Facism

The Carrot, the Stick, and the Buggy Whip

Is it time to dust off the word fascist to describe Donald Trump?

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As 2016 came to a close, dictionary makers Merriam-Webster posted a pathetic little tweet—a cry for help, really—that quickly went viral: "'Fascism' is still our #1 lookup. # of lookups = how we choose our Word of the Year. There's still time to look something else up."

Why the sudden interest? As Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination and then the presidential election, political commentators and opinionated uncles at dinner parties started tossing around this vintage 20th century political terminology with abandon. Which caused a bunch of intrepid dictionary searchers to wonder: Here at the dawning of the Trump era, does fascism mean what we think it means?

In a technical sense, the word is a pretty good descriptor for what we've seen of Trump's economic policy so far. That is to say, he seems to be embracing the notion, which blossomed in Benito Mussolini's Italy, that the business of government is best conducted where an authoritarian state dominated by a powerful strongman and the leaders of large corporations meet and decide the fate of a nation.

But in its more common use, fascism is at once too generic—it's frequently deployed to describe any old bossy jerk, and is formally defined as "a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control"—and way too specific and extreme, with its grace notes of Blackshirts, one-party rule, nationalization of industry, and violence.

What's wanted is a way of describing the love-hate, push-pull, utterly dysfunctional, and horrifically co-dependent relationship between big government and big business that Trump was already expert in, just from the other side. The gentler term for this is crony capitalism, or cronyism for those of us who don't like to see one of our favorite words besmirched.

Yet that phrase shows up most frequently in contexts where the corporations are in the driver's seat: They come to elected officials or bureaucrats to demand special favors. They are granted those favors in exchange for promised gains for the tax base or contributions to the campaign funds of the relevant politicians—classic rent seeking, in the jargon of economics. If they're really lucky, the corporations manage to cozy up to and capture some regulators to keep in their back pockets as well.

But as far as we know, the heating and air company Carrier was minding its own business when Trump came a-knockin'. The firm was in the midst of executing a run-of-the-mill decision about the best place to locate a production facility when boom, it became the very first test case for the fledgling Trump administration in the none-too-judicious application of the carrot and the stick. The carrot was subsidies to keep jobs in the United States; the stick was almost certainly the threat of the revocation of valuable military contracts from Carrier's parent company. (For a deeper exploration of how this deal went down, check out David R. Henderson's cover story on page 18.)

Carrier isn't alone on the receiving end of Trump's attentions. Boeing's stock price took a hit after he tweeted in December that "Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!" Trump also took credit for keeping an auto plant in the U.S.: "Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford," Trump tweeted in November, "who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky—no Mexico." He followed up: "I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!" Ford quickly clarified that it was only considering moving production of one model, the Lincoln MKC, out of the Kentucky facility, but also carefully said nice things about the incoming administration. And a Boeing spokesman obligingly responded to the president-elect's tweets: "We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force…to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer."

Foreign companies, too, are looking for ways to play the situation, brandishing their own carrots in an effort to stave off the sticks. "Masa (SoftBank) of Japan has agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. toward businesses and 50,000 new jobs," the president-elect tweeted after a congratulatory meeting with the company's CEO, Masayoshi Son, at Trump Tower in December. "Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!"

Despite the fuss about first daughter Ivanka Trump's jewelry product placements at government meetings and the sudden influx of dignitaries taking rooms at D.C.'s shiny new Trump Hotel, the big worry here isn't that Trump will use the power of the presidency for personal enrichment. Would that he were so petty. Instead, it's that he will use the coercive power of his office in the service of his own particular variant of nationalism. You can't say he didn't warn you; he printed this basic plan on approximately 100 million red trucker hats.

During the campaign, it looked as though Donald Trump might not have much of a guiding ideology: He ran as a patriotic pragmatist. He is certainly not, as was suggested in The Washington Post in December, an "Ayn Rand–acolyte" (if only!) who is stacking his Cabinet with Objectivists. (The leading paper of the nation's capital made that mistake after discovering that successful Republican businessmen tend to read and occasionally recommend books where businessmen are presented as heroes. Breaking news, indeed.)

It now looks like Trump is settling into something more like corporate authoritarianism. The real trouble, though, with government control of the economy is that it makes businesses behave in less economically efficient ways for political reasons. At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal, but the closer the U.S. gets to a centrally planned economy—the more the president wields tariffs and trade restrictions and tax incentives and subsidies to keep manufacturing jobs where he wants them—the more likely we are to wake up one morning and discover we have become a nation of buggy whip makers.

Like the proverbial flogger manufacturers from Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt's classic 1960 essay, businesses that fail to think and act dynamically in response to a changing economy are doomed to be usurped by upstarts. Presidents or governors who step in to stop that failure, or worse—as in the case of Carrier—to stop efficiency improvements or innovation itself, are even more likely to be myopic than the stodgy businessmen Levitt was addressing.

Presidents tend to suffer from a failure of imagination when it comes to innovations in business practices—even presidents who are "super successful" tycoons themselves. Whether or not you are impressed by Trump's business credentials, they don't qualify him to run all of the large corporations within the territorial United States.

In the end, surreal won out over fascism as Merriam-Webster's word of the year, with the company's lexicographers noting that searches spiked three times in 2016. The first jump came in March, after the Brussels terror attack. The second came in July, after the coup attempt in Turkey and the terror attack in Nice. The largest spike was the third, following the U.S. election in November.

Here at Reason, we don't hesitate to drop f-bombs when the situation calls for it, and we reserve the right to do so in the future, but we're not quite there with this particular seven-letter word. Yet.

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  1. This is not a helpful article. Throwing words around like “fascist” amounts to little more than an ad hominem attack and detracts from the credibility of the Libertarian cause. This is the last thing we need after the embarrassing performance by Gary Johnson this past election. We need to rebuild our damaged credibility. The author sounds like a SJW from an East Coast liberal arts college. This is supposed to be “REASON” magazine! Cite a specific policy such as immigration and make an argument, e.g. “Trump wants to enforce a legal immigration policy an I believe nation states do not have the right to enforce any immigration policy for the following reasons”…etc, etc. President Trump is not some kind of virtuous hero, but he is very smart and he is playing the left like Itzhak Perlman plays the violin. If you want a framework for thinking about President Trump, I would refer you to Gail Wynand late in Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead”. He’s not heroic and he’s been morally confused, but to his credit he is rationally self-interested, and most importantly he is not an altruist selling a philosophy of self-immolation!

    1. Did you even read the article? Hint: she’s not throwing around the word “fascist”.

      1. Oh, crap – I got sucked into the time warp.

          1. Except it’s not the good kind of time-warp with motorcycles and half-naked dancing.

      2. REEDING IZ 4 FAGGITZ ‘N’ CUCKZ!

        And apparently so are time warps. /sarc

      3. I made it all the way to “In a technical sense, the word is a pretty good descriptor for what we’ve seen of Trump’s economic policy so far”.

  2. Yay!

    More hysterical pants shitting from Reason!

  3. Yay!

    More hysterical pants shitting from Reason!

  4. I’m glad Reason doesn’t have a problem with f-bombs because I have to ask what the fuck are the staff and the contributors smoking? Is Trump the ideal President from a libertarian perspective? Fuck no but come on with this shit-this whole article is a wink and a nod, intentional or not, to those who are throwing around the fascist slur.

    Keep your eye on Trump, criticize him fairly when appropriate, give him credit where warranted, and stop destroying your credibility with this goddamn histrionic bullshit. Jesus fucking Christ, is it going to be four to eight years of this nonsense here? Reason is being piloted into the side of a damn mountain which is a real fucking shame.

    1. RE: Keep your eye on Trump, criticize him fairly when appropriate, give him credit where warranted

      How is this article, and the site in general, not doing exactly that? This article is criticizing, and not even that strongly I might add, Trump’s clear authoritarian tendencies. Reason also has several articles displaying optimism for a Trump presidency, particularly in education and financial regulation.

      Being “fair” (whatever the fuck that means) does not involve a 1:1 nice word/critical word ratio within each article.

      1. No, a one to one ratio is not required and Reason can do what they want including trying to attract those on the left who will never see eye to eye with libertarians. This article is saying those who are calling him a fascist have a point, wink wink nudge nudge say no more, but that they aren’t quite on board with that yet. It isn’t helpful and it, along with the general clickbait direction Reason has taken, will drive away those who might actually be open to libertarian ideas.

        1. Cocktail parties, man, it’s just cocktail parties all the way down. Pay no attention when Bailey or other writers here pretend like they don’t know about these cocktail parties.

          1. Bailey gets shafted on the cocktail party front because the slightest skepticism of Gaia worship is absolutely unacceptable heresy.

