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Italics are mine-Ed

by Sam Smith

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has accused artist Hans
Haacke of "trivializing the Holocaust" by creating analogies between Mayor
Giuliani and Adolph Hitler. Said Foxman, the work "denigrates the memory
of six million Jews and others who were killed by the Nazis."

Foxman's contribution to the Giuliani campaign illustrates the growing
confusion over the nature of fascism, spurred in no small part by a form of
historical revisionism that essentially reduces the Second World War to a
matter of anti-Semitism. In some ways this revisionism is more dangerous
than the claim that the Holocaust never happened, since the denials are
safely on the fringe while the myth that fascism is inexorably linked to anti-
Semitism is widely held.

One of the reasons we have such difficulty perceiving our current
conditions is our aversion to this single word: fascism. While there is no
hesitation by politicians to draw parallels with the Holocaust to justify
whatever foreign adventure appeals to them, or for the media to make
similar analogies at the drop of swastika on a wall, we seem only able to
understand -- or even mention -- the climax of fascism rather than its
genesis. Why this reluctance? Perhaps it is because we are much closer to
the latter than to the former.

In any case, it is one of the most dangerous forms of political myopia in
which to indulge. Italians, who invented the term fascism, also called it the
estato corporativo: the corporatist state. Orwell rightly described fascism
as being an extension of capitalism. It is an economy in which the
government serves the interests of oligopolies, a state in which large
corporations have the powers that in a democracy devolve to the citizen.
Today, it is no exaggeration to call our economy corporatist, which has
been described by British academics R.E. Pahl and J. T. Winkler as a system
in which the government guides privately owned businesses towards order,
unity, nationalism and success

"Let us not mince words, they said. "Corporatism is fascism with a human
face." The Nazis had their own word for it: wehrwirtschaft, semantically
linking wehr (for defense, bulwark, weapon) with wirtshaft (for
housekeeping, domestic economy, husbandry) to describe an economy
based on the assumption of warfare. The concept was not new, however.
William Shirer points out in The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich that
18th and 19th century Prussia devoted 70% of its revenue to the army and
"that nation's whole economy was always regarded as primarily an
instrument not of the people's welfare but of military policy." In Hitler's
Germany even the pogroms were part of national economic planning,
seizing Jewish shops and companies and replacing Jewish workers with the
Ayrian unemployed.

Hitler argued that "private enterprise cannot be maintained in a
democracy," and denounced "the freedom to starve," in a country which
had known as many as six million without jobs. Wrote William Shirer, "In
taking away that last freedom, Hitler assured himself of the support of the
working class."

The link between business and fascism was clear to German corporatists.
Auschwitz was not just a way to get rid of Jews, it was also a major source
of cheap labor. As Richard Rubenstein points out in The Cunning of
History, "I.G. Farben's decision to locate at Auschwitz was based upon the
very same criteria by which contemporary multinational corporations
relocate their plants in utter indifference to the social consequences of
such moves.
" I.G. Farben invested over a billion dollars in today's money at Auschwitz and, thanks to the endless supply of labor, adopted a policy of
deliberately working the Jewish slaves to death. In such ways do
economics and freedom become intertwined.

Those who think it can't happen here should consider that four days before Mussolini became premier, he met with a group of industrialists and assured them that his aim "was to reestablish discipline within the factories and that no outlandish experiments .... would be carried out." In Friendly Fascism, Bertram Gross notes that Mussolini also won "the friendship, support or qualified approval" of the American ambassador, Cornelius Vanderbilt,
Thomas Lamont, many newspapers and magazine publishers, the majority of
business journals, and quite a sprinkling of liberals, including some
associated with both the Nation and The New Republic. "

Orwell understood fascism. One of the characteristics of his inner party,
the ten percent who controlled the rest, was that there was no sexual or
racial discrimination. He understood that ethnic eradication, while
characteristic of nazism, was not required for fascism. Even earlier, Aldous
Huxley set up a similar non-discriminatory dystopia in Brave New World.

