Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Oct 6 12:15:40 PDT 1998

Jim Devine wrote:
>Talking all the time about Nazi-this and
>Nazi-that also undermines one's credibility. It's like boy who cried wolf.
>It's also fuzzy thinking. Mussolini and Franco were very different animals.
>Watering down the meaning of Naziism unfortunately has the effect of
>implicitly apologizing for Nazis.

You are, of course, correct. I will report to the reeducation camp at 0600 hours...

But is there a category of "fascism" divorced from "Naziism" that is still useful?

>BTW, Brad, I think you're picking up on the populist flavor of fascism. But
>is populism always of a fascist nature? Similarly, is nationalism always
>fascist? (Can't nationalism be part of a struggle against some external
>power that invades or dominates a nation's territory?) The idea that
>populism and nationalism are always fascist fits very well with the World
>Bank/IMF neo-liberal view that it's world financial capital that should
>rule, rejecting democracy, populism, national goals, etc. (Cf. Rudi
>Dornbusch railing against populism in his old columns in BUSINESS WEEK.)


Well, I'm an elitist, internationalist kind of guy, who believes that we have complicated socioeconomic systems that work poorly and should be replaced by something better (as soon as we can figure out what something better might be), but that in the meantime require careful management if they're not to bring us to immediate disaster.

And that mindset is hostile to at least some forms of "populism"--I don't especially want people voting directly on what the IMF quota should be, just as I don't especially want people voting on whether the state of California should run full-immersion or parallel-track bilingual education classes, or on how many civil rights immigrants have. I want to elect some people who have my social-democratic and liberal preferences, and then let them choose and listen to experts who know something about the IMF quota, or bilingual education, or the rule of law.

But there is a kind of populism that doesn't rely on charismatic leaders to rally the people against sinister enemies who have stolen the dream, isn't there? Isn't there?

Brad DeLong

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