The Specter of Friendly Fascism

excerpted from the book

Friendly Fascism

The New Face of Power in America

by Bertram Gross

South End Press, 1980, paper

The Unfolding Logic

... as I survey the entire panorama of contending forces, I can readily detect something more important: the outline of a powerful logic of events. This logic points toward tighter integration of every First World Establishment. In the United States it points toward more concentrated, unscrupulous, repressive, and militaristic control by a Big Business-Big Government partnership that-to preserve the privileges of the ultra-rich, the corporate overseers, and the brass in the military and civilian order-squelches the rights and liberties of other people both at home and abroad. That is friendly fascism.

At any particular moment First World leaders may respond to crisis like people in a crowded night club when smoke and flames suddenly billow forth. They do not set up a committee to plan their response. Neither do they act in a random or haphazard fashion. Rather, the logic of the situation prevails. Everyone runs to where they think the exits are. In the ensuing melee some may be trampled to death. Those who know where the exits really are, who are most favorably situated, and have the most strength will save themselves.

Thus it was in Italy, Japan, and Germany when the classic fascists came to power. The crisis of depression, inflation, and class conflict provided an ideal opportunity for the cartels, warmongers, right-wing extremists, and rowdy street fighters to rush toward power. The fascist response was not worked out by some central cabal of secret conspirators. Nor was it a random or accidental development. The dominant logic of the situation prevailed.

Thus too it was after World War II. Neither First World unity nor the Golden International was the product of any central planners in the banking, industrial, political, or military community. Indeed, there was then-as there still is-considerable conflict among competing groups at the pinnacle of the major capitalist establishments. But there was a broad unfolding logic about the way these conflicts were adjusted and the "Free World" empire came into being. This logic involved hundreds of separate plans and planning committees-some highly visible, some less so, some secret. It encompassed the values and pressures of reactionaries, conservatives, and liberals. In some cases, it was a logic of response to anticapitalist movements and offensives that forced them into certain measures-like the expanded welfare state-which helped themselves despite themselves.

Although the friendly fascists are subversive elements, they rarely see themselves as such. Some are merely out to make money under conditions of stagflation. Some are merely concerned with keeping or expanding their power and privileges. Many use the rhetoric of freedom, liberty, democracy, human values, or even human rights. In pursuing their mutual interests through a new coalition of concentrated oligarchic power, people may be hurt-whether through pollution, shortages, unemployment, inflation, or war. But that is not part of their central purpose. It is the product of invisible hands that are not theirs.

For every dominant logic, there is an alternative or subordinate logic. Indeed, a dominant logic may even contribute to its own undoing. This has certainly been the case with many strong anticommunist drives as in both China and Indochina-that tended to accelerate the triumph of communism. If friendly fascism emerges on a full scale in the United States, or even if the tendencies in that direction become still stronger, countervailing forces may here too be created. Thus may the unfolding logic of friendly fascism-to borrow a term from Marx-sow the seeds of its destruction or prevention.

A few years before his death, John D. Rockefeller III glimpsed- although through a glass darkly-the logic of capitalist response to crisis. In The Second American Revolution (1973) he defined the crises of the 1960s and early 1970s as a humanistic revolution based mainly on the black and student "revolts," women's liberation, consumerism, environmentalism, and the yearnings for nonmaterialistic values. He saw these crises as an opportunity to develop a humanistic capitalism. If the Establishment should repress these humanistic urges, he wrote, "the result could be chaos and anarchy, or it could be authoritarianism, either of a despotic mold or the 'friendly fascism' described by urban affairs professor Bertram Gross."

A similar note of urgency is trumpeted by General Maxwell Taylor who, in contrast with Zoll's response to internal dangers, warns mainly against external dangers. "How can a democracy such as ours," he asks, "defend its interests at acceptable costs and continue to enjoy the freedom of speech and behavior to which we are accustomed in time of peace?" Although his answer is not as candid as Zoll's, he replies that such traditional and liberal properties must be dispensed with: "We must advance concurrently on both foreign and domestic fronts by means of integrated rational power responsive to a unified national Will''. Here is a distressing echo of Adolf Hilter's pleas for "integration" (Gleichschaltung) and unified national will.

James Madison
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Although friendly fascism would mean total ruin of the American dream, it could hardly come suddenly- let alone in any precisely predictable year. This is one of the reasons I cannot go along with the old-fashioned Marxist picture of capitalism or imperialism dropping the fig leaf or the mask. This imagery suggests a process not much longer than a striptease. It reinforces the apocalyptic vision of a quick collapse of capitalist democracy-whether "not with a bang but a whimper," as T. S. Eliot put it, or with "dancing to a frenzied drum" as in the words of William Butler Yeats. In my judgment, rather, one of the greatest dangers is the slow process through which friendly fascism would come into being. For a large part of the population the changes would be unnoticed. Even those most alive to the danger may see only part of the picture-until it is too late. For most people, as with historians and social scientists, 20-20 vision on fundamental change comes only with hindsight. And by that time, with the evidence at last clearly visible, the new serfdom might have long since arrived.

... in the movement toward friendly fascism, any sudden forward thrust at one level could be followed by a consolidating pause or temporary withdrawal at another level. Every step toward greater repression might be accompanied by some superficial reform, every expansionist step abroad by some new payoff at home, every well-publicized shocker (like the massacres at Jackson State, Kent State, and Attica, the Watergate scandals or the revelations of illegal deals by the FBI or CIA) by other steps of less visibility but equal or possibly greater significance, such as large welfare payments to multinational banks and industrial conglomerates. At all stages the fundamental directions of change would be obscured by a series of Hobson's choices, of public issues defined in terms of clear-cut crossroads-one leading to the frying pan and the other to the fire. Opportunities would thus be provided for learned debate and earnest conflict over the choice among alternative roads to serfdom . . .

The unifying element in this unfolding logic is the capital-accumulation imperative of the world's leading capitalist forces, creatively adjusted to meet the challenges of the many crises I have outlined. This is quite different from the catch-up imperatives of the Italian, German, and Japanese leaders after World War I. Nor would its working out necessarily require a charismatic dictator, one-party rule, glorification of the State, dissolution of legislatures, termination of multiparty elections, ultranationalism, or attacks on rationality.

As illustrated in the following oversimplified outline, which also points up the difference between classic fascism and friendly fascism, the following eight chapters summarize the many levels of change at which the trends toward friendly fascism are already visible.

Despite the sharp differences from classic fascism, there are also some basic similarities. In each, a powerful oligarchy operates outside of, as well as through, the state. Each subverts constitutional government. Each suppresses rising demands for wider participation in decision making, the enforcement and enlargement of human rights, and genuine democracy. Each uses informational control and ideological flimflam to get lower and middle-class support for plans to expand the capital and power of the oligarchy and provide suitable rewards for political, professional, scientific, and cultural supporters.

A major difference is that under friendly fascism Big Government would do less pillaging of, and more pillaging for, Big Business. With much more integration than ever before among transnational corporations, Big Business would run less risk of control by any one state and enjoy more subservience by many states. In turn, stronger government support of transnational corporations, such as the large group of American companies with major holdings in South Africa, requires the active fostering of all latent conflicts among those segments of the American population that may object to this kind of foreign venture. It requires an Establishment with lower levels so extensive that few people or groups can attain significant power outside it, so flexible that many (perhaps most) dissenters and would-be revolutionaries can be incorporated within it. Above all, friendly fascism in any First World country today would \ use sophisticated control technologies far beyond the ken of the classic fascists.

Although American hegemony can scarcely return in its Truman-Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson form, this does not necessarily signify the end of the American Century. Nor does communist and socialist advance on some fronts mark American and capitalist retreat on all fronts. There are unmistakable tendencies toward a rather thoroughgoing reconstruction of the entire "Free World." Robert Osgood sees a transitional period of "limited readjustment" and "retrenchment without disengagement," after which America could establish a "more enduring rationale of global influence." Looking at foreign policy under the Nixon administration, Robert W. Tucker sees no intention to "dismantle the empire" but rather a continued commitment to the view that "America must still remain the principal guarantor of a global order now openly and without equivocation identified with the status quo." He describes America as a "settled imperial power shorn of much of the former exuberance." George Liska looks forward to a future in which Americans, having become more mature in the handling of global affairs, will at last be the leaders of a true empire.

Amaury De Riencourt
"Caesarism can come to America constitutionally without having to break down any existing institution."

... a friendly fascist power structure in the I United States, Canada, Western Europe, or today's Japan would be far more sophisticated than the "caesarism" of fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan. It would need no charismatic dictator nor even a titular head... it would require no one-party rule, no mass fascist party, no glorification of the State, no dissolution of legislatures, no denial of reason. Rather, it would come slowly as an outgrowth of present trends in the Establishment.

Under the full-fledged oligarchy of friendly fascism, the Chief Executive network would become much more powerful than ever before. And the top executive-in America, the president-would in a certain sense become more important than before. But not in the sense of a personal despotism like Hitler's.

Indeed, the president under friendly fascism would be as far from personal caesarism as from being a Hirohito-type figurehead. Nor would a president and his political associates extort as much "protection money" from big-business interests as was extracted under Mussolini and Hilter. The Chief Executive would neither ride the tiger nor try to steal its food; rather, he would be part of the tiger from the outset. The White House and the entire Chief Executive network would become the heart (and one of the brain centers) of the new business-government symbiosis. Under these circumstances the normal practices of the Ultra-Rich and the Corporate Overlords would be followed: personal participation in high-Ievel business deals and lavish subsidization of political campaigns, both partly hidden from public view.

This transformation would require a new concept of presidential leadership, one emphasizing legitimacy and righteousness above all else. As the linchpin of an oligarchic establishment, the White House would continue to be the living and breathing symbol of legitimate government. "Reigning" would become the first principle of "ruling". Only by wrapping himself and all his agents in the trappings of constitutionality could the President succeed in subverting the spirit of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Chief Executive Network, Big Business, and the UltraRich could remain far above and beyond legal and moral law only through the widely accepted image that all of them, and particularly the president, were fully subservient to law and morality. In part, this is a matter of public relations-but not the old Madison Avenue game of selling perfume or deodorants to the masses. The most important nostrils are those of the multileveled elites in the establishment itself; if things smell well to them, then the working-buying classes can probably be handled effectively. In this context, it is not at all sure that the personal charisma of a president could ever be as important as it was in the days of Theodore or Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, or John F. Kennedy.

It is no easy task to erect a shield of legitimacy to cloak the illegitimate. Doing so would require the kind of leadership that in emphasizing the long-term interests of Big Business and the Ultra-Rich would stand up strongly against any elements that are overly greedy for short-term windfalls. Thus in energy planning, foreign trade, labor relations, and wage-price controls, for example, the friendly fascist White House would from time to time engage in activities that could be publicly regarded as "cracking down on business." While a few recalcitrant corporate overseers might thus be reluctantly educated, the chief victims would usually be small or medium-sized enterprises, who would thus be driven more rapidly into bankruptcy or merger. In this sense, conspicuous public leadership would become a form of followership.

During the 1970s, as its forces slowly retreated from the Asian mainland, the U.S. military establishment seemed to dwindle. Even with veterans' and outer-space expenditures included, war spending declined as a portion of the GNP. Conscription ended in 1973. All proposals for overt military intervention in the Third World-whether in Angola, West Asia, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, the Caribbean, or Central America-were sidetracked. From an earlier high of 3.5 million people in 1968, the active military fell to 2 million at the beginning of the 1980s.

But in real terms the military establishment is enormous, much more than most people know To the million on active duty must be added another 2 million in the reserves, and a million civilians in the defense department. This 5-million-figure total is merely the base for a much larger number of people in war industries, space exploration, war think tanks and veterans' assistance. Behind this total group of more than 12 million-and profiting from intercourse with them-stands an elaborate network of war industry associations, veterans' organizations, special associations for each branch of the armed services, and general organizations such as the American Security Council and the Committee on the Present Danger. But there is something else that George Washington could never have dreamed of when he warned against an overgrown military establishment and that Dwight D. Eisenhower never mentioned in his warning against the military-industrial complex: namely, a transnational military complex. This American-led complex has five military components beyond the narrowly defined U.S. military-industrial complex itself:

1. The dozen or so countries formally allied with the United States through NATO

2. Other industrialized countries not formerly part of NATO, such as Spain, Israel, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand

3. A large portion of the Third World countries

4. Intelligence and police forces throughout the "Free World"

5. Irregular forces composed of primitive tribesmen, often operating behind the lines of the Second World countries.

All these forces are backed up by a support infrastructure which includes training schools, research institutes, foreign aid, and complex systems of communication and logistics.

If there is one central fact about this transnational military complex at the start of the 1980s it is growth. Paradoxically, every arms-control agreement has been used as a device to allow growth up to certain ceilings, rather than prevent it. And since those ceilings apply only to selected weapons systems, growth tends to be totally uncontrolled in all other forms of destruction. In the United States, total military expenditure has started to move upward at a rate of about 5 percent annual growth in real terms-that is, after being corrected for the declining value of the dollar. A drive is under way to register young people for a draft, while also providing alternative forms of civilian service (at poverty wages) for people objecting to military service on moral, religious, or political grounds. New weapons systems are being initiated-particularly the MX missile, which holds forth the promise of a "first strike" capability against the Soviet Union. Major steps are being taken to increase the military strength of all the other components of the transnational complex-

particularly through the expansion of both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons in Western Europe and the beefing up of the defense forces and nuclear capabilities of the Japanese. Above all, despite some internal conflicts on when and where, the leaders of the U.S. Establishment have become more willing to use these forces. Richard Falk of Princeton University presents this thesis: "A new consensus among American political leaders favors intervention, whenever necessary, to protect the resource base of Trilateralistic nations'-Europe, the United States and Japan-prosperity and dominance." 3 This has required strenuous propaganda efforts to overcome the so-called "post-Vietnam syndrome," that is, popular resistance to the sending of U.S. troops into new military ventures abroad. Equally strenuous efforts are made to convince people in Western Europe that as East-West tensions have been relaxing and East-West trade rising, the West faces a greater threat than ever before of a Soviet invasion.

The logic of this growth involves a host of absurdities. First of all, statistical hocus-pocus hides the overwhelming military superiority of the "Free World." One trick is to compare the military spending of the United States with the Warsaw Pact countries but to exclude NATO. Another trick is to compare the NATO countries of Europe with the Warsaw Pact countries, but to exclude the United States. Still another is to exclude not merely Japan, but also the huge Chinese military forces lined up on China's border with the Soviet Union. Any truly global picture shows that while the geographical scope of the "Free World" has been shrinking, its military capability has been expanding. This expansion has been so rapid that there may even be good reason for the nervous old men in the Kremlin to feel threatened.

Second, much of this expanding military power involves nothing more than overkill. Thus just one Poseidon submarine carries 160 nuclear warheads, each four times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. These warheads are enough, as President Carter stated in 1979, "to destroy every large and medium-sized city in the Soviet Union." Pointing out that the total U.S. force at that time could inflict more than fifty times as much damage on the Soviet Union, President Carter then went on to raise the level of overkill still higher.

Third, the advocates of new interventionism foster the delusion that military force can solve a host of intertwined political, economic, social, and moral problems. This delusion was evidenced in the long-term and highly expensive U.S. support for the Shah of Iran and the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua. As U.S. strike forces are being prepared for intervention in West Asia (whether in Saudi Arabia, Libya, or elsewhere) the presumption is that military action of this type would preserve the availability of petroleum for the West. What is blindly lost sight of is the high probability-and in the judgment of many, the certainty-that any such intervention would precipitate the blowing up of the very oil fields from which the deep thinkers in the White House, Wall Street, and the Pentagon want to get assured supplies.

Yet in the words of Shakespeare's Polonius, "If this be madness, yet there is method in it." It is the not-so-stupid madness of the growing militarism which is an inherent part of friendly fascism's unfolding logic. "Militarism," Woodrow Wilson once pointed out at West Point in 1916, "does not consist of any army, nor even in the existence of a very great army. Militarism is a spirit. It is a point of view." 10 That spirit is the use of violence as a solution to problems. The point of view is something that spills over into every field of life-even into the school and the family.

Under the militarism of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism violence was openly glorified. It was applied regionally-by the Germans in Europe and England, the Italians in the Mediterranean, the Japanese in Asia. In battle, it was administered by professional militarists who, despite many conflicts with politicians, were guided by old-fashioned standards of duty, honor, country, and willingness to risk their own lives.

The emerging militarism of friendly fascism is somewhat different. lt is global in scope. It involves weapons of doomsday proportions, something that Hitler could dream of but never achieve. It is based on an integration between industry, science, and the military that the old-fashioned fascists could never even barely approximate. It points toward equally close integration among military, paramilitary, and civilian elements. Many of the civilian leaders-such as Zbigniew Brzezinski or Paul Nitze-tend to be much more bloodthirsty than any top brass. In turn, the new-style military professionals tend to become corporate-style entrepreneurs who tend to operate-as Major Richard A. Gabriel and Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Savage have disclosed-in accordance with the ethics of the marketplace. The old buzzwords of duty, honor, and patriotism are mainly used to justify officer subservience to the interests of transnational corporations and the continuing presentation of threats to some corporate investments as threats to the interest of the American people as a whole. Above all, in sharp contrast with classic fascism's glorification of violence, the friendly fascist orientation is to sanitize, even hide, the greater violence of modern warfare behind such "value-free" terms as "nuclear exchange," "counterforce" and "flexible response," behind the huge geographical distances between the senders and receivers of destruction through missiles or even on the "automated battlefield," and the even greater psychological distances between the First World elites and the ordinary people who might be consigned to quick or slow death.

