Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #649 The Corporate State Revisited

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Introduction: Revisiting material first presented in February of 1990, the program compares key features of Mussolini’s Corporate State with salient aspects of the political and economic landscape of George W. Bush’s “Ownership Society.” Beginning with discussion of Treasury Secretary (former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs) Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bailout proposal for American economic institutions, the broadcast notes Sean Olender’s claim that the program’s exemption from judicial review constitutes fascism.

Much of the program reiterates material introduced in “Uncle Sam and Il Duce.” Highlighting the work of journalist, author and social critic George Seldes on the major aspects of Mussolini’s regime, the comparisons–originally with Ronald Reagan’s and George H.W. Bush’s administrations–are more unnervingly relevant today. Publicly represented as a populist regime that would benefit the majority of the population, Mussolini’s corporate state was actually a “spoils system,” designed to reward those members of the economic and political elite who had elevated Mussolini to prominence. Compare the features of fascist Italy’s economic landscape with those of George W. Bush’s America! The broadcast concludes with James Stewart Martin’s 1950 warning that fascism might come to America as “a calm judgment of business necessity” made by businessmen, who are “honorable men”!

Program Highlights Include: Excerpts from Mussolini’s book The Corporate State; American journalistic whitewashing of the multiple failures and brutal execution of Il Duce’s “Corporate State;” the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, the Italian socialist politician who exposed the fraud inherent in Mussolini’s regime, and its collusion with Italian and international big business; the deliberate budgetary misrepresentation conducted by Mussolini in order to mask the fiscal disaster wrought by his government; Mussolini’s proposal to abolish the inheritance tax in order to reward his wealthy backers; Mussolini’s governmental rescue of failed companies owned by some of those wealthy supporters; investment in Mussolini’s corporate state by American corporate interests.

1. Noting that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s proposal for a $700 billion federal bailout program for ailing financial institutions implements complete exemption of the program from judicial review, op-ed columnist Sean Olender asserts that the proposal constitutes fascism.

“Treasury Secretary Paulson’s edict to create a $700 billion fund to buy worthless mortgage securities from agitated wealthy bond investors is nothing short of a final step on the path to the end of the republic. The secretary claims he can only be effective if his decisions are beyond judicial review.

Our government and its owners appear to be testing how much the American public will tolerate. A few years ago, no one could have imagined that the silent majority would quietly accept thefts of this magnitude from a government that stopped tiny payments to single mothers with poor children in the name of welfare reform because the program’s $10 billion cost was breaking the federal budget.

This isn’t socialism, it’s fascism. . . .”

“The End of the Republic” by Sean Olender; San Francisco Chronicle; 9/23/2008; p. B7.

2. Next, the program highlights the fundamentals of Mussolini’s fascist state—characterized by Il Duce as “the corporate state.”

“ON THE CORPORATE STATE: Resolution drafted by the Head of the Italian Government and read by him on November 13th 1933, before the Assembly of the National Council of Corporations, on the eve of his important speech. ‘The National council of Corporations: ‘defines Corporations as the instrument which, under the aegis of the State, carries out the complete organic and totalitarian regulation of production with a view to the expansion of the wealth, political power and well-being of the Italian people. [The National Council of Corporations] declares that the number of Corporations to be formed for the main branches of production should, on principle, be adequate to meet the real needs of national economy. [The National Council of Corporations] establishes that the general staff of each Corporation shall include representatives of State administration, of the Fascist Party, of capital, of labor and of experts. [The National Council of Corporations] assigns to the Corporations as their specific tasks: conciliation, consultation (compulsory on problems of major importance) and the promulgation, through the National Council of Corporations, of laws regulating the economic activities of the country. [The National Council of Corporations] leaves to the Grand Council of Fascism the decision on the further developments, of a constitutional and political order, which should result from the effective formation and practical working of the Corporations.”

The Corporate State; by Benito Mussolini; Valecchi Publishing; copyright 1938 [SC]; pp. 7-8.