        2. It drew me in. I was extremely skeptical of libertarian ideas, but after reading this site and listening to the podcasts, I’ve shifted my views fairly significantly.

          Point of fact, people aren’t convinced by telling them how idiotic and childish they are. It doesn’t work when progressives flame conservatives (as countless post-Trump articles have pointed out), why on Earth would it work for libertarians who just want to flame progressives?

        3. trying to attract those on the left who will never see eye to eye with libertarians

          No, I think what they are doing is trying to attract those on the left who might see eye to eye with libertarians. Such creatures really do exist. I was once one of them, sort of. I know a number of other commenters (and former commenters) also came to libertarian from the left. Some from being outright commies.

      2. “How is this article, and the site in general, not doing exactly that?”

        You don’t come round these parts often, do you?

        1. Pretty often, actually. Mostly focus on the articles over the more-conservative-than-libertarian comment section.

          1. the more-conservative-than-libertarian comment section.

            In short, doesn’t know what a libertarian is.

            1. Any criticism of Trump in any article is met, overwhelmingly, by 1) not as bad as Obama, and/or 2) not as bad as Hillary would have been. Surely you could see how I’d get these “libertarians” confused with conservatives.

              1. Uh, no, your premise immediately fails because Trump is not an American conservative.

                Read this article, read the comments, show me the overwhelming response you to claim to see, if it doesn’t exist, rescind your statement, or you’re being ignorant or deliberately dishonest.

                1. Trump might not check off every conservative policy position (or even a majority of them), but he certainly makes broad and open appeals to the worst instincts of conservative xenophobia, nationalism, and anti-intellectualism.

                  A fair point though, that article and comment section does not especially support my assertion.

                  But this one does

                  And….I’m honestly having a harder time than I thought finding another example. Confirmation bias claims another victim….I retract my claim.

    2. There’s been some better content (grading on a curve here) over the last few days, Gillespie’s article on Trump’s relationship with the cops and civil asset forfeiture wasn’t bad. 2 Chili’s still producing decent work, the Intern is doing better than bloody Soave, and Dalmia seems to have vanished for awhile. The only really stupid thing this week so far was Soave’s “BASH THE FASH” article.

      1. Yeah, I’m glad for the 2Chili piece to provide some sort of reprieve, because that fucking BASH THE FASH article was just shameful.

      2. Doesn’t Shikha turn up on Thursdays?

  5. OH MY GOD REASON ENOUGH OF THE TRUMP BASHING THERE ARE TERRIST ATTACKS GOING ON ALL AROUND US AND ALL YOU CAN SAY IS HE IS A FASCIST FOR GIVING JOBS TO GOOD DECENT AMERICANS. AS A MILLENIAL I AM HAPPY TO WORK HARD FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE TO PAY TAXES TO KEEP MY FRUMPLED UNCLE TRUMPKINS BUSY.

  6. What’s wanted is a way of describing the love-hate, push-pull, utterly dysfunctional, and horrifically co-dependent relationship between big government and media types who love themselves some big government, so long as it’s just the right sort of big government.

    Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

    1. ^^^^THIS^^^^

  7. Reason staff have lost their cotton pickin’ minds.

  8. Fuck off, slaver. There’s an f-bomb for you Reason. You used to know what it was about.

  9. Clearly no one commenting here actually read the article.

    1. Yep. Yet somehow I managed to pull a quote directly out of it. Albeit with a slight modification.

      Let be more succint.

      Reason under Trump: This is a crony capitalist shit sandwich.

      Reason under Obama: This shit sandwich would be so much more palatable if it had a tad less cumin.

      1. Bitch much?

        1. Hi Pot, I’m Kettle.

          Pleased to meet you.

          1. Dipshit: I didn’t bitch about anything. I pointed out that clearly no one read the article, and they obviously didn’t.

            1. By your own standard I didn’t bitch about anything either.

              So go fuck yourself.

        2. Sometimes I crack jokes instead of bitching. Though they’re often kinda bitchy jokes to be honest.

      2. I think the preferred nomenclature for Obama was corporatism. Much less inflammatory than fascist.

    2. Clearly you didn’t read it in the dead tree edition.

      1. The summary post on H&R makes it sound like she’s calling Trump a fascist. You can’t blame people for reacting to the summary without spending precious time reading the full article.

        1. “You can’t blame people for being fucking morons.”

          Yes, yes we can.

