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Monday, October 20, 2008

Liberal fascism: What it is and why you should care

Recently, I read a book by an American political analyst Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, which helped me understand a political landscape that I have watched with growing concern: increasingly authoritarian government and increasingly supine citizens.

Culturally, it reached the point recently where the term denialist began to characterize anyone who departs from a consensus - as if departing from a consensus were not part of the engine of progress in the Western world.

Goldberg calls the new mood "liberal fascism." To interpret the political landscape correctly, we need to understand fascism clearly.

At present, most people think fascism is simply "the way the Nazis behaved." While there is no question that the Nazis were fascists, it is quite easy to be at the opposite end of the traditional political spectrum and also be a hard core fascist. And so far as I can see, there are currently more fascists in North America at the leftward end of the political spectrum than the rightward end. That's what Liberal Fascism is about.

So what is fascism?

Fascism is not a program in politics, it is a mood. It can be a mood of the right or the left.

It is the mood of an angry identity group. The group could be vegans, transgendered people, the losers in a war, members of an impoverished ethnic group ...

In their view, they have been wronged - by members of another group. The government must make things right by giving them money, status, and power and punishing members of the evil group that has wronged them.

Typically, fascists thrive on crises. When they don't have actual crises, they proclaim or even manufacture them in order to get what they want.

As Goldberg points out, fascism is a modern substitute for traditional religion. Fascists, right or left, relate to government as worshippers do to a god. They look to government not only to provide for them but to validate their lives, to proclaim that they are good, to say that they have a right to be proud of themselves.

The head of state is seen as a messiah who will usher in a new age - even in nature. By contrast, his political opponents are endlessly plotting evil conspirators who must be crushed.

The crises the fascist thrives on (or invents) are - of course - so serious that civil liberties and normal justice are unimportant, perhaps even offensive or dangerous.

Note: We should not confuse "fascist" with "authoritarian." If the government is authoritarian, it simply says, "We boss, you not, get lost." That's bad, but it is not nearly as bad as the government saying "We are your saviour, we give meaning to your life."

If you think you've seen anything like that in politics recently, read on:

1. Why do people think "fascist" means "right-wing" or "traditional"?

2. So, can "progressives" really be fascist too?

3. Are "left" and "right" a useful political spectrum any more?

4. What does fascism look like in North America?

5. But what is the ultimate goal of today's liberal fascism?

6. How dare anyone call liberals fascists? Liberals and progressives are good people!

7. Do liberal fascists single out specific people as targets to attack?

8. Why do you say that liberal fascists are addicted to crises?

9. What is the most totalitarian concept in politics today?

10. But surely it is good to want the country to be one, big happy family!

11. Explain what you mean when you say that liberal fascism exalts feelings over facts

12. How did we get here and how can we get back?

Next: 1. Why do people think "fascist" means "right-wing" or "traditional"?

Note: A bit about Goldberg:

One of the most prominent young conservative journalists on the scene today, Jonah Goldberg is Generation X’s answer to P.J. O’Rourke. His columns and articles, laced with keen wit and pithy insights, have rapidly generated a large readership. Whether he’s issuing a sharply-worded cultural critique or laying out a lucid analysis of a hot political issue, Goldberg is guaranteed to make you laugh, and learn. His work is proof that reading and thinking about political, media, and cultural issues can be enlightening and entertaining at the same time--even if you don’t agree with his particular point of view.

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1. Why do people think "fascist" means "right-wing" or "traditional"?

As noted earlier, fascism is a "mood" in politics, not a set of policies. It can be either right or left - in other words, it can be Hitler, Stalin, Mugabe, Pol Pot, or any messianic figure who draws huge, enthusiastic crowds by promising government-driven life change - salvation, really - through the defeat of the evil people who have, in the past, caused his supporters to fail in various ways.

Some wonder though, how can communists, for example, be fascists when, historically, they had such different policies from, say, the Nazis?

Okay, first: In many key areas, communists and Nazis did not have different policies.

Remember, "Nazi" means "National Socialist" and many Nazi policies were strongly socialist. The communists and the Nazis differed on which groups of people were the enemy whom the government had a duty to destroy. As we all know, the Nazis murdered millions of Jews. Less well known is that the communists under Stalin murdered millions of peasants (kulaks) who refused to be forced into state farms.

It was communists who deftly ensured that people would be taught to look for fascism only on the right.

