Corporate Economics

BUF theoretician Alexander Raven Thomson’s 1935 essay on fascist economic theory

The following essay, ‘Corporate Economics’ by Alexander Raven Thomson, was first published in Fascist Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1935. The Fascist Quarterly (renamed British Union Quarterly in 1936) was the theoretical journal of the British Union of Fascists, intended to act as a kind of counterbalance to the Left Book Club by providing a platform in Britain for the dissemination of the intellectual voices of European fascism. Raven Thomson was one of these voices – a former member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, he had joined the BUF in April 1933 and swiftly became the movement’s primary ideologist. A captivating speaker, an engaging writer, and deeply influenced by Spenglerian philosophy and political syndicalism, Thomson was a revolutionary, a radical opponent of laissez-faire capitalism who saw in the corporate state the key to social justice and the salvation of Western civilization. His writings, such as the essay excerpted below, provided the BUF with much of its theoretical foundations. 

A great problem has been created for the modern world by the collapse of the present economic system. We can no longer tolerate a system which condemns most of us to poverty in the midst of the greatest plenty mankind has ever known, which deprives millions of people of the right to earn their own living, and brings ever nearer the danger of war in the international struggle for contracting world markets. What is the cause of this universal breakdown. Where have we gone wrong?

Before we can fully appreciate the cause of the trouble, we must consider the threefold nature of organized society as follows:

  • A Central Government vested with authority to plan and direct the national life.
  • A Number of Social Groups with various purposes and interests.
  • A Mass of Individuals endowed with powers of initiative and enterprise.

The classical economic theory of the nineteenth century concerned itself almost entirely with the third and least organized aspect of society, resenting either state or group interference with economic affairs. In earlier times of comparative scarcity there may have been some justification for this view, as the initiative and enterprise of the individual was then of vital importance in developing latent powers of production and advancing technical invention. Obviously the individual would develop his powers of initiative and enterprise to the best effect, if granted the largest possible measure of economic liberty, and this is precisely what the economists of the Manchester School demanded, when they advocated “laissez faire” and free trade.

Whatever the advantages of economic liberty in solving the problem of scarcity, however, it has become a positive menace to social welfare in a dawning age of plenty. There is no need to condemn classical economic theory as such, but we must realize that there can be no absolute “laws” of economics independent of social organization. No doubt the individualist system was very necessary in an age of scarcity, and we have to thank the Manchester School for solving the problem of production, but the time has now come for a new economic system in keeping with the needs of a new age. Individual enterprise encouraged by complete liberty of exploitation has put an end to scarcity, but is completely incapable of distributing the plenty it has created to the people as a whole. Production is in its very nature an individual or at most a group process; distribution, on the other hand, is based upon the needs of the whole community, and obviously cannot succeed without a large measure of conscious social planning.

Socialism and the Class War

As individualism has now passed its period of usefulness and has become an actual danger to economic progress, the time has come to turn the focus of economic interest to the social group, if not to the nation as a whole. Hitherto those who have most vigorously attacked the present system, and have adopted such collective terms as “Socialist” or “Communist,” have never really risen above group considerations. Despite their grandiloquent claim to “nationalize” the means of production, the very basis of Socialist and Communist appeal lies in the exaggeration of class differentiation and insistence upon the “class war.” Clearly such a class-conscious doctrine belongs to the realm of the social group, and fails to rise to any appreciation of the whole community as a living organic entity. Indeed the stress laid by the Socialist upon internationalism, and his denial of patriotism, confirm his inability to grasp the full implications of social organization, which should rise far above class considerations to a realization of national purpose. The ultimate “reductio ad absurdum” is reached, when the Soviet regime in Russia claims that it is the “dictatorship of the proletariat” for this would imply the permanent and conscious ascendancy of a group over the national life. Continue reading

Proclamation of the Spanish Falange of the J.O.N.S.

Presented by José Antonio Primo de Rivera as a speech to Falangists at the Teatro Calderón, Valladolid, March 4, 1934

Falangismo

The following speech by José Antonio Primo de Rivera was made at the first major meeting of the Falange Española de las J.O.N.S., the unified movement created by the merger of the Falange Española and the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista in early 1934. Three thousand fascists and national-syndicalists converged on the city of Valladolid for the event, filling the grand Calderón Theater which had been bedecked with massive black-and-red banners and Spanish flags. José Antonio, Ramiro Ledesma, Julio Ruiz de Alda, and other leaders of the new movement took the stage to a storm of fascist salutes, before the Jefe Nacional gave his address – a short, powerful speech stridently rejecting liberalism, socialism, and reaction while advocating a new path leading to a uniquely Spanish form of revolutionary-nationalism. The speech and meeting proved to be a baptism of fire – as the Falangists left the theater they were shot at by communists, with a street-fight promptly breaking out in which one Falangist was killed. Nonetheless, the meeting was regarded by the participants as a great success. 

This is not the place to applaud anyone or to cheer. Here no one is anybody, each is only a mere component, a soldier of this task-force set on a task which is ours and that of Spain.

Let me tell anyone about to cheer yet again that I will not thank him for the acclaim. We have not come here to be applauded. What is more, I might almost say that we have not come to teach you anything. We have come here to learn.

There is a great deal to be learnt from this land and this sky of Castile by us, who in many cases live far removed from them. This land of Castile, which is the land of no airs or graces, the essence of land, the land which is neither local color, nor the river, nor the boundary, nor the hillside. The land which is certainly not the sum of a  number of estates, or the basis of certain landed interests to be haggled over in assemblies, but which is land itself, land as the repository of eternal values, austerity of conduct, the spirit of religion in life, speech and silence, the solidarity of ancestors and descendants.

