wade tillett on Tue, 3 Feb 2004 15:42:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Fascism and Big Business

Fascism and Big Business
First Edition, 1939
(notes are from 1975 edition, Anchor Foundation - Monad Press)

In the later edition of the book, Guerin states that, (I'm summarizing)
while the original book was written before the full-blown effects of
fascism took place, the book was written in order to analyze the forces
which created fascism in Germany and Italy and thus does not really need
to be updated. In a nutshell, Guerin explains that big business,
particulary heavy industry, used the state to extend profits - creating a
wartime economy in peace time. This unsustainable move forces one down a
dead-end road and combines with other forces to provide lethal
combinations. Guerin discusses numerous aspects of Fascism, but the
backbone of his argument seems to be that the use of the state for
corporate profit leads one into a viscious downward spiral. The selections
here emphasize that aspect of his text.

"The big 'democracies do not always tell the truth. They fought Hitler,
not, as they claim today, because of the authoritarian and brutal form of
the National Socialist regime, but because German imperialism, at a given
moment, dared to dispute with them the hegemony of the world. It has been
too often forgotten that Hitler was hoisted to power with the blessings of
the international bourgeousie. During the first years of his rule,
Anglo-American capitalism from the British atistocracy to Henry Ford gave
him, according to all evidence, their support. They viewed him as the
'strong man' who alone was capable of re-establishing order in Europe and
saving the continent form Bolshevism.

Only much later, when the capitalists of the 'democratic' countries found
their interests, their markets, their sources of raw materials menaced by
the irresistible expansion of German imperialism, did they start to preach
against National Socialism, to denounce it as 'immoral' and
'un-Christian.'"(p. 12)

"When fascism takes power, overflowing with gratitude for big business
which financed it, its words and its deeds exhale the purest sort of
laisser-faire economic doctrine. It announces its intention of favoring
and protecting in every possible way private property and individual
initiative. It rejects with horror the idea that the state might meddle in
production. But the fascist state stands aside only so long as Messieurs
Capitalists request it not to interfere in their private affairs. It
imposes on them the lightest possible taxes, the mos tenuous sort of
control. But it is always ready to come running whenever these gentlemen
cannot pull through by themeselves. In any such crisis, it is immediately
at their service, 'socializing' their losses, refloating their
enterprises, and keeping them alive with its orders.

In short, the course of events soon forces fascism to give its program a
serious wrench. Carried away by its eagerness to resurrect big business
profits, it finds itself embarked, above all in Germany, on a huge
armament program. Fascism speedily gets caught up in a system of wheels
within wheels which insensibly conducts it from laisser-faire capitalism
to autarky and a wartime economy." (p. 209)

Guerin then proceeds to give 14 points, with specific examples for each
within both Italy and Germany, in his Chapter "Fascism in Power: Economic
Policy". I have summarized them below:

1. Fascism, once in power, hastens to restore to private capitalism a
   number of monopolies held/controlled by the state.

2. Fascist state helps industrialists 'make a profit' by granting them
   all sorts of tax exemptions.

3. Fascist state helps industrialists raise sales prices artificially
   by forbidding, through legislation, establishment of new industries
   - that is to say, by relieving them of all new competition. The
   consumer pays.

4. Fascist stat helps industrialists raise sales price artificially -
   on the backs of consumers - by legislation forcing 'nonconforming'
   manufracturers to enter 'compulsory agreements.' Through trade
   agreements or state coercion if necessary.

5. Fascist state refloats sinking enterprise with 'temporary'
   help. Fascist state takes risk/capital to expand business base.

6. Fascist state replaces missing consumers and investments with
   'great works' and national defense (leading to a war economy).

7. To conceal overspending, fascist state does not issue bank notes
   (perception could cause rampant inflation), instead hides deficit
   with commercial paper and short-term bonds.

8. As purchasing power is lessened, increased reliance on police
   terror, secrecy, wall around national currency.

9. This leads to a wall around the national economy, blockade.

10. A war economy in peace time is setup. The fascist state
    effectively controls all (industry (as customer of), trade, labor,
    resources, private savings).

11. Capitalists are those truly in control, as 'rulers of the fascist
    state' they formally condemn and repudiate all 'socializing'

12. Impression forms among capitalists that regime has passed its
    prime (state can no longer afford to service them as before).

13. Markets become smaller, while industry/resources become more

14. The middle classes, the ones who 'put fascism in power', are
    simply bled white.

"...For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the
nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign
of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of
decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and
of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies
and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising
again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But empire
demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense
of duty and sacrifice: this fact explains many aspects of the practical
working of the regime, the character of many forces in the State, and the
necessarily severe measures which must be taken against those who would
oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of Italy in the twentieth
century, and would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology of the
nineteenth century - repudiated wheresoever there has been the courage to
undertake great experiments of social and political transformation; for
never before has the nation stood more in need of authority, of direction
and order. If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a
thousand signs which point to Fascism as the characteristic doctrine of
our time. For if a doctrine must be a living thing, this is proved by the
fact that Fascism has created a living faith; and that this faith is very
powerful in the minds of men is demonstrated by those who have suffered
and died for it." Mussolini

"My whole argument is in a sense a preventive one, because I'm not
suggesting that this kind of fascism currently exists, only that the
trends and the policies suggest the importance of preventing it from
existing.... If we are confronting fascism, what do we know from history
about resisting it? It's difficult. (Laughter.) It's very difficult,
because the methods and the mentality of those who are controlling and
developing this kind of politics of domination are such that they have no
willingness to accommodate their adversaries. So there's no room for
politics, in a way. And that makes it . . . it almost certainly drives the
conflict toward a collision of extremes." Richard Falk

a little guerin info:

right wing explan. of economic fascism

other 'compare' to fascism articles:

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