Ed Driscoll

"Long Live Mussolini! Long Live Socialism!"

In the latest issue of National Review “On Dead Tree” (online, but subscription required), the cover has a now familiar smiley face with a tiny little moustache on it. Inside, Jonah Goldberg writes:

During the fight over the Contract with America, Rep. Charlie Rangel complained that “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things.” (This is technically accurate in that Hitler wasn’t pushing term limits for committee chairmen and “zero based” budgeting.) When Newt Gingrich invited black congressmen to Capitol Hill social events, Rep. Major Owens responded by declaring, “These are people who 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 by Communists from his earliest days fighting Reds in Hollywood. Before that, “everyone knew” that Barry Goldwater was a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer.

Two generations of Hollywood scriptwriters, actors, and producers have been warning that the fascist peril lurks beneath the surface of the Right. Pleasantville, Falling Down, Fight Club, American Beauty, American History X, and countless other films advanced this idea. In the film adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel The Sum of All Fears, the all-too-real threat of Islamist terror is switched to a cabal of rich, white, conservative businessmen who just happen to be — you guessed it — Nazis. Even after 9/11, it seems liberals think the fascist Right is America’s real, and only, existential threat.

* * *

This received wisdom is understandably vexing for conservatives, who have never had a kind word for fascists or Nazis. I’ve gotten used to it. When speaking on college campuses, I’ve been called a Nazi many times. The kids, accustomed to bullying their opponents with charges of intolerance that would be better aimed at themselves, rarely expect a response.

“So, tell me,” I usually ask my accuser, “except for the bigotry, murder, and genocide, what exactly is it about Nazism you don’t like?”

Taking advantage of the ensuing pierced-tongue-tied silence, I explain: The Nazis were socialists. The Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser put it succinctly: “We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money.” The speech that first attracted a young Adolf Hitler to fascism was titled “How and by What Means Is Capitalism to Be Eliminated?” The Nazi-party platform demanded guaranteed jobs, the “abolition of incomes unearned by work,” the nationalization of all large corporations and trusts, profit-sharing in all major industries, expanded old-age insurance, a government takeover of big department stores (think Wal-Mart), the prohibition of child labor, and countless other “progressive” reforms.

In February of 1945, in the midst of the death rattles of the Nazi’s collective existence, after the allies bombed Dresden, Robert Ley, the head of the Nazis’ Labor Front, wrote:

“After the destruction of beautiful Dresden, we almost breathe a sigh of relief. It is over now. In focusing on our struggle and victory we are no longer distracted by concerns for the monuments of German culture. Onward!…Now we march toward the German victory without any superfluous ballast and without the heavy spiritual and material bourgeois baggage”.

And as Jonah notes in his book, when Mussolini, his mistress and Nicola Bombacci, Mussolini’s longtime confidant (and previously, a friend of Lenin’s) were executed after being captured in April of 1945, Bombacci shouted, “Long live Mussolini! Long live Socialism!”

Despite, an intense (dare I say fascistic?) effort by the left to attack it unread, Jonah’s book is currently number #6 on Amazon. (I wonder what Patrick McGoohan thinks of that?! If you haven’t read it yet, you owe it to yourself to do so.