The Sun likes Obama’s Coporatism, Just Don’t Point it Out

There has been an interesting convergence of what appeared to be separate arguments and issues involving the Sun editorial page and Second Opinion blog.

Sunday, in the Second Opinion blog, editorial page editor Michael Cross-Barnett invoked Godwins Law on Anne Arundel County Republican Women’s President Joyce E. Thomann for her crude “blitzkrieg” comparison of Obama to Adolph Hitler. Cross-Barnett argued that Thomann is merely another exhibit in the evidence chain of an illegitimate “Obama/Hitler nexus” deep within the conservative mainstream. I reject his argument about the conservative mainstream (see below) but, Thomann is fair game because of her sloppy, slack-ass argument.

However, Cross-Barnett then uses Jonah Goldberg’s (cue snickering from Griffiths and Kline) Hitler/Volkswagen comparison to Obama/GM as another data point in his argument.

I’m not calling Barack Obama a Hitler and I’m not calling him Nazis and all the rest. But, you know, in fascism, we saw the people’s car. We call it the Volkswagen, where the state said what we’re going to do is we’re going to take over the auto industry — government and business and unions are going to get together and we’re going to create cars to fill a political need rather than a market need and give people these cars.”

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What Goldberg is referring to is corporatism, the animating principle of fascist economics. According to Wikipedia corporatism is defined as:

a system of economic, political, and social organization where corporate groups such as business, ethnic, farmer, labor, military, patronage, or religious groups are
joined together under a common governing jurisdiction to try to achieve societal
harmony and promote coordinated development.

Think community organizing writ large.

Steve Malenga essay , at Real Clear Markets, on corporatism explicates the idea for us in terms of how we’ve seen Obama’s economic policies before.

But we are entering quite a different age right now, one in which the President of the United States and his hand-selected industrial overseers fire the chief executive of General Motors and chart the company’s next moves in order to preserve it. Conservative critics of the president have said that the government’s GM strategy is one of many examples of an America drifting toward socialism. But President Obama is not a socialist. But President Obama is not a socialist. If his agenda harks back to anything, it is to corporatism, the notion that elite groups of individuals molded together into committees or public-private boards can guide society and coordinate the economy from the top town and manage change by evolution, not revolution. It is a turn-of-the 20th century philosophy, updated for the dawn of the 21st century, which positions itself as an antidote to the kind of messy capitalism that has transformed the Fortune 500 and every corner of our economy in the last half century. To do so corporatism seeks to substitute the wisdom of the few for the hundreds of millions of individual actions and transactions of the many that set the
direction of the economy from the bottom up.

Corporatism periodically re-emerges precisely because it is an appealing political formulation, seeking as it does to present a middle-of-the-road alternative to socialism on the one hand, and capitalism on the other. …

But a version of corporatism also emerged in the 1920s in Fascist Italy, where Mussolini conceived of syndicates in numerous industries composed of labor leaders and businessmen helping direct the Italian economy in the service of Fascism. Hitler’s solution was more thorough, to eliminate those organizations and associations within Germany that opposed him and to smother individualism by instituting a corporatist regime of forcible coordination among trade unions and business groups.

As chilling as these authoritarian versions of corporatism sound today, in the 1930s they found admirers in the U.S., where the ravages of the Great Depression provoked public longing for a safer, more thoroughly planned economy without as much resistance and debate from recalcitrant business leaders or opposition party members who opposed the New Deal. Even today one occasionally hears a longing for a benign version of this elaborately planned economic world in phrases like “getting the trains running on time,” or in a recent column in the New York Times which suggested that Hitler’s wartime buildup amounted to a successful government stimulus in Depression-era Germany.

Goldberg’s defenders (me included) made this argument in the comments section and the liberals’ response was similar to the dumbfounded look your dog gives you when you feed it a piece of broccoli.

That however, is merely a side show to the lager point.

In two editorials this week the Sun applauded two rank examples of corporatism—House passage of Waxman-Markey and Wal-Mart’s support for Obamacare. See Steve Carney’s Examiner post on how these two events are just another example of big business and big government once again hopping into the corporatist bed. Also, be sure to note the incestuous relationship between the Center for American Progress (Judd Legum’s former employer) and corporate lobbyists.

My question: If it’s unfair—and a violation of Godwin’s Law—to point out the corporatist connections between Obama and Hitler’s economic policies (Mussolini and Franklin Roosevelt practiced too) then what does it say about the Sun, which is cheerleading the very same corporatism?

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