[Paleopsych] Bertram Gross: Friendly Fascism The New Face of Power in America

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Excerpts from the classic book.

Bertram Gross: Friendly Fascism The New Face of Power in America

excerpts from the book

South End Press, 1980, paper

[1]Introduction, Rise and Fall of Classic Fascism
[2]The Takeoff Toward a New Corporate Society
[3]The Mysterious Establishment
[4]The Specter of Friendly Fascism
[5]Subverting Democratic Machinery
[6]Impossibility: It Couldn't Happen

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Introduction, Rise and Fall of Classic Fascism excerpted from the book Friendly 
Fascism The New Face of Power in America by Bertram Gross



pxi Friendly fascism portrays two conflicting trends in the United States and 
other countries of the so-called "free world."

The first is a slow and powerful drift toward greater concentration of power 
and wealth in a repressive Big Business-Big Government partnership. This drift 
leads down the road toward a new and subtly manipulative form of corporatist 
serfdom. The phrase "friendly fascism" helps distinguish this possible future 
from the patently vicious corporatism of classic fascism in the past of 
Germany, Italy and Japan. It also contrasts with the friendly present of the 
dependent fascisms propped up by the U.S. government in El Salvador, Haiti, 
Argentina, Chile, South Korea, the Philippines and elsewhere.

The other is a slower and less powerful tendency for individuals and groups to 
seek greater participation in decisions affecting themselves and others. This 
trend goes beyond mere reaction to authoritarianism. It transcends the 
activities of progressive groups or movements and their use of formal 
democratic machinery. It is nourished by establishment promises-too often 
rendered false-of more human rights, civil rights and civil liberties. It is 
embodied in larger values of community, sharing, cooperation, service to others 
and basic morality as contrasted with crass materialism and dog-eat-dog 
competition. It affects power relations in the household, workplace, community, 
school, church, synagogue, and even the labyrinths of private and public 
bureaucracies. It could lead toward a truer democracy-and for this reason is 
bitterly fought...

These contradictory trends are woven fine into the fabric of highly 
industrialized capitalism. The unfolding logic of friendly fascist corporatism 
is rooted in "capitalist society's transnational growth and the groping 
responses to mounting crises in a dwindling capitalist world". Mind management 
and sophisticated repression become more attractive to would-be oligarchs when 
too many people try to convert democratic promises into reality. On the other 
hand, the alternative logic of true democracy is rooted in "humankind's long 
history of resistance to unjustified privilege" and in spontaneous or organized 
"reaction (other than fright or apathy) to concentrated power...and inequality, 
injustice or coercion".

A few years ago too many people closed their eyes to the indicators of the 
first tendency.

But events soon began to change perceptions.

The Ku Klux Klan and American Nazis crept out of the woodwork. An immoral 
minority of demagogues took to the airwaves. "Let me tell you something about 
the character of God," orated Jim Robison at a televised meeting personally 
endorsed by candidate Ronald Reagan. "If necessary, God would raise up a 
tyrant, a man who may not have the best ethics, to protect the freedom 
interests of the ethical and the godly." To protect Western oil companies, 
candidate Jimmy Carter proclaimed presidential willingness to send American 
troops into the Persian Gulf. Rosalyn Carter went further by telling an lowa 
campaign audience: "Jimmy is not afraid to declare war." Carter then proved 
himself unafraid to expand unemployment, presumably as an inflation cure, 
thereby reneging on his party's past full employment declarations.

Reaching the White House with this assist from Carter (as well as from the Klan 
and the immoral minority of televangelicals), Reagan promptly served the 
immediate interests of the most powerful and the wealthiest. The Reaganites 
depressed real wages through the worst unemployment since the 1929-39 
depression, promoted "give backs" by labor unions, cut social programs for 
lower and middle income people, expanded tax giveaways for the truly rich, 
boosted the military budget and warmed up the cold war. They launched savage 
assaults on organized labor, civil rights and civil liberties.

pxiii economist Robert Lekachman

"Ronald Reagan must be the nicest president who ever destroyed a union, tried 
to cut school lunch milk rations from six to four ounces, and compelled 
families in need of public help to first dispose of household goods in excess 
of $1,000...1f there is an authoritarian regime in the American future, Ronald 
Reagan is tailored to the image of a friendly fascist."

pxiii The bad news is that evil now wears a friendlier face than ever before in 
American history.

"Like a good TV commercial, Reagan's image goes down easy," Mark Crispin Miller 
has written, "calming his audience with sweet inversions of the truth...He has 
learned to liven up his every televised appearance with frequent shifts in 
expression, constant movements of the head, lots of warm chuckles and ironic 
shrugs and sudden frowns of manly purpose. Reagan is unfailingly attractive-'a 
nice guy, 'pure and simple." But what is really there, he asks, behind the 

The President's critics have many answers. Some call him "an amiable dunce." 
Some see him, reports Miller, as a devil "who takes from the poor to give to 
the rich, has supported infanticide abroad, ravages his own countryside and 
props up brutal dictatorships." Others regard him as a congenital falsifier who 
surrounds any half-truth with a "bodyguard of lies." Miller himself has still 
another answer: there is nothing behind the mask. "The best way to keep his 
real self hidden" he suggests, "is not to have one...Reagan's mask and face are 
as one." To this, one might add that the Reagan image is an artfully designed 
blend of charisma and machismo, a combination that Kusum Singh calls 

"Princes," wrote Machiavelli many centuries ago, "should delegate the ugly jobs 
to other people, and reserve the attractive functions for themselves." In 
keeping with this maxim, Reagan's less visible entourage has surrounded the 
President with highly visible targets of disaffection: Volcker, Stockman, Haig, 
Weinberger, Kirkpatrick, and Watt. In comparison, Reagan looks truly wholesome. 
This makes it all the more difficult to focus attention on the currents and 
forces behind the people behind the President-or for that matter, other less 
visible leaders of the American Establishment.

pxvii beyond "nice guy" imagery. They establish America's symbolic environment. 
The Reagan administration has triggered a great leap forward in the 
mobilization and deployment of corporatist myths. Many billions of tax-exempt 
funds from conservative foundations have gone into the funding of such think 
tanks as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. 
According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly three hundred economists on the 
staffs of conservative think tanks are part of an informal information network 
organized by the American Heritage Foundation alone. (This contrasts with only 
about two dozen economists working for trade unions, most of whom are pinned 
down in researching contract negotiations.)

pxvii Expanded government intervention into \ the lives of ordinary people is 
glorified under the slogan "getting the I government off our backs." 
Decriminalization of corporate bribery, fraud and the dumping of health-killing 
wastes is justified under the banner of "promoting free enterprise" and 
countering "environmental extremists." Private greed, gluttony and speculation 
are disguised in "free market" imagery. Business corruption is hidden behind 
smokescreens of exaggerated attacks on the public sector. Like Trojan horses, 
these ideas penetrate the defenses of those opposed to any new corporatism. 
They establish strongholds of false consciousness and treacherous terminology 
in the minds not only of old-fashioned conservatives but also of the most 
dedicated liberals and left-wingers.

Hence on many issues the left seems bereft, the middle muddled and the right 
not always wrong. Other elements are thereby added to the new bill of frights.

One is a frightening retreat by liberals and leftwingers on the key gut issues 
of domestic policy: full employment, inflation and crime. "Deep cynicism has 
been engendered in progressive circles by past experiences with 'full 
employment' legislation (as) the tail on the kite of an ever expanding military 
economy." A movement for full employment without militarism or inflation is 
seen as dangerous by old-time labor leaders, utopian by liberals and by some 
Marxists as impossible under capitalism. Inflation is seen as a conservative 
issue-or else one that requires the kind of price controls that necessitate 
more far-reaching social controls over capital. Middle-of-the-roaders try to 
deal with crime by fussing too much with the details of the police-courthouse 
jail-parole complex and too little with the sources of low-income crime, 
racketeering, political corruption and crime in the executive suites. Thus the 
demagogues among the Reaganites and their frenetic fringes have been able to 
seize and keep initiatives on these issues.

pxxiii Samuel Johnson "Power is always gradually stealing away from the many to 
the few, because the few are more vigilant and consistent."


The Rise and Fall of Friendly Fascsim

p1 Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism 
creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a 
corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. 
In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have 
others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or 
personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, 
recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, 
soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More 
broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics 
through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion...

I see at present members of the Establishment or people on its fringes who, in 
the name of Americanism, betray the interests of most Americans by fomenting 
militarism, applauding rat-race individualism, protecting undeserved privilege, 
or stirring up nationalistic and ethnic hatreds. I see pretended patriots who 
desecrate the American flag by waving it while waiving the law.

In this present, many highly intelligent people look with but one eye and see 
only one part of the emerging Leviathan. From the right, we are warned against 
the danger of state capitalism or state socialism, in which Big Business is 
dominated by Big Government. From the left, we hear that the future danger (or 
present reality) is monopoly capitalism, with finance capitalists dominating 
the state. I am prepared to offer a cheer and a half for each view; together, 
they make enough sense for a full three cheers. Big Business and Big Government 
have been learning how to live in bed together and despite arguments between 
them, enjoy the cohabitation. Who may be on top at any particular moment is a 
minor matter-and in any case can be determined only by those with privileged 
access to a well-positioned keyhole.

I am uneasy with those who still adhere strictly to President Eisenhower's 
warning in his farewell address against the potential for the disastrous rise 
of power in the hands of the military-industrial complex. Nearly two decades 
later, it should be clear to the opponents of militarism that the 
military-industrial complex does not walk alone. It has many partners: the 
nuclear-power complex, the technology-science complex, the energy-auto-highway 
complex, the banking-investment-housing complex, the 
city-planning-development-land-speculation complex, the agribusiness complex, 
the communications complex, and the enormous tangle of public bureaucracies and 
universities whose overt and secret services provide the foregoing with 
financial sustenance and a nurturing environment. Equally important, the 
emerging Big Business-Big Government partnership has a global reach. It is 
rooted in colossal transnational corporations and complexes that help knit 
together a "Free World" on which the sun never sets. These are elements of the 
new despotism.

A few years ago a fine political scientist, Kenneth Dolbeare, conducted a 
series of in-depth interviews totaling twenty to twenty-five hours per person. 
He found that most respondents were deeply afraid of some future despotism. 
"The most striking thing about inquiring into expectations for the future," he 
reported, "is the rapidity with which the concept of fascism (with or without 
the label) enters the conversation." But not all knowledge serves the cause of 
freedom... the tendency is to suppress fears of the future, just as most people 
have learned to repress fears of a nuclear holocaust. It is easier to repress 
well-justified fears than to control the dangers giving rise to them.

p3 In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a popular novel in which a racist, 
anti-Semitic, flag-waving, army-backed demagogue wins the 1936 presidential 
election and proceeds to establish an Americanized version of Nazi Germany. The 
title, It Can't Happen Here, was a tongue-in-cheek warning that it might. But 
the "it" Lewis referred to is unlikely to happen again any place. Even in 
today's Germany, Italy or Japan, a modern-style corporate state or society 
would be far different from the old regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, and the 
Japanese oligarchs. Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on 
horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism. In any First World 
country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and 
cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political 
structure, and geopolitical environment. The Japanese or German versions would 
be quite different from the Italian variety-and still more different from the 
British, French, Belgian, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, or Israeli versions. In 
America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison 
Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism 
with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, 
and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its 
subtle appeal.

I am worried by those who fail to remember-or have never learned -that Big 
Business-Big Government partnerships, backed up by other elements, were the 
central facts behind the power structures of old fascism in the days of 
Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese empire builders.

I am worried by those who quibble about labels. Some of my friends seem 
transfixed by the idea that if it is fascism, it must appear in the classic, 
unfriendly form of their youth. "Why, oh why," they retrospectively moan, 
"didn't people see what was happening during the 1920s and the 1930s?" But in 
their own blindness they are willing to use the terms invented by the fascist 
ideologists, "corporate state" or "corporatism," but not fascism.

I am upset with those who prefer to remain spectators until it may be too late. 
I am shocked by those who seem to believe in Anne Morrow Lindbergh's words of 
1940-that "there is no fighting the wave of the future" and all you can do is 
"leap with it." I am appalled by those who stiffly maintain that nothing can be 
done until things get worse or the system has been changed.

I am afraid of inaction. I am afraid of those who will heed no warnings and who 
wait for some revelation, research, or technology to offer a perfect solution. 
I am afraid of those who do not see that some of the best in America has been 
the product of promises and that the promises of the past are not enough for 
the future. I am dismayed by those who will not hope, who will not commit 
themselves to something larger than themselves, of those who are afraid of true 
democracy or even its pursuit.

p5 I suspect that many people underestimate both the dangers that lie ahead and 
the potential strength of those who seem weak and powerless. Either 
underestimation stems, I think, from fear of bucking the Establishment ... a 
deep and well-hidden fear ...

p5 ...the fanfare of elections and "participatory" democracy usually disguises 
business- government control.


Between the two world wars fascist movements developed in many parts of the 

In the most industrially advanced capitalist countries-the United States, 
Britain, France, Holland and Belgium-they made waves but did not engulf the 
constitutional regimes. In the most backward capitalist countries-Albania, 
Austria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, and 
Yugoslavia-there came to power authoritarian or dictatorial regimes that 
boastfully called themselves "fascist" or, as the term soon came to be an 
all-purpose nasty word, were branded "fascist" by their opponents. The most 
genuine and vigorous fascist movements arose in three countries-Italy, Germany 
and Japan-which, while trailing behind the capitalist leaders in 
industrialization and empire, were well ahead of the laggards.


In Milan on March 23, 1919, in a hall offered by a businessmen's club, former 
socialist Benito Mussolini transformed a collection of blackshirted roughnecks 
into the Italian Fascist party. His word "fascism" came from the Latin fasces 
for a bundle of rods with an axe, the symbol of State power carried ahead of 
the consuls in ancient Rome. Mussolini and his comrades censured old-fashioned 
conservatives for not being more militant in opposing the socialist and 
communist movements that arose, in response to the depression, after World War 
I. At the same time, they borrowed rhetorical slogans from their socialist and 
communist foes, and strengthened their support among workers and peasants.

In their early days these groups had tough going. The more respectable elements 
in the Establishment tended to be shocked by their rowdy, untrustworthy nature. 
Campaign contributions from businessmen came in slowly and sporadically. When 
they entered electoral contests, the Fascists did badly. Thus, in their very 
first year of life the Italian Fascists suffered a staggering defeat by the 

In 1920 the left-wing power seemed to grow. Hundreds of factories were seized 
by striking workers in Milan, Turin, and other industrial areas. Peasant unrest 
became stronger, and many large estates were seized. The Socialists campaigned 
under the slogan of "all power to the proletariat."

For Mussolini, this situation was an opportunity to be exploited. He countered 
with a nationwide wave of terror that went far beyond ordinary strikebreaking. 
Mussolini directed his forces at destroying all sources of proletarian or 
peasant leadership. The Fascist squadristi raided the offices of Socialist or 
Communist mayors, trade unions, cooperatives and leftwing newspapers, beating 
up their occupants and burning down the buildings. They rounded up outspoken 
anti-Fascists, clubbed them, and forced them to drink large doses of castor 
oil. They enjoyed the passive acquiescence-and at times the direct support-of 
the police, the army, and the church. Above all, business groups supplied 
Mussolini with an increasing amount of funds. In turn, Mussolini responded by 
toning down the syndicalism and radical rhetoric of his followers, and, while 
still promising to "do something for the workers," began to extol the merits of 
private enterprise.

On October 26, 1922, as his Fascist columns started their so-called March on 
Rome, Mussolini met with a group of industrial leaders to assure them that "the 
aim of the impending Fascist movement was to reestablish discipline within the 
factories and that no outlandish experiments . . . would be carried out." l On 
October 28 and 29 he convinced the leaders of the Italian Association of 
Manufacturers "to use their influence to get him appointed premier." 2 In the 
evening of October 29 he received a telegram from the king inviting him to 
become premier. He took the sleeping train to Rome and by the end of the next 
day formed a coalition cabinet. In 1924, in an election characterized by open 
violence and intimidation, the Fascist-led coalition won a clear majority.

If Mussolini did not actually march on Rome in 1922, during the next seven 
years he did march into the hearts of important leaders in other countries. He 
won the friendship, support, or qualified approval of Richard Childs (the 
American ambassador), Cornelius Vanderbilt, Thomas Lamont, many newspaper and 
magazine publishers, the majority of business journals, and quite a sprinkling 
of liberals, including some associated with both The Nation and The New 
Republic. "Whatever the dangers of fascism," wrote Herbert Croly, in 1927, "it 
has at any rate substituted movement for stagnation, purposive behavior for 
drifting, and visions of great future for collective pettiness and 
discouragements." ~ these same years, as paeans of praise for Mussolini arose 
throughout Western capitalism, Mussolini consolidated his rule, purging 
anti-Fascists from the government service, winning decree power from the 
legislature, and passing election laws favorable to himself and his 
conservative, liberal, and Catholic allies.

Only a few days after the march on Rome, a close associate of Hitler, Herman 
Esser, proclaimed in Munich among tumultuous applause: "What has been done in 
Italy by a handful of courageous men is not impossible here. In Bavaria too we 
have Italy's Mussolini. His name is Adolf Hitler...." F. L. CARSTEN

In January, 1919, in Munich, a small group of anti-Semitic crackpot extremists 
founded the German Workers Party. Later that year the German Army's district 
commander ordered one of his agents, a demobilized corporal, to investigate it. 
The Army's agent, Adolf Hitler, instead joined the party and became its most 
powerful orator against Slavs, Jews, Marxism, liberalism, and the Versailles 
treaty. A few months later, under Hitler's leadership, the party changed its 
name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party and organized a bunch of 
dislocated war veterans into brown-shirted strong-arm squads or storm troopers 
(in German, S.A. for Sturmabteilung). The party's symbol, designed by Hitler 
himself, became a black swastika in a white circle on a flag with a red 

On November 8, 1923, in the garden of a large Munich beer hall, Adolf Hitler 
and his storm troopers started what he thought would be a quick march to 
Berlin. With the support of General Erich Ludendorff, he tried to take over the 
Bavarian government. But neither the police nor the army supported the Putsch. 
Instead of winning power in Munich, Hitler was arrested, tried for treason, and 
sentenced to five years' imprisonment, but confined in luxurious quarters and 
paroled after only nine months, the gestational period needed to produce the 
first volume of Mein Kampf. His release from prison coincided with an upward 
turn ~n the fortunes of the Weimar Republic, as the postwar inflation abated 
and an influx of British and American capital sparked a wave of prosperity from 
1925 to 1929. "These, the relatively fat years of the Weimar Republic, were 
correspondingly lean years for the Nazis."

Weimar's "fat years" ended in 1929. If postwar disruption and class conflict 
brought the Fascists to power in Italy and nurtured similar movements in 
Germany, Japan, and other nations, the Great Depression opened the second stage 
in the rise of the fascist powers.

In Germany, where all classes were demoralized by the crash, Hitler recruited 
jobless youth into the S.A., renewed his earlier promises to rebuild the German 
army, and expanded his attacks on Jews, Bolshevism, the Versailles treaty, 
liberalism, and constitutional government. In September 1930, to the surprise 
of most observers (and probably Hitler himself), the Nazis made an 
unprecedented electoral breakthrough, becoming the second largest party in the 
country. A coalition of conservative parties, without the Nazis, then took over 
under General Kurt von Schleicher, guiding genius of the army. With aged Field 
Marshal von Hindenberg serving as figurehead president, three successive 
cabinets- headed by Heinrich Bruening, Franz von Papen, and then von Schleicher 
himself-cemented greater unity between big business and big government (both 
civilian and military), while stripping the Reichstag of considerable power. 
They nonetheless failed miserably in their efforts to liquidate the Depression. 
Meanwhile Adolf Hitler, the only right-wing nationalist with a mass following, 
was publicly promising full employment and prosperity. Privately meeting with 
the largest industrialists he warned, "Private enterprise cannot be maintained 
in a democracy." On January 30, 1933, he was invited to serve as chancellor of 
a coalition cabinet. "We've hired Hitler!" a conservative leader reported to a 
business magnate.

A few weeks later, using the S.A. to terrorize left-wing opposition and the 
Reichstag fire to conjure up the specter of conspiratorial bolshevism, Hitler 
won 44 percent of the total vote in a national election. With the Support of 
the Conservative and Center parties, he then pushed through legislation that 
abolished the independent functioning of both the Reichstag and the German 
states, liquidated all parties other than the Nazis, and established 
concentrated power in his own hands. He also purged the S.A. of its 
semi-socialist leadership and vastly expanded the size and power of his 
personal army of blackshirts.

Through this rapid process of streamlining, Hitler was able to make immediate 
payments on his debts to big business by wiping out independent trade unions. 
abolishing overtime pay, decreasing compulsory cartelization decrees (like 
similar regulations promulgated earlier in Japan and Italy), and giving fat 
contracts for public works and fatter contracts for arms production. By 
initiating an official pogrom against the Jews, he gave Nazi activists a chance 
to loot Jewish shops and family possessions, take over Jewish enterprises, or 
occupy jobs previously held by German Jews.

Above all, he kept his promise to the unemployed; he put them back to work, 
while at the same time using price control to prevent a recurrence of 
inflation. As Shirer demonstrates in his masterful The Rise and Fall of the 
Third Reich, Hitler also won considerable support among German workers, who did 
not seem desperately concerned with the loss of political freedom and even of 
their trade unions as long as they were employed full time. "In the past, for 
so many, for as many as six million men and their families, such rights of free 
men in Germany had been overshadowed as he [Hitler] said, by the freedom to 
starve. In taking away that last freedom," Shirer reports, "Hitler assured 
himself of the support of the working class, probably the most skillful and 
industrious and disciplined in the Western world."

Also in 1919, Kita Ikki, later known as "the ideological father of Japanese 
fascism," set up the "Society of Those Who Yet Remain."

His General Outline of Measures for the Reconstruction of Japan, the Mein Kampf 
of this association, set forth a program for the construction of a 
revolutionized Japan, the coordination of reform movements, and the 
emancipation of the Asian peoples under Japanese leadership.

In Japan, where organized labor and proletarian movements had been smashed many 
years earlier and where an oligarchic structure was already firmly in control, 
the transition to full-fledged fascism was- paradoxically-both simpler than in 
Italy and Germany and stretched out over a longer period. In the mid-1920s 
hired bullies smashed labor unions and liberal newspapers as the government 
campaigned against "dangerous thoughts" and used a Peace Preservation Law to 
incarcerate anyone who joined any organization that tried to limit private 
property rights. The worldwide depression struck hard in Japan, particularly at 
the small landholders whose sons had tried to escape rural poverty through 
military careers. The secret military societies expanded their activities to 
establish a Japanese "Monroe Doctrine for Asia." In 1931 they provoked an 
incident, quickly seized all of Manchuria, and early in 1932 established the 
Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo.

At home, the Japanese premier was assassinated and replaced by an admiral, as 
the armed forces pressed forward for still more rapid expansion on the 
continent and support for armament industries. As the frontiers of Manchukuo 
were extended, a split developed between two rival military factions. In 
February 1936, the Imperial Way faction attempted a fascist coup from below. 
Crushing the rebels, the Control faction of higher-ranking officers ushered in 
fascism from above. "The interests of business groups and the military drew 
nearer, and a 'close embrace' structure of Japanese fascism came to 
completion," writes Masao Maruyama. "The fascist movement from below was 
completely absorbed into totalitarian transformation from above." Into this 
respectable embrace came both the bureaucracy and the established political 
parties, absorbed into the Imperial Rule Assistance Association. And although 
there was no charismatic dictator or party leader, the Emperor was the 
supercharismatic symbol of Japanese society as a nation of families. By 1937, 
with well-shaped support at home, the Japanese army c seized Nanking and 
started its long war with China.


Before fascism, the establishments in Italy, Japan and Germany each consisted 
of a loose working alliance between big-business, the military, the older 
landed aristocracy, and various political leaders. The origin of these 
alliances could be traced to the consolidation of government and industry 
during World War I.

