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July 3, 2008

Liberal Fascism

The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
Jonah Goldberg – ISBN – 9780385511841

It is insufficient to say this incredible tome deserves to be read by people of all political persuasions. The title will offend Liberals, who should read it for historic information. Conservatives will be enamored by the title, but Goldberg will deflate them as well as he notes that while American fascism is best represented by liberal doctrine and practice, conservatives tolerate and often cooperate with its nostrums because they don’t fully consider what they mean. No one is spared. This inadequate review intends only to encourage you to read it . . . before the election this fall. As well, I’d recommend—and will review very soon—Dick Morris’ new book Fleeced. Though the choice is dismal, there is a choice. A very important one!

The book is so full of information that it is difficult to represent even a fraction of the content. It would be well for people to understand just who “progressives” really are in order to choose between the two lesser on the ballot.

The first revolution of a fascistic nature was authored by Rousseau and the French Jacobins. It wholly undercut the ancien regime and destroyed the country, ending with its principals dead and the Europe shattering folly of Napoleon. All totalitarianisms promise to create a new society from scratch, burying all that is past. In these societies one is promised achievement of life’s deepest meaning and destiny simply by living in them. It cannot be done, and were it possible it would be tyranny, however benign. It doesn’t work, because it can’t. Goldberg reminds that American founding documents touted the pursuit of happiness. We’ve evolved. We no longer pursue it, Goldberg observes. We expect it to be delivered, along with the pizza.

He begins by not equating fascism with “Hitlerism,” per se. While the 1000 Year Reich was indeed fascist, it was but one uniquely appalling permutation. Mussolini and Italy embraced fascism. Much of Europe was infatuated with the idea as the follow-on to capitalism, which all saw as a failure (which amongst other things had produced the depression.) Even the U.S. had its own variation known as The New Deal. Contrary to what you may think, fascism was the dominant inspiration of the world at the time, having begun with Otto von Bismarck in 1870’s Germany. It was Hitler’s Reich with its death-camps which so offended the world that the term has now become a synonym for the ultimate, failed, deteriorate state--a bastardized term that is now a simple pejorative signifying “something not desirable” (think Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.) In fact the term can be defined, and encompasses a host of characteristics, including environmental, cultural, societal, governmental, economic, attitudinal and moral.

Goldberg doesn’t describe fascism in order to fit the left, but defines it as it was understood at its inception. It was and remains “progressivism.” Many of Wilson’s and Roosevelt’s advisors were proud to embrace fascism--even calling it by its name--before Hitler altered perceptions. Recall that Mussolini was popular with American intellectuals. He had the answer for the ages, and not a few traveled to Italy to see for themselves how it worked (just as they did on subsequent trips to Moscow.)

Corporatism gives progressive government control of the economy and the nation, and is the operational theory of fascism. Goldberg demonstrates that its premises are derived from liberal, progressive concepts, and not from the right. (I’d mention that Lincoln initiated and/or represented not a few proto-fascistic activities.) He bolsters his arguments with myriad facts, recounting progressive eugenics, progressive attitudes toward education, multiculturalism, campus speech codes, muscular environmentalism, progressivism as religion, etc. are typical of Liberal Fascism. He refutes the notion that true conservatives—who have always fought against such ideas—were its authors.

Goldberg includes an elaborate discussion of large corporate business colluding with government by emphasizing that the American version was favored and pushed by F.D.R. and the New Deal. This culminated in a wholly organized industrial society which proved necessary for the promulgation of WW II, (though desired by the left) and has remained with us since. He also observes that it actually began with Wilson in WW I. Again, I’d remind that Teddy Roosevelt—not really a man of the right--was America’s original progressive, his trust-busting notwithstanding.

“If the collusion of big business and government is right wing, then FDR was a right-winger. If corporatism and propagandistic militarism are fascist, then Woodrow Wilson was a fascist as were the New Dealers. If you [properly] understand the right-wing or conservative position to be that of those who argue for free markets, competition, property rights, and the other political values inscribed in the original intent of the American founding fathers, then big business in Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the New Deal America was not right-wing; it was left-wing, and it was fascistic. What’s more, it still is.” His quarrel with the right is over the [properly] I inserted above.

Modern American fascism is manifest in part by corporate jockeying for advantage thru myriad lobbyists, who have proliferated like wharf rats in recent decades. Microsoft and Wal-Mart first decided that the race could do with fewer rats, but are now amongst the largest and most effective lobbying corporations in the country. Why? Because survival required it; competitors who lobbied against them for advantage had to be answered in kind.

Camille Paglia, a progressive proponent and admitted atheist, has written on progressivism often and in depth. She has observed that “progressives must start recognizing the spiritual poverty of contemporary secular humanism and reexamine the way that liberalism, too often now, automatically defines human aspiration and human happiness in reductively economic terms. Without compromise, we are heading for a soulless future” (fascism has neither soul, nor heart.) In today’s world of corporate internationalism it isn’t surprising that our government is in bed with our corporations, nor is it surprising that the Democratic Party is receiving huge corporate contributions. Democrats tout that only Republicans get such donations. Don’t believe it! In his new book Morris reports that Democrats receive two-thirds of the political contributions from hedge-fund managers. They used to split 50/50 to cover themselves, except, of course, for George Soros who has been in bed with Democrates since forever!

Obama is invigorating the electorate by promising hope and change. I earnestly hope that changes--many necessary and appropriate--will not be those he proposes. This may be the most important election since 1860. We are required to reconsider where we are, who we are, and how we want to proceed. We will decide to follow our current path, seek an altered one, or resurrect the edited best of the past.

I’d remind that a revolution can be seen as a return to the beginning. Most of us can agree that where we started was a much better place than where we are (outdoor privies, cold water, and horse dung in the streets excepted.) Very little is wrong with what was intended by our founders. Refinement is clearly necessary, but progress toward fascism should not to be in the equation. There is nothing noteworthy or sophisticated about it, and it’s proven not to work, however bucolic and beneficent it sounds.

Read the book!

Posted by respeto at July 3, 2008 1:24 PM