Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Faith of Conservatism

For those who don't know, Jonah Goldberg has written a book called Liberal Fascism, about how Liberals are, more or less, fascists. In Townhall today, Rich Lowry reviews it and, unsurprisingly, thinks it's great. Basically all the fascists of the 1930s-1940s were liberals, and todays liberals are fascists as well.

This is pretty shallow analysis. It works if you take small features of both Hitlers and Mussolini's reign and ignore the larger points. Both Hitler and Mussolini were deliberately trying to recreate the past glories of their respective countries. That's conservative; going backwards. Modern Conservatives have the same idea; they constantly rhapsodize about the good old days.

And Lowry and Goldberg really go off the rails when they try to paint Roosevelt as a Fascist.
The crisis of the Great Depression was the occasion for reviving "war socialism." The man who ran the National Recovery Administration was an open admirer of Mussolini, and the alphabet soup of New Deal agencies had their roots in World War I and the classic fascist impulse to mobilize society and put it on a war footing.
This is flat nonsense. First of all, let no one forget that Roosevelt fought and pursued a war against Mussolini. He was one of the first in Government to recognize the threat fascism posed to America and the World. It was the Republicans who wanted to coexist with the Nazis. People like Prescott Bush were much more open in their admiration of Fascism than President Roosevelt.

So where does this impulse come from? It comes from ideology and faith. The continuum of politics has placed Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and their crimes on the left, while placing Hitler and Mussolini and Pinochet on the right. You can determine in your own minds what that means, but it's been clear that for some Conservatives this is intolerable. They are more comfortable believing that all historical evils are the fault of the Left, while the Right is historically blameless.

It's a pretty childish way of looking at the world, really.

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