Posts Tagged ‘Robert Brady’

Brady on the Fascism, Business and the Contempt for the Unemployed

February 23, 2015

In my last post, I quote Robert Brady on the similarity between Fascist attitudes and those of American businessmen. Both of whom viewed man as a rapacious predator. He observed how American businessmen were quite content to see the US invade and attack other countries purely from economic interests. The same attitudes also led the US to send in the army against domestic protestors, such as strikers, share-cropper and hunger marchers.

Brady also considered that business would prefer autocratic rule, and remarked on the business class’ absolute contempt for the unemployed, and their indifference to poverty caused by poor wages.

The condition of society in which the business men would rule would be that one which is natural to them. It would, as a matter of course, be centralised, autocratic, and intolerant, and it would be so constructed that each would get exactly what he deserves for the simple reason that according to the rules he deserves whatever he can get. It is the well accepted business view that most, if not all of the unemployed are shiftless, worthless, irresponsible, and undisciplined. It is taken as axiomatic that the lowest wage-earner receives all that “is coming to him” since if he could get more by any means which does not disturb business routine it is obvious that he would. His failure is the measure of his incompetence, and with that all has been said about it that may be mentioned by gentlemen of good breeding and respectable station!

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are passing legislation, under the guise of reforming electoral registration, designed to strip the vote from the poor, ethnic minorities and the young. The idea that unemployment is due to personal character defects is behind the ‘less eligibility’ attitudes towards welfare benefits, in which workfare and sanctions are used to force the unemployed off jobseeker’s allowance, DLA and ESA. It’s behind the work capability assessment and the planned use of CBT by ‘job coaches’.

And the same attitude is also behind the Tories’ manufacture of a low wage economy, in which workers are forced into part-time work, zero-hours contracts, or compete for internships and are placed on workfare, all to provide cheap labour for business.

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Fascism and Big Business on Man as Predator

February 23, 2015

Historians and political theorists have observed that one of the key features of Fascism is that it views human relationships very much as a kind of Hobbesian ‘war of each against all’, and sees humans really as another form of rapacious predator. Hitler and the Nazis were fond of Nietzsche’s celebration of the ‘blond beasts’, while at the same time censoring the other parts of the philosopher’s oeuvre that directly contradicted the foundations of the regime.

Critics of the Neo-Cons, such as the authors of the book Confronting the New Conservatism, also note that the Neo-Cons have an essentially Hobbesian view of humanity as a collection of alienated social atoms, each competing and struggling with the others. They also observe that the Neo-Cons extend this principle to foreign affairs. All countries are engaged in a struggle for supremacy, so there is little point in establishing international alliances. Rather, as superior civilisations, America and the West should be free to impose their will and standards by force.

Brady makes the same point in his book, The Structure of American Fascism. He makes the point that American businessmen have exactly the same views. This has resulted in the invasion and plunder of other countries, in which justification for the military action has been secondary.

The inner face of fascism considers man as a beast of prey. Scientists, artists, the rank and file of the people, may recoil from this doctrine: the leading figures in the business world of Italy, Germany, England, France, and the United States do not. In 1938, Spengler, then approved by the Nazis as a prophet of the New Germany, wrote:

“Man is a beast of prey. I shall say it again and again. All the would-be moralists and social-ethics people who claim or hope to be ‘beyond all that’ are only beasts of prey with their teeth broken, who hate others on account of the attacks which they themselves are wise enough to avoid. Only look at them. They are too weak to read a book on war, but they herd together in the street to see an accident, letting the blood and the screams play on their nerves. And if even that is too much for them, th4ey enjoy it on the film and in the illustrated papers. If I call man a beast of prey, which do I insult: man or beast? For remember, the larger beasts of prey are noble creatures, perfect of their kind, and without the hypocrisy of human morale due to weakness.”

In this view man is arrayed against man. The only code of behaviour which has any real meaning for the species is that “might makes right”. Where only strength counts, the strong are those who have taken; who have the power to have and to hold. The weak are those without holdings – of station, or property, or power. It is a doctrine that human society is nothing but organised “piracy”. Is there any fundamental difference in appreciation of human values or in general outlook on life between a stockbroker and a pirate? So far as the specific activity is concerned there is no difference, not even in the methods of sharing the spoils. What on the open seas is thought of as an outlaw and “piratical” raid of group on group, is in another setting played as a legitimate game in which each man is pitted against every other man for all he can “get by with” short of a snarl with criminal law.

