March 24, 2007

In defense of Jonah Goldberg

The NRO columnist is getting a lot of razzing over the title of his often-delayed book (now, not due until after Christmas): Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton

Obviously, Jonah wants his book to sell more than one with an academic title would, so he's giving it an attention-getting title and cover. I'm not Jonah's biggest fan, but I expect his book has a chance to be better than most of his daily journalism: it could be polemical but eye opening. Jonah has a lot of valid historical material to work with.

There is widespread severe ignorance about 20th Century history that Jonah's book could help rectify.

The truth is that human beings love a winner, and from 1922 through 1942, Fascism was highly influential because, along with Communism, it looked like a winner.

After Stalingrad, however, it looked like a loser, so a lot of people in the West started rewriting history to cover up the influence Fascism had had on them. Just to take one example, the Swedish movie director legend Ingmar Bergman finally admitted in 1999 that he had been a Nazi-supporter all through WWII, when he was in his 20s, because he found Nazism to be "fun and youthful." This was not an idiosyncratic opinion at the time.

It's easy to come up with a list of linkages between Fascism and the left, both of ancestry and descent. For instance:

- Mussolini was a Marxist heretic -- he converted from international socialism to national socialism because he found the solidarity across class lines in the trenches of WWI such fun. (Neither he nor Hitler were ever pro-capitalist -- they just realized the economic idiocy of Marxism, and thus didn't shoot businessmen as long the Party held the ultimate power.)

- In contrast to the myth that Fascism was always culturally traditionalist, Mussolini was the most aggressively anti-traditionalist, pro-modern art leader of the 20th Century, being closely associated with the Futurist poets and painters like Marinetti, whose Futurist Political Party Mussolini absorbed in 1919.

- The first two years of FDR's New Deal, up through the Supreme Court throwing out the Fascist-inspired National Recovery Administration in 1935, were closely modeled on Mussolini's corporativist economic policy that discouraged market competition.

- Much of the highbrow French intellectualizing that has dominated the American academy in recent decades has its roots in the Occupied France and Belgium of the early 1940s. The French world was so stunned by its defeat by Germany that it opened itself up to German ideas during the years of Nazi rule. For example, the German philosopher Heidegger, who had joined the Nazi Party, became the single most dominant influence on post-war French philosophizing.

- Animal rights and environmentalism were favorites causes of Hitler, and remain favorite causes of leftists in Germanic Europe today.

- The invention of the favorite car of Sixties hippies, the Volkswagen Beetle, was sponsored by Hitler.

- Attacks on cigarette smoking as causing cancer were initiated by the Nazis.

These are easy links to pull off the top of my head. If Jonah wants to put in the work -- and considering how long his book has been delayed, he may be doing just that -- he could uncover far more.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

77 comments:

Proofreader said...

Fascism has become so unfashionable that many economists turn a blind eye on modern Japan and its corporativist economical system, which is esentially a successful form of fascism with the trappings of a democracy.

One way to think of the Japanese system is as a capitalist economy with socialized capital markets

http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue23/Locke23.htm

Lloyd said...

The problem is the messenger. It will be too easy for Goldberg to fall into his usual lazy and dishonest style. I assume that Goldberg's thesis will equate opposition to the GOP with fascism. Thus it will be too easy for the more intelligent folks out there to ignore him.

Chip said...

"Mussolini was a Marxist heretic"

Zeev Sternhell's "The Birth of Fascist Ideology" is an interesting study:

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5306.html

Rollo said...

Conservatism and liberalism are such catholic philosophies that one could draw numerous parallels between them and communism or fascism.

Two books which document the attraction of fascism in Europe are John Carey's The Intellectuals and the Masses and Alastair Hamilton's The Appeal of Fascism.

Russell said...

Mao was also a loyal and self-described Sunnist (Sun Yat Sen having laid out detailed plans for a fascist-style economic and political development program for China as early as 1900) until he suddenly switched to Marxism rather late in the revolutionary game.

In reality, Mao was too ignorant to really know anything about either Sunnism or Marxism, so he eventually settled on Maoism, which turned out to be whatever he decided it was that day.

Russell said...

By the way, A. James Gregor is a PoliSci prof at Berkeley who's main focus of writing and research has been the thesis that fascism and communism were more or less the same movement, except that fascism was more rational (eg, it sensibly centered its organizing principle around nationalism rather than class). One of his key books on this is The Faces of Janus.

Vim Petrol said...

Nolte first rose to fame with his 1963 book Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche (Fascism In Its Epoch; translated into English as The Three Faces Of Fascism), in which Nolte argued that Fascism arose as a form of resistance and a reaction against modernity. Using the methods of phenomenology, Nolte subjected German Nazism, Italian Fascism and the French Action Fran├žaise movements to a comparative analysis. Nolte’s conclusion was that fascism was the great anti-movement; namely it was anti-liberal, anti-communist, anti-Semitic, anti-capitalist, and anti-bourgeois. In Nolte’s view, fascism was the rejection of everything the modern world had to offer and was an essentially negative phenomenon. The Three Faces of Fascism was much praised at the time and since as a seminal contribution to the creation of a theory of generic fascism. Roger Griffin has written that although written in an excessively arcane and obscure language, Nolte's theory of fascism as a “form of resistance to transcendence” (transcendence in German can be translated as the "spirit of modernity") marked an important step in the understanding of fascism, and helped to spur scholars into new avenues of research on fascism.

