Monday, January 14, 2008

Liberal Fascism

I just listened to a podcast from a couple of weeks ago, Helen and Glen (the instapundit) Reynolds interviewing Jonah Goldberg, author of the new book, Liberal Fascism.

The title and cover of Liberal Fascism, featuring a smiley face with a Hitler moustache, are a little provocative. We often denounce the Left on this blog, but we also admit in our more private moments that the Left, which one might define as the critique of bourgeois norms, will always be with us (notwithstanding that the Left are now the bourgeois mainstream), that it will always have a role to play. This is to suggest that the problems with the Left today can be transcended in a renewed leftism that becomes again a productive part of the Western tradition, and not its most serious, variously deconstructing, nihilistic, Gnostic, enemy.

It sounds as if Goldberg's book provides a serious argument, grounded in intellectual history, for arguing that the contemporary American Left's preferred policies look very much like the Nazi party's socialist program, just without the Nazi's rabid antisemitism and racism; this is not to forget that today's left often practises (not always ignorantly) forms of antisemitism and paternalistic racism. Here is a review of the book by Charles Johnson (not the LGF guy), a book which apparently has the leftist blogosphere going nuts. There were reviews up at trashing the book before it even was released. How was that possible asks Charles Johnson? Well, because if you are a member of the Gnostic elect, you don't have to read dull-headed conservatives to know that you are in every way superior to them.

In the podcast, Goldberg agues that many on the American left are in a hurry to prove Francis Fukuyama right that we have reached the end of history. For the American left-liberal mainstream, "The end of history is a giant college campus [where room, board and education is provided for all], or, increasingly, Europe." Nostalgia for college life, and a resistance to accept hard worldly realities (of scarcities and necessary conflicts) beyond the ivory tower, motivates the Democratic machine, argues Goldberg. I appreciated Goldberg's admonition that we take the time to actually read Hillary Clinton, the most likely next leader of the "free" world: "Take Hillary Clinton seriously; read her book - her vision of the village [that it takes to raise a child] is profoundly totalitarian... smash the sanctity of the family... if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem... we have to get past partisan differences".

Such slogans are the essence of totalitarianism, the dream of Unity, according to Jonah Goldberg. And people keep falling for them, because the dream sounds so nice in its unreality. Have you noticed the slogan for this year's Beijing Olympics? “One World One Dream”. Scary, eh? There's no doubt in my mind that all humans are descendants of a common origin. But history and freedom, human survival, depends on an ongoing expansion of different dreams out of this single origin.

We cannot really transcend conflicts if we don't recognize and engage conflicts for what they are - real differences. And to transcend a conflict, you need parties to share in a variously promising, but under-defined, sign in which different kinds of dreamers can hope to find something. The successful new sign becomes a compact which promises to work for all parties signing the peace treaty. A peace treaty is not a slogan about Unity and World Peace but a way of insuring greater freedom and differences for all. In other words, we defer violence by renewing conflict in more complex, "peaceful" but still competitive, terms.

In the podcast, there is a discussion of the feminization of the left, which Goldberg argues is the greatest difference between today's left fascism and the Nazi variety. Jonah notes that "an unwanted hug is still an oppressive thing..." But, Hillary is not the only Democract using Gnostic-fascism symbolism.

As Goldberg notes, Barack Obama is also very big on this cult of Unity. Checking out the above-linked review, I found this quotation on the Charles Johnson's blog, from Prof. John J. Pitney:
There is nothing Satanic about Obama’s tactics. He and his team are just playing tough, old-fashioned politics. What’s offensive is his insistence that he’s above it all. His supporters are swooning over a halo that isn’t there.
The idea that we should want a political leader who will overcome differences, create unity instead of productive debate in humble recognition of the necessity of conflict, is the essence of totalitarianism.

Well, I'm sure there is still more room for books on what our Dag, penning his own work, calls "Velvet Fascism". The Gnostic dream world in which the left believes that every conservative is a closet or open fascist, just chomping at the bit to gas some group, as soon as the left loses power over them, needs to be revealed for what it is: the projection of a battle between "left" socialists and "right" socialists within the totalitarian mind itself. It has little to do with the ways of appreciating a free society that characterizes many North American conservatives.

See also Daniel Pipes
H/T Four Mass'keteers

1 comment:

Rob Misek said...

Something I coined a few month ago.

Recipe for a fascist:

Take one liberal and add power.

What else could you expect from someone who values their personal agenda or liberties ahead of everything else, especially yours?