October 26, 2010

The Tea Party and the Fascist Impulse

True, people toss around the term fascism without care. Hopefully this post isn't another such case.

An essay, Global Capitalism versus Global Community, by Walden Bello, begins with some historical background. He talks about unbridled capitalism's rise "in what is now known as the first age of globalization that spanned the ninteenth century and ended with World War I in 1914." It included the late 1800s Robber Barron era.

This "first age of globalization" saw "the emergence of sharp disparities in the distribution of income and assets." Bello then notes that this "provoked a countervailing push from society, especially the lower and middle classes" to re-balance the inequities. This is where my insight begins.

At first I didn't understand why Bellow didn't define the "first age" to continue through the 1920s to the Great Crash. Then I realized that his cut-off point it's central to my insight: The rise of NAZIs between the two world wars.

We on the left like to think of the "countervailing push" to re-balancing the inequities caused by unfettered capitalism to be solely our domain; it's the little people reasserting their say in the socio-economic system, asserting public freedom over excessive private freedom. But Bellos reminded me that this isn't the way it really works.

... not all of the responses to globalization were progressive. For example, fascism, which Karl Polanyi defined as "the reform of the market economy achieved at the price of the extirpation of all democratic institutions," was also part of this countervailing drive, one that hijacked the search for community in the service of reaction, counterrevolution and racism.

Yes. The "first age of globalization" does find a break-point at World War I, after which Hitler found a desperate populace that was itself hijacked in his service. The "little people" were swept up in the fascist "countervailing push".

It's a similar strata of today's society that has an impulse to follow the Tea Party movement. Now they are following the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Tom Delay, all of whom are very pro-corporation, like Hitler and Mussolini the later of which who said, in Italian of course:

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

The conundrum of the Tea Party, being against the establishment, but for the corporate system, now makes more sense. But it is a bad omen, particularly when one considers another definition of fascism by FDR:

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power." - Franklin D. Roosevelt


First posted on Challenge the Establishment blog.


1 comment:

libhom said...

We certainly are in another era of Robber Barrons.

Personally, I don't think that the word fascism is used enough, and I am glad you did just that.

The teabagger movement is an Astroturf scam funded by wealthy elites. Of course, the rises to power of Hitler and other European fascists was financed by wealthy elites too. Your post has gotten me wondering how much popular support Hitler really had.