by Mark Tier in 1975 as a pamphlet, originally published in freeEnterprise, August, 1974. With thanks to the author.
The “futurologists” tell us that the difference between East and West are diminishing, and one day the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R will be all but identical. Normally, we think of the two countries as opposites: the Soviets are communists, dedicated to the “world revolution”; the Americans are capitalists, dedicated to spreading the “American way of life”. Which, the Americans will tell us, is democracy and freedom. Capitalism and communism are in eternal conflict, until one shall triumph over the other.
While it is true that the U.S. and U.S.S.R are opposed to each other, in what sense can it be said that they are opposite? Hitler and Stalin were opposed to each other, and although one was called Nazi and the other communist, what other difference was there? With the rifts in the communist world, many would maintain, that the Soviets are no longer “true marxists”; and many in the west see the problems of the U.S and the U.S.S.R as similar — resulting from the “technocratic society” — and that, therefore, the solutions will be the same. The soviets will inject American management techniques into their society; the American government will take more and more control of Americans’ lives; and the differences will blur until the two countries appear identical.
But if such a “synthesis” of east and west occurs, in what sense can it be said that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R are opposites?
THE UNION OF OPPOSITES
The union of opposites is an idea which runs through many philosophies. Perhaps the most well-known example is the Chinese concept of yin and yang. Yin has the basic quality of “feminine”; yang has the basic quality “masculine”. The Chinese say that yin and yang are opposed to each other, and that bringing them into balance (“a balance of forces”) results in peace. Yin and yang can then unite to form a whole.
The Chinese had very poor view of woman. Yin, symbolising woman, is called negative, evil, dark, receptive; while yang, symbolising the male, is positive, good, light, creative, etc, But: are these qualities really opposites — are man and woman opposites? — or are they really complements?
An atom is an example of yin and yang. A hydrogen atom is composed of one proton and one electron. A proton has a positive charge, and an electron has a negative charge; a hydrogen atom, in sum, has no charge. As long as no outside force disturbs this arrangement, the electron will circle the proton and the atom will exist in internal harmony.
Science tells us also of a particle called a neutron. A neutron is one of the particles which can form the nucleus of an atom, and like the hydrogen atom, the neutron has no charge. In radioactive elements (such as uranium) one of the neutrons in the nucleus of the atom will split, forming a proton and an electron. The process can also work in reverse, when a proton captures one of the electrons circling the nucleus and changes into a neutron.
In a hydrogen atom — as in all atoms — protons and electrons balance each other. They can unite into a neutron, each being destroyed in the process, and the “qualities” of positive and negative disappearing; the neutron can split into a proton and an electron, the “qualities” of positive and negative appearing in balance with each other. The proton and the electron depend on each other for their existence, and although they have different “qualities”, these qualities are aspects of each other. They are complements.
The qualities of positive and negative complement each other; just as man and woman and yin and yang are complements. The notion of “union of opposites” is fallacious, as long as we distinguish between “opposite” and “opposition”. Man and woman can opposed each other, which means, be antagonistic towards each other, but that is not an essential quality about man and woman and their relationship. The essential fact about complements is that they are co-operative in nature.
This confusion of opposites and complements is significant. The cliché “opposites attract” is just not true. Complements attract. In the complex world of man, complements are often mistaken to be opposites, because the appearance of antagonism overlays the essential reality. Complements can attract; complements can unite; but opposites always fight and stand eternally opposed to each other.
IDEAS: THE MAKERS OF HISTORY
Science has a precision which is the envy of the “social” sciences. But the scientific method is an equally applicable in economics, politics, and philosophy as it is in physics and chemistry, In understanding a complex structure such as proteins of DNA, one must first identify the essential components — the atoms — and then build through the series of relationships which exist within the total structure, from sub-molecular structures through to the whole. Once the relationships within the structure can be determined, they can be understood by reference to the parts, which are known, which go to make up the whole. So it is with human beings and their complex structures: societies.
Social structures consist of individual men. For each and every man, his most important characteristic is his most important characteristic is his mind. Each man’s mind directs his actions, his speech; in his mind are his attitudes to life and society. Man’s mind is directed by ideas; the content of his mind will be determined by the ideas he holds (either consciously or by default). The nature of any social structure will be determined by the ideas that its members hold.
