Continuing on the Question of Fascism...

Big Gav of Peak Energy has an interesting and extensive discussion of, well, quite a few things today, namely the growing power and momentum of right and the oil supply.

A thought that I should elaborate on this topic: it is interesting that the Reagan idea of conservatism was defined by a penchant for limited government, if not libertarianism, and local control instead of federal control. Take the money and regulatory power out of government hands and give it back to the people and the states!

As I said a couple of days ago, times have obviously changed with regard to the right. Now, we have massive federal government expenditures, a lot of it on defense spending and anti-terrorism/homeland security efforts. These expenditures are merely the growth of government and centralization of another form and purpose than those of the Great Society in the 1960s and 70s here in the US.

You see, when the left centralizes, the goal is socialism or maintaining a redistributive equality of resources. The New Deal, The Great Society, both are not without their problems...but that was government growth about redistribution of wealth and higher taxes.

When the right centralizes, the goal is the maintenance of an order as defined by a principle (the "Reich," etc.). If you, as a citizen, are a part of what defines the order, you're fine as long as you play by the rules. However, if you are neutral or are a part of what the order is organized against, good luck to you.

When there is less centralization, there are more freedoms/less restrictions/more democratic input. The ultimate in decentralization with a government is libertarianism. The ultimate without is anarchy, (but then we just return to the state of nature...).

When there is more centralization, well, the converse is the case.

The extreme of centralization on the left is communism, the extreme on the right is fascism. Both are totalitarian in nature, and actually resemble each other quite a bit as the government controls the social ideology as well as the economy.

(NB, these recent centralizing efforts from the right are quite dissonant with the ideas of Reagan. Reagan's ideas were against the centralization of the left, not for the centralization of the right. However, it seems in retrospect, without the steps under Reagan, we never would have gotten here, now would we? The power had to be taken from the left and given to the right...)

Think about it, we have massive deficits being run up, spending the future's money on rules, machines and men to keep an order that those on the right get to define because they are in power, not the democratic whole.

In other words, the pieces are being put into place. The momentum is on their side. The soonest the Dems could get power is 2008. That's three years more for the right to get more entrenched and run this show their way, pushing it towards the right. Is it a pendulum? Will it swing back? Extremes either way are bad, and lead to totalitarianism.

As Gav suggests, we could cooperate globally and "powerdown" slowly, coordinating with other nations. But again, the idea of governing the commons applies here: The rational choice by any actor is to hoard until there is a penalty for hoarding or reward for cooperation. In better words, we would need a central coordinating authority to enforce an actor from taking more than its share, and that's not going to happen willfully on the part of any actor until another actor has the teeth to stop them. That's why no Kyoto. That's why continued beating down of the UN.

Instead, it seems the US plan is to maintain its crack supply by whatever means possible. As I said in that post: "It's not just ANWR folks, it's a state of mind. Because of our dependency, the United States will behave like a crackwhore sooner or later...rational courses of action are not taken by crackwhores, last I checked."

A money quote from Gav's detailed analysis of the chessboard:

"Still - unless this is all just left wing, paleo-con and libertarian agit-prop, the slide down the slippery slope does seem to have begun - and the weirdness doesn't end with the nastiness pointed out in the articles above. For example, you have Morgan Stanley's Steven Roach looking at the economy and saying "I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. But the Fed's behavior since the late 1990s is starting to change my mind.". You have the Taipei Times noting that 2.1 million americans are in prison - as a proportion of the population this is 7 times higher than in communist China and authoritarian Russia. You have Seeing The Forest noting that the administration has blocked Democrat supporters from attending international conferences. You have the, to me, incomprehensible Minute Man Project going on. You have Paul Krugman saying that the new bankruptcy legislation will create a Debt-Peonage Society. You have pre-election rallies for the Bush-Cheney campaign where attendees are rigourously screened and have to sign loyalty oaths. You have billboards appearing showing pictures of "Our Leader". You have a mass media system that seems to have been largely transformed into a right wing propaganda organ."

Definitely worth a read, very provocative. He even drops in some Jay Hanson/ props.

Maybe go get a glass of water first though.

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I'm not sure a glass of water is sufficient preparation.

I went for a surf for a few hours after writing it to take my mind off things - thats quite effective.

Thanks for the link and the additional thoughts on the topic.

The identification of two systems as "right" and "left", and the subsequent linking of Nazi with the right and socialism/communism with the left is wrong.

