I found the following comment to my post on Tamerlane Tsarnaev and the BBC (cross-posted at Legal Insurrection) to be a good reminder of the difference between our own left/right divide vs. those of Europe:
Some concepts don’t translate well across the Atlantic, and to Americans the European press can seem to have originated on Planet Bananas.
In Europe (which includes Britain, even if they sometimes like to pretend otherwise) they’re all socialists, save for a smattering of monarchists and anarchists. The left-wing/right-wing schism is along different lines than in the US.
European right-wing means socialist and nationalist, left-wing means socialist and internationalist. Extreme European right-wingers are fascists. Extreme European left-wingers are communists. There are of course many minor variants. To Americans the distinctions aren’t terribly important; they’re all totalitarians. We’d call them all left-wing. It’s not clear that very many Europeans have even the vaguest idea of what the American right-wing is really about. They just assume that it has some similarity to the European right-wing, which couldn’t be more wrong. They simply lack the conceptual machinery to recognize it.
And it occurs to me that’s exactly the way our very own MSM would like us to see it here, too. They purposely misrepresent the American left/right divide (and especially the right) in just that manner. They are such Europhiles that they’d like the US to resemble Europe today, and are trying to push us in that direction. Obama, of course, is doing the same, with their assistance.
I’ve noticed this point of view among many of my liberal friends, too—a reflexive idealization of Europe and downputting of the US at almost every opportunity.
And another great comment, this one from “MBE” on the BBC thread at this blog:
In simple terms, the fundamental difference between Socialism/Communism and Nazism/Fascism is under the Communist model, the government owns everything and allocates it amongst citizens as it sees fit. Under Fascism, private individuals and companies own property, but must do whatever the government want (ie independent rule of law is illusionary). The primary difference is the degree to which the government micromanages: under Communism it must do everything (which is difficult and stifling), under Fascism and working forms of Socialism the government doesn’t need to bother with every little thing, but remains all-powerful. As commentator “Paul in Boston” noted, Fascism utilises “Corporatism”.
Ring Wing/Conservative tends to be foremostly based upon individual freedom within the framework of the law, with a large focus on self-control/discipline. Communism/Fascism are pretty much the exact opposite: individual freedom is totally subordinate to the whims of the ruling group of the ruling party.
Commentator “MDL” mentions Franco and Pinochet – two very interesting people. I’d add Lee Kwan Yew into that mix: dictators who seized control for the very specific reason of preventing Communism, and who used their time not to establish a dynasty, but to transition to Democracy. Past leaders of Taiwan and South Korea (I forget their names, but there are a few “Kims” in there) deserve similar kudos.
Spain has been a strong democracy since Franco died (their only big mistake has been the EU). Chile, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore have become probably the best examples of democracies transitioning from dictatorships/juntas in recent history. Kemal Ataturk and his successors in the Turkish military also fit this mold. While one may disagree with their methods, the bottom line is they acted to prevent long term communist totalitarianism, and left behind vibrant democracies with vibrant economies.
These are guys who broke eggs to make omelettes, but at least they made pretty decent omelettes.
What do you think? Did they break too many eggs or just the necessary number, and how good are the resulting omelettes?