The following passages I selected from this insightful classic book and assembled them as a short article. I urge you to delve into this piece (and then to read the full original chapters) and to mull over the substance of fascist situations and moves, as well as their linkage to free market and economy of self-interest, which generate anti-individualistic and repressing endeavors directed to change not only the political sphere and societal fabrics, but human consciousness itself.
What we termed, for short, “fascist situation” was no other than the typical occasion of easy and complete fascist victories. All at once, the tremendous industrial and political organizations of labor and of other devoted upholders of constitutional freedom would melt away, and minute fascist forces would brush aside what seemed until then the overwhelming strength of democratic governments, parties, trade unions. If a “revolutionary situation” is characterized by the psychological and moral disintegration of all forces of resistance to the point where a handful of scantily armed rebels were enabled to storm the supposedly impregnable strongholds of reaction, then the “fascist situation” was its complete parallel except for the fact that here the bulwarks of democracy and constitutional liberties were stormed and their defenses found wanting in the same spectacular fashion. (239)
In its struggle for political power fascism is entirely free to disregard or to use local issues, at will. Its aim transcends the political and economic framework: it is social. It puts a political religion into the service of a degenerative process. In its rise it excludes only a very few emotions from its orchestra; yet once victorious it bars from the band wagon all but a very small group of motivations, though again extremely characteristic ones. Unless we distinguish closely between this pseudo intolerance on the road to power and the genuine intolerance in power, we can hardly hope to understand the subtle but decisive difference between the sham-nationalism of some fascist movements during the revolution, and the specifically imperialistic nonnationalism which they developed after the revolution. (241)
Economic history reveals that the emergence of national markets was in no way the result of the gradual and spontaneous emancipation of the economic sphere from governmental control. On the contrary, the market has been the outcome of a conscious and often violent intervention on the part of government which imposed the market organization on society for noneconomic ends. And the self-regulating market of the nineteenth century turns out on closer inspection to be radically different from even its immediate predecessor in that it relied for its regulation on economic self-interest. The congenital weakness of nineteenth century society was not that it was industrial but that it was a market society. Industrial civilization will continue to exist when the Utopian experiment of a self-regulating market will be no more than a memory. (250)
Yet we find the path blocked by a moral obstacle. Planning and control are being attacked as a denial of freedom. Free enterprise and private ownership are declared to be essentials of freedom. No society built on other foundations is said to deserve to be called free. The freedom that regulation creates is denounced as unfreedom; the justice, liberty and welfare it offers are decried as a camouflage of slavery. (256)
Uncomplaining acceptance of the reality of society gives man indomitable courage and strength to remove all removable injustice and unfreedom. As long as he is true to his task of creating more abundant freedom for all, he need not fear that either power or planning will turn against him and destroy the freedom he is building by their instrumentality. This is the meaning of freedom in a complex society; it gives us all the certainty that we need. (Polanyi 1944: 236-258; bold emphasises are mine, italics by the author)