Saturday, 19 January 2008

Hey, let's smash Left Liberal Fascism!

Left Liberals are beautiful people who have a wonderful gift for the world, whether they want it or not. Behold, the true faces of 'The Shrill Ones' and recoil.

"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment than by violent and sudden usurpation's". James Madison.

Dear sports, I'm looking forward to digging Jonah Goldberg's new book called 'Liberal Fascism'. It looks great. The gist is that Conservatives are not Fascist by definition, being small government, pro freedom of the individual, are often Christian or value its inherent place in the Western Canon, are cautious, traditional, like to see proof, accept human scale imperfections and the necessary compromises and so on.

This is the exact opposite of the 'Collective Control Freak' mentality of the Left Liberal, being driven mostly by moral vanity and their absurd group think Utopian visions via their singular idea of the 'correct' way of thinking and action, ever bigger government and always a more centralised state power.

So after Jonah's interview, there's some great little comments on this very subject I picked up at Hotair and so on. But first a nice little bit from the Steyner on the anti freedom of speech and taxpayer funded monstrosity that is the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It's a nice insight into a classic kind of PC Left Liberal Multi-culti control freakery. (Cut n' paste link at end of page.)

"Messages that make use of allegedly true stories, news reports, pictures and references to apparently reputable sources in an attempt to lend an air of objectivity and truthfulness to the extremely negative characterization of the targeted group have been found to be likely to expose members of the targeted group to hatred and contempt." CHRC. Canadian Human Rights Commission.

"Read that again slowly. Citing news reports, reputable sources, facts, statistics, documentation, quotations, references, scholarly studies, etc., has been "found" to be clear evidence of your "likely" "pre-crime." Mark Steyn.

“Unless you believe in freedom of speech for those you find loathsome, you don’t believe in freedom of speech at all.”
Mark Steyn.

January 18, 2008.

John Hawkins interviewing Jonah Goldberg about his new book, 'Liberal Fascism'.

Interviewer: Yesterday, I interviewed Jonah Goldberg about his new book, 'Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning'.

What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation. Before we really get started, give us the Jonah Goldberg definition of Fascism.

JG: A short definition would simply be, there's a longer definition in the book, it's one word we give for a totalitarian, religious impulse, where everything has to go together, where the state has to govern every aspect of society or at least direct every aspect of society towards some Utopian end. Something like that. It's a hard thing to (define) which is why it's important to define it better on paper, which I do in the book.

I think one of the things we get caught up with, when we talk about Fascism, is that we think it is this incredibly unique thing and really, it's just another name for a kind of socialism. Fascism is Socialism, Mussolini was a Socialist, the National Socialists, duh, were Socialists.

Instead, what we've done is turn fascism into this shorthand for evil. Nazism was obviously evil and Italian fascism was really, really bad, but fascism meant something else as well.

...Take the word Socialism. More people were rounded up, put in camps, and murdered in the name of socialism than were ever killed in the name of Nazism or fascism and that's not even counting the National Socialists of Germany. Mao killed 65 million people in the name of socialism. Stalin killed, minimum, 20 million people in the name of socialism.

But, if I call you a Socialist, that's like I'm saying you're misguided, Utopian, idealistic, or goofy, but it doesn't mean I am calling you a genocidal murderer. But, we do that with Fascism, where we just say it's sort of a codeword for evil. So, part of the book explains that fascism isn't as exotic as you think it is, it's really just a flowering of a different kind of Socialism.

Int: One of the common arguments you see on the net between conservatives and liberals is whether the Nazis were creatures of the Left or Right. What do you say?

JG: I say, they were indisputably a phenomenon of the Left. Now, that said, they certainly talked about themselves in ways, that to the ear of a person living in 2008, sounds confusing.

Mussolini referred to himself as being on the Right...but what he meant by Right, was a right-wing socialist. You have to remember, Stalin was calling Trotsky a right-winger back in those days. Bukharin was put in one of Stalin's show trials for being a Right-Wing deviationist. He was a hard core Left-wing Socialist.

