Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Are We All Fascists Now? I'm talking about Economically, not Politically

And if we are, just what does that mean? Pat has done an excellent post about this: "We're all Facists now"

He has some excerpts from Michael Ledeen's two part article, where Ledeen comments on a piece published by Newsweek with the headline "We Are All Socialist's Now". Ledeen maintains we're not, and says that even the Newsweek article shows us that something else is going on:
[...] Socialism rests on a firm theoretical bedrock: the abolition of private property. I haven’t heard anyone this side of Barney Frank calling for any such thing. What is happening now–and Newsweek is honest enough to say so down in the body of the article–is an expansion of the state’s role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business. Yes, it’s very “European,” and some of the Europeans even call it “social democracy,” but it isn’t.

It’s fascism. Nobody calls it by its proper name, for two basic reasons: first, because “fascism” has long since lost its actual, historical, content; it’s been a pure epithet for many decades. Lots of the people writing about current events like what Obama et. al. are doing, and wouldn’t want to stigmatize it with that “f” epithet.

Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was. Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond. 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.” And so Mussolini created the “Corporate State,” in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management. [...]

Fascism is such a loaded word. But what we are talking about here is fascist economics, not fascist politics. It's an important distinction. However, such a situation contains unique dangers of it's own:
[...] The economics of the current expansion of state power in America are, as I said, “fascist,” but the politics are not. We are not witnessing “American Fascism on the march.” Fascism was a war ideology and grew out of the terrible slaughter of the First World War. Fascism hailed the men who fought and prevailed on the battlefield, and wrapped itself in the well-established rhetoric of European nationalism, which does not exist in America and never has. Our liberties are indeed threatened, but by a tyranny of a very different sort.

Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it. [...]

It often seems like we take freedom so for granted, that we don't even recognize it anymore, and therefore don't value it. So it's easily sacrificed in the name of security. But are we destined to find out that those who sacrifice freedom for security end up with neither? Must we rediscover what freedom is by losing it?

Ledeen goes on to compare Roosevelt’s New Deal and Mussolini’s Third Way, and the failures of both. We can learn from the mistakes of the past, instead of repeating them. Read the whole thing, it's your "must read" for the day.
     

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