3. The program focuses on the work of the late investigative reporter George Seldes, specifically his writings about Mussolini’s regime: Can These Things Be? (Brewer and Warren; [HC] 1931); Facts and Fascism (In Fact, Inc.; [HC] 1943); and primarily, Sawdust Caesar: The Untold Story of Mussolini and Fascism. Originally posted as a reporter in Il Duce’s Italy, Seldes was obliged to leave the country under pressure his reporting on the regime’s fraud and collusion.

Of particular significance are the frightening similarities between the key features of Mussolini’s Corporate State and George W. Bush’s “Ownership Society” noted above!

4. Concluding with a warning presented in 1950, the program echoes James Stewart Martin’s observation that fascism might be brought to America by some of the same business interests who had helped to bring it to Europe. Charged with the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to break up the cartels (international monopolies) that had sustained and collaborated with the Third Reich, Martin noted that the implementation of American fascism might come as “a calm judgment of business necessity.”

“ . . . The moral of this is not that Germany is an inevitable menace, but that there are forces in our own country which can make Germany a menace. And, more importantly, they could create a menace of their own here at home, not through a deliberate plot to bring about a political catastrophe but as a calm judgment of ‘business necessity.’ The men who would do this are not Nazis, but businessmen; not criminals, but honorable men. [This is the last paragraph of the book!—D.E.]”

All Honorable Men; by James Stewart Martin; Little Brown & Co. [HC]; 1943; p. 300.

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR #649 The Corporate State Revisited”

  1. Fantastic! But Dave, you and Olender aren’t the only ones calling it fascism: http://tinyurl.com/4t9ev2

    Posted by Rob Coogan | September 30, 2008, 3:08 am
  2. Joseph, yep, the F-word is always an easy thing to whip out in a fight, which is part of the point of citing conservative Viguerie’s frothing contribution.

    But in this case — namely Paulson’s attempt to bar congressional and judicial review to a public handout of $700 billion, and the fearful hurrying of it all, without discussion — we have a pretty compelling case for using the term in an acceptable structural definition, synonymous with “corporatism,” as Mussolini pioneered it. This I see as the hinge-point for Dave and for Olender.

    Speaking of debased, near-meaningless terms, before the bill was defeated Monday night, Kucinich made a somewhat similar point about “Oversight.” What does it mean?

    These often impotent, straw-filled words, themselves the patrimony of decades of debased discourse, neutralization through media overload, characterize our current, accelerated creep into [insert appropriate term here].

    Posted by Rob Coogan | October 1, 2008, 10:53 am
  3. Up is down, black is white, and ALEC totally supports the rights of cities to set up their own public municipal broadband services. Don’t believe it? Maybe this cease and desist letter will persuade you:

    National Journal
    Conservative Group ALEC Threatens Legal Action Against Telecom Critics
    As corporate members continue to bolt, the controversial nonprofit is on a warpath to silence its critics.
    By Dustin Volz

    April 10, 2015 Suffering from an ongoing exodus of prominent corporate sponsors, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council is not only trying to silence critics who say the group denies climate change. It is also threatening legal action against those attacking its telecom policy.

    Last month, attorneys representing ALEC sent a cease-and-desist letterto Credo Mobile, a progressive wireless carrier, asking it to stop making claims that it opposes the expansion of municipal broadband services.

    “We demand that you cease making inaccurate statements regarding ALEC, and immediately remove all false or misleading material from the Working Assets and Credo Action or related websites and action pages within five business days,” the letter, dated March 5, reads. “Should you not do so, and/or continue to publish any defamatory statements, we will consider any and all necessary legal action to protect ALEC.”

    ALEC contends that it does not oppose city broadband but only advocates that certain “steps” be required before a municipality can provide telecom services. Additionally, ALEC takes issue with Credo labeling it as an organization that lobbies state legislatures at all, arguing that it is merely a “think-tank for state-based public policy issues and potential solutions.”

    ALEC made the letter available on its website this week shortly after The Washington Post reported that the group had sent separate cease-and-desist letters to Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters. Those letters threatened legal action if the progressive groups did not immediately “remove all false or misleading material” that accused ALEC of not denying global warming.

