government. So, instead of the government actually taking over the corporations, to work together in cahoots. Fascism, as you”re pointing out, I think immediately jumps to mind is Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy, and fascist Japan.
And in each of these three instances it was intimately connected with racism and genocide and so forth I think they are different animals almost by definition fascism involves dictators whereas you have plenty of socialist countries that haven’t gone that authoritarian political so. So I think they’re related but they are different. And I think the reason there is a degree of attractiveness for socialism is because in the mind of young people they do associate it with these Scandinavian countries in which there are some policies that seem kind of nice and attractive. I would say the closer connection is between socialism and communism and if you start looking at other regimes you know North Korea jumps out.
But even things like the governments of Eastern Europe after World War II you see the very extreme forms of socialism verging into communism that was just disastrous just economically disastrous for the people to say nothing of what was done by the political leadership of this country.
Now, Mark, one of the things that I would have initially thought before you just now said it, was it would have gone socialism to fascism to communism. Only in maybe an economic sense here, but only because in communism, generally the government controls, and runs, and dictates, everything. Whereas in fascism, as you mentioned, there are still some businesses collaborating very closely with the government. And to me, that would almost seem more of the sequence of socialism to fascism to communism. But you see it from socialism to communism without a step of fascism being in there somewhere.
Mark David Hall:
Yes, the difficult thing to get into I think, and again there’s no absolute set right or wrong answers about these sorts of things, I sort of see capitalism, socialism,Â and communism on a continuum. Fascism is something that really is outside of that continuum – something that’s a different animal all together that really has more to do with authoritarian political regimes and kind of an odd mix.
We do have these privately held corporations. Â But there are corporations working hand in hand with the government towards the ultimate goal of benefiting the state and it tends to be tied up with nationalism, right? So, German Nazis are very different animals than the Japanese fascists.
On the other hand, if you look at Marxist Leninism the idea there is that nationalism is itself a bad thing and it will eventually fade away. It will have this universal communist regime over the entire earth. So, I would just put fascism in a somewhat different category altogether. But you know good people can disagree about that definition.
College Students Prefer Communism, Fascism, or Socialism to Capitalism
Mark, this is Dave, another question kind of related to that is you may have seen a few weeks ago where that the polling came out that now for college students, a higher percentage, and actually a full majority, of college students prefer either communism, or fascism, or socialism, to capitalism. And by a margin of 3 to 1 that generation prefers any of those over capitalism over the parents.
The parents is way below that. And so that’s a lot of change in one generation to move from parents to kids where it”s three times more in the other direction. Any idea how come or any thoughts on why it would be so fast moving in that direction compared to what we’ve had for generations literally in America?
Mark David Hall:
It’s a great question. It”s a scary question. A little bit of hope — if you look at the numbers breakdown, socialism is favored by 44 percent of these millennials, communism by only 7 percent, and fascism by only 7 percent. And so really, most of these people are liking socialism which I think they’re equating with what’s going on in Sweden and Denmark and places like that. But it still is very troubling.
Within the same poll, the millennials have positive views of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin and people like that. And I think that’s simply from ignorance. I can’t believe that these millennials really know the sort of things that went on under these individuals. Â Right?
Probably a hundred million people killed because of the actions of the Soviet Union. A hundred million people killed because of the actions directly attributed to Chairman Mao. These are horrible, horrible, regimes, some immediate political violence, but sometimes just famine because of very bad economic planning and futile economic planning.
So I think these millennials are just misled and this is where people like you and I and others have a lot of work to do to educate people about our history and about world history. Â Right? Â
We have to know about what went on in Europe in the mid 20th century, and during the Cold War in Eastern Europe particularly, if we hope to have a sensible view of how these different social, and how these different economic regimes play out again. Almost no one wants to be a fascist, but there are a lot of people who want to be socialist. Bernie Sanders obviously had a lot of support and so we really need to explore what is meant by socialism, how does it compare to capitalism?
“Laissez Faire” Capitalism
And of course, another distinction I might make is, if we were thinking in terms of a continuum, if you look at capitalism sort of the extreme form of capitalism would be “laissez-faire” capitalism. Let it alone where the government has no role whatsoever in regulating working conditions, or minimum wages, or running utilities. And I’ll just say we aren’t there. Â Right? Â We don’t have a laissez-faire economic regime.
