Monday, March 30, 2009

This is Economic Fascism

Tibor R. Machan

Fascism is a political system in which a country is lead by a charismatic leader who has full power to order things about because he (or she) is taken to know best. Obviously this is a mythical sort of regime, with most of its essential features impossible to come by. No such leader exists, period, but there are many who pretend that they are fully qualified.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is an excellent current case in point. So was Mussolini and Hitler and Stalin and so are Cuba's Fidel Castro and North Korea's Kim Jong-il. Fascism in those countries was and is total, not selective. (In contrast, when Chile was ruled by Pinochet, he left much of the economy to run by itself and exercised fascistic powers elsewhere.)

At least the auto manufacturing sector of the American economy has come under fascistic rule. President Obama and his team have assumed such powers pretty much on their own, without a referendum--indeed polls seem to show that most American disapprove of what they are doing, such as firing the head of GM. (One should ask, who are these people to assume such powers? By what right or authority do they do what no citizen of a free country could do with impunity?)

Is this move on the part of Obama & Co. justified? No. GM ought to suffer the consequences of its bad management, its loss of costumers, and the influence of the union leadership to which most of the workers belong. Big or small, there is no justification for a company to stay in business when it has lost most of its customer base and has become credit unworthy. Indeed, one of the best features of a genuine free economy is that such companies go out of business.

When critics of corporate America, such as Ralph Nader and his associates and co-authors, complain about corporate power, their beef is that the corporations are immune to market forces. They are all wrong, of course, and history has shown just how wrong they are, with companies going bust all over the place and at most periods of time. But when government confiscates the resources of its citizens and makes promises in behalf of millions who have no say in the matter, then such companies can be given a lease on their lives. Maybe the scam will work and some such companies will recover--Chrysler did so about half a century ago. But it is still wrong.

Only a country the economy of which is ruled by a fascist economic tsar has the power to subvert justice and good sense this way. Most genuine democracies would not comply with their leaders, although some have given them the power to become arbitrary rulers. (Hitler came to power democratically, as did Chavez!)

I must say it is very scary to me that this is going on in a country that once had every right to claim to be the leader of the free world. But no fascist system can make such a claim since it stands in direct opposition to liberty. But none of these should be very surprising to Americans. They have seen their federal and state governments act in fascistic fashion, for example, via the war on drugs, the Iraqi war, all kinds of intrusive ordinances throughout the country, and other features that are clear marks of a command economy. Now the chicken are coming home to roost and America is becoming something that would really upset its founders, a monarchy with a monarch who is laying claim to near absolute powers.

Unlike Venezuela, which is now pretty much stuck with Hugo Chavez for an indeterminate period of time and the citizens of which are mostly powerless to change the leadership, America still has periodic elections. Obama can be ousted the next time around if the Republicans can come up with a halfway decent candidate--which, sadly, is unlikely even if possible.

Or Americans can take off their rose colored glasses and begin to see President Obama and his team clearly, as a bunch of power hungry politicians and bureaucrats who have no other answer to the country's troubles than to increase their intrusions in the economy and, who knows, may be other parts as well. (I can easily imagine that if I were more widely read and they became aware of my column, they might go to the lengths of trying to silence me, just as Hugo Chavez has done with his opponents.)

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