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Know Your Enemy: Financial Fascism and its Come-Uppance

Andrew McKillop

21st Century Wire

It’s on everyone’s mind these days, and no wonder. People are concerned it’s happening again.

What is fascism? Depending on which university professor you ask, you will get a different answer. There is a popular quote going around from the late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who is said to have describe it as follows:

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

That was a fair description of the power structure in southern Europe in the early 20th century, but there’s more to it that that.

Fuhrer und Duce in Munchen. Hitler and Mussolini in Munich, Germany, ca. June 1940. Eva Braun Collection. (Foreign Records Seized) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 242-EB-7-38 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 746

Ze Fuhrer und Il Duce in Munchen. Hitler and Mussolini in Munich, Germany, ca. June 1940. Eva Braun Collection. (Foreign Records Seized, Exact Date Shot Unknown, Image Source: Wikicommons)  


Movement or Regime?

Ever since Mussolini died – hung naked upside down and whipped to death in a northern Italian town with his wife in April 1945, the academic battle on the meanings of ‘Fascism’ has raged on, but the major divide among historians and political scientists is to ask whether fascism was a movement, or a regime? Or maybe both, as one of the best Italian historians, Renzo de Felice has argued – saying it started out as a middle class protest movement howling at lost status and down-classing by economic crisis, and then under Benito Mussolini (photo, above) morphed into a full-blown, born-to-fail regime.

De Felice does not call Mussolini a simple and straight opportunist who got lucky, as other historians like Denis Mack Smith argue. The causes of fascism ran deeper – exactly like the rampant and to date triumphal “financialization” of the economy since the 1980s.

From well before 1945, academics and western democratic politicians disputed another key question concerning Mussolini’s Fascism, and the regime it certainly became by the late 1920s – was it deliberately irrational and did it deliberately reject any achievable goal? Was this side of fascism the necessary counterpart of its cult of violence?

Making the comparison with financial fascism of today very easy, the Playstation Economy also has no goal other than rewarding the greed and hubris of its operators – by rigging financial markets they treat like a casino. We can also be sure the financialized economy is anarchic and violent – it destroys businesses, industries and human lives and families on a daily basis, almost whimsically proclaiming “there is no alternative”, but it means no rationale and no goal except the degenerate gamester urgings of its “major players”.

Emotion Versus Content

Among historians and political scientists of the 1930’s it was commonplace to attribute to Fascism a unique irrationality. It was full of emotion, but entirely void of cognitive content. It was nothing like most previous political movements and was a dance in the dark on a moonless night, a dark frolic with the underside of human nature – especially the nature of crowds and mobs. It had only two possible real world outcomes. Violence and war.

Revelers celebrate Thatcher’s death at the Queens Head in Brixton, South London.

The neoliberalism of Britain’s small-sized, but hysterical Mussolini of the 1980s, Lady Margaret Thatcher, shared several of these attributes. In particular it preached the economic irrationality of an imaginary, totally unplanned economy based on roll-the-dice pot luck, driven only by greed. All and any planning, control, sanctions, and rewards other than hard cash… were trash. This frolic with the dark side of human nature was evident during Thatcher’s long reign, as corruption became endemic and she was bundled out of power in 1990 in an Oligarchic night of the long knives drama. Twenty years later, when she was buried at state expense with pomp and circumstance, the event sparked street rage among tens of thousands of Britons – she was hated that much.

Fascists were, and are understood – today as yesterday, as persons who renounce all rational discourse in order to pursue a perverted ideal “glorifying the non-rational”. Their financialized economy is the summit of irrationality, explaining its inefficiency, waste, corruption and non-performance.

The 99.5% of persons who do not operate this circus act, are the losers.

During 1930s, in part due to early sexual liberation and the spread of Freudian psychological theory, some analysts went so far as to insist that “fascism” was only a form of “orgasm anxiety” and a sexual dysfunction that found release in mystical flights of fantasy, and its counterparts of homicidal aggression and the complete negation of rational thought. The fully neoliberalized Playstation Economy of today can easily be interpreted this way, without needing to pay Michael Douglas for his Hollywood smirks and grimaces, but this links closely to a theory of fascism that has continued for 75 years.  Fascism is described by these theorists as “a violent attempt by decaying capitalism to defeat revolution and forcibly freeze the process of its own destruction”.

Thorsten Veblen’s Intuition

Veblen well described and analyzed an earlier 20th century prototype version of today’s financial fascism that destroyed itself in 1929. He called it the “Theory Of The Leisure Class”, a totally parasitic, game-playing class of financial werewolves who were able to seize power because of society’s incredible stupidity and cowardice. Among its then-and-now aspects we find the creation of a new terminology consciously designed to conceal the realities of the economy falling under the mindless anarchic control of a hyper minority, with its inevitable result of class-rule and massive exploitation of the always-growing underclass. Certainly in the mad-mad Charleston years of the 1920s, in the run up to 1929, the appeal of casino capitalism to the uncritical and infantile impulses of the crowd, or mob, was honed into a weapon very like today’s 24/7 “economy shows” on world media. Stocks can only rise! Get in there now! The common theme is the permanent flight from reason.

