Things One Should Not Forget

Jonah Goldberg, who has never once used someone else’s verbal flubs for mocking purposes, ever, gets annoyed that people are amused that during a talk at the Heritage Foundation (update, 2:13pm: actually, in this Salon interview; he apparently himself forgot where he said it, and this is what I get for following his memory on the subject; editing now to reflect provenance) he momentarily forgot why Mussolini was called a fascist, i.e., because he was the founder of the Fascist Party:

Any fair minded person would agree that I simply misspoke. Instead these bandersnatches ignore the rest of the entire speech and focus on this unfortunate but entirely innocuous flub as “proof” of my total and complete ignorance and dishonesty.

My apologies for giving these buffoons the ammo, but anyone persuaded by this and this alone is beyond reasoning with anyway.

Jonah, dude, I don’t doubt that you misspoke. That’s pretty obvious. But, really. How does one — particularly one purporting to write a book on fascism — forget, even for a minute, that Mussolini was called a fascist because he was a Fascist? And not just a Fascist, he was the Fascist; indeed, the Platonic Ideal of a Fascist. Maybe you were nervous about being interviewed — you do it so infrequently, after all — but it’s kind of a big goof. We Americans may not know much about Mussolini, but we know three things: He made trains run on time, he bore an unsettling resemblance to George C. Scott, and that he was a goddamn Fascist. It’s not something one easily forgets, nor should forget, especially when one is, say, talking about fascism to the press. Try to do better next time, Mr. Goldberg. You’ll look less of an ass.

So that’s taken care of. Now I want to make the point that, aside from the fact that Goldberg had a mental burp when he forgot Mussolini was called a fascist because he was a fascist, OG style, yo, he was also way off with the rest of the statement in question. Which is:

Mussolini was born a socialist, he died a socialist, he never abandoned his love of socialism, he was one of the most important socialist intellectuals in Europe and was one of the most important socialist activists in Italy, and the only reason he got dubbed a fascist and therefore a right-winger is because he supported World War I.

Well, out here beyond the conservative event horizon, we’re pretty sure Mussolini, at the top of his authoritarian game, was happily right-wing and not a socialist. We know this because Benito — old school Fascist, fascist before fascist was cool — tells us so in the document in which he lays out the doctrine of Fascism:

Granted that the 19th century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the 20th century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the “right”, a Fascist century.

Now, I know it’s not the fashion to prefer the original sources to current, revisionist views of history, but what can I say, I went to the University of Chicago, and we’re old fashioned that way. So when Benito Mussolini — Fascist before Fascism became so popular no one went there any more — describes the “Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism” as a doctrine of the right, I tend to give credence to the man’s word.

Which is to say: not only was Mussolini dubbed a fascist because he formed the Fascists, Fascism is a right wing doctrine because Mussolini, who founded the movement, designed it to be. Therefore, Mussolini: right-wing and fascist! And self-admitted to both. You can read it for yourself.

I know, I know. Why should I believe anything Mussolini said? Dude was a fascist. We all know how they are. He probably called himself right-wing just to mess with the liberals and socialists. But when you remember that he dealt with liberals and socialists by actually killing them and then bragging about it on the floor of the Italian Parliament, you figure pulling literary pranks of this sort might have been a little subtle for him. Mussolini — fascist back when being fascist meant something, damn it — was all about the action. He’d tell you that himself, were he not eventually whacked by firing squad while trying to sneak out of the country and then hung upside down by meat hooks in the Piazzale Loreto for the general populace to abuse.

(To be fair to Goldberg, Mussolini did indeed do time, and prominently so, as a socialist. But eventually he stopped being one. You know why? Because he went and created the Fascist Party. Which was anti-socialist and right wing. Just ask the founder of it. I’ve not read Goldberg’s book so I’m not entirely sure what alchemy he uses to argue that a right-wing, anti-socialist political movement is and always was actually a left-wing socialist political movement, but I do suspect whatever argument it is, Mussolini himself would have found it less than satisfying, and being as much the political journalist as Goldberg is, would likely have offered him fair argument on the point, if he didn’t just have him, oh, shot.)

So. What have we learned today?

1. Fascism: Right wing authoritarian movement. Says so right there on the label.

2. When speaking in public about fascism, try not to forget why Mussolini, founder of Fascism, arguably a fascist movement, was called a fascist. Even for just a minute or two.

3. When declaring someone is a lifelong socialist and not right-wing, it helps not to have that person’s own words and writings (and actions, really) actively contradict you.

4. Original sources are jazzy and fun, and everybody should read them!

5. If you’re going to complain about people snarking without substance, don’t give them something substantive to snark about, too.

Done for now. Comments open. Behave.

(Update, 8:11pm — this entry is getting linked various places, and some new folks are coming in, so, new folks: try at least skimming the comments that are already here before posting your comment/criticism/argument. You might find the point you want to make has been discussed, and you can spring off of that. Believe it or not, the discussion is substantive, with lots of excellent comments from many points of view. Thanks.)

349 thoughts on “Things One Should Not Forget

  1. Overlooking the gaffe for the substance, however, can’t it be fairly said that fascism is socialism on steroids? Sure, socialism sounds more warm and fuzzy, with quaint notions of equality and sharing while somehow avoiding abuse, but it’s a question of degree, not of substance. In socialism, individuals rights are subordinated to others wants or needs, while in fascism, they are subordinated to the glory of the state.

    Mr. Goldberg’s real problem is that he *could not* have misunderstood this connection. They only rational conclusion that one can reach is that he was *trying* to minimize, soften or otherwise candy-coat the political position of Il Duce. This is why there is so much anger and resentment toward Mr. Goldberg: our society has not yet degenerated to the point where everyone is uneducated and willing to believe anything they’re told. We know a deliberate misrepresentation when we see one. Sometimes people are actually even willing to call a lie what it is.

  2. Goldberg wants to assign All Bad for anything to the left, and to him that means socialism, so naturally all statist/collectivist movements must be leftist…and facism is statist/collectivist.

    But in truth that’s the old bait & switch. The defining characteristics of facism are statist collectivism and grinding authoritarianism, and once you get there it doesn’t matter if you arrived from the left or the right or if your conductor was named Josef Stalin or Benito Mussolini, you’re still on the opposite side of the circle from individual liberty and freedom.

    The two-dimensional left-right axis of political description is wholly inadequate by implying that the wing extremes of the spectrum are complete opposites. In truth, they’re the same damn thing, the State uber alles.

  3. KIA:

    “can’t it be fairly said that fascism is socialism on steroids?”

    Not sure about that. Your could argue that both are forms of authoritarianism, however. Authoritarianism isn’t necessarily of one wing or the other.

  4. I’ve not read Goldberg’s book

    I, too, hope one day to have strong opinions concerning books I personally have not read!

  5. There you go again, Scalzi. “He probably called himself right-wing just to mess with the liberals and socialists.” WRONG. He called himself right-wing to mess with the poor, down-trodden conservatives. And the libs were in on it. That’s why fascism is liberal. It’s in Jonah’s book!

    More seriously, the book (which I haven’t and won’t read) appears to go a long way to refuting those who were down on the New Math’s look at set theory. “Hitler was a vegetarian. Many liberals are vegetarians. Therefore . . . ” If only Jonah had learned. Or even if he cared about learning.

    And didn’t Mussolini actually coin the word “fascism”? From “fascio” or something?

  6. Musolini had no problem at all with oppressing conservatives just as much as he did liberals. Facism per Benito was anything he wanted it to be, as long as it supported his ends.

  7. jm:

    “I, too, hope one day to have strong opinions concerning books I personally have not read!”

    I don’t have any opinion of his book, actually, and you’ll note that I don’t comment directly on the book, except to note I haven’t read it and can’t speak on it. This entry specifically relates to his comments in his speech, which I have read, and can speak to.

  8. Hey look, John, one of your righty readers (those that haven’t been scared away by your awful celebrity lefty pontificating because, you know, its scary) has emailed Jonah about your post and you’re now quoted in an update to his post – and used as an excuse to bash Crooks and Liars. Joy.

    Also, could I suggest that if perhaps one has a book called “Liberal Facism” coming out, and one also takes great joy in equating extreme socialism with liberalism, you have a vested interest in historically equating Facism with socialism?

  9. There is always the possibility that, should one advance far enough to the Right, he could circumnavigate the entire political sphere and prove to be waaaay out on the Left.

    And anyone who says otherwise is a Luddite.