William W. Turner
"Leadership in the right has fallen to new organizations with lower profiles and better access to power . . . What is characteristic of this right is its closeness to government power and the ability this closeness gives to hide its political extremism under the cloak of respectability."

Although most of these right-wing extremists avoid open identification with the classic fascists, the similarities with the early fascist movements of the 1920s are clear. Small clusters of highly strung, aggressive people think that if Hitler and Mussolini (both of whom started from tiny beginnings) could make it into the Big Time under conditions of widespread misfortune, fortune might someday smile on them too.

I doubt it. Their dreams of future power are illusory. To view them as the main danger is to assume that history is obliging enough to repeat itself in unchanged form. Indeed, their major impact-apart from their contribution to domestic violence, discussed in "The Ladder of Terror," (chapter 14)-is to make the more dangerous right-wing extremists seem moderate in comparison.

The greatest danger or the right is the rumbling thunder, no longer very distant, from a huge array of well-dressed, well-educated activists who hide their extremism under the cloak of educated respectability. Unlike the New Left of the 1960s, which reached its height during the civil rights and antiwar movements, the Radical Right rose rapidly during the 1970s on a much larger range of issues. By the beginning of the 1980s, they were able to look back on a long list of victories. Their domestic successes are impressive:

* Holding up ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment
* Defeating national legislation for consumer protection
* Defeating national legislation to strengthen employees' rights to organize and bargain collectively
* Undermining Medicare payments for abortions
* Bringing back capital punishment in many states
* Killing anti-gun legislation
* Promoting tax-cutting programs, such as the famous Proposition 13 in California, already followed by similar actions in other parts of the country
* Promoting limitations on state and local expenditures, which in effect (like the tax-cutting measures) mean a reduction in social programs for the poor and the lower middle-classes
* Undermining affirmative-action programs to provide better job opportunities for women, blacks and Hispanics
* Killing or delaying legislation to protect the rights of homosexuals

They have also succeeded in getting serious attention for a whole series of "nutty" proposals to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget or set a limit on the growth of federal expenditures. By the beginning of 1980, about 30 State legislatures had already petitioned the Congress for a Constitutional convention to propose such an amendment; only 34 are needed to force such a convention, the first since 1787. The major purpose of this drive, however, was not to get a Constitutional amendment. Rather, it was to force the president and Congress to go along with budget cutting on domestic programs. By this standard it has been remarkably successful.

On foreign issues, the Radical Right came within a hair's breadth of defeating the Panama Canal Treaty and the enabling legislation needed to carry it out. They have been more successful, however, on these matters:

* Reacting to the Iranian and Afghanistan crises of 1979 with a frenetic escalation of cold war
* Helping push the Carter administration toward more war spending and more militarist policies
* Making any ratification of the SALT II treaty dependent on continued escalation in armaments
* Preventing Senate consideration, let alone ratification, of the pending UN covenants against genocide, on civil and political rights, and on economic, social, and cultural rights.

In a vital area bridging domestic and foreign policy, they provide a major portion of support for the drive to register young people for possible military service and then, somewhat later, reinstitute conscription.

Almost all of these issues are "gut issues." They can be presented in manner that appeals to deep-seated frustrations and moves inactive people into action. Yet the New Right leaders are not, as the Americans for Democratic Action point out in A Citizen's Guide to the Right Wing, "rabid crackpots or raving zealots." The movement they are building is "not a lunatic fringe but the programmed product of right wing passion, plus corporate wealth, plus 20th century technology-and its strength

This strength has been embodied in a large number of fast-moving organizations:

* American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
* American Security Council
* Americans Against Union Control of Government
* Citizens for the Republic
* Committee for Responsible Youth Politics
* Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress
* Committee on the Present Danger
* Conservative Victory Fund
* Consumer Alert Council
* Fund for a Conservative Majority
* Gun Owners of America
* Heritage Foundation
* National Conservative Political Action Committee
* National Rifle Association Political Action Committee (PAC)
* Our PAC
* Public Service PAC
* Right To Keep and Bear Arms Political Victory Fund
* Tax Reform Immediately (TRIM)
* The Conservative Caucus (TCC)
* Young Americans for Freedom/The Fund for a Conservative Majority

Many of these groups, it must be understood, include nonrabid crackpots and nonraving zealots. They are often backed up-particularly on fiscal matters-by the National Taxpayers Union and many libertarian groups which may part company from them on such issues as the escalation of war spending or the return of military conscription.

All of them, it should be added, seem to be the recipients of far more funds than were ever available to the less respectable extremists. Much of this money unquestionably seeps down, as the ADA insists, from corporate coffers. Some of it unquestionably comes from massive mail solicitations by Richard Viguerie, who has been aptly christened the "Direct Mail Wizard of the New Right." Since 1964, when he was working on Senator Goldwater's campaign for the presidency, Viguerie has been developing a mailing list operation which puts the New Right into touch with millions upon millions of Americans.

Today, the momentum of the Radical Right is impressive. It has defeated many well-known liberal candidates for reelection to national, state, and local offices. Having helped elect a quarter of the members of the House of Representatives in 1976, it looks forward to much greater influence by the mid-1980s. Like the American labor movement, which has always supported some Republicans as well as many Democrats, the Radical Right has no firm commitment to any one party. Its strength among Democrats is much larger than that of labor among Republicans. It supports candidates of the two major parties and is closely associated with small-party movements, which sometimes have a decisive impact on electoral or legislative campaigns. Its biggest success, however, is that many of its positions which first sounded outrageous when voiced during the Goldwater campaign of 1964 are now regarded as part of the mainstream. This is not the result of Radical Right shifts toward the center. On the contrary, it is the result of a decisive movement toward the right by the Ultra-Rich and the Corporate Overseers.

