Walter Block: Bernie, Warren and 'The Squad' Are Economic Fascists


Bye, bye, Bernie. It was lovely while it lasted.

Bernie is no longer a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, but unfortunately, his ideas live on. The better, then, to explore some of them.

In the view of most people, fascists are known as racists who wear jackboots and murder Jews and members of other minority groups.

Hitler, despite the fact that he headed up the National German Socialist Workers’ Party, was really a fascist.

I am not at all claiming the extreme left wing of the Democratic party fits this bill. Rather, I maintain that former President Barack Obama, AOC and her confrères are economic fascists.

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What is the difference?

From an economic perspective, socialism is the system in which the government owns the major means of production: the mines, the factories, the forests, agricultural land, etc. The former Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea are examples of this system.

But Sens. Sanders and Warren and their ilk are not calling for the nationalization of airplane manufacturers, computer companies, trucking firms and Silicon Valley. No, they only want to control them.

This is precisely the program of economic fascists. The same goes for Barack Obama. Apart from taking partial ownership on behalf of the government of several Detroit automobile producers, his main economic policy was regulation, not nationalization.

Hitler was the paradigm case of an economic fascist.

Here is a very partial list of businesses that remained, formally, in private, not public hands, under his aegis: Allgemeine Elektrizitäts Gesellschaft (AEG); Adlerwerke AG (formerly Heinrich Kleyer AG); Bayerische Motorenwerke AG (BMW); Berger, Bergwerks Industrie AG; Daimler-Benz AG; Friedrich Krupp Ironworks; Gruen & Bulfinger; Henkel & Cie; Heinkel Flugzeugwerke; I.G.Farben; Kessler; Koch & Mayer; Krupp, Messerschmitt AG; Rochling; Siemens; Stuka; Volkswagon; Zuffenhausen.

This leader of the Nazi Party had more than enough political power to nationalize the entire lot of them. Instead, he chose very heavy regulation.

This is economic fascism, not socialism.

Ring any bells in the U.S. context? Has Bernie called for the nationalization of U.S. Steel? Pocahontas for seizing General Motors? AOC for a government takeover of Microsoft? Biden for federal ownership of Boeing?

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To ask these questions is to answer them.

To buttress this point, here are some quotes from Adolf Hitler regarding economics:

“In principle, the Government protects the economic interests of the German Volk not by taking the roundabout way through an economic bureaucracy to be organized by the State, but by the utmost promotion of private initiative and a recognition of the rights of property.”

“We National Socialists see in private property a higher degree of human economic development which regulates the administration of rewards in proportion to the differences in achievement, but which in general makes possible and guarantees to all the advantages of a higher standard of living. Bolshevism destroys not only private property but also private initiative and the zest for personal responsibility. In this way it has failed to save millions of men from starvation in Russia, the greatest agrarian state in the world. The results of such a catastrophe in Germany would be inconceivable.”

Of course, Hitler was no free enterpriser. He supported private property rights only as a superficial veneer. There were many “private” companies in the Third Reich, but they were all under the heavy regulatory thumb of the state.

In very sharp contrast indeed, the economic system pursued by the U.S.S.R. had no room for even superficially private enterprise. The farms, all of them, were collectivized and owned by the state. And the same applies to mills, factories, mines, industries of all types and varieties.

The leaders of the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party are (economic) fascists, not socialists.

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Walter E. Block is the Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at the College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, and senior fellow at the Mises Institute.
Walter E. Block is the Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at the College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, and senior fellow at the Mises Institute.

He earned his PhD in economics at Columbia University in 1972. He has taught at Rutgers, SUNY Stony Brook, Baruch CUNY, Holy Cross and the University of Central Arkansas.

He is the author of more than 600 refereed articles in professional journals, two dozen books and thousands of Op-Eds for publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He lectures widely on college campuses, delivers seminars around the world and appears regularly on television and radio shows.

He was the the 2011 Schlarbaum Laureate at the Mises Institute and has won the Loyola University Research Award (2005, 2008), the Mises Institute’s Rothbard Medal of Freedom in 2005 and the Dux Academicus Award, Loyola University, 2007.

Prof. Block counts among his friends Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard. He was converted to libertarianism by Ayn Rand. Block is old enough to have played chess with Friedrich Hayek and once met Ludwig von Mises, and shaken his hand. He has never washed that hand since.