  10. Fascism is indeed a coinage — whether by Mussolini himself, or somebody close to him — derived from the fasces, the axes bundled with rods (a fascis is a bundle) carried by the lictors in ancient Rome as a sign of authority. The term is therefore both directly related to the authoritarian characteristics of the fascist policies and, as it were, home-grown on Italian soil.

  11. Ian Sales:

    “Mussolini never made the trains run on time. That’s a myth.”

    Damn American educational system! I did know that, actually. Here’s a Snopes article supporting your point, Ian.

    Still looks like George C. Scott, though.

    Eddie Clark:

    “you’re now quoted in an update to his post – and used as an excuse to bash Crooks and Liars. Joy.”

    Well, Crooks and Liars bashed him; we should be surprised he bashes back?

    And not at all surprised he’s making the comments he is — he’s got a book to promote.

  12. Um, John? Why don’t you just describe the difference between Socialism and Fascism as an economic system?

    The problem you will discover is, the difference is very little.

    I know it is popular these days to equate fascism as “right wing” but unfortunately, most people are just uninformed.

    True, Mussolini’s Fascism differed from Hitlers in that it focused on rabid Nationalism while Hitlers focused on Racism, but what we see unites them can be gleaned from the American College Dictionary, New York: Random House, 1957 edition where fascism is defined as

    A governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.)

    The fascism of Mussolini did not promote private property, and neither does Socialism

    The fascism of Mussolini was not about Capitalism.

    The fascism of Mussolini did include government control of industry as does Socialism.

    Fascism is a collectivist, stateist system where the slogan was “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato,” “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”.

    I’m sorry, but that is not “right wing”.

  13. “can’t it be fairly said that fascism is socialism on steroids”

    That’s always been my impression, as well. For example, we certainly consider the Nazi party (National Socialist German Workers Party) as fascist…

  14. ScalziNot sure about that. Your could argue that both are forms of authoritarianism, however. Authoritarianism isn’t necessarily of one wing or the other.

    Goldberg’s position (as I understand it from the podcast he made with the instapundit and other derivative works rather than the book itself) is that Fascism was an explicitly NATIONALIST form of socialism, whereas communism was an INTERNATIONALIST one. Both however were socialist in inspiration and hence their exponents were socialists at one level or another. Socialism and nationalist socialism aka fascism are both statist and tend to believe that the government can force greater good. The other reason why he puts fascism on the left rather than the right (and I think he has a point here) is that in most respects the right wing is considered to be the conservative one and fascism has very rarely sought to conserve or maintain traditions and traditional behaviours.

  15. Scalzi:

    “Well, Crooks and Liars bashed him; we should be surprised he bashes back?

    And not at all surprised he’s making the comments he is — he’s got a book to promote.”

    Quite agree. Of course he was going to respond, just found it interesting that he got there through your post… and it is excellent publicity for his book. As much as it might alienate me or readers like me, I’m not going to buy his book anyway, so nothing is lost.

  16. Did he happen to edit the Wikipedia article on Fascism? Specifically this gem:
    “Some of the governments and parties most often considered to have been fascist include Fascist Italy under Mussolini…”
    huh the Fascist part is *considered* Fascist? :rolleyes:

  17. Frank:

    “Why don’t you just describe the difference between Socialism and Fascism as an economic system?”

    Probably because there’s more to both political philosophies than their economics, and while reductionism makes for convenient arguments, in the larger scope, it also makes for inaccurate arguments.

    FrancisT:

    “The other reason why he puts fascism on the left rather than the right (and I think he has a point here) is that in most respects the right wing is considered to be the conservative one and fascism has very rarely sought to conserve or maintain traditions and traditional behaviours.”

    If you are correctly communicating Goldberg’s argument, I don’t know that Mussolini would agree with that, however:

    “It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual.”

    Which is to say that Mussolini saw the Fascist movement is extremely conservative, in that it returned to values expressed before liberalism. Which would make it right-wing, indeed.

  18. John: “Damn American educational system! ” Er, I’m a Brit… or were you referring to yourself? :-)

    I’m also constantly astonished at how right-wingers use historical examples of extreme right-wingers as sticks to beat the left. The Nazis called themselves socialists, but they were really fascists, so, gosh, fascism and socialism must be the same thing.

  19. It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people.

    Of course Fascism is opposed to Liberalism. But Communism and Socialism are also opposed to Liberalism

    In fact and statetist, collectiveism solution is opposed to Liberalism.

    That’s why I call myself a Liberal and it is also why I, do not consider the American Left of today as Liberals by any stretch of the imagination.

  20. Ian Sales:

    “I’m also constantly astonished at how right-wingers use historical examples of extreme right-wingers as sticks to beat the left.”

    It’s a way of co-opting the rhetoric. “I’m not the fascist! You’re the fascist!” It’s not entirely limited to the right — the left has taken to calling Guantanamo and those secret CIA prisons “Bush’s Gulag” — but in general the right wing here in the US is better at it than the left wing, because (sorry lefties) the right wing better understands that controlling how things are discussed means you get to control what things are discussed.

    Frank:

    “That’s why I call myself a Liberal and it is also why I, do not consider the American Left of today as Liberals by any stretch of the imagination.”

    You crazy orthogonal wing person, you!

    In other news, I’m unplugging the DSL for most of the rest of the day, to get novel writing done. Folks who address comments to me in the form on a question are likely not to get any answers until this evening. Please, talk amongst yourselves.

  21. And the rest of Mussolini’s description of the “Fascist Century,” the following line left off:

    If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the ‘collective’ century, and therefore the century of the State.

    Fascism was whatever Benito wanted it to be. Even while he was alive it was so ill-defined that calling it left or right was no more than an exercise in comparitive political demonization. Orwell’s comments on the definition of fascism from 1944 remain accurate:

    Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.

    Even in 1944 “fascism” was whatever the Other Guy did that you didn’t like. Even with Mussolini’s Italy still kicking there was no agreement other than by direct comparison to the extant regime, extensive disagreement about exactly what that was, and the word “fascist” little more than an epithet. Today, Goldberg wants to apply the label to the left. Others want to apply it to the right. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! “Real” fascism died with Benito.

  22. Frank, if the American left doesn’t qualify as “Liberals” in your books, then the left in every other country in the world doesn’t either. Neither, for that matter, do the parties that other countries see as free market right wingers (Liberals in Australia, Conservatives in Canada and the UK, National in New Zealand, etc, etc).

    Which political parties that exist in, you know, reality, actually qualify as “liberal” under your definition?

  23. Outside the learned discourse and in the “I r serious cat” vein:

    — Fascist before Fascism became so popular no one went there any more —

    Thanks. I desperately needed a chuckle this morning.

  24. You know, like Ian Sales I happen to be a Brit, and I grew up in this country where we do, in point of fact, actually have socialist political parties (not including New Labour), some of which hold power.

    And you know what else? They tend to be rather short on the jack booted thuggery. Boring “nanny knows best — now eat your greens” I’ll grant you. And they’re very hot on such authoritarian impositions as universal healthcare and pensions and education: yes, you will have free access to a doctor and hospitals and you will have a state pension, like it or not! (You can top it up with private insurance as well if you really want to pay extra, but most folks don’t bother.)

    Damn fascists, coming into our homes and treating our illnesses while nagging us to eat our greens …

  25. John Scalzi spoke thusly:  Now, I know it’s not the fashion to prefer the original sources to current, revisionist views of history, but what can I say, I went to the University of Chicago, and we’re old fashioned that way. I’m not a professional historian, but my Bachelor’s in History from the University of North Carolina taught me a great deal of respect for original source documents. They give a better starting point and greater heft to any discussion (or argument, if you prefer). They also help to make technical and end user documentation a much more rewarding and accurate experience, as I have discovered in 20+ years as an IT peon charged with both producing and consuming such documentation.

  26. Goldberg is aiming for one of the goals of the Italian Futurists–the obliteration of meaning in language. Once a word means nothing, you can use it to mean anything you like. War can be Peace, once both words are so bloody you can’t tell them apart.

  27. Eddie Clark @ 23

    Frank, if the American left doesn’t qualify as “Liberals” in your books, then the left in every other country in the world doesn’t either.

    Look. It’s simple. Look at the Founding Fathers of Liberalism: Locke and Rousseau and Hume and Adam Smith

    Locke set the ground rules with the idea of economic freedom combined with intellectual freedom. He also argued for “natural rights” of life, liberty, and property. Rousseau’s idea of the Social Contract was rooted in the idea that each person knows his or her own best interest.

    It was the ideas of these people that formed the foundation of our Constitution.

    How can any collectivist or stateist philosophy be consistent with these ideas.

    And these Ideas are the heart of Liberalism.

