James Devine jdevine at popmail.lmu.edu
Wed Oct 7 08:32:22 PDT 1998

At 01:50 AM 10/7/98 -0400, Rakesh wrote:
>I think it was Brad who wrote:
>> >
>> > The three popular definitions of fascism I've seen are (1) authoritarian
>> > capitalism in general (from Pinochet to Thatcher); (2) the corporate
>> > where business, labor, and government meet in tripartite bodies, with
>> > as a subordinate in the trio, having lost its right to go on strike; and
>> > (3) a fascist or authoritarian mind-set, as in the Frankfurt school's "F
>> > scale" (which measures degrees of fascist mentality).

That was I who wrote that. Others have pointed out other definitions of "fascism."

>This so called communitarian philosophy espoused by the Michael Lerner's
>and Michael Sandel's seems to be infested with this creepy crawly stuff.
>You hear it from all political sides nowadays, and I don't have to like

It must be noted that these folks explicitly disavow the authoritarianism that is at the heart of all of the definitions of fascism I know of. (Lerner, for one, used to count himself as a leftist. Does he still do so?) But because they don't deal with that authoritarianism very well, communitarianism sure does lean in the direction of fascism. Like a relative of mine who is a "economic social democrat and a social conservative (anti-abortion)" who wants nationalization and all sorts of government control over the economy without any effort to deepen and widen the degree of democratic control over the government. Shades of Pat Buchanan! (Is it Greg Nowell who said that if you want to nationalize the oil companies you have to nationalize (i.e., democratize) the government first? if so, I say "amen.")

However, we should predict the rise of fascism (the conversion of fuzzy-minded communitarians into full-scale authoritarians) without a severe economic and/or societal crisis.

Is that kind of crisis going to occur in the US? Maybe not: if Robert Samuelson says it's increasingly likely (as in today's L.A. TIMES op-ed), then it's likely that it won't happen. ;-)

Jim Devine jdevine at popmail.lmu.edu & http://clawww.lmu.edu/Departments/ECON/jdevine.html

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