The unfolding logic of the Radical Right, however, is neither to remain static or to become more openly reactionary. "We are no longer working to preserve the status quo," says Paul Weyrich, one of its ablest leaders. "We are radicals working to overturn the present power structure." To understand what Weyrich means, we must heed Amo J. Mayer's warning-based on his study of classic fascism-that in a time of rapid change "even reactionary, conservative and counter-revolutionary movements project a populist, reformist and emancipatory image of their purpose." More populism of this type can be expected: in a word, more attacks on the existing Establishment by people who want to strengthen it by making it much more authoritarian and winning for themselves more influential positions in it.

The routinized reiteration of this older conservative doctrine, however, is buttressed by a new ideological reformation that emphasizes the excellence of hierarchy, the wonders of technology, and the goodness of hard times. In The Twilight of Authority, Robert Nisbet makes an eloquent call for a return to the old aristocratic principle of hierarchy: "It is important that rank, class and estate in all spheres become once again honored rather than, as is now the case, despised or feared by intellectuals." If democracy is to be diminished and if rank, class, and estate are once again to be honored, the intellectuals at the middle and lower levels of the establishment must be brought into line on many points. Those who advocate a somewhat more egalitarian society must be pilloried as "levellers" who would reduce everybody to a dull, gray uniformity. They must be convinced that the ungrateful lower classes whom they hope to raise up are, in fact, genetically and culturally inferior. They must be flattered into seeing themselves as part of a society in which true merit, as defined by the powerful, is usually recognized and rewarded. The power of the Ultra-Rich and the Corporate Overlords must be publicly minimized and the endless plutocratic search for personal I gratification must be obscured by lamenting the self-gratifying hedonism | of the masses.

A successful transition to friendly fascism would clearly require a J lowering of popular aspirations and demands. Only then can freer rein be given to the corporate drives for boundless acquisition. Since it is difficult to tell ordinary people that unemployment, inflation, and urban filth are good for them, it is more productive to get middle-class leaders on the austerity bandwagon and provide them with opportunities for increased prestige by doing what they can to lower levels of aspirations. Indeed, the ideology of mass sacrifice had advanced so far by the end of the 1970s that the most serious and best-advertised debate among New York liberals on the New York City fiscal crisis rested on the assumption that the level of municipal employment and services had to be cut. The only questions open for debate were "Which ones?" and "How much?" This ideology-although best articulated in general form by political scientists like Samuel Huntington and sociologists like Daniel Bell-also receives decisive support from Establishment economists.

Religious doctrines on the goodness of personal sacrifice in this world have invariably been associated with promises of eternal bliss in the next world. Similarly, the emerging ideologies on the virtues of austerity are bound to be supplemented by visions of "pie in the sky by and by." In their most vulgar form these ideologies may simply reiterate the economistic notion that reduced consumption now will mean more profitability, which will mean more capital investment that in turn will mean increased consumption later. In more sophisticated form, these ideologies take the form of a misty-eyed humanism. While moving toward friendly fascism we might hear much talk like Jean-Francois Revel's proclamation that "The revolution of the twentieth century will take place in the United States" or Charles Reich's view that the counterculture of the young will, by itself, break through the "metal and plastic and sterile stone" and bring about "a veritable greening of America." Indeed, work at such "think-tanks" as the Rand Corporation and Hudson Institute increasingly foregoes its old base in economics and related "dismal" disciplines for straight and unadulterated "humanism," the rhetorical promotion of which seems directly related to their involvement in dehumanized and dehumanizing technologies.

As with the ideologies of classic fascism, there is no need for thematic consistency in the new ideologies. An ideological menu is most useful when it provides enough variety to meet divergent needs and endless variations on interwoven melodic lines. Unlike the ideologies of classic fascism, however, these new ideologies on market virtue, hierarchic excellence, wondrous technology, and the goodness of hard times are not needed to mobilize masses to high peaks of emotional fervor. In contrast, they help prevent mass mobilization. Yet their growing function is to maintain the loyalty of intellectuals, scientists, and technicians at the Establishment's middle and lower ranks, thereby minimizing the need for systemic purges. On this score the two streams of conservative ideology have been remarkably effective. They have taken over the most commanding heights on the intellectual fronts, reducing to a "small section" those anti-Establishment intellectuals who try to swim against the main currents. Indeed, through a remarkable dialectic, the opponents of the so-called "new class" have themselves become a dominant new class of intellectuals who provide the moral and intellectual guidance on the harsh and nasty imperatives of imperial survival in the era of the stagflation-power tradeoff and the movement toward Super-America, Inc.


During the take-off toward a more perfect capitalism, the debasement of the language moved no slower than the abasement of the currency through creeping inflation. The myths of the cold war gave us the imagery of a "free world" that included many tyrannical regimes on one side and the "worldwide communist conspiracy" to describe the other. The "end of ideology" ideologies gave us the myth of all-powerful knowledge elites to flatter the egos of intellectuals and scientists in the service of a divided Establishment. The accelerating rise of scientific and pseudoscientific jargon fragmented social and natural scientists into small ingroups that concentrated more and more on small slices of reality, separating them more than ever before from the presumably unsophisticated (although functionally literate) working-buying classes.

In the early days of this process, George Orwell envisioned a future society in which the oligarchs of 1984 would use linguistic debasement as a conscious method of control. Hence the Party Leaders imposed doublethink on the population and set up a long-term program for developing newspeak. If Orwell were alive today, I think he would see that many of his ideas are now being incorporated in something just as sophisticated and equally fearful. I am referring to the new triplespeak: a three-tiered language of myth, jargon, and confidential straight talk.

