It is extremely unfortunate that the writers on political philosophy today have undertaken to measure various issues in terms of political parties instead of political power. No doubt the American Founding Fathers would have considered this modern measuring stick most objectionable, even meaningless.
Today, as we mentioned, it is popular in the classroom as well as the press to refer to “Communism on the left,” and “Fascism on the right.” People and parties are often called “Leftist,” or “Rightist.” The public do not really understand what they are talking about.
These terms actually refer to the manner in which the various parties are seated in the parliaments of Europe. The radical revolutionaries (usually Communists) occupy the far left and the military dictatorships (such as Fascists) are on the far right. Other parties are located in between.
Measuring people and issues in terms of political parties has turned out to be philosophically fallacious if not totally misleading. This is because the platforms or positions of political parties are often superficial and structured on shifting sand. The platform of a political party of one generation can hardly be recognized by the next. Furthermore, Communism and Fascism turned out to be different names for approximately the same thing—the police state. They are not opposite extremes but, for all practical purposes, are practically identical.
Government is defined in the dictionary as “a system of ruling or controlling,” and therefore the American Founders measured political systems in terms of the amount of coercive power or systematic control which a particular system of government exercises over its people. In other words, the yardstick is not political parties, but political power.
Using this type of yardstick, they American Founders considered the two extremes to be Anarchy on the one hand, and Tyranny on the other. At the one extreme of anarchy there is no government, no law, no systematic control and no governmental power, while at the other extreme there is too much control, too much political oppression, too much government. Or, as the Founders called it, “tyranny.”