Nazi or fascism is only slightly right of left, the very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist". "Fascism" is a term that was originally coined by the Italian dictator Mussolini to describe his adaptation of Marxism to the conditions of Italy after World War I.

Both communism and fascism are totalitarian regimes where the State owns or controls the economy and most of the people's rights.

That is not the situation today, what we have is a battle for market control between the free marketeers and centrist regimes.

Free markets embrace deregulation.

Actually Mussolini said "fascism would be better termed corporatism, as it is the merger of the state with business" (or words to those effect). This was the essentially the same ideology that was promoted in Nazi Germany.

Fascism is a totalitarian corruption of capitalism, while stalinist style communism is a totalitarian corruption of socialism.

Its important not to confuse the two - this site has a good definition of the aspects of a fascist society - it it doesn't include any mention of "the workers controlling the means of production" - quite the opposite in fact.

I've only just read this, and should probably let it sink in a bit more before I make my final call ... but I think what we have in the US today is "crooked conservatism" combined (and reinforced) by fear in the poplulation.

At first sight that might seem less dangerous than a true fascism, but I'm not so sure.

This might just be a pendulum swing, post 9/11, or it might be somewhat stable. Stablity in crooked conservatism and fear could be pretty bad.

At this moment, I think the increasing numbers in polls saying "Bush lied" give cause for hope. The pendulum might swing back, and I hope (which might be strange for an old Reagan Republican) that we get an antidote - somebody like Jimmy Carter again.

... best tool for the job, best personality for the times.

(note on the ann coulter type - she certainly plays on the fear to support the crooked conservatism, doesn't she?)

Two things: let's remember, the means of getting to pure fascism and communism are quite different (as I mentioned in the post). However, in execution (no pun intended), they are very similar...they both equate to pure government control of the social fabric and the economy.

I think calling today's markets "free" is disingenuous. The federal reserve controls the economy. And as Gav mentions, corporatism is much friendlier with fascism, as long as the corporations and MNCs are willing to play the rules of the regime.

Again, I hope you understand before you put me in a tin foil hat, I'm not saying we're under a fascist regime right now. We don't have to get there. I agree with Gav though that we could be on a slippery slope.

However, if one big trauma takes place (peak oil, terrorism), governments will seize control to maintain order with the apparatus they have in the field.

Right now, that apparatus leans to the right in this country, not the left. That's all I am saying.

You are all quite wrong, fascism is based on socialism. Its not enough to rely on Google for background information.

Fascism is not an extreme form of capitalism it is a variant of Marxism.

The marxist doctrine provided the basis for fascist states, for instance this may sound like Hitler but it is actually Engels who is calling for a 1,000 year Reich.

"True, it is a fixed idea with the French that the Rhine is their property, but to this arrogant demand the only reply worthy of the German nation is Arndt's: "Give back Alsace and Lorraine". For I am of the opinion, perhaps in contrast to many whose standpoint I share in other respects, that the reconquest of the German-speaking left bank of the Rhine is a matter of national honour, and that the Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium is a political necessity for us. Shall we let the German nationality be completely suppressed in these countries, while the Slavs are rising ever more powerfully in the East?"

This is our calling, that we shall become the templars of this Grail, gird the sword round our loins for its sake and stake our lives joyfully in the last, holy war which will be followed by the thousand-year reign of freedom.

Dont be fooled by this capitalism = fascism falsehood.

"At their extremes, communism and fascism look basically the same."

"Order" is the path from democracy to fascism, "equality" is the path from democracy to socialism/communism.

My other point was that capitalism and corporatism are more amenable to fascism (as long as fiscal actors are willing to play within the order) than they are to socialism.

Why? Because socialism is set up to prevent capitalism, as capitalism attempts to achieve the exact opposite of equality. That is not the case with regard to fascism, again with the same caveats as above.

in fact, a poster at Kuro5hin explains it well here:

It should be understood that "Fascism" doesn't just mean "building nasty prison camps and locking your enemies up there," though that is very often its result. Fascism is technically a merging of Corporate and State interests into a single monolithic bloc of power, which becomes (theoretically at least) invincible against either outside threats or insurrections from within. The many terrible abuses rightly attributed to Fascism stems from its vast power and lack of scruples in meeting those perceived threats."


"Remember, as I said earlier Fascism isn't defined by concentration camps and private armies; it's the fusion of corporate and State power into an invincible bloc. This is why Sinclair Lewis calls his American Fascists "Corpos." And in the USA that fusion is all but complete."

