A Re-Evalution of Laurence Britt

In 2003, Laurence W. Britt published a brief article on protofascist movements and how they might appear in America. Within weeks, an extensively rewritten version appeared on a popular far-right Libertarian forum, and then quickly picked up and propagated on various conspiracy-minded websites.

This second version bolstered Britt's credentials from Xerox/Mobil business executive and novelist, to doctor of political science. Britt never claimed to be a doctor in his article on protofascism, but it seems he was simply the victim of conspiracy theorists, 9/11 Truthers, and anti-Semites/Holocaust-deniers who wanted to build the case that then-President George W. Bush was establishing a fascist regime in America. The now infamous Britt list continues to be propagated online, and has been used as ammunition against former-President Barack Obama and current-President Donald Trump.

Fascism Anyone?

The Council for Secular Humanism, in their Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry, published an article by Laurence W. Britt on characteristics of the Fascist/protofascist model. This version, titled "Fascism Anyone?," appeared on SecularHumanism.org at the time. When reading LWB's article, it notably differentiates itself from the Dr. LB article with it's first few paragraphs which adds a few qualifiers to the fourteen points he provides.

Britt's introduction repeatedly differentiated between Naziism, Fascism and Protofascist regimes. He also notes that all these regimes he listed were not directly linked ideologically, and even pointed out that this was the view many scholars held.

"Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities."
He includes four additional dictatorships which he once again identifies as protofascist regimes.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power.
Britt explicitly noted that these countries all had a wide range of histories but did not have any direct link or ideology. At the end of his article, he adds that Websters defines "protofascism" as a "political movement or regime tending toward or imitating Fascism." This is significant because its a flat rejection of the notion that Britt's article was a list of "defining characteristics."  Britt makes it absolutely clear that the regimes he cited were not related to Fascism in any way. They only loosely resembled fascism.

This is problematic because Mussolini's Fascist movement itself can be identified as a proto-Bolshevik or proto-Communist regime based on that loose definition. Mussolini's Fascism started out as an imitator of Lenin's Bolshevik movement in Russia, and likewise Hitler's NSDAP imitated Mussolini. This doesn't come close to defining or clarifying what Fascism was. Britt's list can easily be applied to both Lenin and Stalin's Soviet Union and can indirectly lead to the idea that somehow National Socialist Germany was no different than Soviet Communism.

Dr. Lawrence Britt

Weeks after Britt's article was published, a drastically modified version began circulating online. The "Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism" was quickly posted to a well known conspiracy-minded website. In the early 2000's, Rense.com compiled stories from across the web ranging from Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracies to UFO stories or monitoring Chemtrails. Jeff Rense also hosted his own radio show where he interviewed various conspiracy theorists. Among them, Alex Jones, who's own radio show aired alongside Rense for a while until Rense quit the broadcast network in 2009.

According to Rense.com, Britt's list was posted on May 8th, 2003, and although it credited the list to Free Inquiry, it actually cited a Libertarian forum (thread #642109) as its source. Using Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, it shows that Liberty Forum was generally a right-wing Libertarian forum. Browsing the forum shows occasional anti-semitism and conspiracy theories, but overall seemed to be largely opposed to the PATRIOT Act and the Iraq War. It's likely the modified Britt list was seen as proof that the Bush Administration was showing characteristics of a fascist regime.

The list Rense acquired from LibertyForum does not resemble Britt's "Fascism Anyone?" article in any way. It was extensively rewritten and much of Britt's qualifying arguments were entirely deleted. The first five paragraphs that Britt used to provide context to his article were replaced with a single sentence falsely promoting Britt as a doctor. Some versions identify "Dr." Britt as a political scientist. It also implies that Britt believed the Suharto regime in Indonesia, and also the Pinochet regime in Chile, were Fascist regimes. This does not reflect what Britt had written in "Fascism Anyone?" where he labeled them as protofascist regimes.

Britt Interview

In December, 2004, Laurence Britt was interviewed by the Rochester City Newspaper. He stated definitively that the United States was not a fascist regime, and also noted that many of the points were not actually realized, even in Bush's America.

City: Looking at the world right now, do you consider the US a fascist state?
Britt: No. By definition it's a democracy. My article is a cautionary tale. This is what I've researched; this is what I've seen; this is what's happened in the past. You can draw your own conclusions: No, this has nothing to do with the United States; or, there are some disquieting trends here that we certainly have to be aware of, and the powers that be exhibit many of these characteristics, and we'd better damn well be careful.
He was interviewed on a variety of subjects but was also given a chance to further explain the fourteen points. The first characteristic from his article states:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
The rewritten Britt list shows a drastic difference.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 
Britt elaborated on this in his interview.

City: In your first characteristic of fascism, "Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism," you mention displaying the flag. I was surprised to see a large one on your porch.
Britt: I put a flag up on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Flag Day, and Veterans Day. I don't have it up all the time. There's nothing wrong with pride, it's when pride moves into hubris.
Britt's use of "hubris" differentiates basic flag-waving nationalism from excessive nationalism, or, as the Marxists called it, nationalist "Chauvinism." The Marxists used the term to describe Fascist nationalism as an excessive pride or excessive loyalty to the nation. Britt's article uses qualifiers like "fervor" and "frenzy," but the fake Britt List whittles it down to flag pins and flag paraphernalia (i.e. harmless flag waving). This shows that Britt's analysis is far more sobering and clear-eyed than the fake Britt List would have us believe.

Defining Fascism

Britt's article should not be viewed as a definitive analysis of Fascism. He makes it clear that he was simply looking for vague resemblances, not "defining characteristics."

When trying to understand fascism, you have to look for the differences and also try to understand the underlying ideology. Actualized Fascism (Naziism, Falangism, Italian Fascism) overtly adopted ideas and theories from across the political spectrum. Fascist corporatism resembles the corporatist policies of the Second International Marxists. Falangism resembles Sorel's Marxist syndicalism (Sorel hated the Second International). Stalin, Roosevelt, and Hitler had concentration camps. Racism and sexism were the norm in the 1920's. It doesn't make sense to try to define fascism based on characteristics that were common in Communist and Liberal Democratic nations. It only blurs the differences.

What made Fascism unique was the Totalitarian, Corporatist State. The Labor Unions, the Employers and the State were merged into one cohesive unit to manage the economy or coordinate production. Free market capitalism doesn't advocate this, Liberalism doesn't advocate this, and Marxist Communism doesn't advocate this. Political parties were replaced with Worker/Employer corporations. The State mandated worker rights and collective bargaining, and mandated employer rights and collective bargaining as well. In the 70+ years since Fascism was abolished, no State or nation has ever embraced these ideas. Even some neo-Fascist groups have distanced themselves from corporatism entirely.


Laurence W. Britt interview. December 8, 2004. Rochester City Newspaper.

The original Britt article via Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. May 16, 2003. Council for Secular Humanism.

Rense's revised version of the Britt article. Dated May 23, 2003. Cites Liberty Forum.

Liberty Forum via Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. May 26, 2003.

"June, 2004" by Laurence W. Britt

Did Google Redefine Fascism?

