Advertisements

[VIDEO] Where Krugman Has Gone Before 

krugman

 

Advertisements

The Socialist Economics of Italian Fascism

italy-benito-mussolini

If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. Sound familiar? 

Lawrence K. Samuels writes: The economics of Italian Fascism is often ignored or trivialized because so much of it is found in today’s world economies. Consider some of the components of fascist economics: central planning, heavy state subsidies, protectionism (high tariffs), steep levels of nationalization, rampant cronyism, large deficits, high government spending, bank and industry bailouts, overlapping bureaucracy, massive social welfare programs, crushing national debt, bouts of inflation and “a highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure.”1

mussolini-quote

“The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State…Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.”

— Benito Mussolini, from “Doctrine of Fascism

On numerous occasions, Benito Mussolini identified his economic policies with “state capitalism”—the exact phrase that Vladimir Lenin used to usher in his New Economic Policy (NEP). Lenin wrote: “State capitalism would be a step forward as compared with the present state of affairs in our liberal-fascismSoviet Republic.”2 After Russia’s economy collapsed in 1921, Lenin allowed privatization and private initiative, and he let the people trade, buy and sell for private profit.3 Lenin was moving towards a mixed economy.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”  from Amazon]

He even demanded that state-owned companies operate on profit/loss principles.4Lenin acknowledged that he had to back away from total socialism and allow some capitalism.

 “In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: ‘The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.’”

Mussolini followed Lenin’s example and proceeded to establish a state-driven economic model in Italy. In essence, Mussolini’s fascism was simply an imitation of Lenin’s “third way,” which combined market-based mechanisms and socialism—similar to Red China’s “market socialism.” In short, Lenin’s revised Marxism culminated in “socialist-lite” policies that helped inspire Mussolini to craft his own Italian-style fascism with a right-wing socialist twist. Thus, one could argue that Lenin’s politics were the first modern-day version of fascism and state-corporatism.

01 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during Hitler's 1938 state visit to Italy

“As the effects of the Great Depression lingered, Italy’s government promoted mergers and acquisitions, bailed out failing businesses and ‘seized the stock holdings of banks, which held large equity interests.’ The Italian state took over bankrupt corporations, cartelized business, increased government spending, expanded the money supply, and boosted deficits. The Italian government promoted heavy industry by ‘nationalizing it instead of letting the companies go bankrupt.”

Economist Ludwig von Mises, who fled the Nazi conquest of Europe, contended that the “economic program of Italian Fascism did not differ from the program of British Guild Socialism as propagated by the most eminent British and European socialists.”5,6

mussolini-LIFE

“The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State…Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.”

— Benito Mussolini

In The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Sheldon Richman succinctly states: “As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist 36b25ade-47bd-11e1-9a92-00144feabdc0.imgveneer.”7 He contends that socialism seeks to abolish capitalism outright, while fascism gives the appearance of a market-based economy, even though it relies heavily on the central planning of all economic activities. According to authors Roland Sarti and Rosario Romeo, “[U]nder Fascism the state had more latitude for control of the economy than any other nation at the time except for the Soviet Union.”8

[Read the full text here, at Library of Economic Liberty]

Interestingly, Mussolini found much of John Maynard Keynes’s economic theories consistent with fascism, writing: “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”9

After the worldwide Great Depression, Mussolini became more vocal in his claims that fascism explicitly rejected the capitalist elements of economic individualism and laissez-faire liberalism.10 In his “Doctrine of Fascism,” Mussolini wrote: “The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State…Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”11 Read the rest of this entry »


The Man Behind the Hong Kong Miracle

freeman-HK

Some of us just write about libertarian ideas. This guy actually made them public policy for millions.

[Also see our EXCLUSIVE companion article “UNDERNEATH the “Hong Kong Miracle”]

For The FreemanLawrence W. Reed writes: Three cheers for Hong Kong, that tiny chunk of Southeast Asian rock. For the twentieth consecutive year, the Index of Economic Freedom—compiled by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation—ranks Hong Kong (HK) as the freest economy in the world.

“Maybe this is why socialists don’t like to talk about Hong Kong: It’s not only the freest economy, it’s also one of the richest.”

Though part of mainland China since the British ceded it in 1997, HK is governed locally on a daily basis. So far, the Chinese have remained reasonably faithful to their promise to leave the HK economy alone. What makes it so free is music to the ears of everyone who loves liberty:  Relatively little corruption. An efficient and independent judiciary. Respect for the rule of law and property rights. An uncomplicated tax system with low rates on both individuals and business and an overall tax burden that’s a mere 14 percent of GDP (half the U.S. rate). No taxes on capital gains or interest income or even on earnings from outside of HK. No sales tax or VAT either. A very light regulatory touch. No government budget deficit and almost nonexistent public debt. Oh, and don’t forget its average tariff rate of near zero. That’s right—zero!

“Over a wide field of our economy it is still the better course to rely on the nineteenth century’s ‘hidden hand’ than to thrust clumsy bureaucratic fingers into its sensitive mechanism.”

— Sir John James Cowperthwaite, 1962

This latest ranking in the WSJ/Heritage report confirms what Canada’s Fraser Institute found in its latest Economic Freedom of the World Index, which also ranked HK as the world’s freest. The World Bank rates the “ease of doing business” in HK as just about the best on the planet. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Marxism

new-marxism

A prominent liberal economist contends capitalism will inevitably increase inequality.

