Trendy terms lack coherent meaning. Leon Louw, executive director of the Free Market Foundation, believes that ‘most so-called communists and socialists are now fascists suffering from the denialism of which they accuse adversaries. What they advocate is so far removed from what communism and socialism used to mean they should at least call themselves neocommunists and neosocialists’. In US English liberal has a new meaning. ‘Illiberal Americans corrupted the term to mean its opposite: authoritarian big government as opposed to its British, European and South African meaning, which is personal liberty under limited government’.
Leon Louw’s’ most recent article Neononsense from critics of liberalism nothing new was first published in BusinessDay BDlive on 16 April 2014 and here are some extracts.
CALLING someone “neoliberal” is a modern curse. Being “liberal” is bad enough, but if you are “neo”, the devil will bar you from hell. What does “neo-” mean? In the modern tyranny of twaddle, precisely nothing.
“Neo-” comes from “neos”: Greek for “new”. Notwithstanding rambling texts suggesting real differences, there is nothing new about neoliberalism.
A most vacuous term is “right wing”. The difference between left and right, says US social theorist Thomas Sowell, “is that only the former has even a rough definition”. The right refers to disparate extremes with nothing in common except not being “left”, such as libertarianism, monarchy, theocracy, militarism, (nonleft) conservatism and nazism.
Derogatory terms often entail three fingers pointing back at accusers. A conspicuous characteristic of literature denounced as “free-market fundamentalism” or climate change “denialism” is reliance on objectively verifiable facts and rigorous analysis as opposed to bald assertions and sloppy logic typifying political correctness. Consider the fact that humanity’s greatest accomplishment is billions of people rising from poverty to the point where once prevalent poverty (living on less than a dollar a day) has virtually been eliminated. Antimarket fundamentalists fake compassion by saying they want to eradicate poverty, yet they are typically denialists of promarket reforms in countries where prosperity is enriching the poor as never before.
Like true fundamentalist zealots, ideological immunity shields them from readily available evidence. Conversely, an absence of fundamentalism informs free-market advocates who monitor real world reforms and their effects. Ideological mythology maintains that there are significant differences between socialism and communism. They differ only in means, not ends. Both espouse coercive government control and/or ownership of people and resources. What Sowell calls “verbal virtuosity” implies that fascism and nazism are opposites of socialism and communism, whereas they were originally recognised as variants of socialism called “national socialism” (from which “nazi” is derived).
One of the most ingenious linguistic sleights of hand is to call the tendency of socialism to enrich and empower patronage beneficiaries “crony capitalism”. It cannot be called “crony socialism” because it is a manifestation, not an aberration, of socialism. The cosmetic extent to which fascism differs from socialism is that it entails centralised control without the perceived need for centralised ownership.