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    Is "Facism" a Fallacy?

    Whole Foods CEO John Mackey stepped in fresh, um, produce on NPR when he associated Obamacare with fascism.

    Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it, and that’s what’s happening with our healthcare programs and these reforms.

    America’s locally grown nutjobs already think Obama is a fascist (not to mention a Communist, Muslim terrorist, and Battlestar Gallactica cylon), so the idea of making states set up health exchanges, and the uninsured buy a plan or pay a small penalty, will seem fascistic. But for sane people there’s clearly a fallacy here. What is it?

    It’s a false analogy.  Two things sharing one trait or ingredient don’t make them equivalent. Homer Simpson committed the same fallacy when he told his daughter that his doughnut was a fruit since it had purple in it, and “purple is a fruit.” 

    While it’s true that Obamacare increases government influence over health insurance, that’s not the same as “controlling the means of production.” (Observant Figarists will spot a hyperbole in this leap.) And so, in the fresh air of logic, the analogy spoils quickly.

    Here’s another false analogy: Successful businessmen and wise pundits. Being good at selling expensive food does not translate into intelligent policy analysis. Maybe we should honor Whole Foods Guy with an eponym: to mackey. Definition: to turn business success into a political joke. Or, in this case, the transformation of a fruit seller into a fruitcake.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Love your work, but feel the need to push back a bit.

    Not sure where your definition of fascism comes from, especially since fascism is so hard to define. But Mussolini's definition, which included "control, assistance, or direct management" seems a bit broader than the narrow "controlling the means of production."

    From Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_Fascism

    "The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and usefu [sic] instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.
    State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)
    —Benito Mussolini, 1935, "Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions", Rome: 'Ardita' Publishers.
    January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Austin
    Sorry Figaro, I either read too fast or am a little too slow. You were citing Mackey"s definition of fascism, not providing your own. Clearly his was lame as was my previous post.

    I got spun up over whether Obamacare was more or less fascist; whether "control" includes definition of products offered, maximum allowed margins, govt provided exchanges, mandatory participation, etc., given Mussolini's broader definition. Mackey was correct to contrast Obamacare with a socialist approach like "single-payer."

    All of this leaves me wondering, "Where is the fallacy?"
    January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Austin
    I suggest "mackeying" was invented and perfected by The Donald, and as such, it should be called "Trumping."
    February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne D
    Battlestar Galactica.
    April 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt

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