‘Karl Marx wasn’t wrong, just early. Pretty much. Sorry, capitalism. #inequalityforevah”

James Pethokoukis writes:  When trying to condense a sweeping, 700-page analysis of the past, present, and possible future of capitalism into an 85-character tweet, you’re bound to miss a few things. But the above Twitter-fication of economist Thomas Piketty’s much-awaited Capital in the Twenty-First Century captures the gist of the author’s argument.

“Piketty, a left-wing Frenchman who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, is hardly the only economist arguing inequality is headed inexorably higher…”

Piketty thinks the German progenitor of Communism basically got it right. It’s only that his essential insight — private capital accumulation inevitably leads to the concentration of wealth into ever-fewer hands — took a hiatus during the middle part of the last century thanks to depression and war hurting the fortunes of the well-to-do. But now Marxism’s fundamental truth is reasserting itself with a vengeance, a reality borne out in both Piketty’s own meticulously gathered data and in business pages replete with stories of skyrocketing wealth for the 0.001 percent and decades of flat wages for everyone else.

John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek famously squared off in the 1930s, Left versus Right. But when Keynes published his revolutionary General Theory in 1936, Hayek went silent….Who will make the intellectual case for economic freedom today?”

And it’s only going to get worse, Piketty concludes. Sure, the productive and innovative capacity of market capitalism will generate enough income growth for the masses to prevent revolution. He concedes Marx got that bit of apocalypticism wrong. But an “endless inegalitarian spiral” will create such wealth bifurcation that “the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based” will be undermined. The political process will be hopelessly captured by a tiny elite of rent seekers and trust-fund kids. America (and then the other advanced economies) will become what Occupy Wall Street types and Elizabeth Warren think it already is.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘Neoliberalism’ – A Term Both Ubiquitous and Ill-Defined – is an Evolving Body of Market-Driven Ideas. Or a Conspiracy by Elites to Torment the Poor…

Margaret Thatcher arrives in Washington, November 1988 (courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

Margaret Thatcher arrives in Washington, November 1988 (courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

Spontaneous Order: Looking Back at Neoliberalism

Tim Barker  writes:  “The owl of Minerva,” Hegel famously wrote, “flies only at dusk”: historical events can be theoretically comprehended only in retrospect. Is this the case with neoliberalism? A term ubiquitous in the academy but scarcely used outside it, the concept is difficult to define with precision. A common shorthand identifies it as the economic and philosophical ideology behind the Reagan-Thatcher revolution; it is also often agreed that this ideology contributed somehow to the financial crisis of 2008. Now, with the recession technically over but recovery still ambiguous, two recent books attempt to describe neoliberalism’s historical origins and explore its current political implications.

Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism

by Johanna Bockman
Stanford University Press, 2011, 352 pp.

Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics

by Daniel Stedman Jones
Princeton University Press, 2012, 432 pp.

In Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics, Daniel Stedman Jones charts the rise of neoliberalism, which he defines as the “coherent, if loose, body of ideas” that underwrite our contemporary “market-driven society.” He begins with the intellectual biographies of three exiled Central European thinkers—Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Karl Popper—who challenged the industrial West’s consensus around social welfare programs, full employment, labor unions, and state intervention. This first, émigré generation (joined by kindred Americans and West Germans) were “neoliberal” in their opposition to central planning, but also “neoliberal” because they sought a reformed liberalism for the middle of the twentieth century, not a simple return to the laissez-faire of the nineteenth. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, for example, countenanced significant departures from laissez-faire, including universal health care.

Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] The Reluctant Patriot: how George Orwell Reconciled Himself with England

George Orwell illustrated by Ralph Steadman

George Orwell illustrated by Ralph Steadman

Orwell discovered the values of a practical, gentle, empirical people who didn’t kill each other because they disagreed over politics.

George Orwell: English Rebel
Robert Colls
Oxford University Press

David Aaronovitch  writes:  Since whoever we are (save for a few sad Leninists) we all agree with George Orwell, it usually follows that Orwell must agree with us. Whatever our 21st-century predilections, Tory or leftist, conservative or progressive, we discover blessings and endorsements somewhere in Orwell’s words. We grab him for ourselves.

In English Rebel, Professor Robert Colls grabs Orwell for an idea of national affiliation. Colls offsets his attempt by disclaiming any such ambition. “There is no ‘key’ to Orwell,” he writes at the end of his introduction, “any more than he is a ‘box’ to open. His Englishness, though, is worth following through.” A modest grab, then – and, as we shall see, a good grab. But a grab nonetheless.

George Orwell was, argues Colls, “deracinated”. He went to Eton but he was not of the ruling class. He served as a colonial policeman in Burma but he was alienated from the Raj. He became an intellectual who disliked intellectuals, and a socialist who distrusted almost all forms of socialism. He belonged nowhere.

Except, eventually, to England – not Brit­ain, says Colls, which was too abstract an identity, but England. Between coming back from Burma in the late 1920s and the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, Orwell came to understand, and wanted to defend, the peculiar virtues of Englishness as understood and practised by “ordinary” English people. Bluff wisdom resided in the folk of England – whose gentleness and stoicism presumably distinguished them from alien intellectuals and alien peoples. The socialism of Orwell can be moot, Colls suggests, but his Englishness is the most real part of him.

Read the rest of this entry »