PROJECT DEMOCRACY'S PROGRAM -- THE FASCIST CORPORATE STATE
by Webster Griffin Tarpley
The following article appeared as Chapter V of the EIR Special Report entitled Project Democracy: The "Parallel Government Behind the Iran-Contra Affair," issued in April 1987.
Even in an epoch full of big lies like the late 20th century, it is ironic that the financiers of the Trilateral Commission should have chosen the name "Project Democracy" to denote their organized efforts to install a fascist, totalitarian regime in the United States and a fascist New Order around the world. It is ironic that so many of the operatives engaged, in the name of "democracy" in this insidious, creeping coup d'état against the United States Constitution should be first- and second-generation followers of the Soviet Russian universal fascist, Nikolai Bukharin. It is ironic that Israel, the country in the modern world singled out more than any other by Project Democracy as a model of the triumph of democratic values, should turn out to be a corporate state with marked similarities to Mussolini's Italy.
Though ironic, all these propositions are indeed true. Project Democracy is fascist, designed to culminate in the imposition of fascist institutions on the United States, institutions that combine the distilled essence of the Nazi Behemoth and the Bolshevik Leviathan. Project Democracy is high treason, a conspiracy for the overthrow of the Constitution. An organization whose stock in trade is the destabilization and the putsch in so many countries around the world can hardly be expected to halt its operations as it returns to the U.S. border. For Project Democracy, it can happen here, it will happen here.
The greatest obstacle to understanding the monstrous purpose that lurks behind Project Democracy's bland and edifying label is the continued ignorance on the part of the American public of the real nature of 20th-century totalitarian regimes. Despite the fact that Stalin deliberately helped bring Hitler and the Nazis to power, despite the Nazi-Communist alliance of 1939-41 under the Hitler-Stalin Pact, despite Mussolini's close ties to Moscow, despite the deep affinity between Nazi-fascists and communists demonstrated repeatedly in many countries by mass exchanges of membership between political organizations of the two persuasions, the average American still sees communism and Nazism-fascism as polar opposites. The expression "fascist" exists only as a strongly derogatory but very vague epithet, empty of any precise political content.
In reality, Bolshevism and fascism, Bukharin and D'Annunzio, are products of the Capri School, Siamese twins conceived in the Isle of Capri's Grotto of Matromania by Venetian and Benedictine cultural-political gamemasters. This can be shown by briefly examining Nazi-communist ideology and economics. But in addition to ideology and economics, there exist specifically Nazi-communist, totalitarian institutional forms which can be objectively identified. A review of the institutions of the corporate state as exemplified by D'Annunzio, Mussolini, and Bukharin is an excellent preparation for recognizing the corporate state in present-day Israel, and for discerning the outlines of the ongoing Trilateral-Project Democracy fascist transformation of the United States.
Nazi-communism is 20th-century totalitarianism. Although some writers attempt to trace the origins of totalitarianism to models of the Protestant Reformation or the French Jacobins, the search for the roots of totalitarian regimes takes us totally outside of the confines of Western, Augustinian civilization, outside of the world of Latin Christendom. The model from which Western totalitarianism derives is to be found in the separate, Byzantine-Orthodox civilization of Eastern Europe. Byzantine-Orthodox civilization has been not just autocratic and militaristic, but specifically totalitarian also, since no later than the reign of the Emperor Diocletian in the second century A.D. Although Hannah Arendt and her school never recognized it, Soviet communism is only the form of totalitarian rule associated with the Bolshevik dynasties of the Russian Empire.
"Totalitarianism" is much more than just a dictatorship or authoritarian state. The totalitarian state seeks to dictate the behavior of its inmates down to the most minute detail, and creates for this purpose institutions that will allow that total surveillance and total control. In Byzantine-Orthodox civilization and in the Western totalitarianism copied from it, all departments of human endeavor, including economics, religion, sports, marriage, and even thinking are conceived of as departments of the state. Appropriate institutions are required to mediate totalitarian control in each of these areas.
The starting point of Western civilization, as for example in the writings of St. Augustine, is the God-like, creative individual, the most precious resource of the society as a whole. Western civilization seeks the highest development of the individual and the highest development of the state as complementary objectives. The United States Constitution is the finest instrument yet devised for pursuing these inseparable goals. Western civilization in our era knows the state as the constitutional republic, wherein the rights of the individual are guaranteed. Within that framework the organizations of society, the political parties, business enterprises and companies, trade unions, churches, associations, societies, universities, local governments, and families enjoy their independent existence. That is what a democratic republic means.
In totalitarianism, by contrast, both the individual and society disappear into the maw of the all- consuming Moloch, the state.
A Definition of Nazi-communism
Starting from these premises, it is possible to furnish a rough
definition of modern fascism or Nazi-communism, the regime toward which
Project Democracy is working. That definition contains the following
2) The fascist regime is a government controlled in practice by a single party -- a one-party state.
3) Fascist ideology, whatever its specific predicates, repudiates human reason and exalts irrationalism and irrationalist violence, often in the form of wanton military aggression and imperialism. A fascist mass movement is the most aggressive form of militant irrationalism. From Mussolini's Romanita through Hitler's Herrenvolk to the Great Russian master race conception of "Moscow the Third Rome," fascist ideology is based on notions of racial superiority and race hatred, extreme chauvinism, and blood and soil mysticism. Fascism is neo-pagan and ferociously hostile to Augustinian Christianity, as can be shown from Mussolini's early career and from Hitler's private conversations. This same neo-paganism is perfectly expressed in the predilection of Russian totalitarianism for the Russian Orthodox Church. In the Western world, fascism can be correctly called the politics of cultural despair.
4) Fascist economics is the murderous austerity associated with the names of Hitler's finance minister, Hjalmar Schacht, and Mussolini's finance minister, Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata. The final logic of fascist economics is the concentration camp, the labor camp, the Gulag. Fascist irrationalism cannot tolerate scientific rationality on a broad scale, and is therefore correlated with hostility to technological innovation, and permanent peasant backwardness in agriculture.
5) The institutions through which totalitarian control of economic life is mediated merit special attention. In Eastern totalitarianism, this is accomplished by making each branch of the state-owned industries subject to the Council of Ministers and the state planning authority, and thus to the party. At the same time, the trade unions are the passive "transmission belt," in Lenin's phrase, for party control. In totalitarian regimes in the Western world, masses of labor have often been simply dragooned through institutions such as Dr. Ley's Nazi Labor Front. But the characteristic institutions of fascism in the West are those of the so-called corporate state. In the fascist regime of Italy, Vichy France, and many others, it was the corporations which were to bring together ownership and employees, management and labor under the direct control of the one-party state for the purpose of extending totalitarian domination into the nooks and crannies of everyday economic life while at the same time fragmenting potentially rebellious workers along the lines of branches of industry.
The corporatist principle
This corporatist principle in fascism is so neglected and misunderstood that it merits our special attention, especially because the form of fascist totalitarianism which Project Democracy aims at is of a corporatist variety. The word corporation here has nothing to do with its usual English meaning of a joint-stock company. "Corporation" here means, approximately, a guild. For present purposes it is enough to recall that corporatism emerged as an irrational, solidarist opposition to capitalism and the United States Constitution during the period of the reactionary Holy Alliance after the end of the Napoleonic wars. Corporatism asserted that the way to overcome the tensions between labor and capital was not through the broad national community of interest prescribed by Alexander Hamilton's American System of dirigist political economy, but rather through the artificial creation of medieval guild organizations, based on the pretense that capitalists were masters, and workers were journeymen and apprentices, all functioning together in "organic" unity.
Thus, Mussolini advertised his fascist regime as the stato corporativo or corporate state, proclaiming that Oil fascismo sara corporativo o non sara (fascism is corporative or it is nothing). In German, the equivalent for stato corporativo is Standestaat, wherein Stand has the meaning of social position in the sense of aristocracy, clergy, and bourgeoisie, the three "estates" of pre-evolutionary France. Hitler's National Socialist German Workers Party was corporatist from the very beginning: point 25 of the "unalterable" program of the Nazis as adopted on Feb. 25, 1920 included the "creation of corporative and professional chambers" (Odie Bildung von Stande--und Berufskammern zur Durchfuhrung der vom Reiche erlassenen Rahmengesetze in den einzelnen Bundesstaaten.) [Note 1] For a certain period after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, his regime referred to itself prominently as a Standestaat, or corporate state. When Marshal Petain and Pierre Laval created their Nazi puppet-state in Vichy, Petain announced that one of the principal goals of his "national regeneration movement" was the creation of an ordre corporatif. Other fascist regimes, especially the many that were directly modeled on the Italian one, also stressed corporatism, so that corporatism emerges as the characteristic institutional structure of fascism.
Theories of the corporate state can be traced back to Germans like Pesch and Kettler, or to the "guild socialism" of the Englishman William Morris. An early attempt to actually create a corporate state came in 1919, with the filibustering expedition to Fiume of Gabriele D'Annunzio, the protofascist of our epoch.
D'Annunzio as seen by Ledeen
The corporate state D'Annunzio attempted to create during his Fiume adventure is of double relevance to an analysis of the fascism of Project Democracy. On the one hand, D'Annunzio's 16-month tenure as dictator in Fiume was the model and dress rehearsal for Mussolini's March on Rome. On the other hand, D'Annunzio's activities in Fiume have been the subject of a lengthy treatise by the most overt and blatantly fascist ideologue of Project Democracy, Michael Ledeen.
Ledeen's discussion of D'Annunzio in Fiume is to be found in his book, The First Duce. Ledeen celebrates the poetmaster D'Annunzio as the founder not only of fascism, but of 20th-century politics in general, through his creation of a Nazi-communist mass movement of irrationalism:
Virtually the entire ritual of Fascism came from the "Free State of Fiume: the balcony address, the Roman salute, the cries of "aia, aia, alala," the dramatic dialogues with the crowd, the use of religious symbols in a new secular setting, the eulogies of the "martyrs" of the cause and the employment of their "relics" in political ceremonies. Moreover, quite aside from the poet's contribution to the form and style of fascist politics, Mussolini's movement first started to attract great strength when the future dictator supported D'Annunzio's occupation of Fiume. (p. viii)
D'Annunzio's political style -- the politics of mass manipulation, the politics of myth and symbol -- gave become the norm in the modern world. All too often we have lost sight of the point of departure of our political behavior, believing that by now ours is the normal political universe and that the manipulation of the masses is essential in the political process.
D'Annunzian Fiume seems to have marked a sort of watershed in this process, and that is perhaps the explanation for the fascinating symbiosis between themes of the "Right" and the "Left" in the rhetoric of the comandante. It is of the utmost importance for us to remind ourselves that D'Annunzio's political appeal ranged from extreme Left to extreme Right, from leaders of the Russian Revolution to arch-reactionaries. (p. 202)
Ledeen is especially fascinated by D'Annunzio's ability to recreate an "organic" unity out of the disparate elements of modern society: "At the core of D'Annunzian politics was the insight that many conflicting interests could be overcome and transcended in a new kind of movement." (p. ix) For Ledeen, the key institutional feature of the D'Annunzian fascist order is the corporate state.
The city of Fiume at the southern base of the Istrian peninsula was in 1919 a former territory of the newly defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire under dispute between Italy and the new nation of Yugoslavia, where the town is located today under the name of Rieka. Italy, having participated in the victorious cause of the Allies, desired to annex Fiume as it had the other Austro-Hungarian port of Trieste, but the weak Nitti ministry hesitated to do so because of the opposition of France. France at that time was determined to emerge as the protector of the new states created in the Balkans by the Peace of Paris, and therefore supported the Yugoslav claim to Fiume, which the Yugoslavs saw as a key port. In order to force the hand of Nitti, D'Annunzio, starting from Venice, gathered a force of arditi, veterans of the elite shock troops of the Italian army, and seized Fiume in September 1919, demanding that Italy annex it. D'Annuzio's regime, which he sometimes called a Regency, organized acts of terrorism and piracy. In November 1920, with the Treaty of Rapallo, Fiume was made a free city. D'Annunzio refused to accept this solution and Italian troops dispersed his "legions" some time later.
The Fiume expedition was a classic example of Venetian cultural- political warfare, designed as a pilot project for fascist movements and coups in the aftermath of the hecatomb of the First World War. The centerpiece of the operation was the so-called Charter of Carnaro (Carta del Carnaro), the corporatist guild constitution for Fiume as an independent state written by D'Annunzio in collaboration with the anarcho-syndicalist agitator Alceste de Ambris.
The Carta del Carnaro was reminiscent of certain features of the Venetian Republic. Legislative power was vested in a bicameral legislature. One house was called the Consiglio degli Ottimi, or Council of the Best, and was elected on the basis of universal direct suffrage with one councilor per every thousand inhabitants. The Ottimi were to handle legislation regarding civil and criminal justice, police, the armed forces, education, intellectual life, and were also to govern the relations between the central government and subdivisions or states called communes.
The corporate chamber of the Fiume parliament was to be the Consiglio dei Provvisori, a kind of economic council. The Consiglio dei Provvisori was composed of representatives of nine guilds or corporations whose creation was also provided for in the document. These included the industrial and agricultural workers, the seafarers, and the employers, with 10 representatives each; the industrial and agricultural technicians, private bureaucrats and administrators, teachers and students, lawyers and doctors, civil servants, and cooperative workers, with five representatives from each group, for a grand total of 60. The Consiglio dei Provvisori was responsible for all laws regarding business and commerce. The Consiglio dei Provvisori also decided all matters touching labor, public services, transportation and the merchant marine, tariffs and trade, public works, and medical and legal practice.
The Ottimi served for a term of three years, and the Provvisori for two years. A third legislative body was prescribed, formed through the joint session of the Ottimi and Provvisori: This was called the Arengo del Carnaro, and was to deal with treaties with foreign states, the budget, university affairs, and amendments to the constitution.
The Provvisori were chosen by nine corporations. Membership in one of these corporations was obligatory for all citizens, and was posited in the Carta del Carnaro as an indispensable precondition for citizenship. The article on corporations states that "only the assiduous producers of the common wealth and the assiduous producers of the common strength are complete citizens of the Regency, and with it constitute a single working substance, a single ascendant fullness." (Ledeen, p. 166) D'Annunzio's corporations are horizontal, similar to the estates, and are not organized according to vertical branches or cycles of economic activity, as Mussolini's corporations were to be.