        2. You can’t blame people for reacting to the summary without spending precious time reading the full article.

          Actually, yes. Yes you can. I don’t think it’s asking too much for people to actually read the fucking article before getting their outrage on. But apparently, it is. I used to have a lot more respect for the commentariat here in general, but now I’m thinking most of the people who comment here are just as moronic as the mouth breathers at Huff Post or anywhere else.

    3. There’s an article?

    4. In a technical sense, the word is a pretty good descriptor for what we’ve seen of Trump’s economic policy so far.

      Seems to be as close as she gets to calling Trump a Fascist.

      Seems to me that it is:

      1. fairly accurate and
      2. not calling Trump a Fascist.

  10. I remind people that fascism is another form of collectivism/socialism. Are we saying Trump is a socialist now?

    1. NOW? Uh, kinda, yeah. He certainly has tendencies. Always has. Did you RTFA?

  11. In a technical sense, the word is a pretty good descriptor for what we’ve seen of Trump’s economic policy so far. That is to say, he seems to be embracing the notion, which blossomed in Benito Mussolini’s Italy, that the business of government is best conducted where an authoritarian state dominated by a powerful strongman and the leaders of large corporations meet and decide the fate of a nation.

    That is absurd. Either Ward is being dishonest here or she is completely ignorant of both Trump and history. Here is what Italian fascist economic policy actually consisted of.

    After Mussolini consolidated his dictatorship in 1925, Italy entered a new phase. Mussolini, like many leaders at this time, believed that economies did not operate constructively without supervision by the government. Foreshadowing events in Nazi Germany, and to some extent in New Deal America, Mussolini began a program of massive deficit spending, public works, and eventually, militarism.


    1. Mussolini’s fascism took another step at this time with the advent of the Corporative State, a supposedly pragmatic arrangement under which economic decisions were made by councils composed of workers and employers who represented trades and industries. By this device the presumed economic rivalry between employers and employees was to be resolved, preventing the class struggle from undermining the national struggle. In the Corporative State, for example, strikes would be illegal and labor disputes would be mediated by a state agency.

      Theoretically, the fascist economy was to be guided by a complex network of employer, worker, and jointly run organizations representing crafts and industries at the local, provincial, and national levels. At the summit of this network was the National Council of Corporations. But although syndicalism and corporativism had a place in fascist ideology and were critical to building a consensus in support of the regime, the council did little to steer the economy. The real decisions were made by state agencies such as the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (Istituto per la Ricosstruzione Industriale, or IRI), mediating among interest groups.

      http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/Fascism.html

      yes, that is Reason’s own Notorious Sheldon Richman. The crazy bastard actually got something right.

      1. Richman’s not actually that bad when he’s not writing foreign policy, he at least tends to make some interesting arguments when he’s discussing history. His full-on stupid is at least restricted to one subject.

        1. Yep – so long as Israel isn’t involved, Sheldon’s OK

      2. “Theoretically, the fascist economy was to be guided by a complex network of employer, worker, and jointly run organizations representing crafts and industries at the local, provincial, and national levels”

        If this is fascism, then Germany’s present system is fascist.

        My understanding is that the board or directors in German corporations are selected by both shareholders and unions in approximately equal numbers for companies with more than 2,000 workers. It applies to both publicly traded and private companies. For companies with less than 2,000 workers, only one-third of the board is chosen by the union.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Codetermination_in_Germany

        What’s more, the unions in Germany can set wages and other entitlements for the entire industry they work in–not just for the company they’re negotiating with.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Trade_unions_in_Germany

        Who thinks of Germany as a fascist country today? That is an unusual use of the term–no matter what the dictionary says or the original historical context of the term. This is not what average people are talking about when they talk about “fascism”.

        1. “If this is fascism, then Germany’s present system is fascist.”

          Um, yes.

          About the only things we defeated in WWII are genocide and wars of conquest. Otherwise the fascist program remains, and in some ways has only strengthened.

          1. When average people are talking about someone being fascist, they aren’t talking about any economic system.

            They’re talking about respect for individual rights, conformity, intolerance, state control through police, etc.

            If your term accurately describes something that hardly anyone means when they use the term, then you’re misusing the term–no matter what is in the dictionary.

            When Jerry call someone “the soup Nazi”, he isn’t talking about crony capitalism.

            1. Sort of. To the extent people think the ‘bad part’ of fascism was the genocide and wars of nationalistic aggression, and only the genocide and wars of nationalistic aggression then while they may be the “average” their understanding of the word is still problematic and should not be accepted.

