In many ways the widespread belief that fascism is inexorably linked with anti-Semitism is even more dangerous than the claim that the Holocaust never happened. This is because holocaust deniers lie safely on the fringes, while this myth about fascism is widely held. Perhaps this is why the reemergence of fascism in the political landscape is going largely unnoticed. Fascism is the belief in a corporate state; it is an economy in which the government serves the interests of oligopolies, a state in which large corporations have the powers that in a democracy devolve to the citizen. The Italian inventors of fascism also called it the estato corporativo: the corporate state.

Today, it is no exaggeration to call our economy corporatist, with much power being transferred from democratically elected governments to international economic entities such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union. Governments are giving up much of their sovereignty to these organizations with the expectation that large corporations will benefit. Large corporations also use these organizations as a tool to increase their power and influence with governments. This corporatism has been described by British academics R. E. Pahl and J. T. Winkler as “a system in which the government guides privately owned businesses toward order, unity, nationalism and success.”

These undemocratic organizations, particularly the World Trade Organization present a very real threat to democracy and to the sovereignty of member states. In response to criticism, the WTO claims that it does not dictate to member states. However, in almost their next breath, they say that member states are required to abide by WTO regulations since they had previously been agreed to. They also claim that membership is completely voluntary, but the very nature of the WTO would make it hard for non member states to compete economically if they did not join. One example that shows the true power of the WTO is their recent ruling in favor of U.S. drug companies who claimed that Canada’s period for patents to expire was not long enough ( ). The ruling requires Canadian producers of generic drugs to stop producing them. This will drive up prices for the consumers and the Canadian government will have to reexamine thousands of patents issued before 1989.

The link between business and fascism was clear to German corporatists who invested billions into such ventures as the Auschwitz concentration camp in order that they may have cheap labor provided by the imprisoned Jews. They had the same motivation as contemporary multinational corporations do when relocating to areas with cheaper labor regardless of the social consequences of such moves. One example of this is General Motors’ decision to relocate 30,000 jobs from Flint, Michigan to Mexico where they could pay the workers $0.70/hour. This saga was outlined by Michael Moore in the documentary film Roger and Me.

There is also a growing trend toward the acceptable use of violence in this corporatist world economy. The recent use of police violence against mostly peaceful protesters of the WTO in Seattle is just one example. The police justified using $5 million in tear gas and rubber bullets against a group of about 100 protesters who broke corporate windows and looted corporate stores to the tune of $3 million. They had the ammunition they needed to acceptably gas and arrest anybody in the wrong place at the wrong time for the remainder of the conference.

The fact that these organizations have definite fascist tendencies, does not mean that the world is necessarily headed toward a new era of fascism. It is however a very real danger that people should be aware of. These organizations may even succeed in canceling each other out to some degree. With the European Union being far more democratic than any of the other organizations it is possible that Europe may decide to reject the WTO in the future if they feel that it is not in their best interests. The U.S. is trying very hard to avoid being marginalised in Europe in relation to the European Union. They are doing this mainly through NATO, which they have recently ensured will remain a part of European politics for years to come.

Fascism is a form of corporatism, but corporatism is not necessarily fascism. The form of corporatism, described above, is actually the opposite of fascistic corporatism. In fascistic corporatism the corporations and unions are heavily regulated by the government, as described in the quote: "a system in which the government guides privately owned businesses toward order, unity, nationalism and success." Corporations have a lot of power in fascism because they are so heavily regulated that they become unofficial branches of government.

Modern corporatism works the other way. Corporations are gaining power over government. This is actually far worse than fascistic corporatism; the corporations don't answer to anyone but themselves.




From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of FASCISM 

1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control


I'm glad that the tree/forest analogy was brought up. Corporatism is only one tree in the fascist forest, yet it is the entire basis of the 'corporatism is fascism' myth, and it's not the same kind of tree as modern corporatism. The attempts to deny that distinction are convoluted, to say the least. Saying that corporatism is oligarchical has merit. The same could be said of our two party system. Does that mean that our two party system is totalitarian? Of course not. The USSR was a totalitarian oligarchy. If you believe that means the USSR was fascist, I suppose there's no point in continuing my argument.

Would you take a proof seriously, if "2=½" was one of the givens? They're both considered to be numbers. Yet, the first assumption in the 'corporatism is fascism' myth is that reciprical forms of corporatism are identical, because they're both corporatism. The rest of the argument is based on conflating more terms that don't mean the same. Globalism is not nationalism. An oligarchy is not a dictatorship. Up is not down. Modern corporatism is not fascism.


"As socialists, we are opponents of the Jews, because we see, in the Hebrews, the incarnation of capitalism, of the misuse of the nation’s goods."

Joseph Paul Goebbels

"Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived in their relation to the State."
Benito Mussolini

"We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions."
Adolf Hitler

“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 (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics.”
Benito Mussolini

"[My theories] can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state than . . . a large degree of laissez-faire.”
Maynard Keynes

“The line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.” 
John T. Flynn

"But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State."
Benito Mussolini, Giovanni Gentile, 1932, Doctrine of Fascism

"Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere."
(Classic Liberalism, AKA Libertarianism)
Benito Mussolini, Giovanni Gentile, 1932, Doctrine of Fascism

"In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production."
Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions

ABraut is partially correct in criticizing the initial writeup here as failing the classic definition of fascism in that the essential component of nationalism is omitted. However, this analysis ignores the forest by focusing on a single tree. If we look at the modern corporatist resurgence in a global sense, with transnational progressive politicians and multinational corporate executives acting in concert to achieve a global state, it becomes clear that there is no distinction between modern corporatism and traditional fascism, with increasingly partisan, politicized labor movements supplying the necessary analog to the Blackshirts of fascist Italy.

Contrary to Galbraith's assertion in American Capitalism, Big Government, Big Business and Big Labor are not countervailing forces working against each other to achieve a balance of political power in society. Instead, they form an iron triangle working against the best interests of both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.* Executives rotate into governmental regulatory agencies and return to private business; government officials retire and accept lucrative positions on corporate boards; labor unions extract ever-higher wages and benefits from corporations with the assistance of labor laws, and funnel a significant portion of their dues into supporting pro-labor politicians. In addition to the aforementioned regulatory capture, businesses can also use their connections in government to gain lucrative contracts or tie up competitors in legalities. Big Business can further stifle competition by seeing to it that burdensome regulations are passed that make it difficult for small businesses to prosper and grow to become threats to established big businesses.

There's not much to choose from between the old fascism and the new fascism. Less violence in the streets, I suppose, and an absence of party uniforms. It's early innings yet.

* Compare this to the power triad of the Party organization, the military, and the secret police in the Soviet Union and other totalitarian states.

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