In fact, one of the characteristics of the modern propaganda state is the
use of ethnic and sexual iconography to cover its tracks. Thus Richard
Nixon was slurring Jews in Oval Office conversations even as he set a new
record in their high-level appointments. And W.J. Clinton was called our
first black president by Toni Morrison even as the government was sending
young black males to prison in unprecedented numbers.

There is something else about fascism that we miss: it requires a modern,
technocratic society. John Ralston Saul has written:

* * * The Holocaust was the result of a perfectly rational argument -- given what reason had become -- that was self-justifying and hermetically sealed.
There is, therefore, nothing surprising about the fact that the meeting
called to decide on "the final solution" was a gathering mainly of senior
ministerial representatives. Technocrats. Nor is it surprising that [the]
Wansee Conference lasted only an hour -- one meeting among many for
those present -- and turned entirely on the modalities for administering
the solutions .... The massacre was indeed 'managed,' even 'well managed.'
It had the clean efficiency of a Harvard case study
* * *

Marshall Rosenberg, who teaches non-violent communication, says that in
reading psychological interviews with Nazi war criminals what struck him
was not their abnormality, but that they used a language that denied
choice: "should," "one must," "have to." For example, Adolph Eichmann was
asked, "Was it difficult for you to send these tens of thousands of people
their death?" Eichmann replied, "To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our
language made it easy."

Asked to explain, Eichmann said, "My fellow officers and I coined our own
name for our language. We called it amtssprache -- 'office talk.'" In office
talk "you deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody says, 'Why did
you do it?' you say, 'I had to.' 'Why did you have to?' 'Superiors' orders.
Company policy. It's the law.'"

Yet for all the words we have devoted to the Holocaust, go into almost any
bookstore and you'll find far more works on how to manage, manipulate
and control others - and how to use "office talk" -- than you will on how to
practice the skills of a free citizen.

The most important lessons of the Holocaust are simply missed. Among
these, as Richard Rubenstein has pointed out, is that it could only have
been carried out by "an advanced political community with a highly
trained, tightly disciplined police and civil service bureaucracy
." In The
Cunning of History, Rubenstein also finds uncomfortable parallels between
the Nazis and their opponents, of which we are being now reminded with
recent questions about the role of the Vatican and the Swiss during WWII.
For example, a Hungarian Jewish emissary meets with Lord Moyne, the
British High Commissioner in Egypt in 1944 and suggests that the Nazis might
be willing to save one million Hungarian Jews in return for military supplies.
Lord Moyne's reply: "What shall I do with those million Jews? Where shall I
put them

Writes Rubenstein: "The British government was by no means adverse to
the 'final solution' as long as the Germans did most of the work
." For both
countries, it had become a bureaucratic problem, one that Rubenstein
suggests we understand "as the expression of some of the most profound
tendencies of Western civilization in the 20th century."How many school
children are taught that, worldwide, wars in the past century killed
somewhere between 100 and 150 million people? In World War I alone the
death toll was around ten million. All this, including the Holocaust, was
driven by a culture of modernity that so changed the power of institutions
over the individual that the latter would become what Erich Fromm called
home mechanicus, "attracted to all that is mechanical and inclined against
all that is alive." Becoming, in fact, a part of the machinery -- willing to kill
or to die just to keep it running.

Thus, with Auschwitz-like efficiency, over 6,000 people perished every day
during World War I for 1,500 days. Rubenstein recounts that on the first
day of the Battle of the Somme, the British lost 60,000 men and half of the
officers assigned to them. But the bureaucratic internal logic of the war
did not falter at all; over the next six months, more than a million British,
French and German soldiers would lose their lives. The total British
advance: six miles. No one in that war was a person anymore.

