Thursday, 3 April 2014

What's in a Name?

Imagine you want power above all else. "Public service" or "duty by one's nation" are mere catch-phrases without any real meaning. You will do whatever you deem necessary in order to hold sway. This is the kind of thinking that is behind a great deal of standard economic treatments of politics. If a politician does care about stuff other than securing sway, he will lose out to those more focused in their aim.

Strange, then, that the vast majority of the most eye-catching atrocities committed in the 20th century appear to have been committed with either communist or fascist parties in power. If politicians care mainly about power and less about policy, should not who gained power to commit these crimes have been a toss-up between whatever political forces were established at the time of the preceeding election, or between which movements were around to grab power when the country in question was last in an unsteady state? I have no good explanation for why totalitarian names should dominate. Why should not an established party on occasion have changed policy preferences to accommodate communist or fascist tendencies to prevent a party with one of those words in its name from coming to power? The atrocities would have been the same, but the perpetrators would have called themselves the Agrarian Party, the Democrats or the Conservatives. Why did this not happen?


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