About right-wing vs. left-wing fascism, Goldberg explains, reality, they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space. The fact that they appear as polar opposites is a trick of intellectual history and (more to the point) the result of a concerted propaganda effort on the part of the "Reds" to make the "Browns" appear objectively evil and "other" ... But in terms of their theory and practice, the differences are minimal. (p. 7)

[By Browns, he means the Brownshirts (= the right-wing fascists). ]

Although both left and right certainly behaved in the manner that can be described as fascist, "... Eventually, the international left simply reserved for itself the absolute right to declare whomever it desired to delegitimize a Nazi or fascist without appeal to reason for fact. (P. 77) In other words, "fascist" has become a generic term of abuse for traditional attitudes, values, and beliefs, whether or not they have anything to do with fascism.

Goldberg offers Barry Goldwater as a classic example of this abuse:

There is considerable irony in the fact that in the first election to replace Kennedy, Barry Goldwater was roundly hailed as the "fascist" in the race. The bespectacled small-government conservative in funereal suits was about as far from a fascist as one can get in American politics. (Pp. 204-5)
In general, anyone who thinks that government should be small and limited (as Goldwater did) is, by definition, not a fascist. All fascists believe in Big (and powerful) Government, though different fascist identity groups would aim their government juggernaut at very different Enemies.

Unfortunately, the confusion around the word "fascist" means that when actual fascist political movements become a power in the land, people find it hard to discuss what they sense is wrong.

Next: 2. So, can "progressives" really be fascist?

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2. So, can "progressives" really be fascist?

Yes, certainly. Remember, fascism is a mood in politics, not a specific set of policies. And the further left the progressives are, the more likely they are today to exhibit the fascist mood.

Notice the unhinged anger, the sense of grievance, the eagerness for conspiracy theories on the far left today. That is not because they are left-wing but because they are fascist. Right-wing fascists behave similarly - but in North America today, right-wing fascists are simply not as numerous or powerful.

From Goldberg:
Before the war, fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement with many liberal and left-wing adherents in Europe and the United States: the horror of the Holocaust completely changed our view of fascism as something uniquely evil and ineluctably bound up with extreme nationalism, paranoia, and genocidal racism. After the war, the American progressives who had praised Mussolini and even looked sympathetically at Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s had to distance themselves from the horrors of Nazism. Accordingly, leftist intellectuals redefined fascism as "right-wing" and projected their own sins onto conservatives, even as they continued to borrow heavily from fascist and pre-fascist thought." (P. 9)
How did that happen? Goldberg says it was one of Stalin's rhetorical tricks, happily embraced and endorsed by his fellow travellers in North America and Western Europe.
... Stalin stumbled on a brilliant tactic of simply labeling all inconvenient ideas and movements fascist. Socialists and progressives aligned with Moscow were called socialists or progressives, while socialists disloyal or opposed to Moscow were called fascists. Stalin's theory of social fascism rendered even Franklin Roosevelt a fascist according to loyal communists everywhere. And let us recall that Leon Trotsky "was marked for death for allegedly plotting a "fascist coup." While this tactic was later deplored by many sane American left-wingers, it is amazing how many useful idiots fell for it at the time, and how long its intellectual half-life has been." (P. 10)
So don't be fooled by the use of the term "fascist" to mean, say, traditional Christians who don't support the gay lifestyle. Remember, the hallmark of fascism is: Aggrieved identity group fingers enemies, proclaims crisis, treats leader as a god who ushers in a new age, demands money and action from government against its perceived enemies, and has little or no respect for traditional values or civil rights.

Philosophically, organizationally, and politically the progressives were as close to authentic, homegrown fascists as any movement America has ever produced.(Goldberg, p. 12)
One reason that the traditionally religious population of North America tends less to fascism just now is that it already has a religion, one that discourages the very behaviour that fascist political cults encourage.

Next: 3. Are "left" and "right" a useful political spectrum any more?

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3. Are "left" and "right" a useful political spectrum any more?

No, they are not a useful political map any more.

In fact they are misleading in a way that - as explained earlier - benefits the enemies of civil liberties today. A very worthwhile political science project, Political Compass™, offers an online test to illustrate why the current political map is misleading, explaining:
The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left', established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape. For example, who are the 'conservatives' in today's Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook. That's about as much as we should tell you for now.
As I have noted elsewhere, these observations are especially relevant to the intellectual freedom issues we face in Canada today. For example, most current enemies of civil liberties in Canada are leftists or Islamists. Leftists and Islamists would take Canada in very different directions. But they agree on supporting and extending our illiberal "human rights" commissions.

Why? Because both groups want a much more authoritarian state. They agree that Canadians should not have the civil liberties we took for granted in the past, expressed in Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights (July 1, 1960).

By contrast, many people who disagree strongly with me on, for example, intelligent design of the universe, like Rob Breakenridge, line up effortlessly on the same side as me in the critical battle for free speech as a civil right.

See also Are you a redneck? A red diaper baby? And does it matter? Test yourself and see how you score. You might be surprised.

Next: 4. What does fascism look like in North America?

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4. What does fascism look like in North America?

It certainly looks different from fascism in Hitler's 1930s Germany or Stalin's 1940s Soviet Union? For one thing, it is "nice." Today, liberal social workers are far more likely than paramilitary goons to advance fascism in North America.

Have you heard anything like this recently?
You must stop punishing yourself for failing to try very hard. There is no such thing as failure, and you can't help who you are anyway. Celebrate yourself just as you are! And we will teach a lesson to the people who are making you feel bad about yourself. Leave it to us ...


Whether you really behaved abusively is irrelevant. The important thing is you are perceived that way.
The basic message is, everything is about feelings, and nothing is about facts. You are helpless, but never mind, the government will take care of you. Or - if you are the liberal fascist's identified enemy - and the government will punish you.

Such a government neither wants nor needs free citizens or free speech. So, not surprisingly, as Goldberg observes,
Free speech, too, is under relentless assault where it matters most - around elections - and it is being sanctified where it matters least, around strippers' poles and on terrorist Web sites. (p. 20)
What fascist government can certainly use is enraged, dependent rant boys - and it soon acquires the tax money to reward them. Typically, left-wing fascists dress down, and rant for food banks or safe injection sites, whereas right wing fascists dress up and rant for military build-ups or crime crackdowns.

Anyone familiar with Canada today will recognize how much more numerous the former type of fascist is.

An important liberal fascist goal is to make Canada as much like European welfare states as possible. Such states are constantly praised as models, even when even minimal research shows that many things are going badly for them. From Goldberg again:
The American fascist tradition is deeply bound up with the effort to "Europeanize" America and give it a "modern" state that can be harnessed to utopian ends. ... American fascism is milder, more friendly, more "maternal" than its foreign counterparts; it is what George Carlin calls "smiley-face fascism." Nice fascism. The best term to describe it is "liberal fascism." And this liberal fascism was, and remains, fundamentally left-wing. (p. 8)
Just like in Canada, eh? He warns,
... if there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help. (p. 334)
Next: 5. But what is the ultimate goal of today's liberal fascism?

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5. But what is the ultimate goal of today's liberal fascism?

It's no accident that fascists of different stripes - leftists and Islamists - want to replace specific civil liberties with vague "human rights," enforced by illiberal human rights commissions.

In general, they see liberal democracy or constitutional monarchy as an outmoded system of government. The new style of government that they support might be a therapeutic state where the government orders you into therapy if others disapprove of your opinions or an Islamic state where the government punishes blasphemy or apostasy (against Islam). But it will not be a liberal democracy.

Goldberg explains
... Fascism was born of a "fascist moment" in Western civilization, when a coalition of intellectuals going by various labels - progressive, communist, socialist, and so forth - believed the era of liberal democracy was drawing to a close. It was time for man to lay aside the anachronisms of natural law, traditional religion, constitutional liberty, capitalism, and the like, and rise to the responsibility of remaking the world in his own image. God was long dead, and it was long overdue for men to take His place. (P. 31)
All fascism is totalitarian - that is, government takes the place that traditional religions assign to God and oversees the total course of every person's life.

