An amazing development of Keynesian theories is the fact that fascist governments found it easy to borrow them. This fact has been publicly acknowledged by Fascist forces.
Mussolini personally set his approval and signature over a book which proclaims:
Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.(1)
Keynes’ book, End of Laissez-Faire, was his most pronounced and clearcut advocacy of socialism. This Keynes work was not only enthusiastically embraced by Fascism but was listed as required reading by the League for Industrial Democracy and the Rand School of Social Science in the United States (both Fabian socialist). Harvard economic and sociological courses have repeatedly used the End of Laissez-Faire as required reading for undergraduates.
The above quoted fascist protagonist further writes that in so far as Keynes’ teachings are concerned:
All this is pure fascist premises and I cordially recommend Mr. Keynes to proceed to Italy and there to study Fascism with an open mind and with the same scrupulous care as he has studied Bolshevism. An essay from his pen on Fascism would doubtless prove a most valuable piece on constructive criticism.(2)
Harvard’s socialist theoretician Schumpeter in writing of fascist economists under Mussolini, said:
It is important to emphasize that even in treatises that took a professedly sympathetic attitude to the citta corporativa (corporative state –ed). the analytic parts did not differ from generally accepted economic doctrine and could have been written just as well by enemies of Fascism.(3)
The same collectivist formula fits both fascism and socialism. In his brilliant work, The Road Ahead, John T. Flynn states:
. . . the line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.(4)
To the unsophisticated socialist follower the statement by a fascist that Keynesism “is pure Fascist premises” must come as a shock. However, history proves this to be true.(5) Keynes’ socialist ideas have been studied and adopted in turn by Soviet Russia, Fascist Italy, Peron’s Argentina, Nehru’s India, Tito’s Yugoslavia and the State of Israel.
In Fascist Italy not only Keynes, but the whole host of Fabian economists were studied and translated by Italian publishers. The analyses of American Keynesism by Seymour E. Harris (Harvard) were widely copied and so were the theories of Professor J.A. Schumpeter (Harvard). The latter represented the ideas of Austrian and German socialism (neo-Marxist).(6)
Fascist economic journals are replete with Fabian socialist sources of reference, including such names as G.D.H. Cole, Graham Wallas, Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Bernard Shaw.
The Keynesian formula fits all totalitarianisms. Juan Peron’s dictatorship in Argentina used the Keynesian technique as authority in economic and political matters. The Keynesian formulas evolved by such Harvard professors as Harris and Hansen received wide circulation there. Keynesian socialists—particularly Seymour Harris—published elaborate schemes for South America in order to lead our Latin American neighbors into the Keynesian path.(7)
Another factor in the foggy area between fascism and socialism is India. Jawaharlal Nehru has been an admirer of Keynesian ideas since 1912. His friend and biographer Frank Moraes writes:
Nehru traces the beginning of his interest in socialism to his Cambridge days when the Fabianism of Shaw and the Webbs attracted him, but he confesses that his interest was academic. He was also drawn by the intellectual liveliness of Bertrand Russell and John Maynard Keynes, many of whose lectures he attended although his own university curriculum was scientific, not economic.(8)
Like Keynes, Nehru was a militant atheist. For years Nehru openly embraced the Leninist philosophy and had been a leading figure in heading up important activities set up by the Communist International. Nehru’s present policies are a curious mixture of Keynesist, Communist and Fascist practices.(9) His economic forms and techniques are primarily Keynesian (i.e. chipping away and disrupting private enterprise development and pushing socialistic forms into the breach).
Within the left-wing underworld there is a struggle as to whether Marx or Keynes are to be the main symbols of the process to socialize the world. The Kremlin issues directives to all of its parties to oppose the socialist efforts to install Keynes in place of Marx.
