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The Liberal Split: Divorcing The Economic From The Political

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Chapter Summary

An indispensable historical precondition for fascism was the inherent tension between the political dimension of the liberal order and its economic one. Liberalism was the socioeconomic doctrine with which the ascending European bourgeoisie of the late 18th and early 19th century challenged the nobility. Capitalism, fundamentally, was seen to be at odds with democracy; the economic liberal sphere was seen to be at variance with the expansionary dynamics of political liberalism. The whole purpose of the liberal civil society from a Lockean point of view was to shore up nascent capitalist property and production. The crucial fault of liberalism, according to Donoso, was that it inevitably heralds social revolution, which, once unleashed, it is completely incapable of thwarting. Like Constant during his sanguine moments, Pareto could envision a parliamentary system reasonable enough to acknowledge the iron laws of the economy, and hence adhere to free competition.

Keywords: Benjamin Constant; capitalism; Donoso Cortés; economic liberal sphere; European bourgeoisie; fascism; John Locke; political liberalism; Vilfredo Pareto



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