When we look at the rise of Fascism in the 1930s, they all started with the troika of privatization, tax cuts for the rich and businesses, and shredding the social safety net.
This is quite literally the neoliberal consensus:
It’s time to talk about the Banality of Evil. The Nazis didn’t start with genocide. Heck, they didn’t even start with the Nuremberg Laws. Our education system and popular media focus on the most horrific, the most dramatic, and the most apparent aspects of Fascism. However, Fascism begins in a much less dramatic fashion. In the beginning,Fascism is banal, and to many of us, it is oddly familiar.
Before the rise of Fascism, both Italy and Germany had a robust social safety net and public services. In Italy, the trains were nationalized, and they ran on time while serving rural villages in 1861. The telecom industry was nationalized in 1901. Phone lines and public telephone services were universally available. In 1908, the life insurance industry was nationalized. For the first time, even poor Italians could ensure that their family could be taken care of if they died a premature death.
Between 1919 and 1921, Italy went through a time of worker liberation that has been dubbed as Bienno Rosso. Italian workers had formed factory co-ops where they shared the profits. Large landlords were replaced by cooperative farming. Workers received many concessions: higher wages, fewer hours, and safer workplace conditions.
Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister in October 1922. Nazis rose to power in 1933 in Germany. Mussolini convened a meeting of his cabinet and immediately decided to privatize all the public enterprises. On December 3, 1922, they passed a law where they promised to reduce the size and function of the government, reform tax laws and also reduce spending. This was followed by mass privatization. He privatized the post office, railroads, telephone companies, and even the state life insurance companies. Afterward, the two firms that had lobbied the hardest: Assicurazioni Generali (AG) and Adriatica di Sicurtà (AS), became a de-facto oligopoly. They became for-profit enterprises. The premiums increased, and poor people had their coverage removed.
In January 1923, Mussolini eliminated rent-control laws. His reasoning ought to be familiar since that is the same reasoning used in many contemporary editorials against rent control laws. He claimed rent control laws prevent landlords from building new housing. When tenants protested, he eliminated tenants’ unions. As a result, rent prices increased wildly in Rome, and many families became homeless. Some went to live in caves.
Once more, these policies allowed landlords to increase their profit and holdings while they severely hurt the poor.
Hitler’s economic policy was Mussolini’s policy on steroids. In the 1920s, the NSDAP was a minor party. In the 1932 elections, the Nazi Party did not have an outright majority. According to the Nuremberg Trial transcripts, on January 4, 1933, bankers and industrialists had a secret backroom deal with with then Chancellor Hindenberg to make Hitler the Chancellor of Germany in a coalition.
In 1934, Nazis outlined their plan to revitalize the German economy. It involved reprivatization of significant industries: railways, public works project, construction, steel, and banking. On top of that, Hitler guaranteed profits for the private sector, and so, many American industrialists and bankers gleefully flocked to Germany to invest.
The Nazis had a thorough plan for deregulation. The Nazi’s economist, stated,” The first thing German business needs is peace and quiet. It must have a feeling of absolute legal security and must know that work and its return are guaranteed. The interferences In a business which occurred at first, perhaps as a result of too much zeal, have become intolerable.”
Fascism isn’t the merger of corporations and government that is too vague, and too easy to confuse. Fascism is government functions being replaced by private corporations. Fascism is when the public good is replaced by private profit.
If you have ever wondered why the US foreign policy (and its proxies like the IMF) seems to favor entities who could be reasonably described as fascist, this provides some valuable context.