A friend asked me a great question the other day: Is neo-feudalism just fascism?
According to the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary, fascism is:
“A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”
Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks, in “No, Actually, This Is What a Fascist Looks Like, explain fascism’s historical significance.
“Fascism originated in Italy, and Mussolini claims to have invented the word itself. It was actually his ghostwriter, Giovanni Gentile, who invented it and defined it in the Encyclopedia Italiana in this way: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
“In other words, fascism is corporate government – a Libertarian’s wet dream. It’s a government in which the Atlas’s of industry are given free rein to control the economy, just how they’re regulated, how much they pay in taxes, how much they pay their workers. “
So, how did I define neo-feudalism?
“Neo-feudalism is the resort to a private-public structure of governance, where the wealthy and corporations use the government for their own devices.”
Fascism and neo-feudalism sound very similar. But, because we’re talking about America, land of the free, home of the brave, we can never describe it in those terms. Nor would most Americans entertain such a concept; we have an amazing system of advertising, p.r. and propaganda to largely obscure this reality.
Contrary to this pro-business propaganda with its ode to free markets, and hostility to government regulations, American corporations have long welcomed the “dead hand of the state,” strongly advocating for federal government intervention to address the problems of economic downturns, depressions and, crucially, plunging profits due to cutthroat competition.
“Government involvement in the accumulation process was inescapable, and was to be secured only by deliberate class-concerted mobilization aimed at securing the state for the interests of big business.”
It has only been when the federal government has intervened in the interests of workers that there has been hostility to regulation and a corresponding outbreak of rhetoric about the evils of “big government.”
“When the New Deal-Great Society period 1949 – 1973 evidenced an influential labor movement, several large-scale labor actions and the first and only 40-year downward distribution of income from the top 1 percent to the rest in the nation’s history, elites perceived this as a major crisis and mobilized in the mid-1970s to seize control of the state in order to undo the social programs and business regulations of the Golden Age, paving the way for the neoliberal macroeconomic reconfiguration superintended by Reagan, Clinton, Bush pere, Bush fils and Obama.”
See the Powell Memo for more on how elites plotted their comeback.
I first observed this dichotomy between anti-government propaganda and reality when in college I discovered historian Gabriel Kolko, and read his masterpiece, The Triumph of Conservatism. It has been illuminating to re-read it.
“Although specific conditions varied from industry to industry, internal problems that could be solved only by political means were the common
denominator in those industries whose leaders advocated greater federal regulation. Ironically, contrary to the consensus of historians, It was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it.”
It’s time to acknowledge frankly and honestly that the United States Government is run for the benefit of corporations and the wealthy. We have an all-American synthesis between government and business, that while not quite fascism, could rightfully be called a dollarocracy. Or maybe, neo-feudalism. And like fascist states, the US maintains this system through belligerent nationalism, expressed through a War on Terror, that shows no sign of ending, ever.
Look, I’m not a utopian. I’ve undertaken this neo-feudalism project at CK with the goal of illuminating the real political economy of the United States. Lord knows, the mainstream media isn’t doing it. They’re busy fellating the plutocracy, or showing the latest Honey Boo Boo freak show.
“The historical unfolding of American capitalism has put the class character of the State squarely on the political agenda. It has been the plutocracy’s top priority for a long time. It is clearer to more Americans than ever that the entire political establishment is unprepared and unwilling to manage the economy and the State in the interests of working people. The ruling-class concerns of the neoliberal State homogenizes policy options and renders standard Party politics otiose and obsolete. An effective Left political program must make available to its constituency a radically revised conception of what it means to do politics.”
Don’t know what I was smoking last week when I said to eschew national politics. We have to get involved at every level. The elite has captured the US government to the detriment of everyone else. We have to take it back.
That is all.