Currently, there's a debate raging about Google's definition of Fascism, and notably that it does not conform with other online dictionaries which exclude the phrase "right-wing" entirely. So far, much of the controversy is directed towards Google, but Bing's search results provides the exact same definition.

Bing's search results cite Oxford Dictionaries as its source for the definition, while Google does not cite any source. But searching Oxford's dictionary shows two definitions that are nearly identical except for the exclusion of the phrase "right-wing."

Oxford English Dictionary definition:
An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
Oxford Living Dictionary definition:
An authoritarian and nationalistic system of government and social organization.
Oxford English Dictionary matches both Google and Bing's definition, so it's reasonable to say that Google's source is also the Oxford English Dictionary. Another thing to note is that the OED definition that includes "right-wing" can be found in its print dictionaries from the 1990's. So Google, hasn't changed its definition. But why does the Oxford Living Dictionary exclude "right-wing" from its definition?

The reason is that Oxford is providing two definitions for two nationalities. Oxford English Dictionary is for British English, while Oxford Living Dictionary is for American English. This is not uncommon for British dictionary companies. Cambridge's online dictionary provides the option to switch between the English and British definition. Like Oxford, Cambridge has nearly identical definitions of Fascism, but the American definition includes the phrase "state control of social and economic life."

Cambridge British definition:
a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control, and being extremely proud of country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed
Cambridge America definition:
a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control of social and economic life, and extreme pride in country and race, with no expression of political disagreement allowed
MacMillian provides only one definition for Fascism, but includes the phrase "right-wing" in reference to its political system.

MacMillian definition:
a very right-wing political system in which the government is very powerful and controls the society and the economy completely, not allowing any opposition. Fascism was practised in Italy and Germany in the 1930s and 40s.
Compare that to two American definitions provided by American Heritage and Dictionary.com which exclude "right-wing."

American Heritage definition:
A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
Dictionary.com definition:
a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism. 
The reason some dictionaries drop "right-wing" while others include it is because of the differing political history between Europe and America. The founding of the United States was based on the violent rejection of a monarchist system in favor of a liberal, democratic, republican system. Meanwhile, monarchism in Europe continued to exist well into the 1900's.

In the Traditional Political Spectrum, monarchism is on the far-right, while revolutionists and progressives were on the left. In the 1700's and 1800's, liberalism (individual liberty, natural rights) developed in opposition to the monarchist system. The American Revolution was a prime example of this. Monarchism in America was entirely purged early on and so its entire political foundation is in its liberal ideals of individual liberty, natural rights, and minimal government interference. In the American political lexicon of today, "right-wing" doesn't mean "monarchism," but instead means "individual liberty."

This also applies to the term "liberalism." In Europe, Liberalism is largely associated with individual liberty and natural rights, but in the United States the term has evolved into a broad term for the American left-wing, which advocates egalitarian democracy and social welfare. European Liberalism is basically the American right-wing, while American Liberalism is closer to European Social Democrats. Britannica defines Liberalism as:
a political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others; but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.
Cambridge's American Dictionary defines Liberalism as:
tending to emphasize the need to make new laws when necessary because of changing conditions and to depend on the government to provide social services:
Clearly, these are two contradictory definitions, but they only make sense if you take note that one applies to Europe's historical development, and one applies to American development.

Apply this back to Fascism. Not only did Mussolini emphatically reject classical liberalism and lassaiz-faire capitalism, but also embraced monarchism and absolutism. Mussolini/Gentile discuss this quite a bit in The Doctrine of Fascism:
Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity. It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual. And if liberty is to he the attribute of living men and not of abstract dummies invented by individualistic liberalism, then Fascism stands for liberty, and for the only liberty worth having, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. The Fascist conception of the State is all embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism, is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentates the whole life of a people. . . . We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the "right", a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the "collective" century, and therefore the century of the State. . . . If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.
Not only does Mussolini define himself as right-wing, but he indisputably lays out the fact that he is opposed to individual liberty and supports an authoritarian State. By European standards, Mussolini was definitely right-wing, but this does not really register on the American political spectrum. Both the American right and the American left have a political foundation in liberalism. And although Socialism, Marxism and Fascism have made numerous attempts at building a foundation in America, none of them were successful. So neither the American right nor the American left broke away from Liberalism. It's hard to define either of them as Fascist.

When American dictionaries drop "right-wing" from their definition, it is due to the fact that an Authoritarian system of government cannot be compared to a Liberal government in any sense because they are contradictory ideologies. But this contradiction doesn't apply to British dictionaries because right-wing Monarchist/Absolutist systems don't contradict the Authoritarian nature of Fascism.

The New Deal: General Johnson, Fascism, and anti-Fascism

Hugh Samuel Johnson (January 28, 1935).
In March 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States. In the months before, he assembled a team of economic advisors and university professors to develop his economic program that would become the New Deal. Among them was Bernard Baruch and his collaborator, General Hugh S. Johnson.

Johnson first came in contact with Bernard M. Baruch during the First World War as part of the War Industries Board. They were tasked with ensuring production and delivery of war materials to Europe. Baruch became a mentor to Johnson and they would collaborate often in the post-war years. In the years leading up to the Great Depression, both Johnson and Baruch became increasingly alarmed at the condition of the American economy.

" . . . [Baruch] laid down for me the organic chart for our efforts. It was a prophecy of what was to come and it proved as accurate as a mariner's chartthe inflationary boom, the inevitable collapse, the unbearable burden of the debt structure, the foolishness of foreign loans, their eventual repudiation, and the coming of the deluge. He did not attempt to time it. He said that could not be done, but he gave me two certain criteria.

     'Watch automobile sales and the construction figuresthis whole false fabric is built on the unprecedent conjunction of these two big credit-inflated boomswhen they slide, the whole structure will collapse.' "
Despite knowing how the collapse would come, they did not know when. As the 1928 Presidential elections began ramping up, Baruch and Johnson feared a Hoover Presidency would compound the problem.

"We both felt that Mr. Hoover's plan to maintain prosperity by foreign trade financed by loans to 'backward and crippled countries' could lead only to disaster. My studies showed that, in spite of fabulous and inflated profits to a few large groupings, the bulk of manufacture in the United States was operating in the red, and that very certainly, at the height of our "prosperity," no less than three million employables were without work. Even then the farm situation was desperate and the whole tenor of the economic thought on which Mr. Hoover seemed to rely indicated a belief that anything done to help agriculture would handicap industry in expanding export trade. The latter expansion Mr. Hoover believed (and frequently said) was absolutely essential to the maintenance of domestic prosperity."
This lead to Baruch and Johnson (and later George Peek) to actively aid the Al Smith campaign for President. When Smith lost to Hoover, Baruch and Johnson reverted back to private life. The 1929 collapse came and the start of, what Johnson called, "the Great American Deluge" began. Within months, Baruch and Johnson began studying the collapse to find a solution to the crisis.

In June 1932, Johnson wrote and distributed a Fascist Program among close colleagues which he believed would solve the crisis. He signed it with the alias "Muscleinny" (Mussolini) and included 8 reasons for dissolving Congress and a list of Acts to aid national recovery.

