More Fascism than Socialism

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Recently, I have been making the argument that the U.S. should be defined more by government intervention than by truly free market capitalism. Since Reagan in the 1980s, in spite of the propaganda to the contrary, we have seen a consistent and significant increase in deficit spending and in the government’s share of GDP (i.e., more, not less, government participation in the economy). Thus, it seems completely absurd to hear Republicans suddenly complain that the Obama administration is somehow bringing back “big government”.

Maybe Obama’s promise to provide universal health care significantly alters the rhetoric of the role of government in society. Some conservatives may call that type of government intervention — spending tax payer dollars on services that go to tax payers — socialism, but then how would they describe the previous thirty years of government intervention? The government intervention in Iraq, equaling the cost of the stimulus; defense spending disproportionate to that of the rest of the world, without a convincing military victory since World War II; deregulation of financial services, health care, and industry that does not benefit the consumer or the free market but only the banks, HMOs, and oil companies; and policies that subsidize and perpetuate mega farms and uncompetitive mining and automobile companies at the environmental and health expense of citizens. When the government, be it at the helm of Bush or Obama, passes bailouts and stimulus packages that protect the mismanaged from the free market, that is not socialism. It is more like national corporatism, a.k.a. fascism.

Even the moral hazard argument has been applied with a clear bias. When people have been unable to meet their mortgages, there has been a tendency to say tough luck, caveat emptor. You were stupid and the government’s role isn’t to help the stupid. But when Wall Street can’t meet its obligations, it is still considered highly qualified, sophisticated, and its livelihood essential. Simon Johnson describes the banking industry as an oligarchy comparable to those in emerging markets. Ironically, the U.S. is bailing out the oligarchy with the exact opposite remedy we have always proscribed to failing economies. So then where do these bailouts and stimuli leave the U.S. on the political spectrum? Closer to socialism or fascism?

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10 Comments

Filed under Essays

10 responses to “More Fascism than Socialism

  1. Iban

    Bravo Eric. I don’t completely agree with your definition of fascism as national corporatism, but your point is right on the money nonetheless. 😛

  2. Surface Area, formely known as ReWrite

    You sound like me (yet more eloquent). Excellent post, I would just qualify my support by stating that Obama is doing more of the same (as we have seen the past 30yrs).

    On my blog I did poll on basically the same issue (of whether the bailouts were more fascist or socialist in nature) and out of fascism won the majority of votes.
    http://tiemposaltos.blogspot.com/2008/09/are-recent-government-bailouts.html

  3. Surface Area, formely known as ReWrite

    Excellent post. I wrote something yesterday, but I guess it didn’t stick.

  4. ReWrite

    Excellent post. I wrote more yesterday, but it didn’t stick

  5. Why doesn’t anyone read history?

    Alexander Hamilton; national bank; Founders agreed; democracy over, instated socialism, considering the manner, oligarchic at that too.

    Ummm, anyone remember Screw Deal I and Screw Deal II???

    Errr, yeah … so, someone needs to look around a bit for the headstone that says “U.S. Democracy, R.I.P. 179X?”

    I know it’s around here somewhere, hrmmmm. Nevermind, the graveyard’s gone, eminent domain, now there’s a strip mall over it.

    Who’d a thunk it!!!

  6. eric

    Yep, eminent domain, another great tool of fascists and socialists, Republicans for corporations, Democrats for trees.

  7. Ahem.

    “Democrats for more social institution buildings to support more slackers that refuse to add back into society.”

  8. ReWrite

    Not the current Democrats… I really can’t tell the difference between them and what we have seen the past 30 years. These guys are doing the bidding for corporate America just like the Republicans.

    For those that thought Obama was going to be different, I think those that are actually following what he is doing (beyond the rhetoric) are quite disappointed. Just look at the corporate cats he has put around him… I actually can’t think of any exceptions. And then but for rhetoric and minor social/moral issues, he is Bush (the Lesser) w/ a different PR message (which is the rhetoric I was referring to before).

    He may not be the open radical that Bush the Lesser was, but he does not represent mainstream America. Between the Lesser and Obama over $100 Billion has gone to financial institutions (w/out positive results)… what would have happened if we just gave that to American families (directly)? Let’s guess… they would have- spent it; saved it; or invested it (all of which would have stimulated the economy, unlike the continual actions of our so called elected leaders). We need to stop voting for radicals, but if we do, we then need to hold them accountable.

  9. Too much philosophy Rewrite, the herd will never go for it. I see nothing in your commentary about “global awareness”, “entitlements”, “altruism” … hell, you didn’t even mention love once. Pffft.

    Take this:

  10. I’m going to pull my tongue out of my cheek here, and go with my esteemed family member, Reryte:

    Obama is fraud, and it is nothing but “business as usual” politiking. Looking at the behavior of banks in recent articles, (JP Morgan investing $1 billion of bailout money in India, Bank of America $8 billion to Dubai from bailout money, Citigroup $7 billion to China from bailout money), accountability is disgustingly absent.

    “Hope and Change” in a campaign address are so easily equivocated upon in the face of earmarks, rhetoric to hide actual motivations, and serving the corporate interests that put you in office.

    The facts stand as testimony to Reryte’s position; nothing has changed and it has actually worsened.

    $16 billion dollars to foreign investments. How many American workers were spared layoff or termination by this debauchery? How many were put back to work? Home owner’s saved? Infrastructure supported through new projects/new jobs?

    It still comes back to what Reagan stated:
    “Politics is the second oldest profession, and bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

    There’s an essential difference though: a prostitute lays prone and makes no attempt to hide the fact they are trying to fornicate you out of your money for their own gain.

    A politician stands at a podium and tries to deceive you of the fact they are doing nothing but fornicating you out of your money for their own gain.

    We need to invoke a neologism for “American political representative”: Prostitician.

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