    So the founding ideas of Republicanism are the closest to these in pedigree which is not to say the Republican Party is.

    But sometimes they are. Democrats used to embody most of these principles before they became the Party of Entitlements.

  28. “This entry specifically relates to his comments in his speech, which I have read, and can speak to.”

    Fair enough.

    Still, all this arguing about Goldberg’s book. I half-expect O’Brien to turn up at any second and explain that the he wrote the book to ferret out those disloyal to the Party.

  29. Ummm…I think it’s important to remember that Mussolini didn’t mean the same thing when he wrote/said “right” and “liberal” that a 21st Century American would mean. To him, a liberal was not somebody opposed to fiscal and social conservatism in America, but a classical liberal in the mold of those who are often claimed as inspiration by conservative Americans. And by “right”, he didn’t mean the right in America, but the right in Europe, who’s ideals and philosophy are almost diametrically opposed to what the populist right in America believes it stands for. (The business and social elite in the American right may be similar to the Wueropean right in a lot of ways, but it ain’t thw whole story.)

    IOW, trying to map Mussolini — and, in a larger sense, European political thought in general — onto US politics is misdirected. (That goes for people at wither political extreme, or anywhere in between.)

  30. Sergeant E: “And by “right”, he didn’t mean the right in America, but the right in Europe, who’s ideals and philosophy are almost diametrically opposed to what the populist right in America believes it stands for.”

    I think you might getting confused by which side of the road cars drive on in the US and Europe. :-)

  31. I like that fact that Crooks and Liars referred to Jonah Goldberg as “the Doughy Pantload”. That amuses me.

  32. Mr Stross:
    You know, like Ian Sales I happen to be a Brit, and I grew up in this country where we do, in point of fact, actually have socialist political parties (not including New Labour), some of which hold power.

    And you know what else? They tend to be rather short on the jack booted thuggery. Boring “nanny knows best — now eat your greens” I’ll grant you. And they’re very hot on such authoritarian impositions as universal healthcare and pensions and education: yes, you will have free access to a doctor and hospitals and you will have a state pension, like it or not!

    Well I’m a Brit too. And, in my opinion, the British experience of socialism would be a really good reason to not have anything to do with it. The NHS is such a “success” that alternatives have remained and in fact have become a major job perk just as it is in the US (do a search in a UK job forum for Bupa). The education system was buggered up by Shirley Williams’ comprehensive education idea where all state educated children were forced into a single low quality system (and yes I know the Tories didn’t reverse this the way they should have) has likewise left many UK parents content to pay school fees for their children to be educated privately. And until the current ZANU Labour government screwed with the tax regime most priavet sector workers had a perfectly adequate private pension that was fully funded unlike the state one which is subject to the same Pay As You Go ponzi scheme economics as every other state scheme (except the semi privatised Chilean one IIRC).

    So umm yes – Britain is a ringing an endorsement of socialism.

    But yes I agree that the original socialists weren’t jack booted thugs, they just raised taxes and blew the money on everything from Concorde and national “champions” such as British Leyland to the MRSA breeding grounds of the NHS.

  33. Frank: “Democrats used to embody most of these principles before they became the Party of Entitlements.”

    What Charlie said.

    Being from (New Zealand) and currently living in (Canada) countries that tend towards more social democratic ideas than the US does, if “Entitlement” means that sick people get healthcare, old people can live comfortably, and you can get good tertiary education without crippling debt, I’ll continue to happily vote for parties of entitlement… not that I currently need entitlements (being a young blood sucking lawyer), but other people do, and I might in the future. Other people need the last 5-10% of my pay cheque a hell of a lot more than I do.

  34. If you’re going to complain about people snarking without substance, don’t give them something substantive to snark about, too.

    You mean like, how, as per Sergeant E above, “right-wing” means different things to Europeans and Americans? Or how Goldberg is writing for a primarily American audience for whom “conservative” values are wedded strongly to the capital-L Liberal traditions of our nation’s founders, and would consider an explicit tie between them and a European authoritarianism to be reductive at best (and ignorant at worst)?

  35. “Fascism is a collectivist, stateist system where the slogan was “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato,” “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”.”

    It was just a slogan. Since its foundation Fascism lived in symbiosis with the big landowners and industrialists, providing them a number of armed thugs to use against the unionized peasants and workers during the great strikes of the “Biennio Rosso” and later.
    Private properties was never touched by the Fascist regime, who instead abolished trade unions and created “corporazioni”, which were completely dominated by the employers’ interests.
    The great industrialist families, like the Agnelli, thrived during the “Ventennio” thanks to the money that the government gave liberally away to “help the economy” and nobody ever dreamed of nationalizing their assets.

  36. God, you’re so amazing when you’re snarky, Scalzi.

    I’ve had a bad morning and this was just what I needed. Thank you, thank you. I feel refreshed!

  37. IOW, trying to map Mussolini — and, in a larger sense, European political thought in general — onto US politics is misdirected.

    Which is a bit irrelevant to John’s original snark: that Goldberg, in his rush to please the paleocon circle-jerk crowd, made a comment that was so ignorant it was laughable, and so stupid that there is no graceful way to back down or say “whoops, my mistake”. All he has left, in his Wrong Is For Liberals world, is to throw a tantrum: I made a boo-boo and you evil liberals are being mean to me!

  38. Whoops — knew I shouldn’t have popped after I said I was leaving. Nevertheless:

    Sergeant E:

    “I think it’s important to remember that Mussolini didn’t mean the same thing when he wrote/said ‘right’ and ‘liberal’ that a 21st Century American would mean.”

    Aside from what Mythago just noted, even if one takes this as given, this doesn’t mean that the deeply conservative nature of Fascism is not correctly posited to be a “right” (i.e., conservative) movement in the larger sense, nor does it mean that because 21st Century US rightists don’t want Fascism on their side of the slate, that it is by necessity a movement of the “left” as “left” is understood in the US right now, or that the intellectual antecedents of the US 21st Century left spring from it. These are the limits of trying to compress all political thought onto a left/right axis; a lot of dimensionality is left out.

    That said, while Fascism is many things, and would need to be properly mapped on a grid of several dimensions, one of the things it indicated itself to be is conservative, and conservatism in nearly all formulations, places and times posts on the “right” side of things.

    Now I really am leaving for the afternoon. Don’t try to entice me!

  39. “Bandersnatch” is Jonah’s only lapse into legitimacy. We are frumious — that is, “fuming and furious” — at what he’s done to honest political discourse. Our heroes are Orwell and Karl Kraus.

  40. Thanks John for trying to stop the hyperbole. As an american, who has never experienced a totalitarian or authoritian system- I find the political verbal wars of our pundits dismaying in how much they reveal of our prqctical ignorance of these systems (and thank goodness for that!!)
    Our warring ideologies of Liberalism and Conservatism have little to do with either of the twin monsters of the 20th century (specifically – Fascism and Communism).
    Liberal and Conservatism have a common root in enabling the individual, though they disagree on how to achieve it. Fascism and Communism were about how to utilize the individual within “the greater good”. In the case of Fascism the good was the state, in the case of Communism, the state acting as a vanguard on the way to a future paradise. Furthermore, not all of the different brands of Socialism agreed with the Marxist-Leninist line – which is why the Stalinists killed more Anarchist Socialists (whose democratic workers groups were separate from an all powerful state) than Fascists in the Spanish Civil War and wherever else they had the chance.

    The level of fear and control in these regimes goes way beyond anything that either of our two warring tribes propose- ask anyone who has lived under these regimes- they are plenty in our country now. If you can’t find- watch films like “To Live” – oops banned in China, to see the level of fear and self-control one must have in order to survive (and that was relatively light in the film).

    Like “genocide”, “fascist” has unfortunately been used back and forth to the point that it probably lacks any power whatsoever- which we all may regret when the real practitioners do come to visit.

    (PS – great catch John- I love this blog!)

  41. Well, what do you expect from a guy who calls the French “cheese loving, surrender monkeys”?

    Actually, I saw Jonah Goldberg give a speech once and he’s a distractingly nervous speaker. But yeah, that’s a pretty dumb thing to forget.

  42. You (generic “you”) could make a semantic argument for calling the Nazi Party “socialist.” After all, it was the National Socialist Party…

    Sidelight on “fasces” — they feature on the reverse of the US “Mercury” (winged Liberty) dimes, back in those thrilling days of yesteryear when dimes were silver.

  43. Alan Kellogg: I think you need to go and look up psychological projection, then contemplate it’s role in your own factional bias. Because if you think socialism is an attempt to bring back the good old days of feudalism, you’ve got a very weird idea of what feudalism was.