Reason No. 1: In the greatest crisis in our history, the Constitutional government was rendered futile by the approaching elections. Influenced by selfish interests and organized minorities, it frittered away five months while our country descended to the edge of destitution.
General Reasons: The combination of these causes threatened immediately ruin to our country. It was a ridiculous if ghastly paradox. It was entirely avoidable and unnecessary. In this crisis, and especially in this political year, divided powers were wholly inadequate. The sole cure was singleness of control and immediate action.
Act No. I: The President, Vice President, and all members of Congress have been sent to a very pleasant archipelago not under American jurisdiction. . . . The Constitution will, in all things, be respected, with the single exception that these decrees will be treated as duly enacted laws. . . . In other words, not one single power has been assumed that did not reside in Congress and the President. They could have done all things necessary to salvation without thisbut they did not and apparently would not.
Johnson and Baruch attended the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. When Roosevelt was nominated, Baruch paid the Party $50,000 to include Johnson in FDR's Brain Trust.

After Roosevelt was elected, Johnson began collaborating with Rexford Tugwell on the early drafts of the National Industrial Recovery Act. Tugwell spoke briefly with Roosevelt and came away with the impression that they had complete authority to draft a bill, but Roosevelt's impression was that they were simply doing research. When Frances Perkins met with Johnson and Tugwell, she quickly realized their plan was similar to others that had been proposed.

"At the earliest opportunity I reported to the President that two fairly complete plans were being mapped out—one by Wagner and Jacobstein, the other by Tugwell and Johnson. They both rested on the idea of suspending the effect of the anti-trust laws in return for voluntary agreement by industries for fair competition, minimum wage levels, and maximum hours. I told him that the plans were not very different and both apparently had gotten around constitutional difficulties. The President asked Henry Wallace and me to get the two groups together. That was arranged, and the conferees met daily."

Both Perkins and Roosevelt realized early on that Johnson's plan concentrated a  great deal of power to whoever administered the program. They gradually included revisions that diffused power to several sources.

"[William Green] thought the bill could be used as a method for putting the labor unions out of business. General Johnson took the bill and redrafted it, incorporating Section 7A, which was meant to assure labor's right to collective bargaining. Written in general terms, 7A was a problem in semantics. It was a set of words to suit labor leaders, William Green in particular. When they discovered later what could be done under 7A, they called it 'labor's Magna Charta.'"
At a later cabinet meeting, Roosevelt decided to split the administration of the public works programs and industrial recovery into two separate administrations. Johnson had expected to head both but they decided to give Public Works to Harold L. Ickes.

"It was pointed out that the administrative task of Title II would require close and constant timing. No chances could be taken with it. It could become a pork barrel; it could become corrupt; it could be extremely wasteful of the people's money. It must be administered with the utmost of careful controls, of integrity, and of cautious, businesslike legal procedures. . . . the President told him, as agreeably, I think, as it could have been told, that in talking it over with the cabinet it had seemed to them all that to ask any one man to administer both Title I and Title II was putting an inhuman burden upon that man; that to direct and develop industrial recovery under Title I was tough enough; and that he had come to the conclusion that he should lift the burden of the more pedestrian but difficult and time consuming job of public works under Title II from his shoulders; and that he had just decided to appoint Ickes to administer Title II."
Despite this Johnson still gravitated toward dictatorial administration of the National Recovery Administration and Perkins and Roosevelt continued to split his responsibilities to other sources.

"He planned to give his personal approval to each code. Then he would recommend it to the President, who would sign it. It would become the over-all pattern for that industry, entitling those who signed the agreement to be exempted from the more difficult sections of the antitrust law. He expected to have his own legal counsel, economists, and statisticians, and to make up his mind and proceed to the President without advice or approval of the other, older government agencies and without public hearings or publication of proposed codes in advance. . . . When this was reported to the President, he saw the hazard of such procedure. He persuaded rather than directed General Johnson to utilize the economic and statistical bureaus of the Departments of Commerce and Labor and to consult the Attorney General systematically on the ground of economy and integration of government activities. Incidentally, this process gave two cabinet officers knowledge of what was going on before it was too late to check monopolistic or undemocratic trends and to inform the President of dangers and problems ahead."
It was widely known within the Brain Trust and in the FDR Cabinet that Johnson favored a Fascistic approach to the NIRA. Johnson gave Perkins and other Cabinet officials a copy of Raffaello Viglione's The Corporate State, which laid out the Corporatist system in Fascist Italy.

The Corporatist System that Johnson was building had simply replaced the Italian Corporations with Johnson's own "Code Authorities." Each Authority would manage a sector of Industry while Labor and the Employers would collectively manage that industry to insure fair treatment of workers and fair competition between businesses. As in Italy, the Authorities would (ideally) manage themselves without the need for government advisement. Johnson didn't think there was a need for Labor and Employers to be advising him. When Perkins recommended he do so, Johnson proposed having one Labor Representative sit on his right and a Businessman sit on his left. Johnson eventually agreed to a Labor Advisory Board under the condition that Perkins have total control of the committee and appointments to it. There was also the inclusion of the Industrial Advisory Board and the Consumers Advisory board. The LAB and IAB were designed to be entirely independent of Johnson's Recovery Administration but would advise his NRA and the code-making process. Board members in the IAB and LAB were chosen by Industry or Labor professionals rather than by the NRA, Congress, or the Representative labor/industrial Authorities. The members of the CAB were chosen by the NRA.

Further insistence from Perkins and Roosevelt pushed Johnson for further labor representation through the inclusion of Section 7(a), which guaranteed collective bargaining and union organizing. To emulate Italy's Labor Courts, Johnson established the National Labor Board which placed Industrial Representatives and Labor Representatives on a board to settle labor disputes. Senator Robert F. Wagner was chosen as Chairman of the Labor Board. Later, as it became clearer that Section 7(a) and much of the National Industrial Recovery Act would be ruled unconstitutional, Wagner began drafting a new bill that would retain much of 7(a) and re-emerge as the National Labor Relations Board.

Communist Reaction

Shortly after the NIRA passed Congress, the Communist Party and Earl Browder lead the charge against the New Deal. Following the Comintern's strategy, Browder initially portrayed the Democrats as the Social Fascists who, as had happened in Germany, misinformed and betrayed the workers' interests to the bourgeoisie. The alliance of the Socialist Party and the American Federation of Labor with Roosevelt and the Democrats was a sign that they were leading the workers to a Fascist Corporate State.

". . . But the fascist direction in which the Roosevelt policies are carrying the United States is becoming clear to the whole world. Nowhere is this more manifest than in the efforts to merge the reformist American Federation of Labor into the machinery of government, under the avowed banner of the fascist conception of the 'corporate state,' prohibition of strikes, compulsory arbitration, governmental fixing of wages, and even control of the inner life of the trade unions. For the edification of the masses this was spoken of as a 'partnership of capital and labor, together with the government.' Under this program the A. F. of L. is given governmental support and even financial assistance, and a determined effort is made to control and eventually choke off the strike movement, by driving the workers into the A. F. of L. where it is hoped the official leadership will be able to bring the masses under control.
Browder was the Chairman of the Communist Party of the United States, and he was responsible for propagating the Comintern strategy in America. The Communist International during the period defined Fascism as "the open, terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital." This interpretation came from Lenin's writings on Imperialism and the development of Finance Capital as a product of banking and industrial monopolization. Chauvinism was a reference to the French Revolution and the Napoleon loyalist Nicolas Chauvin. The term was often used to describe excessive loyalty to the nation or aristocracy, and Browder used it to describe Roosevelt's militarization and rearmament programs.