Beyond that, if you were a Martian and you came to planet Earth with a clipboard and you observed politics and history, and you defined the Left as statism, collectivism, hostility to classical Liberalism, hostility to traditional Christianity and tradition generally and you defined the Right, at least in the Anglo-American sense, as both traditionalism and limited government, right?

I mean to me, that seems to be a pretty good anatomical description of Left and Right.

I have never, ever, ever heard anybody make a credible argument that by those standards, Nazism wasn't on the Left. It's obviously so. I think we get too caught up in intellectual labels and buzzwords when it's obvious, if you step back from the painting far enough, where on the canvas the Nazis belong.

Interviewer: Well, if someone said to you, "Jonah, I'm not sure I buy that, so give me some of the most striking similarities between modern liberals and Fascists like Hitler and Mussolini," what would you tell them?

Well, I want to be careful and say up front...

Int: I understand they're not Hitler...we're not comparing Hillary to Goering...

JG: Right. I am not playing the game that the Left does.
That said, where to start...putting aside the stuff like, they're socialists, Hitler is lured into the German Worker's Party by a speech called, "By What Means Shall Capitalism Be Destroyed," putting aside the Nazi Party platform of 1920, which Adolph Hitler co-writes, which includes socialized medicine, universal health care, universal education, guaranteed wages, appropriation of the wealth of the rich, an "Anti- Wal Mart" plank essentially, where they go after big department stores, putting aside all of the obvious economic similarities, there is also the populism.

The Nazis insisted on speaking out for the little guy, what FDR called the "forgotten man." At any rally, if there was ever going to be an aristocrat or a wealthy person on the stage or anywhere near it, they insisted on having at least one peasant farmer or factory hand on the stage, too. They were deeply populist, plus there are philosophical similarities which we still have.

One of the central points of Fascism is the cult of unity.

This idea that, and this is what I was getting at in the beginning with my definition of Fascism, that if everybody gets together, if everybody holds hands and agrees to the national program, to the progressive cause, to what the movement dictates is right and good, then we will be able to be delivered from history, we will be delivered to a promised land, a Thousand Year Reich, a Communist world, a perfect society, a utopia, the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, that notion still runs straight through the heart of contemporary liberalism today.

Barack Obama says on the stump that we can create a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Hillary Clinton talks about how, if we can just create this idealized village of hers, that everyone will feel like they belong, everything will be in the village, nothing outside of the village. When Barack Obama is on the stump, his whole point is that if we can just be unified, public policy issues don't really matter, what really matters is unity, that sort of thing.

There's also a sort of contempt for Democratic values that also comes out of this unity thing. One of the most fascistic things that kids on college campuses say is that, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." In other words, there is no safe harbor. Either you agree with where the movement wants to go or you are a problem and problems need to be solved by definition.

You hear Al Gore say the time for discussion is over. You hear Hillary Clinton say constantly, we need to move beyond our ideological disagreements, beyond our partisan disagreements, beyond political labels, and the thing is, in 15 years in conservative punditry I have never heard someone say, "I don't believe in labels, I think we need to move beyond our ideological differences, and therefore I am going to abandon everything I believe and agree with you, for the sake of unity."

People only say we need to move beyond ideology, we need to put partisanship aside, or the time for discussion is over, when they want to tell you to shut up and get with their program. That is a fundamentally undemocratic, quasi-Fascistic way of talking about politics.

A lot of people get confused about how fascism was supposed to be militarism and militaristic, well, there's a lot of truth to that obviously, but I think they misunderstand the point of militarism to a certain extent. What fascinated progressives and Fascists alike about militarism was that it provided a means of mobilizing society. One of the central aspects of fascism is the need to create crisis, so that everyone drops their opposition to any program and rallies around the state in unity.

That's what militarism was useful for. Now, I flatly concede that today's Liberals are not militaristic in the slightest, but they are still calling for moral equivalents of war...they want to call for a war on poverty, a war on inequality, the war on cancer...

Int: Well Jonah, you say they're not militaristic at all, but Bill Clinton went on a lot of "peacekeeping missions"...and Liberals seem much more generally willing than conservatives to use our troops for (missions of that sort)...

JG: I think that's right. There is this notion that you get from Liberal foreign policy, that comes straight out of Wilsonianism, that foreign adventure is only worthwhile when it's not in our natural interest. That's why Haiti was important. That's why Somalia was important.

But, the second something is in our national interest, it's because Halliburton wants us to do it. It's a weird mixture of idealism and cynicism. Because we're the bad guys and it's a blame-America-first mentality, whenever we do things that we need to do as a matter of Realpolitik, the Left seems to have huge problems with it, but whenever we do things that are purely altruistic, it's our moral imperative to do it.

I'm sympathetic to the moral imperative stuff, more than most people, but I'm more sympathetic to doing it if it's in our national interest. That comes first. I'm all in favor of helping little old ladies who are being mugged by gangs. But, I think it's even more imperative, if the gang is mugging the little old lady and me, that my first priority has to be to protect myself before I can do anything for anybody else. It's there where I think a lot of liberals fall down and think we shouldn't be doing anything in our national interest.

Int: Now Conservatives, rather famously, have a deep and abiding dislike and mistrust of the Federal Government and believe that private industry does almost everything better than the government does. Is a belief like that ultimately compatible with Fascism?

JG: No, the whole point of fascism is centralizing. That's why they were socialists. All these idiots who go around Googling stuff on the web, they find Mussolini saying, fascism is anti-liberalism and anti-Liberal.

Well, the liberalism that Mussolini was talking about was Manchester Liberalism, classical Liberalism, free market, Capitalistic, individual rights Liberalism. That is what the fascists stood against. It's a totalitarian society, inherently hostile to private property. They believe the state was by far the best means of governing and running society.

One of the things that prompted me to write the book was this fundamental misunderstanding of what conservatism is in America and this slander, this projection, where liberals see in themselves similarities to fascism and project those things on to us.

I often like to ask college kids, except for the murder, bigotry, and genocide, what is it exactly about Nazism that you don't like? And they can't name anything.

But, conservatives can come up with all sorts of stuff. They were Socialists. They wanted free health care. They hated Christianity. They hated tradition. They were statists at the end of the day. All of those things are inherent to Fascism and what was anathema to fascism was the idea that you can have, what the scholars of totalitarian theory call "islands of separateness". That churches can go their own way, that corporations can operate without coordinating with the state, that individuals can have free consciences, that there can be free debate, free and open discussion.

What the Nazis implemented was something called the Gleichschaltung, which is a German word for coordination...and the idea was that the entire society needed to work like a giant machine, where all the cogs were linked together and everyone pushed in the same direction.

Int: Here's a fascinating quote from your book that I'd like you to expound on a bit, "What distinguished Nazism from other brands of Socialism and Communism was not so much that it included more aspects from the political right (though there were some). What distinguished Nazism was that it forthrightly included a world view we now associate almost completely with the political Left: "identity politics."

JG: That's right. The Nazis, unlike the Italian Fascists, and this is one of the key points people keep not wanting to hear, Italian fascism was not racist, it was not anti-Semitic.

It only became anti-Semitic when the Nazis grew so powerful and the Italians grew so weak that they had to cave in to Nazi demands. They fought Nazi demands, tooth and nail, about cooperating with the Holocaust.

The Nazis believed in racial essentialism, that the Aryan race was unique, was pure, was special, that there was no such thing as universal humanity. You know, Hitler had this long section in Mein Kampf where he concludes that Jews aren't human beings, that they're a different species.

They talked constantly, in the same way that we hear academics today talk about "dead, white European males," "white logic," Eurocentrism, logocentrism, and all these sorts of things. These ideas come straight out of the intellectual tradition that led to Nazism, that flourished under Nazism, and indeed, the words deconstruction and logocentrism, these all come out of the Nazi intellectual project.

What they believed fundamentally was that human beings could be categorized in little boxes and they could never escape from them. It was an iron cage of identity.

Today on the Left, we have people, like Richard Delgado at the University of Colorado, who says that blacks and Hispanics should flee the enlightenment as fast as they can because there is no way that the regime of white privilege could ever assimilate people who are born black or Hispanic, because you can never transcend your identity or your gender.