Later in the 1970s, Nolte was to reject the theory of generic Fascism that he had championed in The Three Faces of Fascism and instead embraced totalitarian theory as a way of explaining both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In Nolte's opinion, Nazi Germany was a "mirror image" of the Soviet Union and with the exception of the “technical detail” of mass gassing everything the Nazis did, the Communists in Russia did first.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Nolte

Lars Smith said...

IKEA furniture is a kind of Volks-furniture. Ivar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, was a Nazi sympathizer in his youth.

The Swedish Social Democratic concept of Sweden as "the People's Home", Folkhemmet, was borrowed from the Italian fascists.

Ron Guhname said...

I'm sure there are lots of people like Gunter Grass. He belonged the Waffen-SS, and made an smooth transition to a left-winger who has been an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party. The problem is that guys like him hide the truth.

aceflyer said...

IKEA furniture is a kind of Volks-furniture. Ivar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, was a Nazi sympathizer in his youth.

IKEA, of course, is the quintesential ruthless 21st century global corporation, the embodiment of modern right-wing ideology.

Attacks on cigarette smoking as causing cancer were initiated by the Nazis.

Nazis believed food contained nutrients. So do liberals. And these are just the easy links I'm pulling off the top of my head!

Toto said...

He belonged the Waffen-SS, and made an smooth transition to a left-winger who has been an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party.

Well, being a 16/17 year old conscript hardly makes him Sepp Dietrich.

Ron Guhname said...

True, he was conscripted, but didn't he try to volunteer for a U-boat fleet before that? Granted, he was very young.

James Kabala said...

I never knew that about Ingmar Bergman before (although I did know about Heidegger and Paul de Man, of course). It's interesting that, as Steve says, because the Soviets were on the winning side in World War II, intellectuals of known Communist sympathies retained those sympathies well into the 1950s, until it was too late to backtrack or sweep them under the rug, whereas Fascist sympathizers had an easier time doing that.
I am surpised by some of Steve's guilt-by-association links, though. I thought in the past he had shown some sympathy for environmentalism. And while I am no supporter of anti-smoking fanaticism, I don't think the cigarette-cancer link can really be denied, so I don't how relevant it was that the Nazis believed in it.

Frederick said...

Yes, I think Steve should leave the cultural criticism to Jacques Barzun.

Oscar said...

"Nazis believed food contained nutrients. So do liberals. And these are just the easy links I'm pulling off the top of my head!"

there have been a lot of fatuous posts like that attacking steve's original comments on matt yglesias page too...

it's the trademark of the weak-minded to try to discredit an important general point by picking out a minor ancillary point and willfully misunderstanding it (to show that anyone making such a point must be stupid and unworthy of further rational engagement).

i don't know why hippies liked volkswagons, but i assume it was for similar reasons to why the nazi's "marketed" it as "the people's car". rabid anti-smoking measures (what's bad for the people's health must be banned) are also totalitarian in nature.

on the other hand, the nazis hated pornographers in typical rightist fashion, whereas one of the major legacies of leftism has been to make the selling and consuomption of pornography easy and shame-free. but i suppose most liberals here (the anti-porn feminazis notwithstanding) just instinctually want to latch onto any movement that subverts order and religious morality.

Anonymous said...

"IKEA, of course, is the quintesential ruthless 21st century global corporation, the embodiment of modern right-wing ideology."

Others (e.g., the WSJ editors) that IKEA's low-cost, build-it-yourself, business model developed in response to Sweden's high-tax environment, where consumers had fewer after-tax discretionary Kronas to spend on furniture (of course Sweden has more pro-business tax policies today, though personal income taxes are still high).

Anonymous said...

One key difference between Nazism and modern liberalism that comes to mind:

Hitler had an obsession with maintaining traditional gender roles. While Stalin has women building tanks, Hitler didn't. So not only were Soviet tanks tougher than the German ones, they were being built at more than double the German rate.

Luke said...

Where does Hillary come into this???

Anonymous said...

Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and to a lesser extent Franco all rejected traditional European Christianity and the idea itself of the Christian Nation in favor of an invented, mythic past and matching golden age future.

So yeah, Environmentalism among Hitler and the Goreacle matches (and is fundamentally different from Muir's desire to popularize the outdoors as a means of preserving it's beauty).

Or the Nazis anti-smoking crusade as a means of social control, akin to the current anti-smoking crusade. Different that the sort of Anglo reformers that preaches individual responsibility through non-state actors.

In the West you saw the rise of voluntary associations like the Sierra Club to push environmentalism as a value people should of their own free will choose. Hitler mandated it as an expression of the State (unfettered by the Church or other non-state institutions unique to the West).

You could argue that Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini represented the strain in the West that has always wanted to try out Plato's Republic for real.

Anonymous said...

For the love of God, don't leave out Mao! East Asian stupidity (their high IQ's be damned) and Platonic tyrannical fanaticism made for an especially destructive combination.

Dennis Dale said...

If Goldberg has any sense he will begin by examining fascism's roots in the seminal post-modern movement of Italian futurism and its attempt to obliterate the past, history, and tradition (and the language of which now sounds like parody of overblown neocon or radical leftist deliria--worshipping power and audacity over deliberation, measure, and compromise; the common denominator is unyielding, doctrinaire zeal that considers the movement above the law of the land, and recognizes its enemies are custom, tradition, and legality). If he inisists on attempting to foist fascism off on "liberalism", well, puh-leeze.