In some ways, I think we should move in that direction. Â But no one really that I know of, with the exception of maybe a few libertarians, are saying we should completely get the government out of the business of economic regulations particularly with things like the working conditions of factory workers and things like that.
So, we need to have a clear-sighted understanding of what we’re talking about here and to recognize that socialism – it might even work tolerably well in the Scandinavian countries. But in most countries that have anything approximating a socialist regime, India for most of the 20th century, England before Margaret Thatcher, France in the mid 20th century – these were just disastrous for their economies. They didn’t degenerate into tyranny necessarily particularly not in England and France. Â But it was a disastrous economic policy.
And to the extent to which we move down that direction in America, my most immediate worry is not that we will descend into political tyranny, but just it will be a massive drag on the economy. And who knows where things might go from there. But it’s it’s very important that we understand what is meant by these concepts and that we make smart, intelligent, choices.
One question is, as you are having these conversations with your students, do you see any light bulbs go on for them where they go, “Wow, I had no idea about communism or socialism.” Do you see any reason that we should? Â And the audience listeners should be hopeful, knowing that if millennials encounter opposite information then kind of what they have in place up to this point then they change their mind? Or is this just kind of a, “Buckle up, it’s going to be a scary ride?” Is there a reason to be hopeful?
Are Kids Catching onto These Ideas Before or During College?
And, Mark, let me tag team on that because that is kind of the question I was going to ask. Going back to where a lot of the college students are now, do you see kids coming into college with a lot of these attitudes developed? Â Or are they catching it in college? In other words, are they even getting this earlier than we think they are down in pre-college education or secondary education? Â Is that where they’re getting some of this?
And like Tim said, where do you see it going? Do you see any light bulbs going on.
Mark David Hall:
All those are great questions. Well, first of all I should make it clear that I teach at George Fox University, a seriously Christian college. So, a lot of kids are coming out of evangelical homes where or they’ve gone to private Christian schools or have been homeschooled. And so they’re probably a lot more sensible, if I can use that word, than your average student down at the University of Oregon or Oregon State. But even so, even with any young evangelicals, I think young evangelicals have a tendency, maybe like young people everywhere, to think with their hearts.
And so when they hear things like after you have a baby you get to take a year off on the government’s dime to be with you baby, they tend to think that sounds like a good idea. Â It’s good for babies. Â It’s good for families.
When they hear about quotas for women on corporate boards that sounds like it’s good for gender equality. And so there is an inclination, even set among young evangelicals, in this sort of direction. And I think it’s in steroids when you get down to a large public university like the University of Oregon or Oregon State.
Aristotle”s Defenses of Private Property
Mark David Hall:
I do think, absolutely, once you start diving into these things. Â One of the things I love to do, and we do this actually when I teach Aristotle’s Politics, is we look at his defenses of private property.
And it’s kind of interesting that even in the ancient world you have people who are very critical of private property. But Aristotle offers four really nice defenses for why private property is a good thing. And as we talk this through, and I don’t try to indoctrinate them I just try to work through the arguments with them. Â I do indeed see light bulbs go on. And then when we talk about what goes on in the socialist regimes and we talk about why this might not be a disaster in Sweden, but it might not be transferable to Mexico.
I think lightbulbs again begin to go on that maybe not all one economic system or political system will work equally well in all countries. And particularly, once you begin to study at all the history of any regime that embraced communism in the 20th century I just simply don’t see how anyone can think this is a good set of economic or political arrangements.
And I think students do naturally come to that as Winston Churchill said, “If you’re a young person and you don’t vote liberal you don’t have a heart. But if you are an old person and don’t vote Conservative you don’t have a head.” And I think part of that is running into arguments, part of it, of course, is once you graduate, get jobs, and start paying taxes, they kind of get mugged by reality.
And some of these nice, seemingly nice ideals, it becomes evident that they aren’t quite as nice as they might look at on paper. So, I do tend to be an optimist. Some of my conservative friends would disagree, but yeah, I’m hopeful about this upcoming generation.
How Far Have We Moved Down the Sliding Scale Towards Socialism?
Mark, before we let you go, where would you say we are on the sliding scale? Say we”re capitalist, but we’re not laissez-faire and we certainly have a lot more government intervention today than we had 100 years ago or 150 years ago. How far have we moved down the sliding scale towards socialism?
Mark David Hall:
Boy, that’s a great question and it’s kind of a funny question you’re asking me this from Texas. I’m hearing this from Oregon and a state like Oregon is much further along the route than Texas is.
So, part of this you have to answer state by state. But in terms of the nation, if we go from zero to 10 – zero being laissez-faire capitalism to 10 being the state owns all the major means of production. In the late 19th century we were maybe at a two. Today we’re maybe at a five. People like Bernie Sanders would take us to a 7.
Mark David Hall:
That’s sort of my take. Someone like a Donald Trump I think is trying to inch us back from a 5 to 4.5. But even he isn’t really addressing the massive over governmental regulation of the economy that we’ve seen really since the late 1960s.
It’s good. Good stuff. Professor, we appreciate your time. Thanks so much for joining us today. We look forward to the next time.
Mark David Hall:
Thank you very much. It’s always a pleasure. Â Stay with us, folks. We”ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
Hi, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders and I want to encourage all the pastors out there with a unique opportunity that we’re presenting it WallBuilders. We’re doing a special tour just for pastors that you can come and learn more about the spiritual heritage of our nation. Not just seeing the sights but understanding the significance of what they are and what they represent.
We get to go to the Capitol at night. Â And we get to see the spiritual heritage of our Founding Fathers, of who we are as a nation, where we came from. We bring in congressman that will tell you about current legislation, about our religious liberties and freedom, and what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
If you’re a pastor or if you want to recommend your pastor for this trip, you can go to our website at www.WallBuilders.com. And there’s a link that’s for scheduling. Â If you click on that link there’s a section for pastor”s briefing. There’s more information about the dates, when it’s going, and how it’s going to happen. If you want to know more about our nation, our religious liberties, our freedom, our spiritual heritage, this is a trip you want to be a part of.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. And thanks to Mark David Hall for joining us as well. Guys, if I had had him for Professor, I wouldn’t have hated history and government and those kinds of classes so much when I was in high school and college.
Making Learning a Joy
Yeah, he is a fun guy and he made all the stuff sound really simple and really good. And that’s again, these are the guys. Â You go back to Proverbs, I think it”s Proverbs 13:2 or 15:2 or whatever. But in the Living Bible, it says, “A wise teacher makes learning a joy.”
And this is the kind of teacher that does make it really fun to learn. And I can see that students that will go to his class would, as Tim said, the light comes on for them. They understand and they see because he is so good at having, not only knowledge of what’s out there, but articulating that knowledge and showing what works and what doesn’t work.
Well, that’s part of why we enjoy doing WallBuilders Live is bringing guys like him on to give people the perspective we didn’t get in high school and college. In fact, David, I remember listening to you say you didn’t like history at high school and college either.
And it’s having that stuff actually come to life and understanding why does this matter to me? And I think that’s what Mark David Hall did today is he — why does it matter what people think about socialism, communism, fascism? It”s going to determine which direction on that sliding scale we go as a nation.
Well, and I love what he pointed out too that, kids this next generation, they tend to think with their heart and not their heads. Which seems to be okay until they’re assaulted by reality.
Yeah, I loved what he said there, “mugged by reality.”
I thought that’s a great phrase.
Socialism Works in a Bubble But Not in Reality
Yeah, until reality smacks him in the face and they realize, “Oh, this doesn’t work at all.” And the problem is that they’ve been in a bubble and really, universities, they try to protect this bubble. And so there are certain things that work in a bubble that don’t work in reality. And socialism, statistically, has just been one of those things that, as Mark pointed out, apart from the Scandinavian nations, you’re not going to find anywhere else where it works.
But it’s important for them to understand that beyond thinking with your heart you need to think with your head and understand reality. And certainly, when reality meets their worldview it really shatters a lot of these thoughts. But we need to help them understand this before they have to have the rough encounter with reality.
Thanks, Mark David Hall for joining us today. Thank you for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.
The part on Socialism where the mother gets to take a year off. Why would that not work here. I know Scandinavian countries tend to be much smaller than the US.