It's where the whole logic of quotas come from, it's where the whole logic of Affirmative Action comes from. It's the idea that black people think like black people and white people think like white people and therefore, the only kind of diversity you can have is diversity by skin color, gender, and sexual orientation.

The key distinction here though is that Nazi philosophy was rankly evil in applying this. Their quotas, their approach to this sort of thing was flatly evil and exterminationist. That is not what the Left wants to do today. They're much more benign. There's not a lot of love for Jews on the hard Left, but their thinking is that they're trying to help the victims of discrimination, they're trying to improve the lives of others. It's a nice sort of approach. It's a well intentioned approach.

But, it doesn't have nice consequences. I think it's bad for social harmony. It's bad for the people it's designed to help. Moreover, that sort of categorical thinking is very similar to the thinking we saw under the Nazis.

Int: In Ron Radosh's review of your book, he says, "Turning to what he calls Liberal racism, Mr. Goldberg offers readers his finest chapter. It is a devastating picture of how liberals adopted eugenics, a basic part of Nazi doctrine.." Talk about that a bit.

Sure. You often hear, especially from the fringe feminist Left, that pro-lifers are like Nazis or fascistic because they want to "oppress women." I'm perfectly willing to have an argument about pro-life, pro-choice, all that sort of thing and even though I might disagree with the pro-choicers on most of their arguments, I don't think it's inherently disqualifying to make a pro-choice argument. But, what is simply factually not the case, is that the pro-life position has anything to do with Nazism.

You would think that a half-century after the Holocaust, it wouldn't be necessary to remind people that Nazis weren't pro-life. Long before they started the campaign against the Jews, they started a massive euthanasia campaign, killing what they called the useless bread gobblers....What I think a lot of people don't appreciate and what has been pretty well established now in the historical literature is that the Nazis were in many ways picking up on ideas that first flourished in the United States under the progressives.

The progressives start the forced sterilizations. It is the progressives who talk about weeding out the inferior races. Margaret Sanger, the Founder of Planned Parenthood, was all about weeding out the duskier and darker races...and all of that. The Socialists of Britain, the Fabian socialists, George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, all of those guys, were soaked to the bone eugenicists who considered eugenics and socialism to be the same project.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the author of the Bell Case, where the court ruled it was OK to forcibly sterilize low income whites because they were viewed as sort of sub par genetic filth that needed to be cleaned up; Oliver Wendell Holmes said the first priority of social reform was to build a race.

There were plenty of eugenicists who wanted to create a genetic Gulag Archipelago. They were going to put inferior women in, essentially, these interior colonies during their fertile years so that they could not breed.

The welfare state was in many senses a eugenic project. As one famous progressive put it, his argument for the minimum wage was, the Cooley, meaning the Chinese worker, cannot outwork the white man, but he can under-live him. The logic of that was that since these inferior races needed so little to live on, if you created a minimum wage to lock them out, they would sort of die out of their own accord, because no employer in his right mind would hire anybody but a white man if he had to pay a white man's wage. That logic suffused the founding of the Liberal welfare state.

Woodrow Wilson, when he was Governor of New Jersey, he signed a eugenics sterilization law that appointed a eugenics minister for the state of New Jersey, who ended up being a "Doctor" in one of the Nazi concentration camps....

Int: Do you think some of the things that now occur on college campuses, school papers being deliberately trashed if they say something politically incorrect, college Republicans being persecuted for simply having different views, conservative speakers being screamed over and attacked with food, is reminiscent of Fascist tactics?

JG: Of course it is. Leading the charge of the Nazi movement in the 1930s were student groups. The students far outpaced the rest of society in joining the Nazi Party. The Nazi Party was in many respects, much like the Italian Fascist Party, a youth movement. They appealed to youth, they claimed that they were the voice of the new generation, you had students attacking the conservative teachers who wanted to maintain the traditional notion of a university.

The students were demanding that buzzword we hear on college campuses today, "relevance." You know, why do we have to learn Latin and Greek and all these things? Why can't we learn about the progressive things of today? All the protests that you saw on campuses were reminiscent of it.

