The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) — the official rag of the American monied classes — in responding to the disorder following the military coup which removed Egypt’s Islamist president — prescribed a dose of good old-fashioned fascist rule and free-market shock therapy for the traumatized people of Egypt.   

The WSJ opined that for the Egyptian generals to bring about [U.S. style] democracy, Egypt will need needs its very own fascistic, free-market-pushing ruler like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.

“Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy…”.

Pinochet, one of Latin America’s most infamous military rulers, overthrew the elected socialist government of Salvador Allende in a violent CIA-backed coup in September 1973 — a coup hatched in Washington by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon.  Pinochet consolidated his power by the extra-judicial murder and torture of thousands, subjected Chile to a drastic, neo-liberal economic experiment and opened up its markets to American corporations.  

The WSJ did not discuss how long Egypt would need fascism before the sort of democracy acceptable to the Egyptian business class and international investors would take root.  Nor did it mention how many death squads would be needed to remove any opposition.  The WSJ did, however, offer the prospect of Washington using its leverage to open markets and arrange IMF loans.  “…The U.S. now has a second chance to use its leverage to shape a better outcome…”   

Ignoring the camouflage language, America’s pre-eminent business publication is basically saying that the confused Egyptian people –in case they do something silly like elect a truly popular government — need a decade or two of fascist terror to ensure the right people take power.  The type of people whose idea of democracy means bringing Egypt’s unions to heel, murdering and torturing the political opposition, privatizing everything in sight, subjecting the country to IMF debt and foreign investment, and so bringing it firmly under the control of the West.  

The liberal Guardian newspaper in the UK , rightly shocked, spluttered that the WSJ could not advocate something so unjustified.  Like much of western liberalism, motivated by sentimentalism and an intellectualized horror of fascism, the Guardian misses the point.  The question is not whether the WSJ is justified or not, but rather whether fascism is consistent with the WSJ’s overall worldview. Suggesting fascism for Egypt, however nonchalantly, is fully consistent with the WSJ’s politics. The WSJ knows exactly what it means.  

Fascism is nothing if not the unmasked face of the corporatocracy and, by extension, international finance capitalism.  Western capitalism, with its carefully manufactured liberal “democracy” thus far has largely retained its mask.  Central to this success has been the century-long, mind-warping propaganda system that has welded the idea of freedom with capitalism.

Should the corporate public relations industry in countries like Britain and the U.S. fail to deliver “legitimacy” to the rulers, should enough people question privilege and their own condition and above all, should solidarity replace indifference, the mask would soon slip from our rulers’ faces.  Nothing frightens ruling elites like masses of disobedient people and uncertainty.  Once this happens, the capitalist class and their institutions of coercion will resort to some form of fascism to re-establish control.  We only need to study the history of Germany, Italy and Spain in the 1920s and ‘30s and later that of Indonesia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.  The recent rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece shows that fascism is useful as ever.    

The WSJ fully understands that fascism, with the fear and violence it brings, as well as its potential to seduce those with nothing, is needed to establish corporate rule when uncertainty threatens it.  Once control is regained, the generals in military uniforms will be replaced by their wealthy friends in business suits who will then don the mask of democracy again.

Chaos born of mass discontent always brings the possibility of  revolution — power and resources being used to serve people’s real needs.  This would be sheer anathema for the rulers and their WSJ-like mouthpieces but for this eventuality they have fascism, never too far away.

July 10, 2013