United States Of Corporativism?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by poncho, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. poncho

    poncho
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    When most people hear the word "fascism" they naturally think of its ugly racism and anti-Semitism as practiced by the totalitarian regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. But there was also an economic policy component of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," that was an essential ingredient of economic totalitarianism as practiced by Mussolini and Hitler. So- called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a "model" by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe. A version of economic fascism was in fact adopted in the United States in the 1930s and survives to this day. In the United States these policies were not called "fascism" but "planned capitalism." The word fascism may no longer be politically acceptable, but its synonym "industrial policy" is as popular as ever.

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    So-called "corporatism" as practiced by Mussolini and revered by so many intellectuals and policy makers had several key elements: The state comes before the individual. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized, autocratic government." This stands in stark contrast to the classical liberal idea that individuals have natural rights that pre-exist government; that government derives its "just powers" only through the consent of the governed; and that the principal function of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens, not to aggrandize the state.

    Mussolini viewed these liberal ideas (in the European sense of the word "liberal") as the antithesis of fascism: "The Fascist conception of life," Mussolini wrote, "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 thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: "The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature's plans." "If classical liberalism spells individualism," Mussolini continued, "Fascism spells government."

    The essence of fascism, therefore, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people. Think about this. Does anyone in America really believe that this is not what we have now? Are Internal Revenue Service agents really our "servants"? Is compulsory "national service" for young people, which now exists in numerous states and is part of a federally funded program, not a classic example of coercing individuals to serve the state? Isn't the whole idea behind the massive regulation and regimentation of American industry and society the notion that individuals should be forced to behave in ways defined by a small governmental elite? When the nation's premier health-care reformer recently declared that heart bypass surgery on a 92-year-old man was "a waste of resources," wasn't that the epitome of the fascist ideal-that the state, not individuals, should decide whose life is worthwhile, and whose is a "waste"?

    The U.S. Constitution was written by individuals who believed in the classical liberal philosophy of individual rights and sought to protect those rights from governmental encroachment. But since the fascist/collectivist philosophy has been so influential, policy reforms over the past half century have all but abolished many of these rights by simply ignoring many of the provisions in the Constitution that were designed to protect them. As legal scholar Richard Epstein has observed: "[T]he eminent domain . . . and parallel clauses in the Constitution render . . . suspect many of the heralded reforms and institutions of the twentieth century: zoning, rent control, workers' compensation laws, transfer payments, progressive taxation." It is important to note that most of these reforms were initially adopted during the '30s, when the fascist/collectivist philosophy was in its heyday.

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  2. poncho

    poncho
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    Hey! Look over there ---> It's Mussolini.
     
  3. Johnv

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    If I remember correctly from what sociology classes I managed to stay awake through, corporatism is where the main economic functions are organized as and controlled by bodies of individuals (a corporate body).

    The name in and of itself would incorrectly suggest that corporatism is the control by private companies.
     
  4. Rocko9

    Rocko9
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    Wow! You had me going for awhile there Poncho. I felt an eerie presence in the room, turned out is was my wifes ugly little dog.
     

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