Milton Mayer, a Jewish journalist, who wrote a book about ordinary Nazis,
They Thought They Were Free, concluded:

Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany ~ It was what most
Germans wanted -- or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion,
came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it. I came back
home a little afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get,
and like, under pressure of combined reality and illusions. I felt -- and feel
-- that it was not German Man that I had met, but Man. He happened to be
in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here, under certain
conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.

Giuliani's politics contain proto-fascist elements. We should not hide from
this fact. The discussion of Giuliani and fascism is also pertinent for local
historical reasons. During the rise of Mussolini, more than a few New York
City Italians supported the fascist dictator. Of course, this same
community produced such progressives as Fiorello La Guardia and Vito
Marcantonio. This is a sensitive subject, witness the change from the New
York City Historical Society's frank depiction of the intracultural struggle in
its exhibit on Italians in NY to a post-exhibit mealy-mouthed summary on its
web site which reads: "The 1933 election of reform candidate Fiorello La
Guardia as mayor of New York reflected the strength of Italian voters. Like
any community, however, Italian-Americans are not monolithic in their
political views. The rise of European Fascism created significant political
divisions among New York's Italian population. Yet, when called upon,
civilians organized behind the war effort, staging countless rallies, war
bond drives, Red Cross efforts and youth enlistment campaigns."

The Italian-American right is not the only story shoved down the memory
hole. How many know, for example, that 21% of the initial votes for
Republican mayor Fiorello LaGuardia came from the left-wing American
Labor Party? Where would Giuliani have fallen in this political divide? Hardly
on the side of LaGuardia.

These are matters worth discussing frankly. Let Giuliani explain how he
differs with the fascist idea, and not hide behind Abraham Foxman's coat
tails. Let's debate the fascistic side of both the Clintons and Giuliani. Or
are we now a nation that permits "****" on cable TV but not "fascism" in an
art museum? If so, we are finished, whatever we call it.


An excerpt from "Shadows of Hope" by Sam Smith
Indiana University Press, 1994

Throughout such Clinton programs as healthcare there is persistent
attention to the needs of big business. This is not surprising; in a little
state like Arkansas large corporations have a lot of say and politicians, if
they wish to stay such, listen closely. At the local level this can lead to
considerable corruption, but applied to a whole nation it does far more
than pervert or cheat the system, it starts to transform it. When one adds
up the administration's approach to NAFTA, health care, research &
development and technology, it is clear that Clinton has reversed the
traditional Democratic idea that the poor need help and the corporations
need regulation.

There is, for example, the new economic council, modeled, significantly,
on the national security council. There is the extraordinary (for a
Democrat) obeisance to the concerns of big business in health care and
trade. There is the shaky assumption that the government may intervene
at will in the marketplace, the better to help those in the corporate world
who deserve to be helped.

The idea of turning technology centers into a sort of agricultural
extension service for industrialists is a case in point. The potential for
scandal and waste in this proposal seems virtually limitless, presenting, for
example, the opportunity to emulate the situation in Clark County, Nevada,
where there are 40 farmers and 13 federal agricultural agents.

Clinton's argument that such centers are needed to increase American
productivity wavers on a number of grounds. First, the idea that the
government is an efficient incubator of ideas and innovations lacks
evidence. Second, these centers have the potential of becoming the
equivalent of military bases; God help the politician who tries to close one.

Third, economist Robert L. Samuelson has noted in Newsweek that
business investment, as a percent of gross domestic product, was higher in
the 1980s than in the 1970s and nearly 30% higher than in the 1950s.
Samuelson also said that research and development -- which Clinton wants
to subsidize heavily -- jumped dramatically in the 1980s, up 52% compared
to the 12% gain in the previous decade.

Fourth, despite Clinton's oft-expressed concerns about productivity, the
truth is that since 1980 productivity has outstripped real wages. In 1991-92,
in fact, real wages went up only 6/10 of one percent annually while
productivity increased 2.7%. Economist Tony Riley told Fortune that the
trend would continue through the nineties and that "a weak labor market
makes it easy for employers to keep the fruits of productivity growth for

Finally, the McKinsey Global Institute pointed out in a report written by a
number of longtime Democrats that the average US factory worker already
produces 25% more per hour than a worker in Japan or Germany. And
according to Peter Drucker, American workers produce 50 times more per
hour than they did 80 years ago. In fact, American productivity is one of
the main reasons for our chronic unemployment, a problem much more
likely to be solved by a shorter work-week than by creating 170
government-funded feeding troughs for corporate America.

