Salon has published a superb piece by Michael Lind on the undeniable linkages between libertarianism and fascism
. This supremely important article is more than a must-read: It's a must-pass-around-to-everyone-you-know.
Lind exposes the right-wing's ongoing "big lie"propaganda campaign, which is designed to create the false impression that fascism was a left-wing phenomenon. This nonsense -- relentlessly pushed by Glenn Beck and others -- flies in the face of virtually every scholarly book ever written about fascist Italy and Germany. It flies in the face of every newspaper and magazine article about fascism printed during that period. Fascism had widespread support in the U.S. before Pearl Harbor -- and all of those supporters (Ford, DuPont, Hearst, McCormick, etc.) were conservative capitalists.
Henry Ford, libertarian hero to the Birchers and the Tea Partiers, was the man who, in essence, created
Hitler. That's not a hyperbolic statement, as all readers of Poole's invaluable Who Financed Hitler?
Yet this big lie of "liberal fascism" is now believed by a generation of uneducated young idiots whose ideas about history have been shaped by professional liars and right-wing crackpots.
Why have the big-money funders of the libertarian conspiracy -- and that is precisely
the correct word to use, so let's not shrink from it -- fixated on this outrageous falsification? To hide the fact that they are themselves fascist
. Libertarians have admired and supported fascism from the very beginning.
Given their professed interest in admirers of Mussolini, it is curious that American conservatives and libertarians have not seen fit to discuss the view of fascism held by one of the heroes of modern American libertarianism, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. In his book "Liberalism," published in 1927 after Mussolini had seized power in Italy, Mises wrote:
It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aimed at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has for the moment saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history.Friedrich von Hayek, who was, along with von Mises, one of the patron saints of modern libertarianism, was as infatuated with the Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet as von Mises was with Mussolini...
Like Friedman, Hayek glimpsed in Pinochet the avatar of true freedom, who would rule as a dictator only for a "transitional period," only as long as needed to reverse decades of state regulation. "My personal preference," he told a Chilean interviewer, "leans toward a liberal [i.e. libertarian] dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism." In a letter to the London Times he defended the junta, reporting that he had "not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende." Of course, the thousands executed and tens of thousands tortured by Pinochet’s regime weren’t talking.
Lind does not mention that one of the key torture centers was Colonia Dignidad
, a fascist cult compound run by a degenerate Nazi psychopath and child molester named Paul Schaeffer. (The truly demonic Schaeffer died just last year.) It is perfectly fair to characterize Pinochet's Chile as a continuation of Hitler's Reich.
Yet Pinochet's key economic adviser was libertarian hero Milton Friedman -- whose libertarian grandson Patri Friedman is one of the few libertarians honest enough to proclaim openly what most of them think in private: That libertarianism and democracy cannot be reconciled
Democracy Is Not The Answer
Democracy is the current industry standard political system, but unfortunately it is ill-suited for a libertarian state. It has substantial systemic flaws, which are well-covered elsewhere, and it poses major problems specifically for libertarians:
1) Most people are not by nature libertarians. David Nolan reports that surveys show at most 16% of people have libertarian beliefs. Nolan, the man who founded the Libertarian Party back in 1971, now calls for libertarians to give up on the strategy of electing candidates!
Back to Lind:
One of the members of Pinochet’s cabinet, Jose Piñera, has enjoyed a second career at the leading American libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, and is credited with having influenced George W. Bush’s failed attempt to partly privatize Social Security in America.
When it comes to American history, libertarians tend retrospectively to side with the Confederacy against the Union. Yes, yes, the South had slavery -- but it also had low tariffs, while Abraham Lincoln's free labor North was protectionist. Surely the tariff was a greater evil than slavery.
As long-time readers know, I have argued that the confederacy was the first fascist state. It was certainly not a democracy -- and it never would have transformed into one.
Slavery is a worse problem today than in Lincoln's time. Slavery does not exist in Western Europe, in democratic states with traditions of regulating capitalism. Slavery exists only where governments are weak -- where libertarianism, or something close to it, reigns.
The logic of unregulated capitalism is exploitation, and the ultimate exploited laborer is the slave. Thus, libertarianism inevitably creates slavery
As Ha-Joon Chang demonstrated in his book Bad Samaritans
, Hamilton's high tariff policy was the single most important element in American prosperity during the 19th century.
Back to Lind:
Today’s libertarians claim to be the heirs of the classical liberals of the 19th century. Without exception the great thinkers of classical liberalism, like Benjamin Constant, Thomas Babington Macaulay and John Stuart Mill, viewed universal suffrage democracy as a threat to property rights and capitalism.
Libertarianism is simply the demand by all the world's Jack the Rippers to do their work without the hindrance of laws against homicide. I'll repeat a point made in a previous post...
Have you noticed that even low-level capitalists have been turning into bigger assholes lately? When I was young, successful people tended to consider themselves lucky bastards. If they saw a homeless person, they might mutter "There, but for the grace of God..."
Now they think: "I AM God."
They are a race of unloving, unmerciful gods, striding the earth and laughing at the miseries of the unworthy. They are the Superior Beings; all others must be treated ruthlessly.
In their minds, neither luck nor birth had anything to do with their success. In honest moments, they even forego the pretense that they earned their millions through hard work (because they know that no-one works harder than the working class). They got what they got through a greater capacity for ruthlessness. And they're damned proud of it, fuck you very much.
Libertarian propaganda -- all of that "death to altruism; selfishness is the only true virtue" crap -- has been directed primarily toward this class. And it has worked.
I made an error in my opening paragraph. Libertarianism and fascism are not "linked." They are equivalent.