Fascist versus Socialist.
I had an interesting discussion with a friend recently, and they asked me why Hitler who was a dictator was considered extreme right wing, while Stalin who was a Dictator, was considered extreme left wing. The answer is a little complicated, but I'll try and post what we talked about.
Most people consider political beliefs to be a line, with extremes on both ends of the line, and the idea of "moderates" being right in the middle, and thus the perfect balance between extremist views from the Socialists and the Libertarians. However, the truth is that the spectrum of political beliefs is actually better represented by a circle, with Fascism and Socialism touching on that circle.
The difference is actually pretty simple, and almost insignificant in it's mechanism to achieve nearly identical results.
Under Socialism, as practiced in the Soviet Union, all jobs are government jobs. The factory is a Government owned factory, and you are given a quota to produce. The Government pays the employees, and the managers are appointed by the Government.
Under Fascism, the factory in question is owned by a private individual or group. The management and workers are selected, hired, and or appointed by that private individual who is responsible for paying the employees. However, what that factory produces, and the quotas and price of the product is determined by the Government.
A famous example of the Fascist system is included in the story of Schindler's List. Schindler started out taking a factory that was captured in Poland through thinly veiled legal tricks, and started to produce enamel covered metal items, in other words dishes, pots, and cups of a type normally used by armies in the field.
After Poland was obviously going to be taken by the Russians, he moved all his employees, which were almost all Jews saved from the concentration camps, to another factory. Here, the Fascist Government ordered Schindler to make munitions, artillery shells, hand grenades, and other war fighting materials, which he and his employees were singularly unqualified to manufacture. That they had no intention of producing munitions did not help them produce anything of value to the Nazi Government.
There are several examples of the Socialist failures in history. The idea that the State (read national Government) knows how to operate a company and produce a good or serve is a popular one in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez's Government. Yet, the evidence is that each company "seized" by the State enters new levels of ineptitude and poor performance. As an example, when the Electric Company was run as a private concern, there were few if any disruptions of electrical production. Now, it is far more common for Venezuela to experience brownouts, and blackouts, as the Government is as unqualified to run an electrical company, as Schindler was to manufacture munitions.
So what are we sliding towards in the United States? When Bush was President, the claim from the left when the Government would spy on citizens, or assume greater control and power over our lives and liberties, was that Bush was taking us towards Fascism.
Now under President Obama, those same policies remain in effect, and even more Government control over our lives, liberties, as well as the Business world. The Government owns a large stake in GM (General Motors), which is suitably, and with reasonable accuracy referred to as Government Motors, or Obama Motors. While at the same time, while the Government in essence owns that particular corporation, they are passing sweeping overhauls called reforms for other businesses in many other parts of our economy and lives.
The first is Socialist. The owning of a corporation by the Government. The second is Fascist, telling a company how they will operate, what they will produce, and how they will produce it.
In other words, we're moving towards both. As the Eastern European countries found out in 1940 when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, there wasn't really any difference in your life if you were oppressed by a Socialist Dictatorship as Stalin commanded, or a Fascist Dictatorship as Hitler had. This impression was confirmed when the Soviets retook this territory later, and resumed their earlier brutal policies towards the same victims of their earlier brutalities. These people were Victims twice. Once when the Germans liberated them from the Soviets, and again when the Soviets re-claimed and re-liberated them from the Nazi abuses.
In other words, it didn't matter one whit if the Government sent you to a Concentration camp in Poland, or a Gulag in Siberia. By that same token, it doesn't matter if the person abusing your rights and liberties is a Republican, or a Democrat. Your rights and liberties are the important part of the discussion.