The hoary old, tail-wagging-dog concept of fascism as a product of conservatism is nonsense, but attempts to redefine it as left rather than right is equally pointless, and shortsighted.
One could get very far just laying out the obvious--that communism and fascism branched off of the same modernist-reactionary stem--and with a pointed analysis of the cross-currents between leftist and rightist totalitarian systems viewed from a long historical and evolutionary psychological perspective.
Somehow I'm not holding out hope for Jonah.

daveg said...

The question is, if Hitler just expelled the Jews, rather than killed them, would things be different?

And did he really need all that "living space"? The economy was doing well in the ten years before the expansion. Maybe if he just stopped with Poland?

But can a fascist state really "stop"? Can it walk away from the table with its wining, or does it always need to double down?

And what about Israel? What is the correct way to describe the Israeli model? Seems not to far off from fascism really.

MarcZ said...

The question is, if Hitler just expelled the Jews, rather than killed them, would things be different?

Seriously, why didn't he just expel the Jews? A good number of them wanted a homeland in the Middle East at the time, and would have cooperated (especially since Germany was becoming unliveable for them). And given the levels of German-Jewish admixture, the mass resettlement of German Jews in the Middle East would have spread German genes into the Holy Land. You'd think Hitler would have been all about that.

Oh wait, that's right. He was an amoral madman! Sorry, forgot about that.

But can a fascist state really "stop"? Can it walk away from the table with its wining, or does it always need to double down?

I read somewhere that Catherine the Great once said, "I know of no way to defend my borders except to expand them." I think the same principle applies to a fascist society. There is such a hypersensitivity to any perceived foreign threat it lends itself to a "we gotta get them before they get us" mentality.

Jonas said...

Apropos of nothing, my cat coughed up a fur ball, a week last Thursday.

Get your own blog, dude.

Russell said...

People are also forgetting Taiwan, which had an essentially fascist political and economic system for several decades founded on Sun's ideas for China.

But Dennis Dale is quite right that both fascism and communism were more like each other than like anything else on the political spectrum.

They were both modernist, single-party ideologies (and I mean "ideology" in the real sense of the word as a totalitarian belief system, not the colloquial way people use to describe mere political philosophy) whose purpose was economic development of a nation which had been left behind by the industrial revolution or imperialism and was pissed off about it.

Slim said...

The point is not that the Nazis thought cigarettes were physically bad for you (everyone else more or less did then, as well); the point is that they tried to ban them or legally restrict their use on the basis of this because their ideology mandated that people be healthy for the good of the state.

Sounds perfectly fine to me. But, hey, as an avid iSteve reader, I must be a closet fascist, anyway.

Russell said...

Marcz,

The problem with fascist states wanting to expand their borders is not that fascism itself is especially paranoid or expansionist, but that the nations who enact fascist programs tend to have acute historical senses of grievance that lead to irredentism.

Italy had been left behind by the economic advancement and imperialism of its Euro neighbors. Germany was famously bitter over WWI and felt they'd been betrayed and never really beaten.

Svigor said...

Nazis believed food contained nutrients. So do liberals. And these are just the easy links I'm pulling off the top of my head!

(Wow! And I'm always using a similar argument to defend White Nationalism (except I use indoor plumbing)! Whodathunkit?)

"These" is plural. Here they are:

http://ray-dox.blogspot.com/2006/08/this-article-is-published-on-internet.html

tommy said...

aceflyer,

Nazis believed food contained nutrients. So do liberals. And these are just the easy links I'm pulling off the top of my head!

So did conservatives. Try again.

Russell said...

Jesus, people.

The point is not that the Nazis thought cigarettes were physically bad for you (everyone else more or less did then, as well); the point is that they tried to ban them or legally restrict their use on the basis of this because their ideology mandated that people be healthy for the good of the state.

It's not that difficult an analogy.

This is why I weep for these types of discussions. The real character of fascism is a sadly misunderstood historical topic not least because morons end up fouling the discourse with illogical and irrelevant point-scoring arguments.

Cato said...

I was first made aware of fascism as a progressive ideology by Eugene Genovese's neat little book, The Southern Tradition. In it he brings up that the old feminist mantra "The personal is political" was coined by Giovanni Gentile, a fascist philosopher who was a favorite of Mussolini. Of course, modern feminists, being generally unaware that how they think may have roots predating Betty Friedan, aren't aware of this.

The biggest difference remains that contemporary progressives aren't terribly nationalistic (except a few groups like labor unions who want "economic nationalism" in the form of tariffs).

It's easy to be sloppy when playing mix-and-match with ideologies, and I hope Goldberg doesn't make a hash of it. But if he wants to sell books to people who think Rush Limbaugh is an intellectual, I'm skeptical.

Cato said...

Apropos of nothing, I just saw The Lives of Others today. What an engrossing film! Between that, 300, Zodiac, & Breach, the past month or so has been quite good at the talkies.

Highly recommend them all.

Anonymous said...

i'll take the american anti-smoking lobby over the NRO-Iraq lobby any day.

if jonah had just an ounce of self awareness to go along with his gallons of bluster...

