Ideas are hard to kill — even bad ideas.
This is an unfortunate truth. The previous two generations stormed the beaches of Normandy and went on to take Berlin and defeat the Nazis and the ideals of Hitler’s fascist totalitarianism. After dealing with the fascists, they then went on to engage the Soviets and their communist mentality in the Cold War through economic means as well as proxy wars in Cuba, Korea, Vietnam and other countries, eventually leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The end of the Cold War has led many to believe that socialism and fascism are things of the past that no longer threaten us. Unfortunately, over the last 60 years, we’ve consistently killed the messengers but left their messages intact. Common knowledge is wrong: The ideologies of America’s enemies are not dead, they are alive and kicking. Both fascist totalitarianism and socialism are once more on the rise, albeit in a more subtle form.
We live in a world where, as President Reagan said, “there are threats now to our freedom, indeed to our very existence, that other generations could never even have imagined.” In all four corners of the world, the new socialists and fascists are on the move once more, united, as they were in the 1920s and 1930s, against their common enemy: freedom. Indeed, if we look at the current state of the world affairs, there is much to be frightened of. In Europe, some of the countries of the region, such as Belarus and Russia, are still under the control of old Soviet elites, while other countries in that area, such as Slovakia and Austria, have seen fringe populist parties take part in or form their governments over the course of the past decade. In the Middle East, we are fighting against Islamo-fascism, a conglomeration of jihadism, Nazi fascist ideas and Soviet socialist ideas that has been incubating since the 1940s. In Latin America, the leftists, whose previous stints in government proved disastrous, are once again seeking to assert themselves. A few weeks ago, an enabling law that gave Hugo Chavez dictatorial powers was passed in Venezuela. In Asia, things look even grimmer still. That area is marked by continued North Korean aggression and China’s recent military buildup.
With few exceptions, the new wave of socialist and fascist demagogues, like their intellectual forefathers (Mussolini, Hitler or Allende), have acquired power through electoral victories. However, unless one believes that majorities should be able to smash minorities, their popular support cannot justify their efforts to quash dissent and force through such destructive social changes. Wherever these demagogues have come to power, they have systematically proceeded to centralize control of the economy — so that they can use the resources of the state for their own electoral purposes and to punish enemies — and removed whatever constitutional limitations existed to their power. These domestic actions in themselves would not pose a threat to American interests were it not for the fact that these new leaders, besides being open enemies of the United States, are committed to spreading their evil ideas abroad. We cannot allow them to do this.
Winston Churchill said: “Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they removed by a policy of appeasement.” Abroad, we must, as our president has recognized, fight against the rising tide of totalitarian ideas, and we must win, if we are to keep the promise of America. All the while, we cannot forget who we are.
At home, we must fight against the pernicious ideas that our enemies espouse and not discard the values that have made America great. We must combat the temptation, however great it might be, to expand the role of government, under whatever pretext, in managing our lives, lest it become our masters. It should give us pause to think that a socialist was elected to the Senate during the past elections. Is someone whose ideas are so noxious to what America stands for the future that we want for this great nation?
We are at a crossroads both at home and abroad, and if we are to remain a free people, we must want to be a free people. If America is to remain the “city upon a hill,” she must remain vigilant and true to her ideals.
Michael Fernandez is a senior in Ezra Stiles College and the executive director of the College Republicans. Adam Sussman is a senior in Stiles and president of the College Republicans.