    Both Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters issued responses indicating they have no plans to stop labeling ALEC a climate denier. It is unclear if Credo has issued a response of its own, and the carrier did not respond to a request for comment. ALEC also did not comment for this story.

    ALEC’s quest to silence its critics comes as the organization continues to suffer through a months-long shedding of prominent corporate members, mostly in the tech sector. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in part sparked the exodus when he publicly condemned ALEC for “just literally lying” about climate change and said the search giant would leave the organization.

    Facebook, AOL, eBay, oil-and-gas giant BP, and others have since followed suit, though many did not explicitly link their departure to ALEC’s controversial climate views.

    Most recently, T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth-largest carrier, announced this week it was divorcing itself from ALEC, though it also did not explain whether the separation was due to any specific policy differences.

    ALEC, a coalition of corporations and thousands of mostly Republican state legislators, relies on funding from its business sponsors to function. The Arlington-based nonprofit has been derided by liberals for years as a “bill mill” for conservative ideas and has most recently drawn intense scrutiny for its backing of legislation that disputes that human activity is contributing to climate change—a view that runs counter to the overwhelming scientific consensus. ALEC adamantly rejects that is denies climate change.

    Ok, this is going to be good. So now, in addition to asserting that they don’t do lobbying but are merely a think thank (technically they’re correct, since it’s influence on shaping legislation goes far deeper than just lobbying), ALEC is also denying its well-documented history of climate change denialism and threatening to sue those that deny its denial of denialism.

    But beyond that, ALEC is threatening to sue those that point out its history of opposing municipal broadband. And Alec did this without updating their webpage that talks about how they oppose municipal broadband:

    ALEC

    Municipal Broadband

    There is no question that broadband will become as ubiquitous as the traditional household utilities.

    But does it deserve the same classification as water & sewer, roadways, or school systems, in being provided by the government?

    A growing number of municipalities are answering “yes” by building their own networks and offering broadband services to their citizens. ALEC disagrees with their answer due to the negative impacts it has on free markets and limited government. In addition, such projects could erode consumer choice by making markets less attractive to competition because of the government’s expanded role as a service provider.

    In addition, ALEC is concerned that many cities and towns are signing up for these projects before comprehensively evaluating all the issues surrounding this type of initiative. The fact that no “best practices” or standard business models have yet to emerge and many local governments have used taxpayer money to fund losing ventures warrants the need for government officials and citizens to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages that exist.

    ALEC has explored this issue in detail and compiled a list of questions that should be asked when assessing the appropriateness of such a venture. We grouped these questions for the three parties involved in the decision making process; citizens, local leaders, and state officials, so that they may be well-informed of important criteria with respect to this type of initiative.

    If municipalities are inclined to pursue broadband initiatives then certain safeguards must be put in place in order to ensure that private providers, with whom the municipality will compete with, are not disadvantaged by the municipality in the exercise of its bonding and taxing authority, management of rights of way, assessment of fees or taxes, or in any other way.

    Oh, nevermind! They don’t oppose municipal broadband. They just oppose it if such services disadvantage private ISPs in any way. LOL! Way to not seem totally duplicitous and sleazy ALEC!

    Part of what makes the flight from ALEC potentially so troubling for more than just ALEC is that if anything represents the real heart and soul of the GOP, and general plutocratic corporatocracy, it’s ALEC: a bunch of corporate lobbyist and legislator joining a Koch-fueled corporate-run “think tank” to craft legislation at their behest of their mutual benefactors. So with the rejection of ALEC, we aren’t just seeing a rejection of ALEC the organization. We’re seeing a nationwide rejection of the philosophical heart and soul of the contemporary GOP. And the only solution ALEC can come up with is a laughably unbelievable public image campaign that’s only going to make their image problem even worse.

    Still, you can’t really blame ALEC for this. As the organizational manifestation of the heart and soul of the GOP, this kind of public relations “reboot” was really the only option.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 13, 2015, 5:30 pm

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