What Is Fascism?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Hardcore Leftists don’t like President Trump, so they hurl names at him. The favorite epithet chosen by dozens who signed a full page ad placed in the New York Times is “fascist.” Anyone can contact these people and their organization via the internet: “REFUSEFASCISM.ORG.” Leftist bomb thrower Bill Ayers is one of the more well-known signatories. Another is over-the-hill actor Ed Asner who rarely misses an opportunity to bang his drum for something way over on the Left.
That ad, appearing two weeks before the inauguration, called for resistance to Trump becoming President, and action “outside of normal channels” if his inauguration weren’t prevented. For readers who didn’t know what fascism is, these far left-wingers tossed in the name of Hitler to ensure widespread hatred for the incoming President. The goal expressed in the ad was to create “a situation where the Trump/Pence regime is prevented from ruling.” In saner days, no newspaper would publish such a screed. It might also have led to prosecution for encouraging violence.
For the sake of sanity, however, let’s look at the word “fascism.” According to the 2,478-page Random House Unabridged Dictionary (Second Edition, 1987), fascism belongs in the category known as economics. This thick reference tome tells us fascism is a system characterized by “regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism, and often racism.”
A fascist doesn’t seek to own the means of production. He wants to control it. His preference sets him apart from a communist who owns everything. What the fascist does is tell producers what to produce, when to produce, how much to produce, whom to hire, whom to fire, what price to charge, etc. He is indeed a totalitarian, but he differs markedly from a communist who, remarkably, is more honest – though still freedom’s deadly foe.
Hitler was a fascist who didn’t own major industries outright. He just controlled them. Same with Italy’s Mussolini. But is Trump a fascist? Not even close. His campaign repeatedly included pledges to do away with government-imposed regulations. He promised to unleash America’s productive sector by getting government and many of its unnecessary and burdensome regulations out of the picture. On the other hand, an honest observer seeking to label Barack Obama’s economic practices should have hung the fascist label on him. His determination to regulate industry can hardly be denied. But there’s so little unwillingness in Leftist circles, and so much dishonesty that relies on public ignorance of definitions, that one American leader can be wrongly labeled fascist and another, who deserves the tag, gets completely spared.
Further, is hanging the odious charge of racism on Trump accurate? Ask black American Ben Carson, or Indian American Nikki Haley, or Jewish American Jared Kushner. Disagree with Trump’s choices for high government posts if you want, but skip the dishonest charge of racism.
Only “aggressive nationalism” fits Trump. But his “Make America Great Again” campaign ought to be praised, not condemned.
The real problem here is the woeful awareness of the average American, especially those who “benefit” from higher education. Most of the teachers at the collegiate level spout nonsense, not only about economic groups, but also about a great deal more. As has often been said, “Somebody ought to do something” to counter widespread issuance of misinformation. Happily, someone did do something when Robert Welch created The John Birch Society in 1958. Yet this organization has for decades been falsely labeled fascist and racist. Why should anyone be surprised?
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.
Making the Case for Higher Inflation? Krugman’s Cockamamie Economics
by JBS President John F. McManus
A correct definition of inflation, something increasingly hard to find, appeared in “Webster’s New 20th Century Unabridged Dictionary (1957)”. It said that inflation is “an increase in the amount of currency in circulation, resulting in a relatively sharp and sudden fall in its value and rise in prices.” Note that what is inflated is the amount of currency. The effect of inflating the amount of currency is a rise in how much more of the less-valuable currency is needed to purchase anything.
In 1920, in a burst of youthful honesty, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote a book entitled “Economic Consequences of the Peace.” In it, he correctly identified inflation as an increase in the amount of currency and then summarized, “By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens …. The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.” Here we see that inflation constitutes thievery by government. Keynes, however, didn’t stand firmly by his correct 1920 attitude. His later twisted thinking greatly influenced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the socialistic New Deal of the 1930s.
Jump ahead to 1946 and the publication of economist Henry Hazlitt’s book “Economics in One Lesson.” It presents the absolutely correct definition of inflation. A prominent columnist whose work appeared regularly in Newsweek and other publications, Hazlitt minced no words when he wrote that inflation “tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships. Its inexcusable injustices drive men toward desperate remedies. It plants the seeds of fascism and communism. It leads men to demand totalitarian controls.” The correctness of his dire forecasts was demonstrated in recent years as inflation ravaged Zimbabwe, Argentina and elsewhere. Hazlitt’s warnings should have been heeded in our country but they haven’t been listened to by most Americans. In our nation, inflation (courtesy of the Federal Reserve and a compliant Congress) continues to erode the value of everyone’s dollars.
Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman writes about economic matters for the New York Times. On April 7th, without ever defining inflation, he told readers that more inflation is needed. He proposed a “compelling case for raising inflation targets above 2 percent.” In presenting “the case for higher inflation” he stated that “moderate inflation turns out to serve several useful purposes.” Not only did he rely on the false notion that inflation’s definition is rising prices, he proposed that America needs those prices to rise even higher.
No, Mr. Krugman. America needs honest money whose value can’t be manipulated by government, the Federal Reserve, or even by Nobel Prize winners. Americans also need a correct definition of inflation, not a confusing mishmash of highbrow economic verbiage that cloaks the real truth about thievery, solves no problems, and destroys the people’s wealth – in their paychecks, savings, pensions, insurance policies, investments, etc. The value of all dollars continues to sink, something every supermarket shopper experiences week to week and wonders why. The cause is inflation and its continuing toleration by a government that allows the Federal Reserve to produce a continuous stream of freshly created cash.
Could the people of our nation become desperate and “demand totalitarian controls” as Henry Hazlitt soberly suggested? The answer is obvious. But Paul Krugman doesn’t tell Americans what they need to know. Without the truth about inflation, the people will continue to worry about their future, maybe even begin to “demand totalitarian controls.”
Mr. McManus has written “Dollars & $ense,” a booklet explaining solutions to the economic meltdown.