Most unfortunately, American-style fascism, after learning how to walk between 1898 and 1918, took its Great Leap Forward under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, thirty-second President of the U.S.A. (1933—1945). America has not looked back. The toddler has attained maturity. Not entirely fascist yet — nobody’s perfect — we are far gone. Recent financial events and rumblings are advancing America’s fascism still further. By the time we get where we are headed for, full-fledged hardening of the arteries will have set in. Like the Third Reich, we will collapse.
But we have already come far enough that our mode of government should now be termed fascism. Our government is not democracy or democratic republicanism. It is fascist. We live in a fascist country, and increasingly so.
According to dictionary.com, a fascist State has such features as a dictator with great powers, the suppression of criticism and opposition, regimentation of business, etc., and aggressive nationalism. I give us a high grade, almost an A.
We have the dictator with great powers. That would be Congress and the President. There is almost nothing that they have not done already and could not do to us "legally." A man could not grow a tomato in his back yard if Congress told him not to.
The Federal government has detailed and sophisticated operations and means to quiet criticism and opposition. There are not yet concentration camps filled with dissidents, although we are coming nearer to that in the treatment of suspected terrorists. But the mainstream media has, nevertheless, been brought into a condition of remarkable quietude and docility. The marked deterioration in adhering to the Bill of Rights under Bush II may be placed under this heading.
Regimentation steadily increases, symbolized by what any ordinary air traveler must endure. But behind the scenes, control over every corner of one’s personal life has increased. Toilets, cars, lightbulbs, washing machines, draining land, investing, medical care, education — you name it, the State is telling us what to do and how to do it, or else. In the realm of business, agriculture is regimented as are most other industries. There is regimentation in every facet one can think of from hiring to firing, and from product safety to Sarbanes-Oxley.
Aggressive nationalism we have with a vengeance, and have had for almost our entire history as a nation. Our huge military-industrial complex that reaches deeply into business in many of the 50 states is the visible machinery that reflects this facet of American fascism. The war in Iraq is yet one more manifestation of it.
LewRockwell.com might be said to be a website that documents American fascism and its growth. Virtually on a daily basis, its articles document one or more of the four areas noted above: excessive State powers, stifling of dissent and opposition, regimentation, and aggressive nationalism.
The question is then often raised: What do we do about this? To which must be replied: Why do we have a fascist country?
There are a number of good replies, and more than one of them may be true. The phenomenon is complex. I wish to stress this reply at this time. We have fascism because that is what we have wanted and now want. We have voted for it, time and again. Both major parties, and no other parties are worth mentioning, are fascist and have promoted fascism. Votes cast for either major party are votes for fascism and fascist policies.
And why have we wanted fascism? Because we have wanted the government to solve problems that we (mistakenly and falsely) thought it could solve. This is not the whole story, but our own complicity needs to be emphasized.
We ask government to solve the problem of financial security in old age, and it responds with Social Security, a program with dozens of negative aspects. We ask the government to solve the problem of energy, and it responds by banning drilling and ethanol subsidies, etc. We ask the government to solve the problem of Dust Bowls and impoverished farmers, and it responds with subsidies to rich farmers.
E.C. Riegel rightly observed "When government undertakes to solve man’s problem for him it undertakes the mastery of society and it cannot be both master and servant."
Government is our master. It has the power to be our master, and we have given it ever more power to be our master, such as by amending the Constitution so that the income tax became legal, or such as by allowing legislation to set up the central bank we call the Federal Reserve System.
We would not rationally set up a master over us unless we thought we could control it, that is, make it also be our servant. We thought we could limit its powers. We thought wrongly. For we ourselves went ahead and decided to give it even more and greater powers to solve problems that we personally should have been solving.
In attempting to solve one set of problems, we created an even larger problem, which is controlling our agent — the government. Dr. Victor Frankenstein could not control his own creation. Frankenstein’s monster was too powerful. And we have discovered that we had and have no solution to that same problem.
