A Century of Fascism
In 1922 Benito Mussolini became prime minister of Italy, putting that country on a path that had global ramifications. He was the world’s first fascist leader.
Other fascists soon followed with fanciful promises that were varied but tuned in to what people wanted to hear. Their problems would be solved, whether the restoration of order, removing risks from an uncertain future, the grant of financial aid, and other siren songs that at first blush might appear to improve an individual’s condition. All could be delivered if the citizenry just relied on their government. A broad swathe of people placed blind faith in these promises, allowing their fascist leaders to simultaneously expand the role of government in economic activity and embark on policies that made the State superior to the individual, overriding peoples’ inalienable natural rights expounded by the luminaries of the Age of Enlightenment.
Fascism became just a new twist on a well-worn theme – authoritarianism. Regardless of the name given to the political structure – fascism, dictatorship, autocracy, etc. – they all require strict obedience to the State at the expense of personal freedom, which raises the following questions about government today.
- Do individuals control their government as envisioned during the political awakening in the 17th and 18th centuries that put America on a course different from monarchial Europe, manifest in the transitory period(1) that was the initial outcome from the anti-federalist interpretation and implementation of the American Constitution by its framers?
- Or as now prevails in most of the world geographically, has the State usurped power and is controlling its citizenry to the detriment of an individual’s liberty, which is the never-changing, never-ending outcome of fascists and other authoritarians?
For Americans these questions were answered in a speech in May 1948 by the father of Wall Street legend Warren Buffett. Congressman Howard Buffett explained that the link between money and liberty is inextricable, and he stated unambiguously: “For if human liberty is to survive in America, we must win the battle to restore honest money…unless you are willing to surrender your children and your country to galloping inflation, war and slavery.”(2) He concluded:
“The paper money disease has been a pleasant habit thus far and will not be dropped voluntarily any more than a dope user will without a struggle give up narcotics. But in each case the end of the road is not a desirable prospect. I can find no evidence to support a hope that our fiat paper money venture will fare better ultimately than such experiments in other lands. Because of our economic strength the paper money disease here may take many years to run its course…When that day arrives, our political rulers will probably find that foreign war and ruthless regimentation is the cunning alternative to domestic strife. That was the way out for the paper-money economy of Hitler and others.”
Whether an economy is based on paper-money (bank notes) or a bank deposit currency, or both, the outcome is the same. When government controls the currency through the banking system, together they inevitably debase the currency. Because of the control imposed on them from regulatory oversight, banks must comply with government diktat so they can continue operating, and their reward is increasing profits. Governments pursue this path to expand their power, with the result that liberty is diminished, hence the need for honest money.
The End of American Exceptionalism
French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville described America as “exceptional” following his tour of the country nearly two centuries ago, and the term stuck. The political structure of a nascent union between the then 24 sovereign states and a federal government with limited sovereign power was truly unique as was the belief in the merits of self-government practiced in accordance with natural law.
Rather than subjecting the citizenry to the caprice and excesses of a ruling elite, the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment centered on self-reliance and liberty, with a purposeful focus on natural order. This rational path enables each person to improve their situation in life to facilitate their individualist pursuit of happiness. This goal can be achieved without depriving anyone else of their freedom by following the precepts of natural law.
These ideals are described by Britannica.com as follows (I have edited the tense to make clear that these ideals are still alive today):
“Central to Enlightenment thought were [are] the use and celebration of reason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition. The goals of rational humanity were considered to be [are] knowledge, freedom, and happiness.”(3)
After winning its War for Independence, America embodied these ideals in a political structure formalized by a written Constitution in which the states delegated seventeen of their sovereign powers to a federal government. In effect, the alliance created by the states for the mutual benefit of their citizenry was built upon three pillars manifest by:
- a common market,
- their joint/shared defense, and
- a single, common currency comprised solely of gold and silver coin.
For everything outside of these areas, the states then reserved in the 10th Amendment all powers not delegated to the federal government “to the states respectively, or to the people”, namely, the citizens of each state.
The framers of the Constitution recognizing these three shared interests of the states and aiming to protect everyone’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had tactfully crafted in that document a finely judged balance of political power exercised between a state and the federal government, but this arrangement did not last long. Federal power grew as the framers passed away and a new generation of power seeking federalist leaders began railing against the constraints of the federal/state structure and the Constitution itself(4).
Over time these radicals with the acquiescence – whether wittingly or not – of state governments and the polity upended the balanced political structure implemented by the framers. The trend toward greater personal freedom advocated and initiated by the luminaries of the Age of Enlightenment was reversed. Self-reliance and personal responsibility for one’s own decisions were being eroded by an ever-greater reliance on the federal government, and its expanding control of Americans’ daily life. This new path becomes clear when viewing the federal government’s intervention in economic activity, the escalation of which can be seen in the following chart from NTU.org.(5)
From its founding until 1910, the federal government’s role in economic activity is insignificant. Thereafter, it expanded to become the dominating economic for
Article from LewRockwell