The world is flat

Thomas L. Friedman is the most important columnist for the most important newspaper in the world, the New York Times. In India, a man told him that in business, the playing field is being leveled. Friedman turned that into a 473-page, bestselling book “The World is Flat” in which he argues that the world is flat. Thomas L. Friedman is a genius. And as anyone who has read him knows, Thomas Friedman is a fascist, too.

Friedman doesn’t call it “fascism,” he calls it globalization,” but they mean the same thing. Corporate globalization is part of the hidden hand of the market, which “will never work without a hidden fist,” and, elsewhere, capitalism’s hidden fist “is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

He says countries should please, as much as possible, the capitalist class. The working class should stand quietly in line while the politicians cut their taxes, actively seek out their biggest corporations, open the economy to them and, in general, submit to their every desire.

With the unification of corporation and state, the major capitalists will own the economy and run it more fully in their interests, and a more peaceful and prosperous world will surely follow.

There’s more to fascism than the union of capitalists and the state, but the fanatical nationalism and all the rest are really just incidental, decorative hoopla. At its core fascism is constant capitalist-state cooperation, as the state cuts their taxes, ensures their profits, provides a stable climate for investment through whatever means necessary, etc – exactly what Friedman describes.

The capitalists have the real power, and the politicians get to prance about, pose as important men and share that power if they increase its reach.

Friedman and one of his heroes, Michael Dell, advocate “an industrial and tax policy which is consistently very supportive of businesses, independent of which political party is in power.” We can have the meaningless elections, electoral formalities and nominally contending parties. But the policies, which matter, should be constant, timeless, independent of politics and oriented toward capitalists’ profit requirements, as though written by the beneficent creature in the sky or the corporations themselves.

Friedman is not the first at the New York Times to describe corporate rule with such fervor. From its inception in the early 1920s, the Times was quite fond of fascism, and rather infatuated with the original fascist, Benito Mussolini.

So long as he managed Italy in a manner favorable to the interests of capital, the Times praised him in embarrassing, loving prose and his “Fascismo” was “a political phenomenon without parallel in history.” Mussolini knew how to heal Italy’s ills and as he sliced corporate taxes and his “squadristi” terrorized farm cooperatives, trade unionists, socialists, communists and other leftists, he “put his finger on the weakest spots with a clarifying touch.” For the Times, the parliamentary democracy he and his fascists eliminated had been a “cumbersome, confusing, parasite-covered bureaucratic regime.”

Mussolini was no beautiful man, but as Fascismo personified, the Times admired his “piercing, commanding, blazing eyes,” lips of an “unmistakable sensuousness” and head “of that dominating, aggressive, powerful type one associates with old Roman leaders.” Every feature conveyed his manly genius for leadership, even his bulbous nose was “large, well-formed, suggestive of power.”

He was of such virile beauty that journalists could not describe, so in 1924, the Times sent an artist to try. She found Mussolini to be “all fearlessness and strength,” with his vanity justified by “his large, beautifully chiseled mouth,” portrayed very well in the bronze Mussolini bust she sculpted.

For Thomas Friedman and the New York Times, whatever interferes with a capitalist’s profits, like meaningful democracy, is a parasite, a scourge that will torment us all. Whatever solves the capitalist’s problems, like fascist terror squads that purge trade unions and the left and terrorize the rest, is the stunning solution to everyone’s problems.

The advice of a man, who can turn a flat earth into a bestselling book, from a newspaper that immortalized Mussolini in a beautiful bronze bust, is something to consider. We should follow it and embrace Thomas Friedman’s friendly fascism, corporate globalization and live calm, quiet lives in a tranquil, peaceful dictatorship of capital.