"The development of Roosevelt's program is a striking illustration of the fact that there is no Chinese wall between democracy and fascism. Roosevelt operates with all of the arts of 'democratic' rule, with an emphasized liberal and social-demagogic cover, quite a contrast with Hoover who was an outspokenly reactionary. Yet behind this smoke screen, Roosevelt is carrying out more thoroughly, more brutally than Hoover, the capitalist attack against the living standards of the masses and the sharpest national chauvinism in foreign relations."
Browder also believed that, despite the strengthening of labor laws, the New Deal was largely concentrating power and capital in the hands of the big capitalists rather than the workers or small capitalists.

"With the cry, 'take the Government out of the hands of Wall Street,' Roosevelt is carrying through the greatest drive for extending trustification and monopoly, exterminating independent producers and small capitalists, and establishing the power of finance capital more thoroughly than ever before. He has turned the public treasury into the pockets of the big capitalists. While Hoover gave $300,000,000 in a year, Roosevelt has given $5,000,000,000 in three months. As for the extra-legal developments of fascism, we should remember that it is precisely in the South which is the basis of power of the Democratic Party, that the Ku Klux Klan originated and is now being revived. It is the South that for generations has given lie to all Democratic pretensions of liberalism by its brutal lynching, disfranchisement and Jim-Crowing of the Negro masses, and upon this basis has reduced the standard of living of the white workers in the South far below that of the rest of the country. . . . It is clear that fascism already finds much of its work done in America and more of it is being done by Roosevelt."
 The Comintern's "Social Fascism" line placed the Social Democratic Parties and the American Democrats in league with the German National Socialists and Italian Fascists. Their belief being that their misguided attempt at saving Democracy from Fascism was the equivalent of sabotaging the labor movement for the interests of finance capitalism. The Stalin-era Comintern relayed to international parties that Fascism and Democracy were capitalist institutions that would inherently crush any proletarian movement.

"What are the ideas, the misconceptions, with which the social-fascists confuse and disarm the workers? First, is the idea that fascism is the opposite of capitalist democracy, and this democracy is therefore the means of combating and defeating fascism. This false idea serves a double purpose. By means of counterposing 'democracy against dictatorship,' it tries to identify in the worker's mind the fascist dictatorship with the proletarian dictatorship in the Soviet Union, and thus cause the worker to reject the road of revolution. At the same time, this slogan is used to hide the fact that capitalist democracy is not the enemy, but the mother of fascism; that it is not the destroyer, but the creator of fascism. It uses the truth that fascism destroys democracy, to propagate the falsehood that democracy will also destroy fascism. Thus does the Socialist Party and trade union officialdom, to the extent that the workers follow them, tie the working class to the chariot wheels of a capitalist democracy which is being transformed into fascism, paralyze their resistance, deliver them over to fascism bound and helpless."
Browder and the Comintern believed that the situation in America under the Roosevelt Administration was following a similar path to the one that had preceded the rise of Hitler in Germany. In much of the Comintern's literature of the era, the German or Austrian Social Democrats like Bruening, Schleicher or Kautsky were Social Fascists, who were fighting to secure Bourgeois Democracy from both Fascism and Communism. The base of support for Democracy was the middle class capitalists, but the base of support for Fascism was finance capital. Browder applied this formula to Roosevelt.

"In Germany this meant support to Hindenburg, Bruening, Von Papen, Schleicher; and their 'emergency decrees' directed against the workers. In the United States, it is support to Roosevelt, LaGuardia, the N.R.A., and the 'emergency decrees' of the strike-breaking labor boards, arbitration boards, 'code authorities,' etc. In each case, the slogan is 'choose the lesser evil'; in each case, the workers are asked to 'fight against fascism' by supporting the men and measures that are introducing fascism. . . . [the second misconception] is the idea that fascism represents, not finance capital, but rather a 'revolutionary movement' directed against both finance capital and against the working class by the impoverished middle classes. This idea helps finance capital to get and keep control over these middle classes, strengthens their illusions, divides the workers from them and prevents the workers from setting themselves the task of winning over the middle classes to support of the proletarian revolution, causes the workers to support their misleaders in their alliance with finance capital 'against fascism.' In Germany, this idea was, concretely, alliance with Hindenburg against Hitler; in Austria, with Dollfuss against the Nazis; in the United States with Roosevelt 'against Wall Street.'"
The CPUSA openly and repeatedly claimed that the policies Roosevelt was implementing in America was the same as those Hitler had implemented in Germany.

"A part of [America's] drive toward war is the rising wave of fascist violence against workers, farmers and the discontented middle classes. Concentration camps already exist in Georgia, hailed by Hitler himself as following the Nazi model. National Guards have been called out in twelve States in the past months to shoot down strikers and demonstrators. More than fifty workers have been murdered, hundreds wounded, thousands sent to prison. In California, the so-called vigilantes have burned, destroyed, tortured, maimed, openly violated every item on the Bill of Rights, on the call of General Hugh Johnson, speaking for the Washington administration, and with the active cooperation of local police and officialdom, on the best model of Hitler."
Browder and the CPUSA quickly called for open resistance against the New Deal and American Fascism. The strategy Browder laid out for the Party was aimed at winning the workers away from the American Federation of Labor, the Socialist Party, and the Democratic Party, and agitating against the New Deal and National Recovery Administration. Browder laid plain that he did not differentiate between Hitler and Roosevelt.

"Comrades, we can take up this task with greater confidence when we see how our brother German Party has met more serious task than this, and has overcome a thousand-fold more difficulties than we have, even in the conditions under which they are working in Germany at the present time. If the German Communist Party, with such determinism and heroism, succeeds in meeting the conditions of struggle against the Hitler regime, certainly we also will be able to meet the offensive of the Roosevelt New Deal and establish our Party as a mass leader in America."

Fascist Reaction

In May 1933, Hitler had already laid the foundation of the Corporate State in Germany. After the May Day celebrations orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels, all labor unions were smashed and replaced with the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront). When the NIRA passed Congress in June, Hitler and other leading National Socialists were quick to embrace it as a grand corporatist and authoritarian experiment.

In July 1933, Hitler was interviewed by Anne O'Hare McCormick on Germany's recovery efforts. Hitler stated, without reservations, that recovery was impeded by bureaucracy and parliament, and complimented the New Deal.

"Parliament has obstructed my reforms. It has disappeared also. In Germany and elsewhere parliaments have proved themselves utterly incapable of dealing with the preposterous developments of the last ten years. . . . I admire Premiere Mussolini because during many years he has carried out his plans regardless of ridicule and obstruction. I have sympathy with President Roosevelt because he marches straight toward his objective over Congress, over lobbies, over stubborn bureaucracies."
McCormick explicitly asked Hitler if Germany would ever revert back to a parliament. He replied,

"Yes, but with a Parliament of another and better type, in which representation will be on a technical basis. Such a development is the Italian corporative State."
In 1934, Hitler sent a brief letter (through Ambassador Dodd) to Roosevelt expressing his admiration of the New Deal.

"The Chancellor of the Reich begs Ambassador Dood to be good enough to transmit his greetings to President Roosevelt and at the same time to state that he sincerely congratulates President Roosevelt for his heroic efforts in the interests of the American people. The President's successful battle against economic distress is being followed by the entire German people with interest and admiration. The Chancellor is in accord with the President in view that the virtue of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline should dominate the entire people. These moral demands which the President places before every individual citizens of the United States, are also the quintessence of the German State philosophy which finds its expression in the slogan 'The Public Weal Transcends the Interests of the Individual'."
In the first year of the New Deal, both Hitler and Mussolini were optimistic that the American experiment was similar to the corporatist experiment in Germany and Italy. Mussolini had great interest in the New Deal, and often sent diplomats to America to study the new system. Italy's Minister of Finance, Guido Jung, and Ambassador Augusto Rosso often met with Roosevelt and his Brain Trust. Roosevelt's Ambassador, Breckinridge Long, also had great respect for the Italian system.

Despite Mussolini's optimism, he did not believe the New Deal went far enough. In February 1934, he told Italy:

The American experiment will be followed with much attention. Even in the United States the intervention of the State in economic affairs has been direct; sometimes it assumes peremptory forms. Those codes are nothing but collective contracts, which the President obliges one and all to accept.
Mussolini believed that the basis of the New Deal, although influenced by Fascism, was still deeply entrenched with liberal ideals. He noted in his book review of Roosevelt's "Looking Forward" that the Americans had acknowledged that economic liberalism (lassaiz faire) was increasingly incompatible with public well-being, but that their refusal to believe that the depression was a crisis of the capitalist system rather than a crisis in the system, would be the New Deal's downfall. Despite this, he had hope that cooperation could lead the United States away from liberalism and towards Fascism. He praised Roosevelt's proposal in "Looking Forward" for an economic Bill of Rights, and encouraged the abandonment of the dogmas of economic liberalism. He praised state intervention in the economy as a step in the right direction.

In October 1934, Roosevelt sent Rexford Tugwell, another admirer of Mussolini, to Italy to study the corporatist system. Tugwell noted in his diary that Fascist regimentation was beneficial.

"I find Italy doing many of the things which seem to me necessary. The good people here too are worried about the budget etc. Mussolini, certainly has the same people opposed to him as FDR has. But he has the press controlled so that they cannot scream lies at him daily. And he has a compact and disciplined nation although it lacks resources."
In Germany, Robert Ley and the members of DAF began solidifying the corporatist system into German Law.  The Leipzig Agreement was introduced in March 1935, and established various Employer and Worker organizations within DAF. Ley also introduced a number of codes to insure fair competition between businesses.

Robert A. Brady, an economist and collaborator of Frances Perkins during the first New Deal era, noted in The German Spirit and Structure of German Fascism that the Leipzig agreement largely resembled the National Recovery Administration, from its structure down to its laws.

"It requires no discerning eye to see that this series of major assumptions and guiding rules for the conduct of business-as-usual under Nazi domination is identical in type. content, and tone with that long familiar to American readers who have kept up with the trends of legislation and court decisions in the United States having to do with "fair competition" and "trust-busting." More significant still, the issues, the methods of handling them, and the conclusions reached are those employed in the drafting and attempted enforcement of the N.R.A. Codes."
By 1935, a rift developed between Italy and the United States. The end of Johnson's National Recovery Administration, imposed by a Supreme Court ruling, lead to the abandonment of corporatist policies in America. The Italian invasion of Ethiopia also greatly reduced Italy's prestige among Americans. Prior to the invasion, American perception of Mussolini was that of a peacemaker who would lead Europe away from aggression.

Post-1935, Mussolini and Hitler became critical of the New Deal. Robert Ley, Hitler's administrator of the German Labor Front and architect of German corporatism, wrote:

"American workers know nothing about such social benefits as old age care, care for the handicapped or accident and health insurance. Roosevelt’s New Deal has attempted to copy the German model. The copy is a bad one. The renowned social apostle is bluffing here as everywhere else. Despite complicated regulations, only a small number of workers enjoy a decent retirement. Insurance against accidents, industries mishaps,and illness simply does not exist."
In 1942, as the United States entered the war, Robert Ley blamed the failure of the New Deal on Roosevelt's "chaotic" government policies.

He assumed office at the same time as Hitler’s seizure of power. From the first days of his presidency, he was overshadowed by the Führer. His New Deal, it is true, attempted to imitate numerous of the Führer’s policies. But what led to success by us was condemned to failure in America, because Roosevelt is a man without particular gifts, and because of the particular conditions prevailing in America’s model democracy. His plans were not designed for a particular people or race, but rather only for a population consisting of the most varied racial elements from throughout the world. His plans were condemned to failure, for he never had the ability to lead. The only chance was dictatorial measures.


In 1935, the Supreme Court ruled that the Industrial Codes of the NIRA were equivalent to laws. As a result, the Code Authorities were deemed unconstitutional on the ground that only Congress has the power to enact such laws. A year before a decision had been reached on the legality of the NIRA, Hugh Johnson had been ousted for his drunken escapades and a very public affair with one of his secretaries. He went on to write an autobiography, The Blue Eagle: From Egg to Earth, which detailed his life as an administrator and organizer within the Army, his friendship with Bernard Baruch, and his work for the N.R.A.

Earl Browder's attempt at rallying an anti-Fascist movement against the New Deal was undermined by the Soviet Union's policy changes. The "Popular Front" line urged the CPUSA to abandon "Social Fascism" and to begin collaborating with the Socialist Party against Fascism abroad. With the development of Civil War in Spain, the Communist International encouraged mobilization against Spanish Fascism. By 1939, the line changed once again to peace, since the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact was signed between the Fascists and the Communists. When Hitler betrayed the Pact, the Comintern once again mobilized for war. By 1945, the wartime alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union led Browder to falsely believe that a new era of cooperation between the two nations during peacetime was possible. Browder encouraged the CPUSA to embrace cooperation but the Communist International was quick to denounce the idea. By 1946, Earl Browder was accused of Marxist revisionism and expelled from the party.

After the 1935 invasion of Ethiopia by Fascist Italy, American approval for Mussolini and Fascism drastically shifted away. Mussolini, who was once hailed as a peacemaker and a future leader of post-WWI Europe, was derided for defying the League of Nations and utilizing chemical weapons against Ethiopia. Many Fascist intellectuals within Mussolini's government marked this moment as when all traces of their ideals were destroyed.

Robert Ley would go on to shamelessly exploit the workers that his corporatist organization was supposed to protect. DAF funds and worker savings were funneled for Ley's personal use, and many of his administrators followed suit. Corruption was rampant, but Ley was protected by the Nazi Party apparatus.


The economist Robert Brady put it bluntly in 1937:

"The American N.R.A. program was, in short, a 'fascist' program in idea, in principle, andin the mainin structure. What differences there were between the two lie, in the main, in variation in types of industry most vitally affected, in the scale of industrial operations, and in the degree to which powers could be enforced. In these respects the principle contrast are found in the fact that the preceding organizations in Germany were much more highly developed, the plans were more consistently and ruthlessly carried through, and the state lent its authority more wholeheartedly to the task. Germany's 'New Deal,' in other words, came earlier because centralization had proceeded further in that country."


The Roosevelt I Knew - Frances Perkins

Communism in the United States - Earl Browder

The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism - Robert A. Brady

Roosevelt Betrays America - Robert Ley

America as a Perversion of European Culture - Robert Ley

Hitler Seeks Jobs for All Germans - Anne O'Hare McCormick. New York Times. July 10, 1933.

Roosevelt and the System - Benito Mussolini. July 7, 1933.

Speech on the 13th Year for the Corporative State. Benito Mussolini. January 12, 1934.

What America Wants? - Benito Mussolini. August 17, 1934.

Book Review: Sawdust Caesar.

Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism (1935)

1935 marked the ninth year of the Fascist regime and the thirteenth since the March on Rome. Within those years, Benito Mussolini was quite successful at amassing international admirers across the political spectrum. Men who would later be instrumental in Mussolini's downfall had high praise for the man and the system he built in Italy.

1935 also marked the publication of a scathing criticism of Fascism at a time when Fascist propagandists and sympathizers dominated American media. The Hearst media empire in America openly praised the Fascist machine and paid Mussolini $1-a-word for articles on a range of subjects. Meanwhile, Father Coughlin's syndicated radio show outright advocated a Fascist-style economy to nearly thirty million Americans every week. The publication of Sawdust Caesar came at a time when the world situation began to drastically deteriorate and Fascism's bubble of American support would finally burst.

Sawdust Caesar brought the story of Mussolini's brutal rise to power to an American audience for the first time unfiltered. George Seldes, the author, was no amateur historian who examined Fascism from a distance. In fact, he was present at many key turning points and not only interviewed Mussolini, but also briefly befriended him (Mussolini later tried to kill him) and was called a dear colleague by, the then Socialist journalist, Mussolini. Seldes was stationed in Germany as the Chicago Tribunes' foreign correspondent and reported on Italy extensively throughout the 1920's.

Seldes' book is a grand expose intended for an American audience of the 1930's. There is a great deal in this book that we now know and accept as historical fact and reading it today may lead to a bit of confusion over the subtitle "The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism." At the time however, almost none of this was known or even publicly acknowledged. The 1926 Matteotti crisis never reached an American audience largely because the Leopold and Loeb story had  become a genuine media circus. The overt censorship the Fascist state imposed on both domestic and foreign journalists also prevented stories detrimental to Fascism's public image from breaking out into Europe. The news that Mussolini may have personally ordered the killing of Matteotti only reached Europe directly as a result of Seldes' work for the Chicago Tribune and his willingness to break censorship rules.

Despite being a genuine expose, Sawdust Caesar was at its core a reply to Fascist censorship and an attack on Mussolini's admirers. While telling the story of Fascism, it is strewn with the written words of various biographers who unobjectively accepted the official state version of events and demonstrates the absurd contradictions and falsifications. Officially, Mussolini was a man who bowed to the King, knelt before the Pope, and fought in the trenches for his country. The truth, however, was that until 1914 Mussolini was a man who vowed to kill the King, ransacked churches, and fled to Switzerland to avoid conscription.

In many current American histories written about Fascism there is a tendency to overlook Mussolini's radical period. As a result, people find it hard to accept the fact that Fascism was a deviation from socialism, and many Italian socialists embraced it. Here Seldes provides significant documents in the appendix detailing the early radicalism of the Fascist movement, as well as the Labour Charter which outlined the role of collective labor in the Corporate State. These documents were not readily available to 1930's America and much of the American Left accepted the Stalinist interpretation that Fascism was simply an extreme form of Capitalism built by the wealthy. Trotsky later pointed out that this was absurdly inaccurate, and that Fascism was a middle class movement.

Corporatism was initially intended to be the heir of Italy's failed Communist movement. Mussolini declared by 1921, when the Socialist and Communist parties split, that the masses had disowned Bolshevism. In 1926, Italy began developing the Corporate State. The development of Corporatism in Italy and its repeated failures is examined extensively by Seldes and he touches on a variety of sources, including official Fascist reports as well as Fascist sympathizers. Seldes points out that Corporatism failed to improve the plight of Italy's workers and that wages had been declining well before the 1929 world Depression.

Although Seldes does a great job supplying statistical data to point out Fascism's failures, he doesn't provide much context in respect to the world situation. Carl T. Schmidt's books do this very well, pointing out that Italian migrant labor was increasingly being forced out of much of Europe and the U.S. as a result of the Depression. This caused a massive strain on the Italian economy and was not necessarily a result of Fascist economics.

With the failure of Fascist Corporatism, Seldes correctly predicts that the decline of Italy's economy would inevitably lead to imperialism. By the time Sawdust Caesar was published, Italy had invaded Ethiopia. With a spectacular national debt, high income tax, and no more foreign loans, Italy resorted to imperialism and exploitation. One year later, Italy joined Germany in supplying military aid to the Spanish rebellion.

Debunking the 14 Points of Fascism

The Fourteen Points of Fascism has in recent years become a primary source for those wishing for an easy-to-digest definition of Fascism. Unfortunately, the 14 Points does little to accurately depict Fascist policy and philosophy. Rather than informing, it misinforms and creates a checklist of meaningless characteristics that are very common in any despotic regime (notably the anti-Fascist Soviet Union). I will point out why some of these points are either half-true or just outright false.

False Points

Only a few of these points are outright inaccurate. Point 8: Religion and ruling elite tied together, Point 10: Power of labor suppressed or eliminated, and Point 13: Rampant cronyism and corruption, have absolutely nothing to do with Fascism. However, these points are common misconceptions.

It would surprise anyone to learn that Mussolini was a militant atheist, or that his Fascists assaulted and killed priests during, and well after, the 1924 elections. The street battles became so bad that elements of the Church bitterly denounced Fascism, with Cardinal Maffi referring to them as the “Race of Cain.” The Fascist State also banned various Catholic youth leagues, such as the Catholic Boy Scouts, largely because these leagues taught morals that contradicted Fascist doctrine. The Fascist government replaced Catholic youth leagues with Fascist ones, notably the Opera Nationale Balilla which began the military and political indoctrination of Italy’s youth. The credo of the Balilla was deemed sacrilegious by the Church. Meanwhile, the Pope’s denunciations and criticisms of Fascism and it’s Corporate State were widely suppressed in the Italian press by the Fascist government.

Secondly, the Fascists did not suppress Labor power. If anything they promoted it with their new Corporate State that Hitler and Roosevelt tried to emulate.