The Carta del Carnaro provides for a 10th corporation, which seems to have been reserved for geniuses, prophets, and assorted supermen. D'Annunzio's conception of the corporation is almost tribal, as the text of the constitution shows. He stipulated that each corporation was to "invent its insignia, its emblems, its music, its chants, its prayers; institute its ceremonies and rites; participate, as magnificently as it can, in the common joys, the anniversary festivals, and the maritime and terrestrial games; venerate its dead, honor its leaders, and celebrate its heroes." (Ledeen, p. 168)
The executive power was normally vested in seven rectors or ministers (including foreign affairs, treasury, education, police and justice, defense, public economy, and labor). For periods of emergency, it was provided that the Arengo could appoint a dictator or comandante for a specified term, as was the custom in the Roman Republic. There was also a judiciary, with communal courts (Buoni uomini, or good men), a labor court (giudici del lavoro), civil courts (giudici togati, of judges in toga), a criminal court (giudici del maleficio), and a supreme court called the Corte della Ragione, or court of reason.
For Ledeen, D'Annunzio assumes the status of Nazi-communist prophet of the mass irrationalism of the 20th century. For Ledeen, the Carta del Carnaro sums up the "essence of European radical socialism." From the point of view of Ledeen's universal fascism, D'Annunzio is located in the same tradition as the classics of Marxism and historical materialism, since his writings "conjure up the Karl Marx of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. The young Marx, like many other heirs of Hegelianism, had been engaged in the search for a way to end human "alienation," and D'Annunzio saw the structure created by the Carta as a means of organizing a society in which human creativity would blossom in a way rarely seen in the story of mankind. It is by no means accidental that he employed the language of the Comunes in his new constitution, for he wished to recreate in the regency of Fiume the ferment of activity that had produced the Renaissance. He hoped that this constitution would produce a new, unalienated man." (Ledeen, pp. 168- 9)
In reality, D'Annunzio was a degenerate monster, a coprophile, pervert, and psychopath--qualities that may have helped to determine Ledeen's compulsive affinity for this hideous figure. The Venetian operative D'Annunzio, the "John the Baptist" of fascism in this century, must bear a great share of the responsibility for opening the door to the Nazi-communist chamber of horrors in the epoch during and after the First World War. Ledeen's commitment to the creation of a universal fascist yoke has found its appropriate organizational expression in Project Democracy.
Mussolini's corporate state
After the March on Rome in 1922, and especially after the consolidation of a full-blown dictatorship through the coup d'etat of 1925, the Kingdom of Italy saw the creation of the fascist corporate state. The promise of creating corporations figured prominently in Mussolini's demagogy from the beginning of his campaign for the seizure of power, but the creation of the corporations and the transformation of the parliament in order to include them was a long and drawn-out process that was completed only in the late thirties at the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War.
One of the reasons it took so long to found the corporations was the lack of agreement about what these artificial creations might in fact be, since they had to be invented ex novo. Mussolini in the end settled on the idea that each corporation was to represent, not a stratum of society, but rather a branch of industry. The essence of the fascist corporations was that they were a support and appendage of the personal rule of Il Duce, and thus of the one-party fascist state. As one historian has observed:
"The fundamental truth, however, is that the Fascist State claims the right to regulate economic as well as other aspects of life, and has aimed at accomplishing the former through the Corporate organization. The Dictatorship is the necessary rack and screw of the Corporate system; all the rest is subordinate machinery." [Note 2]
Mussolini rejected both the Marxist idea of class conflict as well as what he called economic liberalism. The corporate system was designed, in his view, to overcome the class struggle of the one and the exaggerated economic individualism of the other. All of this was supposed to mobilize and focus national energies in the service of the superior interest of the state as the overarching collectivity. In one speech, Il Duce summed up the three elements of revolutionary corporatism as a single party, a totalitarian state, and "the highest ideal tension." In fact, Mussolini danced to the tune of Venetian financiers like Volpi di Misurata, Cini, and others.
Mussolini situated the need for corporations in the context of the dissolution of the world capitalist system -- an interesting parallel to the corporatist fascism of Project Democracy and the Trilateral Commission, which are explicitly proposed as necessities for a post-industrial era of scarce and diminishing resources. In 1933, Mussolini announced that the world depression (or the "American crisis," as he also called it) had become a total crisis of the world capitalist system. He went on to distinguish three periods in the history of capitalism: "the dynamic, the static, and the declining." According to Mussolini, the dynamic era of capitalism extended from the introduction of the widespread use of the steam engine to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1870; this period he saw as the time of unfettered free enterprise. After 1870, came a static phase, with the growth of trusts, the end of free competition, and smaller profit margins. The third or decadent phase is described by Mussolini as a kind of state capitalism.
The outcome is the necessity for corporatism:
Today we are burying economic liberalism, and the Corporation plays that part in the economic field, which the Grand Council and the Militia of the squadristi do in the political. Corporativism means a disciplined, and therefore a controlled economy, since there can be no discipline which is not controlled. Corporativism overcomes Socialism as well as it does liberalism: it creates a new synthesis.
(Finer, pp. 501- 502)
The juridicial basis for the fascist corporations is established in the Charter of Labor of 1927, whose sixth article states:
The corporations constitute the unitary organization of production and represent completely its interests. In view of this complete representation, the interests of production being national interests, the corporations are recognized by law as organs of the State. [Note 3]
The regime created fascist labor unions for workers, which had the monopoly of representation of labor in the negotiation of the national labor contract for each category or branch of economic activity. The Confindustria was created as the sole syndicate of the employers. No labor contract was considered valid until it had been approved by the Ministry for Corporations.
In 1934, Mussolini finally issued a decree-law creating 22 corporations for the principal sectors of the Italian economy. Each corporation was given a council, which was composed of equal numbers of representatives of the fascist labor union and the fascist employers' organization for that sector, plus representatives of the National Fascist Party, the Ministry of Corporations, and consulting technocrats. The president of each corporation was generally a top official of the government or of the Fascist Party. The leading task of each corporation was the reconciliation of disputes between labor and management.
Each corporation represented a "productive cycle" rather than an occupational category. A first group of corporations included agricultural, industrial, and commercial elements. These were the corporations for:
2) garden products, flowers, and fruits;
3) vineyards and wine;
5) beets and sugar;
6) animal industries and fishing;
7) wood; and
8) textile products.
A second group of eight corporations included only commercial and industrial elements. These were:
1) metallurgy and mechanics;
2) chemical industries;
3) clothing and accessories;
4) paper and the press;
5) building construction;
6) water, gas, and electricity;
7) extractive industries; and
8) glass and ceramics.
A third group of corporations made up the service sector:
1) insurance and credit;
2) professions and arts;
3) sea and air transportation;
4) internal communications;
5) show business; and
6) tourism and hotels.
In the early stages of the regime, corporate representatives were brought together at the national level in a National Council of Corporations, and a National Assembly of Corporations, which were later superseded by a Central Corporate Committee. All of these contained additional party and government representatives in addition to the corporate delegates. In addition, Councils of Corporate Economy were set up in each province as a kind of fascist chamber of commerce, with all the corporations of the province plus local governments being represented.
In 1938, after having proclaimed that he considered the Chamber of Deputies, which until that time had been the lower house of the Italian Parliament, as belonging to the alien residue of liberalism, Mussolini replaced that Chamber with the Chamber of the Fasces and Corporations (Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni). This was composed of a number of delegates appointed by each of the corporations, plus other delegates appointed by the National Fascist Party.
Mussolini summed up these institutional transformations with the following words:
"We have constituted a Corporative and Fascist State, the State of national society, a State which concentrates, controls, harmonizes, and tempers the interests of all social classes, which are thereby protected in equal measure. Whereas, during the years of demo-liberal regime, labor looked with diffidence upon the State, and was, in fact, outside the State and against the State, and considered the State an enemy of every day and every hour, there is not one working Italian today who does not seek a place in his Corporation or syndical federation, who does not wish to be a living atom of that great, immense living organization which is the national Corporate State of Fascism."
(Field, p. 16)
After the cataclysm of the Mussolini regime, former members of the fascist hierarchy who considered themselves in the syndicalist-corporate tradition, such as Giuseppe Bottai, accused Mussolini of having been instinctively inclined to preserve his personal dictatorship, rather than transform that dictatorship into a true corporatist system. From beginning to end, the corporations were in fact the merest paraphernalia of Il Duce's one-party state. Although he actually functioned as a malleable puppet of Volpi di Misurata and the Venetian financiers, in the eyes of the world Mussolini stood atop the fascist edifice as Duce of Fascism and Head of Government, and the secretary of the National Fascist Party served at his pleasure. An important organ of this totalitarian dictatorship was the Grand Council of Fascism (Gran Consiglio del Fascismo), primarily an expression of the fascist party, but in its makeup a mixed organ composed of top officials of the National Fascist Party, government ministers, the Presidents of the Senate and the Chamber, the commander of the squadristi, and others. As long as the Chamber of Deputies lasted, it was the Grand Council which made up the single nationwide list of Fascist candidates which the voters were called upon to accept or reject as a single unitary slate. The Grand Council was also responsible for submitting to the King the names of persons who might be selected as Head of Government. It was this Grand Council which, in July 1943, decided to oust Mussolini.
As will be shown later, the National Endowment for Democracy is not only corporatist, but its board of directors is intended to function as a kind of informal Grand Council of Fascism in the totalitarian one-party state that Project Democracy seeks to create in the United States.
