Ed Driscoll

"We Planned In War"

In his review of Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man for the Claremont Institute, Jonah Goldberg summarized the New Dealers’ attempt to deploy military methods and central planning to nationalize America’s economy thusly:

When liberals speak of unity and hope, what they really mean is success. The 1930s and 1960s, unlike the ’20s and ’50s, were decades when liberals, broadly speaking, were “winning.” When you hear liberals bemoaning divisiveness and insisting that we must “get beyond” “labels” and “ideological” differences, what they are really saying is that their opponents should shut up and get with the program. The New Deal’s appeal lies in the fact that it was the first time when progressive social engineers had real power without the galvanizing dynamic of a war. The Brains Trusters had spent much of the 1920s complaining “we planned in war,” i.e., during World War I; they insisted that they should be allowed to plan in peace as well. The Depression gave them their shot. And that in a nutshell is why supposedly empirically minded and “reality-based” liberals still genuflect to the myth of the New Deal. It is the ne plus ultra of liberal power. Defending the New Deal is the first requirement of liberal power-worship.

Rusty Weiss spots a newspaper cartoonist so close and yet so far from this point, as he equates the passing of the so-called stimulus bill with the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima:

In one of the more insulting comparisons seen in recent memory, Albany Times Union editorial cartoonist John de Rosier does a major disservice to the honorable men who served during the Battle of Iwo Jima, by depicting recent efforts of Democrats to pass a non-stimulating ‘economic stimulus plan’ as equally heroic.

The cartoon shows Democrats in the role of the Marines featured in the Iwo Jima Memorial, a sculpture based on the famous photo by Joe Rosenthal entitled Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. The exception to this replication lies in the flag being raised – the Dem’s are trying to hoist a ‘bailout flag’ as opposed to a flag of the United States.

If that weren’t insulting enough, the cartoon also shows the Republican Party mascot, the elephant, trying desperately to pull the flag down.

In short, the Democrats are trying to save our nation by heroically raising up the Obama bailout flag, while the villainous Republicans are trying to destroy our nation by stopping their efforts.

Meanwhile, in a brief item on Jonah’s own Liberal Fascism book, Frank Wilson, the book editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes:

I downloaded Goldberg’s book on my Kindle because I was curious about a book that had made it on to the NYT best-seller list without ever being reviewing in the Times or most other papers and because I didn’t want to pay the full price for what I suspected might be a screed. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a well-written historical survey of a set of ideas and how they grew. I was also surprised by what I learned about Mussolini.

As I wrote in my own review of Jonah’s book:

Mussolini similarly invented the word “totalitarianism” as a way to describe a cradle-to-grave socialism that would bind all aspects of his nation together. “Mussolini meant it to be appealing to people,” Goldberg said. “It was a sales pitch for his kind of government. He meant it as we would use words like ‘holistic’ today, as sort of covering every aspect of life; everyone’s going to be included, everyone’s going to be part of the community. No child is going to be left behind. That was the meaning of totalitarianism in its original conception.”

Concurrently, the Philadelphia Inquirer seeks to get itself even deeper into bed with government, requesting a bailout from the state’s Democratic governor. Needless to say, Il Duce would approve.

Related: The Illustrated Stimulus.