              Because those things, along with the economic aspects, are merely facets of what is ultimately an aggressively conformist, statist totalitarian system.

            2. Yes, but the article makes it clear that they are talking about the economic system, not the current popular understanding of the term.

              1. The article is about whether using the term to describe Trump is accurate, and makes it clear with the last sentence that KMW isn’t even ready to use that word to describe Trump.

                1. . . . I should add, not even ready to use that term to describe Trump’s economics.

        2. But there was more to it than that. That was the theory but in reality, the government ran everything.

          1. Yes, when average people use the term “fascist”, crony capitalism is one of the last things on their minds.

    2. Whatever you think of Trump, it isn’t that. How is that a Yale educated senior editor of an allegedly serious publication could be so causally ignorant of the subjects of her articles? I don’t care what your opinion of Trump is. Words have meaning and facts mean something. If you are too stupid or lazy to know what Italian fascist economics actually entails, don’t write about it. Just shut the hell up. And for Ward to engage in such stupidity in an article criticizing others for calling Trump a fascist takes a remarkable amount of nerve on her part.

      When Sheldon Richman is making you look like an ignoramus on a subject, you have a problem.

      1. Can’t let research get in the way of posting clickbait on schedule.

  12. No matter what the dictionary says or the actual historical context, when average people use the word “fascism”, they’re generally not talking about any kind of economic system.

    They’re talking about the opposite extreme on the scale of civil libertarianism. They’re talking about intolerance. They’re talking about conformity. They’re talking about using the police to discourage dissent.

  13. “It now looks like Trump is settling into something more like corporate authoritarianism.”

    I don’t know if that’s the same thing as cronyism, but if it is, the Republicans and the Democrats have been settling into it for decades.

    1. Exactly. I could understand the left bitching about cronyism when discussing Trump’s disdain for Dodd-Frank, but why the fuck would a magazine/think-tank that is in favor of free markets start demonizing the idea of shitcanning regulations that have run amok?

  14. Here at Reason, we don’t hesitate to drop f-bombs when the situation calls for it, and we reserve the right to do so in the future, but we’re not quite there with this particular seven-letter word. Yet.

    Cue “DUN DUN DUH” music.

    I avoid the term fascist mostly because it just muddies the discussion. Along with racist it’s become the modern equivalent of ‘HERETIC’, it’s primarily used as a dishonest rhetoric device rather than an actual criticism to promote discussion, and thus has lost all meaning.

    Sincerely,

    #4 on the Hihn Approved Reason Fascist List.

    1. it’s primarily used as a dishonest rhetorical device rather than an actual criticism to promote discussion, and thus has lost all meaning.

      ^^^this

      the shades of difference in corporate-arm-twisting/getting-in-bed-with between various presidents are mostly a matter of whether its ‘cronyism you approve of’….

      ….rather than some fundamental change in relationship between the govt/private sector.

      On the most basic level, the thing that’s so ridiculous about accusations of “fascism”? is that the headline, flagship policy that Trump was elected on, was ending the Govt-Industry partnership called “Obamacare”

      one could argue Obama was elected mainly on “ending the war in Iraq” (which he never really did; indeed he hardly changed ME policy at all)… and everything else was gravy.

      I think there’s a reasonable argument that Trump was mostly being elected for the purpose of untying the economic entanglements put in place by the Obama admin. e.g. Shrinking the regulatory state, lowering the costs of doing business, and (depending on popular characterizations/misconceptions of the TPP) stop advancing the interests of other countries over our own.

      of course you don’t need to be that generous either. i think any examination of facts – like proposed policy, or acts already taken – would show an administration little different from any other in recent history.

    2. it’s primarily used as a dishonest rhetorical device

      Also known as sophism.

  15. Trump is a hell of a long way from being a fascist at this point. Could he become one? Maybe, we’ll see. He’s already done several things that libertarians should love, or at least tried. Keep on eye on what he lets Sessions do, that’s my first fear of Trump. If Sessions starts going after weed in states where it’s been legalized, and Trump sits idly by, then that would move the slider more towards the authoritarian side.

    1. If Sessions starts going after weed in states where it’s been legalized, and Trump sits idly by

      So every president until Obama’s second term was fascist?

  16. “Here at Reason, we don’t hesitate to drop f-bombs when the situation calls for it, and we reserve the right to do so in the future, but we’re not quite there with this particular seven-letter word. Yet.”

    It would be irresponsible to call Trump a FASCIST because the term FASCIST shouldn’t simply mean the kind of cronyist economic policies Trump supports, though these policies are bad, but they’re not FASCIST yet, but if Trump ever does become a FASCIST we’ll be sure to call him a FASCIST. But until then dismiss the word “FASCIST” from your mind because the word “FASCIST” doesn’t apply to what Trump has done so far, though Trump’s policies are bad, and who knows, maybe one day he’ll become a FASCIST so that we can start calling him FASCIST like we obviously want to do.

    1. Is this a verbal tic from your prog days?

      1. I think it’s a fair summary of the article, wouldn’t you agree?

        1. Sure, but it’s fair enough if it’s a verbal tic, I mean I have my moments o…THE WORKERS NEED ONLY RECOGNIZE THE CHAINS THEY WEAR, WE WILL HANG THE CAPITALIST FILTH WITH THE ROPES THEY SELL US.

          *clears throat*

          Sorry, it’s an ongoing problem.

          1. You know who else noticed an ongoing problem?

    2. Rather like almost every administration, save maybe Coolidge, possible Reagan, since Wilson?

      Like perhaps our last President who used very corporatist ideas(f-word) to take control of the healthcare system? And the insurance companies ate the stuff up. Until they gagged.

  17. the word is a pretty good descriptor for what we’ve seen of Trump’s economic policy so far…

    ….During the campaign, it looked as though Donald Trump might not have much of a guiding ideology

    …It now looks like Trump is settling into something more like corporate authoritarianism

    “impressionism” is a suitable replacement for analysis of cited facts, apparently.

    we’re not quite there with this particular seven-letter word. Yet

    Yet some public chin-stroking on the topic was surely needed; how else to validate the hyperbolic rhetoric of the left?

  18. All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State. — Mussolini

    That might as well be the official slogan of the Democratic Party.

    Italain Fascism was, in many ways, a reaction to laiseez-faire economics and high finance in which a well-ordered society would be managed top-down with each social class having their conflicts arbitrated by the State and the economy mixed between state-run industries and the private sector.

    Trumpism does share similar suspicions of free markets but not as much as the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

    1. There was also the enforcement mechanism, which involved beatings, arbitrary imprisonment, murder, and force-feeding of castor oil.

      1. Your friends Pius XI and XII seemed alright with it.

        1. Gentlemen, there will be no fighting in the War Room.

        2. They thought they could work with Benito, but opposed him when he allied with the literal Hitler.

          And even in 1931, before Mussolini became an all of the literal Hitler, Pius XI was somewhat critical of the fascists:

          “And here We find Ourselves confronted by a mass of authentic affirmations and no less authentic facts which reveal beyond the slightest possibility of doubt the resolve (already in great measure actually put into effect) to monopolize completely the young, from their tenderest years up to manhood and womanhood, for the exclusive advantage of a party and of a regime based on an ideology which clearly resolves itself into a true, a real pagan worship of the State – the “Statolatry” which is no less in contrast with the natural rights of the family than it is in contradiction with the supernatural rights of the Church. To propose and to promote such a monopoly to persecute for this reason Catholic Action, as has been done for some time more or less openly or under cover to reach this end by striking at the Catholic Association of Youth as has lately been done; all this is truly and literally to “forbid the little children to go to Jesus Christ,” since it impedes their access to His Church and where His Church is, there is Jesus Christ. This usurpation goes so far as to snatch the young from Christ and His Church even with violence.”

    2. Properly speaking that was Mussolini’s definition of totalitarianism. Although he considered fascism, with it’s broad social and cultural aspects, to be a form of totalitarianism.

  19. Fascist means “bundle of sticks.”

    1. OMG, you’re a grammar fascist.

      1. A grammar bundle of sticks? What’s that even mean?

        1. You know what other word starts with F and means bundle of sticks….

    2. No it doesn’t. That’s fasces.

    3. “Fascist means “bundle of sticks.”

      A “fascio” is a bundle of sticks.

      A “fascist” is someone who believes in a bundle of sticks.

  20. Save your hate for Robby and Shikha who deserve it. KMW is not misusing the term as you hear it screamed at some leftist protest. First and foremost Fascism is an economic term, and this is how she’s using it. Since I’ve been alive the economic policy of the country has been trending towards Fascism and KMW is arguing that Trump is accelerating this trend. I would have to agree.