After seizing power, Mussolini institutionalized and domesticated his storm troopers, the squadristi, under the name of the Voluntary National Security Militia, which was an organ of the Fascist Party. To combat political resistance to his regime, Mussolini then set up Special Tribunals whose judges were all high officers of the squadristi militia. Perhaps Ledeen or other Project Democracy theorists can take this as a starting point for the reform of the U.S. federal judiciary.
Mussolini claimed to justify his regime through the need for efficiency and getting things done effectively. The Second World War revealed the overwhelming logistical and military weakness of the fascist corporate state. Despite the failure of corporatism in its declared aims of generating economic and military power, corporatist forms have exercised an almost hypnotic fascination over certain financier cliques in times of grave economic crisis. One such financier was Bernard Baruch, whose wholly controlled operative, Gen. Hugh Johnson, was the leader of the National Recovery Administration during the first administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The organizations that were supposed to be created in each sector of production around the NRA code for that sector were a very transparent copy of the fascist corporations. Many of the brain-trusters in the first New Deal were declared admirers of Mussolini, and even went so far as to prepare a summary report on the fascist corporate state for President Roosevelt. As we will see, the Trilateral Commission is committed to a neo-corporate order for the United States.
At this point in the argument, certain readers may become impatient with an argument that seems to them to be incongruous. Can it be that the business-suited bankers of the Trilateral Commission, the shirt-sleeve bureaucrats of the AFL-CIO, or even such figures as Oliver North share decisive elements of their ideology with a black- shirted, jack-booted, strutting fascist like Mussolini, with fez, dagger, and club, with jaw jutting over the balcony of Palazzo Venezia? Are not the present-day figures of Project Democracy too bland to qualify as fascists? Are they not just American pragmatists with views that may happen to differ from our own?
It may come as a surprise to many that Mussolini himself was a professed follower of American pragmatism. Among the thinkers who had made the greatest contribution to his own intellectual formation, Il Duce numbered first of all William James, the classic exponent of American pragmatism, whom he knew especially through the Italian writer Papini. Then came Machiavelli (certainly not a pragmatist and clearly not understood by Il Duce), followed by Nietzsche, who must be considered as representing a slightly different school of pragmatism. Then came the French anarcho-syndicalist, Georges Sorel, the theorist of purgative violence and also a declared pragmatist.
All pragmatists are not necessarily fascists, but in the 20th century many have been, and there is no doubt that all fascists are pragmatists. In a crisis of civilization like the one of the 1980s, the fascists constitute the fastest-growing component of the pragmatic school. This makes it possible for individuals like Oliver North and Carl Gershman to embrace fascism as a simple practical expedient.
In one of his speeches, Mussolini remarked: "The second foundation stone of Fascismo is represented by anti-demagogism and pragmatism." William Yandell Elliott of Harvard University remarks in his study of post-World War I political irrationalism, entitled The Pragmatic Revolt in Politics: "For pragmatism, a myth is true so long as it works. Mussolini offers himself as the new Caesar .... If he can capture the imagination of Italians and inflame them with his dream, he feels that he can govern with consent." (p. 341) Elliott, it should be recalled, was one of the principal teachers of Henry Kissinger.
William James had posited this "working test of truth," which was also reflected in Mussolini's celebrated contempt for programs. When asked for a program, he replied: "Our program is simple: We wish to govern Italy. They ask us for programs, but there are already too many of them." For Mussolini, program was a part of liberalism's "government by talk," which he was determined to extirpate. In 1932, Mussolini wrote: La mia dottrina era stata la dottrina dell'azione. Il fascismo nacque da un bisogno d'azione e fu azione. (My doctrine had been the doctrine of action. Fascism was born of the need for action, and was action.) Oliver North would presumably agree.
Bukharin's universal fascism
In his pamphlet on "The Foreign Policy of America," the later chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, describes the origins of AFL-CIO foreign policy activism in the international department of David Dubinsky's International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) during the 1930s. He notes that Dubinsky was surrounded by a
Gershman then describes how two of Lovestone's close associates, Irving Brown and Serafino Romualdi, were the key operatives for the AFL-CIO in Europe and in Latin America, respectively. (pp. 8-9)
Lovestone was removed from his post as leader of the American Communists by Stalin because Lovestone was an ally and asset of Stalin's factional adversary in the Soviet Bolshevik Party, Nikolai Bukharin. Bukharin had been one of the principal half-dozen leaders among the Bolsheviks, and in the early twenties he had been the central figure of the left-wing Communists. Later in the 1920s, he joined with Stalin to dominate the party, and then passed into Right Opposition. Bukharin was the theoretician who argued that Soviet socialism could "creep at a snail's pace." He was purged and later executed by Stalin.
A very significant part of the network that has been organized into Project Democracy is made up of social-democratic right-wingers and syndicalists whose ideology and, in some cases, whose careers can be traced back to Bukharin. This lineage is especially significant because of the tendency of the Gorbachov leadership of the Soviet Union to rehabilitate Bukharin as the archetype of policies to be implemented today in order to accelerate the all-out mobilization of the Soviet economy for war.
