Sunday, January 20, 2008

Liberal Fascism

Jonah Goldberg of National Review has new book out titled Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Right Wing News has an interview with Goldberg that I highly recommend giving a read.

Here's some selections from the interview:

A short definition [of fascism] would simply be ... for a totalitarian, religious impulse, where everything has to go together, where the state has to govern every aspect of society ...

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.


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.

... 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.


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.


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.

No comments: