Sunday, March 2, 2008

“Liberal Fascism” - the book

What do you call a conservative who is winning an argument with a leftist? "A fascist!" Thanks to effective leftist propaganda and plain ignorance, fascism is widely held to be a right-wing ideology. This lie has been so successful that even many right-wingers are prone to believing it. However, the truth of the matter is quite the opposite. Nazism, Fascism and fascism are distinctly left-wing phenomena. Like most variants of socialism, they are totalitarian ideologies.

Most right-wingers can personally relate to the experience of being called a fascist. I recall an Alliance Party rally for newly elected leader Stockwell Day in Victoria. Outside the conference center we were greeted by a mob of young, placard wielding ‘protesters’, many dressed in black leather, chains, and jack-boots, calling us ‘fascists’. They likely had little understanding of what fascism is, but were simply reflexively applying a conventional insult to a group of ‘right-wingers’.

This is how Jonah Goldberg came to write his new book "Liberal Fascism". He says he was tired of being labeled a fascist by "know-nothing" leftists, so wrote his book to counter the lie.

Goldberg’s basic thesis is not new. More than a half century ago Ludwig von Mises, in his classic book ‘Socialism’, clearly identified the socialist roots of Fascism and Nazism (Epilogue, sections 7 and 8). Oddly, Goldberg makes no mention of Mises. Nevertheless, this omission aside, he does a remarkable job of tracing the historical roots of fascist thinking and identifying its clear linkage to the American progressive movement and modern American liberalism. From the introduction:

[there’s] a mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites. In reality they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate the same social space." [...] in terms of their theory and practice, the differences are minimal. fascism drew from the same well-springs as American Progressivism.

... American Progressives who had praised Mussolini and even looked sympathetically at Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s had to distance themselves from the horrors of Nazism [...and] projected their own sins onto conservatives.
Goldberg traces modern fascist thinking back to Rousseau, Robespierre and the French Revolution and then shows in great detail how:

- President Woodrow Wilson (1913 - 21), the first (and last) Ph.D. in the Oval Office, was the twentieth century’s first totalitarian dictator "doing more violence to civil liberties in his last three years in office than Mussolini did in his first twelve".

- the American progressive establishment of the 20's and 30's enthusiastically supported Hitler’s, Mussolini’s and Stalin’s totalitarianism, racism and eugenics.

- fascism was manifested under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s heavily statist New Deal policies.

- more recently, American fascism has softened and mutated into Hillary Clinton’s "It takes a village" progressive, happy-faced, politically correct world of diversity, multiculturalism, universal health-care and environmentalism.

- modern liberal progressives are ‘nice’ fascists, but fascists none the less.
'Liberal Fascism' is a fascinating, revelational read - one of the few political books I’ve found hard to put down. It’s a must read for every conservative and libertarian. Liberals and other socialists should read it too. Though I suspect that most leftists aren’t keen on having their ideological roots so clearly exposed - and they’ll go out of their way to deny and denounce much of what Goldberg reveals.

Jonah Goldberg has clearly exposed the problem. The question remains - what can be done about it?

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