"Manufacturing and finance," writes Roland Sarti about World War I in Italy 
(but in terms applicable to many other countries also), "drew even closer than 
they had been before the war to form the giant combines necessary to sustain 
the war effort. Industrialists and government officials sat side by side in the 
same planning agencies, where they learned to appreciate the advantages of 
economic planning and cooperation. Never before had the industrialists been so 
close to the center of political power, so deeply involved in the 
decision-making process " 0

United in the desire to renew the campaigns of conquest that had been dashed by 
the war and its aftermath, the establishments in these countries were 
nonetheless seriously divided by conflicting interests and divergent views on 
national policy. As Sarti points out, big-business leaders were confronted by 
"economically conservative and politically influential agricultural interests, 
aggressive labor unions, strong political parties ideologically committed to 
the liquidation of capitalism, and governments responsive to a variety of 
pressures." Despite the development of capitalist planning, coping with 
inflation and depression demanded more operations through the Nation-State than 
many banking and industrial leaders could easily- accept, more government 
planning than most governments were capable of undertaking, and more 
international cooperation among imperial interests than was conceivable in that 

The establishment faced other grave difficulties in the form of widespread 
social discontent amidst the uncertain and eventually catastrophic economic 
conditions of the postwar world. One of the challenges came from the fascists, 
who seemed to attack every element in the existing regimes. They criticized 
businessmen for putting profits above patriotism and for lacking the dynamism 
needed for imperial expansion. They tore at those elements in the military 
forces who were reluctant to break with constitutional government. They 
vilified the aristocracy as snobbish remnants of a decadent past. They branded 
liberals as socialists, socialists as communists, communists as traitors to the 
country, and parliamentary operations in general as an outmoded system run by 
degenerate babblers. They criticized the bureaucrats for sloth and branded 
intellectuals as self-proclaimed "great minds" (in Hitler's phrasing) who knew 
nothing about the real world. They damned the Old Order as an oligarchy of 
tired old men, demanding a New Order of young people and new faces. In Japan, 
the young blood was represented mainly by junior officers in the armed forces. 
In Italy and Germany the hoped-for infusion of new dynamism was to come from 
the "little men," the "common people," the "lost generation," the "outsiders," 
and the "uprooted" or the "rootless." Although some of these were gangsters, 
thugs, and pimps, most were white-collar workers, lower-level civil servants, 
or declassed artisans and small-businessmen.

But the fascist challenge did not threaten the jugular vein. Unlike the 
communists, the fascists were not out to destroy the old power structure or to 
create an entirely new one. Rather, they were heretics seeking to revive the 
old faith by concentrating on the fundamentals of ;imperial expansion 
militarism, repression, and racism. They had the courage of the old-time 
establishment's convictions. If they at times sounded like violent 
revolutionaries, the purpose was not merely to pick up popular support from 
among the discontented and alienated, but to mobilize and channel the 
violence-prone. If at the outset they tolerated anti-capitalist currents among 
their followers, the effect was to enlarge the following for policies that 
strengthened capitalism. Above all, the fascists "wanted in."

In turn, at a time of crisis, leaders in the old establishment wanted them in 
as junior partners. These leaders operated on the principle that "If we want 
things to stay as they are, things will have to change." Ultimately, the 
marriage of the fascist elements with the old order was one of convenience. In 
Italy and Japan, the fascists won substantial control of international and 
domestic politics, were the dominant ideological force, and controlled the 
police. The old upper-class structure remained in control of the armed forces 
and the economy. In Japan, the upper-class military was successfully converted 
to fascism, but there were difficulties in winning over Japan's family 
conglomerates, the zaibatsu.

Thus, while much of the old order was done away with, the genuinely 
anti-capitalist and socialist elements that provided much of the strength in 
the fascist rise to power were suppressed. The existing social system in each 
country was actually preserved, although in a changed form.


From the start fascism had been nationalist and militarist, exploiting the 
bitterness felt in Italy, Germany, and Japan over the postwar settlements. 
Italians, denied territories secretly promised them as enticement for entering 
the war, felt cheated of the fruits of victory. Japanese leaders chafed at the 
rise of American and British resistance to Japanese expansion in China, and 
resented the Allies' refusal to include a statement of racial equality in the 
Covenant of the League of Nations. Germans were outraged by the Versailles 
treaty; in addition to depriving Germany of 13 percent of its European 
territories and population, the treaty split wide open two of Germany's three 
major industrial areas and gave French and Polish industrialists 19 percent of 
Germany's coke, 17 percent of its blast furnaces, 60 percent of its zinc 
foundries, and 75 percent of its iron ore.

Furthermore, each of the fascist nations could ground their expansion in 
national tradition. As far back as 1898, Ito Hirobumi, one of the founders of 
the "new" Japan after the Meiji restoration of 1868, had gone into great detail 
on Japan's opportunities for exploiting China's vast resources. While the 
late-nineteenth-century Italians and Germans were pushing into Africa, the 
Japanese had seized Korea as a stepping-stone to China and started eyeing 
Manchuria for the same purpose. Mussolini's imperial expansion in Africa was 
rooted, if not in the Roman empire, then in late nineteenth-century experience 
and, more specifically, in the "ignominy" of the 1896 Italian defeat by 
ill-armed Ethiopian forces in Aduwa. Hitler's expansionism harked back to an 
imperialist drive nearly a century old-at least.

Now, while Japan was seizing Manchuria, Mussolini responded to the crash by 
moving toward armaments and war. He used foreign aid to establish economic 
control over Albania, consolidating this position through naval action in 1934. 
In 1935 he launched a larger military thrust into Ethiopia and Eritrea.

By that time, the Nazi-led establishment in Germany was ready to plunge into 
the European heartland itself. In 1935, Hitler took over the Saarland through a 
peaceful plebiscite, formally repudiating the Versailles treaty. In 1936 he 
occupied the Rhineland and announced the formation of a Berlin-Rome Axis and 
the signing of a German-Japanese Pact. Hitler and Mussolini then actively 
intervened in the Spanish Civil War, sending "volunteers" and equipment to 
support General Franco's rebellion against Spain's democratically-elected 
left-wing republic.

The timetable accelerated: in 1938, the occupation of Austria in March and of 
Czechoslovakia in September; in 1939, the swallowing up of more parts of 
Czechoslovakia and, after conclusion of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in August, the 
invasion of Poland. At this point, England and France declared war on Germany 
and World War II began. Japan joined Italy and Germany in a ten-year pact "for 
the creation of conditions which would promote the prosperity of their 
peoples." As a signal of its good intentions, Japan began to occupy Indochina 
as well as China. Germany did even better. By 1941 the Germans had conquered 
Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. They had thrown 
the British army into the sea at Dunkirk and had invaded Rumania, Greece, and 
Yugoslavia. A new world order seemed to be in the making.

For Japan, it was the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," and for Italy a 
new Roman Empire to include "the Mediterranean for the Mediterraneans." And, 
for Germany, the new order was the "Thousand Year Reich" bestriding the 
Euro-Slavic-Asian land mass.


The essence of the new fascist order was an exploitative combination of 
imperial expansion, domestic repression, militarism, and racism. Each of these 
elements had a logic of its own and a clear relation to the others.

Imperial expansion brought in the raw materials and markets needed for more 
profitable economic activity. By absorbing surplus energies as well as surplus 
capital, it diverted attention from domestic problems and brought in a flood of 
consumer goods that could at least for a while- provide greater satisfactions 
for the masses.

Domestic repression in each of the three countries was essential to eliminate 
any serious opposition to imperialism, militarism, or racism. It was used to 
destroy the bargaining power of unions and the political power not only of 
communists, socialists, and liberals but of smaller enterprises. It helped hold 
down wages and social benefits and channel more money and power into the hands 
of big business and its political allies

Militarism, in turn, helped each of the Axis countries escape from the 
depression, while also providing the indispensable power needed for both 
imperial ventures and domestic pacification.

All of the other elements were invigorated by racism, which served as a 
substitute for class struggle and a justification of any and all brutalities 
committed by members of the Master Race (whether Japanese, German, or Italian) 
against "inferior" beings. This may not have been the most efficient of all 
possible formulae for exploitation, but it was theirs.

No one of these elements, of course, was either new or unique. None of the 
"haves" among the capitalist powers, as the fascists pointed out again and 
again, had built their positions without imperialism, militarism, repression, 
and racism. The new leaders of the three "have nots," as the fascists pointed 
out, were merely expanding on the same methods. "Let these 'well-bred' gentry 
learn," proclaimed Hitler, "that we do with a clear conscience the things they 
secretly do with a guilty one." There was nothing particularly new in 
Mussolini's imperialism and militarism.

His critics at the League of Nations in 1935, when a weak anti-Italian embargo 
was voted on, may have seemed shocked by his use of poison gas against 
Ethiopian troops, but he did nothing that French, British, English, and Dutch 
forces had not done earlier in many other countries. The Japanese and Germans, 
however, were a little more original. In China and other parts of Asia, the 
Japanese invaders used against Koreans, Chinese, Burmese, Malayans, and other 
Asians even harsher methods than those previously used by white invaders. 
Similarly, up to a certain point, the Nazi war crimes consisted largely of 
inflicting on white Europeans levels of brutality that had previously been 
reserved only for Asians, Africans, and the native populations of North, 
Central, and South America.

In open violation of the so-called "laws of war," German, Japanese, and Italian 
officials-to the consternation of old-style officers from the upper class 
"gentry"-ordered the massacre of prisoners. All three regimes engaged in 
large-scale plunder and looting.

Since German-occupied Europe was richer than any of the areas invaded by the 
Japanese or Italians, the Nazi record of exploitation is more impressive. 
"Whenever you come across anything that may be needed by the German people," 
ordered Reichsmarshall Goering, "you must be after it like a bloodhound...." 
The Nazi bloodhounds snatched all gold and foreign holdings from the national 
banks of seized countries, levied huge occupation costs, fines and forced 
loans, and snatched away tons of raw materials, finished goods, art treasures, 
machines, and factory installations.

In addition to this unprecedented volume of looting, the Nazis revived the 
ancient practice of using conquered people as slaves. In doing so, they went 
far beyond most previous practices of imperial exploitation. By 1944, "some 
seven and a half million civilian foreigners were toiling for the Third 
Reich.... In addition, two million prisoners of war were added to the foreign 
labor force." Under these conditions German industrialists competed for their 
fair share of slaves. As key contributors to the "Hitler Fund," the Krupps did 
very well. "Besides obtaining thousands of slave laborers, both civilians and 
prisoners of war, for its factories in Germany, the Krupp firm also built a 
large fuse factory at the extermination camp at Auschwitz, where Jews were 
worked to exhaustion and then gassed to death."

Domestic repression by the fascists was directed at both working-class 
movements and any other sources of potential opposition. In all three countries 
the fascists destroyed the very liberties which industrialization had brought 
into being; if more was destroyed in Germany than in Italy and more in Italy 
than in Japan, it was because there was more there to destroy.

All three regimes succeeded in reducing real wages (except for the significant 
increments which the unemployed attained when put to work by the armaments 
boom), shifting resources from private consumption to private and public 
investment and from smaller enterprises to organized big business and 
channeling income from wages to profits. As these activities tended to 
"de-class" small entrepreneurs and small landowners, this added to the pool of 
uprooted people available for repressive activities, if not for the armed 
services directly. Moreover, each of the three regimes attained substantial 
control over education at all levels, cultural and scientific activities, and 
the media of communication.

In Germany, however. domestic repression probably exceeded that of any other 
dictatorial regime in world history. An interesting, although little known, 
example is provided by Aktion t 4. In this personally signed decree, Hitler 
ordered mercy killing for hospital patients judged incurable, insane or 
otherwise useless to the war effort, thereby freeing hospital beds for wounded 
soldiers. At first the patients were "herded into prisons and abandoned castles 
and allowed to die of starvation." Since this was too slow, the Nazis then used 
"a primitive gas chamber fed by exhaust fumes from internal combustion 
engines." Later they used larger gas chambers where "ducts shaped like shower 
nozzles fed coal gas through the ceiling . . . Afterward the gold teeth were 
torn out and the bodies cremated." Two years later, after about ten thousand 
Germans were killed in this manner, a Catholic bishop made a public protest and 
the extermination campaign was called off.

By this time, however, Aktion t 4 had been replaced by Aktion f 14, "an 
adaptation of the same principles to the concentration camps, where the secret 
police kept their prisoners-socialists, communists, Jews and antistate 
elements." By the time he declared war on the United States in December 1941, 
Hitler extended Aktion f 14 to all conquered territories in his "Night and Fog" 
(Nacht und Nebel) decree, through which millions of people were spirited away 
with no information given their families or friends. This was an expansion of 
the lettres de cachet system previously used by French monarchs and the tsar's 
police against important state prisoners. Under this method untold thousands 
vanished into the night and fog never to be heard of again.

Each of the three regimes, moreover, developed an extra-virulent form of racism 
to justify its aggressive drive for more and more "living space" (in German, 
the infamous Lebensraum). Italian racism was directed mainly against the 
Africans-although by the time Italy became a virtual satellite of Nazi Germany, 
Mussolini started a massive anti-Jewish campaign. Japanese racism was directed 
mainly against the Chinese, the Indochinese, and in fact, all other Asiatic 
people and served to justify, in Japanese eyes, the arrogance and brutality of 
the Japanese troops. The largest target of Nazi racism was the Slavs, who 
inhabited all of the Eastern regions destined to provide Lebensraum for the 
Master Race.

And during World War II more Slavs were killed than an' other group of war 
victims in previous history.

But Nazi racism went still deeper in its fanatic al anti-Semitism. Hitler, of 
course, did not invent anti-Semitism, which ran as a strand through most 
significant ideologies of the previous century. While a strong strain of 
anti-Semitism has usually characterized the Catholic church, Martin Luther, the 
founder of Protestantism, went further in urging that Jewish "synagogues or 
schools be set on fire, that their houses be broken up and destroyed." 18 Nazi 
anti-Semitism brought all these strands together into a concentrated form of 
racism that started with looting, deprived the German Jews (about a quarter of 
a million at that time) of their citizenship and economic rights under the 
Nuremberg Laws of 1935, and then-following Martin Luther's advice with a 
vengeance-led to the arson, widespread looting, and violence of the 
Kristolnacht ("The Night of the Broken Glass") of November 1938. Early in 1939 
Hitler declared, in a Reichstag speech, that if a world war should ensue, "the 
result will be . . . the annihilation of the Jewish race throughout Europe," a 
threat and near-prophecy that he kept on repeating in his public statements. A 
few weeks after the Nazi invasion of Russia he started to make it a reality 
with a decree calling for a "total solution" (Gesamtlosung) or "final solution" 
(Endlosung) of the Jewish question in all the territories of Europe which were 
under German influence. The "final solution" went through various stages: at 
first simply working Jews to death, then gassing them in the old-style chambers 
used under Aktion t 4, then using still larger gas chambers capable of gassing 
six thousand prisoners a day- to the lilting music of The Merry Widow-through 
the use of hydrogen cyanide.

While business firms competed for the privilege of building the gas chambers 
and crematoria and supplying the cyanide, recycling enterprises also developed. 
The gold teeth were "melted down and shipped along with other valuables 
snatched from the condemned Jews to the Reichsbank.... With its vaults filled 
to overflowing as early as 1942, the bank's profit-minded directors sought to 
turn the holdings into cold cash by disposing of them through the municipal 
pawnshops." Other recycling operations included using the hair for furniture 
stuffing, human fat for making soap, and ashes from the crematoria for 
fertilizer. While a small number of cadavers were used for anatomical research 
or skeleton collections, a much larger number of live persons-including Slavs 
as well as Jews-were used in experimental medical research for the German Air 
Force on the effects on the human body of simulated high-altitude conditions 
and immersion in freezing water. All in all, of an estimated 11 million Jews in 
Europe, between 5 and 6 million were killed in the destruction chambers (and 
work gangs or medical laboratories) at Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belsen, Sibibor 
and Chelmna, as well as minor camps that used such old-fashioned methods as 
mere shooting.'.


Centrally controlled propaganda was a major instrument for winning the hearts 
of the German, Japanese, and Italian people. The growth of the control 
apparatus coincided with the flowering during the 1920s and 1930s of new 
instruments of propagandistic technology particularly the radio and the cinema, 
with major forward steps in the arts of capitalist advertising. "Hitler's 
dictatorship." according to Albert Speer, "was the first dictatorship of an 
industrial state in this age of technology, a dictatorship which employed to 
perfection the instruments of technology to dominate its own people." Apart 
from technology, each of the Axis powers used marching as an instrument of 
dominating minds. In discussing this method of domination, one of Hitler's 
early colleagues, Hermann Rauschning, has given us this explanation: "Marching 
diverts men's thoughts. Marching kills thought. Marching makes an end of 
individuality. Marching is the indispensable magic stroke performed in order to 
accustom the people to a mechanic, quasi-ritualistic activity until it becomes 
second nature."

The content of fascist propaganda. however, was more significant than its forms 
or methodology. In essence, this content was a justification of imperial 
conquest, rampant militarism, brutal repression, and unmitigated racism. Many 
fascist theorists and intellectuals spun high-flown ideologies to present each 
of these elements in fascist exploitation in the garb of glory, honor, justice, 
and scientific necessity. The mass propagandists, however (including not only 
Hitler, Mussolini, and their closest associates, but also the flaming 
"radicals" of the Japanese ultra-right), wove all these glittering abstractions 
into the super-pageantry of a cosmic struggle between Good and Evil, between 
the Master Race which is the fount of all culture, art, beauty, and genius and 
the inferior beings (non-Aryans, non-Romans, non-Japanese) who were the enemies 
of all civilization. As the stars and the planets gazed down upon this 
apocalyptic struggle, the true defenders of civilization against bolshevism and 
racial impurity must descend to the level of the enemies of culture and for the 
sake of mankind's future, do whatever may be necessary in the grim struggle for 
survival. Thus, bloodletting and blood sacrifice became a spiritual imperative 
for the people, an imperative transcending mere materialism.

This holy-war psychology was backed up by the indiscriminate use of any 
concept, any idea, theory, or antitheory that was useful at a particular time 
or place. Liberalism and monarchism, individualism and collectivism, hierarchic 
leadership and egalitarianism, scientific management and organic spontaneity, 
private enterprise and socialism, religion and atheism-all were drawn upon as 
the condition warranted- to polish the image of the nation's leader and play 
upon the emotions of both establishment and masses. No human interest, drive, 
or aspiration was safe from exploitation. To help in organizing support of 
specific groups, promises were made to workers as well as businessmen, peasants 
as well as landowners, rural folk as well as urbanites, the old nobility as 
well as the "common man," the old as well as the young, women as well as men.

p28 On of the great successes of the classic fascists was to concoct was to 
concoct misleading pronouncements on their purposes and practices. 
Anti-fascists have often accepted some of these self-descriptions or added 
part-truths of their own. The result has been a vast structure of apparently 
indestructible myths. Today, these myths still obscure the nature of classic 
fascism and of present tendencies toward new forms of the o d horror. Although 
the classic fascists openly subverted constitutional democracy and flaunted 
their militarism, they took great pains to conceal Big Capital-Big Government 
partnership. One device for doing this was the myth of "corporatism" or the 
'corporate state." In place of geographically elected parliaments, the Italians 
and the Germans set up elaborate systems whereby every interest in the 
country-including labor -was to be "functionally" represented. In fact, the 
main function was to provide facades behind which the decisions were made by 
intricate networks of business cartels working closely with military officers 
and their own people in civilian government.

p29 There is no doubt that in all three countries the consolidation of the 
fascist establishment was supported by a psychological malaise that had hit the 
lower middle classes harder than anyone else. But if one examines the support 
base of classic fascism, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the fascists 
had multi-class support. Many workers joined the fascist ranks-even former 
socialist and communist leaders. To the unemployed workers not represented by 
trade unions or the socialist movement, fascism offered jobs and security and 
delivered on this promise. Although the older aristocrats were somewhat divided 
on the subject, many highly respectable members of the landed aristocracy and 
nobility joined the fascist ranks. The great bulk of civil service bureaucrats 
was won over. Most leaders of organized religion (despite some heroic 
exceptions in Germany and some foot-dragging in Italy)either tacitly or openly 
supported the new regimes. Leading academicians, intellectuals, writers, and 
artists toed the line; the dissident minority who broke away or left the 
country made the articulation of support by the majority all the more 
important. Hitler enjoyed intellectual support, if not adulation, from the 
leading academicians in German universities. In Japan, the Showa Research 
Association brought many of the country's leading intellectuals together to 
help the imperial leaders formulate the

p30 ... instead of operating directly, big capital under fascism operated 
indirectly through an uneasy partnership with the fascist politicos, the 
military leaders, and the large landowners. If the privileged classes won many 
advantages as a result of the indispensable support they gave to the fascist 
regimes in Italy, Japan, and Germany, they also paid a high price. In addition 
to being subjected to various forms of political plunder, they lost control of 
many essential elements of policy, particularly the direction and tempo of 
imperial expansion. Second, the shift from constitutional to fascist capitalism 
meant structural changes, not merely the removal of a fig leaf. The fascists 
suppressed independent trade unions and working-class parties and consolidated 
big capital at the expense of small business. They destroyed the democratic 
institutions that capitalism had itself brought into being. They wiped out 
pro-capitalist liberation and old-fashioned conservatism as vital political 
forces. Third, while classic fascism was terroristic, it was also beneficent. 
The fascists provided jobs for the unemployed and upward mobility for large 
numbers of lower and middle class people. Although real wage rates were held 
down, these two factors alone-in addition to domestic political plunder and war 
booty-improved the material standard of living for a substantial number, until 
the whole picture was changed by wartime losses. roughshod over his or her 
students may be called a "fascist pig."

p31 ... for thousands of years hundreds of governments have been fiercely 
brutal-sometimes on conquered people only, often on their own people also. If 
we stick by this terminology, then many of the ancient Greeks and Hebrews, the 
old Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Indian, and Chinese empires, the Huns, the 
Aztecs, and the tsars who ruled Russia were also fascist. Some of these, let me 
add, also exercised total control over almost all aspects of human life. 
Indeed, "force, fraud and violence," as Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski 
have pointed out, "have always been features of organized government and they 
do not constitute by themselves the distinctively totalitarian operation." 28 
But concentrated capital, modern-style government, and constitutional democracy 
are relatively new features of human history-as is also the kind of Big 
Business- - Government alliance that subverts constitutional democracy. Anyone 
has the constitutional right to pin the label "fascist" or "fascistic" on the 
brutalities of a Stalin or his heirs in various "Marxist-Leninist" countries, 
or on the bloodbath inflicted by American firepower on Indochina for a full 
decade, or even on the latest case of police brutality in a black or Latin 
ghetto of New York City. This may be a forceful way of protesting brutality. It 
is much less than a serious examination of the realities of classic fascism or 
the accumulating tendencies toward new forms of fascism toward the end of the 
twentieth century. 

The Mysterious Establishment excerpted from the book Friendly Fascism The New 
Face of Power in America


p54 American Heritage Dictionary "Establishment: An exclusive group of powerful 
people who rule a ) government or society by means of private agreements or 

The American Establishment is not an organization. Nor is it a simple coalition 
or network. Like the industrial-military complex, it has no chairman or 
executive committees.

(Like the Golden International,)the Establishment is more complicated than any 
complex. It is a complex of complexes, a far-flung network of power centers, 
including institutional hierarchies. These are held together less by 
hierarchical control and more by mutual interests, shared ideologies, and 
accepted procedures for mediating their endless conflicts.

Like the establishments in other First World countries, the American 
Establishment is not just a network of State leaders. Nor is it merely a 
coalition of private governments. It is an interweaving of two structures- 
polity and economy-that under industrial capitalism have never been independent 
of each other. It is the modern partnership of big business and big government. 
As such, it is much looser and more flexible than the establishments of classic 
fascism. And in contrast with them, above all, it operates in part through-and 
is to an important extent constrained by-the democratic machinery of 
constitutional government. Private agreements and decisions-even well-protected 
secrecy-play a large role in its operations; this adds to the Establishment's 
inherent mystery. It is why people often refer to it as the "invisible 
government." Yet many of its agreements and decisions are open to public view. 
Indeed, so much information is available in public reports, congressional 
hearings, and the specialized press that anyone trying to make sense of it all 
runs the danger of being drowned in a sea of excessive information. This, of 
course, is the problem faced by all intelligence agencies, which usually feed 
on a diet of 95 percent public data spiced with 5 percent obtained through 
espionage. Also, as with intelligence and counterintelligence, there are huge 
information gaps side by side with huge amounts of deliberately deceptive 

p56 The number of people actively involved-even at the very top-is too large 
for any meeting or convention hall. Robert Townsend, who headed Avis before it 
was swallowed by IIT, has made this estimate:

"America is run largely by and for about 5,000 people who are actively 
supported by 50,000 beavers eager to take their places. I arrive at this figure 
this way: maybe 2,500 megacorporation executives, 500 politicians, lobbyists 
and Congressional committee chairmen, 500 investment bankers, 500 partners in 
major accounting firms, 500 labor brokers. If you don't like my figures, make 
up you own . . ."

