Uh oh....The F-Bomb is starting to circulate
No, not that one. This one : Fascism.
I know, I know... It's a bad, bad word to throw out there in serious discussion and a word that will surly get taken to mean something other than intended when talking about it in an economic context.
But the soberly truthful bottom line of it all is that fascism does indeed mean more than just the derogatory imagery of Hitler and Mussolini involving nationalism, hand salutes, a police state and concentration camps. It means much, much more.
And while Henderson brought up in blog form in the link above, the word did go through my mind when I read what Obama and Co. where doing with the Auto Bailouts. Why? Because on the economic policy front this what real fascism is:
Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society's economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the "national interest"--that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it...Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.
Yes. IOW, businesses worked for themselves in manner speaking...but only at the behest of and with the grace of government dictate. It was your company but you do as you're told if ordered to. And the bigger your company, the more the line between public and private was blurred.
People often forget that real honest to goodness fascism is a form of socialism built on the idea that government could and should manage industry in cooperation with businesses for the national interest. The ideology is rooted in populism and nationalistic fervor to control the nation....and everything about it...for the people's interest...which was the same as the people.
The beloved VW Beetle was a fascist creation, for example. Yes, it was developed by Herr Ferdinand Porsche but it was also given the go-ahead by Hitler who awarded him the government contract to build his vision of a "People's Car" (Volkswagen). Porsche's connection with the upper reaches of the Nazi Party paid dividends when he got the exclusive right to build the VW over other captains of industry vying for the lucrative deal.
So yes, Porsche owned his company but he wasn't free to do what he wanted if Der Furher had other ideas. Free competition was forbidden.
Looking at Obama taking charge of the inner workings of Auto Industry...it's hard to escape the thoughts of economic fascism in its primordial stages.
No, I don't think Obama is a fascist. But I do think these actions have fascist undertones whether he realizes it or not. I truly hope he is aware of the precedent he is setting and proceeds with extreme care and caution. Well-intended or not, this is dangerous territory.