Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 2: Jackbooted thugs (summary)

Jackbooted thugs (summary) (response)
The Fascist Threat, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Day 2 of Robert Wenzel's 30 Day Reading List on Libertarianism

Day 0: The Libertarian catechism

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In "The Fascist Threat," Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. argues that the United States, and indeed the West in general, is literally fascist, properly defined, and the remedy is not minarchism but absolute anarchism, the abolition of the State as an institution. Rockwell offers a definition of fascism: a government that "cartelizes the private sector, centrally plans the economy to subsidize producers, exalts the police State as the source of order, denies fundamental rights and liberties to individuals, and makes the executive State the unlimited master of society." He asserts there are eight "marks" of fascism:(1) totalitarian and unrestrained government, (2) a personality-based dictatorship, (3) bureaucratically managed capitalism, (4) cartel-based, (5) autarkic (economically self-sufficient), (6) uses borrowing, (7) militaristic, and (8) imperialistic. In his second definition, Llewellyn focuses on the United States, and claims that our government fulfills each of those criteria. Rockwell quotes Mussolini: "All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State,"* and, "The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative."** Mussolini's conception of the state is, according to Rockwell, the "prevailing ideology in the United States today."* Unlike some other Libertarians, Rockwell acknowledges that there are substantive differences between left-wing and right-wing totalitarianism, between socialism and communism, and asserts that the variety of totalitarianism we observe in the West is definitely of a right-wing character. Unlike his understanding of socialism, fascism preserves nationalism, private property, income inequality, and existing social institutions such as religion, marriage, and family; fascism just places these institutions under the absolute control of the State. Rockwell believes, however, that millions of people are beginning to resist fascism. Perhaps, all is not lost.

*This quotation appears to be apocryphal, or it is a snippet from some work that has not been translated from the Italian. It seems, however, a reasonably accurate summary of Mussolini's work, "The Doctrine of Fascism," 1932.

**Mussolini, "The Doctrine of Fascism," 1932

Not only is the Fascist State oppressive and tyrannical, it is ineffective. Our public infrastructure is "falling apart" because they are in the charge of the State. We have unemployment because the State has made employment too expensive. The State just spends, borrows, and creates fake money. The State "promised security, prosperity, and peace; it has given us fear, poverty, war, and death." What the State creates cannot hold a candle to beauty and utility of "the world created by the private sector." If we want to build a better society, we have to do it ourselves, and the only thing standing in our way is the State.

Rockwell's cure for fascism is outright anarchism. Rockwell rejects minarchism: The conception of the State as the "night watchman" is "woefully naive." Once we give an institution a monopoly on force, "No constitution, no election, no social contract will check his power." The only cure is to distribute coercive power: "The night watchman must be removed and his powers distributed within and among the whole population, and they should be governed by the same forces that bring us all the blessings the material world affords us . . . through peaceful human cooperation." It is possible to resist fascism because all the fascists have are guns, but guns are no match for a great idea whose time has come.

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