Finian Cunningham and Clara Mattei: The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism


Image by Henrik Ström via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
April 13, 2023

Finian Cunningham on Apr 12, 2023

Western liberal democracy and its ubiquitous “austerity economics” is a euphemism for fascism. And the charade is finally coming to an end.

Austerity is not some recent policy under neoliberal capitalism. It was born out of the historic crisis in the Western system following the First World War and during the 1930s when fascism became a way to curtail any democratic challenge to the prevailing capitalist system.

That political instrument of repression is wielded today across all Western states. Quite amazingly, for a long time, few people recognized their captive, repressive state as fascism. We generally lived under the illusion that we were free citizens in “liberal democracies.”

In this interview, Clara E. Mattei explains how the technocratic-sounding “austerity” is used to hide the brutal reality of dictatorship and repression against the vast majority of citizen workers in Western states.

Clara Mattei is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department of The New School for Social Research, New York. She is the author of The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism.

Her book investigates the origins of austerity as an economic policy after the crisis of World War One. Crucially, she argues that austerity is not merely about governments balancing financial budgets. Professor Mattei contends that austerity policy implemented by all Western governments is a political instrument of mass repression to prevent any challenge to the prevailing capitalist order.

Austerity forces the vast majority to accept unacceptable conditions that are otherwise shockingly anti-democratic. The precariousness and insecurity of employment, the widespread denial of social services, deprivation and poverty, and the relentless abuse of taxes and resources that are fueling insane militarism and war.

If we really did live in free, democratic societies why are such deformities enforced without any alternative? Austerity is used to crush the political imagination for any reasonable, more humane, more peaceful alternative.

However, as Clara Mattei points out in this interview, the extreme anti-democratic conditions in Western societies are inevitably forcing greater numbers of people to question the injustices and hideous anomalies of the prevailing capitalist order.

People are realizing that Western governments are in reality regimes of repression in service for the enrichment of a minority. That fundamental deformity is why Western societies are collapsing and why the United States and its Western lackeys are driven to increasing conflict against Russia and China.

The charade of “Western democracy” is coming to an end. The rulers and their pantomime political parties are losing the moral authority to hold power over the masses.

As people necessarily seek ways to reinvent societies that are fit for meeting their democratic needs, socialist solutions are beckoning. We have to throw off the mental shackles imposed by our dictators, and realize, as Karl Marx once eloquently said, that we have got nothing to lose except our chains.

Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at the Strategic Culture Foundation and a Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at

From the archives:

New York Times Is Now Telling Bigger Lies Than Iraq WMDs and More Effectively, by David Swanson

Lee Camp and David Cobb: Imagining A World Beyond Capitalism

Society’s Collapse Has Already Begun, by Rainer Shea

Brian Becker: Why You Should Read The Communist Manifesto

How Does An Economic System So Hostile To Life Endure For Centuries? by Pete Dolack

The World Bank — Underneath The Rhetoric, The Usual Right-Wing Prescriptions, by Pete Dolack

Why You Should Be A Socialist In 2023

The Fed’s Austerity Program to Reduce Wages, by Michael Hudson

Envisioning A World With No Bosses, by Pete Dolack + Michael Albert: What Kind of Economy Comes After a Socialist Revolution?

Fascism: A False Revolution by Michael Parenti

6 thoughts on “Finian Cunningham and Clara Mattei: The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism

  1. Pingback: Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai: Russia Leaves Neoliberal West To Join World Majority – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: That’s What A Congress – With Both Parties Dominated By Corporate Predators, Looks Like, by Ralph Nader – Dandelion Salad

Please add to the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s