Posts Tagged ‘Pensioners’

Pareto, Liberismo, Free Trade and Conservative Fascism

April 11, 2014

Vilfredo-Pareto-Quotes-5

Vilfredo Pareto: Free Trade economist who believed in the importance of elites.

I’ve posted a number of piece criticising the attempts by Conservatives, such as the Dorset MEP Daniel Hannan, to smear Socialism through the argument that Fascism was simply one form of it. American Conservatives in particular seem to believe that any form of state intervention or collectivist approach automatically equals Socialism, which is in turn equated with Communism and Nazism. Mussolini started his career as a radical Socialist, and there were elements of Socialism, and specifically Syndicalism, in Fascism. Fascism was, however, an unstable and frequently incoherent mixture of different and contradictory ideologies and attitudes. Syndicalism was one element. Others were the middle class, Conservative ideologies of free trade, private enterprise and liberismo.

Liberismo was the ideology of the Italian middle classes. It was associated with the belief in a balanced budget and sound, stable currency, and reflected the interests of the middle class groups with fixed incomes, who felt themselves vulnerable to inflation. These were rentiers, pensioners, civil servants, professionals and White collar workers. These groups looked to Fascism to halt rising prices. At the same time, Mussolini presented the Fascist movement as defending private enterprise and the small businesses from Socialism and organised Labour on the one hand, and the large trusts and cartels of big business on the other. They resented the way the government, under their influence, had maintained a policy of high tariffs and high state expenditure. The Italian Nationalists, who later merged with the Fascists, had attacked international finance and the major banks. The crash of the Banca di Sconto associated with the Perrone brothers and the Ansaldo conglomerate in 1922, resulted in a number of small investors losing their savings. The Perrone brothers and Ansaldo were major figures and backers of the Nationalists, who blamed their bank’s failure on the government blindly obeying the dictates of the rival Banca Commerciale.

Fascist elitism and contempt for democracy also had part of its origins in the ideas of the economist Vilfredo Pareto. A professor of Political Economy at the University of Lausanne, Pareto was a staunch supporter of free trade. This in turn led to his contempt for parliamentary democracy and belief in the importance of elites. He also valued myth, considered as powerful irrational ideas and images, as a means through which governments and movements could inspire their supporters to action. His works also explored the use of force and consent. He argued that the ‘foxes’ of the old, patrician order, would now be overthrown by ‘plebean’ lions, and denounced the humanitarianism of contemporary liberal politics as a symptom of a political order in decline. As the above quote makes clear, Pareto believed that contemporary democracy was merely an ideological disguise for the way the elite continued to hold power while maintaining the impression that it was the masses who were in control of government. Mussolini read Pareto when he was a radical Socialist, and took over his idea elitism, and utter contempt for parliamentary democracy and humanitarianism.

Free trade, private enterprise, and a balanced budget, became elements of Fascism. This is, however, denied by Conservatives, who seem to believe that they stand apart from and opposed to it in a way which the Socialist parts of Fascism do not. Liberismo and Pareto’s elitism may also explain the strongly anti-democratic trend in Libertarianism. Both von Hayek and Mises served in Vollmar Dollfuss’ Austro-Fascist regime. Dollfuss banned the Austrian Socialist party on the grounds that it was preparing a revolution. It’s unclear whether this was true, or merely a pretext. The regime was allied to Mussolini’s Italy, and looked to the Duce for protection against annexation from Hitler’s Germany. After Hayek moved to America, he also travelled to Chile after Pinochet’s coup to examine the implementation of his economic doctrines there. Pareto’s prediction of the victory of the plebs over the patricians may well have been another piece of myth-making – a powerful image intended to inspire fear in the middle classes, and force them to act against the threat from the working class. Hayek in his absolute support for private enterprise, free trade and willingness to serve Right-wing dictatorships, seems to have shared these attitudes. This is despite Libertarianism’s claim to represent traditional Liberalism. Libertarianism and its adherents share the same attitudes as the Conservative followers of liberismo who joined the Fascists.

For further information, see ‘Pareto, Vilfredo’, in Philip V. Cannistraro, ed., Historical Dictionary of Fascist Italy (Westport: Greenwood Press 1982) 392.

Adrian Lyttelton, The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919-1929 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1987).

Another Angry Voice Critiques Osborne’s Budget

March 22, 2014

George Osborne predictions

The table of Osborne’s failed predications from Another Angry Voice, illustration just how inaccurate they are.

The Angry Yorkshireman has provided an excellent antidote for the approving hype surrounding Osborne’s ‘business friendly’ ‘worker’s budget’ on Wednesday. Simply entitled ‘Budget 2014: The AAV Analysis’, This succinctly describes it as ‘some pre-election bribes and some myopic tinkering with a fundamentally unstable economic system’. The Angry Yorkshireman begins by comparing Osborne’s figures now, with those he confidently gave at the start the present government. These show just how far from the reality his predications then were, and how the situation now is far, far worse than the optimistic view Osborne then had. This also effectively shows, even if this rest of the Angry One’s article didn’t, just how much worse off everyone now is under the Tories. Except the very rich, of course.

He then examines the immensely harmful effects Osborne’s budget has had on workers, pensioners and savers, before noting the way Osborne increased VAT from 17.5 to 20 per cent. He has a short paragraph stating that Osborne’s budget shows that even more privatisation is on the way, and criticises the way the education system is being sold off to ‘unaccountable pseudo-charities’, who pay their managers massive salaries while paying the actual teaching staff very little. He then critiques the government’s policy towards the banks, which consists in maintaining them, and their massive privileges for senior staff at the expense of the working population, who have to suffer wage restraint and cuts to welfare services.

He then attacks the government’s housing policy. This is the ‘right to buy’ scheme, which will further reduce government stocks of council housing as the government is making sure no more is being built. He then discusses the increases in government funding on flood defences and potholes. this is tacit recognition by the government that their earlier cuts to these services were wrong. However, he believes that for the government now to return some of the money they cut from flood defences after the floods have occurred is an insult to everyone, who had to leave their homes because of them.

He also devotes a paragraph to criticising Osborne’s optimistic and unrealistic economic forecasts in the budget, before concluding that

The only possible conclusion from the headline figures is that Osbornomics has failed in its own terms. The fact that by 2015, Osborne will have borrowed £207 billion more than he claimed he would, yet the economy will be £128 billion smaller too is absolutely damning stuff, but you won’t hear anything about this from the mainstream media.

Many of the measures in the 2014 budget can be seen as the pre-election bribes they are intended as, yet these modest pre-election gains the Tories are providing dwindle into insignificance in comparison to the huge losses the majority of people have suffered since 2010.

Perhaps the most damning thing of all is that in the very same week that the Bank of England admitted that the private banks run a money creation cartel, and a NASA backed study warned that continuation of the neoliberal economic orthodoxy threatens irreversible systemic collapse, the Tory party have once again offered no fundamental reform to the way the economic system works, in favour of shoring up the status quo, and protecting establishment interests.