Flirting With Fascism

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," April 1, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Sheldon Richman from the Freeman Foundation for Economic Education — how are you, sir?


BECK: OK. I — first of all, am I wrong on this one, Sheldon? That what I'm seeing here is fascistic.

RICHMAN: You're not wrong. The only thing I would do is broaden your perspective a little bit. We've been on this road a very, very long time.

BECK: Oh, I think we've been on this road since Teddy Roosevelt. And — I mean, look, I want to show you something. This is — explain what this is. Do you have feedback? This is that — this is all the sticks bound together in the axis. It's the Roman symbol of fascism?

RICHMAN: This is what the fascists in Italy used as their symbol, which was this Roman depiction of a bundle of rods bound together with an ax coming out the top, which I assume is a symbol of a collective unity and force of power.

BECK: Right. OK, could you zoom in on this? Here it is — Harry, bring it forward a little bit. Zoom in right here.

This is — this is the Mercury Dime. On the back of the mercury dime — and Harry saw this earlier today. He works the gib camera that's zooming in right now. They look familiar? This is the symbol of fascism.

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Who brought this dime in? It happened in 1916, Woodrow Wilson was the president. I didn't even put this together. We've have been on the road to fascism for a while.

So, let's do something here. I looked up the definition of fascism yesterday, and I want to — I want to break it down. The first part is — where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society's economic process through direct state operations of the means of production, fascism sought to control indirectly through the domination of nominally private owners.

Would you say that this is what's happening with G.M. right now? And AIG?

RICHMAN: Something similar is happening with those companies. Again, to keep it in context — and this is in no way defensive that I am against all of that — first of all, it began in — back September. As you pointed out, the Republicans and the left and right had done similar things.

BECK: You know, hang on, Sheldon, I don't know what you're — I don't know what you're trying to paint here. I am not saying that Barack Obama is a fascist.


BECK: I'm not saying the Democrats are fascists. I'm saying the government under Bush and under Obama and under all of the presidents that we've seen or at least most of the presidents that we've seen for quite some time are slowly but surely moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism.

Yes or no?

RICHMAN: No, I'm agreeing with you.


RICHMAN: I'm saying we've been on that road a very long time. We've been on that road for ages from the — into the 19th century. We — sometimes we take two steps forward and then one back; sometimes we take one step forward or two steps back. We've been on that road, and I agree with what you're saying. The G.M. and AIG situations are more — are more like fascism than socialism.

But I would add this one caveat and I don't approve of the policies, but I would just add this one caveat. These companies came to the government for help. They never should have gotten it.

BECK: But, if I'm not mistaken — if I'm not mistaken — in the early days of Adolf Hitler, they were — they were very happy to line up for help there as well. I mean, the companies were like, hey, wait a minute, we can get, you know, we can get out of trouble here, they can help, et cetera, et cetera.

You line up sometimes. You never want to give your rights away or your freedoms away for security. Our founders talked about this. We're giving our freedoms away. G.M., AIG, any of these banks, Citigroup — they're all giving their freedom away for security.

RICHMAN: You're right. We don't have an argument here. I was just keeping the context clear.

BECK: OK. The second thing is where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property — I love this — in the national interests, that is, as an autocratic authority conceived it; where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities.

So, what it does mean exactly? That's the public/private kind of relationship, is it not?

RICHMAN: Well, what I was trying to do there — and you're reading from my entry on the "Concise Encyclopedia of Economics" on fascism — I was trying to contrast it with socialism.

Under socialism, there was no facade of a free market or capitalism or whatever you want to call it. Everything was just nationalized, and the economy was just a government operation.

Under fascism, under Mussolini in Italy and then under Hitler in the '30s with the Nazis, they left intact what looked like private businesses, the government just dictated all the terms.

But in both cases of fascism and socialism, the market was effectively abolished. There was no marketplace. There was no bidding. There was no haggling. There was no market.

BECK: There was...

RICHMAN: And — so that makes — that should give us an important distinction of what's going on today. The market is not abolished in the United States.

BECK: Right.

RICHMAN: It is very heavily burdened by government, but that's not the same as abolishing it.

BECK: OK. Thank you very much. We'll talk again.

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