I am convinced his figures are far too small. If there are 4,000-6,000 at the 
top, they are probably able to deploy at least five times as many in executive 
management; who in turn operate through at least ten times as many junior and 
contingent members. My total ranges between a quarter and a third of a million. 
Even without adding their dependents, this is a far cry from a small handful of 
people. Yet in relative numbers this large number of people is still a "few." A 
third of a million people numbers less than two tenths of one percent of the 
U.S. population of about 220 million; and with their immediate family members 
this would still be less than 10 percent. It is less than one hundreth of 1 
percent (.0001) of the "Free World" under the shared leadership of the United / 
States. Seldom, if ever, has such a small number of people done so much to 
guide the destinies of so many over such vast expanses of the planet.

There are conflicts at all levels. Most of these are rooted in divergent or 
clashing interests, values, perceptions, and traditions. Some are minor, others 
are major. Many minor crises at various points in the Establishment are daily 
occurrences, surprising only the uninitiated. But "whenever we are prepared to 
talk about a deep political crisis," as Papandreou observes, "we should assume 
that the Establishment (as a whole) is undergoing a crisis, either because of 
internal trouble-namely, because some of its members have seen fit to alter 
their relative position within the coalition-or because of external trouble, 
because another challenger has risen who wants a share of the power." The bulk 
of these conflicts are resolved through bargaining, accommodation, market 
competition, and government decision making, particularly through bureaucratic 
channels. A few more come to the surface through the legislative, judicial, or 
electoral processes. Coherence is provided not only through these procedures 
for conflict adjustment but also by large areas of partially shared interests, 
values, and ideologies.

It is constantly changing. E the Establishment were a mere defender of the 
status quo, it would be much weaker. While some of its members may resist many 
changes or even want to "turn the clock back," the dominant leaders know that 
change is essential to preserve, let alone, expand, power. "If we want things 
to stay as they are," the young nephew said to his uncle, the prince, in 
Lampedusa's The Leopard, "things have got to change. Do you understand?" Power 
holders may not understand this at once, but events drive the point home to 
them-or drive them out. Thus many of the changes occur in the membership of the 
Establishment which, at any point, may expand or contract. E the Establishment 
is a target, it is-in Leonard Silk's apt words for the "overall corporate 
government complex"-a "moving target." '

There is no single central conspiracy. I agree with Karl Popper when he says: 
"Conspiracies occur, it must be admitted. But the striking fact which, in spite 
of their occurrence, disproves the conspiracy theory is that few of these 
conspiracies are ultimately successful." Many of them have consequences 
entirely or partly unintended or unforeseen. Popper adds the observation that 
the successful ones rarely come to public attention and that there is usually a 
"situational logic" that transcends any conscious planning. When there is a 
fire in an auditorium, people do not get together to plan what to do. The 
logical response to the situation is "Get out." Some will do it in an orderly 
fashion; others might be rather rough toward people who get in their way. The 
Establishment often operates this way. Some of its most historic achievements 
have been forced on it by "fires" that break out suddenly, often unanticipated. 
The major advances in the welfare state, for example, have historical}y been 
opposed by most elements in capitalist establishments who were usually too 
stupid or nearsighted to realize that these measures would put a floor (or 
elevator) under market demand, thereby promoting the accumulation of corporate 
capital and taking the sting out of anticapitalist movements.

p59 The greatest difference between the Ultra-Rich and the rest of us is that 
most of them are addicted to sensory gratification on a grand scale. In part, 
as Ferdinand Lundberg has documented, this gratification takes the form of 
palatial estates, fabulously furnished town houses, private art collections, 
exclusive clubs, summer and winter resort on many continents, membership in 
social registers, birth and burial under distinctive conditions, etc. It also 
involves an array of services going far beyond the ordinary housekeepers, 
cooks, gardeners, masseurs, valets, chauffeurs, yacht captains, and pilots of 
the large fleet of rich people's private aircraft. But above all, the valets of 
the ultra-rich also include expert executives, managers, advisers, 
braintrusters, ghostwriters, entertainers, lawyers, accountants, and 
consultants. Most of their services are more expensive (and far more 
sophisticated) than those enjoyed by the emperors, emirs, and moguls of past 
centuries. Some are freely given in exchange for the privilege of approaching 
the throne and basking in the effulgent glory of accumulated wealth. Most are 
paid for by others-either being written off as tax deductions or appearing as 
expenses on accounts of various corporations, banks, foundations, universities, 
research institutes, or government agencies. These payments for modern valet 
service can be unbelievably high. Indeed, one of the earmarks of the Ultra-Rich 
in America is that they even have millionaires-most of them involved in big 
business -working for them.

Among the Ultra-Rich, of course, there are the so-called "beautiful people" who 
nourish their addiction merely by using a little of what accrues to them from 
fortunes managed by others. These are the "idle rich," the rentiers whose 
hardest work, beyond clipping coupons, is flitting from one form of 
entertainment to another. There are also a few deviants who betray their class 
by denouncing their addiction, getting along with small doses only, ore 
actively using their money to finance liberal or left wing causes. The great 
majority, however, seem to be stalwart conservatives who abstain from idleness 
by some form of "public service"-that is by holding the most prestigious 
institutions of philanthropy, higher education, health. culture. and art.

There are also those whose addiction is more powerful; they can satisfy it only 
by larger and larger doses of money or power. This can be done only by 
exercising directly or indirectly their roles as overseers, roles legitimized 
by their personal participation in the management of corporate property.

p62 Adam Smith "Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality. 
For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the 
affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many."

p63 C. Wright Mills "No one can be truly powerful unless he has access to the 
command of major institutions, for it is over these institutional means of 
power that the truly powerful are, in the first instance, truly powerful ..."

p63 Richard Barber "Their [a few immense corporations] incredible absolute size 
and commanding market positions make them the most exceptional man-made 
creatures of the twentieth century.... In terms of the size of their 
constituency, volume of receipts and expenditures, effective power, and 
prestige, they are more akin to nation-states than business enterprises of the 
classic variety."

p64 If better means more powerful, then the rich and the ultra-rich are truly 
better than most people. While you and I may work for major institutions, they 
are part of or close to (sometimes on top of) the cliques that control them. 
Their family life is also different. For ordinary people, family planning has 
something to do with control over the number and spacing of children. For the 
rich, family planning involves spawning trust funds and family foundations that 
hide wealth and augment control of corporate clusters and complexes. As a 
result of brilliant family planning, the formal institutions of corporate 
bureaucracy and high finance have not led to a withering away of the Morgans, 
Rockefellers, Harrimans, du Ponts, Weyerhausers, Mellons, and other oligarchic 
families of an earlier era. Nor have they prevented the rise of newer family 
networks such as the Kennedys. Rather, the nature of family wealth and 
operations has changed. "Rather than an Irenee du Pont exercising absolute 
domination, now the [du Pont] family fortune has been passed on to a number of 
heirs, even as the family's total wealth continues to grow. This splitting up 
of family stock blocks does not mean that capital no longer tends to 
accumulate. Just the opposite . . . du Pont wealth, and the power of their 
business class as a whole, is not diminishing, but growing."

The growth of familial power, paradoxically, has been made possible by the 
sharing of that power with nonfamily members who handle their affairs 
professionally and mediate inevitable intrafamily disputes. Many of the 
corporate institutions, moreover, have been built and are guided by people who 
are merely rich and are ultra-rich only in intent. Whether the heirs of old 
wealth or the creators of new wealth, they mingle with the ultra-rich in clubs 
and boardrooms and play an indispensable role in overseeing corporate affairs.

The role of overseer no longer requires total ownership-or even owning a 
majority of a company's stock. Most corporations are controlled by only a small 
minority of corporate stockholders. By usual Wall Street calculations, 5 
percent stock ownership is enough to give total control; in a few cases, the 
figure may rise to 10 percent. The larger the number of stockholders, the 
smaller this percentage. This "internal pyramiding" is carried still further 
through chains of subsidiaries and holding companies. Thus, strategic control 
of a small block of holding company stock yields power over a vast network of 
accumulated power and capital. Many of these networks include both financial 
corporations and corporations in industry, utilities, communications, 
distribution, and transportation. Most of the overseers are what Herbert Gans 
called Unknowns. "How many well-informed people," asks Robert Heilbroner, "can 
name even one of the chief executive officers-with the exception of Henry Ford 
II-of the top ten industrial companies: General Motors, Standard Oil (N.J.), 
Ford, General Electric, Socony, U.S. Steel, Chrysler, Texaco, Gulf, Western 
Electric? How many can name the top figures in the ten top utilities or 
banks-perhaps with the exception of David Rockefeller.''

While the names of chief executive officers are a matter of public record, the 
names of the top stockholders are not. Most wealthy individuals, as Richard 
Barber has shown, "are tending to withdraw from direct stock ownership to 
companies and to funnel their investments through institutions, especially 
pension funds and mutual funds. This latter development has substantially 
increased the power of institutions-pension funds, banks, insurance companies 
and mutual funds-in the affairs of even the largest corporations.

p90 As the takeoff toward a more perfect capitalism began after World War II, 
popular support of the system was assured in large part by the system's 
performance-more striking than ever before-in providing material payoffs and 
physical security. The record of over a third of a century has included the 
avoidance of mass depression or runaway inflation in any advanced capitalist 
country, expanded mass consumption, the maintenance or expansion of personal 
options, no near-war between any advanced capitalist countries and, above all, 
no world war.

Yet these achievements have depended upon a level of commitment among the 
elites at the Establishment's lower and middle levels that could scarcely have 
been forthcoming if either had seriously doubted the legitimacy of the evolving 
order. This legitimacy was fostered by a three-pronged ideological thrust.

The first prong has consisted of a sophisticated and passionate reiteration in 
a thousand variations of the simple proposition: communism and socialism are 

Before World War II there were many small, right-wing movements whose members 
were driven by nightmares of evil conspirators-usually communists, Jews, 
Catholics, "niggers" or "nigger lovers"-bent on destroying the "American way of 
life." During the immediate prewar period, their fears were expressed directly 
in the Dies Committee's crusade against "pinkos" in the Roosevelt 
administration. After World War II, these witch-hunting nightmares were 
transformed into dominant ideology. Professional antiradicalism became 
entrenched during the brief period of atomic monopoly. It grew stronger in the 
more frenetic period of nuclear confrontation after Russia acquired atomic 
bombs. With some toning down and fine tuning, it has maintained itself during 
the present and more complex period of conflict with socialism and communism. 
During each of these stages it meshed rather well with anti-capitalist ideology 
in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and other communist countries, thereby 
providing an ideological balance to parallel the delicate balance of nuclear 
terror. More specifically, it has given the overall rationale for the extension 
of America's multicontinental frontiers. It has helped link together the many 
disparate elements in America's quasi-empire. In large measure, the unity of 
the NATO countries in Europe had depended on their fear of Soviet communism, 
and the allegiance of Japan to the United States on the fear of either Soviet 
or Chinese communism. American aid to "have-not" countries, in turn, has often 
varied with their ability to produce-or invent-a communist threat on or within 
their borders. At home, anti-communism has provided the justification needed by 
the ambitious leaders of the massive military establishment. As Colonel James 
A. Donovan wrote after retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, "If there were no 
Communist bloc . . ., the defense establishment would have to invent one."

Above all, anti-communism has been a valuable instrument in containing 
pressures for a more rapid expansion of welfare-state measures as opposed to 
more generous forms of aid to business. In this sense, the ideology of 
anti-communism has also been anti-socialistic. Although favoring corporate and 
military socialism for the benefit of businessmen and military officers, the 
anti-communists have bitterly attacked the "creeping socialism" that aims to 
benefit the poor, the underorganized, and the ethnic minorities.

The power and the imaginative vigor of anti-communist and antisocialist 
ideology has stemmed from its many interlacing currents. At one extreme, there 
have been those like Senator Joseph McCarthy and Robert Welch of the John Birch 
Society, both of whom charged that Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and George 
Marshall were communist agents or dupes. In the middle, people like Acheson and 
Marshall themselves developed the more influential, mainstream version of 
anticommunist ideology. By deeds as well as words, they attempted to prove they 
were more anti-communist than their detractors. Toward the left, many brilliant 
intellectuals have done their own thing less stridently, demonstrating the 
inefficiency of communist and socialist practice and the stodginess of 
communist and socialist doctrine. Each of these currents have been invigorated 
by significant numbers of former communists and socialists, who have atoned for 
their former sins by capitalizing on their special knowledge of communist 
inequity or socialist futility. Each helped publicize many of the Soviet 
Union's hidden horrors-although the tendency has been less to understand the 
deformation of Soviet socialism (and its roots) and more to warn against the 
horrors that would result from any tinkering with the American system.

Thus, like a restaurant with a large and varied menu, anti-communist and 
anti-socialist ideology has been able to offer something for almost any taste. 
Each dish, moreover, is extremely cheap. A high price is paid only by those who 
refuse to select any variety, thus opening themselves to the charge of being 
"soft on communism." For over a quarter of a century there has been only a 
small minority-particularly in the realm of government service and 
academia-willing to pay the price. The result has been a rather widespread 
conformity with ritualistic anti-communism and anti-socialism and a powerful 
consensus on the virtues of the established order.

The second prong of the ideological thrust consists of even more sophisticated 
variations on an equally simple proposition: the capitalist order is good. 
Before World War II one of the weakest links in the established order was the 
image of the corporation. For its consumers, the corporation said, "The public 
be damned!" On matters of broad public policy-particularly during the depths of 
the Great Depression- corporate leaders often distinguished themselves by 
ignorance and incompetence. There was blatant evidence to support President 
Roosevelt's epithet "economic bourbons." Even during the 1950s Charles Wilson, 
a former General Motors president, as secretary of defense, was able to suggest 
that what's good for General Motors is good for the United States. In short, 
the large corporation-as the central symbol of capitalism-was selfish, venal, 
and mean.

To cope with this situation, huge investments were made in public relations 
campaigns. Some of these campaigns concentrated on the corporate image. Many of 
them set forth in excruciating detail the infinite blessings of private 
ownership and free, competitive private enterprise. An exhaustive analysis of 
the material appears in The American Business Creed, by a group of Harvard 
economists. The essence of this so-called creed (to which no serious corporate 
executives could possibly have given credence) was the ridiculous assumption 
that the market was mainly composed of small, powerless firms and that large, 
powerful corporations were controlled by huge numbers of small stockholders 
instead of a small minority of large stockholders, managers, or investment 

During the same period, however, a more influential ideology for postwar 
capitalism was formulated by various groups of pragmatic intellectuals. Their 
problem was that many corporate managers and their truly conservative 
economists were traditionally rather blunt in stating that their job was 
moneymaking, period-no nonsense about social responsibility. Besides, even the 
most dedicated corporate lawyers often remembered Justice Oliver Wendell 
Holmes's dictum on the subject: "The notion that a business is clothed with a 
public interest and has been devoted to the public use is little more than a 
fiction intended to beautify what is disagreeable to others." Nonetheless, the 
Advertising Council spent billions over the decades in creating fictional 
images of business "clothed with public interest." In this they were helped by 
uninhibited academics like Carl Kaysen, who stated that in the corporate world 
of Standard Oil, American Telephone and Telegraph, Du Pont, General Electric, 
and General Motors "there is no display of greed or graspiness: there is no 
attempt to push off onto the workers or the community at large part of the 
social costs of the enterprise. The modern Corporation is a soulful 
corporation". Others have pursued the soulful theme even further by suggesting 
that the executives of transnational corporations are the real "world citizens" 
whose efforts may soon usher in a new era of permanent peace.

The third prong in the ideological package is the tacit-but 
breathtaking-assertion or premise that capitalism no longer exists. "A research 
report of the United States Information Agency," C. L. Sulzberger revealed in a 
typically incisive column back in 1964, "has ruefully discovered that the more 
our propaganda advertises the virtues of 'capitalism' and attacks 'socialism' 
the less the world likes us . . . Most foreigners don't regard 'capitalism' as 
descriptive of an efficient economy or a safeguard of individual rights. To 
them it means little concern for the poor, unfair distribution of wealth, and 
undue influence of the rich." 37 But what the USIA allegedly needed a research 
report to discover concerning capitalism's image in other countries was already 
well understood by capitalism's major publicists and spokesmen at home. As far 
back as 1941, in his "American Century" editorial, Henry Luce used the 
well-established term "free economic system" instead of "capitalism." The 
international capitalist market protected by American hegemony became the "free 
world" and "freedom" became the code word for both domestic capitalism and 
capitalist empire. In Carl Kaysen's article on the soulful corporation, the 
nasty word "capitalism" makes not a single entry. Its use would have introduced 
a jarring note. It would also have violated a powerful norm among economists 
namely, that instead of trying to analyze the workings of modern capitalism, 
capitalism should be discussed mainly in the framework of criticizing Marxian 
economics or making passing references to the imperfections in Adam Smith's 
model of perfect competition. When Governor George Romney of Michigan announced 
that "Americans buried capitalism long ago, and moved on to consumerism," what 
was really being buried was the old-time conservative defense of capitalism as 
unadulterated self-interest as superior to socialistic altruism. True believers 
like Ayn Rand were of no avail in charging that "if the 'conservatives' do not 
stand for capitalism, they stand for and are nothing" and in proclaiming (like 
one of her characters in Atlas Shrugged) "We choose to wear the name 
'Capitalism' printed on our foreheads boldly, as our badge of nobility." The 
most intelligent spokesmen for the changing capitalist order wear a variety of 
names on their foreheads.

The first term-and still the most appealing-has been "mixed economy." The 
persuasive power of this concept stems mainly from lip service to the 
perfect-competition model as defined in classical or neoclassical ideologies. 
If capitalism used to be what Adam Smith advocated, the reasoning goes, then 
capitalism has been replaced by a mixture of private and public enterprise-or 
even of capitalism and socialism. This mixture blends the (alleged) productive 
efficiency of the former with the social justice sought by the latter. At the 
same time, it preserves the beautiful equilibrium of the classical model by 
providing opportunities for all interests in society to organize in their own 
behalf. From this competition in both the political and economic marketplaces 
comes a peaceful resolution of conflicts through the negotiation, bargaining, 
pressure and counter-pressure, propaganda and counterpropaganda that underlie 
electoral campaigns and executive, legislative, and judicial decision making. 
From this confused but peaceful process of political competition among selfish 
interests there emerges-as though by some invisible guiding hand-the best 
possible satisfaction of the public interest. Granted, there may be some 
imperfections in this political marketplace, too much strength at some points 
and too much weakness at others. But then enlightened government, with the help 
of Ivy League professors, can come in as a balancing factor and restore the 

This pluralistic myth is often reinforced by statistical exercises suggesting 
that the unfair distribution of wealth and influence was on its way out and the 
majority of the population had attained "affluence." Thus the mere 
contemplation of the "objective data" carefully selected under his direction 
induced the usually self-contained Arthur Burns (later named chairman of the 
Council of Economic Advisers and the Federal Reserve Board) into the following 
orgasmic spasm of economic hyperbole: "The transformation in the distribution 
of our national income . . . may already be counted as one of the great social 
revolutions in history." 30 With such well-certified "evidence" coming across 
their desks, former Marxists or revolutionaries were able to explain their 
conversion to the existing order with something more convincing than diatribes 
(which often appeared in the form of Trotskyism) against Stalinism and more 
self-satisfying than the attacks on former comrades made by the former 
communists who converted to professional anticommunism. By 1960, Seymour 
Martin. Lipset was able to proclaim that "the fundamental political problems of 
the industrial revolution have been solved." 40 This viewpoint was enlarged by 
Daniel Bell's sadly joyous funeral oration over the end of socialist or 
communist ideology in the Western world: "For the radical intelligentsia, the 
old ideologies have lost their 'truth' and their power to persuade . . . there 
is a rough consensus among intellectuals on political issues: the acceptance of 
the Welfare State; the desirability of decentralized power; a system of mixed 
economy and political pluralism. In that sense, too, the ideological age has 

In continuation of the same argument, Bell has moved to replace the old 
ideologies of competing systems with a new end-of-ideology ideology, 
celebrating the new power of theory, theoreticians, and his best friends. With 
more wit, passion, and inventiveness than most competing sociologists, Bell has 
capitalized on the fact that both Western capitalism and Russian socialism have 
been forms of industrialism. In so doing he defines industrialism loosely as 
something that has to do with machines, almost completely glossing over the 
organizational and imperial aspects of industrial capitalism.

This allows him to proclaim the coming of something called "postindustrialism," 
which is characterized by the increasing relative importance of services as 
contrasted with goods, of white-collar employment, and of more technical and 
professional elites. The essence of this allegedly "post" industrialism is "the 
preeminence of the professional and technical class." This preeminence, in 
turn, is based on "the primacy of theoretical knowledge-the primacy of theory 
over empiricism and the codification of knowledge into abstract systems of 
symbols." The masters of the new theory and symbols are the "knowledge elites" 
and their domicile is the university, "the central institution of 
post-industrial society."

With equal wit and a larger audience, Galbraith propounded a similar theme 
when, in 1968, he claimed that power in the new industrial state has shifted 
from capital to the "organized intelligence" of the managerial and bureaucratic 

For Bell, if the new knowledge elites do not make the ultimate decisions, it is 
because of a combination of old-fashioned politics and new cultural styles, 
particularly among younger people who tend to revolt against the rule of reason 
itself. If these obstacles can be overcome and if enough resources are 
channeled into R & D and the universities, then man's reason shall at last 
prevail and rational calculation and control will lead to stable progress. For 
Galbraith, the remedy was similar, since the system of industrial oligarchy 
"brings into existence, to serve its intellectual and scientific needs, the 
community that, hopefully, will reject its monopoly on social purpose." 
Galbraith's hope lay (at that time) in the wistful presumption that "the 
educational and scientific estate, with its allies in the larger intellectual 
community" might operate as a political force in its own right.

Although both Bell and Galbraith have been willing to concede the existence of 
capitalism (and Galbraith has more recently revealed himself as an advocate of 
public ownership of the one thousand corporate giants whom he describes as the 
"planning system," 44 most Establishment social scientists in both the Ivy 
League and the minor leagues seem to have adopted methodological premises that 
rule capitalism out of existence. Without the wit, wisdom, or vision of a Bell 
or Galbraith, they have busied themselves in efforts to provide technical 
solutions to political, moral and socio-economic problems. 'The problems they 
presume to solve-or in Daniel P. Moynihan's more modest terms, to cope with-are 
defined at the higher or middle levels of the Establishment where decisions are 
made on which research grants or contracts are to be approved and which 
professors are to be hired. They are carefully subdivided into categories that 
reflect the division of labor within the foundations and government contracting 

In turn, the presumably independent "knowledge elites" of the educational, 
scientific, and intellectual estates-having usually abjured efforts to analyze 
the morality and political economy of the so-called "market system"-are now 
rated on their performance in the grant-contract market. The badges of 
achievement are the research proposals accepted by the Establishment, with the 
rank order determined by the amount of funds obtained. Alongside the older 
motto "Publish or perish" (which puts the fate of many younger people in the 
hands of establishment faithfuls on editorial boards), has risen an additional 
imperative: "Get a grant or contract and prosper." This imperative also applies 
to department heads, deans, and college presidents who-like professors-are 
expected to bring in the "soft money" to supplement the "hard money" in the 
regular college and university budgets. During the early 1960s the largest 
amounts of "soft money," came from the government agencies involved in the 
"hardware" and "software" needed by the military and outer-space agencies, and 
including the many programs of "area studies" focused on Asia, Africa, the 
Middle East, and Latin America. Later, with the civil rights and antiwar 
movements, a minor avalanche of "soft money" was let loose for research, field 
work, and demonstration projects in the so-called "anti-poverty" and "model 
cities" programs. The word went quickly around among the new generation of 
academic hustlers that "Poverty is where the money is." Under these new 
circumstances, the serious applicant for funds was well advised to steer clear 
of root causes or systemic analysis. There was no prohibition against proposing 
research work or field organization designed to challenge the capitalist 
system, but no applicant has ever been known to openly propose anything so 
patently "unsound." Moreover, many of the wisest heads in the academic 
community-whether from profound inner disillusionment or in the heat of 
professional arrogance-openly advocated the treatment of symptoms only and 
inveighed against wasting time with the examination of systemic roots of 
poverty, unemployment, inflation, crime, or environmental degradation.

On a broader scale, methodology became the "name of the game." A new generation 
of methodologists learned that with unspoken constraints upon the purpose and 
content of research and theory, greater importance must be attached to means 
and form. Younger people who scorned the catch-as-catch-can methodologies of a 
Bell, Galbraith, or Moynihan- and were embarrassed by their unseemly interest 
in turning a good phrase -became the new ideologues of scientific methods. On 
the one hand, "abstracted empiricists" (as C. Wright Mills called them) became 
frenetic data-chasers eager to produce reams of computer printouts. On the 
other hand, enthusiastic model-builders erected pretty paradigms from which 
hypotheses might be deduced. Both sought verification through the application 
of methods long proven useful in the natural sciences. In this process, they 
had the aid and participation of many natural scientists perfectly willing to 
accept admiration from those naive enough to think that their skills in 
physics, biology, engineering or mathematics were readily transferable to the 
analysis of social problems. They also enjoyed the guidance or blessings of 
old-time radicals who-scorched by the heat of the purges or disillusioned by 
Stalinism-were eager to build a new God in the image of so-called scientific 
method. These activities became intensely competitive, with ever-changing 
cliques and currents providing endless opportunities for innovative nuances in 
the production of iconoclastic conformity and irrelevant relevance.

Occasionally, the existence of capitalist society has been allowed to enter 
into the frame of reference-but only marginally. Thus, it has become 
fashionable for many social science departments to have a well-behaved 
"Marxist" in residence: an element of good behavior, of course, is to accept 
the subdivision of mental labor and be a "Marxist" economist, socialist, or 
political scientist rather than dealing with capitalist society as a whole. A 
more widespread form of marginal acceptance of capitalist reality is the idea 
of "putting the profit motive to use in achieving social purposes." The 
reiteration of this imperative in every area from narcotics control to 
education has become one of the most effective methods of pledging allegiance 
to the undescribed and unexamined capitalist order.

Although these many establishment ideologies have not produced any dedicated 
loyalty or deep commitment to modern capitalism, they have nonetheless been a 
major factor in the purification process. They have made it possible for purges 
and induced conversions of dissidents to be reduced in relative significance 
and conducted on a low-key, routine basis. They have helped absorb some of the 
activists of the old "New Left" of the 1960s into the Establishment, purify 
thoughts and behavior during the 1970s, and channel into harmless-if not 
profitable-ways the resentments and grievances fed by the many crises and 
traumas of a more perfect capitalism.

p153 During the so-called "Hundred Year Peace" (1815-1914), all wars among the 
Great Powers were minor, short, or localized. General peace was preserved in an 
environment of unending limited war.

The period since 1945 has also been one of limited war. Whatever military 
action has taken place-whether in Korea, Indochina, the Middle East, Africa, or 
Latin America-has been geographically limited. Although the devastation has 
been ghastly, no nuclear weapons have been used.

But limited war has created a baffling problem for the leading capitalist 
powers, particularly the United States: A reduction in military stimulants to 
economic expansion and capital accumulation. The present condition of the 
American industrial establishment, writes David Bazelon, "is unthinkable 
without the benefit of the capacity-building expenditures of the past twenty 
years induced by war and preparedness measures." The U.S. Arms Control and 
Disarmament Agency has thought about this in terms that are themselves 
unthinkable to most Establishment economists: "It is generally agreed that the 
great expanded public sector since World War II, resulting from heavy defense 
expenditures, has provided additional protection against depression, since this 
sector is not responsible to contraction in the private sector and has provided 
a sort of buffer or balance wheel in the economy."

Strangely enough, the use of military-growth stimulants in the United States 
also served to stimulate growth in the two major capitalist societies with 
relatively small military budgets: Japan and West Germany. An important part of 
U.S. military expenditures spilled over into both Japan and West Germany in the 
form of both procurement of supplies and payments for the maintenance of U.S. 
installments. More indirectly, the U.S. concentration of war-related technology 
(which includes advanced computerization, communication systems, and electronic 
controls) gave the largest corporations in other leading countries of the "Free 
World," particularly Japan and West Germany, an opportunity to catch up with, 
or plunge ahead of, the United States in civilian technologies and thereby make 
spectacular advances in world trade.

As the United States began its slow withdrawal from Indochina in 1969, military 
expenditures began to level off and then-while prices for military goods were 
still rising-to fall by almost $4 billion from 1969 to 1972. As a proportion of 
total GNP, military spending fell even more drastically-from 9.1 percent in 
1967 and 1968 to around 6 percent in 1979. Expenditures for "international 
affairs" (closely related to military expenditures) also declined. The size of 
the U.S. armed forces fell from over 3.5 million in 1968 to 2.1 million in 
1979. In other words, the military slowdown under conditions of de-escalation 
and détente deprived the American economy of a defense against recession that 
had been provided during the 1960s. This was one of the factors in the 
recessions that began in 1970, 1974, and 1979. In each case unemployment rose. 
In 1975, the total end to the hugely destructive war in Indochina was a 
retrogressive economic force, as unemployment in the United States and other 
capitalist countries rose to the highest levels since the Great Depression.

The response of the industrial-military portion of the Establishment has been 
prompt, publicly warning against the great perils of becoming weaker than the 
communist enemy and privately warning against the disastrous economic effects 
of the slowdown. The positive action has been in two directions: the expansion 
of new and costly weapons systems and the sale of arms to other countries. 
Under conditions of détente, however, the two of these together were 
insufficient to restore defense spending to the proportions of GNP reached 
during Indochinese wars. Thus the American industrial establishment was 
subjected to a slow withdrawal of the stimulus to which it had become 
accustomed. The NATO countries were subjected to a sharp decline in the vigor 
of the Soviet "threat," which was the official raison d'être for NATO's 
existence. The capitalist world was subjected for a while to the "threat" of a 
peaceful coexistence in which the economic stimulus of war and preparedness 
would no longer be available at the level to which it had become accustomed. 
With any decline in détente, of course, these conditions change.


The dominant logic of "Free World" militarism in a period of limited warfare 
has been slowly developing during the 1970s. If unlimited warfare is 
"dysfunctional," then two lines of operation are indicated.

The first has been to channel a larger portion of military resources into 
weapons systems produced by the largest military contractors, even though this 
means a dwindling number of people in the armed services. The result has been a 
continuous increase in "overkill" capabilities whose actual use would surely 
destroy capitalism itself, but whose production and deployment contribute to 
the maintenance of a capital accumulation. Overkill itself is matched by 
various forms of "overdelivery": globe-circling missiles in addition to 
bombers; multiple warheads on a single missile (MIRVs); launchings from roving 
submarines, ocean-floor emplacements and eventually satellite space stations; 
ocean explosions to produce tsunamis (tidal waves); antiballistic missiles that 
would themselves emit vast radiation dosages over the territory presumably 
defended; and, more recently, cruise missiles that could be launched from 
submarines, planes, or ships, fly at radar-eluding altitudes, and maneuver 
around defensive fire. Less publicized, and often excluded from official 
estimates of nuclear megatonnage, is the armory of "tactical" nuclear weapons. 
These include huge numbers of air-to-ground, ground-to-air, and 
ground-to-ground missiles, of which over seven-thousand are stationed in Europe 
for use by NATO forces. The average yield of these weapons, according to Robert 
McNamara as far back as 1964, was about 100 kilotons, about five times greater 
than the strength of Hiroshima's Little Boy. Moreover, considerable "progress" 
has been made in developing the biological, chemical, physiological, and 
nuclear instrumentalities that could offer the prospect, in the words of a high 
U.S. Navy official, of attaining "victory without shattering cities, industries 
and other physical assets." The extent of this progress was revealed by the 
announcement in 1977 of the "neutron bomb" and its promotion for NATO use.

The second has been a massive escalation of arms sales and 
government-subsidized arms gifts to Third World countries. In the United 
States, this program-which represents a huge stimulus to American 
industry-reached $11.2 billion in fiscal year 1977, and then, under the Carter 
administration rose to $13.5 billion in fiscal 1979. This activity has been 
paralleled by similar arms exports from other "First World" countries. A large 
part of these exports has gone to the Middle East, thereby recycling 
"petrodollars" for such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. A considerable part 
of the U.S. exports, in contrast to those from most other First World 
countries, have gone to Israel, as well as to Third World regimes threatened by 
domestic upheaval. 

The Specter of Friendly Fascism excerpted from the book Friendly Fascism The 
New Face of Power in America 

The Unfolding Logic

p161 ... as I survey the entire panorama of contending forces, I can readily 
detect something more important: the outline of a powerful logic of events. 
This logic points toward tighter integration of every First World 
Establishment. In the United States it points toward more concentrated, 
unscrupulous, repressive, and militaristic control by a Big Business-Big 
Government partnership that-to preserve the privileges of the ultra-rich, the 
corporate overseers, and the brass in the military and civilian order-squelches 
the rights and liberties of other people both at home and abroad. That is 
friendly fascism.

p162 At any particular moment First World leaders may respond to crisis like 
people in a crowded night club when smoke and flames suddenly billow forth. 
They do not set up a committee to plan their response. Neither do they act in a 
random or haphazard fashion. Rather, the logic of the situation prevails. 
Everyone runs to where they think the exits are. In the ensuing melee some may 
be trampled to death. Those who know where the exits really are, who are most 
favorably situated, and have the most strength will save themselves.

Thus it was in Italy, Japan, and Germany when the classic fascists came to 
power. The crisis of depression, inflation, and class conflict provided an 
ideal opportunity for the cartels, warmongers, right-wing extremists, and rowdy 
street fighters to rush toward power. The fascist response was not worked out 
by some central cabal of secret conspirators. Nor was it a random or accidental 
development. The dominant logic of the situation prevailed.

Thus too it was after World War II. Neither First World unity nor the Golden 
International was the product of any central planners in the banking, 
industrial, political, or military community. Indeed, there was then-as there 
still is-considerable conflict among competing groups at the pinnacle of the 
major capitalist establishments. But there was a broad unfolding logic about 
the way these conflicts were adjusted and the "Free World" empire came into 
being. This logic involved hundreds of separate plans and planning 
committees-some highly visible, some less so, some secret. It encompassed the 
values and pressures of reactionaries, conservatives, and liberals. In some 
cases, it was a logic of response to anticapitalist movements and offensives 
that forced them into certain measures-like the expanded welfare state-which 
helped themselves despite themselves.

Although the friendly fascists are subversive elements, they rarely see 
themselves as such. Some are merely out to make money under conditions of 
stagflation. Some are merely concerned with keeping or expanding their power 
and privileges. Many use the rhetoric of freedom, liberty, democracy, human 
values, or even human rights. In pursuing their mutual interests through a new 
coalition of concentrated oligarchic power, people may be hurt-whether through 
pollution, shortages, unemployment, inflation, or war. But that is not part of 
their central purpose. It is the product of invisible hands that are not 

For every dominant logic, there is an alternative or subordinate logic. Indeed, 
a dominant logic may even contribute to its own undoing. This has certainly 
been the case with many strong anticommunist drives as in both China and 
Indochina-that tended to accelerate the triumph of communism. If friendly 
fascism emerges on a full scale in the United States, or even if the tendencies 
in that direction become still stronger, countervailing forces may here too be 
created. Thus may the unfolding logic of friendly fascism-to borrow a term from 
Marx-sow the seeds of its destruction or prevention.

p163 A few years before his death, John D. Rockefeller III glimpsed- although 
through a glass darkly-the logic of capitalist response to crisis. In The 
Second American Revolution (1973) he defined the crises of the 1960s and early 
1970s as a humanistic revolution based mainly on the black and student 
"revolts," women's liberation, consumerism, environmentalism, and the yearnings 
for nonmaterialistic values. He saw these crises as an opportunity to develop a 
humanistic capitalism. If the Establishment should repress these humanistic 
urges, he wrote, "the result could be chaos and anarchy, or it could be 
authoritarianism, either of a despotic mold or the 'friendly fascism' described 
by urban affairs professor Bertram Gross."

p167 A similar note of urgency is trumpeted by General Maxwell Taylor who, in 
contrast with Zoll's response to internal dangers, warns mainly against 
external dangers. "How can a democracy such as ours," he asks, "defend its 
interests at acceptable costs and continue to enjoy the freedom of speech and 
behavior to which we are accustomed in time of peace?" Although his answer is 
not as candid as Zoll's, he replies that such traditional and liberal 
properties must be dispensed with: "We must advance concurrently on both 
foreign and domestic fronts by means of integrated rational power responsive to 
a unified national Will''. Here is a distressing echo of Adolf Hilter's pleas 
for "integration" (Gleichschaltung) and unified national will.

p167 James Madison "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of 
the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power 
than by violent and sudden usurpations."

p168 Although friendly fascism would mean total ruin of the American dream, it 
could hardly come suddenly- let alone in any precisely predictable year. This 
is one of the reasons I cannot go along with the old-fashioned Marxist picture 
of capitalism or imperialism dropping the fig leaf or the mask. This imagery 
suggests a process not much longer than a striptease. It reinforces the 
apocalyptic vision of a quick collapse of capitalist democracy-whether "not 
with a bang but a whimper," as T. S. Eliot put it, or with "dancing to a 
frenzied drum" as in the words of William Butler Yeats. In my judgment, rather, 
one of the greatest dangers is the slow process through which friendly fascism 
would come into being. For a large part of the population the changes would be 
unnoticed. Even those most alive to the danger may see only part of the 
picture-until it is too late. For most people, as with historians and social 
scientists, 20-20 vision on fundamental change comes only with hindsight. And 
by that time, with the evidence at last clearly visible, the new serfdom might 
have long since arrived.

p168 ... in the movement toward friendly fascism, any sudden forward thrust at 
one level could be followed by a consolidating pause or temporary withdrawal at 
another level. Every step toward greater repression might be accompanied by 
some superficial reform, every expansionist step abroad by some new payoff at 
home, every well-publicized shocker (like the massacres at Jackson State, Kent 
State, and Attica, the Watergate scandals or the revelations of illegal deals 
by the FBI or CIA) by other steps of less visibility but equal or possibly 
greater significance, such as large welfare payments to multinational banks and 
industrial conglomerates. At all stages the fundamental directions of change 
would be obscured by a series of Hobson's choices, of public issues defined in 
terms of clear-cut crossroads-one leading to the frying pan and the other to 
the fire. Opportunities would thus be provided for learned debate and earnest 
conflict over the choice among alternative roads to serfdom . . .

The unifying element in this unfolding logic is the capital-accumulation 
imperative of the world's leading capitalist forces, creatively adjusted to 
meet the challenges of the many crises I have outlined. This is quite different 
from the catch-up imperatives of the Italian, German, and Japanese leaders 
after World War I. Nor would its working out necessarily require a charismatic 
dictator, one-party rule, glorification of the State, dissolution of 
legislatures, termination of multiparty elections, ultranationalism, or attacks 
on rationality.

As illustrated in the following oversimplified outline, which also points up 
the difference between classic fascism and friendly fascism, the following 
eight chapters summarize the many levels of change at which the trends toward 
friendly fascism are already visible.

Despite the sharp differences from classic fascism, there are also some basic 
similarities. In each, a powerful oligarchy operates outside of, as well as 
through, the state. Each subverts constitutional government. Each suppresses 
rising demands for wider participation in decision making, the enforcement and 
enlargement of human rights, and genuine democracy. Each uses informational 
control and ideological flimflam to get lower and middle-class support for 
plans to expand the capital and power of the oligarchy and provide suitable 
rewards for political, professional, scientific, and cultural supporters.

A major difference is that under friendly fascism Big Government would do less 
pillaging of, and more pillaging for, Big Business. With much more integration 
than ever before among transnational corporations, Big Business would run less 
risk of control by any one state and enjoy more subservience by many states. In 
turn, stronger government support of transnational corporations, such as the 
large group of American companies with major holdings in South Africa, requires 
the active fostering of all latent conflicts among those segments of the 
American population that may object to this kind of foreign venture. It 
requires an Establishment with lower levels so extensive that few people or 
groups can attain significant power outside it, so flexible that many (perhaps 
most) dissenters and would-be revolutionaries can be incorporated within it. 
Above all, friendly fascism in any First World country today would \ use 
sophisticated control technologies far beyond the ken of the classic fascists.

p177 Although American hegemony can scarcely return in its 
Truman-Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson form, this does not necessarily signify the 
end of the American Century. Nor does communist and socialist advance on some 
fronts mark American and capitalist retreat on all fronts. There are 
unmistakable tendencies toward a rather thoroughgoing reconstruction of the 
entire "Free World." Robert Osgood sees a transitional period of "limited 
readjustment" and "retrenchment without disengagement," after which America 
could establish a "more enduring rationale of global influence." Looking at 
foreign policy under the Nixon administration, Robert W. Tucker sees no 
intention to "dismantle the empire" but rather a continued commitment to the 
view that "America must still remain the principal guarantor of a global order 
now openly and without equivocation identified with the status quo." He 
describes America as a "settled imperial power shorn of much of the former 
exuberance." George Liska looks forward to a future in which Americans, having 
become more mature in the handling of global affairs, will at last be the 
leaders of a true empire.

p184 Amaury De Riencourt "Caesarism can come to America constitutionally 
without having to break down any existing institution."

p184 ... a friendly fascist power structure in the I United States, Canada, 
Western Europe, or today's Japan would be far more sophisticated than the 
"caesarism" of fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan. It would need no charismatic 
dictator nor even a titular head... it would require no one-party rule, no mass 
fascist party, no glorification of the State, no dissolution of legislatures, 
no denial of reason. Rather, it would come slowly as an outgrowth of present 
trends in the Establishment.

p189 Under the full-fledged oligarchy of friendly fascism, the Chief Executive 
network would become much more powerful than ever before. And the top 
executive-in America, the president-would in a certain sense become more 
important than before. But not in the sense of a personal despotism like 

Indeed, the president under friendly fascism would be as far from personal 
caesarism as from being a Hirohito-type figurehead. Nor would a president and 
his political associates extort as much "protection money" from big-business 
interests as was extracted under Mussolini and Hilter. The Chief Executive 
would neither ride the tiger nor try to steal its food; rather, he would be 
part of the tiger from the outset. The White House and the entire Chief 
Executive network would become the heart (and one of the brain centers) of the 
new business-government symbiosis. Under these circumstances the normal 
practices of the Ultra-Rich and the Corporate Overlords would be followed: 
personal participation in high-Ievel business deals and lavish subsidization of 
political campaigns, both partly hidden from public view.

p190 This transformation would require a new concept of presidential 
leadership, one emphasizing legitimacy and righteousness above all else. As the 
linchpin of an oligarchic establishment, the White House would continue to be 
the living and breathing symbol of legitimate government. "Reigning" would 
become the first principle of "ruling". Only by wrapping himself and all his 
agents in the trappings of constitutionality could the President succeed in 
subverting the spirit of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Chief 
Executive Network, Big Business, and the UltraRich could remain far above and 
beyond legal and moral law only through the widely accepted image that all of 
them, and particularly the president, were fully subservient to law and 
morality. In part, this is a matter of public relations-but not the old Madison 
Avenue game of selling perfume or deodorants to the masses. The most important 
nostrils are those of the multileveled elites in the establishment itself; if 
things smell well to them, then the working-buying classes can probably be 
handled effectively. In this context, it is not at all sure that the personal 
charisma of a president could ever be as important as it was in the days of 
Theodore or Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, or John F. Kennedy.

It is no easy task to erect a shield of legitimacy to cloak the illegitimate. 
Doing so would require the kind of leadership that in emphasizing the long-term 
interests of Big Business and the Ultra-Rich would stand up strongly against 
any elements that are overly greedy for short-term windfalls. Thus in energy 
planning, foreign trade, labor relations, and wage-price controls, for example, 
the friendly fascist White House would from time to time engage in activities 
that could be publicly regarded as "cracking down on business." While a few 
recalcitrant corporate overseers might thus be reluctantly educated, the chief 
victims would usually be small or medium-sized enterprises, who would thus be 
driven more rapidly into bankruptcy or merger. In this sense, conspicuous 
public leadership would become a form of followership.

p191 During the 1970s, as its forces slowly retreated from the Asian mainland, 
the U.S. military establishment seemed to dwindle. Even with veterans' and 
outer-space expenditures included, war spending declined as a portion of the 
GNP. Conscription ended in 1973. All proposals for overt military intervention 
in the Third World-whether in Angola, West Asia, Afghanistan, the Horn of 
Africa, the Caribbean, or Central America-were sidetracked. From an earlier 
high of 3.5 million people in 1968, the active military fell to 2 million at 
the beginning of the 1980s.

But in real terms the military establishment is enormous, much more than most 
people know To the million on active duty must be added another 2 million in 
the reserves, and a million civilians in the defense department. This 
5-million-figure total is merely the base for a much larger number of people in 
war industries, space exploration, war think tanks and veterans' assistance. 
Behind this total group of more than 12 million-and profiting from intercourse 
with them-stands an elaborate network of war industry associations, veterans' 
organizations, special associations for each branch of the armed services, and 
general organizations such as the American Security Council and the Committee 
on the Present Danger. But there is something else that George Washington could 
never have dreamed of when he warned against an overgrown military 
establishment and that Dwight D. Eisenhower never mentioned in his warning 
against the military-industrial complex: namely, a transnational military 
complex. This American-led complex has five military components beyond the 
narrowly defined U.S. military-industrial complex itself:

1. The dozen or so countries formally allied with the United States through 

2. Other industrialized countries not formerly part of NATO, such as Spain, 
Israel, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand

3. A large portion of the Third World countries

4. Intelligence and police forces throughout the "Free World"

5. Irregular forces composed of primitive tribesmen, often operating behind the 
lines of the Second World countries.

All these forces are backed up by a support infrastructure which includes 
training schools, research institutes, foreign aid, and complex systems of 
communication and logistics.

If there is one central fact about this transnational military complex at the 
start of the 1980s it is growth. Paradoxically, every arms-control agreement 
has been used as a device to allow growth up to certain ceilings, rather than 
prevent it. And since those ceilings apply only to selected weapons systems, 
growth tends to be totally uncontrolled in all other forms of destruction. In 
the United States, total military expenditure has started to move upward at a 
rate of about 5 percent annual growth in real terms-that is, after being 
corrected for the declining value of the dollar. A drive is under way to 
register young people for a draft, while also providing alternative forms of 
civilian service (at poverty wages) for people objecting to military service on 
moral, religious, or political grounds. New weapons systems are being 
initiated-particularly the MX missile, which holds forth the promise of a 
"first strike" capability against the Soviet Union. Major steps are being taken 
to increase the military strength of all the other components of the 
transnational complex-

particularly through the expansion of both tactical and strategic nuclear 
weapons in Western Europe and the beefing up of the defense forces and nuclear 
capabilities of the Japanese. Above all, despite some internal conflicts on 
when and where, the leaders of the U.S. Establishment have become more willing 
to use these forces. Richard Falk of Princeton University presents this thesis: 
"A new consensus among American political leaders favors intervention, whenever 
necessary, to protect the resource base of Trilateralistic nations'-Europe, the 
United States and Japan-prosperity and dominance." 3 This has required 
strenuous propaganda efforts to overcome the so-called "post-Vietnam syndrome," 
that is, popular resistance to the sending of U.S. troops into new military 
ventures abroad. Equally strenuous efforts are made to convince people in 
Western Europe that as East-West tensions have been relaxing and East-West 
trade rising, the West faces a greater threat than ever before of a Soviet 

The logic of this growth involves a host of absurdities. First of all, 
statistical hocus-pocus hides the overwhelming military superiority of the 
"Free World." One trick is to compare the military spending of the United 
States with the Warsaw Pact countries but to exclude NATO. Another trick is to 
compare the NATO countries of Europe with the Warsaw Pact countries, but to 
exclude the United States. Still another is to exclude not merely Japan, but 
also the huge Chinese military forces lined up on China's border with the 
Soviet Union. Any truly global picture shows that while the geographical scope 
of the "Free World" has been shrinking, its military capability has been 
expanding. This expansion has been so rapid that there may even be good reason 
for the nervous old men in the Kremlin to feel threatened.

Second, much of this expanding military power involves nothing more than 
overkill. Thus just one Poseidon submarine carries 160 nuclear warheads, each 
four times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. These warheads are enough, as 
President Carter stated in 1979, "to destroy every large and medium-sized city 
in the Soviet Union." Pointing out that the total U.S. force at that time could 
inflict more than fifty times as much damage on the Soviet Union, President 
Carter then went on to raise the level of overkill still higher.

Third, the advocates of new interventionism foster the delusion that military 
force can solve a host of intertwined political, economic, social, and moral 
problems. This delusion was evidenced in the long-term and highly expensive 
U.S. support for the Shah of Iran and the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua. As 
U.S. strike forces are being prepared for intervention in West Asia (whether in 
Saudi Arabia, Libya, or elsewhere) the presumption is that military action of 
this type would preserve the availability of petroleum for the West. What is 
blindly lost sight of is the high probability-and in the judgment of many, the 
certainty-that any such intervention would precipitate the blowing up of the 
very oil fields from which the deep thinkers in the White House, Wall Street, 
and the Pentagon want to get assured supplies.

Yet in the words of Shakespeare's Polonius, "If this be madness, yet there is 
method in it." It is the not-so-stupid madness of the growing militarism which 
is an inherent part of friendly fascism's unfolding logic. "Militarism," 
Woodrow Wilson once pointed out at West Point in 1916, "does not consist of any 
army, nor even in the existence of a very great army. Militarism is a spirit. 
It is a point of view." 10 That spirit is the use of violence as a solution to 
problems. The point of view is something that spills over into every field of 
life-even into the school and the family.

Under the militarism of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism violence was 
openly glorified. It was applied regionally-by the Germans in Europe and 
England, the Italians in the Mediterranean, the Japanese in Asia. In battle, it 
was administered by professional militarists who, despite many conflicts with 
politicians, were guided by old-fashioned standards of duty, honor, country, 
and willingness to risk their own lives.

The emerging militarism of friendly fascism is somewhat different. lt is global 
in scope. It involves weapons of doomsday proportions, something that Hitler 
could dream of but never achieve. It is based on an integration between 
industry, science, and the military that the old-fashioned fascists could never 
even barely approximate. It points toward equally close integration among 
military, paramilitary, and civilian elements. Many of the civilian 
leaders-such as Zbigniew Brzezinski or Paul Nitze-tend to be much more 
bloodthirsty than any top brass. In turn, the new-style military professionals 
tend to become corporate-style entrepreneurs who tend to operate-as Major 
Richard A. Gabriel and Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Savage have disclosed-in 
accordance with the ethics of the marketplace. The old buzzwords of duty, 
honor, and patriotism are mainly used to justify officer subservience to the 
interests of transnational corporations and the continuing presentation of 
threats to some corporate investments as threats to the interest of the 
American people as a whole. Above all, in sharp contrast with classic fascism's 
glorification of violence, the friendly fascist orientation is to sanitize, 
even hide, the greater violence of modern warfare behind such "value-free" 
terms as "nuclear exchange," "counterforce" and "flexible response," behind the 
huge geographical distances between the senders and receivers of destruction 
through missiles or even on the "automated battlefield," and the even greater 
psychological distances between the First World elites and the ordinary people 
who might be consigned to quick or slow death.

p195 William W. Turner "Leadership in the right has fallen to new organizations 
with lower profiles and better access to power . . . What is characteristic of 
this right is its closeness to government power and the ability this closeness 
gives to hide its political extremism under the cloak of respectability."

p196 Although most of these right-wing extremists avoid open identification 
with the classic fascists, the similarities with the early fascist movements of 
the 1920s are clear. Small clusters of highly strung, aggressive people think 
that if Hitler and Mussolini (both of whom started from tiny beginnings) could 
make it into the Big Time under conditions of widespread misfortune, fortune 
might someday smile on them too.

I doubt it. Their dreams of future power are illusory. To view them as the main 
danger is to assume that history is obliging enough to repeat itself in 
unchanged form. Indeed, their major impact-apart from their contribution to 
domestic violence, discussed in "The Ladder of Terror," (chapter 14)-is to make 
the more dangerous right-wing extremists seem moderate in comparison.

The greatest danger or the right is the rumbling thunder, no longer very 
distant, from a huge array of well-dressed, well-educated activists who hide 
their extremism under the cloak of educated respectability. Unlike the New Left 
of the 1960s, which reached its height during the civil rights and antiwar 
movements, the Radical Right rose rapidly during the 1970s on a much larger 
range of issues. By the beginning of the 1980s, they were able to look back on 
a long list of victories. Their domestic successes are impressive:

* Holding up ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

* Defeating national legislation for consumer protection

* Defeating national legislation to strengthen employees' rights to organize 
and bargain collectively

* Undermining Medicare payments for abortions

* Bringing back capital punishment in many states

* Killing anti-gun legislation

* Promoting tax-cutting programs, such as the famous Proposition 13 in 
California, already followed by similar actions in other parts of the country

* Promoting limitations on state and local expenditures, which in effect (like 
the tax-cutting measures) mean a reduction in social programs for the poor and 
the lower middle-classes

* Undermining affirmative-action programs to provide better job opportunities 
for women, blacks and Hispanics

* Killing or delaying legislation to protect the rights of homosexuals

They have also succeeded in getting serious attention for a whole series of 
"nutty" proposals to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal 
budget or set a limit on the growth of federal expenditures. By the beginning 
of 1980, about 30 State legislatures had already petitioned the Congress for a 
Constitutional convention to propose such an amendment; only 34 are needed to 
force such a convention, the first since 1787. The major purpose of this drive, 
however, was not to get a Constitutional amendment. Rather, it was to force the 
president and Congress to go along with budget cutting on domestic programs. By 
this standard it has been remarkably successful.

On foreign issues, the Radical Right came within a hair's breadth of defeating 
the Panama Canal Treaty and the enabling legislation needed to carry it out. 
They have been more successful, however, on these matters:

* Reacting to the Iranian and Afghanistan crises of 1979 with a frenetic 
escalation of cold war

* Helping push the Carter administration toward more war spending and more 
militarist policies

* Making any ratification of the SALT II treaty dependent on continued 
escalation in armaments

* Preventing Senate consideration, let alone ratification, of the pending UN 
covenants against genocide, on civil and political rights, and on economic, 
social, and cultural rights.

In a vital area bridging domestic and foreign policy, they provide a major 
portion of support for the drive to register young people for possible military 
service and then, somewhat later, reinstitute conscription.

Almost all of these issues are "gut issues." They can be presented in manner 
that appeals to deep-seated frustrations and moves inactive people into action. 
Yet the New Right leaders are not, as the Americans for Democratic Action point 
out in A Citizen's Guide to the Right Wing, "rabid crackpots or raving 
zealots." The movement they are building is "not a lunatic fringe but the 
programmed product of right wing passion, plus corporate wealth, plus 20th 
century technology-and its strength

This strength has been embodied in a large number of fast-moving organizations:

* American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) * American Security Council * 
Americans Against Union Control of Government * Citizens for the Republic * 
Committee for Responsible Youth Politics * Committee for the Survival of a Free 
Congress * Committee on the Present Danger * Conservative Victory Fund * 
Consumer Alert Council * Fund for a Conservative Majority * Gun Owners of 
America * Heritage Foundation * National Conservative Political Action 
Committee * National Rifle Association Political Action Committee (PAC) * Our 
PAC * Public Service PAC * Right To Keep and Bear Arms Political Victory Fund * 
Tax Reform Immediately (TRIM) * The Conservative Caucus (TCC) * Young Americans 
for Freedom/The Fund for a Conservative Majority

Many of these groups, it must be understood, include nonrabid crackpots and 
nonraving zealots. They are often backed up-particularly on fiscal matters-by 
the National Taxpayers Union and many libertarian groups which may part company 
from them on such issues as the escalation of war spending or the return of 
military conscription.

All of them, it should be added, seem to be the recipients of far more funds 
than were ever available to the less respectable extremists. Much of this money 
unquestionably seeps down, as the ADA insists, from corporate coffers. Some of 
it unquestionably comes from massive mail solicitations by Richard Viguerie, 
who has been aptly christened the "Direct Mail Wizard of the New Right." Since 
1964, when he was working on Senator Goldwater's campaign for the presidency, 
Viguerie has been developing a mailing list operation which puts the New Right 
into touch with millions upon millions of Americans.

Today, the momentum of the Radical Right is impressive. It has defeated many 
well-known liberal candidates for reelection to national, state, and local 
offices. Having helped elect a quarter of the members of the House of 
Representatives in 1976, it looks forward to much greater influence by the 
mid-1980s. Like the American labor movement, which has always supported some 
Republicans as well as many Democrats, the Radical Right has no firm commitment 
to any one party. Its strength among Democrats is much larger than that of 
labor among Republicans. It supports candidates of the two major parties and is 
closely associated with small-party movements, which sometimes have a decisive 
impact on electoral or legislative campaigns. Its biggest success, however, is 
that many of its positions which first sounded outrageous when voiced during 
the Goldwater campaign of 1964 are now regarded as part of the mainstream. This 
is not the result of Radical Right shifts toward the center. On the contrary, 
it is the result of a decisive movement toward the right by the Ultra-Rich and 
the Corporate Overseers.

The unfolding logic of the Radical Right, however, is neither to remain static 
or to become more openly reactionary. "We are no longer working to preserve the 
status quo," says Paul Weyrich, one of its ablest leaders. "We are radicals 
working to overturn the present power structure." To understand what Weyrich 
means, we must heed Amo J. Mayer's warning-based on his study of classic 
fascism-that in a time of rapid change "even reactionary, conservative and 
counter-revolutionary movements project a populist, reformist and emancipatory 
image of their purpose." More populism of this type can be expected: in a word, 
more attacks on the existing Establishment by people who want to strengthen it 
by making it much more authoritarian and winning for themselves more 
influential positions in it.

p200 The routinized reiteration of this older conservative doctrine, however, 
is buttressed by a new ideological reformation that emphasizes the excellence 
of hierarchy, the wonders of technology, and the goodness of hard times. In The 
Twilight of Authority, Robert Nisbet makes an eloquent call for a return to the 
old aristocratic principle of hierarchy: "It is important that rank, class and 
estate in all spheres become once again honored rather than, as is now the 
case, despised or feared by intellectuals." If democracy is to be diminished 
and if rank, class, and estate are once again to be honored, the intellectuals 
at the middle and lower levels of the establishment must be brought into line 
on many points. Those who advocate a somewhat more egalitarian society must be 
pilloried as "levellers" who would reduce everybody to a dull, gray uniformity. 
They must be convinced that the ungrateful lower classes whom they hope to 
raise up are, in fact, genetically and culturally inferior. They must be 
flattered into seeing themselves as part of a society in which true merit, as 
defined by the powerful, is usually recognized and rewarded. The power of the 
Ultra-Rich and the Corporate Overlords must be publicly minimized and the 
endless plutocratic search for personal I gratification must be obscured by 
lamenting the self-gratifying hedonism | of the masses.

p202 A successful transition to friendly fascism would clearly require a J 
lowering of popular aspirations and demands. Only then can freer rein be given 
to the corporate drives for boundless acquisition. Since it is difficult to 
tell ordinary people that unemployment, inflation, and urban filth are good for 
them, it is more productive to get middle-class leaders on the austerity 
bandwagon and provide them with opportunities for increased prestige by doing 
what they can to lower levels of aspirations. Indeed, the ideology of mass 
sacrifice had advanced so far by the end of the 1970s that the most serious and 
best-advertised debate among New York liberals on the New York City fiscal 
crisis rested on the assumption that the level of municipal employment and 
services had to be cut. The only questions open for debate were "Which ones?" 
and "How much?" This ideology-although best articulated in general form by 
political scientists like Samuel Huntington and sociologists like Daniel 
Bell-also receives decisive support from Establishment economists.

Religious doctrines on the goodness of personal sacrifice in this world have 
invariably been associated with promises of eternal bliss in the next world. 
Similarly, the emerging ideologies on the virtues of austerity are bound to be 
supplemented by visions of "pie in the sky by and by." In their most vulgar 
form these ideologies may simply reiterate the economistic notion that reduced 
consumption now will mean more profitability, which will mean more capital 
investment that in turn will mean increased consumption later. In more 
sophisticated form, these ideologies take the form of a misty-eyed humanism. 
While moving toward friendly fascism we might hear much talk like Jean-Francois 
Revel's proclamation that "The revolution of the twentieth century will take 
place in the United States" or Charles Reich's view that the counterculture of 
the young will, by itself, break through the "metal and plastic and sterile 
stone" and bring about "a veritable greening of America." Indeed, work at such 
"think-tanks" as the Rand Corporation and Hudson Institute increasingly 
foregoes its old base in economics and related "dismal" disciplines for 
straight and unadulterated "humanism," the rhetorical promotion of which seems 
directly related to their involvement in dehumanized and dehumanizing 

As with the ideologies of classic fascism, there is no need for thematic 
consistency in the new ideologies. An ideological menu is most useful when it 
provides enough variety to meet divergent needs and endless variations on 
interwoven melodic lines. Unlike the ideologies of classic fascism, however, 
these new ideologies on market virtue, hierarchic excellence, wondrous 
technology, and the goodness of hard times are not needed to mobilize masses to 
high peaks of emotional fervor. In contrast, they help prevent mass 
mobilization. Yet their growing function is to maintain the loyalty of 
intellectuals, scientists, and technicians at the Establishment's middle and 
lower ranks, thereby minimizing the need for systemic purges. On this score the 
two streams of conservative ideology have been remarkably effective. They have 
taken over the most commanding heights on the intellectual fronts, reducing to 
a "small section" those anti-Establishment intellectuals who try to swim 
against the main currents. Indeed, through a remarkable dialectic, the 
opponents of the so-called "new class" have themselves become a dominant new 
class of intellectuals who provide the moral and intellectual guidance on the 
harsh and nasty imperatives of imperial survival in the era of the 
stagflation-power tradeoff and the movement toward Super-America, Inc.


During the take-off toward a more perfect capitalism, the debasement of the 
language moved no slower than the abasement of the currency through creeping 
inflation. The myths of the cold war gave us the imagery of a "free world" that 
included many tyrannical regimes on one side and the "worldwide communist 
conspiracy" to describe the other. The "end of ideology" ideologies gave us the 
myth of all-powerful knowledge elites to flatter the egos of intellectuals and 
scientists in the service of a divided Establishment. The accelerating rise of 
scientific and pseudoscientific jargon fragmented social and natural scientists 
into small ingroups that concentrated more and more on small slices of reality, 
separating them more than ever before from the presumably unsophisticated 
(although functionally literate) working-buying classes.

In the early days of this process, George Orwell envisioned a future society in 
which the oligarchs of 1984 would use linguistic debasement as a conscious 
method of control. Hence the Party Leaders imposed doublethink on the 
population and set up a long-term program for developing newspeak. If Orwell 
were alive today, I think he would see that many of his ideas are now being 
incorporated in something just as sophisticated and equally fearful. I am 
referring to the new triplespeak: a three-tiered language of myth, jargon, and 
confidential straight talk.

Unlike Orwell's doublethink and newspeak, triplespeak is not part of any 
overall plan. It merely develops as a logical outcome of the Establishment's 
maturation, an essential element in the tightening of oligarchic control at the 
highest levels of the Golden International. Without myths, the rulers and their 
aides cannot maintain support at the lower levels of the major establishments, 
and the might itself-as well as the legitimacy of empire-may decay. Jargon is 
required to spell out the accumulating complexities of military, technological, 
economic, political, and cultural power. Straight talk is needed to illuminate 
the secret processes of high decision making and confidential bargaining and to 
escape the traps created by myth and jargon.

Herein lie many difficulties. With so much indirection and manipulation in the 
structure of transnational power, there is no longer any place for the pomp and 
ceremony that helped foster the effulgent myths surrounding past empires-no 
imperial purple, no unifying queen, king, or imperial council, no mass religion 
or ideology to fire the emotions of dependent masses. Hence the symbolic 
trappings of past empires must be replaced by smaller mystifications that at 
least have the merit of helping maintain the self-respect and motivations of 
the elites at the middle and lower levels of the national Establishments. Thus 
the operating rules of modern capitalist empire require ascending rhetoric 
about economic and social development, human rights, and the self-effacing role 
of transnational corporations in the promotion of progress and prosperity. The 
more lies are told, the more important it becomes for the liars to justify 
themselves by deep moral commitments to high-sounding objectives that mask the 
pursuit of money and power. The more a country like the United States imports 
its prosperity from the rest of the world, the more its leaders must dedicate 
themselves to the sacred ideal of exporting abundance, technology, and 
civilization to everyone else. The further this myth may be from reality, the 
more significant it becomes-and the greater the need for academic notables to 
document its validity by bold assertion and self-styled statistical 
demonstration. "The might that makes right must be a different right from that 
of the right arm," the political scientist, Charles Merriam, stated many years 
ago. "It must be a might deep rooted in emotion, embedded in feelings and 
aspirations, in morality, in sage maxims, in forms of rationalization . . .~, 

Thus, in 1975 and 1976, while the long right arm of the American presidency was 
supporting bloody dictatorships in Chile, Brazil, Indochina, and Iran (to 
mention but a few), Daniel P. Moynihan, the U.S. ambassador at the United 
Nations, wrapped himself in the flag of liberty and human rights. His eloquent 
rhetoric-deeply rooted in emotion and embedded in feelings and aspirations-set 
a high standard of creative myth-making. At that time, his superiors in 
Washington failed to realize that Moynihan's approach was, in Walter Laqueur's 
terms, "not a lofty and impractical endeavor, divorced from the harsh realities 
of world endeavor, but itself a kind of Realpolitik." Within two years, 
however, the next president, Jimmy Carter, seized the torch from Moynihan's 
hand and, without thanks or attribution, set a still higher standard by 
clothing the might of his cruise missile and neutron bomb in human-rights 
rhetoric even more deeply rooted in morality, sage maxims, and forms of 

Domestic myths are the daily bread of the restructured Radical Right and the 
old-style and new-style conservatives. Many of the ideologies discussed in the 
last section of this chapter serve not only as cover-ups for concentrated 
oligarchic power. They provide code words for the more unspoken, mundane myths 
that define unemployed people as lazy or are brought into being.

unemployable, women, blacks and Hispanics as congenitally inferior to other 
people. Presidential candidates invariably propagate the myth that Americans 
are innately superior to the people of other countries and that therefore they 
have a high destiny to fulfill in the leadership of the world's forces for 
peace, freedom, democracy, and-not to be forgotten- private corporate 
investment and profitability. Trying to flatter the voting public as a whole, 
they ascribe most of America's difficulties to foreign enemies or a few 
individuals at home-like Richard Nixon-who have betrayed the national goodness. 
Not so long ago, General Westmoreland went much further when, to reassure the 
more naive members of the American officer corps, he soberly declared that 
"Despite the final failure of the South Vietnamese, the record of the American 
military of never having lost a war is still intact." 33 With the arrival of 
friendly fascism, myths like these would no longer be greeted, at least not 
publicly, with the degree of skepticism they still provoke. Instead, the 
Establishment would agree that the domestic tranquility afforded by these 
convenient reassurances qualified them, in contrast to more critical, less 
comforting diagnoses, as "responsible." As old myths get worn out or new myths 
punctured, still newer ones (shall we call them "myths of the month"?) are 
brought into being.

The momentum of jargon would not abate in a friendly fascist society but move 
steadily ahead with the ever-increasing specialization and subspecialization in 
every field. New towers of Babel are, and would be, continuously erected 
throughout the middle and lower levels of the Establishment. Communication 
among the different towers, however, becomes increasingly difficult. One of the 
most interesting examples is the accumulation of complex, overlapping, and 
mystifying jargons devised by the experts in various subdivisions of 
communications itself (semiotics, semantics, linguistics, content analysis, 
information theory, telematics, computer programming, etc.), none of whom can 
communicate very well with all the others. In military affairs, jargon wraps 
otherwise unpleasant realities in a cloak of scientific objectivity. Thus, 
"surgical strike," "nuclear exchange," and even the colloquial "nukes" all hide 
the horrors of atomic warfare. The term "clean bomb" for the new neutron bomb 
hides the fact that although it may not send much radioactive material into the 
atmosphere it would kill all human life through radiation in a somewhat limited 
area; this makes it the dirtiest of all bombs. Similarly, in global economics 
the jargon of exchange rates and IMF conditions facilitates, while also 
concealing, the application of transnational corporate power on Third World 
countries. The jargon of domestic economics, as 1 have already shown, hides the 
crude realities of corporate aggrandizement, inflation, and unemployment behind 
a dazzling array of technical terms that develop an esprit de corps which 
unites the various sectors of Establishment economics.

Rising above the major portion of jargon and myth is straight talk, the blunt 
and unadorned language of who gets what, when and how. If money talks, as it is 
said, then power whispers. The language of both power and money is spoken in 
hushed whispers at tax-deductible luncheons or drinking hours at the plushest 
clubs and bars or in the well-shrouded secrecy of executive suites and 
boardrooms. Straight talk is never again to be recorded on Nixon-style tapes or 
in any memoranda that are not soon routed to the paper shredders.

As one myth succeeds another and as new forms of jargon are invented, straight 
talk becomes increasingly important. Particularly at the higher levels of the 
Establishment it is essential to deal frankly with the genuine nature of 
imperial alternatives and specific challenges. But the emerging precondition 
for imperial straight talk is secrecy. Back in 1955, Henry Kissinger might 
publicly refer to "our primary task of dividing the USSR and China." * By the 
time the American presidency was making progress in this task, not only 
Kissinger but the bulk of foreign affairs specialists had learned the virtues 
of prior restraint and had carefully refrained from dealing with the subject so 
openly. It may be presumed that after the publication of The Crisis Democracy, 
Samuel Huntington learned a similar lesson and that consultants to the 
Trilateral Commission will never again break the Establishment's taboos by 
publicly calling for less democracy. Nor is it likely that in discussing human 
rights the American president will talk openly on the rights and privileges of 
American-based transnationals in other countries. Nor am I at all sure that 
realists like Irving Kristol, Raymond Aron, George Liska, and James Burnham 
will continue to be appreciated if they persist in writing boldly about the new 
American empire and its responsibilities. Although their "empire" is diligently 
distinguished from "imperialism," it will never be allowed to enter official 

For imperial straight talk to mature, communication must be thoroughly 
protected from public scrutiny. Top elites must not only meet together 
frequently; they must have opportunities to work, play, and relax together for 
long periods of time.

Also, people from other countries must be brought into this process; otherwise 
there is no way to avoid the obvious misunderstandings that develop when people 
from different cultural backgrounds engage in efforts at genuine communication. 
If the elites of other countries must learn English (as they have long been 
doing), it is also imperative for American elites to become much more fluent in 
other tongues than they have ever been in the past. In any language there are 
niceties of expression-particularly with respect to money and power-that are 
always lost or diluted if translated into another language. With or without the 
help of interpreters, it will be essential that serious analysis, confidential 
exchanges, and secret understandings be multilingual. Thus, whether American 
leadership matures or obsolesces, expands or contracts, English can no longer 
be the lingua franca of modern empire. The control of "Fortress America" would 
require reasonable fluency in Spanish by many top elites (although not 
necessarily by presidents and first ladies). Trilateral Empire, in turn, 
imposes more challenging-but not insuperable- linguistic burdens.

p209 Daniel Fusfield "There is a subtle three-way trade-off between escalating 
unemployment together with other unresolved social problems, rising taxes, and 
inflation. In practice, the corporate state has bought all three."

p209 What will daily life be like under friendly fascism?

In answering this question I think immediately of Robert Theobald's frog: 
"Frogs will permit themselves to be boiled to death. If the temperature of the 
water in which the frog is sitting is slowly raised, the frog does not become 
aware of its danger until it is too late to do anything about it."

Although I am not sure it can ever be too late to fight oppression, the moral 
of the frog story is clear: as friendly fascism emerges, the conditions of 
daily life for most people move from bad to worse-and for many people all the 
way to Irving Kristol's "worst."

