I participated in the March 15, 2016 “Libertarian Angle,” webinar sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, with the Foundation’s president, Jacob G. Hornberger, on the topic: “Economic Fascism.”
The focus of this week’s discussion was, what political-economic road has America been traveling? And what resemblance might it have to the economic aspects of fascism? Fascism grew out of an Italian movement organized by Benito Mussolini, who had been a leading Italian socialist before the First World War.
While historically thought of as a totalitarian system – which it was, with Mussolini coining the term “totalitarianism”: nothing above the state, nothing outside the state, and everything for the state – it also was an economic system. It was meant to be a “third alternative” to either unbridled capitalism or Marxian socialism.
The state would heavily regulate, command and direct the economic affairs of the society, but instead of nationalizing the means of production (like in Soviet Russia) they would remain nominally in private hands; however businesses would be forced into government-mandated cartels through which prices and wages would be set, and production would be guided for targeted levels serving the wider “national interests” as defined and dictated by the government.
This model actually was implemented in the United States during Franklin Roosevelt’s first New Deal between 1933 and 1936, until declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. But America has continued on a fascist-like economic system, of a type that might be labeled “democratic fascism,” or “fascism with a human face.”
The regulations, commands, restrictions, and controls over much of the economic activity in the United States, for instance, is fascism from the “bottom up,” in that arises from the interactions of politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups, the end result of which is a highly controlled and manipulated economic system serving “interests” having little to do with the betterment of consumers, taxpayers and those potential competitors who are denied opportunity due to the government interventions, regulation and restrictions.