John T. Flynn, like other members of the Old Right, was disgusted by the irony that what he saw, almost everyone else chose to ignore. In the fight against authoritarian regimes abroad, he noted, the United States had adopted those forms of government at home, complete with price controls, rationing, censorship, executive dictatorship, and even concentration camps for whole groups considered to be unreliable in their loyalties to the state.
After reviewing this long history, John T. Flynn proceeds to sum up with a list of eight points he considers to be the main marks of the fascist state.
As I present them, I will also offer comments on the modern American central state.
Point 1. The government is totalitarian because it acknowledges no restraint on its powers.
This is a very telling mark. It suggests that the US political system can be described as totalitarian. This is a shocking remark that most people would reject. But they can reject this characterization only so long as they happen not to be directly ensnared in the state’s web. If they become so, they will quickly discover that there are indeed no limits to what the state can do. This can happen boarding a flight, driving around in your hometown, or having your business run afoul of some government agency. In the end, you must obey or be caged like an animal or killed. In this way, no matter how much you may believe that you are free, all of us today are but one step away from Guantanamo.
As recently as the 1990s, I can recall that there were moments when Clinton seemed to suggest that there were some things that his administration could not do. Today I’m not so sure that I can recall any government official pleading the constraints of law or the constraints of reality to what can and cannot be done. No aspect of life is untouched by government intervention, and often it takes forms we do not readily see. All of healthcare is regulated, but so is every bit of our food, transportation, clothing, household products, and even private relationships.
Mussolini himself put his principle this way: “All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” He also said: “The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative.”
I submit to you that this is the prevailing ideology in the United States today. This nation, conceived in liberty, has been kidnapped by the fascist state.
Point 2. Government is a de facto dictatorship based on the leadership principle.
I wouldn’t say that we truly have a dictatorship of one man in this country, but we do have a form of dictatorship of one sector of government over the entire country. The executive branch has spread so dramatically over the last century that it has become a joke to speak of checks and balances. What the kids learn in civics class has nothing to do with reality.
The executive state is the state, as we know it, all flowing from the White House down. The role of the courts is to enforce the will of the executive. The role of the legislature is to ratify the policy of the executive.
Further, this executive is not really about the person who seems to be in charge. The president is only the veneer, and the elections are only the tribal rituals we undergo to confer some legitimacy on the institution. In reality, the nation-state lives and thrives outside any “democratic mandate.” Here we find the power to regulate all aspects of life and the wicked power to create the money necessary to fund this executive rule.
As for the leadership principle, there is no greater lie in American public life than the propaganda we hear every four years about how the new president/messiah is going to usher in the great dispensation of peace, equality, liberty, and global human happiness. The idea here is that the whole of society is really shaped and controlled by a single will — a point that requires a leap of faith so vast that you have to disregard everything you know about reality to believe it.
And yet people do. The hope for a messiah reached a fevered pitch with Obama’s election. The civic religion was in full-scale worship mode — of the greatest human who ever lived or ever shall live. It was a despicable display.
Another lie that the American people believe is that presidential elections bring about regime change. This is sheer nonsense. The Obama state is the Bush state; the Bush state was the Clinton state; the Clinton state was the Bush state; the Bush state was the Reagan state. We can trace this back and back in time and see overlapping appointments, bureaucrats, technicians, diplomats, Fed officials, financial elites, and so on. Rotation in office occurs not because of elections but because of mortality.
Point 3. Government administers a capitalist system with an immense bureaucracy.
The reality of bureaucratic administration has been with us at least since the New Deal, which was modeled on the planning bureaucracy that lived in World War I. The planned economy — whether in Mussolini’s time or ours — requires bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the heart, lungs, and veins of the planning state. And yet to regulate an economy as thoroughly as this one is today is to kill prosperity with a billion tiny cuts.
This doesn’t necessarily mean economic contraction, at least not right away. But it definitely means killing off growth that would have otherwise occurred in a free market.
So where is our growth? Where is the peace dividend that was supposed to come after the end of the Cold War? Where are the fruits of the amazing gains in efficiency that technology has afforded? The bureaucracy that manages our every move on this earth has eaten it. The voracious and insatiable monster here is called the Federal Code that calls on thousands of agencies to exercise the police power to prevent us from living free lives.
It is as Bastiat said: the real cost of the state is the prosperity we do not see, the jobs that don’t exist, the technologies to which we do not have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the bright future that is stolen from us. The state has looted us just as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all that we love.
Point 4. Producers are organized into cartels in the way of syndicalism.
Syndicalism is not usually how we think of our current economic structure. But remember that syndicalism means economic control by the producers. Capitalism is different. It places by virtue of market structures all control in the hands of the consumers. The only question for syndicalists, then, is which producers are going to enjoy political privilege. It might be the workers, but it can also be the largest corporations.
In the case of the United States, in the last three years, we’ve seen giant banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurers, car companies, Wall Street banks and brokerage houses, and quasi-private mortgage companies enjoying vast privileges at our expense. They have all joined with the state in living a parasitical existence at our expense.
This is also an expression of the syndicalist idea, and it has cost the US economy untold trillions and sustained an economic depression by preventing the post boom adjustment that markets would otherwise dictate. The government has tightened its syndicalist grip in the name of stimulus.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.,