One of the main communist charges is that “The Nazi fascists were especially enthusiastic supporters of Keynes.”(10)
This proves not to be a mere Communist exaggeration. The Nazis did admire the Keynesian theme whereby the government has authority over the whole economic life of the nation. Harvard’s Schumpeter wrote that in Nazi Germany “A work like Keynes’ General Theory could have appeared unmolested—and did.” Nazi thinking paralleled Keynesism to such an extent that during 1935 in Nazi Germany Professor Carl Fohl wrote a work which duplicated Keynes’ theories.(11) The parallels between Fohl’s work and that of Keynes’ General Theory startled socialist thinkers especially as Keynes’ General Theory was not yet published at the time that Fohl completed his work. Schumpeter’s insistence that Nazism did not molest economic theories because it was primarily a political movement is erroneous on its face since Keynesism is a socialist political creed which uses economic forms mainly to justify political views.(12)
Norman Thomas, leading spokesman for avowed socialists, as contrasted with secret socialists like Keynes, states:
. . both the communists and fascists revolutions definitely abolished laissez-faire capitalism in favor of one or another kind and degree of state capitalism. . . . In varying degree, these basic enterprises were collectivized under the undemocratic control of an elite, which had at its disposal all the powers of a police state.(13)
Norman Thomas correctly puts Nazism in the anti-private enterprise camp:
The social and economic consequences of fascist triumph under the German form were revolutionary, unless one insists on reserving the word revolutionary for a triumph of the working class. In no way was Hitler the tool of big business. He was its lenient master. So was Mussolini except that he was weaker.(14)
Norman Thomas’ admission that Communists and Fascists have a common result to “abolish Laissez-Faire”—is precisely what Keynes had in mind. Thomas, of course, fails to include socialists in the above category since it would be a reflection upon himself and his comrades. Nevertheless the family resemblance is there. Keynes is the umbrella under which the Big Government advocates find shelter, be they Nazi, Fascist, Communist, Socialist or combinations of all four. Norman Thomas himself admits:
. . . on governments Keynes has had great influence and his work is especially important in any reappraisal of socialist theory. He represents a decisive break with laissez-faire capitalism.(15)
On Keynes’ own home ground, England, the evolution of the principle of Keynesism as a weapon for either socialism or fascism was exemplified by Sir Oswald Mosley, current Fascist leader. Mosley was a leader of the Fabian Society at a time (1930) when Keynes’ ideas were already the officially accepted Fabian line. Having left the Labour Party and the Fabian movement, Mosley organized the British Union of Fascists which at first was modelled after Mussolini’s example but later became patterned after Hitler.
Through all these tergiversations, Mosley never had to abandon his Keynesist principles. Sister McCarran refers to the “Fabian collaboration with Liberals, Tories, Fascists and Communists.” Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying “All Fabians have their price, which is always the adoption of Fabian measures no matter by what Party.”(16) Since Keynesism is the economic platform of Fabianism and it is also adaptable to Fascism it is obvious that a hairline separates the two collectivisms.
1 James Strachey Barnes, Universal Aspects of Fascism, Williams and Norgate, London, 1929, pp. 113-114. (This book bears the imprimatur of Benito Mussolini.)
2 Ibid., p. 115.
3 History of Economic Analysis, J.A. Schumpeter, p. 1156.
4 The Road Ahead, John T. Flynn, 1950, p. 149.
5 Universal Aspects of Fascism, pp. 113-115.
6 Il Piano Roosevelt, S.E. Harris and J.A. Schumpeter, Torina, 1935.
7 Saving American Capitalism, Ed. by S.E. Harris, 1948.
Here the Keynesian S.E. Harris covers the entire political spectrum of communism, socialism and facism when he writes :
All over the world planning is on the march—in Russia and the Argentine with their new Five-Year Plans, Poland and France with their Four-Year Plans, Czechoslovakia with her Two-Year Plan, Great Britain with her Four-Year Plan still in the gestation phase, and even the United States with its Economic Budget. (p. 154.)
8 Frank Moraes, Jawaharlal Nehru, Macmillan, 1956, p. 42.
9 Ibid., pp. 12, 113.
10 Wm. Z. Foster, Outline Political History of the Americas, International Publishers, 1951, p. 597.
11 History of Economic Analysis, p. 1156.
12 Herman Rauschning in Time of Delirium, writes: “Within the framework of a hierarchic social system, such as that of German National Socialism, it was a matter of course that both the economy and science were subordinated to the new social authority.” p. 143.
13 A Socialist’s Faith, Norman Thomas, p. 55.
14 A Socialist’s Faith, p. 53.
15 Ibid., p. 117.
16 Fabianism in the Political Life of Britain, p. 345