That businessmen in the United States hold this view is beyond question. They hold it axiomatic in describing the character of their own kind, and they hold it to be valid for the human race at large. Anyone who has taken the trouble to interview stockbrokers, captains of industry and finance, advertisers, public relations counsellors, or other participants in, and apologists for, the business system will soon learn that this view of human nature governs their actions and their behaviour in practically all things, and that it is regarded as so obviously true as to require no comment, explanation, or justification.

Thus there is not the slightest objection to using all the armed forces of the state in a war on India, on Morocco, on Manchuria, on Abyssinia, on Nicaragua, Spain, or Mexico. If you are big enough, strong enough to take it, the rule is: take it. Take the country, take its resources, take its wealth, take the lives, health and happiness of all its inhabitants. “Realities rule”; the justification can be concocted later.

Nor, on the other hand, is there the slightest objection to using the troops against strikers, hunger-marchers, share-croppers, or any other group which for any reason whatsoever wants a little of what the insiders may have. All the emphasis on war, all the promotion of the army and the navy, of “national defence,” of that curiously bellicose frame of mind commonly known by the euphemistic term “patriotism,” is born of the same view of life, of human nature, of civilisation and culture.

And this same attitude is very much alive in modern politics. The invasion of Iraq took place not to oust Saddam Hussein as a dictator and threat to world peace. It was so that the Americans and Saudis could control the vast Iraqi oil industry. At the same time, western companies wanted to acquire Iraqi industries, which were to be privatised and sold to them. And the Neo-Cons wished to turn the entire country into a low taxation, free trade utopia. Even more sinister, the GM companies were also lined up to patent the rare crops indigenous to the country, as part of a scheme to force the Iraqi people to use their products.

Back in Britain, we have the Tories passing legislation banning protests and political lobbying close to elections. Just in case these sway the voters and the Tories lose the election. Tebbit has emerged again to urge the government to pick a fight with the unions. And Boris Johnson, the major of London, doesn’t have enough money to pay his firefighters, but he did have enough cash to buy two armoured cars for the police.

As for the character of the international business class, one of Lobster’s contributors wrote that he had asked one of his friends, who had attended a meeting of international financiers, what they were like. ‘Worse than you can possibly imagine’, was the reply.

The Anti-Socialist Accusation: ‘This Is the Politics of Envy’

February 23, 2015

Another argument that is frequently made by Conservatives against Socialism, or any form of state intervention to the reduce the power of the very rich, and transfer some of their material wealth to the poor, is the accusation that it ‘is the politics of envy’. The attitude here is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the system. Rather, the fault lies with its opponents, who are acting out of personal malice and discontent. It’s another argument that has been around for nearly eighty years in some or another.

Brady in his book The Structure of German Fascism, published in 1937, also cites similar forms of this argument in the section on the rise of Fascism and Fascist arguments around the world. These don’t attribute attacks on capitalism to envy. Instead they trace it to an inferiority complex and personal, psychological failings. The attitude is still the same, however.

The examples Brady cites of this line of argument are the following

“One of the most common symptoms of an inferiority complex or of personal failure is the desire to change the social order, usually in one’s immediate environment, often in the world at large. The youngsters, suffering from personal failure, often want to change their families, not themselves. The student who fails in his studies wants to change his teachers or the marking system, not himself. The employee who fails to get the desired salary wants to improve his employer, not himself. The worker, unable to get or hold a position, wants to change the system generally”.

Link, The Return of Religion, p. 130.

“It is known that an adult of insufficient social experience will not be merely socially maladjusted; he will also be found using inferior logical techniques.”

Mayo, The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilisation, p. 163.

These aren’t arguments so much as attempts to block further debate. The simple answer is that a resentment of the vast power of the extremely rich, and anger at their enjoyment of vast wealth and luxury while others suffer extreme poverty, comes from an entirely reasonable sense of outrage at a viciously unjust social and economic system. Despite the claims since the 19th century that capitalism gives people the opportunity to better themselves, it is still a system that condemns millions to horrific poverty through no fault of their own.