To Fusfeld's trio of more unemployment, taxes, and inflation, however, we must 
also add a decline in social services and a rise in shortages, waste and 
pollution, nuclear poison and junk. These are the consequences of corporate 
America's huge investment in the ideology of popular sacrifice and in the 
``hard times" policies that have US "pull in the belts" to help THEM in efforts 
to expand power, privilege, and wealth.

p210 Slogan of the Medici family "Money to get power, power to protect money."

p210 Capital has always been a form of power. As physical wealth (whether land, 
machinery, buildings, materials, or energy resources), capital is productive 
power. As money, it is purchasing power, the ability to get whatever may be 
exchanged for it. The ownership of property is the power of control over its 
use. In turn, the power of wealth, money, and ownership has always required 
both protection and encouragement through many other forms of power. 
Businessmen have never needed theorists to tell them about the connection. It 
has taken economic theorists more than a century to develop the pretense that 
money and power are separate. Indeed, while Establishment militarists 
persistently exaggerate the real power of destructive violence, the same 
Establishment's economic policymakers increasingly present destructive economic 
policies as though they have no connection with power.

The vehicle for doing this is becoming the so-called "tradeoff" policy. The 
more conservative Establishment notables argue that the way to fight inflation 
is to curtail growth, even though the inescapable side effect is recession and 
higher unemployment. Their more liberal colleagues politely beg to differ, 
arguing that the way to cope with unemployment is to "reflate" the economy. For 
scientific support, both sides habitually refer to a curve developed by A. W. 
Phillips on the relation between unemployment and changing money rates in 
England from 1861 to 1957. Giving modern support to part of Karl Marx's theory 
on the "reserve army of the unemployed," Phillips showed that when more people 
were jobless, there was less chance of an increase in money wage rates. 
Phillips also made a sharp distinction between wages and prices, mentioning 
prices only to point out in passing that a wage increase does not by itself 
require a proportionate increase in prices. On this side of the Atlantic, Paul 
Samuelson and various colleagues applied Phillips's curve to prices instead of 
wages, and hiding their biases behind Phillips's data, developed the current 
tradeoff theory.

In its more virulent form at the beginning of the 1980s, this theory means the 
following: Recession is needed to bring the rate of inflation down below the 
double-digit level-that is, to less than 10 percent. The most naive backers of 
the theory suggest that once this is done, the "back of inflation will be 
broken," inflationary expectations will be buried, never to rise again, and the 
country can return to the good old days of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Many liberal opponents of this theory, in turn, accept on good faith the 
credentials of the self-styled inflation fighters. Apparently operating on the 
premise that economic policymaking is a technical exercise in puzzlesolving, 
they argue that the conservatives are simply mistaken in their understanding of 
economic behavior, and in failing to see that untold millions may be injured by 
pro-recession policies. In my judgment, however, the liberals who take this 
view fail to understand or face up to the nature of Establishment power.

In a world of many divergent objectives that must be reconciled with each 
other, the leaders of any Establishment are continuously engaged in complex 
juggling acts. Whether developing global investment policies or apportioning 
economic or military aid around the world, everything cannot be done at the 
same time. Above all, in planning for corporate profitability, compromises must 
continuously be made. Profitability in one area is often accompanied by 
unavoidable losses in another. Short-term profits must often be sacrificed in 
the interest of the greater profitability that can come only from the fruition 
of long-term investment programs. Above all, the maintenance or strengthening 
of the power to protect future profitability often requires the sacrifice of 
some present, even future, profits. Neither market power nor the political 
power supporting it are free goods. They too cost money-and in periods of 
stagflation they tend to cost more money than before.

Toward the end of 1979, more than 100 corporate executives attended a meeting 
of the Business Council at Hot Springs, Virginia. Almost to a man, they 
enthusiastically supported the recessionary policies of the Federal Reserve 
Board and the Treasury. "The sooner we suffer the pain," stated Irving S. 
Shapiro, chairman of Du Pont, "the sooner we will be through. I'm quite 
prepared to endure whatever pain I have to in the short term." Steven Rattner, 
the reporter for The New York Times, pointed out that signs of suffering were 
nowhere in sight: "The long black limousines and private jet planes were still 
evident in abundance." Rattner also suggested that Shapiro was apparently 
referring not to any loss in his personal income but rather to the "pain" that 
might be inflicted on Du Pont's profits.

How much profit a company like Du Pont might lose in the short run is a matter 
of conjecture. Unlike American workers, a giant corporation can engage in fancy 
tax-juggling that pushes its losses on to ordinary taxpayers. Unlike 
middle-class people, the Ultra-Rich billionaires and centimillionaires can 
shift the costs of recession or social expenditures to the lowly millionaires, 
who in turn can pass them along to the middle classes. Above all, the hyenas of 
economic life can get theirs from recession as well as inflation.

Any serious effort to control stagflation either its recession side or its 
inflation side-would require serious limitations on both Big Business and the 
support given to it by Big Government. Any such limitations, in turn, would 
have to be backed up by anti-Establishment coalition including, but not limited 
to, organized labor. The other side of this coin may now be seen in stark 
clarity: The price of preventing any such coalition and of preserving, if not 
expanding, Establishment power, is to choose continuing stagnation as the price 
that must be paid to protect future profitability. The real tradeoff by the 
big-time traders is not between price stability and high employment. Rather, it 
is the sacrifice of both in order to curtail union power, dampen rising 
aspirations among the population at large, and take advantage of both 
inflationary windfalls and recessionary bargains.

Indeed, not only the U.S. Establishment but the Golden International as a whole 
has in practice accepted the realities of continuing stagflation (with whatever 
ups and down may materialize in the proportions of combined inflation and 
unemployment) as the new economic order of the "Free World." This has long been 
the operating doctrine of the International Monetary Fund in Third World 
countries. It is now emerging as a doctrinal strategy for the 1980s in the 
entire First World.

In the 1960s and early 1970s no one ever dreamed that Americans could become 
accustomed to levels of either inflation or official unemployment as high as 6 
or 7 percent a year. As the Big Business-Big Government partnership becomes 
closer, the levels previously regarded as unacceptable will-like the hot water 
to which a frog has become accustomed-be regarded not only as normal but as 
objectives of official policy. Indeed, 8 percent unemployment is already being 
regarded as full employment and 8 percent inflation as price stability. Under 
the emerging triplespeak-in a manner reminding us of "War Is Peace" and 
"Freedom Is Slavery" in Orwell's 1984-the norm for unemployment could reach and 
the norm for inflation far exceed the double-digit level of ten apiece. When 
the two are added together, this provides what I call a "limited misery 
index"-limited because no similar arithmetic value can be given to such things 
as job insecurity, crime, pollution, alienation, and junk. The so-called 
"tradeoff" theory merely tells us that either of the two elements in the index 
may go down a little as the other one goes up. What the tradeoffers fail to 
point out is that despite fluctuations the long-term trend of the two together 
is upward. Thus in the opening months of the 1980s, even without correcting for 
the official underestimation of unemployment, the limited misery index 
approached 20. Under friendly fascism it would move toward 30....


As the limited misery index creeps or spurts ahead, a spiraling series of 
cure-alls are brought forth from the Establishment's medicine chest. Logically, 
each one leads toward the others. Together, apart from anyone's intentions, the 
medicines make the malady worse.

To cure inflation, interest rates are raised. This cannot be done by bankers 
alone. Intervention by central banks, acting on their behalf, is necessary. 
This results in a quick upward movement in prices and a further increase in 
government spending on new debt service. The companion step is to cut 
government spending on most social services- education, health, streetcleaning, 
fire and police protection, libraries, employment projects, etc. The deepest 
cuts are made in the lowest income areas, where the misery is the sharpest and 
political resistance tends to be less organized.

To cure stagnation or recession, there are two patent medicines. The first is 
more Big Welfare for Big Business-through more reductions in capital gains 
taxes, lower taxes on corporations and the rich, more tax shelters, and, 
locally, more tax abatement for luxury housing and office buildings. These 
generous welfare payments are justified in the name of growthmanship and 
productivity. Little attention is given to the fact that the major growth 
sought is in profitability, an objective mentioned only by a few ultra-Right 
conservatives who still believe in straight talk. Less attention is given to 
the fact that the productivity sought is defined essentially as resulting from 
investment in capital-intensive machinery and technology that displace labor 
and require more fossil fuels. The second patent medicine, justified in terms 
of national emergencies with only sotto voce reference to its implications for 
maintaining employment, is more spending on death machines and war forces. 
This, in turn, spurs the growth of the federal deficit.

To keep the deficit within limits and provide enough leeway for alleviation of 
the worst cuts in social services, higher taxes are required. This is done by a 
hidden national sales tax. The preparations for this have already been made by 
preliminary legislative action toward the imposition of the so-called Value 
Added Tax (VAT), already in force in France and England. VAT takes a bite out 
of every stage of production. At the end of the line, this means higher prices 
for consumers.... And so the dismal round continues-higher interest rates, cuts 
in social services, more tax subsidies for Big Business, and higher sales taxes 
hitting the middle- and lower-income groups.

Over the short run (which may be stretched out longer than some expect), the 
net effect of this cycle is to move purchasing power upward toward the most 
privileged people. This compensates in part for the paradox that making money 
by raising prices reduces the value of the money made. Over the longer run, 
however, it intensifies the older contradiction of capitalism, namely, that 
profit maximization undermines the mass purchasing power required for continued 

p219 The major responsibility of corporate executives, so long as they are not 
constrained by enforced law, is to maximize their long-term accumulation of 
capital and power no matter what the cost may be to ... people or physical 

Subverting Democratic Machinery excerpted from the book Friendly Fascism The 
New Face of Power in America


p229 Murray B. Levin "No truly sophisticated proponent of repression would be 
stupid enough to shatter the facade of democratic institutions. "

p229 Thomas R. Dye and Harmon Ziegler "It is the irony of democracy that the 
responsibility for the survival of liberal democratic values depends on elites, 
not masses."

p230 In the constitutional democracies, capitalist establishments have tended 
to use the democratic machinery as a device for sidetracking opposition, 
incorporating serious opponents into the junior and contingent ranks, and 
providing the information-the ``feedback"- on the trouble spots that required 
quick attention. As pressures were exerted from below, the leaders of these 
establishments consistently-in the words of Yvonne Karp's commentary on the 
British ruling elites-"allowed concessions to be wrung from them, ostensibly 
against their will but clearly in their own long term interests." Eleanor Marx, 
Karl Marx's youngest daughter, described their strategy (often opposed by the 
more backward corporate types) in these pungent words: `'to give a little in 
order to gain a lot." Throughout the First World the Ultra-Rich and the 
Corporate Overseers have been in a better position than anyone else to use the 
democratic machinery. They have the money that is required for electoral 
campaigns, legislative lobbying, and judicial suits. They have enormous- 
technical expertise at their beck and call. They have staying power.

Hence it is-as Dye, Ziegler, and a host of political scientists have 
demonstrated-that the upper-class elites of America have the greatest 
attachment to constitutional democracy. They are the abiding activists in the 
use of electoral, legislative, and judicial machinery at all levels of 
government. It is their baby. Ordinary people-called the masses by Dye and 
Ziegler-tend to share this perception. The democratic machinery belongs to 
them, "the powers that be," not to ordinary people. It is not their baby.

What will happen if more ordinary people should try to take over this baby and 
actually begin to make it their own? How would the elites respond if the masses 
began to ask the elites to give much more and gain much less-particularly when, 
under conditions of capitalist stagflation and shrinking world power, the 
elites have less to give. Some radical commentators claim that the powers that 
be would use their power to follow the example of the classic fascists and 
destroy the democratic machinery. I agree with Murray Levin that this would be 
stupid. I see it also as highly unlikely. No First World Establishment is going 
to shatter machinery that, with a certain amount of tinkering and a little bit 
of luck, can be profitably converted into a sophisticated instrument of 

Indeed, the tinkering has already started. Some of it is being undertaken by 
people for whom the Constitution is merely a scrap of paper, a set of judicial 
decisions, and a repository of rhetoric and precedents to be used by their 
high-paid lawyers and public relations people. Some of it is being perpetrated 
by presidents and others who have taken formal oaths to "preserve, protect and 
defend the Constitution of the United States." Sometimes knowingly, often 
unwittingly, both types of people will spare no pains in preserving those parts 
of the written or unwritten constitution that protect the rights of "corporate 
persons" while undermining, attacking, or perverting those parts of the 
Constitution that promote the welfare and liberties of the great majority of 
all other persons.

p231 Although there have always been ups and downs in the relationship between 
the president, the Congress and the Supreme Court, the general tendency has 
been toward a strengthening of the presidential network. This is particularly 
true in foreign affairs.

Strangely, the first step toward greater domination of the Congress and the 
courts is to achieve greater mastery of the bureaucracy. This means tighter 
control of all appointments, including the review by White House staff of 
subordinate-level appointments in the various departments. It means tighter 
control of the federal budget, with traditional budgetary control expanded to 
include both policy review and efficiency analysis In his effort to master the 
bureaucracy, President Nixon and his aides went very far in subjecting various 
officials to quasi-legal wiretaps. President Carter broke new ground by having 
his economic advisers review the decisions of regulatory agencies that impose 
on corporations the small additional costs of environmental or consumer 
protection. Both presidents used their close associations with big-business 
lobbyists to bring recalcitrant bureaucrats into line and to see to it that 
they follow the "president's program" in dealing with the Congress or the 

Throughout American history wags have suggested that the U.S. Congress has been 
the best that money could buy. This joke expresses popular wisdom on how far 
big money can go in "owning" or "renting" members of the House and the Senate. 
In the present era of megabuck money, however, the old wisdom is out of date. 
With enough attention to "congressional reform" and the cost-effectiveness of 
campaign and lobbying expenditures, the top elites of the modern Establishment 
could buy a "much better" Congress.

p233 Every major group at the Establishment's highest levels already has avant 
garde representatives, proponents, and defenders among the members, committees 
and subcommittees of Congress. Thus at some date, earlier or later, we may 
expect new investigatory committees of Congress working closely with the major 
intelligence and police networks and handling their blacklists more 
professionally than those developed during the days of Joseph McCarthy. We may 
expect special investigations of monopoly, transnational corporations, 
international trade, education, science and technology, civil liberties, and 
freedom of the press. But instead of being controlled by unreliable liberal 
reformers, they would be initiated and dominated by a new breed of professional 
`'technopols" dedicated to the strengthening of oligarchic corporations, 
providing greater subsidization of the supranationals, strengthening the 
international capitalist market, filling "gaps" in military science and 
technology, extending the conformist aspects of the educational system, 
routinizing police-state restraints on civil liberties, and engineering the 
restraint of the press by judicial action. A small idea of what is involved 
here is provided by Professor Alexander Bickel's 1971 brief before the Supreme 
Court in the case of the Justice Department's effort to prevent publication of 
the famous "Pentagon Papers." The Yale University law professor proposed the 
establishment of clear guidelines for prior restraint of the press by the 
executive branch. Here is a challenging task for imaginative lawyers 
-particularly if they work for strategically placed members of Congress eager 
to find a loophole in the old Constitutional proviso against the making of laws 
that abridge the freedom of the press.

In the winter of 1936, "the most liberal four members of the Supreme Court 
resigned and were replaced by surprisingly unknown lawyers who called President 
Windrip by his first name." This is part of how Sinclair Lewis-in his book lt 
Can't Happen Here-projected his vision of how "it" could suddenly happen here.

Though a new "it" would happen more slowly, a decisive group of four or more 
justices can still be placed on the Court by sequential appointment during the 
slow trip down the road to serfdom. During this trip the black-robed defenders 
of the Constitution would promote the toughening of federal criminal law. They 
would offer judicial support for electronic surveillance, "no-knock entry," 
preventive detention, the suspension of habeas corpus, the validation of mass 
arrests, the protection of the country against "criminals and foreign agents," 
and the maintenance of "law and order." The Court would at first be activist, 
aggressively reversing previous Court decisions and legitimating vastly greater 
discretion by the expanding national police complex. Subsequently, it would 
probably revert to the older tradition of stare decisis-that is, standing by 
precedents. The result would be the elimination of opportunities for juridical 
self-defense by individuals and dissident organizations while maintaining 
orderly judicial review of major conflicts among components of the oligarchy 
and the technostructure.

If this slow process of subverting constitutional freedoms should engender 
protest, the Men in Black may well respond with judicial jiujitsu. The 
administrative reform and reorganization of the judicial system, for example, 
is needed to overcome backlogs of cases and provide speedier trials. It would 
require the consolidation of the judicial system, the development of merit 
systems for judicial employees, the raising of judicial salaries, and stricter 
standards for outlawing "objectionable" lawyers, all of which poses ample 
opportunity for undermining legal protection in the name of reform or 

Judicial approval of new functions for grand juries serves as another example. 
Historically, federal grand juries were created as a bulwark against the misuse 
of executive authority. The Fifth Amendment states that a person should not be 
tried for a serious crime without first being indicted by a grand jury. Thus, a 
prosecuting attorney's charges would not be sufficient-at least not until 
upheld by a specially selected jury operating in secret sessions. Historically, 
grand juries have been widely used to investigate charges of corruption in 
local government. More recently, they have been set up to investigate political 
cases under federal criminal laws dealing with subversion and the draft. There 
have been times when at least twelve federal grand juries were operating 
simultaneously and using their subpoena power vigorously. Collectively, these 
may be regarded 8S "trial runs" which a Supreme Court on the road to friendly 
fascism would perfect with decisions upholding the wide use of subpoena power 
by the grand juries and the denial of transcripts to witnesses.

The strong point of a friendly fascist grand jury system is the "Star Chamber" 
secrecy that could be made operational throughout the fifty states. But this 
should not obscure the contrapuntal value of a few highly publicized trials. A 
grand jury indictment can do more than merely set the stage for a showcase 
trial. It can sort out conflicting evidence in such a way as to induce a 
self-defeating defense. This can be much more effective than the elaborately 
contrived "confessions" developed by the Russian secret police in the many 
purges of Old Bolsheviks. Shrewd and technically expert legal strategies could 
crucify opponents without allowing them-dead or alive-to be converted into 

p239 Gary Wills "If a nation wishes, it can have both free elections and 

p239 President Richard M. Nixon "The average American is just like the child in 
the family."

p239 If friendly fascism arrives in America, the faceless oligarchy would have 
little or nothing to gain from a single-party system. Neither an elitist party 
along Bolshevik lines nor a larger mass party like the Nazis would be 
necessary. With certain adjustments the existing "two party plus" system could 
be adapted to perform the necessary functions.

The first function would be to legitimate the new system. With all increases in 
domestic repression, no matter how slow or indirect, reassurance would be 
needed for both middle classes and masses. Even in the past, national elections 
have provided what Murray Edelman has described as "symbolic reassurance." 
According to Edelman, elections serve to "quiet resentments and doubts about 
particular political acts, reaffirm belief in the fundamental rationality and 
democratic character of the system, and thus fix conforming habits of future 

Second, political-party competition would serve as a buffer protecting faceless 
oligarchs from direct attack This would not merely be a matter of politics-as 
when the slogan of "ballots not bullets" is used to encourage the alienated to 
take part in electoral processes. It would be a question of objectives. The 
more that people are encouraged to "throw the rascals out," the more their 
attention is diverted from other rascals that are not up for election: the 
leaders of macrobusiness, the ultra-rich, and the 
industrial-military-police-communications-health-welfare complex. Protests 
channeled completely into electoral processes tend to be narrowed down, 
filtered, sterilized, and simplified so that they challenge either empire nor 

p243 In their march to power in Germany, Italy, and Japan, the classic fascists 
were not stupid enough to concentrate on subverting democratic machinery alone. 
They aimed their main attack, rather, against the nongovernment organizations 
most active in using and improving that machinery; namely, the labor movement 
and the political parties rooted in it. In Germany, where these organizations 
seemed immensely powerful, many German leaders thought that even with Adolf 
Hitler as chancellor, fascism could make little headway. They underestimated 
the Nazis and their Big Business backers. "All at once," observed Karl Polanyi, 
the historian, "the tremendous industrial and political organizations of labor 
and other devoted upholders of constitutional freedom would melt away, and 
minute fascist forces would brush aside what seemed until then the overwhelming 
strength of democratic governments, parties and trade unions."

In most First World democracies a slow meltdown has already started. As I 
pointed out in "The Take-Off toward a New Corporate Society", conglomerate or 
transnational corporations expand beyond the scope of any labor unions yet 
invented. In the more narrow spheres where labor organization is well 
established, the unions have usually been absorbed into the Establishment's 
junior and contingent levels, often becoming instruments for disciplining 
workers. As the work force has become more educated, sophisticated, and 
professionalized, many labor leaders have become stuffy bureaucrats, unable to 
communicate with their members, and terrified at the thought of widespread 
worker participation in the conduct of union affairs. Some of them have been 
open practitioners of racism, sexism, and ageism. The media have done their bit 
by exaggerating the power of organized labor and the extent of labor union 
racketeering and corruption. The new class of conservative intellectuals, in 
turn, has launched devastating attacks on labor unions as interferences with 
the "free market" and as the real villains behind high prices and low 
productivity. All these factors have contributed to a major loosening of the 
ties between organized labor and the intellectuals, ties that are quickly 
replaced by grants, contracts, and favors from foundations and government 

In the Third World countries of dependent fascism, antilabor activity has 
become much more blatant. There the response to trade unions is vigorous resort 
to the old-time methods used in Western Europe and America during the 
nineteenth century: armed union-busters, police and military intervention, 
machine guns, large-scale arrests, torture, even assassination. In countries 
like Argentina, Chile, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Zaire, and 
many others, these measures have proved decisive in attracting transnational 
investment and keeping wages down. They have also helped beat back the forces 
of socialism and communism in these countries.

Although First World establishments have generally supported (and often 
braintrusted) this kind of action in the Third World, I do not foresee them 
resorting to the same strategies at home. The logic of friendly fascism calls, 
rather, for a slow and gradual melting away of organized labor and its 
political influence.

At the outset of the 1980s, major steps in this direction are already under way 
in the United States. They are being worked out by an impressive array of 
in-house labor relations staffs in the larger corporations and of out-house 
consulting firms made up of superslick lawyers, personnel psychologists, and 
specialists in the conduct of anti-union campaigns. The efforts of these groups 
are backed up by sectoral, regional, and national trade associations, the U.S. 
Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business 
Roundtable, and a long series of "objective" studies commissioned either by 
these groups or the new "think tanks" of the Radical Right.

The heat for the meltdown is applied on four major fronts. First, the 
union-busters operate on the principle of containing labor organization to 
those places where unions already exist. This requires strenuous efforts to 
preserve a "union-free environment" in the South, in small towns, and among 
white-collar, technical, and migratory workers. When efforts are made to extend 
unionism into one of these areas, the union-busters come in to help the 
managers conduct psychological warfare. Often, the core of such a campaign is 
"the mobilization of supervisors as an anti-union organizing committee." Each 
supervisor may be asked to report back to a consultant, often daily, about the 
reactions of employees. There may be as many as twenty to twenty-five meetings 
with each employee during a union campaign. In one successful campaign at Saint 
Elizabeth's hospital outside of Boston, according to Debra Hauser, the methods 
used included the discriminatory suspension or firing of five union activists; 
surveillance, isolation, interrogation and harassment of other pro-union 
employees; and misrepresentation of the collective bargaining process by top 
management. "This resulted in the creation of an atmosphere of hysteria in the 

A second front is the dissolution of unions already in operation. Construction 
companies have found that this can be done by "double-breasting"-that is, by 
dividing into two parts, one operating under an existing union contract and the 
other part employing nonunion labor. The unions themselves can be dissolved 
through "decertification," a legal process whereby the workers can oust a union 
that already represents them. Under the National Labor Relations Law, 
management cannot directly initiate a decertification petition. But managers 
have learned how to circumvent the law and have such petitions filed 
"spontaneously" by employees. They have also learned how to set the stage for 
deunionization by forcing unions out on strikes that turn out to be 
destructively costly to both the unions and their members.

The third front is labor legislation. In many states the business lobbies have 
obtained legislation which-under the label of "right-to-work" laws -make union 
shops or closed shops illegal. Nationally, they are trying to repeal the 
Davis-Bacon Act (which maintains prevailing union wage rates on 
government-sponsored construction) and impose greater restrictions on peaceful 

Fourth, the most generalized heat is that which is applied by the austerity 
squeeze of general economic policies. This heat is hottest in the public 
employment area, particularly among teachers and other municipal or state 
workers where unionization has tended to increase during recent years.

