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The Rape of Democracy

By       Message Eric Zuesse       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   20 comments

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Eric Zuesse

On the one side are Republicans, who resent taxes and self-identify with rich people who say that government is basically a huge waste of money and only private business is efficient and productive.

On the other side are Democrats, who don't resent anything and who say that government is good enough to be worth the taxes that are paying for it.

Neither party is "pro-government," and both parties are "pro-private-enterprise" or pro-corporate; so, what America actually has is two conservative parties, one of which -- the Republicans -- is extremely conservative.

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Those are the only two political parties that have a history and a donor-base that's big enough to stand a chance of winning 99% of elections in America; so, third parties exist here only to draw off more support from voters of one of the two real parties than from the other, and thus to throw elections in close races and thereby use their voter-base of fools so as to enable them to extort something from one of the two real parties. Otherwise, they're simply stupid, all the way from their bottom to their top.

That's the reality of the ideological 'debate' in the United States increasingly during recent decades: conservatism versus extreme conservatism, the latter of which is otherwise called "fascism."

How did this ideologically monotonous, all-conservative, America come about?

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Republican donors have simply been winning. They especially won in the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-Republican to 4-Democrat Citizens United decision that makes a corporation (either profit or nonprofit) a "person" with the special privilege to donate unlimited and even secret cash to any and all political campaigns.

In November 1933, the founder of today's form of extreme conservatism or "fascism," Benito Mussolini," defined what fascism is, by saying (see page 426 there) that it's "corporationsm": he wrote that "the corporation plays on the economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a director. Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new synthesis is created."

In other words, he said: corporations are more efficient than any government can be; so, governments should be run like corporations are -- top-down by a decisive CEO -- in order to get things done that government wants done, and to do it quickly and efficiently, not to waste money.

Mussolini's teacher was Vilfredo Pareto, who defined the very concept of "efficiency" that's used in today's economic theory; he said that it's simply transactions in which all participants are participating voluntarily. In other words: there is no government over them, no regulator of the economy; there are just trades, transactions, these being voluntary, like in the idealized economy. (But, he ignored what 'voluntary' means; he instead used a self-invented term "ophelimity" for that, in order to ward off questions to which he had no answer: all of the important questions -- such as "Taxes aren't voluntary; are they therefore automatically inefficient, bad, welfare-reducing?" And: "If someone buys or sells on the basis of misrepresentations, was the transaction 'voluntary'?" Pareto was just a con-artist in the intellectual sphere, but a very successful one.)

Mussolini promised to "make the trains run on time"; he would be the CEO to do that, so that people could go efficiently about their private business, while he tried to minimize the role of government in the economy. To him, government was just a necessary evil, and should be run more like a corporation is run. Bureaucracy wasn't seen as the evil; government bureaucracy was, and he wanted to reduce it to a minimum, transferring it to private corporations, which would supposedly be more "efficient." He invented the privatization of what had been government, tax-supported, functions. In September 2009, the European University Institute issued their RSCAS_2009_46.pdf, titled "From Public to Private: Privatization in 1920's Fascist Italy," (subsequently retitled "The First Privatization: Selling SOEs" in the 2011 Cambridge Journal of Economics) by Germa Bel, who said in her summary: "Privatization was an important policy in Italy in 1922-1925. The Fascist government was alone in transferring State ownership and services to private firms in the 1920s; no other country in the world would engage in such a policy until Nazi Germany did so between 1934 and 1937." She particularly noted: "In his first speech as a member of the Italian Parliament in June 1921, Mussolini said: 'The State must have a police, a judiciary, an army, and a foreign policy. All other things, and I do not exclude secondary education, must go back to the private activity of individuals.'"

That policy was subsequently taken up by Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and Ronald Reagan in the U.S., because the ideology, fascism, gradually became normalized throughout the West, via corporate-backed people such as Milton Friedman and other extremist conservatives; and liberals merely rejected it, they didn't offer any coherent ideology to replace it.

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The Cold War against the communists had given fascism a privileged position: one couldn't talk against "the free market" without running up against Joseph R. McCarthy's anti-communist witch-hunts or other people's similarly far-right nationalist demagoguery, which meant that there was really no acceptable alternative to fascism, in the West.

Then, when communism fell, and when it became replaced (under the guidance of the Harvard economics department, thoroughly Paretian of course) in the 1990s, with fascisms, and massive privatizations of previously state-owned assets, there was no clear alternative anywhere to fascism. Mussolini had won WWII, after his death -- first in the communist countries, then in the rest. Aristocrats were now firmly in control worldwide.

What the Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court did in their Citizens United decision was simply to carry this privatization-ideology more fully into the sphere of U.S. political campaigns. The five fascist 'Justices' didn't refer to Benito Mussolini, but, if they had been honest, they would have -- and they wouldn't have referred at all to the U.S. Constitution, which, certainly in its original intent, was anti-corporate.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)

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