On economic heterodoxies, antisemitism and “multi-fascism”

The case of economics is similar to that of medicine. While mono-fascism tends to avoid economics, multi-fascist ideologues tend to be very interested in certain heterodox theories. A common denominator for the latter is the positing of a strict division between “good” and “bad” capital, characteristic for the “truncated anti-capitalism” which can be associated with antisemitic stereotypes. It is possible to discern three different lines of economic heterodoxy, all of which are sometimes incorporated into multi-fascism.
First, there are the ideal of a “natural economic order”, also known as Freiwirtschaft, developed by the German businessman Silvio Gesell (1862–1930), with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865) as an important influence. According to Gesell, a natural economy would be based on a free market and the protection of private property, but without any hoarding of money. He therefore proposed the introduction of a currency which would automatically depreciate, in a way which would eliminate interest and usury while accelerating the circulation of commodities.
Another current of economic heterodoxy is associated with the concept of “social credit”, a proposal for basic income which was developed by Major C.H. Douglas (1879–1952). He blamed the ills of capitalism on bankers who according to him where deliberately engineering crisis by removing purchasing-power from the system. His proposed solution was that the government should create a steady flow of new money, part of which should be distributed in equal amounts to every citizen. According to Douglas, this would not set of inflation, because the other part of this money should be used by the state to subsidize prices on essential goods and services. “Social credit” thus reads as a formula to combine a planned economy with private property, and it was articulated as a third way beyond socialism and capitalism.
After the financial crash of 1929, the poet Ezra Pound began to dwell upon economics, trying to unite the ideas of Gesell and Douglas into a theory of usury, while soon drifting deeper into antisemitism and fascism. It is significant that neo-fascists in Europe are now again making an icon of Ezra Pound – for his economics, rather than for his poetry. (*)
Then, there are some multi-fascists who prefer a third kind of monetary reform: a return to the gold standard. Here inspiration is drawn from the so-called “Austrian school” in economics, whose most prominent thinker was Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973). Returning to a system in which money represents a given quantity of gold would quite certainly result in deflation and depression, which would then be regarded as the necessary purification of an economy which had proven to be largely fictitious. It should be underlined that the “Austrian” view is not inherently antisemitic, but it does easily lend itself to antisemitic projections. This might explain the strong fascination for Republican politician Ron Paul within parts of the conspiracist subculture which are leaning towards a multi-fascist ideology.
Mono-fascists, on the other hand, are showing a remarkable lack of interest in economics. To a certain degree, this might be explained by mono-fascism’s obsession with Islam: as far as muslims are regarded as less civilized, as the enemy “below”, it would be absurd to blame the financial crisis directly on islam. But it is also part of an anti-intellectual attitude which is typical for mono-fascism, which differs from the counter-intellectual tendency of multi-fascism.
While multi-fascism supposes that the cause of crisis is financial, mono-fascism tends to regard it as demographic. According to the latter, it is the parasitic presence of an alien population – together with feminism and moral depravation – which is standing in the way of economic prosperity. From that perspective, financial crisis is merely a symptom of a demographic crisis.
But it does not mean that mono-fascism can do without antisemitic stereotypes. Rather, these stereotypes tend to come back in the attempt to explain the immigration of muslims to “the West”. To complete its apocalyptic message, mono-fascism also needs an “enemy within” – someone who is orchestrating the supposed suicide of a civilization. This enemy is usually described in vague terms as “political correctness”, “cultural Marxism”, “cultural relativism” or “multi-culturalism”, with hints of an elite conspiracy in possession of a special kind of abstract, intangible power. This very idea is an antisemitic stereotype, regardless of whether the enemy is explicitly presented as “Jewish”.

(*)The most explicit example of this is the neo-fascist squatter movement that has now established as “Casa Pound” in a number of cities in Italy. They put forth the demand that every Italian family has the right to own a home, and that the state should make this possible by offering interest-free loans. Of course, this should exclude families which do not fulfill the sanctioned pattern of heterosexuality or which include family members not considered to be true Italians. Casa Pound in Rome – a squatted building of six floors – is not only a headquarter for militant activists and a kind of cultural institute. It is also housing thirty poor families as a way to emphasize the movement’s main slogan: “rent is usury”. For more about the resurgence of “social fascism” in Italy, see Widmann (2010)

Excerpt from Rasmus Fleischer, “Two fascisms in contemporary Europe? Understanding the contemporary split of the Radical Right“, in In the tracks of Breivik: far right networks in Northern and Eastern Europe, Mats Deland, Michael Minkenberg & Christin Mays (eds.), Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2014.


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