Ask Prof Wolff: Capitalism & Fascism

A patron of Economic Update asks: "On the subject of Fascism, Benito Mussolini said 'Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.' Given the nature of the relationship between the US government, particularly the (both Democrats and Republicans, Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton etc.) POTUS/Administration and Congress, with lobbyists and corporations, is it fair to say that the USA is fascist and has been for a long time?"

This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

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Showing 4 comments

  • pasqual digesu
    commented 2021-09-06 16:01:10 -0400
    Thank you, Signora Carnemolla-Mania

    “No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth” – Plato
  • Maria Carnemolla-Mania
    commented 2021-09-06 09:50:01 -0400
    Thank you Pasqual for engaging with us and your important insights. Please continue to follow our work.
  • pasqual digesu
    commented 2021-09-05 08:52:30 -0400
    The following is a definition of Corporatism, cut and pasted. In regards to worker co-ops, I believe they are the ideal system of social business structure, I even believe that class conflict is required for achieving balance. But considering the great imbalance of the employer / employee system of the late 19th and early 20th century, what was more realistic or achievable to better the plight of the proletariat at that time? “Corporatism developed during the 1850s in response to the rise of classical liberalism and Marxism, as it advocated cooperation between the classes instead of class conflict. Corporatism became one of the main tenets of fascism, and Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy advocated the collective management of the economy by employers, workers, and state officials to reduce the marginalization of singular interests. Corporatism is a collectivist ideology where the corporates work together for a common interest.5

    Corporatist ideas have been expressed since ancient Greek and Roman societies, with integration into Catholic social teaching and Christian democratic political parties. They have been paired by various advocates and implemented in various societies with a wide variety of political systems, including authoritarianism, absolutism, fascism and liberalism".6
  • pasqual digesu
    commented 2021-09-02 11:08:49 -0400
    “I do not intend to defend capitalism or capitalists. They, like everything human, have their defects. I only say their possibilities of usefulness are not ended.”-Mussolini

    The professor’s description of capitalism’s negative aspects is correct as they exist and are being experienced here in the US in the present time and especially between 1850 through 1932. His analogy of how fascism in Italy interfaced with industry and economics is incorrect. According to this opinion or spin not based on fact, fascism was the employee and body guard of capitalist powers curbing the rights of the workers. Fact-1) there were worker strikes at the Fiat plant in Turin during the wars end and these strikes were not put down with violence as they were here in our country in fact immediate concessions were made, then between 1919-1921 the fascists drove the strikes. 2) Corporate presidents who helped Mussolini into power were forced out of parliament where they had seats when he came to power. 3) The economy, workers’ rights, were increased, embellished, rewritten and controlled by his government to the shock of, and cost to corporate powers and against corporate wishes. In short the capitalist powers were controlled by government not the other way around as it is here today.
    It is understandable why fascism is loathed today, for the same atrocities committed by every nation including our own during the 20th century, but it is with the same lack of objective reasoning from tribal mentality or lack of study of documents like Mussolini’s fascist doctrine or Marx’s manifesto that we refuse to see the value in them. The reaction expressed here towards fascist ideology is the same reaction most Americans exhibit towards the professor’s view of the benefits of socialism over capitalism, which by the average uneducated violent majority is- evil, left wing, red, commie, etc. etc. his arguments suffers from the same criticism and taboo. Fascism did work with or use capitalism, but there is a greater bond between Mussolini’s fascism and socialism that the professor wishes to admit. There methods were different from traditional socialist because they wanted to force socialism into government, something the socialist were never able to do. Allow me to copy here some facts of history, which are only a few;

    “Generally considered one of the more radical Fascist syndicalist in Italy, Edmondo Rossoni was the “leading exponent of fascist syndicalism.”,4 and sought to infuse nationalism with “class struggle.”[ After leaving Italy in 1910 and arriving in the United States, Rossoni began to work with American socialist part executive member Big Bill Haywood as an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW), and edited the revolutionary syndicalist newspaper Il Proletario (The Proletarian), which by1912 was the Italian-language newspaper of the IWW.5] The Fascist Syndicalists like Mussolini (who invented fascism) and Rossoni differed from other forms of fascism (“or since labeled fascism”) in that they generally favored class struggle, worker-controlled factories and hostility to industrialists, which lead historians to portray them as “leftist fascist idealists” who “differed radically from right fascists. These men followed the beliefs of Georges Sorel. Sometimes considered the “father” of revolutionary syndicalism or at least “the leading figure amongst the French Syndicalists”, Georges Sorel supported militant trade unionism to combat the corrupting influences of parliamentary parties and politics, even if the legislators were distinctly socialist. As a French Marxist who supported Lenin, Bolshevism and Mussolini concurrently in the early 1920s, Sorel promoted the cause of the proletariat in class struggle. The intention of syndicalism was to organize strikes to abolish capitalism; not to supplant it with State socialism, but rather to build a society of worker-class producers….(But one could not be accomplished without the advent of State control by the working class who wish to achieve this goal, and in conclusion did not without force or Mussolini)
    FDR dispatched members of his so-called brain trust to fascist Rome to study fascist policies, with a view to importing some of them to America. FDR viewed fascism as even more progressive than the New Deal (from which it was inspired), and he wanted his New Dealers to learn from it. Rexford Tugwell, FDR’s close adviser, upon returning from Rome wrote of fascism, “It’s the cleanest neatest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious.”
    FDR regarded his National Recovery Act (NRA) as the most important of his New Deal programs. It was directly modeled on Italian fascism. The NRA empowered the federal government to establish coalitions of labor and management in every industry to set production targets, wages, prices, and even maximum and minimum working hours. According to Tugwell, the NRA was designed to “eliminate the anarchy of the competitive system.” FDR’s man to run the NRA, General Hugh Johnson, was an avowed admirer of fascism who carried with him, and routinely quoted from, a fascist propaganda pamphlet, The Structure of the Corporate State, written by one of Mussolini’s aides. Under Johnson, the NRA issued its own brochure Capitalism and Labor Under Fascism. It acknowledged that “the fascist principles are very similar to those which have been evolving in America (under the new deal and not as we are today).
    Review of Nicolas Farrell’s book on Mussolini; “As an English speaking reader, you might have wondered how a supposedly incompetent, pathetic buffoon could hold power for – twenty years, in the country that produced most of western civilization, and unlike Stalin or Hitler, do so without sitting on a pile of corpses; you might also ask yourself how could he achieve such a vast popular consensus, end a civil war, pacify the nation, stabilize the colonies, expand the empire, balance and restore the economy by balancing and controlling the market, production levels and industrial independence, pay off the national debt bouncing back the currency from a deficit spiral, reclaim marshes, build entire cities, some in less than a year, some in Africa, innovate culture and arts, invent Italian cinema, collect Nobel laureates, international sport victories, outstanding record breaking achievements internationally in Aviation and records of various kinds. And all that while the west was flagellated by the great depression at the time when a sizeable fraction of Americans were forced into nomadism.(dust bowl / stock market crash)”
    “When the conception of the people’s state declines, and disunifying and centrifugal tendencies prevail, whether of powerful individuals or of particular powerful groups, (independent centrifugal corporate forces that do not speak or act for the majority), the nations where such phenomena appear are in their decline”.- Mussolini
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