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Well - Merkel isn't a neo-Nazi skinhead.

But that doesn't mean that financial capture by 'the markets' and their political cronies and toadies isn't essentially fascist, or - more pertinently - ultimately as dangerous, in a slow-boil way, as Nazi-style fascism.

What other word can you use when a supposedly sovereign country immediately modifies its constitution on demand? Anschluss?

The point here is the utter disappearance of bottom up democracy, and its replacement by market-driven policy which is at odds with the desires of an obvious majority of the Spanish population.

When the state and large corporations cooperate to manage populations at their own expense, you have fascism. It doesn't matter if it's dressed up with jackboots, window breaking and flag-waving, or with serious editorials and pompous economic word salad.

Concentration camps aren't the prime symptom of fascism. Propaganda on an industrial scale and a value system that condemns ordinary people to unemployment, crime and starvation are quite enough.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 04:24:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
When the state and large corporations cooperate to manage populations at their own expense, you have fascism. It doesn't matter if it's dressed up with jackboots, window breaking and flag-waving, or with serious editorials and pompous economic word salad.

so true... after the london riots, 'normal' people were begging for more police to save them, whilst the police deliberately had withheld services to ensure that very reaction.

that's how it's done... make things so shitty that force is the only possible counter-reaction.

the is the result of too much stupid for too long. society eating itself...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 05:31:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that doesn't mean that financial capture by 'the markets' and their political cronies and toadies isn't essentially fascist, or - more pertinently - ultimately as dangerous, in a slow-boil way, as Nazi-style fascism.

What other word can you use when a supposedly sovereign country immediately modifies its constitution on demand? Anschluss?

I still think Gleichschaltung in the meaning of forcible legal realignment and policy coordination is apposite.
When the state and large corporations cooperate to manage populations at their own expense, you have fascism. It doesn't matter if it's dressed up with jackboots, window breaking and flag-waving, or with serious editorials and pompous economic word salad.
Indeed: Political Aspects of Full Employment by Michal Kalecki (1943)
A solid majority of economists is now of the opinion that, even in a capitalist system, full employment may be secured by a government spending programme, provided there is in existence adequate plan to employ all existing labour power, and provided adequate supplies of necessary foreign raw-materials may be obtained in exchange for exports.

If the government undertakes public investment (e.g. builds schools, hospitals, and highways) or subsidizes mass consumption (by family allowances, reduction of indirect taxation, or subsidies to keep down the prices of necessities), and if, moreover, this expenditure is financed by borrowing and not by taxation (which could affect adversely private investment and consumption), the effective demand for goods and services may be increased up to a point where full employment is achieved.  Such government expenditure increases employment, be it noted, not only directly but indirectly as well, since the higher incomes caused by it result in a secondary increase in demand for consumer and investment goods.

How we have gone backwards in the last 70 years. Krugman: Fiscalization Watch
A correspondent informs me that Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, has just given a speech asserting that excessive public debt caused the 2008 crisis. In fact, I'm told, he said that
It's actually undisputed among economists worldwide that one of the main causes - if not the main cause - of the turbulence - not just now, but already in 2008 - was excessive public debt everywhere in the world.
OK, we can prove that wrong immediately: I dispute it, Brad DeLong disputes it, Christy Romer disputes it, and I think we fall into the category of "economists worldwide".
Back to Kalecki
In should be first stated that, although most economists are now agreed that full employment may be achieved by government spending, this was by no means the case even in the recent past.  Among the opposers of this doctrine there were (and still are) prominent so-called 'economic experts' closely connected with banking and industry.  This suggests that there is a political background in the opposition to the full employment doctrine, even though the arguments advanced are economic.  That is not to say that people who advance them do not believe in their economics, poor though this is.  But obstinate ignorance is usually a manifestation of underlying political motives.

There are, however, even more direct indications that a first-class political issue is at stake here.  In the great depression in the 1930s, big business consistently opposed experiments for increasing employment by government spending in all countries, except Nazi Germany.  This was to be clearly seen in the USA (opposition to the New Deal), in France (the Blum experiment), and in Germany before Hitler.  The attitude is not easy to explain.  Clearly, higher output and employment benefit not only workers but entrepreneurs as well, because the latter's profits rise.  And the policy of full employment outlined above does not encroach upon profits because it does not involve any additional taxation.  The entrepreneurs in the slump are longing for a boom; why do they not gladly accept the synthetic boom which the government is able to offer them?  It is this difficult and fascinating question with which we intend to deal in this article.

...

One of the important functions of fascism, as typified by the Nazi system, was to remove capitalist objections to full employment.

The dislike of government spending policy as such is overcome under fascism by the fact that the state machinery is under the direct control of a partnership of big business with fascism.  The necessity for the myth of 'sound finance', which served to prevent the government from offsetting a confidence crisis by spending, is removed.  In a democracy, one does not know what the next government will be like.  Under fascism there is no next government.

