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 ( http://cbc.ca/cgi-bin/templates/view.cgi?/news/2000/03/04/patent000304 ). 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.