Unlike Orwell's doublethink and newspeak, triplespeak is not part of any overall plan. It merely develops as a logical outcome of the Establishment's maturation, an essential element in the tightening of oligarchic control at the highest levels of the Golden International. Without myths, the rulers and their aides cannot maintain support at the lower levels of the major establishments, and the might itself-as well as the legitimacy of empire-may decay. Jargon is required to spell out the accumulating complexities of military, technological, economic, political, and cultural power. Straight talk is needed to illuminate the secret processes of high decision making and confidential bargaining and to escape the traps created by myth and jargon.

Herein lie many difficulties. With so much indirection and manipulation in the structure of transnational power, there is no longer any place for the pomp and ceremony that helped foster the effulgent myths surrounding past empires-no imperial purple, no unifying queen, king, or imperial council, no mass religion or ideology to fire the emotions of dependent masses. Hence the symbolic trappings of past empires must be replaced by smaller mystifications that at least have the merit of helping maintain the self-respect and motivations of the elites at the middle and lower levels of the national Establishments. Thus the operating rules of modern capitalist empire require ascending rhetoric about economic and social development, human rights, and the self-effacing role of transnational corporations in the promotion of progress and prosperity. The more lies are told, the more important it becomes for the liars to justify themselves by deep moral commitments to high-sounding objectives that mask the pursuit of money and power. The more a country like the United States imports its prosperity from the rest of the world, the more its leaders must dedicate themselves to the sacred ideal of exporting abundance, technology, and civilization to everyone else. The further this myth may be from reality, the more significant it becomes-and the greater the need for academic notables to document its validity by bold assertion and self-styled statistical demonstration. "The might that makes right must be a different right from that of the right arm," the political scientist, Charles Merriam, stated many years ago. "It must be a might deep rooted in emotion, embedded in feelings and aspirations, in morality, in sage maxims, in forms of rationalization . . .~, 30

Thus, in 1975 and 1976, while the long right arm of the American presidency was supporting bloody dictatorships in Chile, Brazil, Indochina, and Iran (to mention but a few), Daniel P. Moynihan, the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, wrapped himself in the flag of liberty and human rights. His eloquent rhetoric-deeply rooted in emotion and embedded in feelings and aspirations-set a high standard of creative myth-making. At that time, his superiors in Washington failed to realize that Moynihan's approach was, in Walter Laqueur's terms, "not a lofty and impractical endeavor, divorced from the harsh realities of world endeavor, but itself a kind of Realpolitik." Within two years, however, the next president, Jimmy Carter, seized the torch from Moynihan's hand and, without thanks or attribution, set a still higher standard by clothing the might of his cruise missile and neutron bomb in human-rights rhetoric even more deeply rooted in morality, sage maxims, and forms of rationalization.

Domestic myths are the daily bread of the restructured Radical Right and the old-style and new-style conservatives. Many of the ideologies discussed in the last section of this chapter serve not only as cover-ups for concentrated oligarchic power. They provide code words for the more unspoken, mundane myths that define unemployed people as lazy or are brought into being.

unemployable, women, blacks and Hispanics as congenitally inferior to other people. Presidential candidates invariably propagate the myth that Americans are innately superior to the people of other countries and that therefore they have a high destiny to fulfill in the leadership of the world's forces for peace, freedom, democracy, and-not to be forgotten- private corporate investment and profitability. Trying to flatter the voting public as a whole, they ascribe most of America's difficulties to foreign enemies or a few individuals at home-like Richard Nixon-who have betrayed the national goodness. Not so long ago, General Westmoreland went much further when, to reassure the more naive members of the American officer corps, he soberly declared that "Despite the final failure of the South Vietnamese, the record of the American military of never having lost a war is still intact." 33 With the arrival of friendly fascism, myths like these would no longer be greeted, at least not publicly, with the degree of skepticism they still provoke. Instead, the Establishment would agree that the domestic tranquility afforded by these convenient reassurances qualified them, in contrast to more critical, less comforting diagnoses, as "responsible." As old myths get worn out or new myths punctured, still newer ones (shall we call them "myths of the month"?) are brought into being.

The momentum of jargon would not abate in a friendly fascist society but move steadily ahead with the ever-increasing specialization and subspecialization in every field. New towers of Babel are, and would be, continuously erected throughout the middle and lower levels of the Establishment. Communication among the different towers, however, becomes increasingly difficult. One of the most interesting examples is the accumulation of complex, overlapping, and mystifying jargons devised by the experts in various subdivisions of communications itself (semiotics, semantics, linguistics, content analysis, information theory, telematics, computer programming, etc.), none of whom can communicate very well with all the others. In military affairs, jargon wraps otherwise unpleasant realities in a cloak of scientific objectivity. Thus, "surgical strike," "nuclear exchange," and even the colloquial "nukes" all hide the horrors of atomic warfare. The term "clean bomb" for the new neutron bomb hides the fact that although it may not send much radioactive material into the atmosphere it would kill all human life through radiation in a somewhat limited area; this makes it the dirtiest of all bombs. Similarly, in global economics the jargon of exchange rates and IMF conditions facilitates, while also concealing, the application of transnational corporate power on Third World countries. The jargon of domestic economics, as 1 have already shown, hides the crude realities of corporate aggrandizement, inflation, and unemployment behind a dazzling array of technical terms that develop an esprit de corps which unites the various sectors of Establishment economics.

Rising above the major portion of jargon and myth is straight talk, the blunt and unadorned language of who gets what, when and how. If money talks, as it is said, then power whispers. The language of both power and money is spoken in hushed whispers at tax-deductible luncheons or drinking hours at the plushest clubs and bars or in the well-shrouded secrecy of executive suites and boardrooms. Straight talk is never again to be recorded on Nixon-style tapes or in any memoranda that are not soon routed to the paper shredders.

