Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Friday, August 23, 2002
If anyone among the tiny number of people who visit this site still doesn't read Lileks regularly, here's another example of why you should.

Having read Shirer more recently than Jim though, I do feel obliged to acknowledge that (as he is no doubt being instructed in scads of righteous emails) many German industrialists did in fact give Hitler financial support well before the time was reached when refusal was not an option. Not all of them, by any means. But many. They figured he was more likely to keep unions in check than the parties of the left, and they were right. Under Nazi rule, the workers became essentially serfs. And the industrialists did by and large keep their property and profits, but as Lileks correctly notes, only to the extent that they turned over golden eggs on demand to keep their necks from being wrung. The point is that they were not, by any stretch of the imagination, calling the shots--a number of them wound up in concentration camps themselves. Thus the claim of Lileks' interlocutor that a definition of fascism is "complete sellout to corporate interests" is exactly backwards. It was the German businessmen who sold out to Nazism, and most of them lived to regret it.

This trope about the "complete sellout to corporate interests" is too vague to be useful, anyway. There are lots of corporations out there with lots of different interests, many (though not all, obviously) of which actually coincide with the interests of consumers. Whether a government act that serves the interest of some corporations (no act is good for all of them) is desirable or not depends entirely on which interests you're talking about. In fact if you want the classic example of selling out to big business, read Gabriel Kolko's book on the rise of "progressive" legislation. (Love that label. Who could possibly be against progress? Well, someone driving toward a cliff perhaps...) There you have what I'd call "bad" corporate interests being served behind a facade of lip service to "popular" interests. But I'll wager the image of TR and LaFollette in jackboots doesn't present itself to the fevered imagination of Lileks' pen pal with quite the same facility as that of ol' W.

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