My emphasis below:
The pattern for such ideas comes from the defense industry. While this
industry is often attacked for waste and fraud, it is in one sense immensely
efficient: it has made itself the major welfare recipient of the United
States government. As described by Pentagon whistleblower Ernest
Fitzgerald in The Pentagonists:

"The privileged Pentagon contracting corporations took for granted they
would give to their government customer in accordance with their ability,
or their mood of the moment. The grateful government would see to it
that the ever-malleable contracts were changed to conform to the giants'
actual products. And the big corporations would be compensated in
accordance with their need, as documented by their actual spending.

As early as the 70s the Pentagon-industry buddy system began having spin-
off effects. Jimmy Carter established an Executive Interchange Program --
under which industry officials would be seconded to the government in an
example of what Fitzgerald called "institutionalized conflict of interest."
Carter put it like this:

"Through this effort, both the public and the private sectors jointly
contribute to great sensitivity and responsiveness in the interest of all
Americans . . .Boundary lines between government and business are
blurring. The activities of both have become increasingly similar."

The long-standing sweetheart deal between government and the defense
industry was soon to be threatened by the end of the Cold War.
Something had to be done. On Oct. 19, 1987, the New York Times
reported that a Defense Department advisory board had recommended
that the Pentagon take "a more assertive role in setting economic policy
to head off an increasing loss of technological leadership to both our allies
and adversaries.
" As the Times euphemistically put it, "The plan would
inject the military into unfamiliar policy arenas.

The plan of the Defense Science Board, a collection of defense
contractors in industry and academia headed by Robert A. Fuhrman,
president of Lockheed, called for the creation of an "industrial policy
council" which would be headed by the president's national security
advisor. This body, according to the Times, "would recommend policies to
bolster industries that support the military." The defense secretary would
also become a member of this civilian economic policy council.

The Times also noted other thinking along these lines:

"The Pentagon is beginning to argue for broad industrial policies that
would benefit high-technology industries as a whole, hoping that the
rewards would reach sectors of the economy that directly serve the

Interestingly, the report was released only a few weeks before Margaret
Thatcher declared the end of the Cold War, a view then at least partially
shared by Reagan and Bush. The industrial policy report offered hope to a
military establishment that saw the raison d'etre of an evil empire being
swept out by glasnost. We now needed to maintain a strong defense not
only to protect ourselves against our adversaries but against our allies as

The report came at the end of an administration that had beatified the
"free market economy." To those who read the Reaganites' dicta instead of
their lips, however, it was clear that what Reagan was talking about was
anything but a free market economy
. And Reagan was not alone. There was broad acceptance in boardrooms and in Washington that capitalism needed to be better organized.

Reagan was not the first national leader to move in such a direction. In a
speech in 1920 Benito Mussolini had said it was time "to deprive the State
of all the functions which render it dropsical and vulnerable, reducing it
to. . . that of the soldier, the policeman, the tax-collector and the
judge." Yet while Mussolini started out a pure Reaganite, he ended up
running a state that controlled most of its own industries, after a zigzag,
often inconsistent, course pursued in the name of nationalism, defense,
efficiency and protection from foreign competition.

As Fitzgerald points out:

"By setting up special parastate agencies or "corporations" to replace
failing or inadequate private enterprises, [Mussolini] was able to control
the important economic sectors. Elitists everywhere found that laudable."