    FrancisT @36: Are we feeling a little bitter, perhaps? Do I need to mention that private health insurance in the UK is so popular that almost 4% of the population bother with it? One could almost suspect you of bearing a tribal grudge against Labour. (Hint: I didn’t vote for the bastards either — but I still enjoy taking the piss out of Tories.)

    Getting back to the subject of Doughy Pantload, I’d just like to note that projection is such a core component of the modern American conservative repertoire that I’m guessing if you searched Jonah’s wardrobe you might find several brown shirts, a pair of shiny black boots, and a well-thumbed copy of “Ilsa, She-Vixen of the SS”.

  44. The essence of socialism is egalitarianism. It’s an attempt to level humanity, economically. This is in direct opposition to the essence of fascism, which is an attempt to concentrate resources in the hands of a few.

    The trouble, as others have noted, is that “liberal/conservative” is overly simplistic because it is not a one dimensional world. We call the ultralibertarian who wants to shutter the doors of the US government and Mussolini “right wing”. We call both social anarchists like Noam Chomsky and Stalin “left wing” despite them being on extremes of the same access. Yes, you can certainly line up Stalin and Mussolini and see vast similarities…because you’re looking at a different axis.

    Unfortunately, demagogues on both sides of the divide love to confuse the issue by talking about the statist vs. anarchist axis while pretending to talk about “left” vs. “right”. What is truly disgusting is that the people who do that are nearly always apologists for the statists on the other side.

  45. Francis T wrote:
    Well I’m a Brit too. And, in my opinion, the British experience of socialism would be a really good reason to not have anything to do with it. The NHS is such a “success” that alternatives have remained and in fact have become a major job perk just as it is in the US (do a search in a UK job forum for Bupa).

    The NHS is such a success that we pay less in taxes for it per head than the Americans do for their public healthcare system (or certainly did up to end 2005). And American private spending outstripped ours massively. If you put very little into something, of course you’re going to have a barely acceptable service.

    And currently because we are almost matching US public spending (despite being saddled with the government being unable to haggle for toffee in PFI contracts) the NHS is improving to the point that BUPA is selling hospitals and its profits on insurance are falling. No one argues that BUPA healthcare is better than that the proles get – and if you pay twice for something and are a cherry-picked client, of course it’s going to be better. The NHS is simply very cost-effective.

    As for fiscal conservatism, I’ll believe that American conservatives stand for that when they start voting Democratic rather than Republican. (I could say something similar about social conservatism, but it would be a cheap shot).

  46. 41: Which is a bit irrelevant to John’s original snark: that Goldberg, in his rush to please the paleocon circle-jerk crowd, made a comment that was so ignorant it was laughable, and so stupid that there is no graceful way to back down or say “whoops, my mistake”. All he has left, in his Wrong Is For Liberals world, is to throw a tantrum: I made a boo-boo and you evil liberals are being mean to me!

    But at the root of the debate is the idea that one can map from one set of political circumstances to another and make sense. Our esteemed host has answered that:

    …conservatism in nearly all formulations, places and times posts on the “right” side of things.

    That’s as true as far as it goes, but compared to 19th and early 20th Century Europe, the entirety of 21st Century US mainstream politics is on the liberal left. When you start using words like “conservative” and “liberal”, if you don’t explicitly limit your context, IMO you’re saying nothing of value.

  47. I think that this has already been implied, but I figured I’d spell my view out…

    Politics isn’t the one dimensional (right vs left/ Conservative vs Liberal) continuum that we think it is. Obviously, there’s social vs economic (Repulicans tend to be Socially conservative, but economically “free”, Democrats socially liberal, economically “controlled”) This is why the Libertarians confuse everyone.

    Libertarians are socially and economically free
    Fascist are socially and economically controlled
    Communists are economically controlled, and can range socially (tend towards the controlled)
    Socialism is much weaker, not as controlled in either direction…

  48. i don’t know enough about the history of fascism to intelligently comment on the post, but it’s been nothing short of edge-of-my-seat entertaining to read all the comments. thanks everybody, for a great start to my work week.

  49. Well played, Mr. Scalzi. If only Mr. Goldberg were sensate enough to realize that his own ass has been well and truly handed to him, and go home. Like that ever happens.

  50. Well and good, re the University of Chicago. But it was also the nest in which the neocons were hatched and nurtured, from which they were launched on their great migration of infesting every institution that was a worthy instrument with their anti-realist vision.

    Love, C.

  51. D. Paul, the history of fascism is pretty much just the history of Mussolini’s reign of power. All other uses of the term are either direct comparisons to the definitive original, or meaningless pejorative.

  52. Oh noes! I popped back in!

    (actually, just a quick break to recharge the brain. I should stop making excuses, really.)

    Sergeant E (and others):

    Leaving aside the banter about terms meaning different things at different times to different people, if you check the quote, Goldberg does seem to be saying that Mussolini was incorrectly ascribed to be right-wing in his own time and context:

    “the only reason he got dubbed a fascist and therefore a right-winger is because he supported World War I.”

    Certainly in his time, Mussolini would have self-identified as right wing; we have his own words for that and it does not seem that many at the time would have doubted it. It would still seem to be, therefore, that Goldberg whiffed this one.

    Constance:

    Yes, neocons like Ed Asner, Jon Corzine, Roger Ebert, Thomas Frank, Ramsey Clark, Seymour Hersh, James Hormel, Jesse Jackson, Abner J. Mikva, Carol Moseley-Braun and Susan Sontag.

  53. Dude, you rock.

    I’m Italian. I’m clear on the subject of Mussolini being a fascist. I am clear on fascism not being socialism. I am very, very clear on the subject of Fascist being in the habit of killing socialists, by the hundreds, and incarcerating the few ones left.

    I’ve heard the songs. I saw the newsreel. I read the writings on the wall, no, really. Literally. It took me moving to another country before I could wear a black shirt without feeling itchy.

    You fucking rock.

  54. Steve Burnap, #49

    The essence of socialism is egalitarianism. It’s an attempt to level humanity, economically. This is in direct opposition to the essence of fascism, which is an attempt to concentrate resources in the hands of a few.

    Interestingly, both communist states and actual fascist states both ended up with power concentrated in the hands of a few. But really, nations that incorporate socialism into simply providing a minimum standard of living, care, and education seem to be flourishing alongside more conservative states that don’t. A mix of both seems really healthy.

    It’s a tough call, and rather stupid to put it into a left/right open/fascist scale. Certainly, some “liberal” societies have impediments on some areas of personal freedom, like freedom of speech in the UK, which is more curtailed than freedom speech in the US. It’s fair even to say that liberal notion is what ended up curtailing free speech in the UK.

  55. Further proof Golberg is just not that bright – You know, you have environmental groups giving out kits and instructions about how to have environmentally conscious sex. You don’t have conservative groups talking about what kind of condoms you should use or what positions you can be in. That kind of thing doesn’t really go on. Salon.com

    Have I mentioned by the way that Goldberg is dumb? I mean dumb as a box of rocks with all the smart rocks taken out.

    Conservative groups sure as hell DO talk about what positions you should engage in – missionary position was named that way because of conservative missionaries. And the Catholic Church doesn’t just want to tell you what kind of condoms you should use. They’d ban them is they could. Again, a conservative group. Not noticing these things, or noticing them and hoping that people won’t notice you’re lying about it, requires a staggering amount of stupidity.

    You can go on an on for pages showing easily documented proof that Goldberg actually is as dumb as John says he is.

    Why are we debating this?

  56. Well, I didn’t say he was dumb. Just that he said something dumb. He could be smart and merely woefully misinformed (or intending rhetorical mischief, take your pick).

  57. Goldberg’s comments gave me the best laugh I’ve had today. Thanks, John.

    Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: thank you, also, for one of the best responses thus far to the “Mussolini was really a leftist” idiocy, and for putting things into perspective with a dose of actual reality. You rock.

  58. He could be smart and merely woefully misinformed (or intending rhetorical mischief, take your pick).

    Or both, just to cover ALL the bases. :-)

  59. Gianluca @39

    Since its foundation Fascism lived in symbiosis with the big landowners and industrialists, providing them a number of armed thugs to use against the unionized peasants and workers during the great strikes of the “Biennio Rosso” and later.

    Well this is a bit of misunderstanding on your part.

    In Socialism, the Government “owns” the means of production. What Mussolini invented with fascism was the idea that the Government only need to control corporations. So Mussolini placed his people on the govorning boards of these corporations. But make no mistake, the Government was in charge of the means of production: they dicated what was to be built and how much was to be built.

    Back in 1933, FDR thought this was a great idea. New York Times reporter Anne O’Hare McCormick wrote that the Roosevelt administration “envisages a federation of industry, labor and government after the fashion of the corporative State as it exists in Italy.” As part of The New Deal, FDR proposed the National Recovery Act (NRA not to be confused with the National Rifle Association). Writing about the NRA, Sheldon Richman wrote “Under the NRA Roosevelt established industry-wide boards with the power to set and enforce prices, wages, and other terms of employment, production, and distribution for all companies in an industry.”

    This was struck down by the Supreme Court (as was much of the New Deal) as being unconstitutional.

    Richman sums up

    As World War II approached, the signs of fascism’s failure in Italy were palpable: per capita private consumption had dropped to below 1929 levels, and Italian industrial production between 1929 and 1939 had increased by only 15 percent, lower than the rates for other Western European countries. Labor productivity was low and production costs were uncompetitive. The fault lay in the shift of economic decision-making from entrepreneurs to government bureaucrats, and in the allocation of resources by decree rather than by free markets.

    As a side note, FDR was so incensed that the Supreme Court didn’t go along with his “New Deal” including the NRA he proposed to expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 18 Justices, where he would pick the 9 unseated Justices right then and there.

    Congress thought that might not be such a great idea….

  60. 58: Certainly in his time, Mussolini would have self-identified as right wing; we have his own words for that and it does not seem that many at the time would have doubted it. It would still seem to be, therefore, that Goldberg whiffed this one.

    Nobody’s disputing that Goldberg whiffed in the generally accepted context. But I certainly remember a time in recent history where 8th grade students — in Southern California, BTW — were exposed to an economic left-right scale where greater government control of the economy put one further to the left, lesser control further to the right. This places fascism just slightly to the right of communism (in practical application), but to the left of moderate democratic socialism and way to the left of laissez-fair capitalism. Now I’ll be the first to admit that this kind of taxonomy relies on accepting the argument that leftist politics necessarily leads to economic totalitarianism, regardless of theoretical intent. But if you are inclined to think in those terms, Goldberg does have a point.

  61. I think it’s important to remember that Fascism was declared a movement of “the right” primarily because it (as a movement) was opposed to communism, which was the defining movement of “the left.” That which was “of the left” was defined out of Moscow, and therefore Fascism, which was not popular with communists (largely because they fought over a lot of same constituencies), was defined as “of the right.”

    Also, the whole left/right thing is wildly different in a European context than in the American context. The American right is philosophically descended largely from a mixture of traditionalism (European Right) and classical liberalism (European Left pre-1900s). The American Left is descended from a mixture of socialism (European Left post-1930) and homegrown progressivism. This is obviously a gross oversimplification, but I hope it’s helpful.

  62. The fact that Mussolini and his Fascists shot socialists doesn’t stop him from being essentially socialist in his basic ideas. He just happened to not tolerate people who didn’t agree with him – in much the same way that the Bolsheviks in Russia wiped out all the other socialists mensheviks, trotskyists(ites?) etc. there a few years earlier.

    From what I can see Goldberg overstates his case significantly (but then so do all those progressives with their cracks about Bushitler, Amerikkka and the “fascist” state that Bush Cheny and co are imposing on the USA) however I agree with what appear to be his underlying points namely that
    1) Fascism was an outgrowth of socialism
    2) As with all other forms/outgrowths of socialism it was a failure

    I’m not sure if he goes for
    3) The more socialist a place is the more of a shithole it is for the plebeian masses
    but it seems like a logical corollary as the correlation between grinding poverty for the masses and socialism is extremely high.

  63. This is a great thread line.

    As pointed out, whether one is a “conservative” or “liberal” largely depends on when one adopts that label and on what issues. IMO, a conservative generally attempts to maintain the status quo, while a liberal attempts to change the status quo.

    For example, in broad terms, a liberal in the 17th century would have been someone who espoused the theories of Locke (personal freedom and sacrosanct property rights) while a conservative would have espoused the theories of Hobbes (both personal and property subservience to the state [King] for the alleged common good). Locke was disrupting the status quo, Hobbes for maintaining it.

    By the 20th century, a conservative, in an effort to maintain the staus quo, supported decentralization of authority (state legislative bodies) and individual property rights. A conservative had essentially become a supporter of Locke, on the property issues. On the other hand, a conservative was one who opposed the expansion of some personal political rights, such as access to the federal courts in state court criminal proceedings (early 20th) and, more recently, gay marriage. To confuse things, however, a conservative did support some private rights, such as individual gun ownership which would have caused a 16th-17th century conservative to have a heart attack (arm the masses, are you crazy? Dirty peasants).

    By contrast, a 20th century liberal was for the centralization of state power (federal legislature) and for the expansion of government economic power (whether state or federal), allegedly for the common good, on a broader basis than what had been previously accepted for the role of the state (roads and military, for example). Example of liberal property takings include the taking of private property to subsidize the alleged economic rights of the others, medical care, pensions, etc. On the personal rights front, however, liberalism has become associated with speech codes, hate crime legislation (increased penalties for using the wrong words), the prohibition of individual weapon bearing, etc. On these fronts, liberalism has become authoritarian.

    To call fascism a liberal philosophy is simple minded. The same holds true of attaching the fascist label to conservatives. Fascism is, at its core, authoritarian, both on personal property rights and individual freedom, across the board. Liberals and conservatives both are fully capable of becoming authoritarian on both issues, though neither currently are doing so across the board.

    IMO, without being an expert, just a hobby reader, fascism is closer to an absolute monarchy, differentiated only by the method of acquiring top dog status. The state gives out property rights (in the old days which were called fiefs, which were usually land but could also be cash) in exchange of service, in either the form of taxation or, in more blatant and corrupt forms, party service in exchange for favorable treatment (the party commissioners, essentially nobles, getting the villas, nice cars, freedom for many legal consequences [why would the police investigate a top party official's alleged crimes, if the official was in good standing and the victim of no importance], etc.).

    Anyways, neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties are facsist, though both are fully capable of becoming so.

  64. FrancisT:

    “The fact that Mussolini and his Fascists shot socialists doesn’t stop him from being essentially socialist in his basic ideas.”

    Eh. The problem here is that the argument seems to be that if socialists and fascists have one thing in common — a philosophy of governmental control of the economy, apparently (in theory at least, NB comment #39) — then they are actually the same thing. Goldberg himself certainly seems to be making that argument in the Salon interview. Well, my dog and my cat both have a tail; it doesn’t make them the same species. What philosophically separates fascism and socialism is pretty important too, and not to be overlooked. At the very least, if Mussolini didn’t believe there were not important philosophical and structural differences between Fascism and socialism, he wouldn’t have explicitly repudiated the latter when creating the former. Saying they both have the same economic system and are therefore equivalent seems a bit sloppy.

  65. The thing about facism is that it’s socialism with statism and militarism added. Benito added these because it’s easier to get people to accept your rule if they think you’re leading them in a great cause.

    He trashed socialism because once he created facism socialism became a competitor.

  66. He trashed socialism because once he created facism socialism became a competitor.

    Same reason Stalin trashed Trotskyism. Autocrats hate competition, regardless of the lables they use to justify their autocracy.

  67. 70: What philosophically separates fascism and socialism is pretty important too, and not to be overlooked.

    Which serves to raise the question: what’s more important about a movement, what it says or what it does? Just food for thought…

  68. 71. The thing about facism is that it’s socialism with statism and militarism added.

    One could just as easily say that socialism (in practice, at any rate) has often led to totalitarianism that conveniently forgets to mention statism and militarism. IOW, however you arrive at a solution, it’s by your fruits that you shall be known, not by your advertising copy.

  69. Indeed, Sergeant E, particularly in light of Gianluca’s comment @ 39, which suggests in practice Fascism wasn’t particularly socialist at all.

    That said, it does seem to be that the arguments continue to privilege economic issues over other issues. Without discounting economics, which is very important, it’s not all of politics.

  70. 1) Fascism was an outgrowth of socialism

    In about the same way that democracy was an outgrowth of monarchy. In other words, it took some of it onboard and repudiated the rest. Often violently. And in a few places made its peace with socialism – but not in many.

    2) As with all other forms/outgrowths of socialism it was a failure

    As is every other system of government. Or it just hasn’t failed yet.

    I’m not sure if he goes for
    3) The more socialist a place is the more of a shithole it is for the plebeian masses
    but it seems like a logical corollary as the correlation between grinding poverty for the masses and socialism is extremely high.

    Tell it to the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Finns, the French, … For that matter, tell it to the Americans (and the New Deal).