As one myth succeeds another and as new forms of jargon are invented, straight talk becomes increasingly important. Particularly at the higher levels of the Establishment it is essential to deal frankly with the genuine nature of imperial alternatives and specific challenges. But the emerging precondition for imperial straight talk is secrecy. Back in 1955, Henry Kissinger might publicly refer to "our primary task of dividing the USSR and China." * By the time the American presidency was making progress in this task, not only Kissinger but the bulk of foreign affairs specialists had learned the virtues of prior restraint and had carefully refrained from dealing with the subject so openly. It may be presumed that after the publication of The Crisis Democracy, Samuel Huntington learned a similar lesson and that consultants to the Trilateral Commission will never again break the Establishment's taboos by publicly calling for less democracy. Nor is it likely that in discussing human rights the American president will talk openly on the rights and privileges of American-based transnationals in other countries. Nor am I at all sure that realists like Irving Kristol, Raymond Aron, George Liska, and James Burnham will continue to be appreciated if they persist in writing boldly about the new American empire and its responsibilities. Although their "empire" is diligently distinguished from "imperialism," it will never be allowed to enter official discourse.

For imperial straight talk to mature, communication must be thoroughly protected from public scrutiny. Top elites must not only meet together frequently; they must have opportunities to work, play, and relax together for long periods of time.

Also, people from other countries must be brought into this process; otherwise there is no way to avoid the obvious misunderstandings that develop when people from different cultural backgrounds engage in efforts at genuine communication. If the elites of other countries must learn English (as they have long been doing), it is also imperative for American elites to become much more fluent in other tongues than they have ever been in the past. In any language there are niceties of expression-particularly with respect to money and power-that are always lost or diluted if translated into another language. With or without the help of interpreters, it will be essential that serious analysis, confidential exchanges, and secret understandings be multilingual. Thus, whether American leadership matures or obsolesces, expands or contracts, English can no longer be the lingua franca of modern empire. The control of "Fortress America" would require reasonable fluency in Spanish by many top elites (although not necessarily by presidents and first ladies). Trilateral Empire, in turn, imposes more challenging-but not insuperable- linguistic burdens.

Daniel Fusfield
"There is a subtle three-way trade-off between escalating unemployment together with other unresolved social problems, rising taxes, and inflation. In practice, the corporate state has bought all three."

What will daily life be like under friendly fascism?

In answering this question I think immediately of Robert Theobald's frog: "Frogs will permit themselves to be boiled to death. If the temperature of the water in which the frog is sitting is slowly raised, the frog does not become aware of its danger until it is too late to do anything about it."

Although I am not sure it can ever be too late to fight oppression, the moral of the frog story is clear: as friendly fascism emerges, the conditions of daily life for most people move from bad to worse-and for many people all the way to Irving Kristol's "worst."

To Fusfeld's trio of more unemployment, taxes, and inflation, however, we must also add a decline in social services and a rise in shortages, waste and pollution, nuclear poison and junk. These are the consequences of corporate America's huge investment in the ideology of popular sacrifice and in the ``hard times" policies that have US "pull in the belts" to help THEM in efforts to expand power, privilege, and wealth.

Slogan of the Medici family
"Money to get power, power to protect money."

Capital has always been a form of power. As physical wealth (whether land, machinery, buildings, materials, or energy resources), capital is productive power. As money, it is purchasing power, the ability to get whatever may be exchanged for it. The ownership of property is the power of control over its use. In turn, the power of wealth, money, and ownership has always required both protection and encouragement through many other forms of power. Businessmen have never needed theorists to tell them about the connection. It has taken economic theorists more than a century to develop the pretense that money and power are separate. Indeed, while Establishment militarists persistently exaggerate the real power of destructive violence, the same Establishment's economic policymakers increasingly present destructive economic policies as though they have no connection with power.

The vehicle for doing this is becoming the so-called "tradeoff" policy. The more conservative Establishment notables argue that the way to fight inflation is to curtail growth, even though the inescapable side effect is recession and higher unemployment. Their more liberal colleagues politely beg to differ, arguing that the way to cope with unemployment is to "reflate" the economy. For scientific support, both sides habitually refer to a curve developed by A. W. Phillips on the relation between unemployment and changing money rates in England from 1861 to 1957. Giving modern support to part of Karl Marx's theory on the "reserve army of the unemployed," Phillips showed that when more people were jobless, there was less chance of an increase in money wage rates. Phillips also made a sharp distinction between wages and prices, mentioning prices only to point out in passing that a wage increase does not by itself require a proportionate increase in prices. On this side of the Atlantic, Paul Samuelson and various colleagues applied Phillips's curve to prices instead of wages, and hiding their biases behind Phillips's data, developed the current tradeoff theory.

In its more virulent form at the beginning of the 1980s, this theory means the following: Recession is needed to bring the rate of inflation down below the double-digit level-that is, to less than 10 percent. The most naive backers of the theory suggest that once this is done, the "back of inflation will be broken," inflationary expectations will be buried, never to rise again, and the country can return to the good old days of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Many liberal opponents of this theory, in turn, accept on good faith the credentials of the self-styled inflation fighters. Apparently operating on the premise that economic policymaking is a technical exercise in puzzlesolving, they argue that the conservatives are simply mistaken in their understanding of economic behavior, and in failing to see that untold millions may be injured by pro-recession policies. In my judgment, however, the liberals who take this view fail to understand or face up to the nature of Establishment power.

In a world of many divergent objectives that must be reconciled with each other, the leaders of any Establishment are continuously engaged in complex juggling acts. Whether developing global investment policies or apportioning economic or military aid around the world, everything cannot be done at the same time. Above all, in planning for corporate profitability, compromises must continuously be made. Profitability in one area is often accompanied by unavoidable losses in another. Short-term profits must often be sacrificed in the interest of the greater profitability that can come only from the fruition of long-term investment programs. Above all, the maintenance or strengthening of the power to protect future profitability often requires the sacrifice of some present, even future, profits. Neither market power nor the political power supporting it are free goods. They too cost money-and in periods of stagflation they tend to cost more money than before.

