'Are Liberals the Real Authoritarians?'


Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

I haven’t read Jonah Goldberg’s book, and frankly, am not likely to, so I won’t comment on the contents. But I have watched the Will Wilkinson Bloggingheads with Mr. Goldberg, and his defense of the title therein is well, kind of silly and pointless.

Jonah Goldberg once made one of the more interesting throwaway remarks about fascism I’ve ever seen, to the effect that when he is confronted by liberals ranting about fascism, he likes to ask “Other than the genocide, what is your disagreement with the fascists”–usually to blank and confused stares. The point being that genocide is not actually a tenet of fascism, merely something that was done by one fascist state, and that those who rant about “fascists” in government almost never have any knowledge of the actual history of the political movement.


“Liberal = Fascist?”, Megan McArdle, the Atlantic, January 23rd, 2008. (Jonah’s rebuttal to her post, here.)

In the ultra-liberal enclave I grew up in, the liberals were at least as fiercely tribal as any small-town Republican, though to be sure, the targets were different. Many of them knew no more about the nuts and bolts of evolution and other hot-button issues than your average creationist; they believed it on authority. And when it threatened to conflict with some sacred value, such as their beliefs about gender differences, many found evolutionary principles as easy to ignore as those creationists did. It is clearly true that liberals profess a moral code that excludes concerns about loyalty, honor, purity and obedience — but over the millennia, man has professed many ideals that are mostly honored in the breach.

“Are Liberals the Real Authoritarians?”, Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View, yesterday.

Responding to McArdle, Ace quotes Charles Murray on the topic:

[P]hilosophically, the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century had roots in German philosophy ( Hegel and Nietzsche were big favorites) and German public administration ( Woodrow Wilson’s open reverence for Bismarck was typical among progressives). To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.

That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.

It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today–a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power. If you want substantiation for what I’m saying, read Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 book “Liberal Fascism,” an erudite and closely argued exposition of American progressivism and its subsequent effects on liberalism. The title is all too accurate.


Indeed it is. As Fred Siegel wrote in his recent book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, “The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. ‘Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,’ Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, ‘and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.’”

That’s certainly been the president’s motto as well — he’s far more interested in waging war against the Tea Party, non-union businesses like Gibson Guitars, and the GOP in general, than dealing with any of those pesky headlines he keeps seeing in the newspapers from the Middle East and Eastern Europe:


A century on, how’s the battle against the middle class progressing on the front lines? Have we broken sufficient eggs? As George Orwell asked three quarters of a century ago, when do we get to see the omelet?


Oh, and yet another reminder:

(Photo at top of page of the Joe Louis fist memorial in Detroit, placed there in 1986, during the disastrous and racist 20 year reign of Democrat Mayor Coleman Young. Photo by James Marvin Phelps, Shutterstock.com.)


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