So it is with politics. Underlying the movement of all political forces are ideas. The men involved in politics are not usually thinkers: the ideas they base their actions upon have been thought first by other men. When considering the relationships between political forces, one must consider the ideas which direct those factors. These ideas are the essential characteristics: the apex upon which other ideas, and derived actions and attitudes depend. In considering the relationship between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the question must be: what are the essential ideas which direct the actions of these two political entities? And of all the relevant ideas, what is the essential idea, the idea upon which all others depend? In the world of ideas, as in the world of science, we can think with precision.
But to isolate the essential idea, we must first consider the method of politics.
DIALETICS: THE ARGUMENT FROM NEGATION
Hegelian (and latterly, Marxian) dialectics is another confusion of opposites and complements. Superficially, it appears that the dialectic method of thesis, anti-thesis is truly a union of opposites. That however, depends upon the nature of the anti-thesis.
The way we pronounce “antithesis” makes us ignore that the word is made from two parts: “anti” and “thesis”. An anti-thesis is, then, a negotiation of thesis. An anti-thesis does not propose, it rejects. The most an anti-thesis can do is reject the entire thesis, up to and including the fundamental principles upon which that thesis rest. The most an anti-thesis can do is destroy the thesis; thesis minus anti-thesis = zero.
The anti-thesis is expressed in terms of the thesis; it is therefore based on the same fundamental principles as the thesis. An anti-thesis which is less than a total rejection of the thesis can be a proposal, but that proposal is made upon the same fundamental principles as the thesis, and can only be a proposal to modify the application of these principles. In terms of essentials there is no difference between the thesis and anti-thesis. And of course, the synthesis which results is basically identical to the thesis.
It is because the anti-thesis is merely an aspect of the thesis that a synthesis can arise. They are complements, not opposites.
POLITICAL DIALECTICS: COMMUNISM AND ANTI-COMMUNISM
The dialectic method is the bread and butter of politics. At any one time, the political scene will be dominated by one thesis. In international politics, this Thesis is communism.
Internationally, there are two major forces — the United States and the Soviet Union — which dominate other minor and semi-independent forces. These two forces are antagonistically opposed to each other as political entities for political hegemony and dominance of the rest of the world. Each of these major entities has other entities under its wings, either directly (South America and Eastern Europe) or indirectly (Western Europe and China). The “third world”, which neither dominate and both influence, is their battle ground.
The influence of communist ideas (including derivatives such as socialism) predominates around the world over any other set of ideas. Even in the United States itself, supposed champion of the “free world”, the ideas of socialism meet very little intellectual opposition. Marcuse, himself a mixture of Marx and Freud, has become the “philosopher” of the new left, with hardly a word of question raised against him in those circles. Most of the “third world” countries from South America to India, espouse some form of socialism. England, supposedly the second country of the “free world”, is all but socialist internally.
There is only one criterion for membership of the “free world”; anti-communism. “Anti-communism” is, today, synonymous with the rejection of the political hegemony of certain political entities — those entities which style themselves as “communist”. To be “anti-communist” is to be anti-Soviet, anti-Mao, anti- Castro. The fundamental meaning of “communism” has become clouded, and today has less the sense of an ideology, and therefore is less associated with specific ideas. The meaning of “anti-communism” is similarly devalued.
When Allende became President of Chile, there was a fear in the west that Chile was going to become part of the communist world. This fear was not based on Allende’s ideology as much as in his self-label as “marxist”. His policies were very little different from India’s Nehru or Argentina’s Peron. And while the anti-communist may correctly attribute the “English malaise” to increasing socialism, this is not accompanied by a fear of socialism in England — because the English remain “anti-communist” (that is, anti-Soviet).
At the time of Russian Revolution, communism was a clearly identifiable philosophy. To be anti-communist at that time was to be anti-Soviet, but the distinction between the two “anti” positions was quickly lost. Hitler’s rise in Germany was met by many with approval — simply because Hitler was also anti-communist. Nazism would be the “bulwark against communism”. In fact, both nazism and communism are totalitarian systems. In supporting Hitler, anti-communists supported exactly what they were attempting to destroy.
Communism was — and is — the thesis. Anti-communism is the anti-thesis. Anti-communism is defined in terms of communism, towards which it is antagonistic. But as it is a complement of communism, the result, over time, is the synthesis we now see emerging between east and west. It is the anti-thesis which has become more devalued than the thesis. By becoming narrowed from anti-communism as an ideology to anti-communism as anti-Soviet, anti-Mao, etc., the anti-thesis has lost sight of fundamental principles of communism, and now openly supports those fundamental principles as long as they are cloaked under a different name. Just as Hitler used a name different from Stalin’s.
Communism is: “a theory or system of social organisation based on the holding off all property in common, actual ownership (and therefore actual control) being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state” (Random House Dictionary). That means that whoever controls the state (or the community) controls all the property within the community ,and therefore controls the life of every member of that community. It is impossible for man to exist without property in one form or another; if the property that sustains your life is controlled by another, so is your life. The difference between communism and fascism (or nazism) is purely one of form. While communism abolished all private property. The fascist state retains the appearance of private property. Thus it appears that fascism bears some resemblance to capitalism, while in fact the “owners” as merely agents of the state — or front men for the state. Both communism and fascism are identical: they are both totalitarian systems.
It is in the way that the anti-thesis paves the way for the thesis. The “synthesis” bears more resemblance to the thesis than to the anti-thesis, since the anti-thesis, being purely negative, is less powerful than the thesis. We look at the countries of the “free world” and see countries that are predominantly fascist in nature: Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, South Vietnam, South Korea, Spain and so on. In countries such as the United States, the extension of government controls is made “palatable” by retaining the appearance of private property. The socialist have been quick to adopt the methods of fascism, showing the essential similarity between the two.
In Australia, the argument is between socialism and anti-socialism. Socialism is nothing more than a tired, less militant version of communism. To be nothing more than anti-socialist is to have thrown in the towel.
A RETURN TO FUNDAMENTALS
A true anti-communist is not just anti-Soviet, anti-Mao, anti-Castro, &c. He rejects, completely, the fundamental principles upon which communism, the ideology, rests. Communism, like fascism and socialism, rests on the principle of the state: that the state, not the individual, is the organisation which should direct all activities within a community. The fundamental issue in the world today is not communism versus anti-communism; it is freedom versus controls, individual rights versus government invasion. The more controls a government imposes, whether it be communist or fascist, Labor or Liberal, the less freedom each one of us has. When the government controls everything, it is relevant whether it follows the Moscow or the Peking line, or the Washington line. It makes absolutely no difference to the people in the country concerned.
The anti-communist will often call for increased government controls to “combat communism”. Such an anti-communist is not a true anti-communist. He is a pro-statist; and he stands for everything that communism stands for except the name.
The true anti-communist is anti-fascist as well; he is anti-statist. He knows that only by fighting the fundamental principle of statism can its variants, such as communism, be defeated. The current mood in Australia is for more government. That can only end with total government. Anti-statism is, however, a purely negative stance: it can only result in the abolition of government. In any case, an anti-thesis will never, by itself, defeat a thesis.
What is required is alternative thesis; another which rejects the principles of statism, which stands intransigently on its own, alternative set of fundamental principles, which can replace the present dominant thesis of statism and communism.
If we are against government controls, what are we for? It is only by advancing definite — and initially unpopular — proposals that any progress can be made. If we are against controls, we are for individual freedom; if we are against government invasion, we are for individual rights; if we are against statism and communism, we are for free enterprise and laissez faire capitalism. Those are the alternative; there are no others.
The fundamental principle of statism is that the state (that is, whoever controls the state) has absolute right of the use and disposal over the life of every individual, his property, and the wealth that he creates through his actions. The fundamental principle of individualism is that each individual has the absolute power over the use and disposal of his life, his property, and his creations, and that no man — and certainly no group of men who call themselves “the state” — has any moral right to the property, wealth, or life of any other man. This can be reduced to the simple commandment: Thou shalt not initiate the use of force, fraud, or coercion against any other man. The only moral dealings between men are those which are by consent, and that means the consent of every person involved.
The only moral function of government is to protect each person from those who would violate the rights of others. Only then can a society of men be free: when force has been eliminated as a means of dealing between one man and another. Free trade and a free society go hand in hand. It is only when man’s home is his castle — and his alone — that he is free.
Australia is currently a “mixed economy”: that is, a mixture of freedom and controls. Our freedom is growing less day by day — and it makes no difference who is in government. There is only one way that trend can be reversed: the advocacy of laissez faire capitalism; the only thesis which can bring a free world.
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