As a result of all these measures, the labor movement in America has failed to 
keep up with population growth. Union membership in 1980 covered about 22 
million employees. Although this figure is larger than that of any past year, 
it represents a 3 percent decline from 1970, when union members accounted for 
25 percent of non-farm employment.

This slow melting away of labor's organized force has not been a free lunch. It 
has cost money-lots of it.

But the consequences have also been large: a reduction in the relative power of 
organized labor vis-a-vis organized business. Anybody who thinks this reduction 
is felt only at the bargaining table would be making a serious error. Its 
consequences have been extremely widespread.

For one thing, the morale, crusading spirit, and reformist fervor has itself 
tended to dissipate within many, if not most, branches of the labor movement. 
Dedication toward the extension of democracy has often been replaced by cynical 
inactivism. This has been felt by all the many agencies of government that have 
traditionally looked to labor for support in the extension and improvement of 
government services in health, education, welfare, housing, environmental 
protection, and mass transportation. It has been felt by all candidates for 
public office, for whom labor support now means much less than in previous 
years. Above all, the weakening of the labor movement has been one of the many 
factors in the sharp conservative drift within the Democratic party. This drift 
reinforces the widespread idea that there is little likelihood of serious 
disagreement on major issues of policy between the two major parties. The 
continuation of this drift would be one of the most important factors in 
brushing aside what might still seem to some as the overwhelming strength of 
America's democratic machinery.

p251 Ferdinand Lundberg "If the new military elite is anything like the old 
one, it would, in any great crisis, tend to side with the Old Order and defend 
the status quo, if necessary, by force. In the words of the standard police 
bulletin known to all radio listeners, "These men are armed -and they may be 

p251 Edward Luttwak "A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but 
critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the 
government from its control of the remainder."

p251 Capitalist democracy has often been described as a poker game in which the 
wealthiest players usually win most of the pots and the poor players pick up 
some occasional spare change.

p252 ... a first principle of any replacement coup in the First World is that 
the replacers operate in the name of "law and order" and appear as the 
defenders of the Constitution against others eager to use force against it. 
Something along these lines happened in Japan back in 1936 when a section of 
the army staged a short-lived revolt against the "old ruling cliques." The 
defeat of this "fascism from below," as Japanese historian Masao Maruyama 
points out, facilitated "fascism from above," respectable fascism on the part 
of the old ruling cliques. In modern America, much more than in Japan of the 
1930s, the cloak of respectability is indispensable. Thus a "feint" coup by 
Know Nothing rightists or a wild outburst of violence by left-wing extremists 
could be effectively countered by the military establishment itself, which, in 
defending the Constitution, could take the White House itself under protective 

A preventive coup is more sophisticated; it avoids the replacement coup's 
inherent difficulties by keeping an undesirable regime-after it has been 
elected-from taking power. Edward Luttwak, author of the first general handbook 
on how to carry out a coup, has himself published an excruciatingly specific 
application: "Scenario for a Military Coup d'Etat in the United States." He 
portrays a seven-year period-1970 through 1976-in which as a result of mounting 
fragmentation and alienation, America's middle classes become increasingly 
indifferent to the preservation of the formal Constitution. Under these 
circumstances two new organizations for restoring order are formed. With 
blue-ribbon financial support, the Council for an Honorable Peace (CHOP) forms 
branches in every state. The Urban Security Command (USECO) is set up in the 
Pentagon. CHOP prepares two nationwide plans: Hard Surface, to organize 
right-wing extremists, and Plan R for Reconstruction, based on the principle 
that "within the present rules of the political game, no solution to the 
country's predicament can be found." Then, during the 1976 election campaign 
the Republican candidate is exposed by a former employee as having used his 
previous senatorial position for personal gain. With a very low turnout at the 
polls, the Democratic candidate easily wins. Thus "an essentially 
right-of-center country is now about to acquire a basically left-of-center 
administration." Immediately after election day, CHOP and USECO put into effect 
Plan Yellow, the military side of Plan R. By January 4, 1977, the new regime is 
in power. A still more sophisticated form of preventive coup would be one 
designed to prevent the formal election of a left-of-center administration. In 
the event that the normal nominating processes fail to do this, any number of 
scenarios are possible before election day: character defamation, sickness, 
accidental injury, assassination. If none of these are feasible, the election 
itself can be constitutionally prevented. Urban riots in a few large central 
cities such as New York, Newark, and Detroit could lead to patrolling of these 
areas by the National Guard and Army. Under conditions of martial law and 
curfews during the last week of October and the first week of November large 
numbers of black voters would be sure to be kept from the polls. With this 
prospect before them many black leaders, liberals, and Democratic officials 
would ask for a temporary postponement of elections in order to protect the 
constitutional right to vote. Since there is no constitutional requirement that 
voting in national elections be held on the same day throughout the country, 
there might well be a temporary postponement in New York, New Jersey, and 
Michigan. The political leaders of these states, in fact, would soon see that 
postponement puts them in a remarkably influential bargaining position. After 
voting results are already in from all other states, the voting in their states 
would probably determine the election's outcome. Party leaders in Illinois and 
California would then seek postponement also. To restore equilibrium, elections 
could then be postponed in many other states, perhaps all of them. Tremendous 
confusion would thus be created, with many appeals in both state and federal 
courts-and various appeals to the Supreme Court anticipated. In short order 
Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution would come into effect. Under this 
provision the Congress itself declares "who shall then act as President" until 
new provisions for election are worked out by the Congress. If major 
differences prevent the Congress from making all these decisions, the stage is 
then set for the kind of regime described by Luttwak under a name such as The 
Emergency Administration for Constitutional Health (TEACH). In treating 
Americans like children in the family, the "Teachers" would not spoil the child 
by sparing the rod.

The best form of prevention, however. is a consolidation coup, using illegal 
and unconstitutional means of strengthening oligarchic control of Society. This 
is the essence of the nightmares in The Iron Heel and It Can't Happen Here. 
Both Jack London's Oligarchy and Sinclair Lewis' President Windrip, after 
reaching power through constitutional procedures, used unconstitutional means 
in consolidating their power. This is rather close to the successful scenarios 
followed by both Mussolini and Hitler.

If something like this should happen under-or on the road to- friendly fascism, 
I think it would be much slower. The subversion of constitutional democracy is 
more likely to occur not through violent and sudden usurpation but rather 
through the gradual and silent encroachments that would accustom the American 
people to the destruction of their freedoms.

p255 Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Emile "There is no subjugation so perfect as that 
which keeps the appearance of freedom, for in that way one captures volition 

p255 Information has always been a strategic source of power. From time 
immemorial the Teacher, the Priest, the Censor, and the Spy have helped despots 
control subject populations. Under the old-fashioned fascist dictatorships, the 
Party Propagandist replaced the Priest, and the control of minds through 
managed information became as important as terrorism, torture, and 
concentration camps.

With the maturing of a modern capitalism, the managing of information has 
become a fine art and advancing science. More powerful institutions use 
world-spanning technologies to collect, store, process, and disseminate 
information. Some analysts see a countervailing equilibrium among these 
institutions. While computerized science and technology produce shattering 
changes, it is felt that the schools and the media tend to preserve the status 
quo. Actually, all these institutions have been involved in changing the world. 
Each has played a major role in easing the difficult transition from national 
to transnational capitalism by winning greater acceptance of manipulation or 
exploitation-even as it becomes more extensive and intensive - by those 
subjected to them. Only through managed information can volition itself be 
captured and, as Rousseau recognized, can minds be so perfectly subjugated as 
to keep "the appearance of freedom."

Indeed, friendly fascism in the United States is unthinkable without the 
thorough integration of knowledge, information, and communication complexes 
into the Establishment. At that point, however, the faceless oligarchy could 
enjoy unprecedented power over the minds, beliefs, personalities, and behavior 
of men, women, and children in America and elsewhere. The information 
overlords, intellectuals, and technicians -sometimes unwillingly. more often 
unwittingly-would be invaluable change agents in subverting (without any law of 
Congress doing it openly) the constitutional freedoms of speech and press.

So much "progress" has already been made in the management of minds that it is 
hard to distinguish between current accomplishments and future possibilities. 
The difficulty is compounded by the fact that the best critics of the 
information industry (like the best analysis of the American power structure) 
have often exaggerated the damage already done. This is a risk that I too must 
run, although I should prefer, rather, to understate what has already occurred 
and-for the sake of warning- overstate the greater terrors that may lie ahead.

p256 Herbert Schiller "The content and forms of American communications-the 
myths and the means of transmitting them-are devoted to manipulation. When 
successfully employed, as they invariably are, the result is individual 
passivity, a state of inertia that precludes action. "

p256 For Hitler, according to Hermann Rauschning, marching was a technique of 
mobilizing people in order to immobilize them. Apart from the manifest purpose 
of any specific march (whether to attack domestic enemies or occupy other 
countries) Hitler's marchers became passive, powerless, non-thinking, 
non-individuals. The entire information complex -which includes education, 
research, information services, and information machines as well as 
communications-has the potential of becoming the functional equivalent of 
Hitler's march. As I reflect on Hermann Rauschning's analysis of Hitler's use 
of marching as a means of diverting or killing thought, I feel that it would be 
no great exaggeration to rewrite one of these sentences with the word "TV" 
replacing "marching." That gives us this: "TV is the indispensable magic stroke 
performed in order to accustom the people to a mechanical, quasi-ritualistic 
activity until it becomes second nature."

As a technique of immobilizing people, marching requires organization and, 
apart from the outlay costs involved, organized groups are a potential danger. 
They might march to a different drum or in the wrong direction . . . TV is more 
effective. It captures many more people than would ever fill the streets by 
marching-and without interfering with automobile traffic. It includes the very 
young and the very old, the sick and the insomniac. Above all, while marching 
brings people together, TV tends to separate them. Even if sitting together in 
front of the TV, the viewers take part in no cooperative activity. Entirely 
apart from the content of the messages transmitted, TV tends to fragment still 
further an already fragmented population. Its hypnotic effect accustoms "the 
people to a mechanical, quasi-ritualistic activity until it becomes second 
nature." And TV training may start as early as toilet training.

Unlike marching, TV viewing can fill huge numbers of hours during both day and 
night. According to the Statistical Abstract, the average TV set in America is 
turned on, and viewed, for more than six hours a day, which amounts to over 
forty-two hours a week. This is much more than the average work week of less 
than thirty-six hours and still more than the hours anyone spends in school 
classrooms. Among women, blacks, and poor people generally, the average figure 
rises to over fifty five hours a week. Televised sports events attract huge 
numbers of spectators. Widely touted educational programs for children help 
"hook" children at an early age, thereby legitimating their grooming to become 
passive viewers all their lives. But it should not be assumed that the more 
adult, educated, and privileged elements in the population are immune to TV 
narcosis. The extension of educational TV in general-like "public interest" or 
"alternative" radio-caters mainly to elite viewers. If this trend continues, 
even intellectuals and scientists, as pointed out to me by Oliver Gray, a 
former Hunter College student, may well be trapped into hours upon hours of 
viewing the cultural heritages of the past, both artistic and scientific.

Many parts of the information complex also serve a custodial function that 
separate people from the rest of society. This is a form of immobilization that 
goes far beyond the march.

The hypnotizing effect of TV, both mass and elite, can also be augmented by 
allied developments in modern information processing and dissemination For 
example, the fuller use of cable and satellite technology could do much more 
than bring TV to areas outside the reach of ordinary broadcasting facilities. 
It could also provide for a much larger number of channels and a larger variety 
of programming. This could facilitate the kind of sophisticated, pluralistic 
programming which appeals to every group in the population. The danger is that 
an additional layer of "cultural ghettoization" might then be superimposed on 
residential ghettoization. With extensive control "banks" of TV tapes that can 
be reached by home dialing and with widespread facilities for taping in the 
home, almost every individual would get a personalized sequence of information 
injections at any time of the day-or night.

TV fixes people in front of the tube in their own houses, without a marginal 
cent of additional social overhead to cover the cost of special buildings. The 
young people who walk the streets with transistor radios in their hands, or 
even with earphones on their heads, are imprisoned in their own bodies. During 
the 1967-74 period of the Greek junta, the number of TV receivers and viewers 
in Greece steadily rose-much more rapidly than the number of people released 
from jails in recurring amnesties. By the time the junta was replaced by a 
conservative civilian government and all the political prisoners were let free, 
TV sets were already being installed in the bars of Athens and the coffee 
houses of village Greece. In America meanwhile TV sets have been installed, as 
a reinforcement of the custodial functions, not only in jails and hospitals but 
also in nursing homes for the aged. One of the reasons why nursing homes are an 
important growth industry for the 1980s is the fact that TV, radio, and tapes 
provide the "indispensable magic stroke" needed to accustom older people to 
acceptance of life in a segregated warehouse.

According to Arthur R. Miller, TV teaching programs, entirely apart from their 
content, "anesthetize the sensitivity and awareness" of students, no matter 
what their age. This paraphrase of Arthur Miller's comment

p259 Adolf Hitler "Through clever and constant application of propaganda, 
people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around to 
consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise. "

p259 "You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some 
of the people all of the time," said Abraham Lincoln, "but you can't fool all 
of the people all of the time." Yet Lincoln's famous statement antedates the 
modern-day information complex and its potentialities for service to modern 
capitalism. Hitler's boast about what he could do with "the clever and constant 
application of propaganda" is also outdated -so too, his more quoted statements 
that big lies are more easily believed than small ones. Improvements in the art 
of Iying have kept up with advances in communication hardware. The 
mass-consumption economy of transnational capitalism requires the ingenious 
invention of impressively (sometimes even artistically) presented myths to 
disguise the realities of capitalist exploitation. In the misleading 
advertisements of consumers goods the arts of professional Iying are 
technically referred to as "puffery . . . the dramatic extension of a claim 
area." With the rapid extension of puffery to include all aspects of politics 
and institutional advertising, it is not too hard to visualize the faceless 
oligarchs as managing to fool most of the people (including some of themselves 
and more of their professional aides) most of the time.

The size of lies varies immensely with the directness or indirectness of 
propaganda. Thus advertising in the mass media deals mainly with small lies 
projected into the minds of millions of viewers, listeners, and readers. The 
truly big lies are those that create the myths of what George Gerbner calls the 
"symbolic environment." 6 These myths penetrate the innermost recesses of 
consciousness and effect the basic values, attitudes, and beliefs-and 
eventually volition and action themselves-of viewers, listeners, and readers. 
Herbert Schiller analyzes five of the myths, which in his judgment have 
represented the media's greatest manipulative triumphs of the past: (1) the 
myth of individualism and personal choice; (2) the myth that key social 
institutions are neutral instead of serving concentrated wealth and power; (3) 
the myth that human nature does not change, despite the mythmakers' successes 
in helping to change it; (4) the myth of the absence of serious social 
conflict; and (5) the myth of media pluralism..

Of making myths there is no end. In an era of friendly fascist "triplespeak," 
the imagery of major myths must constantly be updated, and one obvious 
technique in both mass and elite media is "take over the symbols of all 
opposition groups." Peace, equality, black power, women's rights, the 
Constitution, for example, may become prominent in the sloganry justifying 
increased armament, oligarchic wealth, institutionalized white and male 
supremacy, and the subversion of constitutional rights. The thin veneer of 
Charles Reich's Consciousness Three could become a useful facade to adorn the 
evolution of his Consciousness Two into a more highly developed technocratic 
ideology. Under friendly fascism, one could expect the shameless acceptance of 
a principle already cynically tolerated in advertising: "Exploit the most basic 
symbols of human needs, human kindness, and human feeling." For those hardened 
to such appeals, there would be a complementary principle: "Make plentiful use 
of scientific and technical jargon."

Of course, not even the most skillful of media messengers can juggle their 
imagery so as to avoid all credibility gaps. In this sense, Lincoln was right: 
at least some of the people some of the time will be aware that someone is 
trying-very hard-to fool them. But it is wishful thinking to assume that these 
failures in mind management will necessarily have a positive outcome. 
Unfortunately even credibility gaps can be functional in the maintenance of a 
nondemocratic system. They may deepen the sense of cynicism, hopelessness, and 
alienation. A barrage of mythmaking can create a world of both passive 
acquiescence and of little real belief or trust. In such a world, serious 
opponents of friendly fascism would have but a slight chance of winning a 
hearing or keeping anyone's allegiance.

p260 Aldous Huxley "Hitler's vast propaganda successes were accomplished with 
little more than the radio and loudspeaker, and without TV and tape and video 
recording . . . Today the art of mind control is in the process of becoming a 

p261 Fred Friendly head of CBS news ... pointed out that CBS was in business to 
make money and that informing the public was secondary to keeping on good terms 
with advertisers.

p262 In George Orwell's 1984 Winston Smith and his fellow bureaucrats in the 
Ministry of Truth labored diligently to rewrite past history. Under friendly 
fascism, in contrast, skillful technicians and artists at scattered points in 
the information complex will create current history through highly selective 
and slanted reporting of current events. Like self-regulation of business, 
self-censorship is the first line of defense. "Prior restraint" is more 
effective when part of volition itself, rather than when imposed by courts or 
other outside agencies.

Under friendly fascism the biggest secrets would no longer be in the 
thriller-story areas of old-fashioned espionage, military technology, and 
battle plans. Nor would there be little if any censorship-even among America's 
more prudish partners in the dependent fascist regimes of Brazil, Chile, 
Pakistan or Indonesia-of visual or written portrayals of frontal nudity and 
sexual intercourse. The primary blackout would be on any frontal scrutiny of 
the faceless oligarchs themselves and their exploitative intercourse with the 
rest of the world. It would not be enough to divert attention toward 
celebrities, scandals, and exposes at lower and middle levels of power, or new 
theories exaggerating the influence of knowledge elites, technicians, labor 
unions, and other minor pressure groups. Neither scholars, reporters, 
congressional committees, nor government statisticians would be allowed access 
to the internal accounts of conglomerates and transnationals. Whenever such 
information would be compiled, it would be done on the basis of misleading 
definitions that underestimate wealth, profit, and all the intricate operations 
necessary for serious capital accumulation. As already indicated, "straight 
talk" must never be recorded in any form, and, if recorded, must be promptly 
destroyed. Recurring clampdowns by "plumbers' groups" would also enforce 
established procedures for official leaks to favorite reporters or scholars. At 
present, information on corporate corruption at the higher levels is played 
down in both the mass and elite media. Under friendly fascism, while the same 
activities would take place on a larger scale, they would be protected by 
double cover-on the one hand, their legalization by a more acquiescent and 
cooperative state, and, on the other hand, the suppression of news on any such 
operations that have not yet been legalized.

The whole process would be facilitated by the integration of the media into the 
broader structure of big business. Thanks to the recurrent shakeups, 
quasi-independent newspapers and publishing houses would become parts of 
transnational conglomerates, a trend already well under way. To make a little 
more money by exposing how the system works, bringing its secrets to light, or 
criticizing basic policies (as in the case of this book's publication) would no 
longer be tolerated. Dissident commentators would be eased out, kicked 
upstairs, or channeled into harmless activities. "Prior restraint" would be 
exercised through the mutual adjustments among executives who know how to "go 
along and get along."

Although "actualities" have thus far been used mainly in political campaigns, 
it seems likely that in the transition to a new corporate society they will 
become a standard means of making current history.

Whenever necessary, moreover, residual use would be made of direct, 
old-fashioned censorship: some matters cannot be left to decentralized 
judgment. Thus, where official violence leads to shooting people down in jails, 
hospitals or factories, or on the street or campus, there would be a blackout 
on bloodshed. If a My Lai should occur in Muncie, Indiana, the news would 
simply not be transmitted by the media. A combination of legal restraints, 
justified by "national security" or "responsibility," would assure that the 
episode would simply be a nonevent.

p263 Larry P. Gross "While the Constitution is what the judges say it is, a 
public issue is something that Walter Cronkite or John Chancellor recognizes as 
such. The media by themselves do not make the decisions, but on behalf of 
themselves and larger interests they certify what is or is not on the nation's 

p263 A problem usually becomes a "public issue," as pointed out in an earlier 
chapter, when open disputes break out within the Establishment. But even then, 
there is a selection process. Many vital disputes-particularly those among 
financial groups-are never aired at all. Sometimes the airing is only in the 
elite media-business publications, academic journals, or the liberal or radical 
press. Those who seek to create a "public issue" must often first submit their 
petitions to the elite media, hoping that they may then break through to the 
mass media. Issues that are finally "certified" by a Walter Cronkite or John 
Chancellor are, in the words of Larry P. Gross, thereby placed on the "nation's 
agenda." But this privileged position cannot last any longer than a popular 
song on the "hit parade." Civil rights, busing, women's lib, pollution, energy 
shortages-such issues are quickly created and then unceremoniously even cast 
into the shadows of the elite media. Under such circumstances, the time 
available in the hit parade of vital issues is not enough for serious 
presentation, let alone sustained analysis, of alternative views. This kind of 
issue creation helps nourish the drift toward a new corporate society in which 
the range of public issues would be narrowed much more rigorously and the 
nation's agenda rendered much more remote from the real decision making behind 
the curtains of a more integrated establishment.

In Don't Blame the People, a well-documented study of bias in the mass media, 
Robert Cirino shows in detail how "money buys and operates the media" and how 
this fact "works to the advantage of those with conservative viewpoints," 
namely, the radical right, the solid conservatives, and the moderate 
conservatives. The radical left and the solid liberals are outside the limits, 
thus leaving the moderate liberals to "compete alone against the combined mass 
media power of the conservative camp."

But to have their petitions recognized by the mass media, the moderate liberals 
usually have to accept or operate within the unwritten rules of the game. Thus 
their tendency, I would argue, is increasingly to press upon moderate 
conservatives the kind of reforms which, although usually opposed by solid 
conservatives, are required to strengthen Establishment conservatism. 
Similarly, the tendency is among the solid liberals and the radical left to win 
some slight hearing for their own voices by accepting as a fact of life (what 
choice is there?) the agenda as certified by the media. The middle ground is 
moved still further to the right as conservative or moderate-liberal money 
subsidizes the radical left and the more militant liberals.

Such shifts are supported by the growth of highly sophisticated conservatism, 
as illustrated by the National Review, Commentary, and The Public Interest. 
Within these elite circles the spirit of conservative controversy flourishes, 
both dominating the agendas of nonconservatives and giving the appearance of 
broader freedom. How much further a friendly fascist regime would go in 
narrowing still further the limits of elite opinion among solid liberals and 
the radical left is impossible to predict. The important point is that the 
basic trends in the information complex could render dissenting or critical 
opinions increasingly isolated and impotent.

p267 Edmund Carpenter "The White House is now essentially a TV performance. "

p267 Fred W. Friendly head of CBS news said of the American presidency "No 
mighty king, no ambitious emperor, no pope, or prophet ever dreamt of such an 
awesome pulpit, so potent a magic wand. "

p267 In capitalist countries the business of all the private mass media is 
making money from advertising revenue. Their product is the seeing, listening, 
or reading audience-or more specifically the opportunity to influence the 
audience. Although the members of the TV and radio audience seem to be getting 
something for nothing, in reality they pay for the nominally free service 
through the prices they pay for advertised products. The larger the estimated 
audience, the more money the media receive from advertisers.

The biggest exception is the provision of free time-usually prime time-to the 
chief executive. In return, the media feel they maintain the goodwill of a 
government which has granted them without any substantial charge the highly 
profitable right to use the airwaves. This indirect cash nexus is customarily 
smothered in a thick gravy of rhetoric about "public service." But no 
equivalent services are provided for the chief executive's political 
opposition, or for lesser politicians. And in the United States, as distinct 
from some other capitalist countries, the media extort enormous fees from all 
candidates for political office, a practice that heightens the dependence of 
all elected officeholders (including the president) upon financial 
contributions from more or less the same corporations who give the media their 
advertising revenue.

Friendly fascism in the United States would not need a charismatic, apparently 
all-powerful leader such as Mussolini or Hitler-so I have argued throughout 
this book. The chief executive, rather, becomes the nominal head of a network 
that not only serves as a linchpin to help hold the Establishment together but 
also provides it with a sanctimonious aura of legitimacy through the imagery of 
the presidential person, his family, his associates, and their doings. The 
chief executive is already a TV performer, and his official residence in indeed 
"an awesome pulpit" from which he and his entire production staff can wield a 
potent "magic wand."

p303 Ronald Reagan when governor of California "If it takes a bloodbath ... 
let's get it over with."

p329 Baron De Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws "The tyranny of a prince in 
an oligarchy is not so dangerous to public welfare as the apathy of a citizen 
in a democracy."


