In “The Fascist Threat” Lew Rockwell begins by suggesting that if most Americans were really honest with themselves and others, they would admit to being fascists. This is not to say that most Americans advocate Nazism in the tradition of Hitler, but in terms of economic policy, social control and civil liberties the term is appropriate. Rockwell defines Fascism as:
the system of government that cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police state as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive state the unlimited master of society.
This seems quite accurate, but as he notes, the average person doesn’t think of this system as fascism.
Most have been taught this system but have come to understand it in different terms. Instead of a cartelized, centrally planned economy, the public generally understands the regulatory apparatus as necessary to protect the “little guys” from the evil rich capitalistic class. Rather than being ruled by a police state, Americans believe they are being protected. As for rights, those are generally dependent on the particular group one belongs to, i.e. women’s rights, gay rights, patient’s rights, etc., as opposed to simply being part of our humanity.
Rockwell describes fascism as the “silent killer,” and argues that among the various forms of state control, it is the most dangerous because it is politically more palatable. There is no nationalizing all private property, attempts to equalize income, or suppress religious liberties in the Soviet brand of socialism.
A vital point to understanding a fascist bureaucracy, as Rockwell notes, is that very little turnover takes place within the system. As he describes it, rotation occurs as a result of mortality, as opposed to the typical change we see in politics. Because the politicians aren’t the ones carrying out the daily business of running the empire it doesn’t matter if they come and go, what matters is that people become part of the system and remain in power for decades.
John T. Flynn’s eight marks of fascist policy form the basis of Rockwell’s argument, they are:
1. The government is totalitarian because it acknowledges no restraint on its powers.
It’s hard to argue this hasn’t been true for quite some time. All it took for the Supreme Court to rubber stamp Roosevelt’s New Deal was FDR threatening to pack the court. Then there’s Paul Begala’s notable quote about executive orders: “Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool.” When the federal government regulates everything from light bulbs and toilets and to lawn mowers and laundry soap the question must move from “what do they regulate?” to “what don’t they control?”
2. Government is a de facto dictatorship based on the leadership principle.
Steve Cronin dissented on this point in his video, but I fail to see why, given the assassination powers now established by the president, in addition to all of the other spying, droning, and lawlessness going on. There are of course “free elections,” but virtually all of the world’s dictators have been popularly elected, so that’s not much of distinction.
3. Government administers a capitalist system with an immense bureaucracy.
In yesterday’s essay Hazlitt explained that over forty years ago the federal government consisted of more than 2,500 agencies and departments, and employed almost 2.7 million people, not including the armed forces. Today I can’t imagine cataloging the number of organizations and “workers” that compose Leviathan.
4. Producers are organized into cartels in the way of syndicalism.
This is accomplished through the creation of actual cartels, such as the central bank, but also through myriad laws, ordinances, regulations, tariffs, quotas, executive orders, and taxes. Whether by design or coincidence, all of the bureaucracy drives out small competitors, leaving only a few politically well-connected firms standing.
5. Economic planning is based on the principle of autarky.
Rockwell explains: “Autarky is the name given to the idea of economic self-sufficiency. Mostly this refers to the economic self-determination of the nation-state.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the energy policies of the Left and Right, which are both aimed at “energy independence,” or so we’re told. On the Left energy independence means domestically produced renewable energy such as wind farms or solar panels. For the Right, it means drilling in ANWR, the coasts, and grabbing land to run pipelines all over the place. Trade with others is simply out of the question.
6. Government sustains economic life through spending and borrowing.
There has been stimulus after stimulus, bailout after bailout, and one scheme after another to prop up businesses and governments at all levels. Interest rates have been slashed and held near zero for years. And still nothing. Of course this is all courtesy of the central bank. There never seem to be enough teachers, cops, or firefighters. Well of course not, these are not provided by the market, so there’s no way to know how many to hire. The roads and bridges and are always in disrepair, and as Rockwell points out “[they’re] all built and maintained by the state. That’s why they are falling apart.”
7. Militarism is a mainstay of government spending.
It’s the third rail of politics: the Military-Industrial-Complex is sacrosanct. Not only does the military never have to face any real spending cuts, but its spending represents practically half of all government expenditures.
8. Military spending has imperialist aims.
Almost without exception, wherever U.S. troops have been deployed in the world, they’ve stayed long after the fighting was over. Everyone knows that after nearly 70 years almost fifty thousand troops are stationed in Germany and Japan. Same in Korea. But though hostilities ended over one hundred years ago, there are still troops in Cuba. It is for this reason that Rockwell says “most people in the world to regard the United States as a threat, and it has led to unconscionable wars on many countries.”
As for the future, it looks brighter, because the private sector’s world is so much better, and can overcome fascism. As he says, “Their world is falling apart. Ours is just being built.” So of course the world created by the private sector is better. Not only the physical world, which the state always seeks to pilfer, since the state produces nothing of economic value, but the digital world is in many ways even better.
It offers many a work around for the barriers put in place by governments. Of course it helps reduce the cost of doing business, allows commerce that otherwise could never happen to blossom, and opens up the world to anyone with an IP address, which is an ever-increasing number of people. Information spreads faster than wildfire ever could on the Internet, which is what makes it so dangerous to the state, and like a raging wildfire it can’t be tamed.
In order to realize this, Rockwell suggests that an anti-fascist alliance is in order. It need not be formal, but a confederacy of anti-Federal Reserve types, Tenthers, peaceniks, homeschoolers, alternative medicine practitioners, writers, speakers, entrepreneurs, and teachers could make it happen. To that I say: “let a thousand flowers bloom.”