Triumph of the Will?
If it were never necessary to adapt fundamentally to reality, then fascism would be the truth. There could be no limit to the sovereignty of political will.
If — pursuing this thought further into vile absurdity — even tactical concessions were unnecessary, then nothing would obstruct a path of joyous degeneration leading all the way to consummate communism. That, however, is several steps beyond anything that has been seriously advocated for over half a century.
Since the 1920s, communism has been the ideal form of socio-economic impracticality, as evidenced by that fact that whenever communism becomes practical, it becomes — to exactly the same extent — fascist (‘state capitalist’ or ‘Stalinist’). Fascism on the other hand, and as everyone knows, makes the trains run on time. It represents practical subordination of reality to concentrated will.
Fascism understands itself as the politics of the ‘third position’ — between the anti-political hyper-realism of the market on the one (invisible) hand, and super-political communist fantasy on the (clenched-fist) other. The fascism that thrives — most exceptionally in the American tradition through Hamilton, Lincoln, and FDR — is a flexi-fascism, or pragmatic illiberalism, that marries the populist desires of coercive collectivism to a superceded, subordinated, or directed ‘realism’ — grasping economic dispersion as a technocratic management problem under centralized supervision. Insofar as this problem proves to be indeed manageable, the basic fascist intuition is vindicated. Fragmentation is mastered, in a triumph of the will (although we are more likely to call it ‘hope and change’ today).
That fragmentation cannot be mastered is the sole essentially anti-fascist proposition, and also the distinctive thesis of Austrian economics. Whilst deductively obtainable, within the axiomatic system of methodological individualism, it is a thesis that must ultimately be considered empirically sensitive. Fascism can discredit individualist assumptions simply by prolonging itself, and thus practically asserting the superior authority of the social super-organism. Reciprocally, the fragility of collective identities can only be convincingly demonstrated through historical events. It does not suffice to analytically ‘disprove’ the collective — it has to be effectively broken. Nothing less than a totally unmanageable economic crisis can really count against the fascist idea.
Yet, obviously and disturbingly, the predictable political response to a gathering crisis is to slide more deeply into fascism. Since fascism, beyond all brand-complexity, sells itself as ultimate managerial authority — heroic dragon-slayer of the autonomous (or ‘out-of-control’) economy — there is absolutely no reason for this to surprise us. To break fascism is to break the desire for fascism, which is to break the democratic or ‘popular will’ itself — and only a really freed economy, which has uncaged itself, spikily and irreversibly, can do that.
The shattering of human collective self-management from the Outside, or (alternatively) triumphal fascism forever. That is the fork, dividing reaction from itself, and deciding everything for mankind. Patchwork or New Order — but when will we know?
NOTE: Among the glories of this comments thread is Vladimir’s indispensable contribution to the schedule of decision: “Meanwhile, the Austro-libertarian prophets of doom are necessarily unable to give any accurate timing for these crashes and panics, even when they unfold exactly according to their theory. The reason is simple: the obvious truth of the weak efficient markets hypothesis.”
ADDED: Ex-Army on why Communism ≠ Fascism: “When you’re given a choice between living under a communist dictator or a fascist dictator, everything else being equal, take the fascist dictator. Interestingly, communists in general are safer under a fascist dictator than they are under a communist dictator.”