Participatory fascism is a phrase coined by Dr. Charlotte Twight, professor of economics at Boise State University, and popularized by Robert Higgs, a Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute. Popularized by many media outlets, today’s U.S. political economy is often characterized as largely capitalism gone awry. Others, taking a more nuanced perspective, refer to it as a mixed economy, a combination of a free market economy and a command economy. Still others refer to the U.S. economic system as a form of socialism or crony capitalism.
Although somewhat dated, in Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, Robert Higgs made a compelling argument1:
As critics decry the pervasive governmental intrusion in the economy as ‘socialistic’, it clearly has not produced an economic order resembling any standard form of socialism.
Has it instead produced ‘fascism’? The term unfortunately has been abused by Americans in at least two distinct ways. On the one hand, ‘fascist’ serves merely as a loose term of opprobrium by which radical leftists characterize anything they dislike about the present political economy. On the other hand, and more commonly, it simply brings to mind the regimes of Mussolini and Hitler, which are generally considered to have nothing in common with the postwar economy of the United States. Indeed most Americans find the mere suggestion of such similarities offensive and repellent â€“ did Americans not spill their blood to destroy the fascist regimes? â€“ and refuse to consider seriously the possibility that the United States may be fascist in some respects.