Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Another thing - long ago I read a post on Vampie Elf's website about Fascism and at the time I sort of wanted to respond to it, but then decided it was a little much to get into. However, since Safire has now brought the parallels between 1930's fascism and the current U.S. government back into play, I suppose we should discuss it.

The thrust of Vampire Elf's post was that it's silly to refer to Bush and Co. as fascists because fascism is what Hitler and Mussolini practiced and it's pretty extreme, a lot more extreme than anything Bush has done. He then cited a pretty narrow, modern definition of the word that could best be described as somewhat ahistorical.

Fascism was actually an important and serious economic concept in the 1930's and was, in fact, the wave of the future. Hitler went WAY beyond what economic fascists were recommending domestically, and also sort of gave fascism a bad name in Europe by invading everyone in the name of converting their economies to economic fascism, which knocked everyone's nose out of joint.

But what economic fascism actually entailed was complicated, and indeed many of the concepts that were espoused by economic fascists in the 1930's were adopted by the statist reactionaries of the 1970's and 1980's, who conferred upon themselves the title "Free Market Capitalists." The main points of free market capitalism are increased central planning, absolute freedom for corporations, removal of local checks on government and corporate power, and the free flow of capital across national borders, a veritable wish list of 1930's economic fascists (who included Churchill and Roosevelt.)

As this wondrous Free Market Capitalism started to be imposed through international banking institutions, even this venerable terminology started to develop something of a negative stigma (particularly in the countries where the policies failed miserably), so the modern way of referring to Free Market Capitalism is by using the term "Democracy." This is how we arrive at the somewhat confusing but nonetheless consistent conclusion that Venezuela, where free and fair elections result in the reelection of an immensely popular socialist president, is not considered "democratic" by U.S. policymakers, but El Salvador, which has been ruled by marauding death squads for decades, is held up by pundits such as David Brooks as the very model of a modern nascent democracy.

Of course, the reason fascism is such a loaded word today is not because of the domestic policies it entails but because of the means by which Hitler and Mussolini set out to impose this system on the world - namely by invading and occupying countries on some spurious pretext, and later using the resistance to their occupation as a retroactive justification for having invaded (along with setting up torture and extermination facilities in the occupied countries, etc.) which of course American leaders would never do.

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