So, the question arises, who was Bukharin?
Bukharin was a universal fascist, irrationalist, and agent of the East-West financiers' cabal known as the Trust. If allowance is made for the fact that he was operating within the a priori totalitarian universe of Soviet Russia, his world outlook and policies will be seen as remarkably similar to those of a Mussolini, a Strasser, or a Roehm.
In the days of his Moscow youth, Bukharin was friendly with Ilya Ehrenburg, who later spewed out the murderous ideology of the Great Russian master race in the pages of Pravda during the Second World War. He was a student of Bogdanov, the irrationalist "empiriomonist" who had emerged from the Venetian-Benedictine school on the island of Capri. Bukharin was an avid reader of European and American sociology, including Max Weber and Thorsten Veblen. Bukharin traveled extensively in Europe and visited the United States, but his favorite base outside of Russia was Lausanne, Switzerland.
The young Bukharin was a leftish anarchosyndicalist, like so many of his fascist brethren in Germany, Italy, and other countries. The first point on his program was the need to smash the "contemporary imperialist robber state, an iron organization which envelops the living body of society in its tenacious, grasping paws. It is a new Leviathan, before which the fantasy of Thomas Hobbes seems child's play." [Note 4]
Compare this to the young Mussolini's attacks on the "Moloch state." Bukharin, just like Mussolini, argued that the enemy of the revolution was "state capitalism." He felt that the prospects for revolution against such an order would depend in all likelihood on the advent of a general war. Thus, Bukharin's early program for the workers' movement was centered on the need "to emphasize strongly its hostility in principle to state power" and to "destroy the state organization of the bourgeoisie," to "explode it from within." (Cohen, p. 34)
Bukharin's credentials as a universal fascist include his early contention that nationalism could never be a progressive force. During the First World War, Bukharin joined with his fellow Trust operative Karl Radek to attack Lenin's Imperialism because of its positive view of nationalism in the colonial world. Bukharin and Radek rejected the slogan of national self-determination as un-Marxist.
During the civil war that followed the Bolshevik coup of October 1917, Bukharin was the spokesman for a Left-Communist faction that he referred to as "We, the young, the left." (Cohen, p. 64) During the period of Lenin's War Communism policy, Bukharin created the Supreme Economic Council, an instrument designed to promote totalitarian state control of all economic activity. War communism was a policy of dragooning labor, wholesale nationalization of industry, requisitioning of agricultural and industrial products, and confiscations and labor camps for those who did not go along. Bukharin, who was considered one of the few trained economists among the Bolshevik leaders, was responsible to Lenin for "socialist policies in the areas of finance and economics." (Cohen, p. 62) Bukharin became the leading theoretician of the coercive aspects of the war communism policy. During this same period, Bukharin strongly opposed the peace treaty with Germany signed at Brest-Litovsk, and preached a revolutionary "holy war" against the European bourgeoisie. (Cohen, p. 63) For Bukharin, the process of world revolution would necessarily be an apocalyptic one: "Sometimes I am afraid the struggle will be so bitter and so long drawn out that the whole of European culture may be trampled underfoot." (Cohen, p. 99)
Stephen Cohen, a leading American academic admirer of Bukharin, describes the War Communism years of 1918-21 and the "statization" of economic life as follows:
"The state grasped every economic lever within reach, and a vast, cumbersome bureaucracy mushroomed into being. Cooperatives, trade unions, and the network of local economic soviets were transformed into bureaucratic appendages of the state apparatus. The Supreme Economc Council, now responsible for virtually all industrial production, created sub-agency upon sub- agency." (p. 79)
In the midst of this statization and militarization was Bukharin, proclaiming that "the republic is an armed camp" and that "one must rule with iron when one cannot rule with law." Bukharin during these years was very specific that totalitarian control must be extended into economics by the Soviet state, in a kind of national corporatism:
"If the proletariat's state power is the lever of economic revolution, then it is clear that "economics" and politics must merge into a single whole. Such a merging exists under the dictatorship of finance capital ... in the form of state capitalism. But the dictatorship of the proletariat reverses all the relations of the old world -- in other words, the political dictatorship of the working class must inevitably be its economic dictatorship." (Cohen, p. 86)
During the civil war, the Bolshevik Party engaged in a debate about the proper role of trade unions. A group around Trotsky proposed the militarization of the workers into labor armies in an appeal to the most extreme totalitarian control. This was initially supported by Lenin, who later moderated his own stand somewhat under his slogan of making the unions into "schools of communism" as well as "transmission belts" for the imperatives of the party. The trade union leaders themselves, like Tomskii, later a close factional ally of Bukharin, argued in favor of union control and management of industry. For a time, Bukharin supported the program for the militarization of labor, but then assumed a middle position between Lenin and Trotsky. He was in favor of the statization of labor unions, but in a milder way than Trotsky. Some of Bukharin's statements in this controversy are most illuminating:
"We have proclaimed a new sacred slogan--workers' democracy, which consists in the fact that all questions are discussed not in narrow collegiums, not in small meetings, not in some sort of corporation of one's own, but that all questions are carried to wide meetings." (Cohen, p. 103)
Bukharin thought that the unions could be instruments of the "technical administrative apparatus" and schools of communism at the same time. He argued for a syndicalist-corporatist conception of the Soviet state:
"If the general progressive line of development is the line of fusing the trade unions with the state; then from the other side this same process is a process of "unionizing" the state. Its logical and historical end will not be the absorption of the unions by the proletarian state, but the disappearance of both categories, state and union, and the creation of a third -- the communistically organized society." (Cohen, p. 104)
Bukharin later became the principal spokesman for and defender of the so-called New Economic Policy (NEP), which was introduced on orders from Lenin in 1921, as the civil war was ending, and which was pursued as the official policy of the Soviet state until the initiation of forced collectivization and of breakneck industrialization under Stalin in 1928-29. During the mid-1920s, the NEP was administered jointly by Stalin and Bukharin acting as the duumviri of the Kremlin. Today, the Soviet Cultural Fund and the Gorbachov regime are attempting to depict their reforms as a return to the NEP, which they claim to have been the most advanced result of Lenin's political thought. In the process, the rehabilitation of Bukharin is on the agenda.
