Sunday, May 19, 2024

Is The New Republic Now Literally A Fascist Publication?

When we use the word “fascist,” we’re not using it in the manner that the Left does – which is as a slur indicating a fondness for concentration camps and anti-semitism. That’s an effect of fascism, and it might well apply to the editors of The New Republic; we’ll pass on judging them for their political desires (though we don’t imagine those to be benign).

But fascism has a real-life meaning which is not just a name you call someone who’s an authoritarian. Let’s ask the guy who literally invented it. His name was Benito Mussolini, and he spent a couple of decades as the darling of the American Left as Italy’s dictator before World War II broke out and he was on the opposing side.

Here’s how Mussolini defined fascism

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and usefu[l] instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.

State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.

That’s from Mussolini’s1935 book Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions.

To boil this down, what it means is that like communism, fascism demands that the means of production be controlled by the State. Unlike communism, it doesn’t require that the means of production be physically owned by the state.

But when the private owners of the means of production don’t satisfy the demands of the State, in Mussolini’s fascist worldview, then a government takeover is warranted.

You could explain that, if you chose, in ways which makes fascism sound prudent. After all, the government is in charge of delivering the mail, and we let the government directly manage our highways, because we don’t have confidence the private sector would provide those social goods in a manner benefiting everyone. That might well be a mistaken assumption, but it’s one modern America shares with Mussolini’s Italian fascist regime.

But we’re told fascism is bad because it leads to concentration camps. Mostly filled, at least after they’re through with homosexuals, Gypsies, Catholics and others the fascists aren’t happy with, with communists. Because fascists and communists fight over the same big-government political space, and There Can Be Only One.

It isn’t exactly a right-wing philosophy, you know. There isn’t much of a nexus between Mussolini and, say, Milton Friedman. Somehow we’ve allowed that perception to take hold.

But it gets a lot harder when you see things like this

In its quest to find someone to blame for high gas prices, the White House has zeroed in on a new villain: oil refiners. In a letter this week—as gas prices reached $5 per gallon—Biden called “high refinery profit margins” unacceptable, pledging to use “all reasonable and appropriate federal government tools” to bring more refined products to market and lower prices at the pump. That language doesn’t suggest that he’s considering having the government take over refining, but this would, in fact, be entirely reasonable and appropriate—and more effective than any measures he’s considering.

The U.S. has lost about 5 percent of its refining capacity since the start of the pandemic, when demand for oil cratered as travel ground to a halt at home and abroad. Given the unusual nature of the U.S. fossil fuel sector—where the state gives companies generous subsidies without control over investment decisions—the tools Biden seems willing to use to bring that capacity back online amid now-soaring demand are limited. Shuttered refineries could take six months and hundreds of millions of dollars to rev back up. Companies and their investors aren’t likely to go ahead with such an undertaking unless they can guarantee returns for the long haul. As the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers wrote in a joint response letter to the White House, “Refiners do not make multi-billion-dollar investments based on short-term returns. They look at long-term supply and demand fundamentals and make investments as appropriate.”

Incentives from the administration, that is—like paying refiners to restart operations via the Defense Production Act, or becoming a guaranteed purchaser of refined products—would likely need to guarantee that additional refinery capacity would be profitable for decades to come. This would require the White House both to counteract longer-term trends in global energy markets and to give up on Biden’s own stated goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Kate Aronoff, the leftist staff writer for TNR who penned this, goes on to demand that a National Refining Company be stood up that would then take over the facilities which now sit idle.

Or, in Mussolini’s words, “intervention [which] may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.”

There is a key difference between TNR and Aronoff on the one hand and Mussolini on the other. Which is that Mussolini would never have regarded the production of refined oil into transportation fuels, plastics, industrial lubricants and other products crucial to modern life as some evil to be managed. He entered into agreements with several Western oil companies to develop petroleum assets and create an Italian oil industry courtesy of a state-owned company called Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli (AGIP), which is today a subsidiary of the multinational energy company ENI.

Mussolini’s Italy would never have considered as intelligent the idea of starting an oil refining company to take over mothballed assets of private companies and put them to work, then mothball them again because their products would then be obsolete because of government action – namely, the Green New Deal agenda the Left so fetishizes.

And here’s a clue: neither would the current Democrat Party. A national oil refining company would grow into a monster, crowding out and swallowing assets of private companies while serving as a honey pot for Democrat pols seeking campaign donations and other lucre. Its employees would be unionized from the start and given massive benefits packages imposing punitive legacy costs that would make it impossible to ever shut such a company down or even return it to the private sector.

This is a colossally stupid idea, but colossally stupid ideas are all the Left has remaining. The interesting piece to it, though, is how closely it tracks to core fascism.

Because the more you look at the modern Left the more you realize that while it still owes much of its intellectual patrimony to Soviet and Chinese communism, when it comes to its economics these guys are little Mussolinis to the core.

Here’s a going-away quote from Il Duce

Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State…. It is opposed to classical Liberalism…. Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual.