When Fascism Masquerades as Populism

With its reliance on corporate money and financial contributions by the wealthy, the U.S. electoral system provides movement in only one direction: to the right. Traditional liberals lack the financial wherewithal to compete against free market fundamentalists. Corporations do not fund candidates who would regulate them and hold them accountable to the people. The electoral system is useless as a tool for the expression of traditional liberalism or progressive reform.

Capitalism does not empower people; it gives primacy to capital. Like the corporation, money is a legal fiction that allows bankers and financial institutions to create phantom wealth from nothing. It gives rise to privatized banking cartels and to the Federal Reserve which controls the money supply and loans it at interest to the government and to people. In effect, this gives bankers control of the government and our cultural institutions.

Free market fundamentalism was elevated to the status of religion decades ago by Milton Friedman and his disciples at the Chicago School of Economics. Its adherents regard the market as a holy oracle that takes precedence over man and nature, the diviner of social and economic status, a force more primal than the laws that govern the motion of planetary bodies and the formation of distant nebulae.

But like the phantom wealth it engenders, the existence of free markets is utter fiction. Not only are the precepts of market fundamentalism contradicted by nature; they are restrained by her. With a hunger for god-like power, capitalism and free market fundamentalism are, in fact, puny forces that are dwarfed by those of nature to which they will ultimately succumb.

Due in part to its infatuation with a particularly virulent form of capitalism, the U.S. has been descending toward fascism for decades. The persistent stream of neoconservative statesmen, stateswomen, and corporatists are the product of a corporate-funded counter-revolution that gained ascendancy during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, if not before. The counter-revolution is undoing all of the social and economic gains won through popular struggle and resistance.

Every social program that does not promote the religion of market fundamentalism is under siege: social security, pensions, public education, unemployment benefits, the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the public infrastructure, are in danger of eradication or privatization.

This is the agenda of the right-wing extremists of the two major political parties who have ascended to power by adhering to, and promulgating, the theocracy of free market fundamentalism. Traditional liberalism has always acted as a bulwark against this and other regressive ideologies. But now it is politically extinct. Traditional liberalism has given way to the ultra-conservative philosophy of neoliberalism.

As a result of the ascendancy of neoliberalism, enlightened people can no longer associate traditional liberalism with the Democratic Party. The majority of democrats are only moderately less extreme than their republican counterparts. For instance, Hillary Clinton, a neoliberal, is a passionate supporter of Zionism. She advocates imperial war and occupation. Clinton is a free market fundamentalist, as is virtually every member of Congress. Her political philosophy is practically indistinguishable from that of Barack Obama and Karl Rove.

Preoccupied with the procurement of corporate funds, politicians are oblivious to the plight of struggling workers, the chronically unemployed, and the under-employed. No legislator holding high office acknowledges the existence of an underclass that is condemned to exist in despair and poverty. The underclass has no voice, no representation, and no power. It is too preoccupied with survival to rebel.

In contrast to the specter of the underclass, the 2010 mid-term elections saw more than a billion dollars invested in it. That figure is only going to increase as political favors are auctioned to the highest bidder. With each election the nation moves further to the right and a step closer to fascism. The system does not offer a means of turning back.

As long as capital drives the electoral process, liberal influence will continue to wane. It has been so long since the American public has seen a genuine liberal that they have forgotten what one looks like. It is absurd for anyone to associate Barack Obama with progressive politics, much less call him a socialist. As his record demonstrates, President Obama is a devout capitalist, a disciple of Milton Friedman, and a pious free market fundamentalist. He is Ronald Reagan incarnate. Those who were hypnotized by his hyperbole should have known better.

The corporations that finance political campaigns will not permit reform. Fortunes are made by maintaining the status quo, by promoting war, and by curtailing civil liberties in the name of national defense. They are made by imposing austerity upon working class people and by privatizing the public domain. This is the final frontier open to capitalist exploitation.

Like capitalism itself, the electoral system perpetuates social and economic disparity; it advocates imperial war and colonization; it fosters the privatization of the public domain; and it promotes economic serfdom and debt peonage as free market democracy.

Government-imposed austerity on working people has set the stage for the emergence of radical fascists. Aggressively promoted by the commercial media, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Christine Donnelly in Delaware, and Sarah Palin in Alaska provide recent examples of emerging American fascism. These kooks and simpletons are an expression of right-wing corporatism masquerading as working class populism. Their deferential followers are not wise enough to know the difference. They are only the beginning of far worse things to come.

The legendary free market, the Holy Grail of capitalism, is wrongly equated with democracy. It liberates people from their souls and transforms them into serfs. Market fundamentalism is reified and exalted by the commercial media and the corporate state. Far from benefiting working people, the spread of this belligerent ideology will ensure the demise of the American Republic, and it will take down much of the world with it in violent military conflagration.

While operating within the capitalist system, liberals have traditionally sought to hold corporations in check and to diminish their power through regulation. By contrast, conservatives, neoconservatives, civil libertarians, and neoliberals are working to increase corporate influence because they have a financial stake in the outcome.

The working class people who have created this nation’s wealth used to be associated with liberalism, often in the form of Socialism and Communism, which rightly sought to end capitalism. Traditional liberals recognize that working people are not commodities. They are not corporate property. They have more to offer than their labor and their blood.

Contrary to the maxims of market fundamentalism, money and the political power it buys is not of divine origin. Neither is it just or humane. Social capital, investing in people and human networks, provides the means of our salvation. But it must be organized and it must act in solidarity with all working class interests in all parts of the world at all times.

This comes very close to the Wobbly’s notion of “One Big Union” that was once a powerful organizing force here and abroad. Global worker solidarity, the public ownership of capital, and revolutionary unionism is a rational response to corporate globalization and market fundamentalism. This affords the best way to create equal opportunity, provide full employment, and to promote peace. Moneyless economies must evolve to serve the needs of all people, and they should operate in harmony with nature. Local currencies that are based on barter should replace the dollar.

No working man or woman should fall to their knees and worship at the blood-soaked altar of capitalism. This is where false populism and its regressive ideology of market fundamentalism inevitably lead. History provides countless examples, but we must be able to learn from them. America is not the first nation to go down this path.

If the citizenry wants a representative government, one that safeguards human welfare from corporate depredation, we must recognize that the state and federal electoral system does not provide the means of meeting our needs. Saturated in corporate money, it can only carry us toward fascism and a Gestapo state of violent extremism.

Despite the absurd proclamations of the Supreme Court, money is not free speech, and corporations are not people. Free markets do not exist; they are always manipulated by insiders seeking unfair advantage. History attests that capitalism is kept afloat by raiding the public treasure. The elite adore capitalism because it provides them enormous wealth and political power without having to produce anything of value. It puts them in charge of the global plantation. It makes them masters of working class people because too many of us cannot distinguish between fascism and class-conscious populism.

Charles Sullivan is a naturalist, an educator and a freelance writer residing in the hinterlands of geopolitical West Virginia. He has an academic background in Appalachian Studies. . Read other articles by Charles.

5 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. MichaelKenny said on November 15th, 2010 at 8:59am #

    One thing I would disagree with is the idea that the demise of the American Republic will take down much of the world with it in violent military conflagration. People said that about the Soviet Union, which was brought down by a similar internal gridlock, but the leadership just gave up, essentially because nobody in Europe believed in communism after the repression of the Prague Spring in 1968. Similarly, the American elite no longer really believes in the future of the American superpower and, more importantly, the Israel Lobby elite no longer believes in it. Hence, inter alia, the dismantling of the dollar and the increasingly frantic antics of the neocons.

  2. hayate said on November 15th, 2010 at 1:15pm #

    The usa has been fascist for a long time and liberalism/liberals have mostly just provided the ziofascist/fascist oligarchy with a buffer zone between their fascism and socialism. The liberals facilitate the ziofascists/fascists. The grease up the public for them.

    While in the past, it was mainly corporate oligarchies consolidating their control, the last few generations of american politics, since WW2, and especially since the 70’s, have been dominated by ziofascism, inc. A mix of corporate fascism and zionist ethnic supremacist freakery. Though the old timer fascists were not any better, and probably wouldn’t have done anything different, had they remained numero uno. This greasing up the population to accept the royal reaming is a zionist specialty. Look at the american so-called “left” for a good example of their work.

  3. Richard Posner said on November 15th, 2010 at 2:58pm #

    “…money is a legal fiction that allows bankers and financial institutions to create phantom wealth from nothing.”
    Only when it is allowed to fall under the control of the private sector.
    “Both Aristotle and Plato noted the paramount monetary principle, that the nature of money is a fiat of the law, an invention or creation of mankind and society, rather than a commodity.” The Lost Science of Money
    Money is not a commodity; it is a fiat of law. The private printing and circulation of currency as a commodity will ALWAYS lead to the place we’re headed; a totalitarian slave state. There is nothing wrong with fiat money. There is nothing but wrong with the PRIVATE control and distribution of fiat money.
    “The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of consumers. By the adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.” Abraham Lincoln
    1862: By April $449,338,902 worth of President Lincoln’s debt free money had been printed and distributed. He went on to state,
    “We gave the people of this republic the greatest blessing they ever had, their own paper money to pay their own debts.”
    The Times of London publishes the following statement,
    “That government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without a debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of civilized governments of the world. The brains and the wealth of all countries will go to North America. That government must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe.”
    Today that destruction, long sought and begun in earnest in 1913, is nearly complete. By 2013 (how ironic that would be) or 14, maybe a little sooner, certainly not much later, America will officially become a third world country; a totalitarian plutocracy.
    Interest, ANY interest, is usury. Usury is morally wrong. It is simply evil. The capitalist economy is based upon usury and debt. The privatised capitalist economy is morally wrong. It is simply evil.
    “Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nations laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.” William Lyon Mackenzie King

  4. Ron Horn said on November 17th, 2010 at 11:45am #

    This is an excellent essay on the devolution of American capitalism, under the influence of neo-liberalist theology, into fascism. My only quibble is that he seems to have a positive regard for traditional American liberalism when he writes:

    “Traditional liberalism has always acted as a bulwark against this and other regressive ideologies. But now it is politically extinct. Traditional liberalism has given way to the ultra-conservative philosophy of neoliberalism.”

    Traditional liberalism functioned only to protect the system that laid the golden eggs of wealth and power for the capitalist ruling class. It only offered promises of better economic times for working people, and only delivered on these promises when it felt threatened and needed working people to keep their rule intact. As capitalists increasingly bump up against the limits of resource exhaustion and the threats of an unstable climate, they have only working people left to exploit.

  5. Deadbeat said on November 17th, 2010 at 3:17pm #

    Ron Horn is absolute correct. “Traditional” Liberalism or Keynesianism economics was all about STABILIZING Capitalism. It was never about serving the people or transferring power to the people. It was all about maintaining the elites power and privilege by stabilizing Capitalist crises. It only worked because the social, political and economic conditions were present for a brief moment in history but they are no longer. Keynesianism only delayed the enviable but what it did do was to sufficiently weaken the Left that is now in such a state where it has abandoned its own principles. It is time to RECLAIM class consciousness and it is time IMO to reacquaint ourselves with Marxist analysis and Socialists solutions.