Is Fascism an Economic System?
Fascism can be considered an economic system as it subscribes to capitalist principles. The ideology originated through the teachings of socialism. The word fascism means collectivism and power. The system’s capitalist veneer is Roman in origin, with a symbol in the shape of a tied bundle of rods with a protruding axe. During 1920-1930, fascism gained immense popularity. Different economies widely employed it as it was seen as the balance between liberalism and marxism. Fascists often believe that the main popular ideologies breed class conflict. Marxism is considered to be socially divisive. Fascism promotes the values of nationalism and racialism.
Fascism differs from socialism as it advocates for indirect control of a society’s economic processes. The indirect control of the economy happens through private ownership of assets. Fascists believe these personal assets should be used for the “national interest”. Fascists place some authority in the government to manage strategic sectors such as defence. The key differentiating factor between fascism and socialism is that the latter believes all market forces should be outlawed.
Meanwhile, those who employ the principles of fascism allow the economy to function freely within finely detailed guidelines. Market relations allow for the use of money. Suppliers and sellers are allowed to sell for politically determined price structures. Fascists operate in a denatured marketplace. The proponents of this ideology do not subscribe to the abolished entrepreneurship principles. State ministries choose the type of goods and services supplied to consumers.
Concept of a “Total State”
A total state rules by law. It is a direct contradiction to democratic governance and is also referred to as totalitarianism.
In a total state, the leader’s beliefs are imposed on the masses. Those who refuse to conform to these beliefs are treated as criminals. They are often subjected to unpleasant and violent punishments. The leadership deems these people to be unpatriotic traitors. This oppressive form of governance puts absolute power in the hands of the state. The citizens are meant to fully submit to the state in every aspect of their existence. Leaders, however, are often exempted from these laws. Modern scholars argue this is a tactic used to ignore fundamental human rights. Basic human rights, such as individual freedoms, are often denied to the general citizenry. The ownership of personal property is illegal, meaning everything belongs to the state and its leaders.
Citizens are banned from having their beliefs, especially if they do not align with the state-prescribed faith. Opposing this law is often punishable by prison or death in severe cases. In a total state, the government dictates the information that is put out by the media. Private media houses are illegal. Any person caught disseminating unapproved information is deemed a terrorist. The state believes information can lead to a revolt among the citizens.
The police in a total state function according to the decisions and judgements made by the rulers. This factor often means there is no fair and equal justice. Any opposition to this in large numbers will warrant organised violence by the state.
To keep citizen’s inline with protocol, the government will often limit the supply of food rations. This strategy is effective because the citizens must rely on the state to provide for them. This action has the effect of suppressing any community discussion.
Role of Government in the Economy
Economically, a fascist government promotes the values of capitalism and socialism. These leaders believe that there is a need for self-sufficiency. To achieve financial independence, citizens need to generate personal profit. To assist with this process, the government often promotes conducive market conditions. The government will also offer subsidies to corporations that help improve economic sectors. Despite this approach, fascists do not agree with large-scale capitalism. They often delegate significant industries to be controlled by the state. The advocates of this ideology believe in private property rights. The government will therefore enforce these laws to help safeguard investment. This action is key to achieving a wealthy population that thrives in a market economy. The government always moves to promote pro-capitalist and anti-capitalist elements.
Impact of Trade Policies
Fascist trade policies often delivered unintended consequences. Despite believing in a semi-free market environment, fascist trade policies often lead to the creation of official cartels. These powerful groups often used their proximity to government leaders to gain control of the economy’s manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agricultural sectors. They ran these sectors on behalf of their conspirators in government. The government protected these cartels. They decided what would be produced on the product lines and the production levels. Many trade policies lead to soaring prices, low employee wages and substandard working conditions. Government officials often ensured that only firms chosen by them could achieve licensing. This action stifled economic activity as no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission.
Influence of Government-Controlled Corporations
Government corporations often struggle to innovate and develop world-class service delivery under fascism. The lack of competition stifles the economic development of vital governmental sectors. These sectors are often riddled with corruption and protected by law enforcement agencies with ties to politicians.
The Impact of Autarky and Protectionism on Fascist Regimes
Autarky is an economic system in which a country or region aims to be self-sufficient and not reliant on imports or exports. This can involve pursuing policies such as protectionism, where tariffs are placed on imported goods and subsidies are provided to domestic industries. Autarky can also include efforts to develop domestic resources and increase domestic production of goods and services. In practice, complete autarky is challenging, as even small countries rely on some level of trade with other countries. Fascism, as an ideology, can vary in its economic policies, and not all fascist regimes have sought to achieve an autarky economy. However, many fascist regimes in history have promoted the idea of autarky as a means of achieving economic self-sufficiency and reducing dependence on foreign trade. For example, in Italy under Benito Mussolini and in Germany under Adolf Hitler, both fascist leaders promoted the idea of autarky. They implemented protectionist economic policies, including tariffs and subsidies, to achieve it. They also sought to increase the domestic production of goods and resources and reduce dependence on imports.