Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The libertarian conspiracy is a fascist menace

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? can verify.

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,[2] 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 PiƱera, 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.


b said...

Not only low-level capitalists but low-level officials and customer service corporals etc. - indeed (let's not deny it!) even many workers who have to deal with 'the public' - have become much shittier in England than they were 10-20 years ago.

Most of what they say, if you act anything other than a total doormat, has a sarcastic ring to it, implying that you are the stupidest moron who might possibly exist. You are wasting their time. You are an idiot. Stop suggesting that they act reasonably or think about something.

Of course, this is how they themselves get treated by their managers. They can't answer back to their pigshit-stupid managers, or they'd get the sack.

The tone is unmistakably that of the *school-teacher* (almost all of whom in England are utter snobs), with increasing elements of 'moneylender' mixed in.

Mr. Mike said...

More things you won't find out about if you go to the print and broadcast media for your information.

How can people not do anything but vote against their self-interest with the likes of a CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News?

Keep up the good work, Joe. Thanks.

Tiro said...

There are many things that you and I have always disagreed on. Libertarianism is not one of them. Nice post.

shoreline said...

Good article. And on a similar note, this July article by Mark Ames at The eXiled about a recent data dump of some 60's era FBI files may be of interest. Key quote: "The FBI puts it in writing that the libertarians are not to be subjected to the sorts of FBI surveillance, infiltration, and investigation tactics used on every other radical organization in the country."

Radicals, Imbeciles & FBI Stooges: From Jerry Rubin To Rich Fink, We've Reached Rock-Bottom, Baby!

Kathleen said...

Thanks for referencing the Pooles' book "Who Financed Hitler". The authors are a brother and sister from Cincinnati. I read the book in the 80's and the book is critical to understanding not only the past but "how things work" today.

Gus said...

I was intrigued by Libertarianism during the Bush years......but I soon realized that it was incompatible with Democracy. In essence, it is like so many other ideologies that seem good on paper, but completely ignore reality and human nature (Communism is the best example on the Left of this). It would be wonderful if we could live in peace and harmony without any government or laws or monopolies or greed or violence....but this is reality, not fiction. Sadly, we need laws and regulations, and a government with the power to enforce them. What we don't need, that we have now, is a government not accountable to it's own laws.

BC said...

but I soon realized that it was incompatible with Democracy.

You "soon realized"? No offense (sincerely), but how old are you? Democracy's conflict with individual liberty is a long-chronicled, well-established point. It's been a basic philosophical staple for more than a millennium.

Indeed, it's the reason America's founders established a constitutional republic, intended to temper and defang democracy's role.*

So then the real question becomes: Why do you value "democracy" over liberty? Why, in other words, do you value a particular mechanical means over a particular moral end?

Anonymous said...

Social circumstances and rationality: some lessons from Adam Smith why we may not all be equally sovereign
"The wealthy (and probably educated) self-interested individual will have sufficient understanding of the social system to realize that wealth accumulation will provide him with the rank and reputation (the bettering of his condition) he seeks and will also generate the sense of social harmony he desires. A poor (and probably uneducated) self-interested individual is in a very different position.

On the one hand, he is barely in the position to derive any pleasure of harmony by feeling sympathy with his fellow humans. "Before we can feel much for others," writes Smith, "we must in some measure be at ease ourselves. If our own misery pinches us very severely, we have no leisure to attend to that of our neighbour: and all savages are too much occupied with their own wants and necessities, to give much attention to those of another person" (TMS: 205)."
-> http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0254/is_4_64/ai_n15893402/pg_7/?tag=mantle_skin;content

Anonymous said...

"The libertarian conspiracy is a fascist menace"
-> vc.vs.

Marc McKenzie said...

Great post, Joe. Thanks for this.

Interesting that this was posted on Salon...since that's the site that hosts one of the most well-known libertarians around, Glenn Greenwald.

And considering that this was posted around the same time that Ron Paul, one of the modern libertarian heroes, was calling for the end of FEMA and Federal disaster relief while Hurricane Irene was crawling up the East Coast causing billions of dollars worth of damage....I'd say it was prescient.

More like this. I disagree with you about Obama, but in regards to the threat of the modern GOP and the self-immolating actions of some of the Left, I'm on the same page with you.

Anonymous said...

"DER Spiegel" is in with reporting on the subject of
right-fingers and islamophobism and BIG bussiness.in USA