And above this quintessential land, the quintessential sky.

The sky so blue, so bare of passing clouds, so utterly without the greenish reflections of leafy groves, so purely blue that one might say it was almost white. And so Castile, with the quintessential land and the quintessential sky gazing at one another, has never been resigned to being a mere province; it could not help but aspire at all times to being an empire. Castile has never managed to understand what is local, it has understanding only for what is universal, which is why Castile denies itself the certainty of limits, perhaps because it is unlimited, both in scope and in stature. And therefore Castile, that land encrusted with wonderful names – Tordesillas, Medina del Campo, Madrigal de las Altas Torres – that land of the Chancery [i.e. the medieval Chancery], of fairs and castles, that is, of justice, trade and militia, gives us an idea of what constituted the Spain we no longer possess, and oppresses our hearts with a deep sense of loss. Continue reading

‘Fascism of the First Hour’

Benito Mussolini’s speeches of March 23, 1919, at Piazza San Sepolcro, proclaiming the founding of the Fasci di Combattimento

SansepolcrismoOn 23 March, 1919, a meeting was held in a hall at Milan’s Piazza San Sepolcro. The audience of roughly 120 people comprised an eclectic mixture of Arditi, Republicans, soldiers, national-syndicalists, Futurists, nationalists, and revisionist socialists. Nobility rubbed soldiers with peasants; famous artists like Marinetti mingled with decorated officers like Captain Ferruccio Vecchi. Many of the attendees wore black shirts and carried clubs and black flags. The purpose of the meeting, as organized by infamous ex-socialist Benito Mussolini and  his syndicalist compatriot Michele Bianchi, was to weld the many like-minded nationalist-revolutionary fascio into a single, united organization under centralized leadership. Mussolini opened the meeting with a morning speech, and closed it with an evening speech – speeches which announced the birth of a new political movement founded on nationalism, corporatism, and class-collaboration. These early addresses are especially notable for their pro-republican sentiments and ambivalent stances on democracy, indicative of early fascism’s status as a political expression of national-syndicalist ideological concepts. 

Mussolini’s Morning Speech

First of all, a few words regarding the agenda.

Without undue formality or pedantry, I shall read to you three declarations that seem to me to be worthy of discussion and a vote. Later, in the afternoon, we can resume discussion of our platform declaration. I must tell you right off that we dare not bog down in details; if we wish to act, we must grasp reality in its broad essentials, without going into minute details.

FIRST DECLARATION

“The meeting of March 23 extends its greetings and its reverent and unforgetful thoughts first of all to those sons of Italy who have given their lives for the grandeur of the fatherland and the freedom of the world, to the wounded and sick, to all the fighters and ex-prisoners who carried out their duty; and it declares that it is ready to give energetic support to claims of both a material and moral  nature that may be set forth by the servicemen’s associations.”

SECOND DECLARATION

“The meeting of March 23 declares that it is opposed to the imperialism of other peoples at the expense of Italy, and declares that it is opposed to any eventual Italian imperialism that works to the detriment of other people. It accepts the supreme postulate of a League of Nations, which presupposes the integrity of each nation – integrity which, so far as Italy is concerned, must be realized in the Alps and along the Adriatic through her claim to Fiume and Dalmatia.” Continue reading

Women and British Fascism

Anne Brock-Griggs’s pamphlet, ‘Ten Points of Fascist Policy for Women’

Anne_Brock-Griggs01Anne Brock-Griggs was an early member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), joining the movement partly in response to her disappointment with establishment conservatism. She made her name through her spirited speeches at outdoor meetings, and in recognition of her talents was appointed to  BUF staff as Woman’s Propaganda Officer in 1935. Later she was to be promoted to Chief Woman’s Officer, national leader of the movement’s Women’s Division, and represented the views of women members in the Woman’s Page of party newspaper Action. The following pamphlet, ‘Women and Fascism: Ten Points of Fascist Policy for Women’ was published in 1936 as a statement on the BUF’s official stance on women’s issues – like much Mosleyite writing it has a strong focus on welfare and social reform. In 1937 Anne Brock-Griggs stood unsuccessfully as BUF candidate for Limehouse, East London, and she was active in the Peace Campaign against entry into the Second World War. Detained during the war under Defence Regulation 18B, when released she joined Mosley’s post-war Union Movement, but suffered from ill health. She died from cancer sometime in the 1960’s. 

1. Women in Parliament

Women will vote according to the contribution they make to the life of the community, in the corporations to which they belong, and will be eligible to represent their corporations in Parliament.

In whatever trade or profession is in question, the women concerned will have representation. Where women predominate so may their elected representatives.

For the first time, women will be able to control their own affairs and advise on the affairs of State. A number will be represented in the Corporations as consumers, being the chief buyers of products for the family.

In the Home Corporation, women who run a home or are employed in domestic work will be represented. This will be recognised as one of the most vital corporations in the Fascist State, and will give the career of the homemaker the status of a profession.

2. Status of Women

In the machinery of the Corporate State, Fascism assures women an equal status with their men-folk, for it enables them to direct and control the conditions under which they live.
The fascist conception of individual liberty in private, and obligation in public life, gives them every opportunity they require in their future status as women citizens.

Fascism requires that women, equally with men, should offer a disciplined co-operation in the welding together of an ordered state. Fascism will lay upon all citizens of the state the duty of working in harmony, not in the interests of any section or class, but for the benefit of all its people. Continue reading