The dislike of government spending, whether on public investment or consumption, is overcome by concentrating government expenditure on armaments.  Finally, 'discipline in the factories' and 'political stability' under full employment are maintained by the 'new order', which ranges from suppression of the trade unions to the concentration camp.  Political pressure replaces the economic pressure of unemployment.



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 05:51:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
I still think Gleichschaltung in the meaning of forcible legal realignment and policy coordination is apposite.

The two latter terms are apposite. The use of Nazi term itself is historically loaded rhetoric.

But whatever. The circumstances are such that it doesn't matter what we shout as long as we're shouting.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 07:10:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's like Weltanschauung or überfordert... German is such a great language sometimes.
Usually I stay clear of connotation-rich German words that have no real equivalent in other languages. Their purpose is to obfuscate. But there is one that describes the eurozone's crisis management rather well. It is überfordert. The nearest English translation is "overwhelmed", or "not on top of something", but those are not quite the same. You can be overwhelmed one day, and on top the next. Überfordert is as hopeless as Dante's hell. It has an intellectual and an emotional component. If you are it today, you are it tomorrow.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 10:42:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Give fascism a broad catchall sense if you like, but you are not addressing my argument re Gleichschaltung. If Mig had used "fascism", I wouldn't have taken issue with it (even while demurring).

You take my argument to mean that I am dismissing the danger of what is happening, but that's a strawman. My point is that Gleichschaltung is not historically analogous to what's happening now. In particular, though it was indeed associated with propaganda on a hither-to-fore unprecedented scale, Gleichschaltung had its bottom-up side and was enthusiastically embraced by many "ordinary" Germans, who were absolutely not condemned to "unemployment, crime and starvation".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 07:07:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that all is fine in war and rhetoric.

Strictly speaking you're right. But no one on the right is going to say 'Well, technically...' when they're hardly known for adherence to fact themselves.

This is not a scholarly debate, this is about people being forced into penury - which in itself will make a return to hard fascism more likely across Europe.

Making a rhetorical point which might make some people stop and think about what's happening, instead of accepting it as an economic inevitability hardly seems excessive in the circumstances.

Of course it might be labelled shrill and unserious.

But anything the left says and does is already shrill and unserious by definition. So why should we care about rhetorical propriety when no one else in the debate does?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 09:09:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Making a rhetorical point which might make some people stop and think

The point is that (as talos says above) this one is for the historically literate. Most people have never heard of Gleichschaltung.

If you're addressing the historically literate, Gleichschaltung is not the right term to use; if you're addressing the general public, Gleichschaltung is not the right term to use. And this is not "scholarly debate".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 09:22:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree.

Though the thread has moved far from this by now, I think the development of the thread is proof enough that using Gleichschaltung is unproductive.

(On the other hand I find Niemöller moment apt, as Niemöllers quote has been and continues to be used in many situations unrelated to actual nazists.)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 7th, 2011 at 03:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the things the Logical Positivists got right was their insistence "emotive language" is Un-Useful.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Sep 7th, 2011 at 03:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As opposed to the other kind of language?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 7th, 2011 at 03:24:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think emotive language can be quite useful (admitting that I am uncertain of the exact definition Logical Positivsts used), but one needs to know what emotions one wakes. As I see Godwin's law, in general any reference to nazis gives "evilness on the scale of the Holocaust" as the main connection. And as I have quipped not even the 1930ies nazis lived up to that. Most people not agreeing that X = evilness on the scale of the Holocaust will react badly to your implication that it is, even if you were just trying to say that X = aspect of nazi policy.

As an example, the Swedish Pirate Party has mostly used references to former DDR when doing examples of oppressive surveilliance. That I think is wise as former DDR is in Sweden mainly known for its oppressive surveilliance while for example Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, though examples of oppressive surveilliance, are more known for other things, like mass murders and wars.

So back to the topic here, it might have been more useful to use Merkel expects other countries to fall in line, to form lines as straight as in the 1st of May parades of her youth in DDR if one wants to evoke a picture of oppressive commands from Germany. It is not very catchy (I had to come up with an example right now) and I have no idea of what Merkel did under communism, but it is still more precise and uas a more well known image then Gleichschaltung.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 7th, 2011 at 03:50:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Concentration camps aren't the prime symptom of fascism. Propaganda on an industrial scale and a value system that condemns ordinary people to unemployment, crime and starvation are quite enough.

I still like Merkel's version of fascism better than I like Mussolini's. It involves markedly fewer people getting shot and dumped in a shallow grave.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 08:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are countries on the far fringes of Europe where that might not be as true as it is in Germany.

The problem with fascism is that it sets a precedent for exactly that kind of development.

We're not there yet, but ten more years of constitutional austerity are hardly likely to make Europe a more stable and law abiding place.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 30th, 2011 at 09:11:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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