Jonah Goldberg - Liberal Fascism

fascism author Jonah Goldberg looks at the politics of the left and compares it to fascism the event from the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC is an hour good afternoon thank you for joining us at the Heritage Foundation I'm John Hill Belt director of lectures and seminars and it's my privilege to welcome you to our Douglas and Sarah Allison auditorium to welcome of course those who join us on each occasion at our heritage org website and those that will be soon joining us at a future occasion on c-span book TV we remind everyone in house to please check that cell phones have been turned off we would ask that they actually be off not on vibrate because vibration even sometimes will distort sound hosting our program this morning is Matthew Spalding dr. Spaulding is director of our beacon a Simon Center for American Studies his expertise includes American political history constitutionalism religious liberty and civic renewal most recently he served as the executive editor of our recent publication the heritage guide to the Constitution for those unfamiliar with it is first of its kind clause by Clause analysis of our governing document he also serves as an adjunct fellow with the Claremont Institute and is author of a sacred union of citizens George Washington's farewell address and the American character it's now my pleasure to turn the program over to dr. Spaulding thank you good afternoon on picking up this book one probably does a double take perhaps it's the warm smiley face on the cover the one with the little Nazi mustache but it's actually the title liberal fascism a secret history of the American Left from Mussolini to the politics of meaning now we all love secret histories don't we but liberal fascism isn't that a contradiction in terms haven't we all been told or over again by the media and the Academy but it's not liberals but conservatives that are the fascists as conservative I've often been accused of it's a way to suggest that our views are actually beyond the pale hateful prejudiced evocative of dark past but as it turns out the accusation is not quite correct indeed the story it seems is actually quite different and indeed our speaker today turns a history on its head now that there's a connection between modern liberalism and German political ideas is not new Leo Strauss made the connection the 50s popularized naland blooms blockbuster the closing of the American mind recent scholarship is focused on American progressivism it's love the state and its origins and German universities but what does all that mean for today for politics as is usually the case quite wonderfully in this case I would say it takes a clever mind and a very gifted writer to put it all together along with new scholarship and analysis of his own and a compelling narrative that gives us the full picture and Jonah Goldberg has done that in this intellectual history he is one of the most prominent young journalists writing about politics and culture in America today he's a contributing editor to National Review a founding editor of National Review Online is currently a member of the board of contributors to USA Today and is a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the syndicated column appears regularly in the Shot Chicago Tribune New York Post and quite literally technical term here a whole slew of other newspapers all around the country if there's anything right now that we need at a time when political parties and political movements are rethinking where they stand and where they are going is a good sound rethinking of the history of modern liberalism ah but what is the secret history what does it mean for our politics the best answer by the book but as an enticement today we can listen to the author our friend Jonah Goldberg join me in welcoming it thank I knew that heritage was going to splurge on a podium at one worn pants I want to thank Matthew I want to thank Jim widen Minh I want to thank the Heritage Foundation this is the first real talk I've given about the book since the book has come out except muttering to myself in my basement and so I'm going to try it out on you guys and I'm very much interested in the feedback to see see whether I'm doing it the right way as as Matt suggested you know if you're even a remotely typical conservative you've been called a fascist and Nazi a stormtrooper or a brown shirt plenty of times and if you haven't you're a typical but you've certainly had your heroes and your role models called a fascist a Nazi a brown shirt plenty of times and this is quite in vogue these days as we all know we have this whole Bush Hitler thing going around feminist author Naomi wolf has a book out where she quite literally and seriously believes that the United States is right now exactly parallel to where Germany was somewhere in the mid 1930s you have Joe Coniston came out I would say he wrote it was really more like he typed a book called it can happen here which basically said we were on the precipice of fascism and Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times author Christopher hedges sort of got his thesis right out in front and just simply called his book about the Christian Right American fascists today's F bombers people who throw the the new f-bomb fascism around they'll tell you that the reason they're doing this is because of George Bush's war on terror they'll say that you know what Janeane Garofalo calls the 43rd Reich requires that they speak truth to power and the argument which we don't have to go into any great details because it's not very detailed itself is pretty easy to summarize Nazis crackdown on civil liberties George Bush is cracking down on civil liberties Nazis used terror and allegedly so does George W Bush Nazis invaded countries so did the Bush administration Hitler lied Bush lied Nazis rounded up Jews and called them enemies of the state Bush is rounding up Muslims and calling them enemies of the state ouch wits Guantanamo you know what's in a name but aside from the bone snapping stupidity of these charges name the name of Naomi Wolf's of 1930s Germany didn't go on multistate book tours denouncing Adolf Hitler and there really was no Jewish equivalent of the Taliban or al-qaeda there's one more reason to be skeptical this is nothing new in 2000 before 9/11 when Bush was still promising a humble foreign policy Jerrold Nadler had found the width of fashion fascism in the Florida recount during the Florida recount Jesse Jackson noted that that victim Jewish victims of the Holocaust then living in Florida were being victimized again Harry Belafonte says that you know dismisses Condoleezza Rice and : powell working on bush administration by noting that well Jews worked up there are a lot of Jews in the higher levels of the of the Nazi regime as well for the record that's idiotic Bill Clinton denounced the Texas GOP platform as a fascist track during the fight there in the fight over the contract with america a representative Charlie Rangel complained that quote Hitler wasn't even thinking about doing these things which is technically true Hitler wasn't thinking about sort of zero based budgeting or term eliminating committee chairs or anything like that when Newt Gingrich invited various black congressmen to Republican cocktail parties as part of an effort to reach out to the other side of the aisle representative major Owens responded to Newt Gingrich by declaring these people are practicing genocide with a smile they're worse than Hitler we're going to have cocktail party genocide Ronald Reagan was of course called a fascist from the first days he was fighting communists before that everyone simply knew that Barry Goldwater was an eye to your Nazi sympathiser my favorite example of that was when Daniel Schorr that sort of dinosaur like figure you can still hear on NPR when he was on CBS as a reporter he reported as fact that Barry Goldwater was heading to Germany for vacation so so as right before the Republican convention so as to quote/unquote linked up with neo-nazi and various right-wing groups so as the time their two campaigns sort of suggesting that that Goldwater was when he visited when he was opposed to visit the Hitler's stomping grounds as Daniel Schorr put it it was served to emotionally recharge for the coming GOP campaign and raise every single fact including except for guys Daniel Shores name was false about that before it he didn't go to Germany he didn't go to Europe he didn't meet up with any Nazis any of it but it didn't matter because everyone knew that it must be true because conservatives are Nazis to generations of Hollywood script writers have been warning about the fascist peril lurking to her right in just recent years we've seen Pleasantville falling down American Beauty American History X and countless other films that advance this idea in one way or the other my favorite was when they adapted Tom Clancy's sum of all fears for the big screen and you might think that there would be a certain Verity relevance to the war on terror that they might want to capture in a book that talks about Islamist extremists trying to snuggle a nuclear weapon and attacking the United States but for Hollywood this seemed too implausible a too scary or too mean or whatever the argument was so they fell back on what they knew and instead of Islamofascists trying to attack the United States of America it was of course a cabal of conservative businessmen who happened to be a secret society of neo-nazis it seems that even after 9/11 the American left can't get over the idea that the existential threat remains on the fash the fascist right well why I don't have to tell most of the people at the Heritage Foundation that most of us conservatives don't spend our time wiling around you know perusing mine Kampf at least you guys don't I had to for work um my lips are tired but uh I get called a Nazi all of the time and I used to at least have fun with it you know when some kid on the college campus would call me it or I get you know I get this email where they think that if you call someone a Nazi but you type it in all caps it has to be irrefutable but so when college kids call me a Nazi one of my favorite things to ask them is you know well except for the murder bigotry and genocide what is it exactly you don't like about Nazism and you know they look at me the way my basset hound used to look at me when I tried to feed it a grape you know they just couldn't comprehend what I was asking so I try to fill it in for them the Nazis were socialists the Nazi ideologies Gregor Strasser put it pretty succinctly he said we are socialists we are enemies deadly enemies of today's capitalist system with its exploitation of the economically weak it's unfair wage system it's a moral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and money the speech that first attracted Adolf Hitler to Nazism when he was still in the army he was investigating these various left-wing groups with a speech entitled by what means shall we destroy capitalism the Nazi Party platform demanded and I'll just read a few of these things guaranteed jobs quote the abolition of incomes unearned by work the nationalization of all large corporations and trusts profit sharing is all in all major industries expanded old-age insurance government takeover big business stores think Walmart and I'm actually pretty serious there was a very much an anti departments or movement in the United States in Germany at the time for the same reasons we have anti Walmart movement today the prohibition of child labor and countless other progressive reforms then I might explain to these kids that the Nazis all the name of progress sought to purge the authority of the state I mean shit cert sought to purge the authority of the church and tradition from society and to replace it with the supremacy of the state the dictates they also try to impose the dictates of a new political correctness of a fundamentally pagan faith in meine Kampf Hitler denounces Christianity as a spiritual terror that had smashed the much preferable pagan altars of the much freer ancient world when some Protestant visited when some Protestant bishops visited the Fuhrer to register complaints Hitler's rage got the better of them Christianity will disappear from Germany just as done in Russia the German race has existed without Christianity for thousands of years and will continue after Christianity has disappeared when the bishops objected and said that they actually supported not to use some secular aims just not as new religious innovations Hitler exploded you are traitors to the Volk enemies of the fatherland and destroyers of Germany in 1935 mandatory prayer and school was abolished and in 1938 carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely by 1941 religious instruction for children 14 years and up had been abolished altogether and Jacobin ISM reign supreme a typical Hitler Youth song that they would that they would sing we are the happy Hitler Youth we have no need for Christian virtue for Adolf Hitler is our intercessor and our Redeemer no priest no evil one can keep us from feeling like Hitler's children no Christ do we follow but Horst vessel away from the incense and holy water pots the Nazis partly grew up grew up out of a green movement and a youth movement and a health movement three of the movements that are dominating today in our culture the proto Nazi philosopher and rabid anti-semite and a lewd witty Clegg is wrote one of the phonic founding texts of modern environmentalism and in 1980 the German greens reissued the text to celebrate the founding of the Green Party the Nazi war on smoking would make Michael Bloomberg's heart leap Nazis led the world in researching organic food and alternative medicines the concentration camp Dachau had the world's largest alternative and organic Medicine Research Centre according to the medical historian Robert Procter the National Socialist campaign against tobacco and the whole grain bread operation they're really big into whole grains are in some sense as fascist as the yellow stars in the death camps Nazism rejected open scientific inquiry in favor which dictated by relativistic and holistic imperatives and was tainted with the mysticism that exalted the natural order above reason a lot of the buzzwords that the contemporary postmodern Left likes to bandy about were actually invented by Nazis or Nazi philosophers like logo centrism and deconstructionism Heinrich Himmler was an animal rights activist and promoter of natural healing Hitler endures the Allies endlessly discussed the need to move the entire nation to vegetarianism as a response to the unhealthiness that was promoted by capitalism then there's Mussolini a fantastic dancer uh then there was Mussolini Mussolini uh was raised on the Mother's Milk of revolutionary socialism his dad read him pages of Das Kapital when he was a child Benito is not an Italian name it's Benedetto as the Italian name he was named after Benito Juarez the revolutionary leader in Mexico who actually overthrew Emperor Maximilian and killed him he didn't learn the name ill do Chi as a fascist he learned the name L do Chi is the leader of the Socialists in Italy he wasn't deeply admired by both Trotsky and Lenin when he was still a socialist in good order he was famous for his hatred of Christianity at college courses he liked to stand up in a room and dare God to strike him dead with a lightning bolt and then when lightning bolt didn't materialize he would then go on a gigantic jag about mocking Jesus and Christianity when he was kicked out of the Socialist Party solely served for supporting World War one we can get back to that if we need to in order to save socialism in his words he responded whatever happens you won't lose me twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guaranteed that my so in my socialist faith socialism is in my blood Mussolini's fascism was dubbed right-wing by Orthodox communists as a way to discredit descent from the Bolshevik Party but Mussolini and the Italian fascists remain committed to a populace saturated socialism we can get back that too when the fascists were elected in their first election here's what their program included and I've got a whole bunch of it so I'll try to read it fast they want to lower the minimum voting waged 18 they want to lower the minimum the age of a representative to 25 and give universal suffrage to win they demanded the abolition of the Senate and the creation of a National Technical Council with an intellectual and manual labor industry commerce and culture they wanted to end the draft repeal titles of nobility they won an eight-day workday 8-hour 8-hour workday a minimum wage worker partition participation in government reform of the old-age and pension system expanding them Grant greatly and as well as various worker safety reforms the expert expropriation of the land of the wealthy the construction of secular public schools dedicated to educating the proletariat a one-time expropriation of all riches seems to me if all you need is one time right the seizure of all goods belonging to religious congregations and the abolition of Episcopal revenues the review of all military contracts and the quote unquote sequestration of 85% of all war profits the nationalization of all of the entire arms industry so yes those anti elitist stock market abolishing child labor ending public health promoting wealth confiscating draft ending secularists write layers so we appoint these things in myriad other facts out to support that the conclusion that Nazism as well as Italian fascism we're phenomena of the left liberals fall back on this other argument immediately switched to this sort of sort of cudgel of the Holocaust to shame you into pointing anything-anything things out and say what are you doing you're pointing out that the Nazis were socialists you think that's what's important about Nazism the Holocaust which is a terrible evil horrible crime the worst crime in human memory and I agree with that almost entirely it was certainly the signature evil of modernity and you know I mean I can certainly understand why maybe an Armenian who was slaughtered might think there were other ones but it's certainly a defensible position to say that the Holocaust was the signature evil of modern times and in the most horrific crime we can imagine and then they'll say oh but you know the Nazis were war mongers and all this kind of stuff so what they're saying in effect is that the reason why it's okay to call conservatives fascists and Nazis is because in the important ways were like them you know I mean socialist stuff is irrelevant what's really important is Nazis or genocide Ulm ER der errs and well you know nudging a wink so are American conservatives it really doesn't hold up and in fact it's slander and and it's something that we need to stand up against uh now the problem with this is that when I start making this argument to this sort of patchouli stroke tempte vist on a college campus with open-toed shoes and clothes nine by the time I get to my day meemaw for all of this he's gone off to Taco Bell to get a gordita you know preferably a vegetarian one Harry Anderson used to have this great stick he was the guy from Night Court and he started out of his cheers and he's sort of a conman magician comedian and he used to do this thing where you'd say anyways a juggler big juggler you say you see this axe this is George Washington's original axe now unfortunately several years ago the handle broke so I had to replace that and then last week the blade broke so I had to replace that but in essence this is George Washington's axe and that's sort of what's happened with the word fascist is the left hand it's kind of ironic because the fasci is the symbol of the fascist which was always a left-wing syndicalist revolutionary symbol in Europe when Mussolini picked it up the symbol of the fasces is in acts 2 and I could probably extend that metaphor somewhere but I don't know where I go to but regardless it is an amazing thing think about it socialism more people have been murdered slaughtered in the name of socialism than have been murdered or slaughtered in the name of fascism or national socialism by orders of magnitude the black book of Soviet Communism says that in the name of socialism 94 million people were wiped out China killed 65 million people in the name of socialism and yet socialism still has this sort of touchy-feely namby-pamby wouldn't it be a great world if it worked kind of feel to it you know it's not a slander to call somebody a socialist you know I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan we were the only conservative people there we were sort of like Christians in ancient Rome you know you had to draw a little sea in the dirt by the playground and wipe it out to see if there was another conservative run and I know lots of people who call themselves socialists I know let's be were proud to call themselves socialists and if I say how can you call yourself a socialist you people are worse than the Nazis at least as measured by the number of people you killed other say what are you talking about that's crazy socialism isn't about killing people fascism is about killing people and never mind that those numbers are actually low because they don't include the people the National Socialists killed and this gets us what is what Tom Wolfe calls the greatest hoax of the 20th century I know he says this because he says it right there how did fascism come out to mean the opposite of communism there are a lot of reasons when I go into at considerable length in the book but the two most important ones are marxist prophesy and Marxist propaganda the prophesy is pretty easy to summarize in all of the copious you know essentially religious scripture of Marxism there is this prophecy that at the end times when capital the internal contradictions of capitalism can no longer face the immovable forces unstoppable forces cold impersonal forces of history that are going to bring the proletariat up to the happy Wonderland at the end of history capitalism will have its last gasp Trotsky wrote this all the time you know that the last gasp of capitalism were the forces of privilege and nobility and capitalism will fight back against socialism and try to beat back the inevitable tide so there were some sincere and honest Marxists who said AHA that's what fascism is the prophecies are true and then this was very happy for them and you got to remember and I go into this quite a bit as someone who subscribes to the views of Eric Voegelin that all of these movements were essentially religious in nature Georg Sorrell the very influential sort of he's the linchpin between Leninism and fascism he was a huge influence to both Mussolini and anta Lenin and and Sharelle himself was hugely influenced by William James what basically happened was that Sorrell combined William James is will to believe with Nietzsche's will to power and that's how you get fascism and Leninism the regardless so a lot of people said you know that there was this oh it's so anyway so Sorrell came up with this idea with noble I which is basically this thing that you tell the mass is to make give them motivation his biggest most famous one is the general strike that we all just lay down our tools and stop working then we would own the means of production and everybody would be happy in cats and dogs would sleep happily together and all the rest but another one was that he argued that we basically that it became already obvious by the turn of the century in the 20th century that that marks his prophecy that Marxist as a political science as a scientific socialism made no sense and wasn't working out and so when he did instead is say let's treat it like a religion let's tell the masses that it's basically prophecy that it's basically this millennial messianic faith and we'll get them to believe that way at least that way we'll make some progress so that was what the prophecy was and the beautiful thing about it is that so many people believe the prophecy so that when Stalin actually came up with the propaganda the two went together very well they meshed and that brings us the propaganda the basic reason why National Socialists are fascists according to Stalin was that in the great competition the great Coke versus Pepsi ideological structural struggle of the first half of the 20th century National Socialism was just a heck of a lot more popular than international socialism the into the fundamental idea behind international socialism you know workers of the world unite is this premise that a factory worker in Irkutsk was supposed to have as much fellow-feeling in love and solidarity for a factory worker in Munich or in Cleveland or in Timbuktu and that turned out to be unworkable and Mussolini has lots of writings where he explains why it just doesn't turn out that way it turns out that people come from a culture they want to talk to they know people who speak a certain language then okay we'll have a sentence shared experiences and the idea that a factory worker in Milan was going to have more fellow-feeling for a factory worker in Moscow rather than say his manager whose kid plays soccer with his kid and happens to be his brother-in-law was just ludicrous and so it turned out that people wanted to belong to a nation but they also wanted to be socialists and they did survey after survey this guy theater able really pioneering social scientists did these surveys of the old fighters of Nazi Germany the guys who came before the Revolution and they say over and over again they're just transcripts of it you know these essays where they say over and over again I really liked communism I really like international socialism but I don't want to follow what Moscow says I have to follow I want to I want to be for Germans and it's gotta it's vital to remember you know we talk in this country we even even inherited these Marxist categories and ways of understanding where we somehow believe that nationalism and socialism are at opposite ends of some ideological spectrum and this is just idiotic when we nationalize an industry what are we doing we're socializing it when we're socializing in industry what are we doing we're nationalizing it Hugo Chavez you could search in Nexus for all these things about what he's doing to industry and half of them will say he's socializing industry and half of them will say he's nationalizing industry these are distinctions without a difference and the people in Germany and the people in Italy recognize this and they wanted to be proud nationalists and socialists and Stalin realized he was having his luncheon and so what they did was they declared in 1928 and then subsequently at other internationales that henceforth any progressive or socialist group that wasn't loyal to Moscow that wasn't playing for their team could no longer ever be called socialist they had to be called fascists and they used you know this this prophecy thing about saying aha see these are your enemies these are the other guys and this is the other team and so they're the opposite of us but as we know in real life the worst hatreds aren't between people who are the most far apart it's between the people who are the closest as part of this you know kumbaya nonsense that you get that if we all just increased our understanding that we would all get along well I can tell you right now but you know Palestinians and Israelis understand each other really really well Irish and British people understand each other Irish and English people understand each other really really well Pakistanis and Indians understand each other Turks and Greeks understand each other Turks and Guatemalans have no clue about each other no Wars you know it's an amazing how that words and so the essence of the hatred between communism and you know actually say Bolshevism and National Socialism the essence of that hatred was born of the fact that they were competing for the same people and there's reams of social science that backs this up in Germany you have communists and you have communists constantly switching sides and moving over and become red shirts becoming brown shirts it is a fight to see who is going to control the left in Germany not the right but what we get confused by is that since the Communists had so many useful idiots in the West who are willing to follow their party line come the 1930s that what was called at the time right-wing socialism the socialism just sort of drifts away and all we're left with is right wing and we start importing these European concepts into the anglo-american political discourse the simple fact is is that you know you know most you guys probably had this in college where you had your political science professor he goes to the board and he says you know something like you know I'm not enough I'm not a fascist or a communist and besides you know extreme ideale geez you know they meet and he draws a circle you know the go bill this way and you end up this way and oh isn't that clever we get some of this stuff from Hana Arendt we get some of it from Arthur Schlesinger and we can talk about that if you like but we should just sort of say right now it is bizarre and idiotic nowhere else in life do we say that something is so tall it's short but something is so fat it's thin but something is so big it's small we do say that you know some puppies are so ugly they're cute but okay exception that proves the rule the point is that fascism is not the opposite end of the political spectrum from from socialism it's that Bolshevism and fascism or National Socialism are two variants of socialism richer pipes as argue this for a very long time that that fascism and Bolshevism were both heresies of socialism and the best proof of this is probably the fact that in the United States of America prior to this propaganda / prophecy you know explosion in the early 1930s the American Left had very nice things to say about fascism it didn't occur to the progressives of the 1920s to say oh they're opposites they saw them as linked phenomena Lincoln Steffens you know the famous guy who goes to the Soviet Union he says I've seen the future and it works the year before he went to Italy and said that Mussolini that God had formed Italy out of Mussolini's rib and that this was the experiment that was going to show how decadent parliamentary democracy and classical liberalism was the dying and desiccated corpse of the 19th century Ida Tarbell you know the famous muckraker who brought down Standard Oil the State Department didn't want her to go to Italy because they thought she's going to cause too much trouble when she gets there it turns out she just had a full-blown crush on Mussolini and comes back and says you know he's the cat's meow it is the exact same phenomenon we see today with Hugo Chavez is the exact same thing these are the sean penn's of the 1920s who go off and they ah the future it works you know let's beat up rich people and take their stuff brilliant Charles beard the legendary economic historian you know the economic interpretation of the Constitution which I had to read I don't know 47 times in college he writes in the New Republic which was gets more in the New Republic originally republic about Mussolini's Italy beyond question it's an amazing experiment being made here an experiment in reconciling individualism and socialism politics and technology would be a mistake to allow feelings arounds by contemplating the harsh deeds and extravagant assertions that have accompanied the fascist process as with all other historical forces to obscure the potentialities in the lessons of the adventure no not adventure but destiny riding with saddle and bridle across the historic Peninsula that bridges the world of antiquity to our modern world it's like Ezra Klein writing about Barack Obama Herbert croley the author of the promise of American life the foundational text of modern you know modern progressivism now modern liberalism the founder of the New Republic was objectively Pro Mussolini defending him against all detractors in the New Republic comparing him to Abraham Lincoln who also had to crack a few skulls for the right reasons the promise of American life it's like this hope feels democracy in America so many people claim to have read that thing and they're all liars I am astounded you read that thing and it is it is amazing what a fistic guy Herbert Rowley is he's for Wars too you know he's for wars to create a moral tonic at home he's for a secular Saint who's going to impose order he's against sort of mere democracies contemptuous of classical liberalism he thinks violence is worthwhile he's for founding national myths and nationalism he's for national socialism we explicitly says so you go down the list of almost all the anatomical checklist of what a fascist regime is in almost every single one of them can be found in Herbert Crowley's promise of the American life and it's funny when you read historians they're very cautious about this they're all these phrases where people say well some people say you're Herbert Crowell you might be a fascist but and they never really explain what the butt is they just sort of say we know that's not true because it can't be true you can't admit that it's true all right in the 1920s when they looked at it's absolutely true you know in a Miche lace has this wonderful book The Forgotten man about FDR and I highly recommend it and there's absolutely true what the conservatives and what National Review has been saying what Heritage Foundation concert' has been saying for 50 years that that the Liberals of the 1930s looked the Soviet Union for inspiration absolutely true more true than they looked at fascism or our national socialism I mean it is true let's say w eb de bois goes to Nazi Germany as late in 1937 and says all right this makes sense to me but we can leave that for another time it is absolutely true that the Soviet Union was there first and foremost their goal I mean Jane Addams says that the Soviet Union is is John Dewey's philosophy applied 150 percent I mean they really fell in love with the place but that doesn't mean that they thought that fascist Italy was at the other end of the spectrum Lincoln Steffens refers to the the Russian Italian method believed that these both these methods the most these things that were going on in Italy and Russia were basically examples of the same phenomena the same wave of the future as as an Morel Limburg called it in her book that the rising tide of the collectivism and experimentation an idea that we get out of pragmatism which was a sort of foundational philosophical texts for progressivism and for fascism in enormous ways that in this age of experimentation what they're doing in Italy what they're doing in Russia this is the future and shame on us the progressives said throughout the 1920s that we let go of what we did here under Woodrow Wilson with his war socialism when we crack down on individual liberty where we took over industry where we Unleashed propaganda the world's first propaganda mystery at Ministry is under Woodrow Wilson Robert Nisbet has talked about how the first instance of true political totalitarianism in the 20th century was unleashed in the United States of America under Woodrow Wilson if if if one scintilla of the charges against George Bush being a fascist dictator are true then it is undeniable that Woodrow Wilson was a fascist dictator undeniable we can go into that if we like later but I want to sort of sum up in the 1930s these same progressives who cut their teeth on Woodrow Wilson and his war socialism they were out in the wilderness in the 1920s they're looking to the Soviet Union Stuart chase the guy credited for giving the name to the New Deal wrote a book called the New Deal he says looks at Russia and say why should the Russians have all the fun remaking the world George Sewell one of the editors in the Republic writes this book where he argues when we planned in war the implication being that we can plan in peace we have to get back to the war socialism that we left behind shame on us we're no longer progressives in the sense that we're not at the cutting edge of progress and along comes the FDR administration and it's funny you know when people have argued that the FDR administration had these fascist tendencies or was inspired by the Soviet Union a lot of liberal historians will say oh you know you know nothing right-wingers you know you don't understand it had its roots in the American tradition going back to the Wilson administration but was administration was twelve years earlier I mean this is essentially the same thing as saying you know the guys who took over the New Deal the brain trusters they were essentially you know they're like Deborah Carter retreads and the Clinton administration these were Wilson Reid shreds you know they just all came back in and they want to recreate the exact same thing the best example is Hugh Johnson who was on the war industries board under Woodrow Wilson who was and then ran the NRA not the National Rifle Association as I've disturbingly learned most college kids think even when we're talking about the New Deal he ran the National Recovery administration and was a devoted wilsonian and the first thing he does when he gets his office is he hangs up a picture of benito mussolini on the wall he starts handing out copies of the fascist tract the corporate state gives wanting to Perkins is the Secretary of Labor during the Democratic convention he distributes a memo where he says that we all have to sort of follow the muscle the the Mussolini model and he has this long sort of half tongue-in-cheek thing about well maybe it would be a good idea if we shipped the Supreme Court in Congress to a deserted island in exile for maybe 90 days so we really make some progress around here he launched enormous Nuremberg style public rallies across the United States under the logo of the blue eagle which is essentially the New Deal swastika and and argue that anybody who didn't conforte with a new deal with the New Deal codes was essentially a traitor and he was not considered some crazy right winger he was considered a prototypical new dealer and there were other people who were influenced it got so bad with a fascist Italy applauding what FDR was doing I mean Mussolini writes a review of FDR's book looking forward on the front page of the fascist newspaper and says hey you know this guy's one of us look at those doing it's exactly what we're doing he's part of this new movement the Nazi Party paper did the exact same thing Hitler said the exact same thing and this was all considered still fairly normal except out of the world outside the world of sort of dedicated communists and so I want to sort of sum up by sort of telling you one quick antidote anecdote on a warm day in 1932 HG Wells visits Oxford University summer school to deliver a major address to the young Liberals were basically the progressives of the day there and the intended purpose of his speech is to bring about a Phoenix like rebirth of liberalism people forget now but HG Wells was indisputably if not if not V then certainly one of the top two or three into liberal intellectuals in the english-speaking world in the first half of the 20th century whose enormous ly influential on the social gospel movement in the United States his his his sermons and speeches were read from pulpits across America as sort of a theological inspiration for American progressivism he met repeatedly with FDR in the Oval Office referring to FDR as the world brain or the head of the world brain his his writings inspired you know Upton Sinclair's and Claire lose all of these guys to no end he was a leading member of the Fabian socialist until he was kicked out until he basically left because he was too radical he was exhausted with what he called gas water board and school socialism he wanted something more radical and so he goes to Oxford and he says we have to have this Phoenix like rebirth of liberalism of progressivism and he says he's been struggling all of his life to come up with a word for it a phrase for it he says you know he used to talk about in his books he has the samurai these over men these air marshals these superhuman people who parachute in and fix things there's all sorts of really creepy fascist stuff in HG Wells things he had wonderful things to say about you know men of action and and the cult of the deed as the Nazis like to say anyway so it but he could you just couldn't come up with the right word for it he's but something that summarizes view about the role of will and the ideas of public minded masterful people and he said that we needed a militant organization that could run things and he runs through speech he says finally I have the idea that summarizes what I've been arguing for for my entire career and the name he gave it was liberal fascism he also called for enlightened Nazism and my hope is that that won't have to be the name for my sequel thank you all very much we have a time for some questions and we have two microphones if you would raise your hand and wait for microphone so we can hear you and be picked up on on tape who would like to start plenty here to ask about right here hi my name is Nicole Margaret I read your book and during the chapter on Roosevelt I think you briefly mentioned hollywood's involvement in like with the Roosevelt administration to make propaganda movies and um well the history of this I was reading some other books it's pretty interesting um especially you know they're trying to make Russia look good cuz we're allies I think Lauren Bacall was originally going to be cast as a Tartar woman soldier in a movie that didn't end definite order but anyway it didn't end up getting made but um but my question is if you see that modern liberalism is kind of at least has some philosophical connections to in in this American fascism what what do you see like Hollywood's role and like propagandizing for that because like today you know Edwards as like Susan Sarandon or whatever on the campaign trail with him I know it's not the big studio system which would have fit into the fascist mold much better because you know it's this big machine but sort if you have any comments on that sure um one quick anecdote from the book you know remember in late Clint administration there was this whole thing about how how outrageous it was that there were some tax credits for networks for having anti-drug messages and programming it was this big hullabaloo for a couple days and I always think about that and then you actually read about what happened under the Roosevelt administration the best examples Gabriel over the White House which I talked about in the book and Gabriel over the White House you have the story of a Hoover like president who has this epiphany it's not like Dave you know has this epiphany and decides to go out and and execute mobsters and corporate fat cats so that we can make progress in this country and it's just really absurd thing you know with machine gunning down you know your enemies and kicking in doors and all that kind of stuff and everyone's supposed to cheer and the funny thing about it is is that it's such an ode to fascism and all these kinds of things and one of the best script doctors for it was FDR himself they sent him a copy of the script he loved it he made some changes you know he had some notes as they say in Hollywood and he made some changes and sent it back and sent a nice note saying I can't tell you how useful this is for the cause you know and imagine George Bush I'm sending an email saying could you have a favorable you know comment about me in your movie and watch you know the heads explode at salon or something like that I mean it it just shows you how much times the change I think that the reason why we see in today's contemporary Hollywood we see a lot of the things that we saw in the 1930s from the movie stars themselves from a lot of the producers because you know the Hollywood left are probably the perfect distillation of the the utopian ethos in liberalism I mean you see it with Barack Obama this idea that if you know by simply by voting for me the personification of all of our ideals the head of this organic movement there's some batch of stuff in there that we will lift ourselves out of the present and go to the sunny uplands of history that you know society will be says achieve this kingdom of heaven on earth simply by you know voting for a guy like me and that's an emotional based thing you know when you go to a liberal group you know they don't make arguments they testify I believe we should live in a world where you know this doesn't come at the cost of that and that you know puppies and kittens should get along and that kind of thing and it's it's a religious emotional psychological impulse and I think we see in Hollywood today is those same themes coming out again and again and again the idea that if we just all really mean it and work together we can we can get rid of the fallen nature of man you know movies these end in a crescendo they never show that you know two minutes later the happy hero still has to go to the bathroom still has to pay the rent you know it's just and it's this emotional notion of how life works and they transfer it on to politics and they seem to think that the hard work are the rallies and the speeches in the election and then once we have the right person in will have a deliverer or Messiah or a savior and I think that's why they have it in their heart to look to people like Castro to look to people like Chavez these secular deliverers these Redeemers who can who are men of action who don't have to put up with those bad guys who happen to disagree with Hollywood it's a very undemocratic ethos I have a somewhat easier time understanding why young people are drawn to the utopian siren calls but I have a really hard time understanding why people who have made their money in the market like Warren Buffett what they're getting out of this what are they getting out of this they can't be confused they're too smart um I think you should it's funny Dusty Rhodes the publisher of our the president of National Review you tell me the story about him was the Governor of New Jersey used to be a Goldman Sachs Corzine he was on a trip to Egypt with Corzine to do some big public works public-private partnership kind of thing to finance it and on the plane ride back Corzine says you know this is really how pretty much all economics you know in the West this is how it should work you know the really smart guys from business at the very top and the very smart guys in the planning divisions and government they should get together and just do what they know they need to do and you know I mean with the way we do things now it's just so messy it's so silly and I think that is a it's an understandable human impulse for these Masters of the Universe these people who think they're smarter than everybody they have the money to prove it as far as they're concerned that they're smarter than everybody and they think they get fed up with the messiness of democracy which was the argument you know for a schism in the first place the argument for fascism was you know the phrase that they always use was that 19th century liberalism or 19th century liberal democracy was a putrifying corpse and it was time to sort of get something fresh and new and I think that there you know and there were a lot of fish istic businessmen I mean businessmen there's this myth that drives nuts about how corporations are right-wing and as anybody who's toiled in the trenches of the culture war or conservatism generally generally speaking they're exceptions the most unreliable partners in the culture war are big corporations they're opportunists they're not for free markets they're only for free markets for their competition if they think they'll beat them otherwise they are perfectly willing to suck on the government teeth they're perfectly willing to violate all the principles of classical liberalism and free markets they're opportunists and I think there are a lot of people who think that way in big business and so I don't think it's necessarily utopian it's just much more of a technocratic elitist strain which was a big part of American progressivism and a big part of fascism and obviously of communism other one yeah you know drew D I appreciate your giving some context to my ancestors it Italian immigrant ancestors who were such great admirers of Mussolini and so I've spoken about it that the US government required them to register as alien enemies during World War two the question I would have for you is first of all what if in fact fascism and liberalism are very similar part of fascism socialism liberalism all sort of part of the same substance what is it that caused the break that led liberalism to side with capitalism and with libertarianism limited government conservatism and with traditionalism such as the Catholic Church and the Soviet Union against fascism and is and is your analysis could your analysis be alternatively explained by the kinds of realignment such as those which have we like to think that it's going to stay this way I'm not sure it will that made conservatism the dominant political culture in the United States in part by converting disaffected liberals into neoconservatives without their really losing their affection for big government they just became big government conservatives there's a lot in there yeah there is um my apologies no no it's okay man I mean the short answer for a lot of this is to say how do you reconcile liberals fit you know support of this and of that is to go with the old standby liberals are often confused but at a more serious level I think one of the points that sort of needs to you know just front meat needs to be made is sort of like what I was pointing out with socialism you know if I call you a socialist I'm not saying you're like Pol Pot if I call you a fascist I'm not necessarily saying you're like Adolf Hitler it's important remember that the Italian fascists were not bigoted anti-semites or any of that kind of stuff Mussolini denounced not to use them as racism Jews were over-represented in the Italian fascist party until 1938 from 1919 to 1938 when the Nazis essentially ordered them to kick them out the not a single Jew of any nationality was a sent by the Italians anywhere under their control to the concentration camps until the Nazis actually invaded Italy in 1943 and took it over the French lined up at the border with their Jews you know saying come on get him the Italians actually had to prevent the French fascists from getting hold of of getting control authority over their own Jews because the Italians knew that the second the French had authority over their own Jews in southern France that they would be shipped off to the concentration camps and so Mussolini fought it tooth and nail not so much because Mussolini was a good guy Mussolini was often a putz but and he was a bad guy but the nature of the Italian people said we're not going to be part of the Holocaust they just did not want to be part of the Holocaust they did not want to be murderers and it says something decent and wonderful about the richness of Italian culture that you just they dragged their feet whenever they could and wanted no part of it and there's some amazing stories about Italian heroism you know Italy was the only country in Europe for very long time to send his troops into harm's way explicitly to save Jewish lives you know I mean FDR understandably raced to win the war but he didn't do a lot to save Jewish lives the Italian fascists did now why do I bring this up it's not to defend Italian fascism but it's to point out that fascism like nationalism is inherently going to bring up the internal characteristics of a people and in Italy it brought out Italian characteristics in Germany it brought out German characteristics the German characteristics were a lot nastier I mean this is a big part of Daniel Jonagold Hagen's arguments about the sort of Hitler's willing executioner's there was an extermination this sort of anti-semitism in the genetic gia in the DNA of Germany that just didn't exist in Italy there was anti-semitism in Italy but it was usually theological anti-semitism it was you guys should be Christians it wasn't you guys or biological vermin that need to be destroyed that's very sort of I think I haven't read up on it too much on Christian point of view and and so I think one of the things to understand in an American context is when I say there's liberal fascism or when I say Woodrow Wilson was a fascist or that we had this fascist moment from turn-of-the-century to the 1930s I am NOT saying America turned into a Nazi like country the beautiful thing about the American people is that they are incapable of being turned into Nazis it is in our DNA American exceptionalism rugged individualism the the tenants and precepts that inform the American Founding simply make it impossible for us to embrace those ideas without enormous enormous antibody response the kind of response we saw with people like Calvin Coolidge and you know what a camera members named Waldo Frank I think it is he talks about this you know it says if America goes towards fascism it's going to be a friendly fascism which is basically the last half of my book is about this friendly fascism because in the anglo-american tradition democracy and liberalism our tribal institutions you know we're not Democrats some aldi Democrats we're not small our Republicans we're not you know classical