Are Nazism and fascism really right-wing? Dinesh D'Souza's The Big Lie shows it's not so

Nazism and fascism are "right-wing" movements – supposedly the polar political opposites of socialism.  Fascists and Nazis employ appeals to traditional morality to gain support, the conventional wisdom has it.  

Progressives, by contrast, deplore fascism and always have.  Fascists support capitalism.  Trump is a fascist.  These are aspects of The Big Lie that Dinesh D'Souza exposes as false in his recently released book.

The absurd claim that fascism and Nazism are not socialist movements owes it origin, in part, to the hideous reputations those leftist ideologies and their regimes earned in the wake of World War II.  How could progressives expect to thrive in America if the Holocaust and other atrocities were linked to their political relatives?  Consequently, a gigantic lie was perpetrated by leftist intellectuals and slavishly spread by a sympathetic media – namely, that fascism was a movement of the "far right" and that conservatives were also on "the right."  This "Big Lie" has long been a staple of Democratic propaganda and the basis for the absurd notion that President Trump is a fascist – not his violent, GOP-assassinating, speech-suppressing "Antifa" opponents.  

Most conservatives are aware of links between fascism and socialism.  After all, the term "Nazi" refers to a "National Socialist" party.  What many of them, and certainly most Americans, don't know, thanks to a mendacious media and institutions of advanced deception, are the countless ties (centralized government, racism, eugenics, state-sanctioned violence, and enforced cultural uniformity) that link fascists and even Nazis to the progressive movement.

Indeed, a mutual admiration relationship existed between Mussolini and FDR – a romance evidenced not only by a White House-organized ticker-tape parade for Mussolini's aviation minister, but also by New Deal policies like the National Recovery Administration that effectively put the American economy under Roosevelt's dictatorial control.  Not surprisingly, a New York Times journalist praised FDR for following Mussolini's example – though the Supreme Court, not yet cowed by FDR's later fascistic court-packing threat, did not cheer this unconstitutional power-grab.  

In 1933, FDR himself said of Mussolini, "There seems no question he is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished[.]"  Mussolini, for his part, was thrilled to be called "the Italian Roosevelt."  Even more surprising to Americans weaned on "the big lie" is the fact that Germany's Nazi press frequently praised FDR in the early 1930s.  One magazine lauded "the fascist New Deal" in which the central government (as in fascism) exercised substantial control over "private" industry and finance.  

Fascism itself, as D'Souza explains, arose due to the spectacular failure of Marx's predictions about proletarian revolutions.  Mussolini and Lenin, both Marxists, proposed different reasons for this failure, but both remained socialists dedicated to centralized government and totalitarian societies.  Thus, the bloody feud between fascism and communism was an internecine war akin to the ongoing hostilities between Sunni and Shiite sects within Islam.     

D'Souza's work contains a fair amount of material also found in Jonah Goldberg's less strident book, Liberal Fascism – especially information about the "proto-fascist" proclivities of the Constitution-despising Woodrow Wilson under whose re-segregated regime the KKK, known as the "domestic terrorist arm of the Democratic Party," re-emerged in spectacular fashion.  The Big Lie, however, goes beyond Goldberg by linking Progressivism to Nazism via their kindred eugenics-based racist beliefs.  D'Souza notes, for example, that Hitler's anti-Jewish Nuremberg laws were explicitly patterned after Democrat-instituted segregation and anti-miscegenation laws in the South and that progressives in America "outpaced the Nazis in initiating mass programs of forced incarceration and forced sterilization[.]"

D'Souza also fully addresses a question I posed to Mr. Goldberg after a book lecture in San Diego – to which question I received an unsatisfactory answer: "How did it come to pass that fascism is commonly called 'right-wing'?"  To this query The Big Lie provides a detailed response.  The leftist historian Richard Hofstadter began this project by linking Social Darwinism in America to capitalism – thus transferring racist eugenics from its progressive spawning ground to the conservative "right."  Two Germans émigrés from the Marxist Frankfurt School, Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno, subsequently developed the big lie that fascism wasn't so much a political philosophy as a personality disorder associated with morally repressed conformists and traditional religious folk.  In short, fascism became an "authoritarian" neurosis rooted in conservative sentiments.

Never mind that Hitler was a bohemian who despised Christianity, that Mussolini was an atheist, and that fascists hoped to create a new society filled with "supermen" and not suburbanites lounging in hot tubs.  Ignore also the fact that fascism is a political philosophy with a background that's been erased by the primary practitioners of the Big Lie – academia, the media, and Hollywood.  According to D'Souza, fascism's philosophical founder was Giovanni Gentile, an Italian who, like Mussolini after him, moved from Marxism to fascism.  Most of Gentile's program could easily be mistaken for any recent Democratic Party platform.   

D'Souza correctly, in my view, sees the "resistance" to Trump as a grave threat designed to undo America's constitutional system and to institute a progressive conformity of thought and action throughout the country – a uniformity that is already being enforced by fascistic thuggery and intimidation at Berkeley, Middlebury College, and elsewhere.  Unfortunately, talking conservative heads seem largely oblivious to this clear and present danger.

D'Souza's concluding "de-Nazification" suggestions don't inspire confidence.  How does one pass Trump's economic agenda, reach out to minorities, prosecute Obama-era abuses of power, or develop alternative media and entertainment resources in today's social and political environment, as D'Souza proposes?  While D'Souza has been successful with his documentaries, one would think it will take decades to make serious inroads into the left's academic and media dominance.  We might not have that much time.

Nevertheless, D'Souza has provided conservatives with substantial ammunition.  They need not simply scream out the window, "I'm as mad as hell...!"  They can also tweet, message associates, and vigorously assert to whoever will listen, "Fascism and progressivism are both leftist, socialist disasters!  Read this book!"             

The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left, by Dinesh D'Souza, Regnery Publishing, July 31, 2017 (256 pages, $17.99, Hardcover) 

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is also available on Kindle.