On Federalism, Fascism, and Libertarianism.
Since fascism is a loaded term, let me clarify that when I talk about fascism I am referring to a principled opposite of libertarianism. The term “fascism” derives from the Latin “fascis” which means “a bundle.” In ancient Rome the fasces was an axe bound up in a bundle of rods, a symbol of civic authority. The fasces is still a symbol used today, including in our own federal government. While it has been adopted by oppressively dictatorial governments, the fasces in the abstract should remind us of such slogans as “e pluribus unum,” or “United we stand, divided we fall.” I.e., individual rods may break, but when bundled together their strength is multiplied. Likewise, when people bind themselves together for a higher purpose they can achieve things that are impossible as individuals.
Fascism is thus the best term I can juxtapose with libertarianism. While libertarianism exalts the rights of the individual above any broader social interests, fascism subjugates the rights of the individual to the good of the whole.
Fascism and libertarianism are mutually exclusive. Therefore, any social arrangement chooses (at least implicitly) between these two philosophies. And a wholly consistent arrangement would be entirely fascist or entirely libertarian. I.e., either the interests of each individual are paramount, or else the interests of the group are paramount.
Fascism is not a foreign concept to us freedom-loving democrats. For example, most people would agree that a healthy family is essentially fascist: Every family member is willing to sacrifice his own interests – including his life – for the greater good of the others.
In principle fascist societies should be the best for achieving any grand purpose. But we have not identified any grand purpose other than securing the right of every human being to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I.e., our stated purpose is to pursue libertarianism. If we instead decided that our purpose was to colonize Mars, or create a superhuman race, or discover a grand unified theory of physics, then a fascist society would probably be the most effective means to those ends.
Federalism is, ideally, a social mechanism whereby free entities elect to federate – i.e., establish a fascist compact – for a specific purpose while preserving their rights in every other domain. For example, Constitutionally the United States is fascist for purposes of defense and foreign policy, and libertarian for everything else.
In practice America has become fascist for a whole host of things, in that the federal government has decided that there are compelling social interests that trump the rights of any individual, and for which every individual is therefore coerced to sacrifice.
The United States, as Constituted, agreed to administer their currency, postal service, and roads through the federal government. They agreed to free trade, common citizenship, and to grant full faith and credit to each other’s laws. And that’s about it. I believe that insofar as the federal government taxes its citizens for other purposes, it is acting in violation of the spirit of the Constitution of the United States.