Although the model generally cited in defense of organized capitalism is
that of the contemporary Japanese, the original practitioners of a
corporative economy were the Italians. Unlike today's Japanese, but like
contemporary America, their economy was a war economy. Several years
before Krystallnacht, Mussolini's Minister for the National Economy,
Giuseppe Belluzzo, was advocating commitment to technical achievement,
state intervention in corporate affairs and, in the words of Mussolini
biographer Adrian Lyttelton, "consideration of Italian industry from the
point of view of planning for defence needs." Belluzzo was particularly
interested in promoting new science-based industries.

Lyttelton, describing the rise of Italian fascism in The Seizure of Power,

"A good example of Mussolini's new views is provided by his inaugural
speech to the National Exports Institute on 8 July 1926. . . Industry was
ordered to form 'a common front' in dealing with foreigners, to avoid
'ruinous competition,' and to eliminate inefficient enterprises. . . The
values of competition were to be replaced by those of organization: Italian
industry would be reshaped and modernized by the cartel and trust. . .
There was a new philosophy here of state intervention for the technical
modernization of the economy serving the ultimate political objectives of
military strength and self- sufficiency; it was a return to the authoritarian
and interventionist war economy. . ."

Lyttelton writes that "fascism can be viewed as a product of the transition
from the market capitalism of the independent producer to the organized capitalism of the oligopoly." It was a point that Orwell had noted when he described fascism as being but an extension of capitalism. Lyttelton quoted Nationalist theorist Affredo Rocco: "The Fascist economy is. . . an organized economy.
It is organized by the producers themselves, under the supreme direction
and control of the State."

The Germans had their own word for it: wehrwirtschaft. It was not an
entirely new idea there. As William Shirer points out in the Rise and the
Fall of the Third Reich, 18th and 19th century Prussia had devoted some
five-sevenths of its revenue on the Army and "that nation's whole economy
was always regarded as primarily an instrument not of the people's welfare
but of military policy."

With the rise of the US military-industrial complex, American attitudes
concerning the proper relationship between the corporation and the
state underwent fundamental changes. In the forty years since Dwight
Eisenhower warned the country of the danger at hand, we have moved to
a point that even former free-marketers like Reagan and Clinton see the
country's salvation increasingly in a manipulation of the capitalistic system
to serve the political and military goals of the state, in return for which
the government serves the interest of its largest private firms. A sort of
Arkansas writ large, only with multinationals rather than chicken producers
calling the shots.

The potential pitfalls are enormous. Once a corporation's interest
becomes indivisible from that of the state it becomes a matter of state
security to protect that corporation. We have already experienced this
phenomenon in the nuclear power and defense industries, which are
granted many of the immunities and protections of a military institution.

At the present time, government employees can not strike; at what point
in the development of an industrial policy will it be considered a national
threat to strike against a corporation considered key to our success in
"global economic competition?" At what point does it become our patriotic
duty to support the interests of multinational corporations?

This is far from a theoretical question. In September 1993, in a major
departure from both principles of the free market and anti-trust laws, the
government and the big three auto makers announced a joint venture to
develop a fuel efficient car.

Said Vice President Gore:

"We have a strategic interest as a nation in meeting the goal we've set in
this program, It's an act of patriotism . . ."

Gore is not alone. In a New York Times review of a new book by Edward
Luttwak, director of the Center of International and Strategic Studies,
Jeffrey Garten says that Luttwak "calls for a mobilization of economic
assets in the same way we once mobilized the military to fight wars.
Consumer spending must give way to saving and the nurturing of our
productive industries. The support of technologically advanced industries
must be seen not just in terms of jobs or higher standards of living, but as
an instrument of state power."

The corporative state has arrived. The argument -- once considered a joke
-- that what's good for GM is good for America is now government policy.
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for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do
not believe simply because it has been handed down for many genera-
tions. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and
rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is
written in Holy Scriptures. Do not believe in anything merely on
the authority of teachers, elders or wise men. Believe only after
careful observation and analysis, when you find that it agrees with
reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all.
Then accept it and live up to it
The Buddha on Belief, from the Kalama Sutra
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