liberals in America because the Constitution says we are you know if you burn the Constitution tomorrow we would still be the same people it is deeply and rooted in our culture and so the the fascism or that the genetic are the family resemblance you know I mean I'm not saying that today's liberals are the sons of Hitler there it's more like they're the grandniece once-removed kind of thing and I mean you see the family resemblances but they're not the same thing and they can't be for we are not Germans and so a lot of the contradictions that you might see in American liberalism with doctrinal stuff from fascism is a result of the fact that we're Americans you know and there's all sorts of these things there's this effort to sort of make fascism into a thing and ideas into things and the reality is is that you know all these regimes that we called fascists that remarkably different play different regimes because they're different places in you know in Germany it was anti-christian but in Romania there were Christian fascists in Italy and Spain the supposedly you know first fascist you know regime under Franco they um they rejected the fascist label they protected all of their Jews and they didn't fight in world war two so I mean a lot of these contradictions have to do with the character of the people anyway I could answer it entirely but that's stab yeah oh that's right yeah okay Philipp Munoz Tufts University your your answer anticipated my question to some extent which is what is the contemporary relevance that you're trying to draw out I understand you're trying to show that the right is not matches by showing the roots of fascism on the left but then my question was are you trying to show that contemporary left Hillary Clinton is actually a fascist and was there necessary connection between modern progressive thought and violence and are you trying to make those types of claims okay yeah no there's a good question um this is one of the points I get a lot is well you know fascism was militaristic for example you know and I agree classical fascism was militaristic contemporary liberal fascism what I call the profession is almost pacifistic it's anti-militarist ik and I conceived that gladly and willingly but I think people misunderstand the militaristic nature of Italian fascism were even German fascism or of the progressives what appealed to progressives at the first half of the 20th century and I use progressives broadly was the mobilization of the people that you got from militarism William James's and I was going back to pragmatism but William James's essay the moral equivalence of war hugely influential on American progressivism and on Italian fascism Mussolini often said that William James was one of the three most important philosophers in his life he was probably exaggerating for American audiences but it's hard to know what is indisputably true is that William James was enormous ly influential on the theoretical founders of fascism from George Sorrell to Jesus MP presently knee to Pappy knee all of these guys these intellectuals around Mussolini of the early fascist in the Futurist were in messed in American pragmatism and that moral equivalence of War argument that you know it brings out the finest spirit of the people on all of the rest that was enormous ly persuasive I mean Mussolini declares the battles of the grains the Civilian Conservation Corps is basically a paramilitary ops or up operation and you know John Dewey supports World War one because of the social benefits at war at home lots of progressive intellectuals were in favor of industrial armies they thought that basically Americans should be drafted into the workforce and they work in a factory for 35 years and then they're discharged and can retire but thought everything provided for them this was a very serious model first predicted by Edward Bellamy's looking forward or looking backward yeah right cuz it's set in year 2000 in the year 2000 anyway so there's a them it's not the militarism I mean it is sort of a disgusting trope of the American Left to see a uniform and yell fascist West Point is not a fascist institution American military defeated the ugliest forms of fascism police officers defend civilization against barbarians and to simply look at a uniform and yell fascist is moronic but it is exactly this trope that the left is bought into time and time again and it's a cudgel to shut people up and sort of attack the regime generally and so you're right one of the points of the book is this revisionist history to basically not to put two on an intellectual point on it is to say I know you are but what am i I mean there is some of that I will grant you because I'm sick of being called a fascist you know but there's another point another one is to identify what fascism really is if you can get past this liberal left psychological use of fascism is simply a stand-in for the word evil you know I mean to go back to if we can make it like the word socialist simply mean something you might may or may not disagree with but representing a certain orientation towards social organization then you can start having a conversation about it and I try to go into a great deal about how this religious underpinnings of these isms how important all of that is that's one of the points I wanted to lose it in the book but the last one is if you are constantly looking that way for the fascist threat to come you're focusing all your energy saying the guys in uniform are fascists the guys in uniform are Nazis that any attempt to defend you know the social order from enemies foreign or domestic is inherently fascist then creeping up on cat's-paws behind you are going to be the real fascists and no one's going to pay attention you're not gonna have anybody sort of looking that way saying you know look at Hillary Clinton's it takes a village which is replete I mean it was pjr work not me I think pgo work is the only other living conservative to have actually read that book it is amazing how all of these fascist themes come forth in there you have to have business and government working hand in hand it's this cult of unity she has this my favorite example in there is you know one of the the famous you know anatomical features of fascism that the left always likes to point to and their right is the creation of false crises to mobilize society and that's the moral equivalent of war thing that's why we had a war on poverty for example and you have this desire to creat crises because that will get people to drop their own objections to a social program and rally the flag or rally around the government or rally around their leaders and all that kind of stuff and it takes a village Hillary Clinton just flat-out declares that every child anywhere born is immediately in crisis just boom crisis governments got to step in and uh and she goes into this and she doesn't this mamby-pamby marshmallows soaked in honey kind of way that you don't see what she's talking about but you know one of the things you know in 1984 there's all this looking these Jumbotrons saying you know work makes you free or whatever they say she has this passage in and it takes a village where she says you know because these kids are in crisis and because parents need the government and because her definition of civil society are basically a bunch of bureaucrats she thinks that the that civil society isn't the space between the individual and government it's merely the arena in which government coordinates people which is a fundamentally fascist conception she says you know because these kids are in crisis what we need wouldn't be wonderful if we had these television screens that we could put up quote wherever people gather that would teach people how to breast feed teach mothers how to raise kids teach men how to be good fathers and I don't know I mean is it is it so obvious if you're standing on line at the DMV and there's this Jumbotron of you know an instructional video running on permanent loop 24 hours a day seven days a week telling you how to raise your kids but that is just it can't be fascist because fascists are bad people and it seems to me so quintessentially at fascist and sit we're not going to get the jackbooted thugs stomping on a human face that you get in 1984 but we might get the brave new world where the biggest problem there is how to deal with the fact that everybody is so happy and we make what we're going to get is a nanny kind of fascism if we get one at all and it's going to but the point is is that simply because the nanny state wants to hug you doesn't mean it's not tyrannical if you don't want to be hugged thank you very much Jonah Goldberg is contributing editor for the National Review and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times his work has appeared in several publications including the New Yorker Wall Street Journal and USA Today for more information visit mr. Goldberg's blog at cornered national

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. The Daily Stormer endorsed Trump in 2016. The "white nationalists" in Charlottesville wore MAGA hats and waved Swastika flags. I didn't realize the Republican Party was so "liberal".

    The Cause of Nazism
    Here is the theory:

    "It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole … that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual…."

    "This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture…. The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call-to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness-idealism. By this we understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men."

    These statements were made in our century by the leader of a major Western nation. His countrymen regarded his view point as uncontroversial. His political program implemented it faithfully.

    The statements were made by Adolf Hitler. He was explaining the moral philosophy of Nazism.

    Excerpted from chapter 1 of Leonard Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels.

  3. Time for dinosaurs like Goldberg to retire and make way for real journalists. His historical account of Hitler reeks of falsehood and dissembling.

  4. Goldberg is regurgitating Neocon/Trotskyite talking points. Fascism is pro hierarchy and Liberalism is pro egalitarian. They mix like oil and water.

  5. "There was no Jewish equivalent of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda." Actually there was, they were called Communists.

  6. That was superb. I have the book and haven’t got round to reading it. The last sentence he spoke was superb.

    Fascism, Socialism, Progressivism and Communism are forms of Collectivism.

    The idea that the individual is sacrificed for the group and the greater good. The individual must be forced to comply, because it’s for the good of the nation/group/state/race/class good. At the extreme implementation, people get tossed into a meat grinder.

    The opposite is Individualism. The fact you have a right to your own life and free from coercion. That’s what the principle US was founded on. It’s a shame it didn’t apply that principle to all from the start, but the world was different back then and even just founding the US in those times was miracle, so flaws shouldn’t be held up a reason to destroy it.

  7. I freakin hate these jewish think tanks everywhere! A jew cant be a "liberal" coz his Talmudism is the core of everything he does

  8. Don't watch this! Jonah Goldberg is really a secret socialist sent in to destroy all that is good and true, you can tell because he hates Donald Trump. Anyone who is critical of Donald Trump Must be cast into the outer darkness!

    Or at least I am told. 🙂

  9. This is the most obscene oxymoron, it should be titled Left-Wing Fascismn. The left, for the most part, was never liberal. It's not liberals that r the problem, it's extremism that's the problem, n most leftists r extremists., n most rightists r moderates.

  10. "Extreme Right Wing"…is 100 no government. It's the opposite of State Control/Power and all about personal freedom.

  11. Hilary Clinton may have plagiarised the idea for giant televisions in public spaces from plans already made by Hitler and the National Socialist during the 1930s, the Germans also wished to publicise executions on these screens.

    The reality TV show ethos of Hillary Clinton et al in their control room at the time when Osama bin Laden was cured of his air addiction does not fall far short of this goal.


    Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were working on a Big Brother-style cable television propaganda industry to be broadcast across Germany.

  12. The nanny state does not want to hug you. It wants to eradicate 'bad behaviour', 'toxic masculinity' and everything it defines as a predatory threat. They have chosen 'white males', christians, conservatives and more so white people in general.
    Ingroup vs outgroup.

  13. I've read this book and decided to keep it in my library, next to my Ayn Rand books. I intend to read it again, I enjoyed it so much.

  14. Such as leftists who claim they are "attacked" for who they are and then beat the shit out of someone for being white.
    In other words, the good guys.

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