The media have lamented use of the word fascism when it has been used to describe moves by the Bush and Obama administrations and the private sector economy.
But when examined from a purely political and economic point-of-view, that is what's going on now according to Thomas Sowell, Stanford University's Hoover Institute Senior Fellow and author of "The Housing Boom and Bust." Sowell appeared on Glenn Beck's May 27 program and was asked if the United States was still a capitalist country.
"Oh, heavens, partially," Sowell replied. "We're not a socialist country, because the socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production. But, the fascists believe that the government should have private ownership and the politicians should tell people how to run the businesses. So that's the route we seem to be going."
A textbook definition explains that fascism embodied corporatism, which is an economic structure controlled by the government. Sowell said that's exactly what is happening in some sectors of the U.S. economy:
Beck: So what route is that again?
Sowell: That the private people still own the businesses but the politicians tell them what to do.
Beck: Right, but isn't that, I'm trying to remember, that's uh...
Sowell: That's fascism.
Beck: Yes, I was going to say, I knew it was a bad one. And I was going to say, I think that's fascism. Yeah. OK. Well you're a crazy lunatic. Why would you say we're going down a fascist road? Um, go ahead.
Sowell: Only because we are.
Sowell argued it would take a "calamity" for people to realize that fascism is taking place - the issue being just how big it would be before the public could connect the dots.
"Well to do that, they would have to think," Sowell explained. "And this whole personality cult has caught on in such a way that it is going to be a while before people start thinking. It is a question of how big of a calamity is it gonna take before they snap out of it."
The Stanford University economist chastised President Barack Obama's administration for leading the United States down this path economically and noted it would have an impact on the country's foreign policy.
"Gosh, I hate to make predictions but I think the economy is, is gonna be permanently changed for the worse," Sowell said. "I think our foreign policy is gonna lead to changes that will be definitely for the worse, particularly if we drift into a nuclear Iran, which I gather that's what the administration is doing."