Monday, January 9, 2012

Fascism of Wealth

Fascism is, by dictionary definition, a system of governance which exerts control upon those subjected to it in a few particular ways. Properly executed, a government only exerts control to protect Essential Liberty and to resolve any conflict that at may arise between individual claims of liberty. We know that Fascism is not a properly executed government. Fascism is led by a dictator, with complete power, who forcibly suppresses opposition and criticism while controlling industry. [1] Fascism does not require any particular industrial or economic model, nor are any immune to potential Fascist control. The opposite of an Anarchist government, and potential result of any improperly executed government, is Fascism. As a government legislates beyond what is ideologically justified, through claims of security or arbitrary benefit, it begins to establish a dominion. A government of dominion exerts control over those subject to it in the same was as a Fascist government, the difference is only scale. The end result of the logic used to justify any coercive government is Fascism itself.
In industrialized nations, money is used as an indicator of goods owed from services rendered. Wealth is how a society tracks the profits generated by labor. This practical invention, created to prevent excess products from spoiling before the individual whom labored upon them could use them, has become more conceptual with the creation of systems of investment, trading, incentive, and compensation. Industry has adopted wealth as a motivator and society has adopted it as a numerical indicator of worth, a concept so tied to monetary value it is hard to think of worth indicating anything else. Worth is also an indicator of quality, excellence, or importance. [2] There was a time when to be valuable was not to be expensive but to be excellent in quality. To be a person of worth was not to be a person of wealth but of good character. When an individual is promoted within a business, their pay increases. When an individual performs in a desired way, they are given wealth. Should a government of dominion wish to encourage behavior, they provide monetary encouragement for certain actions such as marriage, the purchasing of certain commodities, charity, et c.
The role wealth plays as an incentive, and indicator of success, in society has affected political systems in profound and measurable ways. In America, the elected officials had more campaign money than their opponents over ninety percent of the time [3] and forty-four percent of congress is counted as millionaires, as opposed to just one percent of the American population. [4] Though correlation does not mean causation, the amount of money spent lobbying and the small portion of the population it comes from (one quarter of contributions coming from one hundredth of one percent of the population, each individual spending more than the median American income) [5] suggests that the funds are making an appearance somewhere in our political system and are not limited to travel and expenses while an individual presents a logical argument to a representative in person. To look at the role money plays in politics we must understand what this wealth exchange is, compensation for services rendered. When campaigns spend money, the service being rendered is the delivery of The Message. A politician must market themselves to potential voters, convincing them of their suitability for office. The citizenry must be convinced (sometimes through false claims) to cast their ballot for the candidate. When lobbyist spend money, they too are delivering The Message.
In the realm of lobbying, The Message may not be as clear as it is in politics. The Political Message is essentially to vote and to do so for the candidate advocating it. At best, the candidate’s message is a listing of their beliefs and political claims. High levels of wealth used to support a campaign may suggest something more, an element of coercion. Once The Political Message is delivered, campaign funds should only need to support travel to debates and appearances, maybe. However, campaign funds are increasing and by significant amounts. [3] If campaigns are doing more than giving voters access to a candidates beliefs and ideology, by distribution of the information and providing access to the candidate, then the wealth allowing a candidate to do more (such as run political attack ads) is part of a coercive element. Once a candidate is in office, this coercive element persists in lobbying, functioning the same way upon an elected official it did upon a voting populace; the excess of wealth goes beyond providing detailed, factual information to coercion which is a trait of authority.
If wealth is a trait of authority, by being an element of coercion, then we should view it as such. Authority is control over the self abdicated to another entity. Wealth, in it’s most base form, is compensation for services rendered. We must ask if an individual can purchase authority. As a simple mental exercise, if we can conceive of an individual offering money and that exchange influencing an individual’s decision, we can see that money can be coercive and thus purchase authority. Being a coercive element, not ideological, we can deduce the kind of authority wealth is, as well. Wealth is the authority of dominion, where those subject to it relinquish their power over self determination to allow another to dictate action to another, the provider of the monetary incentive. It is the ultimate result of any government of dominion, and those coercive elements which support it, to be a Fascism – The State. Wealth, as it exists in these conditions, forcibly suppresses opposition and criticism through it’s existence as a coercive element. Profit, the gain of money, is the deciding factor in business transactions and their continuation. By definition, wealth is most certainly a fascist ruler, one that is becoming more and more influential in American politics.

[1] “Fascism.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 27 Dec. 2011.
[2] “Worth.” The Random House Dictionary. Web. 27 Dec. 2011.
[3] Communications. “Money Wins Presidency and 9 of 10 Congressional Races in Priciest U.S. Election Ever.” OpenSecretsBlog, 5 Nov. 2008. Web. 28 Dec. 2011
[4] Lovley, Erika. “Report: 237 millionaires in Congress.” Politico, 6 Nov. 2009. Web. 28 Dec. 2011.
[5] Drutman, Lee. “The Political One Percent of the One Percent.” Sunlight Foundation, 13 Dec. 2011. Web. 28 Dec. 2011.

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