Impossibility: It Couldn't Happen excerpted from the book Friendly Fascism The 
New Face of Power in America


p331 Karl Popper ""It can't happen here" is always wrong: a dictatorship can 
happen anywhere."


The thought that some form of new fascism might possibly-or even 
probably-emerge in America is more than unpleasant. For many people in other 
countries, it is profoundly disturbing; for Americans, it is a source of 
stabbing anguish. For those who still see America as a source of inspiration or 
leadership, it would mean the destruction of the last best hope on earth. Even 
for those who regard America as the center of world reaction, it suggests that 
things can become still worse than they are.

An immediate-and all too human-reaction among Americans, and friends of 
America, is to deny the possibility. In other countries it might happen-but not 
here. In the Communist world, dictatorships of the proletariat or the Party . . 
. Military juntas in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, and many other places . 
. . Other dictatorial styles in India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the 
Philippines . . . But nothing like this in the prosperous, enlightened nations 
of Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Above all, not in 
the United States of America, not in the land of the free and the home of the 
brave . . .

But why not? Why is it impossible?

Many of the arguments purporting to demonstrate impossibility actually 
demonstrate little more than an unwillingness to "think the unthinkable." Some 
people try to protect their sensibilities behind a tangle of terminological 
disputation. The word "fascism," they say, is an emotion-laden term of abuse, 
as though the brutal, inhuman realities behind other terms-whether 
"manipulatory authoritarianism," "bureaucratic collectivism," or "military 
junta"-do not also evoke deep human emotions. Some people argue that the future 
threat in America is socialist collectivism, not fascism, implying that those 
who detect a fascist danger are spreading leftist propaganda for the purpose of 
bringing on a different form of despotism. Others merely react to exaggerated 
claims that fascism is already here or is inevitable.

Nonetheless, there are at least three serious arguments used by those who think 
that it could not happen here.

One of the most subtle arguments is "American capitalism does not need 

On this point, let me quote from Corliss Lamont, who grew up as a member of one 
of the families most closely associated with the Morgans and other titans of 
American banking:

The capitalist class in the United States does not need a fascist regime in 
order to maintain its dominance. The radical and revolutionary movements are 
weak and disunited. A large majority of the trade unions are conservative, and 
are actually part of the establishment . . . I do not see in the offing any 
constellation of forces that could put fascism across here.

To buttress his case, Lamont points out that the threat to American civil 
liberties was much greater during the periods of the notorious Palmer raids 
after World War I and of McCarthyism after World War II. He also cites various 
judicial victories in recent civil liberties cases. Unfortunately, he does not 
deal directly with the structure of the "capitalist class" and the 
Establishment, nor with any of the domestic and international challenges to 
American capitalism. Moreover, his thesis on the weakness of "radical and 
revolutionary movements" and the conservatism of trade unions is a double-edged 
argument. True, these factors are no serious challenge to capitalist dominance. 
By the same token, they could not be regarded as serious obstacles to creeping 
fascism. On this matter, Lamont leaves himself an escape clause to the effect 
that he does not see the necessary constellation of forces "in the offing."

A similar escape clause has been carved out by Theodore Draper. In a scholarly 
critique of an earlier article of mine on the subject, he added as an 
afterthought that he did not intend to give "assurances that we will not follow 
the German pattern of history into some form of fascism." And then he added 
that although the Republic is not "immediately in danger, if worse comes to 
worse, we may yet get some form of fascism.

A more widespread argument is "American democracy is too strong."

It is true, of course, that old-fashioned fascism never took root in a country 
with a solid tradition and history of constitutional democracy. The kind of 
democracy that grew up in both England and the United States was too much of a 
barrier to the Oswald Mosleys, the Huey Longs, and the Father Coughlins of a 
past generation. Even in France, the rise of the French fascists under Petain 
occurred only after military conquest by the Nazis.

But this kind of argument boils down to nothing less than the identification of 
obstacles. It provides no evidence to suggest that these obstacles are 
immovable objects that cannot be overcome or circumvented in the future.

In the early 1970s this argument took a more exhilarating-albeit occasionally 
flatulent-form. The democratic forces are becoming stronger.

In The Greening of America, Charles Reich predicted a "revolution of the new 
generation." He saw in the counterculture of youth a movement that would break 
through the metal and plastic forms of the Corporate State (which he held was 
already here) and bring forth a new flowering of the human spirit. This 
optimistic spirit was repeated in global terms by Jean Francois Revel a year 
later. In Without Marx and Jesus, Revel pointed out that dissent has always 
thrived in America and that the new dissenters are building not merely a 
counterculture but a counter-society that rejects nationalism, inequality, 
racial and sexual discrimination, and all forms of authoritarianism. As the 
first and best hope of the world, America will soon produce "a homo novus, a 
new man very different from other men."

I have never laughed at these salvationist predictions. They are based on an 
honest perception of many of the things that are not merely good, but 
wonderful, in my country. In fact, as I demonstrate in "The Democratic Logic in 
Action" (chapter 20), neither Reich nor Revel, nor other celebrants of 
America's potentialities have done sufficient justice to the variety of these 
hopeful currents. But they have tended to exaggerate their strength, perhaps on 
the theory that a strongly presented prophecy might be self-fulfilling.

I think it imperative to articulate more fully hopeful visions and to ground 
them on the more hopeful parts of the present. But in doing so, it would be 
highly misleading to ignore the fact that the new democratic currents represent 
a threat to all those elements in the Establishment that look forward to a more 
integrated power structure. This means conflicts whose outcomes cannot be 
predicted. Revel himself writes that America is "composed of two antagonistic 
camps of equal size-the dissenters and the conservatives." Writing before the 
rise of the new Radical Right, he then hazarded the guess that "the odds are in 
favor of the dissenters." Nonetheless, he accepted the possibility of the 
authoritarian suppression, sidetracking, or co-opting of the dissenters. I 
think he would agree with me today that if this should happen there would be 
many subspecies of the new man-and new woman-faceless oligarchs, humanoid 
technocrats, and comatose addicts of loveless sex, drugs, madness, and cults.

A third argument is that "While possible, a new form of fascism is too unlikely 
to be taken seriously."

I see this view as a tribute that blindness pays to vision. It is merely a 
sophisticated way of conceding possibility while justifying inaction. The 
outside chance, after all, rarely deserves to be a focus of continuing 
attention. In terms of its implications, therefore, "unlikely" may be the 
equivalent of either "impossible" or "so what?"

In daily life, of course, people and groups do take precautionary action to 
protect themselves or others against some unlikely events. This is the basis of 
the vast insurance industry in the capitalist world, which provides protection 
for some people against some of the monetary losses resulting from ill health, 
accidents, theft, fires, earthquakes, or floods. In all these cases of unlikely 
"bads," not insurance but prevention is the best protection. In the case of 
friendly fascism, it is the only protection.

Yet prevention is always difficult and requires entry into many fields. The 
prevention of disease and the prolongation of life go far beyond mere medical 
services; they involve nutrition, exercise, housing, peace of mind, and the 
control of pollution. The prevention of theft and corruption goes far beyond 
anything that can be done by police, courts, and jailers; it involves 
employment opportunities, working conditions, the reduction of discrimination 
and alienation, and a cleaning of higher-level corruption. The record is also 
discouraging in the case of all the unlikely major calamities of the modern 
age: power blackouts, the disposal of radioactive wastes from nuclear power 
plants, the control of plutonium from fast-breeder reactors, the spread of 
nuclear weapons, and the escalation in ever-deadlier forms of nuclear, 
chemical, and bacteriological overkill. Here preventive action spreads into 
other fields, going far beyond anything that can be done by "fail-safe" 
mechanisms. It involves nothing less than alternative forms of energy, human as 
well as solar, and the destruction of the deadliest weapons, if not the 
elimination of war itself as a mode of resolving conflicts.

There are two natural reactions in the face of the difficulties of prevention. 
One is to push the possibility into the background by mathematically based 
arguments that the statistical probability is very low. The other is to 
exaggerate both the horror and the probability of the calamities to be avoided, 
justifying such exaggeration on the grounds that it alone can move people to 

I cannot accept either. As in the following chapters, I prefer to deal with 
preventive action directly. I do so because in my considered judgment, the 
coming of some new form of fascism in the United States- and other First World 
countries-is not only more likely than the extreme catastrophe, but it would 
also contribute to conditions under which most of the others would become less 
unlikely. At times, I find myself saying that friendly fascism is a two-to-one 
probability well before the end of the century. Then I stop and remind myself 
that in diagnosing broad historical trends no quantitative calculus is really 
possible. A more balanced statement is that friendly-or even unfriendly-fascism 
is a truly significant, not an insignificant possibility. Perhaps it is even 
highly probable.


When Herbert Marcuse writes about "incipient fascism," when Kenneth Lamott used 
``para-fascism" to describe California as the "distant warning system for the 
rest of the United States," when Michael Parenti talks about "creeping 
fascism," the main purpose is to identify present tendencies and future 
dangers. Similar use might be made of "proto-fascism" or-better 
yet-"pre-fascism." These are unwhispered words of warning, often engulfed by 
the vast silences on such subjects by the mass and elite media.

But the ambiguity of these words is often a weakness, one not to be overcome by 
stridency. They are wide open to anyone's interpretation that what creeps down 
the road will necessarily get to the road's end, that the latent must become 
full-blown. The "womb of history" metaphor used so vigorously by Marx tends to 
suggest that a little fascism is like a little pregnancy. With a strange 
innocence concerning the possibility of miscarriage or abortion, it can then be 
assumed that the pre- and the para- must eventually become the real thing 

But even without the use of such words I have found that any strong argument on 
the possibility of neofascism in America leads many people to conclude that it 
is inevitable. For some, both the logical case and the empirical evidence in 
present-day tendencies appear overwhelming. The fact that friendly fascism may 
come in a variety of forms and circumstances-rather than in some single guise 
and scenario-strengthens the sense of high probability. For others, perhaps, 
the judgment of inevitability heightens whatever masochistic pleasure people 
may get from premonitions of doom, or provides justification for personal 
escapism from any form of political activism or commitment. For still others, I 
suspect, the sense of inevitability is intensified by disenchantment with 
liberalism, socialism, and communism. Many of the very people who in previous 
periods were attacked as agents of "creeping socialism" or "creeping 
communism,, now feel that if either were to arrive in America-unlikely though 
this possibility may be-the result might not be too much different from the 
fruition of "creeping fascism." Indeed the possible convergence of neofascist 
state-supported capitalism and high-technology state socialism tends to give 
the impression that there are few alternatives to some form of repressive 
collectivism as the profile of man's fate by the end of this century.

The power of modern determinism lies in its "if-then" formulation: "If one does 
A, then B will result." In truly scientific terms the "will result" is 
generally a probability statement. But in the real world of political or 
managerial control, there is always a strong tendency to let the probabilistic 
tone fade into the background and to exploit the propagandistic potentialities 
of a more deterministic mood. In the work of many self-styled Marxists, this 
has led to an interesting contradiction. On the one hand, the collapse of 
capitalism under the battering ram of a proletarian revolution is often seen as 
inevitable. On the other hand, the leaders of the working class must not merely 
ride the waves of an inevitable future. Rather, they must work strenuously to 
bring the inevitable into being. Expressing the essence of a long stream of 
philosophic thought from Kant through and past Hegel, Engels put this 
powerfully in his cryptic thesis that "freedom is the recognition of 
necessity." While anti-Marxists are always eager to attack the alleged 
determinism of Karl Marx, they are rarely unloath to voice their own form of 
determinism. Thus Friedrich Hayek vigorously argues that (1) it was the 
socialist trends in Germany that led to German fascism, (2) a little bit of 
socialism leads inevitably to large-scale collectivism, and (3) socialism 
inevitably leads to fascism. In other words: "If s, then f."

Finally, in modern science there is a large strain of hope and faith in the 
eventual discovery and elucidation of deterministic laws of social control. B. 
F. Skinner has expressed this hope and faith more frankly than most of his 
colleagues in psychology and other disciplines. His critics have argued 
cogently that his views have a totalitarian bent-and I have already suggested 
how Skinnerian reinforcements could be used to help economize on terror and 
develop what Stephen Spender once called "fascism without tears." Another 
critical comment is in order, however. The very idea of deterministic control 
tends to spread inner feelings concerning the inevitability of some repressive 
form of collectivism- whether Skinner's type or some other. In turn, the sense 
of inevitability tends to undermine any serious efforts to develop alternatives 
or fight. The prediction that "It must happen"-particularly if the subjective 
feeling is more powerful than the rationalistic qualifications and "ifs" that 
most self-respecting intellectuals will automatically tack on to it- can 
contribute to a sense of hopelessness and the apathetic acceptance of the 
unfolding logic. It thus holds forth the potentiality of possibly-not 
inevitably-becoming a self-confirming prophecy.


To shake people out of apathy toward some future danger, the self-destroying 
prophecy is often attempted. Its essence is the confident prediction of doom, 
either confined or unconfined. Thus the coming of neofascism to the United 
States may be seen as the maturation of an invincible oligarchy, or even as 
prelude to the global holocaust of all-out nuclear warfare.

I am peculiarly sensitive to this temptation. When a few of my students argued 
a decade ago that fascism would shake Americans from torpor and prepare the way 
for a more humanist society, I countered one irrationality with another by 
arguing that the "improbability of any effective internal resistance" to 
neofascism would doom all hopes of a humanist future. I drew an exaggerated 
parallel with the past by pointing out that after all serious internal 
resistance had been liquidated by the German, Japanese, and Italian fascists, 
"the only effective anti-fascism was defeat by external powers." Since the 
"only war that could defeat a neofascist America would be a nuclear war, a 
holocaust from which no anti-fascist victors would emerge," I concluded with 
the prophecy: "Once neofascism arrives, the only choice would be fascist or 
dead." 6

My phrasing at that time was an echo of Franklin D. Roosevelt's wartime 
rhetoric: "We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die 
on our feet than live on our knees."-itself borrowed from the exhortation of 
the communist leader, Dolores Ibarruri ("La Pasionaria") in rallying the 
Loyalist forces against the Franco uprising in Spain. It was an effort to 
suggest "better dead than fascist." The aim in each case, of course, was to 
stress the urgency of vigorous and dedicated opposition to tyranny-indeed, to 
give up one's life, if necessary, to prevent the victory of tyranny.

Today, while still agreeing with Roosevelt that there arc things worth dying 
for, I would rephrase the ancient rhetoric this way: "Better alive and fighting 
tyranny in any form than dead and unable to fight." If neofascism should come 
to America, people may have to learn how to fight on their knees. The guiding 
rhetoric should be Churchill's statement that "We shall fight in the fields and 
in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." ~ To 
paraphrase: "We shall face

p349 William H. Hastie "Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is 
becoming rather than being. It can easily be lost, but is never fully won. Its 
essence is eternal struggle."

p351 "Sure, we'll have fascism, but it will come disguised as Americanism." 
This famous statement has been attributed in many forms to Senator Huey P. 
Long, the Louisiana populist with an affinity for the demagogues of classic 
European fascism. If he were alive today, I am positive he would add the words 
"and democracy."

p356 Mary Parker Follett "We are not wholly patriotic when we are working with 
all our heart for America merely; we are truly patriotic only when we are 
working also that America may take her place worthily and helpfully in the 
world of nations . . . Interdependence is the keynote of the relations of 
nations as it is the keynote of the relations of individuals within nations."

p359 James Fenimore Cooper "The vulgar charge that the tendency of democracies 
is to leveling, meaning to drag all down to the level of the lowest, is 
singularly untrue; its real tendency being to elevate the depressed to a 
condition not unworthy of their manhood."

p359 Louis D. Brandeis "We can have democracy in this country or we can have 
great wealth in a few hands, but we can't have both."

p382 Mahatma Ghandhi "For me patriotism is the same as humanity. I am patriotic 
because I am human and humane. It is not exclusive. I will not hurt England or 
Germany to serve India . . . My patriotism is inclusive and admits of no enmity 
or ill-will."

p383 George Washington, Farewell Address "Guard against the impostures of 
pretended patriotism."

p384 In his Militarism, USA, a sober critique based on years of experience in 
the U.S. Marine Corps, Colonel James A. Donovan: identifies the dangerous 
patriot: "the one who drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for 
military actions. He is a defender of militarism and its ideals of war and 
glory. Chauvinism is a proud and bellicose form of patriotism . . . which 
identifies numerous enemies who can only be dealt with through military power 
and which equates the national honor with military victory."

p384 In The Reason for Democracy, published after his death in 1976, Kalman 
Silvert of New York University provided another pungent description of false 
patriots: "People who wrap themselves in the flag and proclaim the sanctity of 
the nation are usually racists, contemptuous of the poor and dedicated to 
keeping the community of 'ins' small and pure of blood, spirit and mind."

p386 In Germany today the true patriots are those who, among other things, are 
trying to come to grips with the essence of past Nazi horrors. In the Soviet 
Union the true patriots are those who try to understand the nature and roots of 
Stalinism and the Stalinist legacy, rather than simply uttering some words 
about "the cult of personality" and running away from the subject. In America 
the true patriots are those who face the fact that Americans have always been 
both right and wrong and, instead of trying to squelch criticism, calmly take 
the position "My country right and wrong." They are those who defend the good, 
the true, and the beautiful in American life. They are willing to take risks in 
attacking what is wrong...


Quotations from the book Friendly Fascism The New Face of Power in America


pxiii economist Robert Lekachman "Ronald Reagan must be the nicest president 
who ever destroyed a union, tried to cut school lunch milk rations from six to 
four ounces, and compelled families in need of public help to first dispose of 
household goods in excess of $1,000...1f there is an authoritarian regime in 
the American future, Ronald Reagan is tailored to the image of a friendly 

pxxiii Samuel Johnson "Power is always gradually stealing away from the many to 
the few, because the few are more vigilant and consistent."

p32 Daniel R. Fusfeld As long as an economic system provides an acceptable 
degree of security, growing material wealth and opportunity for further 
increase for the next generation, the average American does not ask who is 
running things or what goals are being pursued.

p43 James O'Conner "Both welfare spending and warfare spending have a two-fold 
nature: the welfare system not only politically contains the surplus population 
but also expands demand and domestic markets. And the warfare system not only 
keeps foreign rivals at bay and inhibits the development of world revolution 
(thus keeping labor power, raw materials and markets in the capitalist orbit) 
but also helps to stave off economic stagnation at home."

p54 American Heritage Dictionary "Establishment: An exclusive group of powerful 
people who rule a ) government or society by means of private agreements or 

p62 Adam Smith "Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality. 
For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the 
affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many."

p63 C. Wright Mills No one can be truly powerful unless he has access to the 
command of major institutions, for it is over these institutional means of 
power that the truly powerful are, in the first instance, truly powerful . . .

p63 Richard Barber Their [a few immense corporations] incredible absolute size 
and commanding market positions make them the most exceptional man-made 
creatures of the twentieth century.... In terms of the size of their 
constituency, volume of receipts and expenditures, effective power, and 
prestige, they are more akin to nation-states than business enterprises of the 
classic variety.

p167 James Madison "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of 
the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power 
than by violent and sudden usurpations."

p184 Amaury De Riencourt "Caesarism can come to America constitutionally 
without having to break down any existing institution."

p195 William W. Turner "Leadership in the right has fallen to new organizations 
with lower profiles and better access to power . . . What is characteristic of 
this right is its closeness to government power and the ability this closeness 
gives to hide its political extremism under the cloak of respectability."

p209 Daniel Fusfield There is a subtle three-way trade-off between escalating 
unemployment together with other unresolved social problems, rising taxes, and 
inflation. In practice, the corporate state has bought all three.

p210 Slogan of the Medici family "Money to get power, power to protect money."

p219 The major responsibility of corporate executives, so long as they are not 
constrained by enforced law, is to maximize their long-term accumulation of 
capital and power no matter what the cost may be to ... people or physical 

p229 Murray B. Levin "No truly sophisticated proponent of repression would be 
stupid enough to shatter the facade of democratic institutions. "

p229 Thomas R. Dye and Harmon Ziegler "It is the irony of democracy that the 
responsibility for the survival of liberal democratic values depends on elites, 
not masses."

p239 Gary Wills "If a nation wishes, it can have both free elections and 

p239 President Richard M. Nixon "The average American is just like the child in 
the family."

p251 Ferdinand Lundberg "If the new military elite is anything like the old 
one, it would, in any great crisis, tend to side with the Old Order and defend 
the status quo, if necessary, by force. In the words of the standard police 
bulletin known to all radio listeners, "These men are armed -and they may be 

p251 Edward Luttwak "A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but 
critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the 
government from its control of the remainder."

p255 Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Emile "There is no subjugation so perfect as that 
which keeps the appearance of freedom, for in that way one captures volition 

p256 Herbert Schiller "The content and forms of American communications-the 
myths and the means of transmitting them-are devoted to manipulation. When 
successfully employed, as they invariably are, the result is individual 
passivity, a state of inertia that precludes action. "

p259 Adolf Hitler "Through clever and constant application of propaganda, 
people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around to 
consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise. "

p260 Aldous Huxley "Hitler's vast propaganda successes were accomplished with 
little more than the radio and loudspeaker, and without TV and tape and video 
recording . . . Today the art of mind control is in the process of becoming a 

p261 Fred Friendly head of CBS news ... pointed out that CBS was in business to 
make money and that informing the public was secondary to keeping on good terms 
with advertisers.

p263 Larry P. Gross "While the Constitution is what the judges say it is, a 
public issue is something that Walter Cronkite or John Chancellor recognizes as 
such. The media by themselves do not make the decisions, but on behalf of 
themselves and larger interests they certify what is or is not on the nation's 

p267 Edmund Carpenter "The White House is now essentially a TV performance. "

p267 Fred W. Friendly head of CBS news said of the American presidency "No 
mighty king, no ambitious emperor, no pope, or prophet ever dreamt of such an 
awesome pulpit, so potent a magic wand. "

p303 Ronald Reagan when governor of California "If it takes a bloodbath ... 
let's get it over with."

p329 Baron De Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws "The tyranny of a prince in 
an oligarchy is not so dangerous to public welfare as the apathy of a citizen 
in a democracy."

p331 Karl Popper ""It can't happen here" is always wrong: a dictatorship can 
happen anywhere."

p349 William H. Hastie "Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is 
becoming rather than being. It can easily be lost, but is never fully won. Its 
essence is eternal struggle."

p351 "Sure, we'll have fascism, but it will come disguised as Americanism." 
This famous statement has been attributed in many forms to Senator Huey P. 
Long, the Louisiana populist with an affinity for the demagogues of classic 
European fascism. If he were alive today, I am positive he would add the words 
"and democracy."

p356 Mary Parker Follett "We are not wholly patriotic when we are working with 
all our heart for America merely; we are truly patriotic only when we are 
working also that America may take her place worthily and helpfully in the 
world of nations . . . Interdependence is the keynote of the relations of 
nations as it is the keynote of the relations of individuals within nations."

p359 James Fenimore Cooper "The vulgar charge that the tendency of democracies 
is to leveling, meaning to drag all down to the level of the lowest, is 
singularly untrue; its real tendency being to elevate the depressed to a 
condition not unworthy of their manhood."

p359 Louis D. Brandeis "We can have democracy in this country or we can have 
great wealth in a few hands, but we can't have both."

p382 Mahatma Ghandhi "For me patriotism is the sme as humanity. I am patriotic 
because I am human and humane. It is not exclusive. I will not hurt England or 
Germany to serve India . . . My patriotism is inclusive and admits of no enmity 
or ill-will."

p383 George Washington, Farewell Address "Guard against the impostures of 
pretended patriotism."

p384 In his Militarism, USA, a sober critique based on years of experience in 
the U.S. Marine Corps, Colonel James A. Donovan: identifies the dangerous 
patriot: "the one who drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for 
military actions. He is a defender of militarism and its ideals of war and 
glory. Chauvinism is a proud and bellicose form of patriotism . . . which 
identifies numerous enemies who can only be dealt with through military power 
and which equates the national honor with military victory."

p384 In The Reason for Democracy, published after his death in 1976, Kalman 
Silvert of New York University provided another pungent description of false 
patriots: "People who wrap themselves in the flag and proclaim the sanctity of 
the nation are usually racists, contemptuous of the poor and dedicated to 
keeping the community of 'ins' small and pure of blood, spirit and mind."

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