Government cannot be both master and servant because as master it frustrates our every effort to make it serve us. Government cannot be made to serve while being master.
As master, Government does not serve us. It does not solve those problems that we hope it will. Instead, it acts on its own behalf. It acts in such a way as to secure its own power and longevity. It acts so as to increase its powers. Its aims are not our aims. Therefore its deeds only by coincidence solve the problems we delegate to it.
We have fascism because we blundered. We erroneously thought we had found a low-cost solution to our many problems, in the form of a servant called Constitutional Government. Perhaps we blundered because we were greedy, or listened to the siren-song of statists and intellectuals who urged us on and told us fairy tales of great successes in other lands. Or perhaps we were anxious to rid ourselves of our personal responsibilities. Perhaps all of these played a part. It makes little difference. We, our forefathers and we today, still are the ones that have blundered and are blundering.
We are asking for an impossibility, which is that government solve problems that only we can solve. And that impossibility takes concrete shape in the form of a fascist system in which the master has dictatorial power, suppresses dissent, regiments us, and involves us in an aggressive nationalism. Who knows what other heinous facets of fascism will be revealed to us next?
We are attempting the impossible, which is to grant some of us power over all of us, as our masters, while at the same time we lack the ability to make them serve us. And that contradiction is resolved in the only way that it can be resolved as long as we continue to attempt it, which is on behalf of the masters and their powers.
The degree of fascism can always be heightened, and financial crisis is the ideal time to ratchet up the financial fascism. Financial events this year show that the star of financial fascism is ascending, under the guidance of the Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson. For starters, they want greater centralization of power under the Fed and merging of various separated regulatory agencies. They want a financial regulatory czar with increased powers. They want much greater control over investment banks. They want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to have direct access to Treasury (taxpayer) funds, thereby making the implicit guarantee into a virtually explicit guarantee. They want these agencies to have direct access to the Fed’s discount window at low rates of interests. They have recommended government ownership of some stock of these lenders. All in all, they want far greater control over investment banks, stock exchanges, brokers, and mortgage lenders.
There is almost no area of economic activity that Bernanke does not address in public. He continually informs us that the Fed is working on this or that "problem," be it a falling stock market, liquidity, deceptive credit card practices, mortgage loan practices, energy prices, tight credit, loose credit, the dollar’s value, the wage and price setting process (as he puts it), inflation, deflation, escalation of commodity prices, political volatility, the world’s oil reserves, rapid industrialization in emerging economies, weakness in housing markets, etc. I kid you not. This menu is from just a single speech, and there is more!
Bernanke and Paulson are fabulous cheerleaders for financial fascism.
This is par for the American course. They would not be delivering these messages unless they thought there was a receptive audience that is counting on government to solve or at least address all of these "problems." It does not matter that many of these problems have hidden origins that lie in government’s own previous machinations, problems that were originated and raised to maturity by government.
What matters is that we the people have turned to government for solutions to these and many other problems. What matters is that we are receptive to the messages of fascists like Bush, Bernanke, Obama, McCain, and Paulson. What matters is that we are continuing the gigantic blunder of those who came before us and placed us on the fascist path.
The only way out of this trap is not to attempt the impossible, not to grant government such powers, not to ask it to solve our problems, and instead to assume the responsibility for solving our own problems. The stark choice is between slavery and freedom. And fascism means slavery. The present course is slavery and will bring more slavery, without satisfactory solutions to any of our problems. And the amazing thing is that the moment we abandon fascism and powerful government, we will discover that the problems that government is now exacerbating and making worse will suddenly become tractable and manageable.
So, what do we do about it? We work in any way we can to dissolve Government as we know it. In my mind, that means making people aware of the blunder of thinking that government can solve our problems as our servant while at the very same time it is our master.
It is illusion to think that we control the daily machinations of Government by our votes. We do not. The only way to control this Government is to cut its legs off at the hip. Nothing less than fundamental changes like ending the income tax and ending the Federal Reserve will do. Better still, dissolve the Federal Government and stop living under a defective Constitution.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.