The debates about the NEP and the proper industrialization strategy for the Soviet state exhibit another aspect of Bukharin's fascism, his economic views. Bukharin was an economist in the tradition of Thomas Malthus, who had argued that "a church with a capacious maw is best" when it came to providing sustained demand for the artifacts of capitalist production. In Bukharin's view, it was the peasants, including the wealthier ones, called kulaks, whose consumerist maw would stimulate the growth of the Soviet industrial economy. "Accumulation in socialist industry cannot occur for long without accumulation in the peasant economy," Bukharin argued. "The greater the buying powers of the peasantry, the faster our industry develops." "Kopeck accumulation in the peasant economy is the basis for ruble accumulation in socialist industry." (Cohen, p. 175) Although the thesis is patently absurd, it is not so different from the nostrums that were advocated as a solution to the Great Depression some years later by another fascist economist, John Maynard Keynes, also a follower of Malthus.
Bukharin expressed many of his arguments in polemics against the demands of Trotsky and Preobrazhenskii for a policy of primitive accumulation against the peasants, to be accomplished by setting the prices of industrial goods at very high levels and the prices of farm commodities at very low levels. Bukharin rejected this, maintaining that accumulation against the peasants would undermine the alliance or smychka between urban workers and peasants. Bukharin demanded instead a "union of workers and peasants." "The revolution of 1905 was a failure because there was not a smychka between the urban movement and the agrarian-peasant movement." (Cohen, p. 166).
Bukharin was something of a Maoist ante literam, since he saw the developed cities as being surrounded by a vast countryside. He argued that "the proletariat ... constitutes an insignificant minority" while the peasants of the Orient and and in other agrarian zones, "are the huge majority on our planet." The peasant in his view "will become -- is becoming -- the great liberating force of our time." (Cohen, pp. 168-69) For these peasant liberators, Bukharin had a simple message: Get rich! (We must say to the whole peasantry, to all its strata, enrich yourselves, accumulate, develop your economy.) (Cohen, p. 177)
Bukharin's approach to organizing the peasants was a typically solidarist-corporatist one: His "wager on the cooperatives" as the appropriate form of peasant economy. In this, Bukharin was tapping the tradition of Aksakov, Kiriyevsky, and the other slavophiles of the 19th-century Russian Empire, who had been fascinated by the mir, the primitive communalist Russian peasant village. For Bukharin the mir-like peasant cooperative was the royal road to socialism: "The basic network of our cooperative peasant organization will consist of cooperative cells not of a kulak but of a 'laboring' type, cells growing into the system of our general state organs and thus becoming links in a single chain of socialist economy." (Cohen, p. 198)
Bukharin's economic method was to proceed from consumption and circulation back to production, while his opponents were arguing for the creation of new branches of industry through a deliberate political decision to accumulate against the peasantry and invest. Bukharin's program moved "from circulation (money, prices, trade) to production." (Cohen, p.177) All economic activity, according to Bukharin, must always "end with the production of means of consumption ... which enter into the process of personal consumption." (Cohen, p. 174) He laid special stress on the question of consumption, arguing that the satisfaction of the material needs of the masses "was the real lever of development, that it generates the most rapid tempos of economic growth." "Our economy exists for the consumer, not the consumer for the economy. (Cohen, p. 173) At the same time, he incessantly stressed the need to stoke up the process of circulation by "unleashing commodity turnover," which he thought would automatically and without any further state intervention lead to socialist economic expansion: "We will come to socialism here through the process of circulation, and not directly though the process of production; we will come there through the cooperatives." (Cohen, p. 196).