January 24, 2008
So's Your Old ManBy Christopher Chantrill
Conservatives have long understood that socialism and fascism are two sides of the same coin. They are both reactionary movements attempting to roll back the modern era to a simpler, less corrupt age driven by something higher than money, money, money.
Marx expressed this disdain in The Communist Manifesto:
The educated middle class read their Marx and understood what had to be done. They must lead the people back from moneymaking to the spirit of true community and soften the cruel oppression of the cash nexus.
"It takes a village" to realize full human potential, they realized, a global village led by people of good will like themselves.
And anyone that disagreed with them was a fascist.
For conservatives this gets old after a while. So Jonah Goldberg decided to write what became an immediate bestseller about fascism and call it Liberal Fascism.
You might call this a good idea. But they used to call it lèse-majesté in the old days of Majesty this and Majesty that. In our day it means you are not allowed to call liberals by naughty names. Some of them get quite upset. Here's one email reported by Jonah:
And so's your old man.
This much is certain. At the turn of the twentieth century there were two ideas competing to be the main bulwark against the bourgeoisie and its globalization program.
One was the idea of the nation state, the notion of a people united politically by a common language and culture. The other was socialism, the idea of a cooperative village economy scaled up to whatever dimension took your fancy: municipal, national, or international.
Socialism in one country: Five political geniuses of the early twentieth century figured out how to combine the two ideas. Their names, in order of rising to power, were Lenin, Mussolini, Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mao.
Unfortunately national socialism is a terrible idea. Nationalism works pretty well, provided it is mitigated by Anglo-Saxon ideas of limited government. It successfully replaces the age-old community of the kindred with the abstract idea of the community of language.
But the face-to-face economic cooperation of the village community just doesn't scale up. Every attempt to make it work requires compulsion. Every effort to correct its inevitable failures ratchets up the level of compulsion. In economic affairs there really is no alternative to the cash nexus.
And when you combine nationalism with socialism you better get out the body bags, tens of millions of them.
We all know that now. Anyone with half a brain knew it a century ago. But most people, they tell us, only use ten percent of their brain capacity.
The Germans, inhabiting the most advanced country in the world at the beginning of the twentieth century, succeeded in implementing the most complete combination of nationalism and socialism attempted anywhere in the world. At the time, everyone was impressed.
The Americans, lacking an efficient Prussian bureaucratic tradition and inhibited by their Anglo-Saxon political culture, screwed up their attempt at a directed national economy when they tried it in the 1930s. God, it is said, takes care of children, drunks, and the good old USA.
The Germans were not so lucky. In their efficient way, they demonstrated to the world in graphic detail just how bad national socialism could be if pursued to its logical conclusion.
It was a close shave for America's progressives. So after World War II everyone who was anyone knew at once that the New Deal had nothing to do with fascism. So they all wrote in their diaries: "Dear Diary: I have always known that fascism stinks. I have always fought against right-wing ideas like racism, nationalism, anti-Semitism, and militarism."
But how could they prove it? They couldn't abandon their socialistic government programs; they couldn't abandon the "moral equivalent of war;" they couldn't let go of the national political power they had acquired. But they could fight endlessly against racism. They could schedule endless documentaries about the Holocaust on PBS.
And they could run away from the armed forces that had defeated fascism and repeat endlessly President Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex.
Today's anti-fascist can prove it by posting angry denunciations in Amazon's Customer Discussion on Liberal Fascism.
Surely that answers the question: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a Fascist?"