    The cries of TDS every time an article validly criticizes Trump makes me think I’m at the National Review comment boards. You guys really want to defend Trump as joking when he says he’s going to ‘ruin the career’ of a state legislator who is advocating for asset forfeiture reform? Did anyone here think it was a joke when Obama said that the power of politics should be used to ‘punish our enemies?’

    Yes, there have been some articles where Trump criticism has more closely resembled knee-jerk leftist TDS. This was not one of them.

    1. Since I’ve been alive the economic policy of the country has been trending towards Fascism and KMW is arguing that Trump is accelerating this trend.

      That is not what she says. She is solely labeling Trump with the “fascist” label.

      Look me up where Reason even came close to calling Obama a fascist.

      1. Well that wasn’t to hard:. Although they don’t directly call him a fascist, they point out that Trump would be called one for identical actions.

    2. The cries of TDS every time an article validly criticizes Trump makes me think I’m at the National Review comment boards.

      I didn’t know national review HAD comments sections.

      that said =

      the people who moan about “other comments” never seem to bother actually address the criticisms made. If there was something you think was off base, then point your criticism at them and say so, otherwise you’re just pissing in the wind for theatrical effect.

      1. Perhaps I should have threaded my comments. I was commenting specifically on

        Homple|2.8.17 @ 9:55AM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

        Reason staff have lost their cotton pickin’ minds.

        and

        buybuydandavis|2.8.17 @ 6:05AM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

        Yay!

        More hysterical pants shitting from Reason!

        I think I have adequately addressed their ad hominems.

        1. no, you didn’t “adequately address” anything.

          – You bemoaned people “crying TDS” when neither of those examples say anything like that.
          – You simply assert “KMW is not misusing the term as you hear it screamed at some leftist protest:”
          sans any argument. There are numerous arguments here suggesting, yes, she’s wildly misusing the term, and you don’t even attempt to respond to them.
          – you say, “”You guys really want to defend Trump“”, itself dishonest rhetoric:

          criticisms of stupid arguments made against Trump is not “Defense of Trump” = its criticism of stupid arguments. Trying to validate accusations of fascism (*which, despite the “yet” at the conclusion, is exactly what this is about) is a stupid argument. Calling presidents you “dont like” fascists, while avoiding the term for presidents who actually made sincere efforts to *nationalize industries*, bend others to federal will, is utter nonsense. As noted above = its just a smear term devoid of any attempt at making objective distinctions.

          and those aren’t ad-homs, technically; not that it matters.

          Again = if you have a problem with some specific criticism made, take it up with the specific people who make them.

          1. As noted above = its just a smear term devoid of any attempt at making objective distinctions.”

            Obama was a leftwing internationalist. Trump is a rightwing nationalist. Hence the fascist label. Why should that bother you?

            “Calling presidents you “dont like” fascists, while avoiding the term for presidents who actually made sincere efforts to *nationalize industries*”

            Fascists don’t nationalize industries. Under Hitler, the big industrial concerns remained in private hands. If you find your president nationalizing industries, sounds like you have a Bolshevik on your hands.

            1. “Fascists don’t nationalize industries. Under Hitler, the big industrial concerns remained in private hands.”

              You should really quit posting stupidity this often.
              Lenin didn’t nationalize many of the businesses in the early years of the Soviet, either. Hitler was ‘removed from power’ too early accomplish his aims.
              If you’d like to be taken seriously, read “The Wages of Destruction” (Tooze) before you post one more lie regarding fascism; you’re entirely too fucking ignorant to do otherwise.
              Oh, and fuck off.

    3. Yes she is misusing it. I quote an extensive description of fascist economics above. And it is nothing like what Trump is doing.

    4. I’m not seeing much in the way of hate here against KMW. I think KMW and her work are well respected by the commentariat here.

      Surely, we can disagree with her characterization without having reverse TDS.

  21. Here at Reason, we don’t hesitate to drop f-bombs when the situation calls for it, and we reserve the right to do so in the future, but we’re not quite there with this particular seven-letter word. Yet.

    I’m not quite there with saying that Reason is a shell of a former libertarian publication that has sold out and is running interference for the socialist Left. Yet.

  22. Is it time to dust off the word fascist to describe Donald Trump?

    Meh.

    In a technical sense, the word is a pretty good descriptor for what we’ve seen of Trump’s United States economic policy so far for quite a long time.