Toward the end of 1979, more than 100 corporate executives attended a meeting of the Business Council at Hot Springs, Virginia. Almost to a man, they enthusiastically supported the recessionary policies of the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury. "The sooner we suffer the pain," stated Irving S. Shapiro, chairman of Du Pont, "the sooner we will be through. I'm quite prepared to endure whatever pain I have to in the short term." Steven Rattner, the reporter for The New York Times, pointed out that signs of suffering were nowhere in sight: "The long black limousines and private jet planes were still evident in abundance." Rattner also suggested that Shapiro was apparently referring not to any loss in his personal income but rather to the "pain" that might be inflicted on Du Pont's profits.

How much profit a company like Du Pont might lose in the short run is a matter of conjecture. Unlike American workers, a giant corporation can engage in fancy tax-juggling that pushes its losses on to ordinary taxpayers. Unlike middle-class people, the Ultra-Rich billionaires and centimillionaires can shift the costs of recession or social expenditures to the lowly millionaires, who in turn can pass them along to the middle classes. Above all, the hyenas of economic life can get theirs from recession as well as inflation.

Any serious effort to control stagflation either its recession side or its inflation side-would require serious limitations on both Big Business and the support given to it by Big Government. Any such limitations, in turn, would have to be backed up by anti-Establishment coalition including, but not limited to, organized labor. The other side of this coin may now be seen in stark clarity: The price of preventing any such coalition and of preserving, if not expanding, Establishment power, is to choose continuing stagnation as the price that must be paid to protect future profitability. The real tradeoff by the big-time traders is not between price stability and high employment. Rather, it is the sacrifice of both in order to curtail union power, dampen rising aspirations among the population at large, and take advantage of both inflationary windfalls and recessionary bargains.

Indeed, not only the U.S. Establishment but the Golden International as a whole has in practice accepted the realities of continuing stagflation (with whatever ups and down may materialize in the proportions of combined inflation and unemployment) as the new economic order of the "Free World." This has long been the operating doctrine of the International Monetary Fund in Third World countries. It is now emerging as a doctrinal strategy for the 1980s in the entire First World.

In the 1960s and early 1970s no one ever dreamed that Americans could become accustomed to levels of either inflation or official unemployment as high as 6 or 7 percent a year. As the Big Business-Big Government partnership becomes closer, the levels previously regarded as unacceptable will-like the hot water to which a frog has become accustomed-be regarded not only as normal but as objectives of official policy. Indeed, 8 percent unemployment is already being regarded as full employment and 8 percent inflation as price stability. Under the emerging triplespeak-in a manner reminding us of "War Is Peace" and "Freedom Is Slavery" in Orwell's 1984-the norm for unemployment could reach and the norm for inflation far exceed the double-digit level of ten apiece. When the two are added together, this provides what I call a "limited misery index"-limited because no similar arithmetic value can be given to such things as job insecurity, crime, pollution, alienation, and junk. The so-called "tradeoff" theory merely tells us that either of the two elements in the index may go down a little as the other one goes up. What the tradeoffers fail to point out is that despite fluctuations the long-term trend of the two together is upward. Thus in the opening months of the 1980s, even without correcting for the official underestimation of unemployment, the limited misery index approached 20. Under friendly fascism it would move toward 30....


As the limited misery index creeps or spurts ahead, a spiraling series of cure-alls are brought forth from the Establishment's medicine chest. Logically, each one leads toward the others. Together, apart from anyone's intentions, the medicines make the malady worse.

To cure inflation, interest rates are raised. This cannot be done by bankers alone. Intervention by central banks, acting on their behalf, is necessary. This results in a quick upward movement in prices and a further increase in government spending on new debt service. The companion step is to cut government spending on most social services- education, health, streetcleaning, fire and police protection, libraries, employment projects, etc. The deepest cuts are made in the lowest income areas, where the misery is the sharpest and political resistance tends to be less organized.

To cure stagnation or recession, there are two patent medicines. The first is more Big Welfare for Big Business-through more reductions in capital gains taxes, lower taxes on corporations and the rich, more tax shelters, and, locally, more tax abatement for luxury housing and office buildings. These generous welfare payments are justified in the name of growthmanship and productivity. Little attention is given to the fact that the major growth sought is in profitability, an objective mentioned only by a few ultra-Right conservatives who still believe in straight talk. Less attention is given to the fact that the productivity sought is defined essentially as resulting from investment in capital-intensive machinery and technology that displace labor and require more fossil fuels. The second patent medicine, justified in terms of national emergencies with only sotto voce reference to its implications for maintaining employment, is more spending on death machines and war forces. This, in turn, spurs the growth of the federal deficit.

To keep the deficit within limits and provide enough leeway for alleviation of the worst cuts in social services, higher taxes are required. This is done by a hidden national sales tax. The preparations for this have already been made by preliminary legislative action toward the imposition of the so-called Value Added Tax (VAT), already in force in France and England. VAT takes a bite out of every stage of production. At the end of the line, this means higher prices for consumers.... And so the dismal round continues-higher interest rates, cuts in social services, more tax subsidies for Big Business, and higher sales taxes hitting the middle- and lower-income groups.

Over the short run (which may be stretched out longer than some expect), the net effect of this cycle is to move purchasing power upward toward the most privileged people. This compensates in part for the paradox that making money by raising prices reduces the value of the money made. Over the longer run, however, it intensifies the older contradiction of capitalism, namely, that profit maximization undermines the mass purchasing power required for continued profitability.

The major responsibility of corporate executives, so long as they are not constrained by enforced law, is to maximize their long-term accumulation of capital and power no matter what the cost may be to ... people or physical resources.

Friendly Fascism

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