Either Jonah Goldberg is putting on a new production of the Producers or his latest book is a cry for help from a fractured and disoriented mind.
Titled... wait for it... Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, it is a retelling of history through the lens of propaganda.
Let me do Goldberg and his publisher a favor by providing the fact checking they clearly failed to do prior to the publication of this nonsense. Let us go directly to the source, Mussolini himself, to get a good sense of just what fascism is.
"Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity (11). It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts"
So, the state - not the citizen - is important. There is no individuality and fascism aims to restore that which liberalism has denied: the erasure of the person. Yes, obviously, Mussolini is very much a liberal according Jonah Goldberg.
"No individuals or groups (political parties, cultural associations, economic unions, social classes) outside the State (15). Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State (16)."
State controlled "unions" give the impression that workers have rights, but they don't. Nothing exists outside of the state and its power, not a free market, not political parties, nothing. Yes, indeed, clearly Mussolini is a bleeding heart liberal according to Jonah Goldberg.
"A nation, as expressed in the State, is a living, ethical entity only in so far as it is progressive. Inactivity is death. Therefore the State is not only Authority which governs and confers legal form and spiritual value on individual wills, but it is also Power which makes its will felt and respected beyond its own frontiers, thus affording practical proof of the universal character of the decisions necessary to ensure its development. This implies organization and expansion, potential if not actual. Thus the State equates itself to the will of man, whose development cannot he checked by obstacles and which, by achieving self-expression, demonstrates its infinity (21)."
This means constant war with an invisible constant outside threat in order to assert and maintain the authority of the state. Yes, Mussolini is a peace activist all right according to Jonah Goldberg.
I could go on, but why bother when facts and history clearly define what fascism is. The real question is why Jonah Goldberg has a column which is syndicated in the so called "liberal media." Surely someone so opposed to fascism would not sell their work to the enemy, would they?
Definition by false description
No, I think the pattern emerging from the far-right, the actual fascists is that they hope that by redefining what fascism is, no one will notice what they themselves are. That is why Islamo-fascism is all the rage on the far right. They hope that by defining what the opposite of a democracy is - according to them - no one will stop to ask what differentiates it - the opposite - from Christo-fascism.
Really though, fascism is not about religion, it is only fed to those on the extreme of any religious movement because anyone who is willing to die for a myth is likely to kill for a lie. If you doubt that the religious are targeted by the corrupt, consider then the current example of the far right evangelicals in America.
A Fascist's Tool
These Christians worship in mini-mall churches where God and shopping are merged for the convenience of the faithful. They claim to be believe in Jesus, yet they support the exact opposite of his teachings. Were Jesus to enter one of these mini-malls in which hate is taught as though it were scripture, he would likely declare the place a shrine to the golden calf, not to Christianity.
Would Jesus support torture, war, mass-murder of innocents, and the wants of the rich over the needs of the poor? If you have read the bible, then you know that Jesus would call these things evil and yet the far right of American Christianity seems capable of digesting this paradox whole, without chewing or tasting it, let alone questioning the ingredients. These Christians do support war, helping the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, and anything the state demands as proof of loyalty. But they don't see these things as evil. Why do you suppose that is?
Because these types of Christian are a useful political tool, a state tool even, nothing more. They are popular with the fascist state mechanism because they provide a ready group of mindless drones, who can quickly be filled with political dogma, which they will accept as the teachings of God.
The same of course applies to Muslim extremists who while claiming to be doing the work of Allah are actually going against the very teachings of the Koran. After all, blowing up innocent people is not the work of a true Muslim. It is the work of a political system which prays on the minds of those who have faith, but no real understanding of the teachings of their religion.
And obviously this also applies to Jewish extremists who try to erase all Jewish identity and replace it with devout nationalism.
The State as Supreme Authority
A nation which proclaims the political as though it were religious, merges its own identity and interests with corporations, excludes for its citizens any sense of individualism and sense of self-worth outside of the state, and demands total power to know and control everything is not remotely a liberal model. It is a fascist model, yes, but it is not a liberal model, because the two are diametrically opposed views.
Liberalism strives to empower the individual, be it through partnerships with the state mechanism or working outside of the state mechanism. Through social contract, groups of citizens give certain permissions to the state mechanism, which can be taken away should the state fail to live up to its end of the contract. The power to both decide the terms of the contract as well as terminate the contract is entirely with the people, not the state. The latter is nothing more than an employee and subservient to the individual and groups of individuals of a society. Traditionally, this is not only liberalism, it is the foundation of democracy.
Compared with Il Duce's world-view, could anyone actually call liberalism as similar to fascism in any way? On the contrary, authoritarians such as Hitler - who saw the role of the state in much the same way as Il Duce did - everything that is done, is done for the nation by the nationalists/patriots, unconditionally. There is no social contract, because anyone who disagrees with the state is simply erased, since the state is more important than its parts - the citizens. The only similarity that Hitler had to any form of left leaning politics was that as a military operative, he infiltrated the National Socialist Party and decided to retain the name after the paper-coup in order to convince the public that his party was the people's party. Beyond that, to call Hitler, Il Duce, Franco or any other authoritarian a liberal is either to willfully lie or to be incredibly ignorant of history.
What Goldberg has authored can be seen only in one of two ways. It is either propaganda, purchased by a sponsor and authored by a writer whose writing is at best tepid and inaccurate (How else is Goldberg supposed to make a living as a writer if not authoring propaganda then?), or it is a defense mechanism of guilty mind, struggling to balance out its own views in the context of history.
There is also a third possible interpretation of this bizarre effort. Goldberg could indeed be hoping to stage his own version of the Producers and this latest literary example is nothing more than parody. I think we should also start betting on just how many charlatans and morons come running forward to proclaim Goldberg's fiction as a historically accurate masterpiece, courageous for its honesty even.
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