Today’s Anticapitalists Are Closer to Fascism Than They Think

Today’s Anticapitalists Are Closer to Fascism Than They Think by  for Mises

On the back of the economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemics, we are witnessing—once more—so-called economists, historians, and pundits attempting to proclaim the failure of capitalism. Their criticisms of the capitalistic organization of human cooperation and coexistence are various, but there are three strains of ideological attack against capitalism which seem to me to occur more often than others.

There is an element about anticapitalism that is often neglected: even though anticapitalism is usually associated with socialism and leftist movements, we can find the very same anticapitalistic mentality in the fascist ideology. As Thomas DiLorenzo pointed out in his latest Mises U lecture on the topic, fascism is just a particular kind of socialism—just like communism itself is. Hence, the fact that fascists and communists share the same contempt for capitalism should not surprise anyone.

The best way to understand the anticapitalistic mentality of fascism—and how close the arguments of contemporary anticapitalists are to those of Benito Mussolini—is to read Mussolini’s 1932 essay titled “The Doctrine of Fascism,” written together with Giovanni Gentile (the acknowledged philosophical ideologue of fascism).

The attack Gentile and Mussolini carry out against capitalism is (at least) threefold, and its underlying rhetoric is no different from the one of contemporary anticapitalistic and allegedly antifascist movements. First, Gentile and Mussolini advocate a greater role for government in the economy. Second, they condemn both methodological and political individualism, asserting the importance of collectivism and collective identities. Third, they blame “economism” and the role economic constraints play in shaping human behavior, deploring materialism and advocating governments that transcend the praxeological and sociological laws of economics.

Arguing for Ever More Government Intervention

The first step anticapitalists take when it comes to arguing in favor of bigger government is to belittle freedom and classical liberalism. In the paragraph titled1 “Rejection of Economic Liberalism – Admiration of Bismarck,” Gentile and Mussolini write that “fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of [classical] liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere.” Doesn’t that have a familiar ring? Is it so different from the calls of many leftists for rethinking neoliberalism and capitalism?

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