Monday, February 23, 2009

Robert Scheer calls Obama's policies 'fascism'

My friend, Thaddeus Russell, points me to the February 20 edition of NPR-affiliate KCRW's "Left, Right & Center," (at 8:30 in the recording) in which Robert Scheer, a voice of the left on the show and contributing editor to The Nation, had some sharp points to make about the blast-from-the-blackshirted-past nature of President Barack Obama's economic policies.
Robert Scheer: I don't think the idea of nationalizing, as it's now being called--which means basically bailing out these banks, setting them straight, then letting them go private again, which is the model that everybody is using, and the people who get screwed are the people whose retirement funds had common or preferred shares and they get wiped out, and these bankers come out richer than ever at the other end--that's not a leftist idea and it's not socialism. This is what we used to, in Comparative Economic Systems, call fascism. It's putting government at the service of the big financial interests. That's what happened in Italy, that's what happened in Germany, that's what happened in Japan. . . .

Tony Blankley: What I don't understand is how my colleagues on this show, who I believe were for Obama, now saying he's leading a fascist regime. Did he mislead them a few weeks ago when he was still running? . . .

Robert Scheer: To answer your question, I am disappointed in Barack Obama and I'm not quite sure what he's doing.
Scheer was careful to say he wasn't calling Obama a fascist, just that his policies are fascism...


For the record, I think Scheer is accurate in emphasizing that the unsavory policy bouillabaisse coming out of D.C. these days has less to do with Leninist-style state socialism (and certainly nothing in common with non-statist syndicalism, anarcho-socialism or the other forms of cooperative economics that don't require men with guns to operate) than with the corporatist variant on socialism developed by Mussolini.

This should be no surprise, since the government-control-without-expropriation model pursued by the center-left over the past couple of decades has become increasingly corporatist in nature. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at Loyola College, warned in a 1994 article in The Freeman:
[I]t is important to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the l920s and '30s. The evil deeds of individual fascists were later condemned, but the practice of economic fascism never was. ...
But what was fascism in policy terms? Said DiLorenzo:
From an economic perspective, fascism meant (and means) an interventionist industrial policy, mercantilism, protectionism, and an ideology that makes the individual subservient to the state. “Ask not what the State can do for you, but what you can do for the State” is an apt description of the economic philosophy of fascism. ...
And this is relevant to us today, he continued, because:

Now that socialism has collapsed and survives nowhere but in Cuba, China, Vietnam, and on American university campuses, the biggest threat to economic liberty and individual freedom lies in the new economic fascism. While the former Communist countries are trying to privatize as many industries as possible as fast as they can, they are still plagued by governmental controls, leaving them with essentially fascist economies: private property and private enterprise are permitted, but are heavily controlled and regulated by government.

As most of the rest of the world struggles to privatize industry and encourage free enterprise, we in the United States are seriously debating whether or not we should adopt 1930s-era economic fascism as the organizational principle of our entire health care system, which comprises 14 percent of GNP. We are also contemplating business-government “partnerships” in the automobile, airlines, and communications industries, among others, and are adopting government-managed trade policies, also in the spirit of the European corporatist schemes of the 1930s.

As government officials bail out their well-connected friends in the banking, auto and other industries, and further establish state authority over economic activity, you can almost hear the ghost of Mussolini standing in the background, approvingly saying, "Ecco un ditatore!" (behold a dictator!) as he did of FDR.



Anonymous TJP said...

"We are also contemplating business-government “partnerships” in the automobile, airlines, and communications industries..."

Contemplating? Me thinks he is being a bit too diplomatic.

What are the chances I'd be able to start a car company and sell vehicles without restraints or bumpers? Who owns the airports, employs the workers and controls the air space? Whose permission do I need to become a voice service carrier, and who mandates 911 service? I could go on forever.

February 23, 2009 9:06 PM  
Blogger akaGaGa said...

Ya'know, JD, I don't really care what we call it, the real issue is still individual freedom vs. government control.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.


February 24, 2009 6:21 AM  

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