As Veblen recounts, even in the very late 19th century at the time when J P Morgan existed as a real person, and his bank was not a virtualized card castle of US Federal Reserve puts and calls, the “banksters” were promoted by the media they paid, to the status of mystical and intuitive wizards. In fact their real capabilities and interests were financing World War I. Very soon after, the banksters crowded in to finance Hitler and Mussolini. They knew a good number when they saw it!

Violence and war are always good business for the sick-minded, the criminal and the greedy.

Veblen can also be thanked for suggesting the core “value” of fascism, like that of neoliberalism, is a primitive kind of irrational mysticism, caused by rejection of all existing and previous value bases of western society. The casino Playstation Economy is operated by, and profits a tiny group of criminals and delinquents who have rejected all “Western ideals”. These rejected ideals extend from the early 18th century Enlightenment, through the French and American revolutions, to 19th century Christian Democrats, and of course the Soviet revolutionaries. It is the original and worst Punk Philosophy, comparable to the doom-laden ranting of Jean-Paul Sartre, rather than the more-structured raging of Friedrich Nietsche.

Rather than a rejection of capitalism, which like Hitler he approved of, Mussolini’s fascism strictly avoided interference in the gaming tables of the 1920’s Playstation Economy, and was only interested in and committed to mob-friendly mayhem and inhumanity. When Mussolini’s regime had attained full powers, by the late 1920’s, Benito himself used a set of one-liners which summarized the “real meaning” of fascism.

When he went on campaign swings –  with a certain Winston Churchill from England often accompanying him “from pure admiration”, for his vote-grabbing acumen, he always raised a cheer from the mob when he ended his haranguse with a passionate call for ideas that get rid of the need to think, for those “ideas that dispense with ideas”.

For Margaret Thatcher and the Neolibs the mindless one-liner was “Let the markets decide”, but only when they are fully in the pocket of the financial werewolves. As we know, the markets decide nothing at all – leaving that to the rolling dice and the slot machines flashing today’s winning algorithm.

Generic Fascism

By the end of the twentieth century a not-small number of academics, ranging from historians and sociologists to political economists were convinced that a generic “new political fascism” exists. It can include a long list of recent and present curiosities. These include General Augusto Pinochet’s coup in Chile, the French Front National of Marine Le Pen, Jorg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Russian Liberal Party, the US Tea Party, Italy’s Berlusconi parties and a host of terror groups and fronts, ranging from Timothy McVeigh to Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The bottom line is that the financial counterpart of political fascism – and its strongest ally – is a meaningless parasitic weight on the real economy. But whereas the fascist-hopeful political parties and movements still operating today, like Marine Le Pen in France struggle to offer any shreds of rational credibility in their party programs, and are very simply “permanent opposition” parties unfit for power, this reality is inverted for finance and the economy. In these domains, financial fascism is alive, well, and in total power, operating on a global 24/7 basis. We are living in a time warp. Political fascism, which was powerful in the 1920’s and 1930’s but never since, is almost certainly finished forever but financial fascism is “totally normal” because “there is no alternative”.

One very simple reason the new fascist-hopeful parties and movements cannot get power is they have no platforms – only slogans. They are able to be interpreted as “truly fascist” because of this. What Benito himself called his “paradigmatic Fascism” was only and always a concoction of myths, intuition, instincts, impulse, lust, envy and spite, irrational fears and euphoric hopes – and never a closely argued system based on any detailed analysis of historical, political and economic trends. His “paradigm” was deliberately anti-intellectual.

Financial fascism, we can note, has no theoreticians or ideologists – that is intellectuals – because like political fascism it is anti-intellectual, ranking the “winning streak” trader’s instincts far above the smarmy financial analyst fairy tales that are pumped around the news media, to better fool the mob. To be sure, financial fascism at its highest levels heavily draws on and uses neoliberal rhetoric, to place a shiny “intellectual” carapace on its hard maggot shell with a stillborn mutant insect inside, but its psychopathic greed and anarchic urge to destroy make it impossible for the even the highest -paid apologists to cobble a credible excuse for it.

Extreme Right and Financial Fascism – The Same Combat

The “extreme right”, even at the time of Mussolini’s ascent is and was essentially and irremediably irrational and criminal. The 1980’s onrush of the New Boys who hijacked “the markets” and turned them into fully-fledged 24/7 gaming tables surfed on the back of the double victory of  Mrs Thatcher in England and Ronald Reagan in the US. Their intellectual apologists, the high paid spin doctors producing the propaganda froth they gurgled at the lectern, made sure they included the claim that the coming “rule by the markets” was moved by the highest-possible moral purpose and right reason. In no way was the communication onslaught of the early 1980’s couched as the victory of gambling fever, irrationality and bestiality, sadomasochism and bondage – or rule by simple and stupid lunatics.

Very similar to the onrush of fascist movements taking power in Europe from the 1920’s, both these national “protofascist” movements of the 1980’s in the UK and USA trumpeting “the victory of markets” were bathed in political euphoria. This euphoria can be called the nearest thing to “generic fascism” that exists, and was about the only common factor in the power-grab of Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, Spanish Falangism, Portuguese National Syndicalism, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, and the Romanian Legion of the Archangel Michael, among others.

In our time, any individual or group able to be identified as violent, irrational, antidemocratic, racist, extreme nationalist can be almost instantly called “neofascist”. And the term is pejorative, but has spun its own web of terms like “semi-fascist,”, “protofascist” or “cryptofascist”. Financial fascism, however, only has positive, appreciative and advantageous synonyms – because “there is no alternative”. These synonyms for example include “financial engineering”, “market mindedness”, “opportunity seeking”, but never shift to pejorative, because of the all-out total power taken by the financial fascists.

Some political analysts go further, arguing that the absolute victory of “the markets” has relegated the need for extreme right political parties to take power themselves. Financial fascism is therefore the surrogate for the extreme right, enabling it to amuse and bemuse the mob with the childlike, absurd politics of, for example, Sarah Palin (photo, left) in the US, or Marine Le Pen in France. In turn, this has further stripped away any meaning from the term “political fascism”, let alone its ability to take power.

We therefore find a 60-year gap or delay in the return of fascist power in western societies, this time under the wraps of “no alternative” rule by the disembodied and unquestionable, infallible markets. Controlling the economy – or at least sucking its lifeblood – can be seen as a highly acceptable substitute for complete political power, operated by unreliable hysterics like Mussolini, Hitler or even Mrs Margaret Thatcher. Veblen’s “leisure class” is most certainly happier today than in the 1930’s.

Far Beyond Its Reach

“Fascism” has devolved or sublimated itself into crowd-hysteria sub-politics of the Sarah Palin sort, while the real business of fascism operates on a 24/7 basis rigging “the markets”.

Both Mussolini, and to an initially lower degree Hitler, were disastrous for their respective economies – at least as disastrous as Stalin’s dark twin of fascism, called Stalinism to distinguish it from Marxism or Leninism, was for the Russian economy.  The basic problem is simple – the economy does not run like a roulette wheel or the throw of the dice, and also does not obey like a dog that is barked at. The success of financial fascism – its armor plated wall of political patronage by crony government – has to be looked at as more than simply paying the crony politicians backhanders and under-the-table gifts, and big-salary perks as “advisers” when they quit the greasy pole of politics.

Some economic historians and political analysts claim that early 1980’s “protofascist” politics in the US and UK was so devoid of meaning – like its Mussolini forebear – that the lightning rapid or “seamless” takeover of firstly financial markets, then the economy held to ransom by the markets, was able to dispense with any ideological trappings. It was, according to some, a vast psychopathic leap in the dark – easy to compare with Mao Zedong’s disastrous Cultural Revolution. In other words, the revolutionary takeover of the western economy, at the time accounting for 66% of the global economy, by totally dominating and perverting its financial markets was ultra rapid and total. It was an overnight coup, rather than a long revolution.

Mao most certainly had to backtrack within 6 years from the start of his disaster, leaving as many as 40 million Chinese dead – mostly from simple starvation. He was bundled out of power, and “guided capitalist”  markets were ushered in. Like the incredibly fast takeover operated by The Leisure Class from the 1980’s, nobody had guessed how far – and how far out of control – the new thing would go. Mao’s cultural revolution, like financial fascism had become a conceptual term whose grasp far exceeded its reach. It was total — and it was nothing.

Total Power – Unchallenged

To be sure, many persons including left-wing and socialist intellectuals like to believe that financial fascism, at least in the 1980’s, might have had ideological convictions, for example an “extreme right agenda” but as already noted above concerning the real role model of financial fascism – Mussolini’s laughable play-act of “total power” – the extreme right is surpassed, replaced and superseded by fascism. It is a higher stage of mass degeneracy.

Since 2008, even village idiots can surmise that “all might not be well” in the economy and “the markets”, more rigged and more ridiculous than ever. Even village idiot sheeple can whimper about the security of their savings – and even their entire bank account which might be “bailed in” if financial werewolves decide that is necessary to keep the gaming chips flowing into their pinball machines and roulette wheels of “the markets”. Financial fascism has overreached.

What happens next is almost surely and certainly “the crash”. The werewolves think this is a neat way to create very cheap, and abundant gaming chips for another round of play.

We can hope these criminals, psychopaths and delinquents are treated this time exactly as they should be – like Mussolini and his wife in April 1945.

Fascism is very real indeed, even if people disagree on the definition. Everyone will have their own take on the ‘F WORD’, so this is by no means a closed discussion.


READ MORE FINANCIAL NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Financial Files 



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