This is Good ol' PA here to address some feedback on one of our centerpieces, "Socialism WORKS!", a subsite about Socialism in history. One particular common criticism seems to be that Fascism "doesn't fit", a criticism I majorly disagree with, that I believe is more the obfuscation of modern politics than a real complaint.
If you think of politics on a left/right line, you come to inherent contradictions - the left/right idiom is not broad enough to accurately describe politics. Thinking of Capitalism as a rightist issue, and then Fascism as a rightist issue, and then equating the two is chiefly backwards.
Let me explain further by discussing the real works of Fascist governments, and compare that to Capitalist free markets.
Liberal vs. Liberal
In Europe, "liberal" meant the same form of free-market Capitalism we in America may often attribute to the "right". Liberalism has changed faces over the years in America and in the world in general, but as I said before, "left/right" is a bad way to think of politics.
"The Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual." - Mussolini
So we're caught with a conflicting view of what the "leftist liberal" side of this argument is.
On the one hand, we have modern Liberalism, which is clearly sympathetic of Democratic Socialism, such as Communism. In Nazi Germany, the "left" of that political movement was the Communists who the Nazis squandered. Then we have Mussolini's view of the "left", "classical liberalism", which is the free-market Capitalism that modernly people think of as "right", but as I said before "left/right" is a bad way to think of things because even today America's modern Conservative movement isn't very classically liberal.
In other words, we're really freaking confused. But that's a result of the bad idea of "left/right" simplification.
Simply put, modern liberalism (Socialism) and modern conservatism (neo-Fascism) are both closer to each other than either is close to Capitalism (free markets which entail free society, "classical liberalism"). Of course I hope to demonstrate that by using more than just the Duce's own words
One of the first and most obvious differences between free market Capitalism and Fascism are unions. Unions in a Fascist state are compulsory arms of the state, registration is required and the dictates of labor are made by the state, which is said to represent labor interests. Hitler and Mussolini both used unions to dictate production and bully businessmen. Mostly this meant commanding strikes and keeping the dues payment to the Fascist/Nazi parties steady. As a closed market, unions are a method the state uses to manipulate the means of production (an effect of a Socialist entity). In a free market, unions are non-compulsory, and only when given special government privileges do they begin to resemble their Fascist counterparts.
Corpatism vs. Capitalism
Corporatism is the economic policy of Fascism, not Capitalism. Corporatism is a form of totalitarianism where the state may make arbitrary and often entirely dictatorial market decisions, but in areas it currently does not express that power, it lets the market run however it chooses (this is as opposed to top-down Socialism, which dictates all market prices).
Corporatism: centralized, autocratic society
Capitalism: individual based and free society
Working from this understanding, let's cover how Corpatists might deal with situations differently from Capitalists:
In a Corporatist market, you are told what to buy and how much, at what prices. In a Capitalist market, you are allowed the choice to buy whatever you want, or not to buy anything, at whatever price you agree upon with the seller. (thankfully, we still have a mostly Capitalist free market in America)
In a Corporatist market, union leadership led by state representation (read: dictation) tell you how to command your labor forces and what your produce should be. In a Capitalist market, manufacturers are free to decide what they can make, who to employ, and what union demands to settle with. (America has a largely Capitalist market in this regard, although the state does very often interfere)
In a Corporatist market, Corporations are industries entirely owned and run by government through charters and legislative protections. In a Capitalist market, Corporations are merely joint stock companies, which no special privileges over any other business or trade (in America we do not have Capitalist corporations, something supposed advocates of the free market overlook).
In a Corpatist market, the central banks directed by the national authority dictate monetary policy (the printing of money and monetary value) by removing gold/silver standards and controlling interest rates. In a Capitalist market, the state has no special authority over the policies of banks, and monetary inflation is fixed by gold/silver standards. (we again do not have a Capitalist monetary policy in America)
In a Corpatist market, employment is mandatory, often the direct result of a dictator's ruling, and can often be class-based. Unemployment is hidden by creating special schooling or state-based worker's camps/projects, which declassify the "unemployed". Wages and benefits are also established by government officials, often in a uniform, redistributionary manner. In a Capitalist market, employment is optional, the terms of employment are voluntarily agreed upon by both parties - that includes benefits and wages - and the state is not allowed discretionary spending for the favors of labor interests. (unemployment policy, Social Security and health care is making the American market less Capitalist by the day)
In a Corporatist market, the state essentially entirely funds and controls all agricultural efforts (often with disastrous results). In a Capitalist market, businessmen and entrepreneurs decide the methods, finances and prices of agriculture... with little state intervention. (in America, we are slowly losing Capitalist agriculture)
In a Corpatist market, virtually all terms of trade are established by a series of regulations, essentially dictating the function of the market. In a Capitalist market, regulations are ideally non-existent, and people are free to make their decisions. (the American market is not very Capitalist in this regard)
In a Corpatist market, laws protect certain trades, making them state-run monopolies. In a Capitalist market, monopolies can only subsist on the virtue of their innovation and invention, as competition is not restricted by any law or special provision. (anti-trust engages in zoning, the chief Corporatist method of making localized monopolies)
In a Corporatist market, the state spends a lot of money, and will borrow heavily (especially for wartime preparations). In a Capitalist market, national debt is unnecessary because the government may not use indiscretionary spending to bolster the market. (our national debt is $7 Trillion, any questions?)
What defines the Corporatist market of Fascism is the entity of a "Corporation". The biggest Corporation is the Corporation of the State... and it's that Corporation which is meant to control society. So in other words, Fascism is a market-rhetoric play on the idea of Socialism.
Hitler and National Socialism
Hitler's Nazi movement stood for "National Socialism". When thought out to it's logical ends, it was no different from the Communist party Nazis naturally feuded with, major factions of the Nazi party were even built on the idea that they should be siding with the Communists, although those elements were squandered for political - not ideological - reasons. Why would two similar ideologies feud?
For one, Hitler stymied the fuller "Socialism" of National Socialism at first only because he felt it hurt big money party contributions, entrepenuers and businessmen did not want to donate to a party with the rhetoric of Communism - which demonized the businessman - however Hitler agreed with Communism on one fundamental point - he believed the state who should control the money, not the businessmen. This was reflected once Hilter became Fuhrer and the free market of Germany was completely killed. Hitler made arbitrary market decisions for businessmen, often to convert production lines into military aims, or to supply for the powerful social engineering of the nation, or to squander Judiasm and "unfavorable" social elements. This went from controlling food, to controlling labor (he often ensured his laborers mandatory vacation times and the state paid for their benefits)... more to the point, a central function of the Nazi state was redistribution of wealth, a core Socialist feature.
Why did Nazism and Communism feud so violently? They did not differ ideologically, as they both aspired for the state to control the market, fundamental Socialism they both shared. Facts are, all forms of Socialism have been bitter rivals, because they are all imposed visions which allow for no room for similar aims. Not everyone can be Fuhrer or central economic planners, that's as true of Communism as it is of National Socialism (Nazi Fascism).
The website linked to making the claim that Fascism is closer to Capitalism was using a strange circular chart to show the correlation. Here's a better one, in my opinion, which may illustrate the differences more obviously.
The Nolan Chart
On this chart, you can see, I place Communism/Socialism and Fascism/Nazism slightly off-center sides of the same end of the political spectrum. Both are forms of Authoriarianism, where the state makes all decisions... the only thing more extreme than either is totalitarian dictatorship, which most Fascist/Socialist regimes end in.
Capitalism, conversely, is diametrically opposed to both and place up near Libertarianism, at least, when it is honestly practiced (it is not in America today).
Want to find out where you are on this scale? Just take the World's Smallest Political Quiz
. Judge for yourself the usefulness of this chart.
Totalitarianism Cannot Have Free Markets
This all boils down to one point, that there is no longer a free market when the state
controls all of the means of production. State ownership of the means of production is the definition
of Socialism. No, really, it is.
Dictionary.com def. of "Socialism":
Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
In Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy the means of production was in the palm of the state. The difference between their governments and the Communist regimes of China and Russia is simple: in the totalitarian states of Hitler & Mussolini, the state lied to businessmen about the nature of the market, by allowing them the belief that their property was theirs. In every historical instance where a businessman went to make a decision which countered the absolute rule of the Fascist/Nazi parties, the state overrided, often with violent results.
More to the point, Hitler & Mussolini's governments were based on total control over society, which can only be achieved through control of the marketplace. They both feared and rejected the idea that the individual should be free to make his own decisions, instead, they believed only the state was able to make decisions for the individual.
Founders of Capitalist free markets, like Adam Smith, were the bane of Fascist leaderships. Adam Smith announced that only in a free society, where government is limited to very small scales, can the free market work. In this bold declarations he made the single greatest distinction between Capitalism and Fascism: that of unalienable individual liberty. To call a market which is controlled in virtually every facet by the state "Capitalist" is a chief misunderstanding of what Capitalism is about, free choice, and the free market. Fascism has "private property" under the sole condition of total individual control of property being given to the state. Is that real Capitalist "private property" or just another guise of Socialism?
Is Fascism Dead?
Like Socialism, which is similar in aims, Fascism is strong in modern American government. Libertarians seek to reverse Fascist trends by reinstituting the free market. That includes:
1. Limiting the overall size of government
2. Deregulating the market, to deny government centralized planning
3. Removing powers of government that may allow for compulsory associations/employment
4. Limiting government spending authority
5. Limiting government taxing authority
6. Ending Corporate federal charters which grant limited liability
7. Ending complete control of the federal government over monetary policy
If Hitler or Mussolini ever met with a Capitalist movement planning to do the above, they would've had it's members shot in concentration camps.
Are distinctions between Fascism and Capitalism quickly becoming part of the New American Myth
we live in everyday? You be the judge. Thanks for visiting.
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