Sunday, June 28, 2009

Halfway Through Liberal Fascism

From Liberal Fascism:
[Woodrow] Wilson shared with other fascist leaders a firm conviction that his organic connection with "the people" was absolute and transcended the mere mechanics of democracy. "So sincerely do I believe these things that I am sure that I speak the mind and wish of the people of America." Many Europeans recognized him as an avatar of the rising socialist World Spirit. In 1919 a young Italian socialist proclaimed, "Wilson's empire has no borders because He [sic] does not govern territories. Rather He interprets the needs, the hopes, the faith of the human spirit, which has no spatial or temporal limits." The young man's name was Benito Mussolini.
I am approximately halfway through the book, and I have to say, this was an eye-opening read. I do not care whether you are liberal, conservative, libertarian, completely apolitical or just think you are, you really ought to read this book. You may not agree with everything, especially if you happen to be a creature of the political left, but you will certainly be startled by the facts it contains. I was already familiar (and in agreement) with the basic thesis that fascism was a phenomenon of the extreme political left, not the extreme political right as so many would have you believe, so I thought I was in for a rather humdrum read. Not so. While the book can be dizzyingly fact-dense at times and occasionally borders on beating a dead horse, a great deal of it will simply leave you with your mouth hanging wide open, particularly quotes like the one above. There are some real jaw-droppers in there, some from people you only thought you knew. The intricate connections between the various political movements of populism, progressivism, nationalism, socialism, fascism, Nazism, and communism, and in America's case, their claim on leaders of both Democrats and Republicans leaves the reader with an eery sense that Jonah Goldberg has thrown light on some great political tentacle emanating from some fundamental, carnal human property that animates a great deal of the political world. One can't help but come to the conclusion that this fundamental human property is a failing and is decidedly evil, perhaps even the great human evil, or at least a direct descendent. The book is not religious per se, but addresses a great deal of religious material and contains many religious overtones. Goldberg himself defines fascism to be "a religion of the state." This appears to be roughly divisible into two distinct movements: the first, and more common, is the creation of a pagan state religion with man as god, the second the elevation of the state as an all-encompasing tool of God as described by an existing religion, not completely unlike a theocracy, but not exactly the same, either. (Note that I'm not trying to provide some kind of squirmy defense of theocracy, as I'm not even slightly pro-theocracy, but the two are a bit different.) For Christians, this book should hopefully leave you with a newfound caution for politicians and political philosophies that claim God's sanction, direction, or consistency with His ideals. This is not to say that all such claims are wrong, but upon reading the book one shudders at just how many people enthusiastically embraced totalitarian acts and policies which had been wrapped in a Divine mantle by their politician-salesmen, and how similar many of these acts and policies were to those proferred by the Nazi's and other fascist regimes. It is scary, and I have no doubt it could easily happen again, and probably will. Final word: read this book. No matter who you are, it will change your thinking about politics.

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