Anonymous said...

Anon says:


Hitler had an obsession with maintaining traditional gender roles. While Stalin has women building tanks, Hitler didn't. So not only were Soviet tanks tougher than the German ones, they were being built at more than double the German rate.


Yeah, I am sure that all tanks built by women are better than those built by men. Most likely because they are less phallic.

Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that the USSR was being bankrolled by the US in those days.

Also, I think that your assertion that Soviet tanks in those days were better than German tanks. It's horses for courses.

tommy said...

Yeah, I am sure that all tanks built by women are better than those built by men. Most likely because they are less phallic.

To be fair, I don't think he was implying that the tanks were tougher because they were built by women. I think he is chalking up the high rate of tank production to women in the workforce, not the toughness of the tanks. He is mentioning the toughness of the tanks as an additional advantage the Russians had over their German foes.

The wording is a bit ambiguous, but that is my interpretation.

tommy said...

I don't know much about Soviet tanks, but German tanks were certainly far superior to U.S. tanks. Unfortunately for the Germans, the U.S. could crank out their tanks at a much more rapid rate.

/Ok. Ok. Enough tank discussion. Back on topic

tommy said...

Ron Guhname,

You mention Gunter Grass. Have you read any of his work? If so, would you recommend him?

Svigor said...

I don't know much about Soviet tanks, but German tanks were certainly far superior to U.S. tanks. Unfortunately for the Germans, the U.S. could crank out their tanks at a much more rapid rate.

Yes, Soviet tanks were superior to German tanks, and the commies had scads more of them than the nazis did.

Ron Guhname said...

tommy: No, I haven't read his books, altough I have heard that Tin Drum is good. Since he's a post-WWII lefty, I figured he wouldn't have anything interesting to say, but that might be unfair. His writing is political, so if you're into it, it might be worth the time.

Russell said...

In general, the Germans' hardware was either merely equal or actually somewhat inferior to that of their enemies (particularly the French at the start of the war). Their big advantages were tactical innovation and the morale and initiative of their soldiers and officers.

Anonymous said...

The first major scientific paper linking smoking to lung cancer was published in 1939 Nazi Germany (From "The Politics of Heredity")

I believe pilots in the Nazi airforce were banned from smoking for a short while even.

Russell said...

Another point that goes along with the Nazi-smoking one is the Soviets and abortion. Abortion carried a penalty of death in the Soviet Union, at least during Stalin's time.

Now, this point would likely be latched onto by a lot of stupid people who would then say, "You see? American conservatives are the real totalitarians!"

But the reason the Soviets didn't like abortion was not because they had any moral consideration for the fetus/child, but because they thought it was treason against the state to rob the USSR of another worker.

James Kabala said...

Russell: Actually, the U.S.S.R. was the first nation to legalize abortion, soon after the Revolution. Stalin maintained this policy for a while after Lenin's death, then repealed it for the non-benevolent reasons mentioned. It was re-legalized under Khrushchev and then legalized in most of the other Eastern Bloc nations as well. (I believe Romania, where Ceausescu kept it illegal for reasons similar to Stalin's, was an exception.) Even today, while horrible dictatorships of the Muslim (e.g., Iran and Saudi Arabia) or African nationalist (e.g., Zimbabwe) variety generally outlaw or strongly restrict abortion, it is legal on demand in all remaining Communist states. Yes, North Korea is Hell on Earth and permits all kinds of normal activities, but you can get an abortion! These disordered priorities show the relationship between economic and sexual leftism.
I believe Tommy's interpretation of the women-and-tanks remark is correct.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks, lots of great comments.

Anonymous said...

Svigor asserts, without offering any evidence:


Yes, Soviet tanks were superior to German tanks, and the commies had scads more of them than the nazis did.


Well, as they say, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.

Were they better in 1939? 1942? 1943? All I can see up on Wikipedia, for example, are things like:


Although a T-34-85 was still not a match for a Panther, the improved firepower made it much more effective than before. The decision to improve on the existing design instead of tooling up for a new one allowed the Soviets to manufacture tanks in such numbers that the difference in capabilities could be considered insignificant. In May 1944, the Wehrmacht had only 304 Panthers operating on the Eastern Front, while the Soviets had increased T-34-85 production to 1,200 tanks per month (Zaloga et al 1997:6).


Thus, it seems to me that in the same way that the Americans were able to turn out more of an inferior tank, the Soviets were in much the same boat.

Russell said...

Ah, well. Wikipedia says so!

The general consensus among historians is that the Soviets, by the time they started advancing rather than defending, were producing tanks that were unit-for-unit better than what the Germans could throw into the field.

Dave said...

As Tommy suggested, my point wasn't that Russian tanks were better because women were making them. They were better regardless. There were more of them because women were making them, while Hitler kept the German women out of the factories.

From Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, by Anthony Beevor, P.223:

"During the summer [of 1943], when Germany was producing approximately 500 tanks a month, Gernal Halder had told Hitler that the Soviet Union was producing 1,200 a month. The Fuhrer slammed the table and said that it was simply not possible. Yet even that figure was too low. In 1942, Soviet tank production was... over 2,200 per month"

Same book, p. 224:

"At a time when Hitler still refused to countenance the idea of German women n factories, Soviet production depended on the mass mobilization of mothers and daughters."

p. 94:

"They [panzer officers] knew the T-34 was overall a much better armoured fighting vehicle than anything Germany had yet produced."

Steve Sailer said...

The Soviets hit the quantity-quality sweet spot with their T34 tank, while America's Sherman was crummy, but at least we had a lot of them. Hitler, in contrast, got obsessed with Wagnerian fantasies of war-winning new weapons, so he poured a lot of money into things like the Tiger supertank, the V2 ballistic missile, jets, and rocket planes, but couldn't deliver enough to matter.

Gregor said...

A Soviet general once asked about the trade-off between quantity vs quality replied, 'Quantity has a quality all of its own.'

I've noticed the sequence of comments in this thread is a little garbled, which is most probably due to the adoption of British Summer Time (GMT+1) last night.

Jack Black said...

The general consensus among historians is that the Soviets, by the time they started advancing rather than defending, were producing tanks that were unit-for-unit better than what the Germans could throw into the field.

Yeah, well, all vehicles tend to look better going forward, than in reverse.

James Kabala said...

I meant, of course, North Korea PROHIBITS all kinds of normal activities. That ruined the sarcasm in that sentence!

daveg said...

Oh wait, that's right. [Hitler] was an amoral madman! Sorry, forgot about that.

"Amoral madman" - now that provides a lot of insight!

Anonymous said...

The leftism=fascism thesis is the oldest trick in the book. I doubt that Goldberg can contribute anything worthwhile to this topic, given his predilection for hyberbole and sensationalism. There are lots of great books -- some of them already mentioned in this thread -- about the similarities and differences between leftist ideology and fascism. For an eccentric yet interesting read, I recommend Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihin's "Leftism Revisited".

Many successful political-economical systems have much in common with fascism. I mean the likes of Japan and Nordic welfarism. I don't find this shocking or problematic as long as such aspects of fascism as authoritarian rule and lack of human rights are not adopted. A ban on public smoking, for example, is a very rational policy when you have socialized health care.

I think there are several fascisms, and it's unhelpful to lump all of them together. Mussolini's fascism was a leftist movement, with some elements of conservatism. Nazism was more pointedly conservative, but still very "progressive" in some ways. Franco and Salazar's "fascism" was traditionalist, authoritarian, and Catholic.

Bagpuss said...

The question is, if Hitler just expelled the Jews, rather than killed them, would things be different?

Germar Rudolf wouldn't be in jail, for a start. Or maybe he would...

daveg said...

Many successful political-economical systems have much in common with fascism. I mean the likes of Japan and Nordic welfarism. I don't find this shocking or problematic as long as such aspects of fascism as authoritarian rule and lack of human rights are not adopted.

Exactly, but the interesting question is how do you draw the line? Or better yet, can you really draw the line? Will it always spiral out of control?

For example, is a policy like that of Israel OK, were one can openly talk about the protecting the "Jewish" nature of the country, and where non Jewish citizens are treated OK, but not along the lines we would accept in the west? Every year is seems that Israel heads more towards fascism, not away. Think Avi Lebiermann, the Israeli cabinet member who want to ethnically cleanse Arab Israeli’s from Israel.

Or to think about it another way, if there are similarities between fascism and leftism, should the leftist's reaction be to jettison his leftist beliefs, or perhaps should he open himself up to some of the ideas of fascism?

I am not asking this rhetorically.

Grumpy Old Man said...

One analogy that hasn't been mentioned is between fascism broadly defined and today's China, which has the following characteristics that might be called fascist:

One party rule.

A cultivated sense of national grievance

A capitalist economy subsidized by the state

For the moment it's not expansionist and appears to be less repressive than it used to be, but doesn't the analogy have some merit?

TH said...

Daveg:

The problem with a system like that of Japan, Sweden, or Israel is precisely that it presupposes a homogeneous population. When the population diversifies, the system becomes inviable. At this point a shift toward a more libertarian organization of society is preferable. I think something like this may be currently happening in Sweden under the new bourgeois cabinet, partly as a response to growing immigration.

Of course, such a reversion of values may be too difficult to pull through, and a bit of fascism may be in popular demand instead.

But if the nation manages to remain homogeneous, I see no reason why there would be a turn toward fascism. I think homogeneous population offers a good basis for a stable democracy.

(I'm the anonymous commenter above.)

daveg said...

Are you claiming Israel a homogeneous population today? I mean, I think it is clear that Israel is not homogenous, - that's the problem.

The have a large (~20%) Arab population, a substantial (~4%) but shrinking Christian population.

This does not even mention the fact that Israel been in control of an area with a MAJORITY Arab population for forty years.

And Israel is/has contorted itself to maintain a Jewish majority for years, bringing in immigrants from other areas and making it hard for Arabs to come in, etc.

In fact, Israel has about as many Jews as America does whites, give or take 10%.

So I assume you must think it is ok for the US to take steps to preserve the majority white status, or even increase. I assume that is within the bounds of "reasonable" fascism, no, so long as the minority gets some reasonable set of rights.

(BTW, Sweden has something like 10% Arab's now, no, so I am not sure they are a good example either.)

joshrandall said...

