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Producerism, sometimes referred to as "producer radicalism," is an ideology which holds that the productive members of society are being exploited by parasitic elements at both the top and bottom of the social and economic structure.
General position 
Producerism sees society's strength being "drained from both ends"—from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations that together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern producerism (Kazin, Berlet & Lyons). Illegal immigrants are viewed as a threat to the prosperity of the middle class, a drain on social services, and as a vanguard of globalization that threatens to destroy national identities and sovereignty. Some advocates of producerism go further, taking a similar position on legal immigration.
In the United States, producerists are distrustful of both major political parties. The Republican Party is rejected for its support of corrupt Big Business and the Democratic Party for its advocacy of those they view as unproductive, lazy, and waiting for their entitlement handouts (Kazin, Stock, Berlet & Lyons).
The Reform Party of the United States of America often uses producerist rhetoric. Populist producerism (and nativist policies) are also seen in the rhetoric of Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, Jörg Haider in Austria, and similar dissident politicians across Europe (Betz & Immerfall, Betz).
Producerism is sympathetic to the idea that labor is an end in itself, inherently ennobling, and thus should be protected at least to some extent from the chaotic forces of consumer choice and market competition. In some Commonwealth of Nations countries, this position is used as an abstract definition of producerism, which is then held as the opposite of an abstract consumerism, the position that the free choice of the consumer should dictate the economic activity of a society. In other parts of the world, especially the United States, such a clear-cut opposition is not feasible.
Although producerism is primarily economic in emphasis, it also has a perspective on social issues. Namely it upholds the traditional values of the middle class as the only true national values. It defends those values against the corruption of decadent inherited wealth, and against the dangerous apathy and sloth it sees as being the inevitable consequence of dependency on a welfare state. Therefore, producerists tend to be patriotic but at the same time intensely distrustful of the State, which they believe to be under the control of forces hostile to the nation.
Some have pointed out a similarity between producerism and certain Christian End Times narratives that prophesize betrayal by trusted political and religious leaders, with many citizens drifting into laziness and sin. The producerist emphasis on the inherent value of hard work is directly related to the Protestant work ethic, outlined by Weber. In the United States and in Europe it is often sympathetic towards conservative or Fundamentalist/Primitive Christianity, seen as a defender against both the moral degeneracy of the poor and the rapaciousness of unbridled capitalism. But producerism is not tied to a specific religious world view, and its emphasis on economics, labor, and class resentments embues it with a materialism not entirely compatible with a purely religious outlook.
Unions and business 
Producerists tend to support skilled-craft trade unions, as organizations of "ordinary men" creating goods beneficial to society, but oppose left-wing, revolutionary unions or those that claim to speak for the lower ranks of society in general. National, industrial corporations, that is, those that produce tangible goods in domestic facilities, are viewed favorably, while international, globalized companies that engage in outsourcing, "sending jobs abroad" or those that earn their profits from the abstract financial world are treated with hostility in producerist circles. This disposition is sometimes referred to as "business nationalism." High tariffs and protectionist policies are regarded as not only beneficial to workers, but essential to the long-term survival of the domestic economy to counter the predatory practices of currency manipulation and illegal trade practices.
The domestic innovators and patriotic industrialists such as Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca and Sam Walton are the heroes in this view of the business world, while the cost-cutting CEOs and unaccountable financiers are the villains.
Historically, the producerist attitudes towards corporations adapted to the changing concerns of the middle class. In William Jennings Bryan's time, the big corporations like railroads and mining interests were strongly disliked because they were an economic threat to the producerist-minded small businessmen. Today, by contrast, the middle class tends to be corporate employees and so views corporations more favorably. Nationalist concerns about the decay of the national productive infrastructure due to outsourcing is also a fairly recent phenomenon in America, driven primarily by competition from China and India.
Disputing the "producerist" label 
While producerism does exist as a widespread if rarely commented-upon political position, right-wing critics argue the epithet "producerism" is often used by left-wing groups to disparage rival forms of economic dissent. Figures who have been called producerist or associated with producerism, although they may not use the term to describe themselves, include Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and more recently political commentator Lou Dobbs. Some have associated producerism with the wider phenomenon of the Radical Middle, but such comparisons remain controversial.
In general, it can be said that the average producerist tends more towards nationalism and anti-globalization than does the typical member of the Radical Middle. Perhaps a more salient distinction is this: The Radical Middle is of the opinion that "government doesn't work" and must be overhauled, that is, government is well-intentioned but dysfunctional. Producerism believes government as currently constituted is ill-intentioned but quite functional - actively advancing the interests of international capital and the servile underclass it manipulates for the votes and passivity it needs to stay in power.
Comparison to other ideologies 
Producerism at its core is a conservative, traditionalist, and nationalist critique of free-market capitalism—a form of middle-class political anger feeding off a "dual-edged resentment" against both rich and poor. However, various other forces across the political spectrum share similarities with producerism, and have at times used its rhetoric to further their ends.
In Marxist theory, as in producerism, a productive working class is portrayed as engaged in a class struggle with the ruling class. Also, like Marxism–Leninism, producerism implicitly subscribes to the labor theory of value. Joseph Stalin's "socialism in one country" moved communism in a nationalistic direction and thus increased its ideological similarities with producerism. Marxism-Leninism denounces anti-Semitism, where Jews are made the scapegoats of parasitic capitalism, and denounces all similar identity politics as ideologically misguided.
