Episode 320: Twentieth Century Fascism w/ Paul Gottfried

Episode 320: Twentieth Century Fascism w/ Paul Gottfried

39 Minutes

Suitable for All Ages

Paul Gottfried returns to the show to deliver a lesson on 20th century fascism.

Fascism: The Career of a Concept

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Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 


Sacramento, CA — Three anti-fascist activists are accusing California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion” with white supremacists during their investigation of a rally that turned violent back in 2016, the Guardian reported Friday.

The activists, who attended the Sacramento rally to counter-protest the message of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), the neo-Nazi group that organized the original event, were arrested and charged with felonies for their participation.

But the activists fired back this week, presenting documents to the judge they say provide evidence that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) worked hand-in-hand with the neo-Nazis in an effort to identify the counter-protesters.

Further, the defendants allege, the records reveal that investigators actually showed sympathy toward the white supremacists and worked to try to protect the identity of the TWP member who obtained the permit for the event.

“It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis,” Yvette Felarca, a teacher and one of the anti-fascist organizers, told the Guardian.

Felarca says during the clash that day in Sacramento she was stabbed in the arm and bludgeoned in the head, a wound that required more than 20 stitches. She says it took her weeks to fully recover.

“The people who were victimized by the Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys,” she said.

Shanta Driver, one of Felarca’s attorneys, told the Guardian that the documents presented before the judge show a “textbook case of a political witch-hunt and selective prosecution.”

In one instance, the records reveal that in a phone call, CHP investigator Donovan Ayres warned Doug McCormack — the TWP member who obtained the rally permit — that the cops may have to release his name due to a public records request.

“I’m gonna suggest that we hold that or redact your name or something until this gets resolved,” Ayres told McCormack, adding that he wasn’t sure who had requested records of the permit. “If I did, I would tell you,” Ayres said.

Additionally, Ayres’ write-up about an African American activist — one who was stabbed in the chest, abdomen, and hand during the rally — raised alarms in the minds of the defendants and their attorneys.

Records show the man was treated more like a suspect than a victim, with Ayres recommending he be charged with 11 offenses, including unlawful assembly, conspiracy, assault, and wearing a mask to evade police.

To support his recommendation, Ayres provided Facebook photos of the man holding up his fist. Ayres claimed the man’s “Black Power salute” and his “support for anti-racist activism” demonstrated his “intent and motivation to violate the civil rights” of the neo-Nazis.

Documents also show that cops worked with TWP member Derik Punneo while trying to identify the anti-fascist activists. Audio recordings reveal that investigators brought photos to Punneo in jail after he was arrested on unrelated charges.

“We’re pretty much going after them,” officers told Punneo, assuring him that “we’re looking at you as a victim.”

Neither Punneo nor McCormack, as well as several other TWP-affiliated individuals who were involved with the rally, have been charged with any crimes.

In a response filed Thursday, prosecutors in the case state “every assertion” in the defendants’ motion to dismiss is “inaccurate or fabricated” and further accused the activists’ lawyers of using the filing to “make a political statement.”

As for the white supremacists themselves, prosecutors stated that “no one is beneath the protection of the law, no matter how repugnant his or her rhetoric or misguided his or her ideals.”

TGIF: Trump’s Americanized Fascism

TGIF: Trump’s Americanized Fascism

Donald Trump delivered a depraved address to the UN General Assembly this week. It might not have been a new low for Trump, but that’s only because he went into the UN at an appallingly low level.

The address had some obviously egregious parts, most especially Trump’s vow that if “the United States … is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Even if North Korea had threatened to initiate force against the United States, which it has not, Trump’s vow to “totally destroy North Korea” would still be monstrous because that action would not be defensive. If one must use force in self-defense, one may use only the force necessary to end the threat. Instead of pledging to engage in defense, Trump was threatening to commit an horrifying war crime.

This, however, is an easy point to score against Trump. Anyone who gives his remarks on North Korea a moment’s thought can see how wrong it is. Aside from that, Trump’s address contained more-subtle depravities, for instance, his obsession with sovereignty. He used the word 21 times, tediously returning to the point time and again.

Why the obsession? First off, it fits with his “America First” theme, that is, his aggrieved-nation shtick. Trump fancies himself the savior of a pitiful America taken advantage of at every turn by every nation and multinational bureaucracy on earth. His solution to this imagined victimization — he ignores the U.S. government’s imperial domination — lies in his promised restoration of sovereignty.

But what does he mean by sovereignty? If it were simply shorthand for mutual nonintervention among nations, we might forgive his syntax. If he were merely railing against the NATO, WTO, NAFTA, IMF, and World Bank bureaucracies, that would be fine. But judging by his domestic proclivities, that is not what he means. If you look closely, you see that sovereignty is really shorthand for a frighteningly powerful government that claims to act in the name of its people — us — rather than leaving us free to act for ourselves. Trump apparently believes that we — as individuals, as opposed to “the people” conceived as a corporate entity — are incapable of acting (wisely) for ourselves. We need the state — headed by him — to look after us.

To Trump, the government is the people’s (the country’s) brain, at least if he is in charge. The government thinks and acts on our behalf. For Trump, we are free and sovereign if “our” government, independent of outside influence, does what “our” wise leaders deem to be in our interest. This is coercive collectivism because it clashes with individual liberty and the consensual social cooperation liberty itself generates. According to this view, such cooperation is impossible without the state. Thus Trumpism (if I am not giving him too much credit for having a philosophy) is the antithesis of liberalism, or what today is known as libertarianism. One can see this in Trump’s repeated calls for “sacrifice” for one’s country.

Trumpism resembles corporate statism, or corporatism. (This word did not previously mean rule by business corporations.) It is not literally Mussolini’s nationalist-syndicalist one-party fascism, but it has a similar unpleasant odor. Trump’s vision is of a de facto corporatism that maintains the traditional forms of democratic representation. (Trump’s UN speech had the usual boilerplate about the wonderful U.S. Constitution.) But his goal is the same as the original: having the state produce and maintain the nation’s unity by defining the people’s interests from the top and mediating among contending groups, with the government having the final say. The individual-level bargaining that would occur in a freed society is to be subordinate to the government — which, again, is conceived as the ultimate authority acting for the people’s well-being. Trumpism is an Americanized fascism complete with a more or less veiled authoritarianism. Other politicians share this view of the state, but no one else of prominence takes it so far and parades it so explicitly. And no one has so consciously wedded it to a cult personality.

Sure, Trump says: “In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.” But that cliched claptrap cannot withstand scrutiny. “The people” neither govern nor rule. Only persons act, and only certain persons rule. There is no way everyone can rule — unless all people individually rule their own lives. That’s not what Trump means.

If all people ruled their own lives, Trump would have no power to negotiate trade deals with other governments. I would make trade policy for me; you would make trade policy for you; and so on. Trump would have no role. Likewise, he would have no power to forbid us from hiring, renting to, or hosting people who enter the country without government permission. That is, immigration would be none of his business.

The question, then, is whose sovereignty? Trump means national sovereignty, a coercively collectivist notion that justifies subordinating the individual to the state. Liberalism (in the original sense) means individual sovereignty and peaceful cooperation. Trump objects to distant multinational bureaucracies telling Americans what they can’t do, but has no problem with American bureaucracies telling Americans what they can’t do. Yet the nationality and location of bureaucrats are not essential concerns for those who value individual freedom and autonomy.

In 1932 a strong leader — Trump admires strong leaders — wrote:

Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. It is opposed to classical Liberalism, which arose from the necessity of reacting against absolutism, and which brought its historical purpose to an end when the State was transformed into the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual. And if liberty is to be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet envisaged by individualistic Liberalism, Fascism is for liberty. And for the only liberty which can be a real thing, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value, outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.

That strong leader, of course, was Mussolini, the ruler of fascist Italy, whose philosophy is eerily consistent with Trump’s way of governing. (Mussolini, like Trump, denounced “socialism.”) Like Mussolini’s, Trump’s way of governing is not an advance toward liberty but a regression toward slavery.

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

China Just Slammed the US Over Charlottesville After Report on Religious Freedom Released

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 


On Tuesday, the State Department released a report on international religious freedom that was highly critical of a number of countries, one of which was China. CNN, which detailed the report in an article titled “US slams China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia for religious repression,” summarized the State Department’s findings on China as follows:

“The report found that in 2016, China continued to physically abuse, detain, arrest, torture and imprison Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and other religious minorities.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking Tuesday from his agency’s Treaty Room, voiced concern over the analysis:

“Many governments around the world used discriminatory laws to deny their citizens freedom of religion or belief. No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, face discrimination because of their beliefs.”

Tillerson also hinted that all the repression is something the United States may have to do something about.

“Religious persecution and intolerance remains far too prevalent,” he said. “Where religious freedom is not protected, we know that instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root. We cannot ignore these conditions.”

China didn’t take the accusations lying down. On Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the State Department’s report was worthless.

“The so-called U.S. report ignores the facts, confuses right and wrong and makes wanton criticism of China’s religious freedom situation,” Hua said at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Stating that “the facts prove the United States is not totally perfect,” Hua urged the U.S. “to respect the facts and properly manage its own affairs, and stop using the wrong means of the so-called religious freedom issue to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”

The United States’ habit of involving itself in the affairs of other nations — which has earned it the epithet “World’s Police” — was the focal point of an article from China’s state-run Xinhua on Wednesday, which opened:

“Washington has newly released an annual international religion report, which attacked China’s religious policies and status, and kept listing China among ‘countries of particular concern.’

“The groundless assertions were nothing but a political bigotry held by the U.S. government. They once again laid bare Washington’s penchant for interfering in another country’s internal affairs.”

Continuing, Xinhua cited the recent bloodshed in Charlottesville as evidence that, as stated by the foreign ministry’s Hua, the U.S. is far from perfect and has problems of its own it needs to address:

“While still reeling from the death and violence seen at a white-nationalist rally in the city of Charlottesville, the United States should take a minute to reflect on its own human rights situation before pointing accusing fingers at China.”

Xinhua further wrote that in the wake of Charlottesville, “the U.S. accusations against China simply lay bare the double standard it employs,” adding that the violent clashes “highlighted the danger of racism, which is a serious problem in a still divided U.S. society.”

Even so, independent human rights organizations have raised concerns over China’s repressive approach toward religions not approved by the government.

Regardless, Xinhua concluded that the United States’ claim to being the planet’s protector of human rights is laced in hypocrisy and that reports such as the one from the State Department are used in perpetuity to demonize China:

“Despite its self-proclaimed role as the world’s human rights champion, the fact is the world’s sole superpower is far from becoming a respected role model in this regard.

“Therefore, Washington should end its political bigotry against China and stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs by issuing inaccurate reports one year after another.”

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

President Xi stresses Party loyalty in historic speech in Beijing

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.


Beijing — As tensions continue to rise — and accelerate— over North Korea and its missile program, China’s President Xi Jinping gave his highly anticipated speech at the 90th anniversary celebration of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Tuesday.

In his speech, presented at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi outlined strategies to continue China’s societal advancement, emphasized loyalty to the governing Communist Party of China (CPC), and praised the modernization of the country’s military.

But it was Xi’s other remarks on China’s military that held the most significance for other players in the region. Xi made it clear Tuesday that while China seeks only to peacefully develop its own national interests, the armed forces stand ready, willing, and able to beat back any attempt to thwart China’s ambitions.

“The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” Xi said.

This goes for internal factions as well, Xi noted, referencing both sovereignty disagreements with Hong Kong and Taiwan and political opponents to the CPC.

“We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form,” he said. “No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests.”

Xi also stated that only through loyalty to the CPC can China’s military continue to grow:

“To build a strong military, [we] must unswervingly adhere to the Party’s absolute leadership over the armed forces, and make sure that the people’s army always follow the Party.”

Xi pointed to history in asserting China’s core principle of civilian control over the military, as Reuters reported Tuesday:

“Quoting Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, Xi said: ‘Our principle is that the party commands the guns, and the guns must never be allowed to command the party.’”

With party loyalty as a basis, President Xi directed the military — which he heads — to be prepared for a military engagement at any time. From the South China Morning Post:

“Xi also asked the military to focus on preparations for war, and urged its leaders to improve capabilities in modern warfare and combat readiness. The military should be ready to win a war whenever needed, he said.

“As commander-in-chief of China’s military, Xi said that with the unprecedented changes happening around the world, China’s armed forces are the bottom line guarantee for defending peace and security.”

Though he did not point to any situations specifically that would require China’s military to be at a default state of readiness for war, it’s difficult to imagine that Xi wasn’t referring chiefly to heightening tensions over North Korea.

As Anti-Media reported Monday, the U.S. flew two B-1 bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from Japan and South Korea, over the Korean Peninsula over the weekend. It was a show of force following North Korea’s latest firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday.

President Donald Trump didn’t help matters when he tweeted, once again, about how “highly disappointed” he was with China for continuing to fail to do more to rein in Kim Jong-un. China wasted little time in pointedly responding through both official statements and the media, as highlighted in a July 30 Reuters piece called “China hits back at Trump criticism over North Korea.”

Things were complicated further still when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson roped Russia into the situation, saying in a statement that “China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat” posed by North Korea as they are the “principal economic enablers” of the country.

Like China, Russia didn’t take Tillerson’s comments lying down, calling U.S. criticisms baseless in a statement released by the country’s foreign ministry:

“We view as groundless attempts undertaken by the U.S. and a number of other countries to shift responsibility to Russia and China, almost blaming Moscow and Beijing for indulging the missile and nuclear ambitions of the DPRK (North Korea).”

All this comes as China officially opened its first overseas military base on Tuesday in Djibouti, a small but strategically positioned country on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean. It’s no coincidence that the opening coincided with the 90th anniversary celebration, as the base’s operation represents the kind of Chinese development and advancement President Xi highlighted in his speech.

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

Trump wants to install military-industrial complex lobbyist as Army chief at the Pentagon

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 


Last Wednesday, it was reported that Donald Trump was moving to nominate Raytheon lobbyist Mark Esper for secretary of the Army. Raytheon is one of the “big five” defense contractors, and the president’s decision comes at a time when concerns are being raised over the idea of defense industry executives being placed in senior positions at the Pentagon.

Esper, who holds a master’s degree from Harvard and a doctorate from George Washington University, has been Raytheon’s vice president of government relations since 2010. Before that, he held a slew of positions in both the public and private sectors. His resume is extensive, but The Hill managed to succinctly package the high points:

“Esper graduated from West Point in 1986 and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring. His Army career includes a combat tour in Iraq during the Gulf War.

“His Capitol Hill experience includes serving as director of national security affairs for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). He was also policy director for the House Armed Services Committee and a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

“From 2002 to 2004, he was the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for negotiations policy. In that role, he was responsible for arms control, nonproliferation, international agreements and matters with the United Nations.

“Esper’s resume also includes serving as national policy director for Fred Thompson’s 2008 presidential campaign and as chief of staff at conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.”

The Washington Examiner, which broke the news in an exclusive after speaking with unnamed D.C. sources, reported that Pentagon officials “privately expressed confidence that Esper, with his military, Pentagon and Capitol Hill experience, will win quick Senate confirmation.”

That would be a change of pace. Esper’s nomination is Trump’s third attempt to fill the position of Army secretary.


Trump’s first choice, New York billionaire and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team, Vincent Viola, withdrew back in February over concerns of financial conflicts of interest. Like Esper, Viola is a West Point graduate, and he served as an officer with the Army Rangers for years before retirement.

The president’s second pick was Tennessee state senator Mark Green, a West Point grad and retired Army flight surgeon. Green withdrew in May after controversial comments he made in the past about the LGBT community and Muslims came back to haunt him.

In a statement, Green said his words had been “mischaracterized” but that he had to withdraw, expressing his belief that it’s “critical to give the president the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world” without distractions.

Assuming Mark Esper hangs in there and keeps his name in the running for Army secretary, he’ll need to pass vetting by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). That hearing isn’t expected to take place until September. But it was within that committee, back in June, that SASC chairman John McCain first voiced concern over members of the defense industry taking key positions at the Pentagon.


In a hearing Defense News called “surprisingly contentious,” McCain threatened to block the SASC confirmation of Patrick Shanahan for deputy defense secretary, the number two spot at the Pentagon below defense secretary James Mattis. One of the reasons, the Arizona senator made clear, was Shanahan’s ties to industry contractors.

Shanahan had been with Boeing since 1986 before accepting Trump’s nomination. He was a member of the Boeing Executive Council and had even earned the nickname “Mr. Fix-it” within the corporation for his ability to turn around troubled projects.

At the hearing, McCain cited Shanahan’s industry past, saying he was “not overjoyed” that the would-be deputy secretary spent so much time at one of the big five defense contractors. He also said Shanahan’s ilk serving at the Pentagon was “not what our Founding Fathers had in mind.”

McCain, a Republican, went further weeks later, bluntly stating in a hallway interview in Congress that he “did not want people from the top five corporations” to fill positions at the Pentagon. Party politics aside, at least some lawmakers across the aisle appear to share his concern.

Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat who sits on the SASC, told Defense News in early July that “real concern about the concentration of these people” exists because decision-making processes may be “influenced by [their] prior employment.”

Similarly, Senator Richard Durbin, another Democrat, said the Trump administration has “turned a blind eye to the whole question of conflicts of interest from start to finish.”

Despite such criticisms, the SASC gave Shanahan the green light, and the Senate officially confirmed him last Tuesday. This means that right now, the two most powerful men at the Pentagon have significant past connections to the defense industry.

For those unaware, for years Secretary of Defense James Mattis was a board member of one of the big five contractors, General Dynamics, and up until the point of his nomination had nearly $600,000 in vested stock options with the corporation, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.


In a convenient bit of timing, John McCain was absent at Shanahan’s full Senate confirmation on July 18, as he was recovering after surgery to remove a blood clot, which ultimately revealed a brain tumor. The same could be said for Ellen Lord, who went through SASC vetting relatively unscathed on the very same day and now awaits the committee’s nod to move on to a full Senate vote.

Lord has been CEO of Textron Systems, a global aerospace and defense conglomerate, since 2012. As with what happened to Shanahan, Lord likely would have faced a harsh grilling from McCain. Commenting on Lord’s smooth sail through her SASC hearing, Defense News wrote:

“That may have been due to the absence of Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs SASC. McCain, recuperating at home from a recent surgery, previously told Defense News he is concerned about the number of defense industry figures entering key Pentagon roles.”

The same good fortune was bestowed upon a former Lockheed Martin vice president on Thursday. Ryan McCarthy passed his SASC vetting for undersecretary of the Army, and if the Senate eventually confirms both him and Mark Esper, it would mean the top two Army positions at the Pentagon would be filled by defense industry executives.

It was speculated that former Lockheed Martin attorney David Ehrhart would come under heavy scrutiny at his SASC hearing for Air Force General Counsel, the department’s chief legal officer. The same would have surely gone for John Rood, Trump’s expected pick for undersecretary of defense for policy and current head of international sales at Lockheed.

But with the SASC confirming defense industry figures in McCain’s absence, it now appears the Arizona senator’s leeriness was the only substantive thing holding up the show.


Like Senator Richard Durbin and others in Congress who don’t like the emerging trend under Donald Trump, most in the mainstream media will only go so far as to highlight the myriad conflicts of interest between the Trump administration and the corporate world.

Right now, for example, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is catching fire for being the CEO of ExxonMobil when it violated sanctions on Russia back in 2014. The U.S. Treasury Department just hit Exxon with a $2 million fine for that move, and Exxon promptly filed a lawsuit against the government in response.

There are some, however, like Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, who are willing to follow the logic to its inevitable conclusion. In a July 15 piece for The Guardian titled “Trump is ushering in a dark new conservatism,” Snyder pointed to far greater — and far more dangerous — implications for the United States.

Breaking down how, due to ignorance and passivity, the conservative government of Germany essentially handed control over to a populist leader in the 1930s, Snyder observed that this is exactly what’s happening within the Republican Party right now. In his closing, the history professor noted the urgency with which the matter should be addressed:

“One of the reasons why the radical right was able to overcome conservatives back in the 1930s was that the conservatives did not understand the threat. Nazis in Germany, like fascists in Italy and Romania, did have popular support, but they would not have been able to change regimes without the connivance or the passivity of conservatives.

“The last time around, the old right chose suicide by midwifery, and it seems to be doing so again. If Republicans do not wish to be remembered (and forgotten) like the German conservatives of the 1930s, they had better find their courage — and their conservatism — fast.”

To be clear, Snyder appeared to talking about the rise of the American Fascist State.


Everyone understood very clearly that it would be more of the same under Hillary Clinton had she been elected president. The military campaigns, the arms sales, and the progressive domestic policies would have continued in Barack Obama’s footsteps.

A Trump presidency was the unknown variable. No one could really predict what might happen if The Donald actually made it to the Oval Office, though the quickness and vehemence with which he was labeled a fascist during the 2016 campaign speaks to a considerable body of individuals who sensed and were concerned over his far-right leanings.

Now that he’s in the White House, it’s abundantly apparent that those concerns were justified. In his short time in office, Donald Trump has demonstrated his intention to run his government with his own people and in his own way. And his way — as with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany — means a restructuring of the government.

For more on this, we can again turn to Rex Tillerson, whose past as a CEO at an oil conglomerate and current position as head of the U.S. State Department make him ideal for highlighting the rapidly developing synergy between government and the corporate world.

Back in May, Tillerson revealed plans for a restructuring of the U.S. State Department. Since then he’s chosen the point man he wants to lead that effort, and as of July 17, has even hired two consulting firms to assist in the process.

Reporting on the story on July 5, Politico wrote that Tillerson is “widely viewed within his department as isolated from and dismissive of career staff” and “considered unapproachable and largely isolated except for a few political appointees who tightly restrict access to him.”

Politico noted that it’s the “career staff,” staff that was already in place at the State Department when Tillerson took over, who feel unappreciated. And with Donald Trump looking to cut the State Department’s budget by 30 percent — estimates suggest this would require the elimination of around 2,300 positions — it’s not hard to imagine the types likely to get canned when Tillerson starts handing out pink slips.


In an opinion piece back in February, I wrote the following:

“People call Donald Trump Hitler without really considering the words. They just know Hitler was a bad guy and, to them, so is Donald Trump. Few know how he came to power. Few truly understand how he rose to that position.

“Well, look around, folks. Here’s how it happened.”

Ignorance and passivity, as Timothy Snyder noted for The Guardian. Either willingly or unwillingly turning a blind eye to what’s happening around you. This goes not for those in the political arena alone, but for everyone. After all, Nazi Germany couldn’t have happened if the masses hadn’t given in to it.

Americans find themselves at that stage now. It cuts to the very heart of awareness and an awakening to reality. The American Fascist State is rising under the Trump administration. That’s a reality the American people need to start recognizing.

Through either ignorance, indifference, or fear, Republicans have failed to step up and challenge Trump’s push toward the far-right, and the Democrats, still sore over losing last year’s elections, appear content to just keep blathering on about Russian collusion. That puts the onus on you and me.

The internet has given us an advantage over Germans of the 1930s. An interconnected world provides little cover for those with agendas. And if we do have the ability to bear witness to the new system being created long before it’s established and humming along, then that means we also have the ability — and the time — to do something about it.

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

Massive Corporate Consolidation of Local Media Underway


In a deal that will allow one broadcasting company to reach 72 percent of U.S. households, it was reported this week that Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying Tribune Media for nearly $4 billion.

Such a move wouldn’t have been possible a few weeks back, but Donald Trump’s new Federal Trade Commission (FCC) chairman, Ajit Pai, just began implementing sweeping changes to previously established net neutrality rules. Bloomberg explains:

“A Sinclair-Tribune merger was made easier last month when the FCC restored a rule that allows TV station groups to count just half of their coverage area for Ultra High Frequency stations to comply with a 39 percent nationwide cap set by Congress.”

Reporting on the news, Democracy Now invited the president and CEO of Free Press, Craig Aaron, to comment on the significance of the purchase.

“Well, you know, we’re really concerned about so many things happening at the FCC right now,” Aaron told host Amy Goodman, “because Ajit Pai, Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency, has been dismantling all kinds of consumer protections and regulations, certainly net neutrality, which many of us consider the First Amendment of the internet, what protects your ability to go online, do whatever you want, go wherever you want, and download whatever you want.

Continuing, Aaron calls the Sinclair-Tribune merger — and the others that will surely follow given the loosening of regulations at the FCC — an “unprecedented” wave of “media consolidation.” He asserts that an awful lot of power is about to be concentrated in only a few select spots:

“So we’re seeing a concentration of power on the broadcast side at the same time they are building up these powerful new gatekeepers, really doing the bidding of the most powerful companies and just paving the way for them to do whatever they want.

Using Sinclair as an example, Aaron goes on to talk about how broadcasting giants are able to push the content they want across multiple platforms simultaneously:

“So they both like to try to buy up multiple stations in the same market, have one newscast going on multiple channels, as well as doing as much as they can from Sinclair headquarters in terms of pushing content out to their whole network.”

Calling Ajit Pai’s moves at the FCC “scandalous,” Aaron highlights the complexity of modern media and says that now — more than ever — we need an aware, conscious populace:

“So, at a time where we need more local news, more competition, more choices, better-informed communities, what we’re getting is the same cookie-cutter content coast to coast.


This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

U.S. Citizen Jailed 3 Weeks for Being Suspected Undocumented Immigrant


A story this week highlighted the fact that people in America illegally aren’t the only ones affected by Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

On Friday, The Daily Beast reported that a U.S. citizen is suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being wrongfully held for nearly three weeks.

Rony Chavez Aguilar, who emigrated from Guatemala in 1991 and became a naturalized citizen in 2001, says during his incarceration he never saw a judge and was never even told why he was being detained.

According to Aguilar’s attorney, Charles Roth, who spoke to The Daily Beast, Aguilar was originally arrested in Chicago on drug charges. After spending two weeks in jail, he thought he had been released.

Instead, ICE agents, suspecting he was an illegal immigrant, showed up and hauled him down to an ICE facility in Kentucky where other detainees face deportation. That was March 7.

“He said, ‘Hey, I’m a citizen!’” Roth claims. “And basically they said, ‘Tell it to the judge.’” The judge Aguilar was never allowed to see.

On March 27, Roth filed a suit against ICE on the grounds that it was violating his client’s constitutional rights. The suit alleges, among other things, that ICE violated Aguilar’s due process by never explaining to him why he was being held.

Aguilar was released from detention hours after the suit was filed.

Roth says his client’s case is far from uncommon, and he hopes to bring other victims in on the lawsuit. For instance, an NPR investigation last December found that between 2007 and 2015, nearly 700 U.S. citizens were thrown in jail illegally at the request of ICE agents.


This post originally appeared at Anti-Media.

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists


As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. In its day (the 1920s and 1930s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism, with its violent and socially divisive persecution of the bourgeoisie. Fascism substituted the particularity of nationalism and racialism—“blood and soil”—for the internationalism of both classical liberalism and Marxism.


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. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) 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.

Fascism is to be distinguished from interventionism, or the mixed economy. Interventionism seeks to guide the market process, not eliminate it, as fascism did. Minimum-wage and antitrust laws, though they regulate the free market, are a far cry from multiyear plans from the Ministry of Economics.

Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture. Planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission. Levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and “excess” incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or “loans.” The consequent burdening of manufacturers gave advantages to foreign firms wishing to export. But since government policy aimed at autarky, or national self-sufficiency, protectionism was necessary: imports were barred or strictly controlled, leaving foreign conquest as the only avenue for access to resources unavailable domestically. Fascism was thus incompatible with peace and the international division of labor—hallmarks of liberalism.

Fascism embodied corporatism, in which political representation was based on trade and industry rather than on geography. In this, fascism revealed its roots in syndicalism, a form of socialism originating on the left. The government cartelized firms of the same industry, with representatives of labor and management serving on myriad local, regional, and national boards—subject always to the final authority of the dictator’s economic plan. Corporatism was intended to avert unsettling divisions within the nation, such as lockouts and union strikes. The price of such forced “harmony” was the loss of the ability to bargain and move about freely.

To maintain high employment and minimize popular discontent, fascist governments also undertook massive public-works projects financed by steep taxes, borrowing, and fiat money creation. While many of these projects were domestic—roads, buildings, stadiums—the largest project of all was militarism, with huge armies and arms production.

The fascist leaders’ antagonism to communism has been misinterpreted as an affinity for capitalism. In fact, fascists’ anticommunism was motivated by a belief that in the collectivist milieu of early-twentieth-century Europe, communism was its closest rival for people’s allegiance. As with communism, under fascism, every citizen was regarded as an employee and tenant of the totalitarian, party-dominated state. Consequently, it was the state’s prerogative to use force, or the threat of it, to suppress even peaceful opposition.

If a formal architect of fascism can be identified, it is Benito Mussolini, the onetime Marxist editor who, caught up in nationalist fervor, broke with the left as World War I approached and became Italy’s leader in 1922. Mussolini distinguished fascism from liberal capitalism in his 1928 autobiography:

The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity. The Fascist State with its corporative conception puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets for them the duties they have to fulfill. (p. 280)

Before his foray into imperialism in 1935, Mussolini was often praised by prominent Americans and Britons, including Winston Churchill, for his economic program.

Similarly, Adolf Hitler, whose National Socialist (Nazi) Party adapted fascism to Germany beginning in 1933, said:

The state should retain supervision and each property owner should consider himself appointed by the state. It is his duty not to use his property against the interests of others among his own people. This is the crucial matter. The Third Reich will always retain its right to control the owners of property. (Barkai 1990, pp. 26–27)

Both nations exhibited elaborate planning schemes for their economies in order to carry out the state’s objectives. Mussolini’s corporate state “consider[ed] private initiative in production the most effective instrument to protect national interests” (Basch 1937, p. 97). But the meaning of “initiative” differed significantly from its meaning in a market economy. Labor and management were organized into twenty-two industry and trade “corporations,” each with Fascist Party members as senior participants. The corporations were consolidated into a National Council of Corporations; however, the real decisions were made by state agencies such as the Instituto per la Ricosstruzione Industriale, which held shares in industrial, agricultural, and real estate enterprises, and the Instituto Mobiliare, which controlled the nation’s credit.

Hitler’s regime eliminated small corporations and made membership in cartels mandatory.1 The Reich Economic Chamber was at the top of a complicated bureaucracy comprising nearly two hundred organizations organized along industry, commercial, and craft lines, as well as several national councils. The Labor Front, an extension of the Nazi Party, directed all labor matters, including wages and assignment of workers to particular jobs. Labor conscription was inaugurated in 1938. Two years earlier, Hitler had imposed a four-year plan to shift the nation’s economy to a war footing. In Europe during this era, Spain, Portugal, and Greece also instituted fascist economies.

In the United States, beginning in 1933, the constellation of government interventions known as the New Deal had features suggestive of the corporate state. The National Industrial Recovery Act created code authorities and codes of practice that governed all aspects of manufacturing and commerce. The National Labor Relations Act made the federal government the final arbiter in labor issues. The Agricultural Adjustment Act introduced central planning to farming. The object was to reduce competition and output in order to keep prices and incomes of particular groups from falling during the Great Depression.

It is a matter of controversy whether President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was directly influenced by fascist economic policies. Mussolini praised the New Deal as “boldly . . . interventionist in the field of economics,” and Roosevelt complimented Mussolini for his “honest purpose of restoring Italy” and acknowledged that he kept “in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman.” Also, Hugh Johnson, head of the National Recovery Administration, was known to carry a copy of Raffaello Viglione’s pro-Mussolini book, The Corporate State, with him, presented a copy to Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and, on retirement, paid tribute to the Italian dictator.

Further Reading

Barkai, Avraham. Nazi Economics: Ideology, Theory, and Policy. Trans. Ruth Hadass-Vashitz. Oxford: Berg Publishers Ltd., 1990.
Basch, Ernst. The Fascist: His State and His Mind. New York: Morrow, 1937.
Diggins, John P. Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.
Flynn, John T. As We Go Marching. 1944. Reprint. New York: Free Life Editions, 1973.
Flynn, John T. The Roosevelt Myth. New York: Devin-Adair, 1948.
Laqueur, Walter, ed. Fascism: A Reader’s Guide. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.
Mises, Ludwig von. Omnipotent Government. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1944.
Mussolini, Benito. Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions. Firenze: Vallecchi, 1935.
Mussolini, Benito. My Autobiography. New York: Scribner’s, 1928.
Pitigliani, Fauto. The Italian Corporative State. New York: Macmillan, 1934.
Powell, Jim. FDR’s Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression. New York: Crown Forum, 2003.
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960.
Twight, Charlotte. America’s Emerging Fascist Economy. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1975.


1. “Laws decreed in October 1937 simply dissolved all corporations with a capital under $40,000 and forbade the establishment of new ones with a capital less than $20,000” (Shirer 1959, p. 262).
Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

Pokemon Goes Fascist: How the Government is Weaponizing Our Favorite Tech

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.


Many in the independent media have commented on what the informed among the American populace are now witnessing: the rise of an American fascist State. Rarely, though, are we provided a glimpse into the inner-workings of the machine.

On Monday, in a piece titled “The Autonomous Future of Warfare Looks a Lot Like Pokemon Go,” WIRED gave readers the chance to meet Will Roper, director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). WIRED describes the man’s job:

“Roper spends his days predicting how war will work in the not-s0-distant future and developing the technological capabilities that will enable the American military to lead the way.”

Continuing, and using the Pokemon Go phenomenon as an example, the magazine’s Issie Lapowsky notes the military’s current dependence on the private technology sector:

“Because Silicon Valley’s companies evolve so much faster than the bureaucracies of Washington can, Roper and the SCO draw inspiration from the private sector picking apart the genius of Pokemon Go.”

Speaking with WIRED’s Nick Thompson at South by Southwest Monday, Roper highlighted the manner in which technological breakthroughs, regardless of intent, can be appropriated for other uses.

“I think they’ve solved one of the toughest challenges for warfare,” Roper said of the designers behind Pokemon Go. “How do you take amazingly complex information and make it so integrated with the person interacting with it?”

The magazine then lays out what the folks at the SCO think the future of warfare will look like:

“Roper envisions a day when soldier will be able to drop a digital marker on the battlefield that future deployments and faraway units could also see, similar to how Pokemon Go enables millions of strangers to spot the same Jigglypuff in the middle of Times Square.”


“Or perhaps augmented-reality advances could help soldiers access a global map of the surrounding area in the lower corner of their field of view, familiar to any fan of first-person shooters like Call of Duty.”

WIRED goes on to describe other SCO projects, such as their development of swarms of micro-UAVs that can communicate and fill gaps when individual units are taken out. But the notion of the military co-opting technology to its own benefit should be news to no one.

The bigger issue here is what Roper discusses next — the true, official, and concrete merger of government and corporations.

Noting that “the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board has sought insight from Silicon Valley since 2015,” WIRED writes that “Roper knows the military needs to work side-by-side with the private sector” as it continues “adopting the best of machine learning capabilities being developed at companies like Google and Facebook.”

Commenting on this tightening bond between corporations and the U.S. government — a bond which, when solidified, lies at the heart of every fascist State — the Pentagon’s Roper says it’s definitely the way to go:

“Once we have those bridges built, we’re going to have to keep them strong and treat them as a strategic resource.”

This is precisely the attitude that leads to outright fascism. And, currently, it seems a pervasive one. Anti-Media and other independent outlets are working to draw attention to the strengthening potentiality of such a nightmare, and will continue to do so.

The race now is to get enough Americans to stand up and take notice before the walls come permanently down.

Documents Show Police Conspired With Neo-Nazis to Arrest Anti-Fascist Activists

The Prehistory of the Alt-right

Reading “How I Left the Left” is a solid reminder that there’s not much intellectual heft remaining on that side of the fence. If an ideology sets out to isolate the locus of evil in people’s very identity, it is pretty well spent. This, in addition to the failure of the socialist model everywhere it has tried, explains why the Left has suffered so much at the polls and now faces a serious backlash in campus and public life.

With the failure of action comes reaction, and now the Western world is dealing with something far less familiar to most people: the rise of the alt-right as the alternative. It is attractive to some young people due to its taboo-breaking, rebel ethos that so easily inflames teachers and protectors of civic conventions.

The movement is more than that, however. It has a real philosophical and political history, one that stands in violent opposition to the idea of individual liberty. It has been largely suppressed since World War II and, because of that, most people assumed fascism (and its offshoots) was gone from the earth.

As a result, this generation has not been philosophically prepared to recognize the tradition, the signs, the implications, and the political application of the ideology so many are stumbling to embrace.

Here is a prehistory of what we call the alt-right today, which is probably better described as a 21st-century incarnation of what in the 19th century would have been called right-Hegelianism. I’m skipping over many political movements (in Spain, France, and Italy), and clownish leaders like George Lincoln Rockwell, Oswald Mosley, and Fr. Coughlin, to get right to the core ideas that form something like a school of thought which developed over a century. 

Here we have a lineage of non-Marxist, non-leftist brand of rightist but still totalitarian thinking, developed in fanatical opposition to bourgeois freedom.

1820: Georg Friedrich Hegel published Elements of the Philosophy of Right, which spelled out the political implications of his “dialectical idealism,” an outlook that departed dramatically from the liberal tradition by completely abstracting from human experience to posit warring life forces operating beyond anyone’s control to shape history. It turns out that the politics of this view amounted to “the state is the march of God through the world.” He looked forward to some age in the future that would realize the apotheosis of State control. The Hegelian view, according to a 1952 lecture by Ludwig von Mises, broke into Left and Right branches, depending on the attitude toward nationalism and religion (the right supported the Prussian state and church, whereas the left did not), and thereby “destroyed German thinking and German philosophy for more than a century, at least.”

1841: Thomas Carlyle published On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History, which popularized the “great man” theory of history. History is not about marginal improvements in living standards by using better tools, but rather about huge episodic shifts brought about through power. A champion of slavery and opponent of liberalism, Carlyle took aim at the rise of commercial society, praising Cromwell, Napoleon, and Rousseau, and rhapsodizing about the glories of power. “The Commander over Men; he to whose will our wills are to be subordinated, and loyally surrender themselves, and find their welfare in doing so, may be reckoned the most important of Great Men.” Carlyle’s target was Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment generally. Hitler’s biographers agree that the words of Carlyle were the last he requested to be read to him before he died.

1841: On the continent, meanwhile, Friedrich List published The National System of Political Economy, celebrating protectionism, infrastructure spending, and government control and support of industry. Again, it was a direct attack on laissez faire and a celebration of the national unit as the only truly productive force in economic life. Steven Davies comments: “The most serious result of List’s ideas was a change in people’s thinking and perception. Instead of seeing trade as a cooperative process of mutual benefit, politicians and businessmen came to regard it as a struggle with winners and losers.” Today’s economic nationalists have nothing new to add to the edifice already constructive by List. 

1871: Charles Darwin left the realm of science briefly to enter sociological analysis with his book The Descent of Man. It is a fascinating work but tended to treat human society as a zoological rather than sociological and economic enterprise. It included an explosive paragraph (qualified and widely misread) that regretted how “we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment… Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.” At the very least, he suggested, we should stop the weak from marrying. This is the “one check” we have to keep society from being taken over by inferiors. Tragically, this passing comment fired up the eugenicists who immediately began to plot demographic planning schemes to avoid a terrifying biological slide to universal human degeneracy. 

1896: The American Economic Association published Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro by Frederick Hoffman. This monograph, one of many of the type, described blacks as intractable criminals who are both lazy and promiscuous, the influence of whom in national biology can only lead to a decline of the race. Their mere presence was considered an existential threat to “uncompromising virtues of the Aryan race.” Such views were embraced by Richard T. Ely, the founder of the American Economic Association, and came to dominate the academic journals of this period, providing academic cover for Jim Crow laws, state segregation, business regulation, and far worse. 

1904: The founder of the American eugenics society, Charles Davenport, established the Station for Experimental Evolution and worked to propagate eugenics from his perch as Professor of Zoology at Harvard University. He was hugely influential on an entire generation of scientists, political figures, economists, and public bureaucrats, and it was due largely to this influence that eugenics became such a central concern of American policies from this period until World War II, influencing the passage of wage legislation, immigration, marriage law, working hours legislation, and, of course, mandatory sterilizations.

At this point in history, all five pillars of fascist theory (historicist, nationalist, racist, protectionist, statist) were in place. It had a theory of history. It had a picture of hell, which is liberalism and uncontrolled commercial society. It had a picture of heaven, which was national societies run by great men inhabiting all-powerful States focused on heavy industry. It had a scientific rationale.

Above all, it had an agenda: to control society from the top down with the aim of managing every aspect of the demographic path of human society, which meant controlling human beings from cradle to grave to produce the most superior product, as well as industrial planning to replace the wiles of the market process. The idea of freedom itself, to this emergent school of thought, was a disaster for everyone everywhere.

All that was really necessary was popularization of its most incendiary ideas.

1916: Madison Grant, scholar of enormous prestige and elite connections, published The Passing of the Great Race. It was never a bestseller but it exercised enormous influence among the ruling elites, and made a famous appearance in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Grant, an early environmentalist, recommended mass sterilization of people as a “practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem” that should be “applied to an ever-widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types.” Hitler loved the book and sent Grant a note praising the book as his personal bible.

1919: Following World War I, German historian Oswald Spengler published The Decline of the West, which met with huge popular acclaim for capturing the sense of the moment: the cash economy and liberalism were dead and could only be replaced by the rise of monolithic cultural forms that rally around blood and race as the source of meaning. Blood beats money all over the world, he argued. The interminable and foggy text broods with right-Hegelian speculations about the status of man and predicts the complete downfall of all lovely things unless the civilization of the West dispenses with its attachment to commercial norms and individualism and instead rallies to the cause of group identity. The book kicked off a decade of similar works and movements that declared freedom and democracy to be dead ideas: the only relevant battle was between the communist and fascist forms of state planning.

1932: Carl Schmitt published The Concept of the Political, a brutal attack on liberalism as the negation of the political. For Schmitt, the political was the essence of life, and the friend/enemy distinction is its most salient feature. Friends and enemies were to be defined by the State, and enemy-ness can only be fully instantiated in bloodshed, which should be real and present. Mises called him “the Nazi Jurist” for a reason: he was a party member and his ideas contributed mightily to the perception that mass death was not only moral, but essential to the preservation of the meaning of life itself.

1944: Allied troops discovered thousands of death camps strewn throughout Nazi-captured territories in Europe, created beginning in 1933 and continuing through the duration of the war, responsible for the imprisonment and death of upwards of 15 million people. The discovery shocked an entire generation at the most fundamental level, and the scramble was on to discover all sources of evil–political and ideological–that had led to such a gruesome reality. With the Nazi forces defeated and the Nuremberg trials underscoring the point, the advance of fascist dogma in all of its brooding, racist, statist, and historicist timbres, came to a screeching halt. Suppression of the ideas therein began in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, creating the impression that right-Hegelianism was a mere flash in the pan that had been permanently doused by state power. 

The same year as the death-camp discovery began, F.A. Hayek published The Road to Serfdom, which emphasized that it was not enough to reject the labels, songs, slogans, and regimes of Nazism and fascism. Also necessary, said Hayek, was the rejection of the ideas of planning themselves, which even in a democracy necessarily led to the end of freedom and the rise of dictatorship. His book was met with critical acclaim among a small group of remaining classical liberals (many of whom were involved in the founding of FEE two years later) but was otherwise denounced and derided as paranoid and reactionary by many others.

For the duration of the ensuing Cold War, it was the fear of communism and not fascism/Nazism that would captivate the public mind. After all, the latter had been defeated on the battlefield, right? The genesis and development of rightest totalitarianism, despite the earnest pleadings of Hannah Arendt, fell away from public consciousness.

Liberalism Not Yet

The Cold War ended 25 years ago and the rise of digital technology has given liberal forms of political economy a gigantic presence in the world. Trade has never been more integrated. Human rights are on the march. Commercial life, and its underlying ideology of harmony and peace, is the prevailing aspiration of billions of people around the world. The failures of government planning are ever more obvious. And yet these trends alone do not seal the deal for the cause of liberty.

With left-Hegelianism now in disgrace, political movements around the world are rooting around in the pre-war history of totalitarian ideas to find alternatives. The suppression of these ideas did not work; in fact, they had the opposite effect of making them more popular to the point where they boiled up from below. The result is what we call the Alt-right in the US and goes by many other names in Europe and the UK. (The transition from the 1990s to the present will be the subject of another essay.)

Let us not be deceived. Whatever the flavor – whichever branch of Hegel we choose to follow – the cost of government control is human liberty, prosperity, and dignity. We choose mega-states, strongmen, national planning, or religious and racial homogeneity at our deep peril.

For the most part, the meme-posting trolls who favor stormfront-style profile pics on their social accounts, and the mass movements calling for strongmen to take control and cast the other from their midst, are clueless about the history and path they are following.

If you are feeling tempted toward the Alt-right, look at your progenitors: do you like what you see?

What is the alternative to right and left Hegelianism? It is found in the liberal tradition, summed up by Frederic Bastiat’s phrase “the harmony of interests.” Peace, prosperity, liberty, and community are possible. It is this tradition, and not one that posits intractable war between groups, that protects and expands human rights and human dignity, and creates the conditions that allow for the universal ennoblement of the human person. (For more on the history of despotic ideas in the 20th century, I suggest Mises’s epic 1947 book Planned Chaos, now available in epub.)

The last word on the correct (freedom-loving) path forward was framed by the great English historian Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1830, a statement that would be loathed by every fascist in history:

“It is not by the intermeddling of an omniscient and omnipotent State, but by the prudence and energy of the people, that England has hitherto been carried forward in civilization; and it is to the same prudence and the same energy that we now look with comfort and good hope. Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties, by leaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment, by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and by observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest.”

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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