Thursday, January 17, 2008

All You Need to Know About "Liberal Fascism"

I referenced Jonah GOldberg's "opus" in the last post. Now, there are a bunch of critical reviews out there of "Liberal Fascism". Matthew has a good one. I highly suggest you read it. It points out that Jonah is paying WAY too much attention to the modern use of the word "progressive" to try to tie it to the old philosophy (when it's really just a way of not calling yourself "liberal"), not making a coherent argument, totally ignoring any and scholarship on historical fascism.

Matthew could have also pointed out that Jonah uses that "classical liberal" line of bull that ignores the evolution of the concept of rights that occured in the 19th and 20th centuries and the cross-pollination between social democracy and liberal democracy. That's a big line with Libertarians, and it ignores a shitload of liberal thought, and it's pointless. But leave that aside.

What you really need to know about the book is that it exists for one reason and one reason only: projection-as-cover-fire. It is a classic Rovian technique to insulate yourself against criticism by accusing a potential accuser by saying they are guilty of your crime. It works pretty well: when they say "hey, I didn't do it, YOU did it!" other, sympathetic people can just turn it into a he-said, she-said. That's how and why they Swift-Boated Kerry. Bush was a draft-dodging coward, so they called Kerry one first.

"Liberal Fascism" is the same damned thing. There have always been some fascist tendencies in the United States. There has, in fact, been rather highly placed conservative fascists that were considering a nice little coup against FDR back when he was building social security. And, if you think of fascism using another name "corporatism", you've got a whole mess of issues and trends there. Like Matt says, that doesn't mean conservatives are fascists. It does mean some self-described "conservatives" might be fascists, though. They're a little vulnerable on that score, especially with their recent record.

They know it too.

So what do they do?

They call LIBERALS fascists. They get some wingnut welfare asshole like Goldberg to (tediously, agonizingly) attempt to make liberals sound like fascists. Makes sense: that's what they're there for, because nobody with a Ph.D and a reputation would sully either with this sort of crap.

That muddies the waters nicely. Now they can be as fascist as they want, with the secure knowledge that whenever anybody calls them on it, they can just say "nuh-uh! YOU'RE the fascist, buddy!" The public will get confused and decide not to care. That's perfect: they want the public not to care.

So, yeah, don't bother reading "Liberal Fascism: Overly Long Subtitle". Nobody else is, either. It's just going to get namedropped whenever the "f" word gets brought out--maybe citing a few talking points based on Jonah's pathetically inadequate grasp on the English language--and then put back on the shelf.

Don't waste your time. Except to maybe remember the "organic" thing, because if you DO need to shoot down his credibility, that's as good a choice as any.

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