There is another crucial ideological difference between the two systems: producerists believe that it is the petite bourgeoisie, not the proletariat, which generates the surplus value that is then expropriated by parasitic elements (executive class). Also, while Marx viewed capital as a monolithic interest, producerists distinguish between what they see as productive domestic industrial capital that serves the national interest and speculative, idle financial capital, which they claim holds no patriotic loyalties and is, therefore, international in nature.(Laclau, Postone) However, Lenin made the distinction between financial and industrial capital, forming a basis for his conception of imperialism.
Fascism and Nazism 
There are points of contact between producerism and fascism as well: producerism is closely associated with highly nationalist right-wing populist movements championing the traditional values of the "common man" against a morally corrupt and traitorous elite. This had led in some instances to the adoption of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and forms of white racial nationalism.
Historically, the Nazi economist Gottfried Feder distinguished between productive "industrial capital" and parasitic, usually Jewish, "financial capital," and the French Fascist leader Georges Valois proposed a state in which only the producers of manufactured goods would have a vote. Hitler himself gave rhetorical support to producerism in an interview where he stated "We demand the fulfillment of the just claims of the productive classes by the state" and "In my scheme of the German state, there will be no room for the alien, no use for the wastrel, for the usurer or speculator, or anyone incapable of productive work." 
Differences from Totalitarian ideologies 
The ultimate compatibility of producerism with any totalitarian system is open to debate. The indistinct definition of the term has caused some confusion. As a framing narrative, producerism has been utilized by a wide variety of populist movements, including some with Fascist or Marxist-Leninist tendencies. However, under the etiology of Christopher Lasch, producerism has as a core value the glorification of the autonomous rugged individual, the archetypical free-spirited American of the frontier, and thus, while socially conservative, it is fundamentally hostile to statist movements.
Social Credit 
Social Credit is an unorthodox economic ideology of monetary reform based on producerist-like assumptions. It is not anti-business, but is profoundly anti-finance, believing that banks are parasitic on the economy and that bank credit should be replaced by government-issued "social credit".
Agrarian Socialism and Farmer-Labour alliances 
The glorification of toilers, and vilification of the idle classes, producerism shares with leftist strains of Agrarianism, and some varieties of Socialism. They part company on the proposed solutions.
See also 
- Canovan, Stock, Kazin
- Kazin, Berlet & Lyons
- Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
- Payne, 52-53; Postone, Ferkiss, Fritzsche 1990, 1998
- "No room for the alien, no use for the wastrel". The Guardian (London). 2007-09-17. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
Further reading 
- Berlet, Chip & Lyons, Matthew N. (2000), Right-wing populism in America: Too close for comfort, New York: Guilford Press, ISBN 1-57230-562-2.
- Betz, Hans-Georg (1994), Radical Right-wing Populism in Western Europe, New York: St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-08390-4
- Betz, Hans-Georg & Immerfall, Stefan, eds. (1998), The New Politics of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies, New York: St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-21134-1.
- Canovan, Margaret (1981), Populism, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, ISBN 0-15-173078-4.
- Ferkiss, V. C. (1957), "Populist influences on American fascism", Political Research Quarterly 10 (2): 350–373, doi:10.1177/106591295701000208.
- Fritzsche, Peter (1990), Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-505780-5.
- Fritzsche, Peter (1998), Germans into Nazis, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-35091-X.
- Kantrowitz, S. (2000), Ben Tillman & the Reconstruction of White Supremacy, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, ISBN 0-8078-2530-1.
- Kazin, M. (1995), The populist persuasion: An American history, New York: Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-03793-3.
- Laclau, E. (1977), Politics and ideology in Marxist theory: Capitalism, fascism, populism, London: NLB / Atlantic Highlands Humanities Press, ISBN 0-902308-74-2.
- Lasch, Christopher (1991), The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-02916-6.
- Payne, S. G. (1995), A History of Fascism, 1914-45, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 0-299-14874-2.
- Postone, M. (1986), "Anti-Semitism and National Socialism", in Rabinbach, A.; Zipes, J., Germans and Jews since the Holocaust: The changing situation in West Germany, New York: Homes & Meier, pp. 302–314, ISBN 0-8419-0924-5.
- Shirer, William L. (1960), Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, New York: Simon and Schuster.
- Stock, C. M. (1996), Rural radicals: Righteous rage in the American grain, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-3294-4.
- Producerism.org Explicitly Producerist website which divides society into Producers and the "Looters" (liberal elite) and "Moochers" (underclass) who exploit them.
- In the Media
- Why Democrats Must Be Populists. And what populist-phobes don't understand about America. American Prospect article with a positive view of Producerism.
- The Producerist Narrative in Repressive Right Wing Populism
- Hard Right Styles, Frames & Narratives Includes a short section on Producerism under "Populism."
- The Party of Privilege: The NDP Consensus and the Attack on the Poor A critique accusing a Canadian political party of being Producerist.
- Journeymen for Jesus: Evangelical Artisans Confront Capitalism in Jacksonian Baltimore. Book proposing a Jacksonian and evangelical origin for Producerism
- Every Man a Speculator: A History of Wall Street in American Life. Book that includes section on Producerist hostility towards financial capital.