At the end of the day, whether you want to call it Communist tactics or Fascist tactics or whatever, any time you have people burning campus newspapers, shouting down speakers, mobbing the stage like you had at Columbia, those are undemocratic tactics, those are totalitarian tactics, those are mob rule tactics. The thing to remember about all of these "isms" of the Left is that they are rationalizations for mob rule.

Int: If you were going to give people a 30 second explanation of why they should buy your book, what would you tell them?

JG: The primary reason someone should buy my book is because it's the first book to put all in one place the stuff that is left out of the history books and the narrative that we've heard for the last 70 years. It corrects the record about the slander that has been aimed at Conservatives for a half century that we are Fascists, that we are Nazis.

Even if you disagree with a lot of the arguments, I think most, if not all fair minded readers will concede that they learned a lot from it. I am not winging it. Every claim is backed up by facts, by footnotes. Every argument marshals evidence to support it. If you disagree with everything, even if you think Liberalism is still the best thing that we have for bettering society...I think that you'll be better armed to make your case because you'll at least know the downside of your own intellectual history. You'll know the darker side of progressivism.

In an age where Hillary Clinton is saying that...she's a progressive, I think it's pretty important to understand what progressivism was and what its ultimate aims and impulses are.

Int: Do you regularly or semi-regularly read any blogs you'd like to recommend to RWN's readers?

JG: I'm not reading anything right now because of the book tour, but all the obvious ones. The National Review blogs, The Corner, The Campaign Spot, that kind of thing. I obviously check out Instapundit and my mom's site, Lucianne.

The problem is, whenever I am asked this question, I get in more trouble for the blogs that I don't mention than the ones that I do, (laughs). So, Ross Douthat has always had some fascinating and interesting things to say. I think Mickey Kaus, even though he's a liberal, is the best guy out there at dissecting the really fine point stuff, like how the New York Times covers things. It's useful. I think (bloggers) do great stuff...

Int: Well Jonah, thanks a lot...

JG: Great, I appreciate it!

And now for three cool Hotair comments.

“no conservatives (that is, true conservatives) can be fascists, by definition.”

Obviously, since Conservatism, properly understood and practiced - believes in individual liberty and limited government, it cannot in any way be likened to Fascism, an ideology that is, among other things, collectivist and totalitarian.
I think the greatest difference between fascism and conservatism is that the former believes that the state has an end goal or purpose. And that everything belongs to the state in its attainment of that goal.

It’s this thought as well, it seems to me, that links Fascism with current Liberalism. We hear all the time liberals or progressives state, “We will not rest until every child has health care” or “We will not stop until every person has a good job and a good house et cetera, et cetera. Until we have a perfect nation, government must continue to expand and increase it’s power".

That is absolutely antithetical to Conservatism.

SteveMG on 17 Jan 08.

sinsing said: “Colmes proved, once again, that liberals are recklessly hellbent on silencing the opposition. Leftists have become confrontational, rude, arrogant and bulling fascists, because they fear that logic and truth will reveal their stupidity and true agendas".

I see interesting parallels here.

For years, I have been trying to understand why Liberals go out of their way to defend Islam, which is about as Fascist an ideology as one can get. If Liberals really were against 'Fascism', they would be first in line to support the nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they would be shoulder to shoulder with Conservatives to stop Islamic infiltration and subversion of our society through immigration, financial manipulation, propaganda, and other means.

In this light, Goldberg’s book is for me a welcome analysis.

The reaction to his book so far is instructive as well. Whenever you criticize the belief system of the Liberals, they take it as an assault on their identity, and they react with bullying (Fascist!) tactics, as sinsing pointed out. The exact same behavior comes from the Muslims when their belief system is criticized.

By this common Fascist behavioral predisposition, Colmes and others are instantly offended, and mindlessly go on the attack, when they see a Hilterian smiley face on the cover of Goldberg’s book, just as the Muslims rioted over the Mohammed cartoons and the Mohammed Teddy Bear.

Stendec on 17 Jan 08.

The point he was making is not that being a vegan is Fascist, it is the way it is introduced. The religious fervor of PETA is a good example. PETA is a Fascist rooted organization, Fascism comes wrapped in something that appears to be good, but then is forced fed by the government, or “movements”. Not that being a vegetarian is fascists, but the involvement by the government (in Germany) and the radicalism (in America), moves it towards a Fascist ideology.

Global warming is a good example, the ones that opposed (and oppose) it were viscously attacked fascist like.

The classic conservative approach is not to “shout” down opponents, or run them off to jail, or destroy them publicly, march through the streets burning and looting…that is a fascist way of dealing with “perceived problems”.

PETA, and their brethren, attack and destroy…all in the name of making us more healthy and “aware”…they are liberal Fascists.

Right2bright on 17 Jan 2008.


darrellepp said...

hello colonel. My sentiments exactly! My grandparents came to Manitoba as refugees from the Russian Revolution, so yeah...have you read thornton's review? let's see if I know how to cut and paste.
Printer Friendly

January 10, 2008
Freedom’s Dictators
History shows liberalism shares much with fascism.
by Bruce Thornton
Private Papers

A review of Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism. The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods (Doubleday, 2008, 496 pp.)

The incoherence of our political discourse results in part from sheer ignorance of political philosophy and its history. Abetted by a superficial media, we trade in sound-bite labels and epithets, free-floating signifiers that communicate not ideas but feelings or prejudices — “conservative,” “liberal,” “progressive,” and of course “fascist” are all terms that seldom have any accurate meaning. This sloppiness makes it more difficult to conduct the political debate where it should be: at the level of fundamental assumptions about human nature, the proper role of government, and the goods suitable for the state to pursue.

Liberal Fascism goes a long way to providing that lost history and recovering the true origins and meanings of our political principles and ideals. Goldberg, a syndicated columnist and editor at the National Review, modestly calls himself a journalist. But he has in fact written a well-documented, fast-paced history of modern politics and political philosophy. Along the way, he sweeps away self-serving liberal and progressive myths, and recovers the true roots of progressive/liberal politics — in the deification of the state as the instrument of utopian aspirations, the same dynamic of 20th century fascism.

Given that “fascist” is the most abused term in the political lexicon, Goldberg’s first task is to correct all the misconceptions about historical fascism, the most important being that it was a “conservative” political movement, one created by bourgeois capitalism to ward off a decline created by its own contradictions and the socialist alternative. In reality, fascism is a phenomenon of the left, not the right — an “inconvenient truth,” Goldberg writes, “if ever there was one.” This confusion about fascism’s origins if furthered by the misleading contrast usually made between fascism and communism. But as Goldberg shows, “they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to control and dominate the same social space,” a space opened up by the decline of Christianity, to which both were hostile, and by the utopian pretensions of scientistic politics. Moreover, both shared the belief that “the era of liberal democracy was drawing to a close,” that it was time to abandon “the anachronisms of natural law, traditional religion, constitutional liberty, capitalism and the like”: “God was long dead, and it was long overdue for men to take His place.” Thus both were “utopian visions and the bearers of great hopes,” international movements attracting believers throughout the world, including America. The key difference between these two socialistic philosophies was the question of nationalism. Communism located the essence of human identity in transnational economic classes, whereas fascism “offered a new religion of the divinized state and the nation as an organic community.”

As Goldberg documents, historical fascism had much in common with American progressivism and pragmatism and their notions that political, social, and economic “experiments” conducted by rational technocrats — “experts” liberated from traditional religious superstitions, dogmas, and customs — could correct the injustices and inefficiencies created by laissez-faire capitalism and rampant individualism. Throughout the Thirties and Forties, many progressive Americans admired Mussolini and Hitler, for like those two dictators, American progressives were “militaristic, fanatically nationalist, imperialist, racist, deeply involved in the promotion of Darwinian eugenics, enamored of the Bismarckian welfare state, [and] statist beyond modern reckoning.” And like fascism and communism, progressivism was (and still is) totalitarian, not in the lurid sense of gulags and concentration camps, but as “the quest to transcend the human condition and create a society where our deepest meaning and destiny are realized simply by virtue of the fact that we live in it,” a “benign tyranny where some people get to impose their ideas of goodness and happiness on those who may not share them.” In other words, smiley-face fascism.

