Mussolini said that fascism was the merger of state and corporate power. But this isn’t totally accurate. What fascism really is is the imposition of the corporate onto the state.
Corporations, as Noam Chomsky pointed out before he became a shitlib, are perfect models of tyranny — perfect totalitarian institutions. In them, power flows top-down and responsibility flows bottom-up. When the C-suite executives screw up, it’s the janitor who loses his job.
Chris Hedges says that, under fascism, truth and lies become the same thing. He and others can notice this happening in the political sphere. But it’s always been this way in any workplace. Hedges, whom I love, never has noticed this because he’s never been a corporate drone. He’s always been more privileged than that.
In fact, everyone you’ve ever heard of on the left has never been a corporate drone. They’ve all been more privileged than that, and if they were once drones, if they’re now mucky-mucks on the left, then they’re people whose drone days are long behind them.
This includes everyone on the left, even people that I love, respect, and think do great work. None of them have day jobs. They all own and run their own businesses. That doesn’t mean they’re raking in the dough. In most cases, they’re probably making less money than I am, and I am in fact a corporate drone.
But when you’re not a corporate drone, you can’t see the ongoing propaganda internal to all workplaces that all workers are subjected to on a daily basis, because you’re not there to experience it yourself.
I’ll give you one example. In a job I once had, one of the employees was fired. At a meeting a few weeks or months later, his name was brought up by a manager for some unrelated reason. The manager described him as the employee who left. She didn’t say, “He was fired.” She said, “He left.”
Well, this is technically accurate. But it’s also a lie. He didn’t leave. He was shown the door. But this level of honesty can’t be permitted in any authoritarian institution. Incidentally, this manager was not being intentionally obfuscatory. In her mind, that employee really had left. In her mind, she wasn’t hiding anything. She was completely calm and rational when she said, “He left.” The actual truth of what happened wasn’t actually in her mind.1
As U.S. power declines and the U.S. ruling class seeks to maintain control, they naturally turn to more authoritarian measures. They naturally seek to make the political sphere operate more like the economic sphere — that is, they naturally seek to impose corporate authoritarianism on the larger society.
To a wage slave, though, not much changes. You’re already surveilled in your workplace. You already have propaganda shaped for you. You’re already rigorously controlled, with severe consequences for disobedience. I don’t think the left can win a fight against fascism without asking questions about the basic structure of workplaces in whatever society it seeks to create.
It’s not that workers want fascism, or that they’re consciously aware of any of this. It’s just that this is already workers’ day-to-day lives. If the country becomes more authoritarian, but the majority of my waking life is already spent operating inside a totalitarian institution, then how much am I really going to notice the change, much less get animated about it?
Really, this is just reason number nine-hundred-and-seventy-two (or whatever) as to why I’m a pareconist as much for strategic reasons as I am for moral ones. Ultimately, I see parecon as indispensable to good strategy for any left. However, as I also am convinced that the left will never take up parecon in a million years for reasons I have discussed elsewhere,2 that means I really don’t think the long-term prospects for ever building a successful left in the United States are really that good.
I’d like to be wrong about this, but I have yet to see the first piece of evidence that I am. And I do think that, ultimately, the U.S. will morph into a hard fascist state — and no, I don’t think Trump will have anything to do with it. Whenever it arrives, it will be led by someone who is actually dangerous and sinister — not an incompetent boob like Trump.3