Where things will go your way...or they won't

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm a fascist, He's a fascist. Wouldn't you like to be a fascist too?

Wingnut extraordinare Jonah Goldberg is taking a beating(rightfully so) for his new book Liberal Fascism. Crooked Timber giggles and sneers. Sadly No! is confused.
Remember Ezra and Matt having fun with mister "It is a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care." They are at it again here and here.

Now I throw the F-word around as much as anyone, but Goldberg seems to be arguing that liberalism in America was part of the same movement that created Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler(crowd hisses) if Yglesias is correct in his interpretation.

He's saying that "the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood" just are the "modern heirs" to the American tradition of fascism "an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries." Contemporary American liberalism, in short, doesn't resemble Nazism. Rather, according to Goldberg it's a variety of fascism, albeit a "friendly" one.

The ludicrousity of this position is difficult to quantify. As a commenter on Lawyers, Guns, and Money put it.
I wonder if he ever stopped to think why no one has ever made this argument in such detail or with such care? Is it because usually arguments that dumb are made after many bong hits and are forgotten about after a bag of Cheetos and a nap?

It would seem much more reasonable that the totalitarian impulse exists on both sides of the ideological spectrum. You have liberal nanny state policies, smoking bans, transfat bans, etc. that want to protect me from myself. Conservative policies that want to protect me from everyone including myself especially teh gay, teh brown people, and teh evolution, even if they have to torture me to save me. I'm pretty sure that you can make arguments that all of these policies go beyond the mandate of the state. The impulse to increase the power of government is a human impulse that seems more tied to the holding of power than any particular ideology.

I haven't read the book so I won't get too snarky but Goldberg seems to have misunderstood fascism, and I imagine liberalism as well. Fascism as understood by its founder Mussolini sounds much more like the wingnut critique of America than the politics of FDR.

Mussolini says:

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....

This is the man of the left according to Goldberg. Or this gem which single-handedly seems to destroy Goldberg's house of cards.

"Fascism, which was not afraid to call itself reactionary... does not hesitate to call itself illiberal and anti-liberal."

Wilhelm Reich:
"Reactionary concepts plus revolutionary emotion result in Fascist mentality."

If there is a better description of the the wingnut culture warriors than this I don't know what it is. Tradition and mindless acceptance of authority and received wisdom are the hallmarks of both fascism and modern American conservatives. The empty worship of a mythical past where everyone got ponies is the wasted dream of the intellectually and morally bankrupt. They make no arguments, they foment fear and divisiveness with dog whistle racism and jingoistic policies designed to distract people from the greatest threat to their freedom, their own government.

When I have read the book I will have a more in depth review.

Update: Apparently, I don't need to read the book. Jon Swift has it in lolcats form. He brings teh funny.

Chapter 1: Hegel

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