American Fascist Arguments: Capitalism Threatened by Socialism

February 22, 2015

The American Right attacks any kind of state intervention, however mild and beneficial, as ‘Socialism’, which is automatically conflated with Communism. You can see that very clearly in the way Obama has been attacked by Repugs, and especially the Tea Party, as a Communist, simply for supporting the extension of state medical aid. A number of bloggers and political commentators have pointed out that in many respects, Obama is a fairly standard type of American politico, with the usual connections to Wall Street.

When Libertarians are confronted with the fact that their small-state economics don’t actually the work, there’s a tendency for them to argue that this is because there is still some government intervention, which is Socialism. This line of argument goes all the way back to the 1930s. I found this piece of American Fascist argument attacking American industry for becoming ‘socialist’ in Robert Brady’s The Structure of German Fascism:

America, the world’s greatest industrial nation, industrialized itself under private capitalism for use and for profit. .. America’s suffering started only when capitalism took sick. Like a sick horse, the decrepit economic system on the back of which we are now crawling along is not Capitalism himself, but a Capitalism loaded down with Socialism … What have socialistic experiments ever achieved except deficits or failure? … If capitalists and capitalism are blight to humanity, then Egypt should be a happy spot. But the happiest event which has befallen Egypt in many centuries came with the British ‘imperialism’ and ‘capitalism’ which built the Assuan Dam… If capitalism is ‘greed’ and a blight to humanity, then why are the savage and miserable lands which have no capitalism not blessed? … Why is the standard of living of the whole people in any land raised in proportion to the success and development of its capitalistic enterprises? … As Bernard Shaw put it: ‘compulsory labour with death the final punishment, is the keystone of socialism.’… The National Republic, Dec. 1933, under the heading The Failure of Socialism states: ‘Persons socialistically inclined often point to the present world-wide depression as “a failure of the capitalist system” … but the present world-wide breakdown would more properly be charged to a collapse of the socialist system. Every important power in the western world to-day, except in the United States, is under either socialist parliamentary control, or that dictatorship to which socialism leads as in Italy, Poland, Germany and Russia.

Elizabeth Dilling, The Red Network (Caspar co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1934, pp. 92-3).

George Bernard Shaw is a favourite source of quotations for the Right on the brutal nature of Socialism because Shaw had some disgusting, brutal ideas. He was like H.G. Wells and many other members of the chattering classes at the time an enthusiastic supporter of eugenics. There’s a quote by either him or Wells about sending those of unfit heredity to the extermination chamber. These horrific comments today are, it shouldn’t need to be said, as shocking to Socialist as they are to everyone else, and very, very few if any Socialists today share his views. In fact, the opposite is much more likely to be the case.

As for the introduction of capitalism into the Middle East ultimately benefiting the people there, this is highly debatable. Islamist movements like the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the FLM in Algeria, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are partly ultra-traditionalist protests against capitalism. Iran’s Islamic Revolution broke out due to the massive social and economic dislocation produced by the country’s industrialisation. Similarly the introduction of capitalism and modernisation in Egypt under Mehmet Ali had the effect not creating more freedom for the average Egyptian, but of decreasing it. It massively extended the pasha’s power, and led to a massive tax burden on the mass of the Egyptian peasantry to support Mehmet Ali’s reforms.

One of the contributing factors to the Islamic revolution and the outbreak of the civil war in Algeria was the failure of both socialism and capitalism. The Algerian Nationalists had been able to hold to power for decades, following the country’s liberation from France, by supplying economic growth and a rising standard of living. This failed in the 1980s, and the regime began selling off state industries and cutting back. The result was a decline still further in living standards. The FLM gained popular support by appearing to offer a programme that would restore prosperity through the implementation of Islamic law, which was held to be neither capitalist nor socialist. The Islamic regime in Iran is also very strongly anti-socialist, even if over half of the economy is owned by the state and much of the rest of by the bonyads, the Shi’ah charitable foundations.

In short, the above passage shows just how old and a false the arguments about modern capitalism being corrupted by Socialism are. This hasn’t stopped them being repeated ad nauseam despite the plentiful evidence to the contrary.