Cronyism is true with every government. Fascism was no different. The cronyism Britt’s article is probably referring to are the loans the Morgan Bank gave to Italy. A lesser known fact is the monopoly the Sinclair Oil Company tried to establish in Italy. Both of these deals were done legally but elements of Mussolini’s staff were found to be dealing in graft. When Matteotti exposed the deal, he was killed. Despite the corruption, these deals actually benefitted Italy by funding its public programs (i.e the Corporate State). Much of Italy’s economic problems (until the Depression) were caused by incompetent monetary/economic policy.

Although Britt’s depiction of Fascist cronyism does not accurately describe Italy, it is almost entirely true with Nazi Germany. In short, Corporatism in Germany was exploited by the non-Jewish Industrialists/Bankers. The power to nationalize businesses was exploited. Banks owned by Jews were seized and turned over to Nazi bankers. The Nazi system was incredibly profitable, even prominent Nazi leaders, like Goering and Hitler, profited immensely.

Fascist/Bolshevik Points

With these three points debunked, another six points are also found to be prevalent in the Soviet Union. Some of these points are justifiable, seeing that Lenin’s regime directly inspired the Fascist police state in Italy. These include:

Point 2: Disdain for the importance of human rights, Point 3: Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause, Point 6: A controlled mass media, Point 7: Obsession with national security, Point 11: Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts, and Point 12: Obsession with crime and punishment.

The early years of the Bolshevik Revolution were marked by rampant anti-intellectualism, mass arrests, and the creation of the Cheka (secret police). The Gulag system would come much later under Stalin’s regime. Lenin later regretfully admitted the mass arrests of poets and artists, whom he previously deemed to be bourgeois intelligentsia. The rise of the White Russians and later the revolt by the Kronstadt sailors were used by Lenin to scapegoat political dissidents and justify the dictatorship. All of these methods directly inspired Mussolini’s Black Shirts, so much so that they intentionally referred to themselves as the Cheka, after Lenin’s secret police.

Fascist Points

Point 1: Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, is accurate obviously.

Point 4: The supremacy of the military/avid militarism, is somewhat accurate except for this statement:

A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute.

This seems to be an attempt to establish a link between Fascism and the United States. However, this is not entirely true. The Fascists established a series of public works projects and began the creation of Italy’s Corporate State, much of it financed by foreign banks. Mussolini’s first military campaigns didn’t begin until 1935, twelve years after he took power. Even then, they were disasters. Although militarism was prominent, the military was not supreme.

Point 5: Rampant sexism, is true but not for the reasons outlined in the article. The Fascists in Italy heavily penalized abortions and outlawed the distribution of related literature. However, this was not done to reduce women to second-class citizens. Children were seen as the future of Italy and the Fascists implemented countless laws and taxes to force men and women into establishing families. The State also created a series of involuntary public schools that indoctrinated Italy’s youth as young as eight years old. Meanwhile, the Fascists strengthened labor laws to provide assistance to expectant mothers.

Point 9: Power of corporations protected. A common misconception of Fascism is the idea that incorporated businesses control the State. The Labor Charter defined the “corporation” as simply a field of production. The corporation was a syndicalist entity, but included employers along with the workers. Mussolini’s mentor, d’Annunzio, wrote the Charter of Fiume, and actually banned incorporated businesses from gaining influence in the State. Incorporated workers (unions) and incorporated employers were protected by the Fascist State, but incorporated businesses were banned.

Point 14: Fraudulent elections. This is technically true but not a defining characteristic of Fascism. The Fascists participated in several elections prior to the March on Rome, but democracy was not abolished until after Matteotti was murdered. The Fascists had never won any election, except for the 1924 elections. Matteotti would later reveal that the Fascists had essentially stolen this election. So despite the fact that the Fascists participated in several elections, yet stole only one, the author claims this is a definite characteristic of all Fascist regimes.

However, the truth is that the Fascists abhorred liberal Democracy while having great faith in the (democratic) Corporate State. They viewed liberal Democracy as a corrupt system in which special interest groups could manipulate the State. The Corporate State was semi-Democratic but essentially had supreme power over the worker’s corporations and industries. By dividing sectors of industry into syndicates, then incorporating these syndicates into the State, the Fascists created the Organic State in which the will of the people was embodied in the State, but the State had the power to re-direct that will if it was destructive.

Personal Liberty and the Modern State; featuring Lawrence Dennis

Howard Lee McBain -Professor of Constitutional Law, Columbia University.
Lena Madesin Phillips - International Federation of Business and Professional Women
Roger Baldwin - One of the founders of the American Civil Liberties League
Henry Pratt Fairchild - New York University
Lawrence Dennis - American Fascist

28:40 Lawrence Dennis

Dennis: Mister moderator and Mr. Baldwin, I think in this discussion, we have found extraordinary unanimity of opinion as to the fundamental question at issue, namely we are agreed that the old concepts of liberty are not applicable to the situation of today. That is to say we have imposed upon us today a social discipline in the interest of order and welfare and efficiency and, of course, justice.

29:13 Broadcast interruption.

29:54 Lawrence Dennis

Dennis: As I was saying, we are faced now with a problem of developing new techniques and a new philosophy of social discipline and that means that we have necessarily to scrap some of these old concepts of liberty but I think that we're all attached to the many of the values of liberty that even men like Mr. [Herbert] Hoover who, as usual, was very much behind the times. It took him four years to find out there was a depression. But even he will find out very soon that the philosophy and theory of liberty that we have had is not applicable to modern conditions. But I do believe that we have got to develop an adequate philosophy and technique for developing liberty.

Now I suggest that the basis of our new philosophy of liberty must be trying to make as large an area of things that people can choose their occupations or choose their tastes or choose their various exercises as possible. I think in Germany and in Italy and in Russia and in all the countries where you have extreme collectivism today, they have gone much too far in narrowing the area of safe things to do and enlarging the area of unsafe things. I think that the thing we must aim at in this country is to have as large an area of safe acts and safe opinions and safe indulgences and safe activities.

Baldwin: What's safe, Mr. Dennis?

Dennis: What isn't consistent with the demands of your social order, whatever your social order may be, and the way to do that is to recognize, as Professor Fairchild said, there is no liberty independent of a social order. In other words, a man has liberty to do what is good for the social scheme and he has not liberty to do what is bad for it. Now that is the philosophy that can enable us to develop a large measure of liberty.

The basis of giving liberty of choice should be recognition of the differences in human personality. Everybody doesn't want to read Elinor Glyn, and everybody doesn't want to read Proust. Everybody doesn't like opera and everybody doesn't like certain types of movie entertainment. Everybody doesn't like a Unitarian service, and everybody doesn't appreciate the spirituals of some of the Evangelical cults. There should be a wide divergence of cultural, of recreational, of literary indulgences and activities, and a wide choice in the matter of careers. But the ruling principal must not be that a man is free to worship, to play, to engage in business as he wants because even we can not admit that liberty under the Constitution.

Baldwin: Are you talking of Fascism?

Dennis: I am talking for a collectivism, call it by any name you will, that will meet the demands of public order in the present situation.

Baldwin: And the individual is to be a servant of this state?

Dennis: The individual must be a servant of the collective order in any state.

Baldwin: And the state may be a one-party state? A dictatorship?

