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 »

Advertisements

Denver Post Stealth Edits Out ‘Socialist’ from Profile of Arapahoe School Shooter

PiersonNoah Rothman writes:  On Friday, Colorado’s Arapahoe High School was put on lockdown while a student armed with a shotgun took over the school in an attempt to confront a teacher who he believed had wronged him. The student, identified as 18-year-old Karl Pierson, took his own life before he could be taken into custody.

In a profile on the shooter in the Denver Post which focused on his “strong political beliefs,” several of Pierson’s classmates offered their impressions of the shooter. One of the shooter’s classmates described him as a “very opinionated socialist.” Shortly after that post was published, however, that description was edited out. The current copy simply describes him as “very opinionated.”

The gunman’s parents divorced in late 2011, according to court records. The divorce was finalized in August 2012.

Thomas Conrad, who had an economics class with the gunman, described him as a very opinionated Socialist.

“He was exuberant I guess,” Conrad said. “A lot of people picked on him, but it didn’t seem to bother him.”

The new copy, however, edits out the specific political beliefs that Pierson reportedly held so “strongly.”

“Thomas Conrad, who had an economics class with Pierson, described him as very opinionated.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Liberalism, the Decline of an Illusion

Be careful where you're standing when it all starts to crumble.

Be careful where you’re standing when it all starts to crumble.

Roger L Simon writes: I have no idea if Republicans will end their circular firing squad and unite sufficiently to right our country, but one thing seems abundantly clear from the events of the last weeks, including Tuesday’s election in which Terry McAuliffe barely eked out a victory over the unexciting Ken Cuccinelli. Liberalism in our country is in a more precarious position than ever. It may not even really exist.

pil2Liberalism as practiced in today’s America is a chimera, not actually an ideology but an alliance of interest groups controlled by elites for the preservation of their (the elites’) wealth and power. The interest groups often seem to be working against their own advantage by being so affiliated (e. g. African-Americans are in the worst shape in years under Obama), but not the elites who have been able to thrive. These elites are also able to appear altruistic to themselves and others while behaving in manners that are hideously selfish and atrocious to the common good. Liberalism is not so much an ideology in our society as it is a shield, a defense mechanism for a lifestyle.

This accounts, in part, for all the lying and bumbling in the face of the Obamacare debacle from the president on down to his hapless porte-paroles Jay Carney and Deborah Wasserman-Schultz (who apparently is so flummoxed she cannot pronounce the word “misled”). None of them ever knew what the healthcare legislation was in the first place in anything approximating serious detail. That would have been been too much of a bother when it was just a pose. It was never really about people’s health anyway — it was for show. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Both Sides Wrong About The Fiscal Cliff

Don’t buy all the hysteria about what’s over the cliff. Government spending reduces real growth, while tax cuts only work if they’re paired with a strong dollar. Both sides miss the point.

English: Detail from Government. Mural by Elih...

The point? The destruction of the dollar. It undermines the argument on both sides, according to this essay. It’s an oversimplification, but understanding that “GDP” is an absurd measure, invested with false meaning, is a good start. 

Supply-siders and Keynesians don’t agree on much these days, but when it comes to the alleged “fiscal cliff”, both sides are in agreement that jumping off this ledge would bring tragic economic consequences. Though a strong believer in supply-side principles, I believe even more strongly that conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong. It’s wrong here.

Before getting into why the grand assumptions surrounding the fiscal cliff are ridiculous, it’s best to explain why we’ll never reach this ranch-style house “plunge” onto soft ground. We won’t because the incentives that drive politicians ensure a deal.

“Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are.”

That’s the case because with the economy still limping, very few politicians will want to be on record as having voted to raise rates of taxation. Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election in 2014, a third of all senators are, and with an eye on re-election they’re not going to vote for large tax increases. At best with taxes, they’ll compromise: lower rates in return for a reduction in economy-distorting tax loopholes.

Considering spending, though it nearly always occurs at the expense of growth, politicians exist to spend our money. That’s what animates them, and it’s true irrespective of party affiliation. The spending of the money of others is to politicians what oxygen is to the rest of us. Because spending is breath to the political class, there’s no way they’d ever allow automatic spending cuts or, “sequestration.” Repeat after me, we’ll never jump off of the “fiscal cliff”, and breathy commentary suggesting we will is written by writers who haven’t a clue about human nature.

“…with policy in favor of dollar devaluation, why commit capital to economy-enhancing ideas if any returns come back in dollars that have shrunken in value?”

Turning to why supply-siders and Keynesians alike are so fearful of the “cliff”, that’s easy too. For Keynesians, they’re deluded by the false belief that government spending is an economic stimulant. Because they are, automatic reductions in spending by the feds would directly subtract from GDP growth.

In an artificially absurd sense, the Keynesians are right. GDP would decline in the very near term amid automatic spending cuts, but all this tells us is that Gross Domestic Product is a worthless number. Governments have no resources, so for governments to spend is for them to tax or borrow limited resources from the private sector that will be consumed in a wasteful ways.

Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are. Indeed, are you better off when the federal government taxes away your earnings and consumes limited capital that might otherwise fund a future Microsoft? No? Well, you’re the economy.

In short, government spending is an economic retardant. Because it tautologically weighs on economic growth, any reduction in the burden that is government would boost the economy.

Read the rest of this entry »