Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Sam Smith, Progressive Review - What Mussolini founded was the estato corporativo - the corporative state or corporatism. Writing in Economic Affairs in the mid 1970s, R.E. Pahl and J. T. Winkler described corporatism as a system under which government guides privately owned businesses towards order, unity, nationalism and success. They were quite clear as to what this system amounted to: "Let us not mince words. Corporatism is fascism with a human face. . . An acceptable face of fascism, indeed, a masked version of it, because so far the more repugnant political and social aspects of the German and Italian regimes are absent or only present in diluted forms."

Thus, although the model generally cited in defense of organized capitalism is that of the contemporary Japanese, the most effective original practitioners of a corporative economy were the Italians. Unlike today's Japanese, but like contemporary America, their economy was a war economy.

Adrian Lyttelton, describing the rise of Italian fascism in The Seizure of Power, writes: "A good example of Mussolini's new views is provided by his inaugural speech to the National Exports Institute on 8 July 1926. . . Industry was ordered to form 'a common front' in dealing with foreigners, to avoid 'ruinous competition,' and to eliminate inefficient enterprises. . . The values of competition were to be replaced by those of organization: Italian industry would be reshaped and modernized by the cartel and trust. . .There was a new philosophy here of state intervention for the technical modernization of the economy serving the ultimate political objectives of military strength and self-sufficiency; it was a return to the authoritarian and interventionist war economy."

Lyttelton writes that "fascism can be viewed as a product of the transition from the market capitalism of the independent producer to the organized capitalism of the oligopoly." It was a point that Orwell had noted when he described fascism as being but an extension of capitalism. Lyttelton quoted Nationalist theorist Affredo Rocco: "The Fascist economy is. . . an organized economy. It is organized by the producers themselves, under the supreme direction and control of the State.". . .

Germany's willingness to accept Hitler was the product of many cultural characteristics specific to that country, to the anger and frustrations in the wake of the World War I defeat, to extraordinary inflation and particular dumb reactions to it, and, of course, to the appeal of anti-Semitism. Still, consideration of the Weimar Republic that preceded Hitler does us no harm. Bearing in mind all the foregoing, there was also:

- A collapse of conventional liberal and conservative politics that bears uncomfortable similarities to what we are now experiencing.

- The gross mismanagement of the economy and of such key worker concerns as wages, inflation, pensions, layoffs, and rising property taxes. Many of the actions were taken in the name of efficiency, an improved economy and the "rationalization of production." There were also bankruptcies, negative trade balance, major decline in national production, large national debt rise compensated for by foreign investment. In other words, a hyped version of what America and its workers are experiencing today.


At November 11, 2008 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Socialist countries do not nationalize failing companies. They nationalize successful businesses. (And then run them into the ground.)

So yes, the banking/insurance/auto/etc. industries' bailouts are not socialist.

At November 28, 2008 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fascinating thing is that it is all about language. 'Socialism' is always 'bad' in America. Anything that is viewed by the deluded citizenry is called 'socialist'.

Of course, the word 'fascist' almost can't be used. If anyone uses it in serious debate, they are immediately attacked visciously. 'socialist' is an allowable smear word in America, 'fascist' is not.

Of course, as Mr. Smith points out, we are much closer to a 'fascist' system that anything 'socialist'. And this sort of combination of the governmenr working to 'bail out' the wealthy and powerful while leaving the rest behind is of course much closer to 'fascism'.

A 'socialist' response would be to either be actually buying the banks that we've given more money than their total capitalization, using those to improve policies for everyone, and probably pushing the money instead into the bottom of the system to help families stay in their homes, which would slow foreclosures, which would stabilize home prices which would stabilize the whole dang system.

When the bought politicians are funneling all the money off to their contributors and friends, that bears no relation whatsoever to socialism.


Post a Comment

<< Home