The Italian Fascist dictator Mussolini coined the word "totalitarian"
to describe not a tyrannical society but a humane one in which everyone is taken care of and contributes equally. ... The militarization of society and politics was considered simply the best available means toward this end. (p. 80)
Goldberg is careful to point out that liberal fascism will be painless and perhaps enjoyable, provided you never disagree with the government about anything the government thinks is important:
The idea that we can create a heaven on earth through pharmacology and neuroscience is as utopian as the Marxist hope that we could create a perfect world by rearranging the means of production. The history of totalitarianism is the history of the quest to transcend the human condition and create a society where our deepest meaning and destiny are realized simply by virtue of the fact that we live in it. It cannot be done, and even if, as often in the case of liberal fascism, the effort is very careful to be humane and decent, it will still result in a kind of benign tyranny where some people get to impose their ideas of goodness and happiness on those who may not share them. (P. 20-21)
Of course, you can live a happy life in a medicalized, psychologized society where the state is your mommy. But only if you have been conditioned to find joy in such a society, and that is the aim of many liberal institutions: to rewrite the habits of our hearts." (p. 393)
The ultimate goal: Rewrite the habits of our hearts, and make them what the liberal fascist thinks they should be. Hence all the government-enforced political correctness that rules everyday life in Canada now.

Next: 6. How dare anyone call liberals fascists? Liberals and progressives are good people!

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6. How dare anyone call liberals fascists? Liberals and progressives are good people!

First, the term "liberal fascism" was not invented by Jonah Goldberg. It was first coined by science fiction writer and science popularizer H.G. Wells, who thought it a splendid term - for a splendid idea. Goldberg explains,
Nor did Wells coin the phrase as an indictment, but as a badge of honor. Progressives must become "liberal fascists" and "enlightened Nazis," he told the Young Liberals at Oxford in a speech in July 1932." (p. 21)
Yes, enlightened Nazis ....
I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis (p. 135)
Wells himself was a devout liberal fascist, and as Goldberg notes,
"Wells's fiction was so thinly veiled in its praise for fascism that the attentive reader can only squirm." (p. 135)
In any event, liberal fascists might very well be good people, provided that your definition of "good" does not require respect for the civil liberties of others. They neither respect them nor believe they should respect them.

Next: 7. Do liberal fascists single out specific people as targets to attack?

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7. Do liberal fascists single out specific people as targets for attack?

Certainly. A hallmark of all types of fascism is to single out enemies who are supposedly the cause of the fascist's problems and demand that the government "do something" about them. This was true ever since fascism first arose in the mid-nineteenth century - as a response to the anxieties of modern, urban life.

From Goldberg,
Those who stood in the way - the bourgeoisie, the "unfit," the "greedy," the "individualist," the traitor the kulak, the Jew - could be demonized as the "other" because, at the end of the day, they were not merely expendable, nor were they merely reluctant to join the collective, they were by their very existence blocking the will to power that gave the mob and the avant-garde which claimed to speak for it their reason for existence. (P. 85)
Today, the target is group is white males.
The white male is the Jew of liberal fascism. The "key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race," writes the whiteness studies scholar and historian Noel Ignatiev. Whiteness studies is a cutting-edge academic discipline sweeping American higher education. Some thirty universities have WS departments, but many more schools teach the essentials of whiteness studies in other courses. (p. 368)
Civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant has observed that tendency here in Canada:
... we have granted absurd discretion to politically charged activists to go after whoever they like. And so is it any surprise that 98% of those charged with Section 13 offenses are white Christian men?
And once charged, they are almost always found guilty.
No one has ever been acquitted, because no one could ever be acquitted. I have probably committed six or seven hate crimes just in my talk. Because what I said it may exhort someone to some feeling. Maybe I've even committed a crime against myself.
Here is a simple test: Have you noticed how permissible it has become - in a variety of venues - to heap abuse on white males, particularly Christian ones? Abuse that would get you banished from polite society if you said it about any other type of person?

In addition to their largely imaginary demonized enemies, fascists do have one set of genuine opponents: Supporters of classical liberal democracy and/or constitutional monarchy. While such people associate with conservative political parties at present (because they have nowhere else to go), they should not be confused with the "right wing." Right-wingers can be just as fascist, just as interventionist, and display just as much contempt for civil liberties as left-wingers - but their chain is yanked by different issues from the left-wingers' chain.

Canadian lawyer and publisher Ezra Levant - a key foe of the illiberal "human rights" commissions, for example, is technically a Conservative. But in Europe he would be considered a classical liberal in the tradition of John Stuart Mill - that is, he is a traditional non-fascist liberal.

Next: 8. Why do you say that liberal fascists are addicted to crises?

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8. Why do you say that liberal fascists are "addicted" to crises?

