“When most people hear the word `fascism’ they naturally think of its ugly racism and anti-Semitism as practiced by the totalitarian regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. But there was also an economic policy component of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s as “corporatism,” that was an essential ingredient of economic totalitarianism as practiced by Mussolini and Hitler.
So- called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a “model” by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe. A version of economic fascism was in fact adopted in the United States in the 1930s and survives to this day…
So-called “corporatism”… stands in stark contrast to the classical liberal idea that individuals have natural rights that pre-exist government; that government derives its “just powers” only through the consent of the governed; and that the principal function of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens, not to aggrandize the state.
Mussolini viewed these liberal ideas (in the European sense of the word “liberal”) as the antithesis of fascism: “The Fascist conception of life,” Mussolini wrote, “stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual.” Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: “The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature’s plans.” “If classical liberalism spells individualism,” Mussolini continued, “Fascism spells government.”
Another result of the close “collaboration” between business and government in Italy was
a continual interchange of personnel between the. . . civil service and private business.' Because of thisrevolving door’ between business and government, Mussolini had
created a state within the state to serve private interests which are not always in harmony with the general interests of the nation.' Mussolini'srevolving door’ swung far and wide…
The whole idea behind collectivism in general and fascism in particular is to make citizens subservient to the state and to place power over resource allocation in the hands of a small elite… Such decisions should be made by a “dominant class” he labeled “the elite.”
Thomas J. DiLorenzo