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The role of economic liberalism in the rise of GlobalTrumpism

Quora Answer : If Libertarianism does not inevitably lead to fascism, how do you explain the rise of Trump?

Oct 23, 2017

Update : This question has changed since I answered it. My answer is still basically on-topic, but now the question sounds like it's challenging those who think that there's no Libertarian -> fascist dynamic. Previously the question sounded like it was challenging for a justification for one.

There are no hard and fast laws in economics / sociology. Just generalizations.

Nevertheless a pattern which we keep seeing is this.

Deregulated markets lead to "creative destruction". Lots of innovations, new ideas, different industries and regions rising and falling. Which leaves everyone feeling a bit disorientated.

At the same time, capitalism's "winner takes all" dynamic usually means that the rewards of all this innovation and social disruption get accumulated among a relatively small number of successful people.

While the instability and "precarity" is spread to everyone else.

At some point, so much wealth has gone to this small elite, and so much insecurity has trickled down on everyone else, that people start feeling the pinch and getting pissed off.

Once people are pissed off the with the state of the nation, the political left have a response : "the problem is too much economic freedom, and rich people not paying their share". They advocate new regulations to restore stability to the economy (and therefore people's lives), and higher taxes to redistributed the wealth back from the elite to everyone else.

The elites, of course, don't like paying more taxes and having their freedom to innovate curbed, so they start pouring their money into rival theories about the instability and social discord that DON'T point the finger at them.

Often the best candidates for this are forms of social conservatism. People who argue that it's social liberalism, lack of community, decadence etc. that is the cause of the malaise everyone is feeling. These people point the finger at everyone from immigrants to other races to alternative sexualities to drugs to avant garde art to popular entertainment to whatever the next candidate is. But NOT at the business leaders and activist shareholders and bankers who are really running the show.

The capitalist elites don't actually agree with the social conservatives, of course. And in private they do their own thing. But they do find it useful to have someone loudly talking about the problems is if they are nothing to do with them.

Sooner or later, social conservatives, sponsored by the elites, as a smokescreen against leftist populism, start to win power and influence and may get to impose their government on the world. (As long as they don't threaten the actual capitalist power. If they go to far, and do that, then capital starts to swing back against them, which is why it's often capitalist sponsored liberalism which finally beats fascism back after it's served its purpose )

So this is pattern we keep seeing throughout recent history. Yes, it's the pattern that led to the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany in the 1930s. Parallel dynamics (somewhat complicated by colonialism) have led to various right-wing dictatorships in Latin America.

You can watch this trend happening in the US, right now. Libertarian minded oligarchs have sponsored everything from the Tea Party to other hardcore conservative insurgencies into congress, to Donald Trump's campaign (including bringing extremely aggressive and combative social conservatives like Steve Bannon into government).

Now, of course, when this cycle goes around, it doesn't necessarily become full fledged fascism. Sometime you don't need to go that far to smooth over the general social dissatisfaction. Something else pops up. The economy goes into another spurt of growth and everyone starts feeling good again. Or maybe a centre-left / "third way" party wins the election to absorbs the dissatisfaction while not challenging the system too much. Maybe once in a while the left message actually does manage to convince people and there's an actual left-wing government. Etc.

But the pattern of economic liberalism -> economic crash -> reaction and rising social conservatism is too common to pretend that it isn't an endogenous dynamic of our economic system.

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