Here I go again…

Reflections through Pontifications

Just what the heck is a ‘Statist’ anyhow?

with 3 comments

A ‘Statist’ is an individual who supports the power of the State over the rights of the Individual.  Fascism, Socialism, Communism, State Capitalism are all forms of Statism – control by the State over the free association of Individuals to pursue one’s own economic best interests.

During the Progressive era, one of the single largest leaps forward in the growth of the American State was the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which enabled of the federal government to directly tax the citizens.  Many progressives were socialists, such at Upton Sinclair. Others like John D. Rockefeller, Jr. are harder to pigeon hole. Henry Ford certainly tried to run the lives of his workers both on the clock and off. If any word summed up the Progressives, it would be Paternalism. It was the State’s responsibility to be the wise parent to the citizen-child.

By the end of the Progressive era In the 1920s and especially into the 1930s, there was a growing sense that capitalism had failed. FDR, contrary to some popular theories, did not usher in socialism to American society. FDR was a believer in Paternalism and left the US with a legacy of paternalistic programs such as Social Security. When today we speak of the United States as having a mixed economy, I see it as Capitalism/Paternalism (the Nanny State) rather than Socialism.

During the 30s in Wiemar Germany, not only was there the belief that capitalism had failed, this was coupled with a notion that democracy was also a failure (in Europe, democracy was a still new thing with some notable prior failures). Out of this social demoralization arose the NAZI party promising to be a middle ground between Capitalism and Communism and it explains the willing acceptance of the German people to Hitler’s dictatorship.

Hitler was a Statist and his particular brand of Statism was Facism, not Socialism regardless of the use of National Socialism to appease the German Worker. Stalin was also a Statist, but his brand was State Capitalism disguised as the Communism of Lenin which in turn was a forced maturation of the Socialism of Marx (Lenin believed one could force Joe Six-pack to jump directly into Communism without an intervening period of Socialism to empower the worker).

Libertarianism is the anti-thesis of Statism in that Libertarians believe in the smallest State possible to maintain society. The State’s powers should be limited to External Defense, Domestic Security and Judicial – basically, Military, Police and Courts. The Anti-Federalists of U.S. Constitutional Debates would undoubtedly have considered themselves Libertarians had the concept existed.

Statism, in any form, should always be resisted as it is the natural tendency of the State to grow in power at the expense of the rights of the Individual.

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Written by Dee Norris

October 25, 2008 at 3:46 am

3 Responses

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  1. Did you read Johan Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism”? And if so – what did you think of it?

    Richard Patton

    October 25, 2008 at 9:37 pm

  2. @Richard:

    No, I have not read his book, but I am familiar with his theory. I don’t see statism as necessarily being right or left in any form. I do think that extremes in either direction lead to increases in statism. The current polarization between the right and left in the US is a good example of this. Both parties are increasing the power of the state in one form or another. Furthermore, as control of the state varies between the left and the right, each parties advances their own programs without undoing the other parties programs. This leads to a joint statism even though the parties appear to be mutually antagonistic.

    So fascism can be dressed in sneakers and t-shirts worn by either the left or right and in fact can be a result of the contention between left and right.

    Goldberg focuses too much on the left as the root of fascism for my taste.

    Dee Norris

    October 26, 2008 at 1:42 am

  3. I recently read that when our government is unified (doesn’t matter which party) then government grows a bit over 5% but that when our government is divided it “only” grows some 1.7% or so. Seems like good evidence for what you are saying.

    So, rather than “divided we fail” perhaps it is more like “divided we prosper” … er – more than we would have.

    Richard Patton

    October 26, 2008 at 2:20 pm


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