    The main reason that the correlation between soft socialism and grinding poverty is so high is that the correlation between human existance and what we refer to as grinding poverty is extremely high. In fact, with the possible exception of Singapore (IIRC, even in Japan, government spending is around 30% of GDP although tax is a fair bit lower), I can not think of one single country that is not in grinding poverty and is not at least fairly socialist. For that matter, the only industrialised country I can think of that did not industrialise through a combination of socialism, subsidies, and protectionism is Britain – and that’s because we got there first.

    Oh, and if you’re going to start mentioning tinpot dictators, of course first generation tinpot dictators love socialism. It gives them a lovely excuse to nationalise everything in sight and so give it to their mates to run. And of course second generation tinpot dictators love capitalism. It gives them an excuse to privatise everything in sight and so sell it to their mates to run at a bargain price, while encouraging them to gouge the populace.

  71. This by the way is an excellent example of why the left/right-liberal/conservative axis that is used to classify people’s politics is a very poor system.

    As they are currently defined neither conservative or liberal (and I’m sure as hell not middle of the road) describes me. Nor did Benito care about left/right. He just wanted power and used whatever was the most convenient vehicle to that power.

    I do wanna say that I did not intend for the previous paragraph to imply I’m like Benito.

  72. The most cogent analysis of Goldberg’s arguments and logical mistakes that I’ve seen is on Orcinus (dneiwert.blogspot.com).
    This super-long post is the fully-presented argument as to how Goldberg misses the mark.
    This ‘appendix’ post is a collection of analysis of the characteristics of fascist movements that helps describe the differences from left-statist movements.
    And there’s a scattering of shorter earlier posts addressing the book as well.

  73. John @ 62 – if he’s attempting rhetorical tricks, they’re really fairly feeble.

    But really, the idea that Fascism is an outgrowth of socialism is just plain wrong.

    Fascism appealed to people who were disaffected by the same economic collapse that gave rise to socialist states like the Soviet Union and Maoist China. It had nothing to do with dialectical materialism in any meaningful sense. There was a redistribution of wealth and power, but it was from non-nationalistic interests to connected nationalistic interests. In Germany, wealth and manufacturing was simply redistributed across corporate lines. Corporations stayed open and profitable. This is why IG Farben, Volkswagon and other large German industrial interests remain around today.

    But let’s play with this some more. If Fascism had roots in any form of actual socialism, you’d expect some of these groups to be socialist in a contemporary sense.

    The thing is, they’re not. They’re nationalist, racialist and militarist groups. Except perhaps for the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party. They’re are just frigging nutcases. No real political leaning other than dumbass.

    Anyone seriously considering the idea that the words “National Socialist” in a political and historical sense really mean anything to do with “socialism” should be beaten about the head with a decent history text.

  74. 76. Indeed, Sergeant E, particularly in light of Gianluca’s comment @ 39, which suggests in practice Fascism wasn’t particularly socialist at all.

    That said, it does seem to be that the arguments continue to privilege economic issues over other issues. Without discounting economics, which is very important, it’s not all of politics.

    I would submit that politics, in the practical sense, is all about economics. What do they talk about in Congress all of the time? How much wealth to claim as the state’s due and how to redistribute it. Even when the question is war or something else that is considered more sociological than economic, the basic question is who pays and how much — What material advantages do we gain by fighting this war? How do we pay? How much can we pay? Is it worth the cost? Can we afford not to fight, no matter how much it costs? (I think this last is the kind of thing you mean by everything not being economics, but these are still at root cost/benefit decisions.)

    Heck, the socialists will tell you that even in theory the entire point of political power is to control economic power. In that sense, the fascists and the socialists only differed on the mechanism of the state — state control of corporations or state control of economic sectors. In the end they both arrived at totalitarianism as a means of implementation.

  75. 1. Fascism: Right wing authoritarian movement. Says so right there on the label.

    Incorrect. Fascism is on the “right” if you’re only looking at the Left. That is, quite literally, the Stalinist line on fascism and Fascism. Regardless of whether you look at Mussolini’s background, the Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle or the historical Fascist government’s policies, it was a left-wing ideology through and through.

    Truth be told, there’s very little about the Fascist Manifesto that the average Democrat wouldn’t like, beginning with women’s suffrage and proportional female representation in parliament. Although I suppose most Democrats don’t actually want to seize all church property.

    2. When speaking in public about fascism, try not to forget why Mussolini, founder of Fascism, arguably a fascist movement, was called a fascist. Even for just a minute or two.

    True. Very true.

    3. When declaring someone is a lifelong socialist and not right-wing, it helps not to have that person’s own words and writings (and actions, really) actively contradict you.

    “You hate me today because you love me still. Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood…. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones.”

    You probably don’t want to get into the quote game on this. Furthermore, very few of Mussolini’s actions were any different than any other socialist ruler faced with the fundamental impracticality of socialist rule. You could as easily try to argue that Lenin wasn’t a socialist based on his New Economic Plan, for example. Regarding #39, do keep in mind that both the Soviet and Chinese Communists came to an accomodation with their industrialists as well.

    4. Original sources are jazzy and fun, and everybody should read them!

    Ho gia letto cosi… e Lei?

    5. If you’re going to complain about people snarking without substance, don’t give them something substantive to snark about, too.

    It may have been stupid, but it certainly wasn’t substantive. But yes, J. Goldberg should probably be one of the last to complain about snark. If you are at all controversial and make a silly mistake in public, you have to expect the inevitable ridicule, fair or not.

    To be blunt, few Americans are capable of discussing this subject without sounding like clueless idiots because they don’t even understand the terms. To give one example, the “liberalism” to which Mussolini refers is not the liberalism of J. Scalzi, but rather the classical liberalism F.A. Hayek.

    In summary: Goldberg has done his homework and his thesis is largely correct. And yes, unlike nearly everyone here, I have read the book. I highly recommend that those wishing to criticize it do the same.

  76. Nobody’s disputing that Goldberg whiffed in the generally accepted context.

    No, he didn’t “whiff”, in any context. He made a ridiculous, false and stupid statement that, at best, shows him to be monumentally ignorant of the most basic facts of a subject about which he has written an entire book; and at worst (and I’d argue, most likely), told a flat-out lie to please his audience.

    A lot of bozos forget that we are now in an age where you can no longer carefully craft your message to a friendly audience, with the expectation that it won’t get outside the group. Dumb speeches to the Heritage Foundation aren’t confined to the Heritage Foundation, with the ability to say “I didn’t say that!” and have it be your word against some random person’s.

    And Goldberg’s response is “it wasn’t important and anyone who says otherwise is a meanie LALALALA CAN’T HEAR YOU.” That says buckets.

  77. Sergeant E:

    “I would submit that politics, in the practical sense, is all about economics.”

    Not sure I agree 100% with your police work there, Sergeant E. I agree, as earlier noted, it’s very important, but it’s not the whole of the political discussion. The current discussion about the war in Iraq, for example, isn’t primarily centered on the economic impact of cost of war; it’s also about other privacy, governmental transparency, access to and reduction of civil rights, etc — issues that are not directly or primarily related to economics. In all of that, the economic cost is an important discussion but certainly not the only discussion — and even if the economics of the war were not an issue, these other issues would be.

  78. “What philosophically separates fascism and socialism is pretty important too, and not to be overlooked.”

    Not really. In the end, the philosophy doesn’t matter, because it’s only an excuse for abusing power and killing the competition and anyone else you don’t like for any basis. The seeds might look different, but the trees turn out to be quite similar.

  79. It just so happens that this is happening at the Border’s on L and 19th in DC tomorrow for those interested:

    Jonah Goldberg
    January 15, 2008 6:30 PM
    Washington, DC
    Washington, D.C. – L Street
    Goldberg reveals the shocking continuities between fascism of the 1930’s and the liberal fascism of today.

  80. La, how shall one ever respond to such a conclusive rebuttal!

    Anyhow, sorry about the bad link, John, no idea what happened there. The Manifesto is here.

  81. Vox:

    “’You hate me today because you love me still. Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood…. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones.’

    “You probably don’t want to get into the quote game on this.”

    Source, please?

    The particular quote I use comes from one of the operating documents of Fascism, so it’s worth giving some weight. We can agree that politicians say lots of things to get what they want from people, but this is a think piece on fascism from the person who thought it up (or at least, it was given his official imprimatur), and is pretty straightforward in that respect.

    “Truth be told, there’s very little about the Fascist Manifesto that the average Democrat wouldn’t like, beginning with women’s suffrage and proportional female representation in parliament.”