Fascism and Elitism

February 21, 2015

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Hitler and Cameron: Both promote the power of elites and the subordination of the masses.

This is another highly relevant quote showing the stark similarities to the current government and Fascism, cited in Robert Brady’s book The Structure of German Fascism (Gollancz 1937). At the heart of Fascism is the doctrine that only an elite should rule. For the Nazis, this was biologically superior German Aryans, comprising members of the Nazi party and German business. American Fascists in the ’30s also argued against democracy, and for the power to rule to be confined only to a small, elite section of the population, as this quote from Brady’s book also shows:

There is great social significance in the fact that the elite of exceptional natural endowment, who, as a matter of course, become the elite of power and influence, actual or potential, are a fairly constant percentage of the total population. From this fact it follows that no social system can long survive, once it tends strongly to declass more and more of the elite … The elite may be defined roughly and arbitrarily as including capitalists deriving most of their income from property, business enterprisers and farmers, the professional classes, and, generally, the employed, whose salaries are considerably above the average, or say, above $3,000 a year for the entire country…
A wise social philosophy, such as that of fascism, strives to make a place for all the members of the
elite

(Dennis, The Coming American Fascism, pp. 229, 231, 237).

This also exactly describes the attitude of the current Coalition, led by the aristocratic Cameron, Clegg and Osborne, which is doing everything it can to reduce everyone else to poverty and despair in the interests of big business.

The Corporate Origins of Fascism and Unemployment

February 21, 2015

Structure Nazism

Yesterday I came across a copy of Robert Brady’s The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism, published by Victor Gollancz in 1937. Brady was the associate professor of economics at the University of California. His book argued, as the foreword by Harold Laski says

that Fascism is nothing but monopoly-capitalism imposing its will on those masses on those masses whom it has deliberately transformed into its slaves. It is fundamental to its understanding that all the organs of working-class defence are destroyed; it is fundamental to its understanding, also, that society has been merged into a state the outstanding characteristics of which is the imposition of its will by coercion. There is no social revolution: the ownership of the means of production remain in private hands. There has been a political revolution in the sense that those organs through which, prior to 1933, criticism of the social order might be expressed, have been ruthlessly destroyed. What replaces them is essentially a partnership between monopoly-capitalism and the Nazi Party in which that supreme coercive power which is of the state’s essence is used to compel obedience to the new system.

This view of the Nazi state has been rejected by historians, as big business largely only started funding the Nazi party quite late, and always maintained some degree of freedom after they were absorbed into the Nazi system of controls. Despite this, Brady presents an impressive argument on how far the development of monopoly-capitalism – the emergence of vast industrial cartels and industries dominated by only single or at most, two companies paralleled and prepared for the emergence of the Nazi state.

Brady was also alarmed at the prospect of Fascism taking power in other nations, including America. The very last chapter, ‘The Looming Shadow of Fascism’, contained a number of quotations, some from American Fascist ideologues, arguing for certain aspects of Fascism. It includes this quote on using unemployment to control the masses by an economist.

“The next question is, How scarce do jobs have to be? The answer is, just scarce enough so that labourers are not likely to get uppish, make unexpected demands, and get away with them. Just scarce enough, in other words, so that wages are definitely under the control of the employing class, at least so far as abrupt fluctuations are concerned. And under what circumstances can the labouring class be depended upon to sit tight, lick the hand that feeds them, and make no unexpected demands? The answer is when they are all strictly up against it, with just barely enough wages to make ends meet – almost, and distress staring them in the face if they should lose their jobs. And this condition can obtain only when there is a reserve army of unemployed sufficient to keep those who do have jobs in abject fear of losing them” (Finney, “Unemployment, An Essay in Social Control,’ Journal of Social Forces, September 1926.)

As Guy Debord’s Cat has demonstrated on his blog, this is exactly the argument advanced by von Hayek and the Chicago School. They wanted a constant unemployment rate of 6 per cent to keep wages down. Von Hayek was Thatcher’s favourite economist, while Milton Friedman, another member of the school, went down to Pinochet’s Chile to observer for himself how well that Fascist caudillo was putting his theories into practice. And it’s a policy that’s being pursued even today by Thatcher’s successors, Cameron, Clegg and Osborne.