Thursday, February 6, 2014

Economics for Occupiers 13: Fascism

Fascism, like pornography, is one of those things that seems to have no specific definition, but everyone thinks they know it when they see it. Fascism is inextricably associated in public perception with Hitler and the Nazi Party.  It's a combination of complementary political and economic principles.  The conventional understanding is that it's a right-wing ideology, although it has nothing in common with conservatism, and grew out of leftist socialist movements in both Germany and Italy in the twentieth century.

Our discussion will focus primarily on the economic characteristics of fascism, and through that we will see how the political/ideological characteristics develop.

Fascism is was defined by Benito Mussolini as the "Third Position," an alternative to both Communism and Capitalism.  Under Fascism, the state-controlled economy is a mix of private and public ownership over the means of production. Both the public and private sector are directed by a State-directed economic plan. The prosperity of private enterprise depends on how well it synchronizes itself with the state's economic goals. Private companies are free to make a profit, but must uphold the national interest over profit. The government concerns itself with producing adequate domestic necessities to forestall dissension and popular unrest.

As one can imagine, this sort of setup is a fertile environment for corruption and cronyism, and indeed these were an endemic problem in Nazi Germany.  Nevertheless, when mobilizing the productive resources of a nation towards a specific goal, whether it be to put a man on the Moon, or take over all of Western Europe, there is no more efficient economic model, if the nation is willing to accept the many downsides and implications.

Read more about this in chapter 9 of Economic for Occupiers, now available on

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