Re Hitlers disdain for women working in factories:true,Hitler strongly objected to women in the workforce and encouraged them to have children.On the birthday of his mom,he awarded medals to women who had the largest number of children. Surprisingly,illegitamcy was tolerated. The Nazis of course created the 'Lebensborns' where German women could get knocked up by the appropriate German lad! "Hey Hans,ya vanna catch a movie? I hear 'Triumph of ze Vill' is pretty goot!" "No sanks,i'm headink to da Lebensborn!" "Zis is da 3rd time zis veek! I hope dose shmucks dont find out you haff a vasctomy!" :)

Anonymous said...

oops,thats "vasectomy" :)

Russell said...

Daveg,

The problem of national homogeneity was also described by Sun Yat Sen in his prescriptions for China. He argued for an acute and energetic sense of nationalism amongst the people, and this had to be preceded by the nation being composed of a single race.

Now, he meant this in a way different than what most people think of when they they hear "race." He was writing at the end of the 19th century, and yet he described a kind of racial identity that would be more recognizable to people like Steve rather than racial theorists of his own day, who were more prone to think of race and the races as a kind of Platonic form.

For instance, he described the "American race" that was emerging as the English, German and Scottish settlers, plus some others, interbred (whether these people were actually mixing to the extent he believed is not the point). At the time of his writing, the people of China did not think of themselves as Chinese; they had much more specific racial identities, and Sun was trying to get them to define themselves primarily as "Chinese."

The relevant VDARE-esque point about this today is that Sun's ideas of "race" as a national population that interbreeds over time and creates a more or less homogeneous polity would of course be frustrated and made impossible by continual mass immigration, which is exactly what we're doing today.

Russell said...

Daveg,

Also, you seem to deny any sort of distinction between treating citizens in one's country equally regardless of race, versus treating equally those who want to come into that country.

Why? That makes no sense to me. I think it's a pretty sensible principle to say that a country owes a certain standard of equal treatment to anyone who has been taken on as a citizen, and yet owes absolutely nothing to those outside the nation seeking to come in.

TH said...

daveg:

I'm well aware of Israeli demographics -- they are the reason for Israel's use of semi-fascistic measures to control the Arab population.

As to the US, I think it will develop into a Latin American type class society where one's social status is largely based on race. I don't think any white nationalist scheme is feasible in America -- the white population is too heterogeneous. Whites will form the bulk of the upper classes in America in the future anyway.

Sweden has lots of immigrants, but most of them are of European descent and reasonably well adjusted. However, the number of Third World immigrants is swelling rapidly, and it's clear that the Social Democratic ideal of "folkhemmet" is not sustainable in the long run.

daveg said...

Also, you seem to deny any sort of distinction between treating citizens in one's country equally regardless of race, versus treating equally those who want to come into that country.

I basically agree with you, but are you saying that it is OK for a majority population to control immigration to ensure they stay a majority, so long as they don’t “oppress” the existing minority in other ways?

I am just asking hypothetical questions to see what the "anti-fascist" answers are, because I, frankly, don't understand their positions sometimes (or maybe I do understand and I am just exposing their hypocrisy).

Is "fascism" per se bad/evil/whatever, or is it just some types of fascism - e.g. expansionist fascism (Is Israel also an example of this?).

Also, if there are elements of fascism and socialism that are similar, how do you draw a line between them?

Finally, could socialism benefit from the use of some fascist principals or techniques, as fascism has a better track record for accomplishment - efficiency and production - than socialism, but it seems to have some negative "side effects". How do you decide between the good and bad parts?

Can we take the good from fascism (if it does exist) without the bad, or are the two inseparably linked?

daveg said...

I'm well aware of Israeli demographics -- they are the reason for Israel's use of semi-fascistic measures to control the Arab population.

It is unclear (to me) whether you think such measures are acceptable.

Russell said...

Daveg,

I am just asking hypothetical questions to see what the "anti-fascist" answers are, because I, frankly, don't understand their positions sometimes (or maybe I do understand and I am just exposing their hypocrisy).

Is "fascism" per se bad/evil/whatever, or is it just some types of fascism - e.g. expansionist fascism (Is Israel also an example of this?).


Your comment highlights one of the worst problems with the term "fascism" and its use in today's world.

The popular meaning is basically, as Orwell pointed out, anything the user of the word doesn't like. That's the reason why I think the discourse to follow Goldberg's book will be inevitably idiotic, confused and useless, particularly with that "this'll get the dittoheads to buy it" title. The thing is, I read stuff by Goldberg offhandedly referring to his book that suggested he was doing a much more academic and reasonable discussion of the certain strains of fascist thought that existed in leftism and contemporary liberalism (and they are there... "politics of meaning," "personal is political" etc), but the title suggests mere bomb-throwing. I.e., "these people inherited some ideas from Mussolini, therefore kick them out of office!!"

The meaningful and more historically appropriate use of the term is primarily descriptive and doesn't necessarily require normative approval or disapproval. And, precisely because of the way the word gets thrown around meaninglessly like "racist," it's pretty clear to me we should keep any question of morality separated from the discussion of whether a particular nation/policy is fascist or not.

By searching automatically for a course that can be deemed "anti-fascist," you're succumbing to the same confusion of terms that Goldberg relies on.

TH said...

It is unclear (to me) whether you think such measures are acceptable.

I think Jews have right to an ethnostate of their own. However, the continuance of current anti-Palestinian policies ad infinitum would be wrong, both for humanitarian reasons and because of the tensions the situation creates between the West and the Muslim world.

