Big Business Should Put Fascism Beside Communism in List of Things It Opposes

The Evening Independent

October 2, 1937


There has been no special demand for it, but my advice to the National Association of Manufacturers and all the chambers of commerce and boards of trade around the country which have been viewing communism with such picturesque alarm is to view fascism the same way and make it convincing.

In this manner they could but up the play around the left wing which holds all that business men, or, anyway, all men in big business, are pining for a dictatorship like Mussolini’s or Hitler’s in which the working man is forbidden to organize or strike and may even be forbidden to quit his job as an individual.

True enough, the working man has few liberties in Italy and Germany, and there may be some big operators in American industry who would like to adopt that portion of fascism which deals with labor. But that isn’t all there is to fascism, and every intelligent business man knows that business also loses its rights under a dictator.

Under fascism the big shot tells the boss how many men he must employ and how much to pay them, regulates the volume of business that he may handle, and regulates his prices and profits. In Germany only a week or so ago Hitler, for the second time in a few months, warned industry that the state would take it over if industry didn’t keep up with his schedule of preparation for his war.

If a dictator needs money—and they are always broke from overspending on arms or public works—he doesn’t bother to call together the poor monkeys who compose his parliament and get them to pass a tax law. He just takes it wherever he finds it, and inasmuch as business always keeps some on hand as fuel to keep the chimneys hot, the dictator is always sending some flunkey around with a satchel to put the bite on the business man.

Sure, in the early days of fascism and Nazism, the business men, and especially the heavy operators, thought these dictatorships were the answer to their prayer.

The Communists were raising merry hell, wrecking plants, wasting and destroying material, pushing people around, slugging, shooting and burning. They were as tough and dirty in their ways as the Black Shirts and Brown Shirts were to be when they came along, a fact to remember when some Communist starts beefing about the brutalities practiced on his comrades in the crazy countries.

But the Italian and German business men didn’t forget that once their dictators obtained absolute control, business, like labor, would be ruled by the whim of the head man or some accredited deputy who might be a terrible thief and grafter.

Political appointees with absolute authority are pretty much the same breed of cats in all countries, and business men in Italy and Germany could a tale unfold, were they not afraid of no-good relatives of government agents dropped into nominal jobs at big salaries, of kickbacks and commissions and larceny the like of which not even Chicago has ever imagined.

In the newspaper business in Italy, fascism has compelled the publishers to retain on their staffs some of the smelliest old bums that ever tossed a dram and keep them year after year, although they are absolutely worthless, because they are members of the Fascist Journalists’ syndicate or union.

The publishers may have been hot for fascism when it started—some of them certainly were—but it is no fun now. They can’t hire or fire without permission from a deputy who holds the Duce’s say-so in such matters, they print what they are told to print and where they are told to print it, their white paper is rationed according to the favor of some party members who doesn’t have to give any reasons for curtailing the supply, their advertising is controlled, and they don’t feel good.

Big business in this country doesn’t want fascism, but, like the American Legion a few years ago, it has hated Communists so noisily and exclusively that the Bolos are able to make a fairly convincing charge of inferential fascism. It takes only a few words to undo this, as the Legion did, by adding the words fascism, Nazism and dictatorship in every resolution against communism and every speech on the subject.

The plan should be to create one front against all of them, instead of standing in the middle and fighting them on all sides. In practice effect they are all about the same, and it is always a pleasure to remind them of this resemblance, because it drives them nuts.

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