Dennis: Well, any scheme of order is unique. You can not have order with everybody talking at once or with everybody acting according to his own ideas.

Baldwin: And you think a Fascist State on the whole is preferable, now that laissez faire capitalism and political democracy is on the skids? I've heard you say that before.

Dennis: Well, I think we have a choice today between expropriation of private property, or Communism, and a formula of disciplined social control of our economic life, which most people call Fascism. I think we either have to accept communism with expropriation of private property or else  a system which recognizes private property and does not expropriate but adequately disciplines the use of the productive

Phillips: Who will discipline?


Dennis: Well Miss Philips, the state always has to exercise the disciplinary functions in any order. The trouble today is that the disciplinary function is not exercised by anyone with social responsibility in many situations. In other words, a big bank or a big trust can discipline you as a small business man and how they can do it. Now the trouble with that is not that it's discipline, because we must have discipline, the trouble with the discipline of so many powerful corporations, just as Dean McBain has suggested in his paper, . . .

Phillips: Is that there isn't any?

Dennis: . . . is that it is irresponsible. Oh, yes. I think there is. I think the big corporations do discipline. They do tell you what to do and make you do it and if you don't do it it's too bad for you. Now that is discipline. The trouble with it is that it is not a national discipline. It's not conceived and applied in the interest of the nation. It

Fairchild: Mr. Dennis, doesn't it finally boil down to this, isn't this fundamental, the question whether or not the individual in the exercise of his own personal freedom, as far as that's possible, participate either in the discipline or participate directly in the selection of those who shall exercise the discipline. I don't like the word "discipline," I'm too much of a school teacher I suppose to like the word "discipline." But let's call it "regimentation" if you like or organization. Or efficient.

It's a question whether or not the individual and all individual's, in the broad sense of the word, people of maturity, of ordinary intelligence, can exercise their own personal will in, as I say, either participating in the direction itself or in selecting those on a democratic basis who shall exercise the direction.

Dennis: Why, Professor Fairchild, I think it is the intention of every political system in operation the world today to represent the people.

Fairchild: I didn't say represent, I said the individual has the chance to help select.

Dennis: Well, I think even there that it is the intention of every system to permit every individual to express a selection, but of course the trouble of course is, with the statement of your position, is that you have to find a formula for enabling the individual to express a choice or selection.

Fairchild: Don't you equally have to find a formula?

Dennis: Of course.

Phillips: Who will find it?

Dennis: Well, it's found the same way it's found under any political system. You have a chamber of representation and you have elections of selections of delegates.

Baldwin: For one party.

Dennis: Now you are raising the question of whether you should have one party or many parties. Now that is really the question. You're raising the question of whether you should have an alternation or rotation of parties or whether you should have a unique party. Now both Fascism and Communism are single parties or a unique party system. Now if that is what you are attacking then that is ground for a long discussion.

Fairchild: Now, aren't you mixing up the political aspect and the economic aspect?

Dennis: I see no difference between the two.

Fairchild: Well, the rest of us do. A lot of difference.

Baldwin: Do you see a difference between capitalism and socialism?

Dennis: Oh, yes.

Fairchild: If people have got the right kind of attitude, if people recognize the necessity of integration and coordination, you can operate your economic system with only one party. You don't have to have conflict of parties in operating an economic system that everyone has agreed on.

Dennis: In operating that though, you will do it as a political system.

Fairchild: No, I—maybe you will, but not I.

Dennis: I think that there is no other way of operating it. As a matter of fact, you assume that the court and the enforcement of law is not the function of a state. You would have no operation of your economic system without the exercise of the coercive functions of government.

Fairchild: Not at all. You've got to have the court an the state there as an agency of recourse when things go wrong in your economic system.

Dennis: Well, things are going wrong all the time. Your courts are clogged with the judicial processes for the enforcement of contracts and for the collection of damages and so on and so on. You cannot operate any economic system without the constant intervention and coercion of the state. So I cannot accept any compartmentalization of our activities. That is why I believe in a totalitarian philosophy and scheme of government.

Fairchild: Do you mind defining that term?

Dennis: No, not at all. I believe that that simply means an all-embracing social or national scheme. In other words . . .

Fairchild: That sounds like Communism to me.

Dennis: Communism is quite as totalitarianism as Fascism.

Fairchild: And what kind of totalitarianism do you like?

Dennis: Well, I prefer the Fascist because it doesn't expropriate private property and doesn't go out with a class war.


Phillips: Are you going to have a job for everybody too in that new totalitarian state?

Dennis: Well, if you don't have a job for everybody, it won't be a success as a totalitarian state. The idea implies that everybody is provided for and has a function and a place and is doing his bit.

Phillips: I suppose it wouldn't be fair to ask you if you'd have a job for women too, particularly the old maids?

Dennis: Well, there shouldn't be too many old maids. We would have jobs for the rest of the women as wives.

Phillips: I agree with you on that but there shouldn't be too many old maids.

Dennis: We would discourage old maids as much as possible.

Phillips: That's the first real argument you've made for your case.

Dennis: Thank you.

At around 43:50, the discussion turns into a question and answer session with the audience.


What is Corporatism?

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power. -Mussolini
Corporatism is the corner stone of the Fascist nation, or better still, the Fascist nation is corporative or it is not fascist. -Mussolini
This first quote is actually fake, but the second quote is real. The problem is that there is absolutely no context and neither give any clues as to the definition of the term "Corporatism." In the United States, a corporation is a business organization but in Europe and elsewhere, the corporation is simply any group of individuals. In fact, many syndicalist writers used the term interchangeably with labor unions.
In Fascism's earliest form (Fiume in 1920), d'Annunzio defined the corporations as fields of occupation. There was one intellectual corporation (artists, musicians, students, etc.), one workers corporation, one technical corporation (managers, technical advisors, etc.) and a few others.

In Mussolini's Italy, the corporation was defined as a field of production. They created manufacturers corporations, agricultural corporations and several others. Each corporation encompassed both the workers and the employers/managers of these production fields.
Fascism was a semi-Syndicalist state rather than a Capitalist state. The Italian Fascists introduced a variety of labor laws that provided protection for Fascist labor unions, although independent unions were excluded from receiving these benefits. The Fascist unions were known as corporations but they were not restricted to the working class.

The Fascists strived for national unity and as a result they opposed all forms of class warfare. This is why they were opposed to both Capitalism and Socialism. The Capitalist system exploited the workers while the Socialist/Communist system tried to eliminate the capitalists entirely. By perpetuating class conflict, these two groups were undermining the state, so the Fascists had to force them to cooperate. This is why the Corporate State became vital to Fascism.

Rather than being a set of policies, Corporatism was a complete restructuring of the political and economic system. By eliminating political parties, the Fascists abolished Parliamentary Democracy, yet by introducing the corporations they were implementing a Syndicalist Democracy.

It seems that the interpretation of Fascism being a State dominated by Big Business is unique to American/English observers. This is incorrect. In fact, the idea that Free Market economics naturally evolves into State Capitalism (Corporatocracy) was expounded by Mussolini as an argument for the State intervention in the economy and the abolishment of liberty.