Fascism and Big Business
First Edition, 1939
(notes are from 1975 edition, Anchor Foundation – Monad Press)
In the later edition of the book, Guerin states that, (I’m summarizing) while the original book was written before the full-blown effects of fascism took place, the book was written in order to analyze the forces which created fascism in Germany and Italy and thus does not really need to be updated. In a nutshell, Guerin explains that big business, particulary heavy industry, used the state to extend profits – creating a wartime economy in peace time. This unsustainable move forces one down a dead-end road and combines with other forces to provide lethal combinations. Guerin discusses numerous aspects of Fascism, but the backbone of his argument seems to be that the use of the state for corporate profit leads one into a viscious downward spiral. The selections here emphasize that aspect of his text.
“The big ‘democracies do not always tell the truth. They fought Hitler, not, as they claim today, because of the authoritarian and brutal form of the National Socialist regime, but because German imperialism, at a given moment, dared to dispute with them the hegemony of the world. It has been too often forgotten that Hitler was hoisted to power with the blessings of the international bourgeousie. During the first years of his rule, Anglo-American capitalism from the British atistocracy to Henry Ford gave him, according to all evidence, their support. They viewed him as the ‘strong man’ who alone was capable of re-establishing order in Europe and saving the continent form Bolshevism.
Only much later, when the capitalists of the ‘democratic’ countries found their interests, their markets, their sources of raw materials menaced by the irresistible expansion of German imperialism, did they start to preach against National Socialism, to denounce it as ‘immoral’ and ‘un-Christian.'”(p. 12)
“When fascism takes power, overflowing with gratitude for big business which financed it, its words and its deeds exhale the purest sort of laisser-faire economic doctrine. It announces its intention of favoring and protecting in every possible way private property and individual initiative. It rejects with horror the idea that the state might meddle in production. But the fascist state stands aside only so long as Messieurs Capitalists request it not to interfere in their private affairs. It imposes on them the lightest possible taxes, the mos tenuous sort of control. But it is always ready to come running whenever these gentlemen cannot pull through by themeselves. In any such crisis, it is immediately at their service, ‘socializing’ their losses, refloating their enterprises, and keeping them alive with its orders.
In short, the course of events soon forces fascism to give its program a serious wrench. Carried away by its eagerness to resurrect big business profits, it finds itself embarked, above all in Germany, on a huge armament program. Fascism speedily gets caught up in a system of wheels within wheels which insensibly conducts it from laisser-faire capitalism to autarky and a wartime economy.” (p. 209)
Guerin then proceeds to give 14 points, with specific examples for each within both Italy and Germany, in his Chapter “Fascism in Power: Economic Policy”. I have summarized them below:
1. Fascism, once in power, hastens to restore to private capitalism a number of monopolies held/controlled by the state.
2. Fascist state helps industrialists ‘make a profit’ by granting them all sorts of tax exemptions.
3. Fascist state helps industrialists raise sales prices artificially by forbidding, through legislation, establishment of new industries – that is to say, by relieving them of all new competition. The consumer pays.
4. Fascist stat helps industrialists raise sales price artificially – on the backs of consumers – by legislation forcing ‘nonconforming’ manufracturers to enter ‘compulsory agreements.’ Through trade agreements or state coercion if necessary.
5. Fascist state refloats sinking enterprise with ‘temporary’ help. Fascist state takes risk/capital to expand business base.
6. Fascist state replaces missing consumers and investments with ‘great works’ and national defense (leading to a war economy).
7. To conceal overspending, fascist state does not issue bank notes (perception could cause rampant inflation), instead hides deficit with commercial paper and short-term bonds.
8. As purchasing power is lessened, increased reliance on police terror, secrecy, wall around national currency.
9. This leads to a wall around the national economy, blockade.
10. A war economy in peace time is setup. The fascist state effectively controls all (industry (as customer of), trade, labor, resources, private savings).
11. Capitalists are those truly in control, as ‘rulers of the fascist state’ they formally condemn and repudiate all ‘socializing’ tendencies.
12. Impression forms among capitalists that regime has passed its prime (state can no longer afford to service them as before).
13. Markets become smaller, while industry/resources become more expensive.
14. The middle classes, the ones who ‘put fascism in power’, are simply bled white.
“…For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But empire demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice: this fact explains many aspects of the practical working of the regime, the character of many forces in the State, and the necessarily severe measures which must be taken against those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of Italy in the twentieth century, and would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology of the nineteenth century – repudiated wheresoever there has been the courage to undertake great experiments of social and political transformation; for never before has the nation stood more in need of authority, of direction and order. If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs which point to Fascism as the characteristic doctrine of our time. For if a doctrine must be a living thing, this is proved by the fact that Fascism has created a living faith; and that this faith is very powerful in the minds of men is demonstrated by those who have suffered and died for it.” Mussolini http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.html
“My whole argument is in a sense a preventive one, because I’m not suggesting that this kind of fascism currently exists, only that the trends and the policies suggest the importance of preventing it from existing…. If we are confronting fascism, what do we know from history about resisting it? It’s difficult. (Laughter.) It’s very difficult, because the methods and the mentality of those who are controlling and developing this kind of politics of domination are such that they have no willingness to accommodate their adversaries. So there’s no room for politics, in a way. And that makes it . . . it almost certainly drives the conflict toward a collision of extremes.” Richard Falk http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/48/articles/early_signs_of_fascism.html
a little guerin info: http://www.eskimo.com/~recall/bleed/sinners/GuerinDaniel.htm
right wing explan. of economic fascism
other ‘compare’ to fascism articles: