Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fascism then. Fascism now?

One of the most important articles I've ever excerpted on this blog.

Here's the subtitle/excerpt:

When people think of fascism, they imagine Rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare.

The best line of the article:
Antitrust laws do not just protect the marketplace, they protect democracy.

And here's how it ends (my bolding), but you should read the whole thing:

Neo-liberal intellectuals often recognize the need for violence to protect what they regard as freedom. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has written enthusiastically that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist," and that "McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15." As in pre-fascist Germany and Italy, the laissez-faire businessmen call for the state to do their bidding even as they insist that the state should stay out of the marketplace. Put plainly, neo-liberals advocate the use of the state's military force for the sake of private gain. Their view of the state's role in society is identical to that of the businessmen and intellectuals who supported Hitler and Mussolini. There is no fear of the big state here. There is only the desire to wield its power. Neo-liberalism is thus fertile soil for fascism to grow again into an outright threat to our democracy.

Having said that fascism is the result of a flawed notion of freedom, we need to re-examine what we mean when we throw around the word. We must conceive of freedom in a more enlightened way.

Indeed, it was the thinkers of the Enlightenment who imagined a balanced and civilized freedom that did not impinge upon the freedom of one's neighbour. Put in the simplest terms, my right to life means that you must give up your freedom to kill me. This may seem terribly obvious to decent people. Unfortunately, in our neo-liberal era, this civilized sense of freedom has, like the dangers of fascism, been all but forgotten.

This article is a must-read.

(shout-out to PTDR, I think!)

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