Taft Seminars Overview
Fascism and Political Economy. Defining Generic 'fascism' and its Relationship to Political Economy
Traditional Historical Approaches to Fascism: Marxist and Liberal Ideational Theories
Case Studies of Fascism #1 The Political Economy of Early Fascism 1919-33
Case Studies of Fascism #2 Regime Fascism in Germany and Italy
Right Wing Populism & US Democracy in an Era of Global Crisis - the Tea Party Movement.
How does the current economic crisis affect the way liberal democracies are ruled and the potential for authoritarianism and populism? Globalization and liberal democracy are often seen as mutually supportive. But some political economists point out that democracy is an achievement of economic development, an affair to be enjoyed once the basic standards of economic life reach an acceptable level. In view of the faltering of the economies of the advanced states and the impressive surge in the BRICs, who controls economic development and whether their visions are compatible with democracy presents questions relevant to future of democracy, global security, and a humane future.
One useful way to explore this question is to look for historical cases that may be comparable. Recent commentators have pointed to the crash of 1929 and the ensuing depression, particularly those concerned to advance a Keynesian economic response, but also authoritarian populist one. Others have related economic crises to changes in state formation, linking the great depression to the Keynesian welfare state and the crisis of economic stagflation and globalization to the neoliberal program of President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher.
This seminar will explore the question of the interrelationship between problems in the political economy and the formation of a fascist and/or authoritarian populist responses to the needs for political order. What conditions foster authoritarian responses to failure of liberal democracy and how authoritarianism provides response to problems of governance and order will be examined. It will proceed by focusing on the political economy of fascist states in the early twentieth century, state forms that gained momentum from the liberal economic crises of the early twentieth century. Then comparison can be made with the current crisis of political economy in the advanced states and inferences about the potential for fascism or neofascism can be explored. Throughout a concern for state power will guide discussion.
In America this process this has been reflected in a growing polarization of the two great parties of state the Democrats and Republicans. "To many, the increasingly distinct nature of parties has caused the American ) political system to become polarized. The term polarization in a strict definitional sense captures what has been going on among political elites. Conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans have largely become a thing of the past (Rohde 1991), a process advanced significantly by the 2006 congressional elections. Although ordinary Americans profess to dislike the polarization in Washington, the political system is rigged such that it is nearly impossible to remove its most polar elements." (Mark J. Hetherington, Authoritarianism & Polarization in American Politics, Cambridge, 2009, p. 190).
Into this increasingly polarized environment the Tea Party movement erupted in 2009 reflecting and amplifying this trend in US politics. Where did it emerge from, what does it represent and what does it portend for Republican and wider issues of US political economy. This will form the final seminar in the series and was also the subject of a Taft Research Centre lecture, delivered to the Department of Political Science faculty and students, on 19th May 2011. (PowerPoint Tea Party Taft Lecture Here)
UC Seminar Convener: Joel D Wolfe Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH 45211-0375 513-556-3307