To achieve these utopian goals, progressives, as did fascists, pinned their hopes on strong leaders, “men of action” who could sweep away the grubby trimming of democratic politics, and with “bold experiments” and the “third way” move society toward the brave new world of social justice and national renewal. Hence the liberal-progressive fondness for political leaders like Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt, the two greatest expanders of state power in American history, or more recently John F. Kennedy. As Goldberg reminds us, despite the obvious differences between German fascism and the American progressive variety — the latter usually expressed in the accents of therapeutic maternalism — “Progressives did many things that we would today call objectively fascist, and fascists did many things we would today call objectively progressive.” Goldbergs’s point, then, is not that liberals are Nazis, but that the shared assumptions behind much of liberal politics and historical fascism need to be identified and their implications for individual freedom confronted. And this analysis should put to rest the canard that true conservatism — traditionalist, anti-utopian, respectful of faith, a champion of the free individual instead of the state — is fascist.

The bulk of Goldberg’s book documents his argument in meticulous detail. His history of Italian and German fascism, Woodrow Wilson’ totalitarian turn, and Franklin Roosevelt’s aggressive expansion of the state by means of New Deal policies reestablishes the intellectual continuity of liberal ideals with those of fascism, which accounts for the mutual admiration among Mussolini, Hitler, and Roosevelt evident everywhere before Hitler’s military aggression began to manifest itself in the Thirties. The New Deal in particular, that revered icon of modern liberalism, “was conceived at the climax of a worldwide fascist moment,” a time when nationalism and socialism coalesced and the yearning for lost community became the rationale for increasing state power. As a consequence of Roosevelt’s policies, “today we live with the fruits of fascism, and we call them liberal. From economic policy, to populist politics, to a faith in the abiding power of brain trusts to chart our collective future — be they at Harvard or on the Supreme Court — fascistic assumptions about the role of the state have been encoded upon the American mind, often as a matter of bipartisan consensus.”

Even more fascinating is Goldberg’s history of the Sixties, which was the decade of fascist renewal in America on every front, despite the patina of New Left politics. In the universities, postmodern epistemic, linguistic, and moral relativism had its origins in the fascist avant-garde and its “revolt against reason,” as does the identity politics behind contemporary multiculturalism. Politically, the glamorized cult of violence evident in groups like the Black Panthers and the Weathermen likewise derived from fascistic idealizations of “men of action” like Mussolini, who called his brand of socialism “the greatest act of negation and destruction.” Indeed, much of the baleful legacy of the sixties, from the smarmy “politics of meaning” to the worship of callow youthful “idealism” and spurious “authenticity,” finds its antecedents in the fascism of the Twenties. And while the culture was being subjected to these neo-fascist developments, politicians like John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were furthering the project started by Wilson and Roosevelt to make the state a god-like power able to solve all humanity’s ills and usher in the brave new utopian world. Lyndon Johnson called it the “Great Society,” which in Johnson’s own telling, “rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice,” and is a place “where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect,” where “the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.” These, of course, are the same utopian promises made by the bloodiest tyrannies of the 20th century.

The most malodorous skeleton in the liberal-progressive closet is the fondness for eugenic tinkering in order to reestablish the lost, organic national community whose integrity had been compromised by immigration and the wrong sorts of people promiscuously reproducing. Just as the body is compromised by disease, so too the body politic could be attacked by toxins, and thus politics “becomes in effect a branch of medicine: the science of maintaining social health.” Darwinian-stoked fears of population explosions among maladaptive peoples — now kept viable by advances in technology and better nutrition — created a demand for techniques of social control over such evolutionary losers, including abortion and forced sterilization. Socialist heroes like Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw, Harold Laski, John Maynard Keynes, and H.G. Wells were all avid eugenicists. And in America, one of liberalism’s most revered judicial icons, Oliver Wendell Holmes, famously stated in Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court decision legitimizing forced sterilization, the eugenic credo: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Such social-control, public-health rationales for abortion continue among liberals today, as in the argument made by Chicago economist Steven Levitt that abortions among inner-city black women have lowered the crime rate. Or as liberal Nicholas Von Hoffman has argued, “Free cheap abortion is a policy of social defense.”

