Saturday, 5 November 2016

Brave New Village: Hillary Clinton and the Meaning of Liberal Fascism

Liberal Fascism
Jonah Goldberg

Progressivism and fascism are essentially the same because they are forms of statism. In Liberal Fascism Jonah Goldberg notes that “liberalism — the refurbished edifice of American Progressivism — is in fact a descendant and manifestation of fascism.” He says that fascism has been there in America for nearly a century.

In the introductory chapter, “Everything You Know about Fascism Is Wrong,” Goldberg refutes the concept that fascism is “right-wing.” He points out that the ideas of the progressives are much closer to those espoused by the fascists.

Goldberg begins his observations on what he calls liberal fascism from the 1930s, but his main target is the fascistic politics of contemporary politicians like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, and others.  He draws a convincing picture of the connection between the Italian Fascists and the modern progressive politicians. He sees fascism as a disease that affects only the Democratic Party.

On Hillary Clinton, he has a chapter with a rather provocative title: “Brave New Village: Hillary Clinton and the Meaning of Liberal Fascism.” This chapter shows how Clinton evolved into a politician who is intent on imposing fascism or bringing the country terrifyingly close to it.

Goldberg points out that in her days as a student, Hillary Clinton was inspired by several communist intellectuals, including Saul Alinsky. She regarded Alinsky as her hero. She wrote a 92-page senior thesis on him: "There Is Only the Fight: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model."

“Hillary's attraction to radical groups and figures such as the Black Panthers, Alinsky, and — according to some biographers — Yasir Arafat is perfectly consistent with liberalism's historic weakness for men of action.”

On Hillary Clinton’s present day politics, Goldberg says:
Hillary is no fuhrer, and her notion of the "common good" doesn’t involve racial purity or concentration camps. But she indisputably draws her vision from the same eternal instinct to impose order on society, to create an all-encompassing community, to get past endless squabbles and ensconce each individual in the security blanket of the state. Hers is a political religion, an updated Social Gospel —light on the Gospel, heavy on the Social — spoken in soothing tones and conjuring a reassuring vision of cooperation and community. But it remains a singular vision, and there's no room in it for those still suffering from the "stupidity of habit-bound minds," to borrow Dewey's phrase. The village may have replaced the fasces with a hug, but an unwanted embrace from which you cannot escape is just a nicer form of tyranny.
Like the fascists the progressives like Clinton are obsessed with race. The progressive idea of multiculturalism has placed racial and religious identity above all else and beyond the reach of rational argument.

The aim of the fascists and the progressives is to reconstruct society by increasing government intervention into the economy and culture. They tend to justify government control of the economy, and they propagate nationalism and militarism. They seek to develop a war spirit in the country to inspire people to sacrifice their personal interests for the achievement of certain common goals.

Goldberg traces the origin of fascism and modern progressivism to the ideas of Rousseau. “A brief review of the intellectual origins of fascist thought reveals its roots in the Romantic nationalism of the eighteenth century, and in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who properly deserves to be called the father of modern fascism.”

While the focus is on fascism, the book also examines the German Nazi movement—it traces the historical background of Nazism and detects its links with progressivism. In the chapter, “Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left,” Goldberg says that “the Nazis rose to power exploiting anticapitalist rhetoric they indisputably believed.” There was nothing right-wing about Hitler’s politics.

The book’s title comes from a speech that H. G. Wells gave in July 1932 at Oxford. In the speech Wells told the students that the Progressives must become "liberal fascists" and "enlightened Nazis.” Goldberg points out that fascism in America predates the rise of Mussolini’s fascist regime.

The American Liberals of the 1930s era were great admirers of Mussolini’s fascism. In 1934 Rexford Tugwell, a leading member of Roosevelt's Brain Trust, said, "I find Italy doing many of the things which seem to me necessary.... Mussolini certainly has the same people opposed to him as FDR has. But he has the press controlled so that they cannot scream lies at him daily.”

Woodrow Wilson’s wartime regime was progressive and fascistic. “War socialism under Wilson was an entirely progressive project, and long after the war it remained the liberal ideal.... If we are to believe that "classic" fascism is first and foremost the elevation of martial values and the militarization of government and society under the banner of nationalism, it is very difficult to understand why the Progressive Era was not also the Fascist Era.”

The New Deal had a strong affinity with fascism. It institutionalized the idea of collective action by the government to tackle economic emergency. Goldberg draws attention to the close parallel between the National Recovery Administration and Mussolini's corporatism. In fact, both Hitler and Mussolini praised Roosevelt’s New Deal. Mussolini used to refer Roosevelt as a “dictator.”

The progressives reject the classical liberal idea that human flourishing requires individual liberty under rule of law and free-markets. Like the fascists, the progressives believe that enlightened politicians, bureaucrats, intellectuals, and technocrats must use the government to improve material and moral well-being of the people.

Written in a breezy and readable style, Liberal Fascism is a blistering attack on the progressivism. It is an interesting examination of political history.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The review goes to the core of Progressivism rather than accepting its premises. Plan to read, thank you.