I was happy to learn about this website and have become a daily visitor. However, it is an odd mix of insightful energy commentary and very run of the mill left wing rants. I think you need to pick one or the other. Since the web is full of left wing rant web sites and lacks energy coverage, I would encourage you to stick to energy.

Separating politics from peak oil is impossible. Oil is political. The mission of this blog is to discuss oil, therefore, we're going to talk about politics at times.

As I have said, repeatedly with the caveat "if political momentum continues the way it is" and "if you buy peak oil's impact," then what results is a centralized government whose primary purpose is to maintain order.

I also clearly delineated the fact that the right has changed from the libertarian politics of Reagan to the reactionary politics of Bush. I meant no offense, but I think even the furthest right amongst us would grant the fact that the current administration has changed the mission of government, as well as made government larger and not smaller. That is centralization of power, whether you want to call it that or not.

My greatest point that I don't think you're hearing out of my discussion is that I don't want communism OR fascism OR any totalitarian government to come into being here in the US. At all.

I rather like my freedom. It's pretty cool.

And, the best part is that we don't have to head toward the need for a totalitarian government of either doesn't have to reach that point.

We can slow the advance of these problems with a suitable energy policy right now. Investment in alternatives, tax increases, demand destruction, etc.

I rather hope that's the way we go instead of waiting.

We thank you for your readership and your input.

"Separating politics from peak oil is impossible. Oil is political. The mission of this blog is to discuss oil, therefore, we're going to talk about politics."

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I would also suggest that instead of fascism, we consider puritanism as a more intriguing model. As practiced in England, this combines religious authoritarianism with business interests serving as a useful motivational tool. It also predates the Fascist/Marxist discussions by a few hundred years. After all, human nature is human nature and labels don't mean as much as the behaviors that govern the politics.

I have a reference here:

Jeff Sharlet who has written an interesting article in the latest Harper's also has some thoughts here:

websterhubbletelescope at

A comment for "Jack" - while Prof Goose's post is a slightly left wing view of the situation its unfair to call it a rant by any stretch of the imagination.

My original post may qualify as a rant (although I'd call it a meditation of sorts) - but I'd be highly aggrieved if you called it a left wing rant - I'm a right winger of the Libertarian variety and many of the people I quoted in my litany about the slide towards fascism were right wingers too - check out sites like LewRockwell, Anti-war, American Conservative and Reason and you'll see many similar articles.

I think American Conservatives pre-election editorial before the last "election" said it best:

Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation’s children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy. Add to this his nation-breaking immigration proposal—Bush has laid out a mad scheme to import immigrants to fill any job where the wage is so low that an American can’t be found to do it—and you have a presidency that combines imperialist Right and open-borders Left in a uniquely noxious cocktail.

Laying aside the nominative squabbling about what kind of government we are slinking towards,
I guess I have one burning question for every one of the people reading this blog - what are any of you doing (personally and/or profesionally) to prepare for the next decade?

Does anybody here actually have a personal plan or is everybody waiting on government for the solution?

Because long-term survival of many corporations and governments is problematic without cheap oil, IMHO.

Ah - now thats a great topic - "what's your plan" :-)

I have a personal plan of the "head for the hills" variety - which is partly based on identifying "what sort of place is likely to slide down the peak in the most comfortable way", "what skills do I need to gain to become a valuable member of that community" and "how do I insert myself into such a place (which is partly a money and timing problem)".

In the meantime all this talk is just a way of keeping the flow of ideas going.

Obviously there are some political solutions that would seem preferable to others, but I'm not sure what scope is left to influence these at this stage.

I'd agree a lot of corps and govts are probably doomed (and some oil rich ones seem doomed in the very near future) but its conscience soothing to at least make a small effort to try and encourage people to aim for a soft landing...

Gav, the problem is that there are very few uncorrupted politicos at the national level anywhere (USA, AU, NZ, EU, etc) who will think about the future farther than their next election campaign. And most of them are in bed with one or the other lobbyists or such groups.

All our countries have spent decades piling regulation on top of law on top of decree on top of court judgement to the point that we can no longer represent ourselves in traffic court without counsel.

I know the governments will have trouble surviving, because they will get the blame in the end. All our republics and democracies are due for a dose of salts simply due to their corrupt practices and constant over-reaching into our lives and pocketbooks. This is going to be an opportunity for change - let's hope we have the stones to do it.

And BTW, if you want to compare plans, email

Actually, I am going to have an open thread tonight on this topic. Start the conversation there so everyone can benefit from it if you would...or join in later.