  23. What would you call Cash for Clunkers? Or Obamacare? Or Solyndra?

    1. Or trying to engineer “transformations in our energy economy”

      Obama’s speech on how he wanted to arm-twist industries into producing a “greener” world sounds like it could have been lifted from Mussolini

      It is also a transformation that will require more than just a few government programs. Energy independence will require an all-hands-on-deck effort from America ? effort from our scientists and entrepreneurs; from businesses and from every American citizen. Factories will have to re-tool and re-design. Businesses will need to find ways to emit less carbon dioxide. All of us will need to buy more of the fuel-efficient cars built by this state, and find new ways to improve efficiency and save energy in our own homes and businesses.

      If I am President, I will immediately direct the full resources of the federal government and the full energy of the private sector to a single, overarching goal

      …all at the Command of the Leader!

      Cato here wrote about overlap between economic policies of Il Duce and Barack, and provides a more evidence-based analysis for what deserves to be called “Fascist” than does KMW

  24. ” now looks like Trump is settling into something more like corporate authoritarianism. The real trouble, though, with government control of the economy is that it makes businesses behave in less economically efficient ways for political reasons.”

    How do you square that characterization with Trump’s push for deregulation?

    1. Yes, it is difficult to say Trump is trying to use the government to run the economy when he is issues a “drop two regulations to add one” EO. Busting Obama-Care, Dodd-Frank. What a fascist.

  25. There’s a much better term than fascism for what KMW is describing here: dirigisme.

    Quoting Wikipedia:

    “[It] is an economic system where the state exerts a strong directive influence over investment. It designates a capitalist economy in which the state plays a strong directive role, as opposed to a merely regulatory one. The term emerged in the post-war era to describe the economic policies of the French economy, which included substantial state-directed investment, the use of indicative economic planning to supplement the market system, and the establishment of state enterprises in strategic sectors of the French economy.”

    Dirigisme needn’t go hand in hand with mercantilism, but it often does: the growth policies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore are/were good examples. It’s also apparent that Trump and some of his economic advisors (Ross, Navarro) have strong mercantilist impulses.

    1. And looking at those more accurate terms also shows the problem in KMW’s argument here.

      She makes a brief nod toward the common usage of fascism, but the key point is that 99% of the U.S. population don’t think at all about an economic system when using or hearing the term “fascism”. To the extent that people have an understanding beyond “someone whose political views I don’t like”, the term “fascist” is almost exclusively tied to nationalist dictatorship and suppression of civil liberties through both legal and extralegal means: the brown shirts might be the police, or they might be paramilitary groups tied to the exalted leader.

      It’s disingenuous to claim that using the term “fascism” is an effective way to communicate a concept like “French and Japanese-style corporatism”.

  26. I don’t see any fascism or cronyism in trying to drive down the price of a Boeing contract. Quite the opposite.

    I need more details on the Carrier deal, without having to do any homework. Requiring companies to behave a certain way in order to receive government contracts seems entirely typical. PREVAILING WAGE. Not fascist. Perhaps bad policy. But I don’t think that really qualifies as fascism unless we give up on it as a useful term.

  27. Are you suggesting that having a president who publicly chides a department store which, for the professed reason of declining sales, has decided to stop stocking products made by his daughter’s company, is not a hallmark of conservative free market philosophy?

  28. One problem is that the current flawed interpretation of the Interstate Commerce clause makes it appear that fascism is okay here if we just call it “regulation of interstate commerce”. If we ever wake up to that problem, all those acts that one side or the other screamingly labels “fascism” will stop happening.

  29. And yet, American companies have been getting away with murder. The 1+ million H-1Bs and the untold number of L-1s are all examples of importing outsourcing. If Trump smacks those companies in the teeth with a baseball bat, I hope he swings hard and level.

  30. “and way too specific and extreme, with its grace notes of Blackshirts, one-party rule, nationalization of industry, and violence.”
    Let’s see – democrats, or republicans?
    Since the last numbered war, fascism has been considered right wing, despite the left wing requirements of it’s economic direction. Much like “decimate” has come to mean total destruction rather than 10% reduction.
    So pop quiz time:
    Nationalizing the health care industry; fascist or not?
    Mandating specifications for major power plant components; fascist or not?
    Mandating individuals purchase government specified insurance regardless of fit to individual needs; fascist or not?
    For extra credit, develop 5 more questions of your own.

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