All fascists are addicted to crises. Goldberg puts it like this:
Crisis is routinely identified as a core mechanism of fascism because it short-circuits debate and democratic deliberation. Hence all fascistic movements commit considerable energy to prolonging a heightened state of emergency. (P. 43)
Why? Because
Free societies are disorganized. People do their own thing, more or less, and that can be downright inconvenient if you're trying to plan the entire economy from a boardroom somewhere. War brings conformity and unity of purpose. The ordinary rules of behavior are mothballed. You can get things done: build roads, hospitals, houses. Domestic populations and institutions were required to "do their part." (P. 149)
Get that? The ordinary rules of behaviour can be mothballed during a crisis. Crises are useful excuses to get the government to persecute the fascist's "enemies." And if there isn't a crisis, the liberal fascist invents one. Here is an example: Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the "worldwide crisis of obesity."

Obesity is not a crisis, It is a personal choice, available to growing numbers of people worldwide because - thanks to modern methods of agriculture - they are no longer starving. But proclaiming a crisis gives liberal fascists a chance to interfere with what others eat. For example, as William Saletan writes in Slate,
The war on fat has just crossed a major red line. The Los Angeles City Council has passed an ordinance prohibiting construction of new fast-food restaurants in a 32-square-mile area inhabited by 500,000 low-income people.
He continues,
A few other cities and towns have zoned restaurants for economic, environmental, or aesthetic reasons. But L.A. appears to be the first to do it for health reasons. Last year, a public-interest law group at Johns Hopkins outlined the rationale: "Given the significance of the obesity epidemic in the United States and the scientific evidence and legal basis supporting the zoning of fast food outlets, municipalities have an effective, yet untried, tool to address obesity in their communities."

I assumed this idea would go nowhere because we Americans don't like government restrictions on what we eat. You can nag us. You can regulate what our kids eat in school. But you'll get our burgers when you pry them from our cold, dead hands.

How did the L.A. City Council get around this resistance? By spinning the moratorium as a way to create more food choices, not fewer. And by depicting poor people, like children, as less capable of free choice.
Ah yes, two things to note here: The use of the term "epidemic," for one. The fact that some people choose to be fat and don't care what thin faddists think of them could only be a crisis to a liberal fascist. Some of us would call that minding our own business and asking others to mind theirs.

Second, note how the authoritarian crackdown on hamburgers in south L.A. is spun as "choice" for the very people who are now denied the choice. Liberal fascists typically use the language of "freedom," "rights," and "choice," precisely when they are taking away a traditional civil right.

If you vote for liberal fascists, don't think you can just enjoy your own hamburger or Caesar salad in peace. You won't enjoy anything in peace if a liberal fascist can manufacture a crisis around it. And they can manufacture crises around pretty much anything.

Next: 9. What is the most totalitarian concept in politics today?

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9. What is the most totalitarian concept in politics today?

Without doubt, it is the "politics of meaning."

Goldberg writes,

The politics of meaning is in many respects the most thoroughly totalitarian conception of politics offered by a leading American political figure in the last half century. (P. 330)

[ ... ]

Liberal fascists don't want to mimic generic fascists or communists in myriad ways, but they share a sweeping vision of social justice and community and the need for the state to realize that vision. In short, collectivists of all stripes share the same totalitarian temptation to create a politics of meaning ... (P 327)
Once the government is supposed to provide meaning for your life, you have lost the battle for freedom in the historic sense. Traditionally, religion was supposed to give your life meaning, and religion is the only thing that can.

Please note that, when I use the term "religion," I am speaking very generally. By religion, I mean "what gives your life meaning" rather than "the Christian God."

Secular humanists, for example, say that their beliefs give their lives meaning. As a group, they behave pretty much like a typical Western religious sect, even though they don't believe in God. (Incidentally, the courts generally take this view of religion.)

If government is going to give your life meaning, it will need to have much more power than liberal democracy would permit.

Next: 10. But surely it is good to want the country to be one, big happy family!

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10. But surely it is good to want the country to be one, big happy family!

Well, it's good to want that, but it is not good to want the government to make it happen. From Goldberg:
The yearning for community is deep and human and decent. But these yearnings are often misplaced when channeled through the federal government and imposed across a diverse nation with a republican constitution. ... The government cannot love you and any politics that works on a different assumption is destined for no good. And yet ever since the New Deal, liberals have been unable to shake this fundamental dogma that the state can be the instrument for a politics of meaning that transforms the entire nation into a village. (p. 159-60)
For example, when you hear an expression like "it takes a village to raise a child," please don't just happily agree that it sounds like a nice idea. Ask yourself, "Who in the village besides the child's parents will then get a say in major decisions?"