Israel should ditch the occupied territories, and let there be a Palestinian state. The Pal state would probably become an unpleasant dictatorship, which would be in Israel's interest, as Steve argued recently. Of course there would still be the problem of Arabs with Israeli citizenship.

Dave said...

Even the Jewish population of Israel is far from homogenous -- there is tremendous diversity in terms of appearance (from blondes to blacks), religious adherence (from secular to orthodox, Ashkenazi versus Sephardic rituals, etc.), and politics (three major parties, but dozens of minor parties needed to form coalitions). None of that has much in common with fascism.

As far as Israel giving preference to Jews for citizenship, as an "ethnostate", there is nothing exceptional about this either; in fact, Israel is more liberal in its citizenship policies than, say, Japan or Germany (a quick anecdote about Japan's immigration policy: my girlfriend and I were waited on by a Japanese sales rep in Brazil; he met his Brazilian wife in New York but they started a family in Brazil instead of Japan because she couldn't even get permanent residency in Japan, even though she was his wife).

Clearly, it makes no sense for Israel to administer land populated predominantly by Palestinians (as opposed to Israeli Arabs, though there is some identification between the two groups). The problems of simply reverting the pre-1967 borders are that 1) They aren't very defensible; 2) It would leave the holiest sites in Judaism on the other side, and if history is any guide, the Arabs wouldn't allow Jews access to them; 3) Large settlement blocks would be left on the other side of the green line.

The solution Israel has been gradually moving toward is the separation barrier that would keep about 10% of the West Bank in Israeli hands; in later negotiations, this could be reduced to about 5%, with the Palestinians being given an equivalent amount of land elsewhere as compensation.

Even if that's completed and the Palestinians create a state there, it won't lead to peace. A significant faction of Palestinians won't settle for anything short of everything from Jordan to the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, Israel should complete its separation barrier, remove outlying settlements, then do what it can on a practical level to improve living conditions for Palestinians (remove unnecessary checkpoints, reduce contact, etc.). Perhaps after a couple decades of separation and quiet, the next generation can make a real peace.

daveg said...

I think Jews have right to an ethnostate of their own.

So, I guess you are saying that even with the substantial minority Arab population, Israel is justified in promoting policies that preserve or even increase its Jewish majority?

And as such America would, having a similarly sized majority, be justified in promoting its white population, or at least the Christian population (which is a much higher majority).

I mean, you did rest your fascism is good/ok/bad argument on the size of the ethnic majority, no?

daveg said...

Even the Jewish population of Israel is far from homogenous -- there is tremendous diversity in terms of appearance (from blondes to blacks), religious adherence (from secular to orthodox, Ashkenazi versus Sephardic rituals, etc.), and politics (three major parties, but dozens of minor parties needed to form coalitions). None of that has much in common with fascism.

Yeah, and there is lots of diversity within the Christian community too.

Yet, some closed minded people would say that an effort to preserve that diverse, but still Christian, majority in the US would be "fascist". No doubt the term Christo-fascism would be coined by someone.

As far as Israel giving preference to Jews for citizenship, as an "ethnostate", there is nothing exceptional about this either; in fact, Israel is more liberal in its citizenship policies than, say, Japan or Germany [Really?]

So it was OK for the US to prevent Jews from immigrating in the past. I mean, we were just preventing people from entering the country based on religion, right? Nothing exceptional about it.

What would Dershowitz and Fox say about religion based immigration a policy for America? They would scream fascism from the top of their lungs.

Fox-Dersh would also go bananas if you based such a policy on ancestry, like European ancestry, so if you are going the “Jews as a nation path” forget that.

Germany is a member of the EU. Anyone from any EU country can move there, live and work, so I am not sure what you are talking about when you say Germany has an immigration policy in Germany, based on either race or national origin. I think your example is wrong.

BTW, does “nothing exceptional” imply it is OK? Very vague and evasive term. There is nothing "exceptional" about attempted genocide either, really. Happens all the time. It's human nature.

Comparing Israel with Japan is probably about right. By western standards, however, Japan would not be acceptable to many liberal, and in particular “leading” Jewish, groups.

Clearly, it makes no sense for Israel to administer land populated predominantly by Palestinians (as opposed to Israeli Arabs, though there is some identification between the two groups).

The world is waiting. Forty years is a long time.

I will say that multiparty elections do show that a country has not crossed over into deep fascism. Still, people start complaining about fascist policies long before single party rule has been achieved.

Anonymous said...

I'm betting that Goldberg doesn't intend "liberal fascism" as a smear. In fact, I'm betting that the meta point of the book is that some liberal elements can be traced to fascism as a descriptive matter and therefore that leftists should give up on fascism as a pejorative or a guilt-by-association smear themselves.

-Osvaldo Mandias

green mamba said...

Israel evacuated Gaza. Has anyone noticed this?

Dave said...

"Yet, some closed minded people would say that an effort to preserve that diverse, but still Christian, majority in the US would be "fascist". No doubt the term Christo-fascism would be coined by someone."

Never heard anyone claim that this would be "fascist", though I can't think of anything in America's Constitution which defines the country as a solely a Christian nation.

"So it was OK for the US to prevent Jews from immigrating in the past. I mean, we were just preventing people from entering the country based on religion, right?"

If by "OK" you mean "legal", then sure. As a sovereign nation, the Congress of the United States has the authority to legislate its immigration policy. If by "OK" you mean was it in America's tradition of religious freedom as a nation which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance...", I would say no.

"Nothing exceptional about it."

Surely you understand that the United States is an exceptional country, no? Perhaps the name of its nationals might have given you a hint? Unlike other citizens named after an ethnic/linguistic group (e.g., "Germans", "French", "Poles"), we are called "Americans" -- a geographic term derived from the name of an (Italian) explorer.

"I am not sure what you are talking about when you say Germany has an immigration policy in Germany, based on either race or national origin. I think your example is wrong."

Although Germany now allows some non-ethnic Germans to become citizens (just as Israel allows some non-Jews to become citizens), the bulk of its new citizens remain ethnic Germans, and Germany gives preference to them. From The German Embassy's website:

German Citizenship by Claim of the "Right of Return"

The majority of those who are granted German citizenship each year are ethnic German "resettlers" (Aussiedler), the descendants of German farmers and craftspeople who settled in Russia and Romania and other parts of Eastern Europe in the 18th century.


"The world is waiting. Forty years is a long time."

The world has waited a lot longer for Britain to give back Gibraltar. The world is used to waiting long periods for countries to give up lands won it conquest, because it so rarely happens. I am certainly not holding my breath until we give any of the Southwest back to Mexico.

daveg said...

Never heard anyone claim that this [immigration based on religion] would be "fascist", though I can't think of anything in America's Constitution which defines the country as a solely a Christian nation.

The constitution does not try to define the country – that is what the voters do using the system provided by the constitution.

If by "OK" [to restrict based on religion] you mean "legal", then sure.

It is hard for me to take this comment seriously considering the number of times I have heard people moan about the US not letting in Jews over the years due to “bigotry”.

But taking your comment at face value let’s do some google searches

Minutemen + nazi = 261,000 hits
Minutemen + fascist = 95,400 hits

Second hit for minutemen & fascist:

The Minuteman Project is a deeply reactionary organization that is fascist in character.

Link

So, I can only imagine that any effort to restrict on religion we be treated even more harshly and certainly get the fascist label.

Thus, the question still stands: Is it morally acceptable for the US to restrict immigration on race or religion?

Surely you understand that the United States is an exceptional country, no? Perhaps the name of its nationals might have given you a hint?

The name just means a bunch of states got together to form a united government. The government was a constitutional republic. As such, the people could then decide what they wanted it to be for themselves using the franchise.

They had decided in the past that they wanted a Christian and European character, although others were treated reasonably well. Then that policy was changed in 1965. We all know this story very well.

The more interesting point is whether it is a) morally OK, or b) desirable, to once against restrict inflow to preserve the remaining Christian/European character (or perhaps some other character).

Regarding German immigration laws, the question is does Germany currently have policies in place to keep Germany a) German or b) Lutheran (or some other religion). The answer is no. They have very liberal citizenship policies when compared to Israel – eight-year residence requirement and anyone from any EU country can enter and work legally at anytime. This policy is hardly restrictive or in any way an attempt to control the ethnic or religious makeup of the country.

Finally, Gibraltar and the American Southwest would be great examples if they held large populations of people that were not entitled to vote or exercise control of the borders, streets, or economies. Since there are not, they are very poor comparisons.

Fact is Dave, you like fascism when you are cheering for your “team.” Don’t be ashamed of it comrade. Some people just prefer tribalism over humanism. It’s human nature.

Svigor said...

The problem with a system like that of Japan, Sweden, or Israel is precisely that it presupposes a homogeneous population. When the population diversifies, the system becomes inviable. At this point a shift toward a more libertarian organization of society is preferable.

Unfortunately, diversity in democracy leads away from libertarianism. Unequal groups (axiomatic) cannot just live in harmony. Social Identity Theory (and Ethnic Genetic Interests) prevail, groups begin monitoring one another for cheating, and regardless of whether it exists or not, cooperating for their slice of the pie. The only way to get these groups to behave is to coerce them, and state power grows. It's as plain as day that whites are today's Kulaks.

In other words no, libertarianism does not become more popular as diversity grows, it becomes more popular with the haves.

Svigor said...

Even the Jewish population of Israel is far from homogenous -- there is tremendous diversity in terms of appearance (from blondes to blacks)

How many blacks jews are there in Israel? Just going by the Falashmura, if memory serves they're something like one tenth of one percent of the jewish population. Not exactly significant, except when people want to yak about how diverse Israel is. Plus they're discriminated against...


As for Dave's founding documents, I wonder what he makes of the DoI and the word, "posterity."

Brian said...

Here is a quote from Norman Birnbaum that may be applicable. The article is about the pressure applied by The [Israel] Lobby:

A problem here is that American Jewry has allowed itself to be represented by persons who in manner and personality resemble not the Nobel prizewinners, writers and thinkers of whom it has every reason to be proud, but an earlier generation's formidable gangsters, who are not above descending to vulgar ethnocentrism for the sake of defending Israel. [Sounds like Fascists to me.]

This can be manifest in the tension between the claim of full rights in the (majority-Christian) United States by virtue of the universal principles of citizenship, and the insistence that nothing be done to alter the Jewish character of Israel.


OpenDemocracy

I think this "tension" is what is being discussed here.