    It’s worth clarifying that the Fascist Manifesto is not the same document as the Doctrine of Fascism, which was published 13 years after the Manifesto. The Manifesto is essentially Fascism in beta, before the Fascists came to power; the Doctrine is Fascism with the bugs worked out. There is, you might say, a bit of difference.

  82. 85: The current discussion about the war in Iraq, for example, isn’t primarily centered on the economic impact of cost of war; it’s also about other privacy, governmental transparency, access to and reduction of civil rights, etc — issues that are not directly or primarily related to economics.

    Well, I didn’t have the war in Iraq in mind. I just brought up war in general as a political issue that a lot of people don’t see as being economic. But since you brought up some specifics related to that particular war, how exactly do individual and group reactions to the various issues you mentioned not involve economic decisionmaking? At the base of all of this is the question, “What’s in it for me/us?” for either the good or the bad, and what cost/benefit decisions will have to be made based on the outcome.

    Obviously I’m not preceeding from the notion that “economics=$”. If you are, then we’re not even in the same discussion.

  83. Source, please?

    Sure. The Life of Benito Mussolini, trans. Frederic Whyte (New York: Stokes, 1925), p. 263.

    The particular quote I use comes from one of the operating documents of Fascism, so it’s worth giving some weight.

    It certainly is. But you have to keep in mind that Mussolini thought that he had to destroy the Socialist Party in order to save socialism. When he talks about socialism being bred into his bones, he wasn’t speaking only in metaphor, his father Alessandro was involved in the First International.

    Mussolini was rather Clinton-like, and not just because they both talked about a “Third Way”. He was very smart and very pragmatic. Unless you understand that about the man, you have no hope of grasping the apparent contradictions presented by the historical documents.

    Giordano Bruno Guerri summed the whole thing up very well when he said that Fascism was an attempt to replace the Catholic church with a secular religion of the State. Fascisti (Oscar Storia, 1996), p. 10

    The Manifesto is essentially Fascism in beta, before the Fascists came to power; the Doctrine is Fascism with the bugs worked out.

    Excellent summation. Now, when we attempt to determine whether Communist ideology is left-wing or not, do we tend to look at Marx (beta) or Stalin (version 2.0)?

  84. Sergeant E:

    “Obviously I’m not preceeding from the notion that ‘economics=$’. If you are, then we’re not even in the same discussion.”

    Apparently not. What you’d call economics I would call self-interest, and quite naturally self-interest plays a role in most discussions humans have, not just the political ones. That said, I’d suggest to you your definition of economics may be overly expansive.

    Vox:

    “Now, when we attempt to determine whether Communist ideology is left-wing or not, do we tend to look at Marx (beta) or Stalin (version 2.0)?”

    I tend to look at Stalin as the 2.0 of Leninism, personally. I don’t suspect Communism has ever gotten a proper 1.0. Which is neither here nor there to the discussion at hand, however, so let’s not head in that direction.

  85. 96. Apparently not. What you’d call economics I would call self-interest, and quite naturally self-interest plays a role in most discussions humans have, not just the political ones. That said, I’d suggest to you your definition of economics may be overly expansive.

    First of all, let me clarify that I didn’t mean to sound dismissive. I just meant to state that we don’t accept the same definitions, which you confirmed.

    Having said that, I would only observe that economics nothing more than self-interest (either in the actual self or in a group whose success/failure one sees as an extension of the self). Money economics are just a formalized scorekeeping system. I think that both of our favorite party theorists, Karl and Adam, would both agree with that.

  86. Thanks for entertaining us once again with your “accidental” omissions of fact and context.

    You’re very welcome… although I have omitted nothing. Sweet Darwin, if Goldberg’s book is upsetting your applecarts, Fascisti Rossi by Paolo Buchignani is going to seriously blow some minds if it ever gets translated into English.

    The subtitle is “From Salò to the PCI, the untold history of a political migration from 1943-53.”

    In other words, the Fascists started out in the Socialist Party and ended up in the Communist Party. (PCI is the Partita Communista Italiana). But what do a bunch of Italian historians know anyway, right?

  87. Socialists advocate an expansion of the power of the State? Yes/No
    Fascists advocate an expansion of the power of the State? Yes/No
    Leftists advocate an expansion of the power of the State? Yes/No
    American Liberals/Progressives advocate an expansion of the power of the State? Yes/No
    Classical Liberals (aka American Conservatives) advocate an expansion of the power of the State? Yes/No

  88. Sergeant E:

    “I would only observe that economics [are] nothing more than self-interest (either in the actual self or in a group whose success/failure one sees as an extension of the self). ”

    Eh. There’s a reason why we generally use the word “economics” to refer to production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, and “self-interest” to describe self-interest. And in this particular discussion, particularly as it relates to how both socialism and fascism deal with them, I would say we’re dealing with economics in the constrained sense.

  89. 99. Socialists advocate…

    The construction of the question highlights what is at issue here for a lot of people — advocacy and action are two entirely different things, and many people think that actions speak louder than words.

  90. I tend to look at Stalin as the 2.0 of Leninism, personally. I don’t suspect Communism has ever gotten a proper 1.0.

    Fair enough. But wouldn’t you agree that if Marx had somehow managed to take over the ruling apparatus of a nation, his Communism in practice would likely have diverged somewhat from its purely theoretical form?

    This isn’t a purely rhetorical exercise. I mean, we all think of the Republican Party as being pro-life (anti-abortion) in ideological terms. We think of the Democratic Party today as being anti-war. But the pragmatic reality that we’ve seen when both parties obtain power has departed dramatically from the theory.

    (Please note: not saying Republican party is anti-war, will happily join in any Two-Minute Hate directed at George Bush and/or neocon warmongers.)

    Fascism is all about union and action to bring it about. That’s the concept from which the term derives and that is the ideology’s ultimate goal.

  91. Vox @98

    In other words, the Fascists started out in the Socialist Party and ended up in the Communist Party. (PCI is the Partita Communista Italiana). But what do a bunch of Italian historians know anyway, right?

    This is precisely correct.

    It is not as if Goldberg is the first one to make this connection; I know I have argued this position for years and it didn’t start with me either. It comes from being informed about history and economics

    I suspect the reason for resistance to this from the Left is because they just like to call Republicans fascists (though I remember back in ’68, they were calling Johnson a fascist)

    And you just can’t take away a totem without the natives getting restless….

  92. 100. Eh. There’s a reason why we generally use the word “economics” to refer to production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, and “self-interest” to describe self-interest. And in this particular discussion, particularly as it relates to how both socialism and fascism deal with them, I would say we’re dealing with economics in the constrained sense.

    I was educated to evaluate all economic questions in terms of self-interest and and all questions of self-interest in terms of cost/benefit. Maybe you consider that a limitation or failing in my education, but to me it seems only logical.

    Playing in your ballpark for a moment, however, I would agree 100% that socialist and fascist rhetoric put forth divergent objectives. One can’t disagree with that, because that’s what the primary sources all say.

    But when you leave off the constraints that restrict us to discussing nothing more than rhetoric, and look at actual achievements, the picture is considerably different. Both systems wound up with command economies enforced by totalitarian politics.

  93. Sergeant E, what regimes are you taking as representative of the achievements of socialist rhetoric? Because I think when a lot of people think of a socialist country, they think of France.

  94. There’s a couple of issues here that I think are being overlooked. First, form follows function. There’s a reason dolphins look a lot like fish – they both live in the same environment. Likewise, totalitarian governments have similarities.

    Second, Mussolini, Hitler (and Stalin, for that matter) were very opportunistic politicians. They tended to say whatever they felt the populace would buy to get and keep power.

    However, and back to point #1, much like a careful examination of dolphins will show that they are different then fish, fascism can be distinguished from then-contemporary liberal thought. Specifically:

    A) Liberals of the time wanted to abolish corporations and severely restrict if not abolish private wealth. Fascists kept corporations in business, so to speak. As long as the holder of wealth was loyal to the State (AKA, “me the dictator”) they could keep their money.

    B) Liberals believed in collective rule – via unions or “soviets” (Russian for “committee”). Fascists did not. (Yes, in practice rule by committee didn’t work well – different discussion.)

    C) Liberalism of the time rejected tradition. Mussolini revived traditions, specifically that of ancient Rome. That’s why he named the party after the badge of office of ancient Roman Tribunes.

    On a related point, did FDR and others attempt to increase the power of the Federal government? Well, yes. Although with 50% of the US population out of work and nearly as many banks bankrupt, the system of capitalism as then practiced was seriously ill.

    It was also not immediately clear that Mussolini posed a big risk of aggression to the rest of the world. He took power in 1928 and, other then some adventurism in Africa, didn’t do much invading. For that matter, Franco’s Spain, one of the longest-lived Fascist states, sat out WWII.

  95. Vox:

    “But wouldn’t you agree that if Marx had somehow managed to take over the ruling apparatus of a nation, his Communism in practice would likely have diverged somewhat from its purely theoretical form?”

    I think that Marx would have been surprised at the idea he was to produce a communist society without an intermediary socialist society, actually. So despite your assertion otherwise, this is indeed pretty much a rhetorical exercise (I also sort of doubt Marx himself would want the responsibility; not the world’s most organized fellow).

    The problem with communism, as envisioned by Marx, is that it takes rather longer to achieve than most Communists would like. Thus they end up skipping the fiddly middle bits. I’m not saying that I think communism is inevitable in a world historical sense if you follow Marx’s recipe (I kinda doubt it, personally), but I do know that if you don’t follow the recipe, and you substitute all the ingredients, what you end up with definitely doesn’t look like it does in the cookbook. See: USSR.

  96. 105. Sergeant E, what regimes are you taking as representative of the achievements of socialist rhetoric? Because I think when a lot of people think of a socialist country, they think of France.

    There’s a difference between countries whose traditional governments have adopted measures that the socialists advocated in the 19th Century — even the US could be reasonably seen as “socialist” in this context, in a lot of ways — and states in which self-proclaimed socialist parties have come to power and eliminated the traditional government and economy. I am speaking of the latter when I compare socialism to fascism. Fascism, after all, only makes coherent sense when speaking of a state, so IMO you can only discuss it in relation to anything else at the state level.

  97. Liberalism of the time in Europe believed in individual rights and democracy, not in abolishing private property. They “rejected tradition” in the form of the monarchic empires that were destroyed in WW1–Russian, German, Austrio-Hungarian, Ottoman.

    Fascism wanted to keep an autocratic power structure, as did Nazism and Stalinism (to the great disappointment of Lenin).

  98. Tully @ 110 – Communists were (and still are) considered “liberals” or “Leftists” in Europe, and the whole point of communism is the reduction of private property.

    One would also note that the Fascists did not dispossess the old nobility once they took power. Mussolini probably decided that this was a mistake, once he was voted out of Parliament and the King appointed a caretaker government :-)

  99. I think that Marx would have been surprised at the idea he was to produce a communist society without an intermediary socialist society, actually.

    Yes, it’s somewhat amusing to read the contortions of Lenin and Mao as they try to explain how they’re going to bring the worker’s paradise about while skipping that pesky bourgeois industrialization step that is supposed to be inevitable.

    I mean, agriculture = industry and peasants = proletariat, right? Close enough for nomenklatura work, anyhow.

  100. Chris #112, I don’t make this stuff up. The liberalism Mussolini hated was the free-market liberalism of Hayek–that the labels have changed over the years does not change the reality of the intra-war period in Europe. The socialism he oppressed was that of the remnants of the Second Internationale and the new elements of the Third, including the mildest form of “democratic centralism” which eventually became modern democratic socialism. Liberalism and socialism in Europe then were very different things.

    BTW, unemployment in the Great Depression in the US topped out just a hair under 25%, not 50%, and Mussolini became prime minister in late 1922, not in 1928. His own hand-picked council (the Grand Council of Fascism wasn’t a Parliament) revolted against him when the Allies invaded Sicily and it became apparent that the war was lost and the Germans were leaving them on their own–the Council threw Benito to the wolves and started cutting deals.

  101. Sorry for coming in late, what did I miss?

    John said, “because (sorry lefties) the right wing better understands that controlling how things are discussed means you get to control what things are discussed.”

    Hmm, I seem to remember a book that had that as a topic/plot point.

  102. Frank @ 65:

    What you’re missing is that the relation between capitalists/landowners and the fascist movement was essentially a willing cooperation.
    The fascist government did not impose itself, it co-opted the industrialists and in exchange for their support it guaranteed protection from the workers’ claims and a huge amount of public money to support their enterprises. The creation of I.R.I., the autarchy, were all policies shared by the government and the industrialists.
    The life of Giuseppe Volpi, Count of Misurata, is an extraordinary example of this mingling.

  103. Tully @ 112 – I apologize for mistating the dates and unemployment figures – obviously I shouldn’t have relied on memory. (If that sounds like what Goldberg should have said, well, so be it.)

    I think my point still stands, which was leftists of the time would have deposed the king and probably oppressed the nobility. Mussolini obviously could, but did not – as evidenced by it biting him in the ass.

    Having re-read your posts, I think your point is that however you get there, a totalitarian state sucks. It’s a valid one. I’m not sure that’s Goldberg’s argument.

  104. Correct me if I am wrong (I probably am), but isn’t a socialist a person who believes in international public ownership of the means of production? No nations, etc.

    By contrast, a communist (Mao, Lenin and Stalin) believed in socialism within national borders, as did fascists.

    If accurate (and again, I might not be), then existing industrial powers (France, Britian, U.S., etc.) are not so much partially socialist as they are pseudo-communist or pseudo-fascist.

  105. Umberto Eco, an italian author who grew up under Mussolini, wrote an essay about identifying fascism here:

    http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

    There are 14 points discussed in the essay:

    1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
    2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
    3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.
    4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
    5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
    6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
    7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
    8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
    9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
    10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
    11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
    12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
    13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
    14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

    I don’t really see this describing either side of the aisle in America. The left is more populist, and the right is ultra-nationalist and anti-modern. But neither side is selling “America, innocent downtrodden victim of secret international conspiracies!” Not yet anyway. And hearing “life is struggle, glorious difficult struggle!” is incomprehensible.

  106. BOQ
    He probably called himself right-wing just to mess with the liberals and socialists. But when you remember that he dealt with liberals and socialists by actually killing them and then bragging about it on the floor of the Italian Parliament, you figure pulling literary pranks of this sort might have been a little subtle for him.
    EOQ

    I don’t think this proves anything. Mensheviks and Bolsheviks had the same goal only different methods to employ them. The Bolsheviks killed Mensheviks with Cain and Abel zeal.

    Trotskyist and Stalinist went after each other with a McCarthy like endurance. The two theories each required ice picks for those who were almost indistinguishably different.

    Communism, Socialism, and Fascism agree that killing is the best way to coerce those who march differently even if they all have the same essential goal; total control of all aspects of commerce and civics. Your argument that Mussolini killed communist and socialist seems to support not refute the idea that they are of common parentage.

  107. Scott Fairbanks:

    “Your argument that Mussolini killed communist and socialist seems to support not refute the idea that they are of common parentage.”

    Already discussed previously in the thread.

    New folks: so we don’t end up repeating every discussion we’ve had here, at least try reading some of the comments that have already been posted.

  108. rexulon, “But neither side is selling ‘America, innocent downtrodden victim of secret international conspiracies.'”

    See conservative argument for tightening borders with Mexico and keeping those illegal immigrant workers out of the country.

    Also see ultra-conservative anti-UN rhetoric.

  109. Thank you for what is a rare occurrence these days – that of actual historical referencing with original sources. What really struck me about this discussion is a personal memory of mine. My dear sweet Sicilian grandmother, who never had a bad thing to say about anyone (except that terrible, bad horrible movie – The Godfather, which she forbade my mother and uncles to see- that’s another story entirely), kept all her life, the newspapers which showed Mussolini hung upside down dead. There were real monsters, those days – just as there are today. We have to ensure that we keep identifying them and shining light upon them.

  110. Yeah but the UN stuffs not quite mainstream, Steve. Ron Paul’s not exactly being embraced by his party.

    Also the immigrant arguments don’t pitch America as the helpless victim. The narrative’s more like “America’s got the goods and they’re coming to take ‘em!” The whole weird, paranoid distinctively fascist story was, “THEY have all the good things and WE have sacrifice, join together, and take what’s OURS!” Spain, Italy, and Germany played up how great life was in other countries and demanded purification to remove whatever was keeping them down.

    It’s close, but anti-mexican polemics usually revolve around simple appeals to racism and greed then cosmic conspiracy, and motivate less radical political responses. “Keep what’s yours” and “Take what’s theirs” are different. That could change dramatically if the economy tanks, but its not there yet.

  111. Within the Italian context, Salzi is clearly wrong, though I have no doubt that there were reformed Fascists in the PCI, just as there are reformed Nazis in the Communist party….

    I lived with “communists” in Italy (who were hardly Communists) and I marched with them 15 years ago against the “fascists” who were, surprise, