Il Duce, Redux? By Quin Hillyer

    Trying to handle the crisis, the Fascist government nationalized the holdings of large banks which had accrued significant industrial securities. The government also issued new securities to provide a source of credit for the banks and began enlisting the help of various cartels…. The government offered recognition and support to these organizations in exchange for promises that they would manipulate prices in accordance with government priorities. A number of mixed entities were formed… whose purpose it was to bring together representatives of the government and of the major businesses.… This economic model based on a partnership between government and business was soon extended to the political sphere, in what came to be known as corporatism.… The Fascists began to impose significant tariffs and other trade barriers.… Various banking and industrial companies were financially supported by the state.… [The national leader] created the [New Governmental Entity]….[which soon] controlled 20% of [the nation’s] industry through government-linked companies.… [The national leader] also adopted a Keynesian policy of government spending on public works to stimulate the economy.… Public works spending tripled to overtake defense spending as the largest item of government expenditure.

As much as that description sounds like U.S. government policy begun under George W. Bush and now greatly expanding under Barack Obama, the above passage of course describes the economics of fascist Italy in the 1930s, as summed up by Wikipedia. (A quick Google search produces plenty of similar summaries of “economic fascism.”) Furthermore, “The Fascist conception of life,” Mussolini wrote, “stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual.”

Obama came close to those same sentiments in his most recent press conference: “But one of the most important lessons to learn from this crisis is that our economy only works if we recognize that we’re all in this together, that we all have responsibilities to each other and to our country…. We’ll recover from this recession, but it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that, when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interest to the wider set of obligations we have toward each other, that’s when we succeed, that’s when we prosper, and that’s what is needed right now.”

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