Listen carefully to the vast, sweeping sentiments you hear from many politicians today, and you will discover that when they promise you "rights," "freedom," and "choice," they mean that you don't any longer have the right or freedom to choose a hamburger rather than the canned tunafish sandwich that someone from the government thinks you should have instead.

Next: 11. Explain what you mean when you say that liberal fascism exalts feelings over facts

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11. Explain what you mean when you say that liberal fascism exalts feelings over facts

All types of fascism exalt feelings over facts. The fascist thinks with her gut. She "knows," for example, that most parents are abusive and need therapy forced on them. Or else she "knows" that hunting lodge owners want bears to go extinct, etc.

She also knows for sure that she should lobby for new laws. That's what gives her life meaning, new laws and new rulings that set aside older, more cautious laws. From Goldberg:
Historically, fascism is of necessity and by design a form of youth movement, and all youth movements have more than a whiff of fascism about them. The exaltation of passion over reason, action over deliberation, is a naturally youthful impulse. ... Youth politics - like populism generally - is the politics of the tantrum and the hissy fit. The indulgence of so-called youth politics is one face of the sort of cowardice and insecurity that leads to the triumph of barbarism. (P. 165)
Incidentally, students are amng the strongest supporters of fascism of all kinds:
Regional studies of Nazi participation found that students generally outpaced any other group in their support for National Socialism. (P. 167)
Thus, it is no surprise that American university campuses so strongly support liberal fascism that Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was started a few years ago to challenge a staggering variety of attempts at censorship in the very place where intellectual freedom is most important.

(Note: Hunting lodge owners are about as likely to want all the bears to die as dairy farmers are to want all the cows to die. An inability to grasp so obvious a fact is an example of how liberal fascism dumbs people down.)

Next: 12. How did we get here and how can we get back?

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12. How did we get here and how can we get back?

One of the roots is Darwin's theory of evolution, oddly enough. Here's Goldberg's view:
The godfathers of the liberal God-state were the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel and the scientist Charles Darwin. Hegel had argued that history was an unfolding evolutionary process, and the engine driving that process was the state. ... The movement of the state through time was the "march of God on earth." Darwin's theory of evolution seemed to confirm that man was part of a larger organism, governed and directed by the state as the mind guides the body. For the "modern" clergy this meant that politics was a religious calling; after all, politics is nothing less than the effort to define the mission of the state, and the state was the hand of God.
As I explain here, by Darwinism, both left-wing and right-wing fascists principally meant eugenics - controlling who is allowed to have children. (Meanwhile, Darwin's theory of evolution has itself become the object of a cult, but that's a story for another day.)

In general, Goldberg notes,
"By lending scientific credibility to the Hegelian and Romantic view of nations as organic beings, Darwinism bequeathed to scientists a license to treat social problems like biological puzzles. All the ills of modern mass society 0- urban crowding, a rising population among the lower classes, poor public hygiene, even the dumbing down of mainstream bourgeois culture - now seemed curable through conscientious application of biological principles. ( p. 247)
Remember that when you hear people say things like "Darwin's is the best idea anyone ever had" (philosopher Daniel Dennett). The best idea ever? If you are a liberal fascist, you will certainly want to think so. Otherwise you might think that ideas like civil liberties are better.

Did I write this in order to persuade you to vote for conservative candidates? Not exactly, no.
"Vote for Schmoe and he will solve all your problems" is precisely what I do not advocate.

For one thing, today, conservative parties have also bought into fascist ideas like "the government is here to help whenever people hurt." George W. Bush said that, and there is no misunderestimating what he means by it: People used to say that the church was here to help when people hurt, and now they say the government is - which essentially means making the government a religion.

Non-fascist politics is politics as if the government is not religion. In closing, Goldberg writes about what conservatism should be:
... conservatism is neither identity politics for Christians and/or white people nor right-wing Progressivism. Rather, it is opposition to all forms of political religion. It is a rejection of the idea that politics can be redemptive. It is the conviction that a properly ordered republic has a government of limited ambition. (402)
If that's conservatism, I'll vote for it. The alternative is intolerable. But don't be surprised if the person who happens to embody those principles in your district is not running for a conservative party, but for some other one. We must find our friends and allies where we can.

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