Fascistic statist assumptions today most obviously impact our lives in economic policy. Despite the liberal lie that big business is inherently fascist, “if you define ‘right-wing’ or conservative in the American sense of supporting the rule of law and the free market, then the more right-wing business is, the less fascist it becomes.” The “Third Way” economic policies that want the heavy hand of the state involved in the economy is closer to traditional fascism, which was a populist movement frequently railing against big business and blood-sucking corporations. Today, the devil’s bargain accepted by big business basically allows corporations to make their profits as long as they go along with the government’s political program — with the added bonus that the metastasizing government regulations furthering that social agenda are affordable by big businesses, but often ruinous for smaller ones. Thus today we see big corporations eagerly embracing diversity or environmental dogmas, making themselves into what Goldberg calls “government by proxy.”

Easily Goldberg’s most useful chapter in a very useful book is his analysis of Hillary Clinton’s political career. Clinton’s fondness for the vaporous “politics of meaning,” for state interference in family life and child-rearing, for government’s thumb on the economic scale, for vague goals of creating “community” — all have eerie similarities to Italian and German fascism. Like those political movements, Clinton “draws her vision from the same eternal instinct to impose order on society, to create an all-encompassing community, to get past endless squabbles and ensconce each individual in the security blanket of the state . . . . The village may have replaced the ‘state,’ and it in turn may have replaced the fist with the hug, but an unwanted embrace from which you cannot escape is just a nicer form of tyranny.”

These assumptions about the legitimate scope of government interference in our lives are so engrained in our political consciousness that “we’re all fascists now,” as Goldberg concludes. In movies, sexual politics, environmentalism, and the obsession with organic food we see the same underlying, essentially fascistic idea: society is corrupt and sick, and the god-state and its elite priests need to step in and set us all straight. Thus even for conservatives there is a “totalitarian temptation,” as Goldberg’s analysis of the Bush administration’s “compassionate conservatism” illustrates: “The very adjective ‘compassionate’ echoes progressive and liberal denunciations of limited government as cruel, selfish, or social Darwinist,” and its use “represented a repudiation of the classical liberalism at the core of modern American conservatism because it assumed that limited government, free markets, and personal initiative were somehow ‘uncompassionate.’”

Goldberg’s book ultimately is a call for correctly understanding a conservatism besmirched by liberal smears and its own partisans’ compromises: “Conservatism is neither identity politics for Christians and/or white people nor right-wing progressivism. Rather, it is opposition to all forms of political religion. It is a rejection of the idea that politics can be redemptive. It is the conviction that a properly ordered republic has a government of limited ambition.” These are the ideals of the American republic, and they are the best guarantors of our freedom. Goldberg’s important book is a good first step towards reinvigorating the conservative tradition.

©2008 Bruce S. Thornton

I guess you liked that Madison quote as much as I did. What a brain he had. federalist number 10 about checks and balances...I guess it'll all be moot if the illiterate jihadis are the ones having 9 babies and the the 'enlightened' folks buy a chihuaha...your site is great.

darrell, western shores of lake ontario

Colonel Robert Neville said...

Dear Daz:

Hey, thanks for posting this great review. I especially thought about the idea of why big biz are eager to adopt the fraud of Global Warming.

Because big biz can not only afford such baloney, but make big payoffs out of it, via a phoney image, a fake product and bullshit services that bring in the 'money for nothing' that maybe small biz can't reap so easily, and not on such a massive scale.

Yep, Left Liberal Radicalism is not only a mental illness, but has been a degenerated shrill Utopian Fascism for a long time.

And all covered by an MSM aided avalanche of institutionalised propaganda.

What are the dominant tones you honestly ALWAYS feel when speaking to a Left Lib or Rad etc?

Intolerance, arrogance, smugness, an air of superiority, co-ercion, moral vanity, dishonesty, hostility, control freakery and a total lack of interest in ANYTHING you have to say, even before you say it or they know anything about you.

Cos they don't WANT to know anything about you or ANY real individual. What for? They know it all as any stasis fanatic always does...

Dismissive ad hominems and subject change via absurd juvenile hyperbole is the order of the day.

Still, they're great sources of material for comedy and satire. Just write 'em down verbatim! Pure gold.

Colonel Neville.