Socialism, communism, or fascism and corporatism?

In her important post earlier today, Nashville, TN: a frontline on immigration, community organizing and Islamic activity, Ann says:

Nashville is a microcosm of what is happening in cities across the country with political activists in the Obama/Alinsky mold working with pro-open borders groups and big business (yes, big business! like this Loews Vanderbilt Hotel) and using refugees and immigrants as political ammo as voters (not to mention as cheap labor for the business people) to push a socialist (communist?) agenda for America.

Good question — what should we call this agenda? As it happens, the paperback edition of Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, is being released today.  National Review Online has an interview with Goldberg, which begins:

Following its release in January of 2008, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Today the book hits shelves in its paperback version (with a new afterword on Barack Obama), which provides an excellent excuse to talk to the esteemed NRO editor-at-large, and to shine a spotlight on an important book, one more time.

I read the hardback edition when it came out and thought it very illuminating. It shows that fascism’s roots are in the left, not the right, and that modern society has many elements of fascism. A review on Amazon.com says:

This is an important work, tracing the intellectual development of the idea that the all-powerful people’s State should always trump the individual and be in firm control of all aspects of the population’s culture, education, defense or military expansion, information, health and economy, from its modern beginnings under Wilson to the currently epoused nanny state.

And a review in Publishers Weekly says:

Goldberg’s study of the conceptual overlap between fascism and ideas emanating from the environmental movement, Hollywood, the Democratic Party and what he calls other left-wing organs is shocking and hilarious.

The book was written and published just before the rise of Obama. What great timing! I look forward to reading the afterword on Obama. From the interview:

Here I wrote a book, working on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee (hardly a harebrained assumption at the time), about how contemporary progressivism is a political religion with its roots in German state theory, sharing a close family resemblance to fascism. Among the anatomical and genetic similarities: cult of unity, sacralization of politics, philosophical pragmatism, corporatism, relativism, Romanticism, hero-worship, collectivism, and so on. And out of nowhere comes a guy who campaigns as a secular messiah, spouting deeply spiritualized political rhetoric, claims the Progressives as his inspiration, and proudly sees himself as carrying out FDR’s mission. I haven’t counted them, but I’d guess I’ve received a couple hundred e-mails from readers telling me how they thought the whole book was written with Obama in mind, even though I finished it before he was even ahead in the Democratic primaries.

Now here’s the part that relates to what Ann wrote. The part of fascism that relates to economics is called corporatism:

If you look at how most liberals think about economics, they want big corporations and big government working in tandem with labor, universities (think industrial policy), and progressive organizations to come up with “inclusive” policies set at the national or international level. That’s not necessarily socialism — it’s corporatism. When you listen to how Obama is making economic policy with “everyone at the table,” he’s describing corporatism, the economic philosophy of fascism. Government is the senior partner, but all of the other institutions are on board — so long as they agree with the government’s agenda. The people left out of this coordinated effort … are the small businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the ideological, social, or economic mavericks who don’t want to play along. When you listen to Obama demonize Chrysler’s bondholders simply because they want their contracts enforced and the rule of law sustained, you get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Yes, Obama’s America shares the other characteristics of fascism Goldberg lists: cult of unity, sacralization of politics, philosophical pragmatism, corporatism, relativism, Romanticism, hero-worship, collectivism. (“Sacralization of politics” means making politics a religion. Think of “The One” and the references to Obama as the Messiah. ) But let’s confine our label to corporatism. I don’t think most American big businesses are interested in hero-worship and the other stuff. But some of them sure do want the government to be their partner in making profits easier for them — bringing in immigrants to work cheaply, stifling competition through regulation, giving them subsidies or bailouts, and so on.

This corporatist tendency has been growing for decades — that’s one reason almost all large businesses  and business associations have big lobbying staffs in Washington. They’re either defending their businesses from government’s heavy hand or looking for a handout from government. But Obama is bringing it to new and ominous heights. We’re better off using the word “corporatism” because it doesn’t set off the crazed reaction that “fascism” does. But as far as I can see, except for the extreme nationalism that was typical of European fascism, the latter term describes much of Obama’s agenda.

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