We're All Fascists Now

A couple of years ago, Newsweek had a cover story, “We Are All Socialists Now.”  The basic themes of huge stimulus package, ObamaCare, and government overregulation leading once-capitalist America down the dangerous road to socialism  is quite well worn. 

There’s some truth to the basic theme:  the state is getting more and more deeply involved in business, even taking controlling interests in some private companies.  And the state is even trying to "make policy" for private companies they do not control.  So state power is growing at the expense of corporations.

The problem is, that isn't socialism.  Socialism rests on a firm concept:  the abolition of private property.  What is happening now - particularly in the Obama administration - is an expansion of the state’s role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business.  It’s very "European," and some Europeans even call it "social democracy," but it isn’t.

It’s fascism.  Nobody uses the term today because “fascism” has long since lost its actual, historical, context;  it’s become instead, an epithet. Lots of the mainstream media writing about current events wouldn’t want to stigmatize it with that "f" word.

Although fascism is considered to have first emerged in France in the 1880s, its influences have been considered to go back as far as Julius Caesar. Thomas Hobbes, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Hegel have also been considered as influential, as well as contemporary ideas such as the syndicalism of Georges Sorel, the futurism of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the nationalist and authoritarian philosophy of Oswald Spengler and the conservatism and social Darwinism of Enrico Corradini.

Also, nobody knows what fascist political economy was, because they don't study history.  During the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to depression and economic decline.  It was hailed as a "third way" between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each.  Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded.  This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis "of the system," not just a glitch "in the system."  Mussolini created the "Corporate State," in which the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and state management.  Some of the big "State Corporations" lasted a very long time;  some have only recently been privatized, and the state still holds important equity positions in some of them.

In the early thirties, before "fascism" became a dirty word, leading politicians and economists felt that it might work, and many believed it was required.  When Roosevelt was elected in 1932, in fact, Mussolini personally reviewed his book, Looking Forward, and proclaimed that FDR was like a brother.

As an economic fix, the Corporate State was not a great success anywhere.  Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t cure America’s economic ills any more than Mussolini’s Third Way did. Roosevelt finally relented in 1938-9, lowering taxes and reducing regulation. The US economy finally took off.  In both the US and Italy, however, fascism's most durable consequence was the expansion of the ability of the state to give orders to more and more citizens, in more and more areas of their lives.  In the first half of the twentieth century, that was hardly unique to the "fascist" states;  tyranny was the order of the day in the "socialist" and "communist" countries as well.  

President Obama, invoking the old fascistic longing for national greatness: "Still, building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower.” Then he asks, “We're going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?"

No government in the history of the world has spent as much, borrowed as much and created as much fake money as the United States. If the United States doesn't qualify as  fascist in this sense, no government ever has.

For those of who are concerned with the future of freedom, the key point is the political one:  this great "rescue" to which our government is subjecting us will challenge our commitment to freedom – including economic freedom -in many dramatic ways.