It is my considered opinion, backed by 37 years of radio yammering, that 98.4% of the people in this country who use the word “fascist” have no idea what the word actually means. Ditto for “Nazi.” Being in a helpful mood I embark here on an educational effort so that some of us might actually recognize fascism when it truly does rear it’s ugly head, as it did this week from the mouth of Senator Charles Grassley (R- IA), the chairman of Senate Finance Committee.
Grassley has apparently decided that free enterprise no longer works for America. (The truth here is that Grassley discovered that free enterprise doesn’t serve the goal of empowering politicians.) It is Grassley’s view that American businesses must now seek the favor of the imperial federal government of the United States as to just how business profits must be disbursed. No longer, in Grassley’s economic world, will corporate boards decide on the distribution of profits. No longer will the private businessman be the captain of his entrepreneurial ship. Grassley apparently wants the government to have a de facto seat on every corporate board and a share of control in the spending decisions of every private business.
Let’s get back to the “fascism” word. Sheldon Richman writes in “The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics” that fascist thought acknowledge(s) the roles of private property and the profit motive as legitimate incentives for productivity—provided that they did not conflict with the interests of the state.” In other words, state approval must be sought before important business decisions can be implemented. I think I can simplify Richman’s definition of fascism so that even Americans educated in state schools can understand: Free enterprise (capitalism) is private ownership and control of the means of production. Socialism is government ownership and control of the means of production. Fascism is private ownership of the means of production, with government control. Private ownership with government control? There’s a somewhat familiar ring to that, isn’t there?
Charles Grassley would have admired World War II era Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. During Mussolini’s fascist reign he moved to virtually eliminate the ability of businesses to make independent decisions, including decisions pertaining to prices and wages. The government became the not-so-friendly business partner … a partner with a gun and the legal authority to use force to accomplish its goals.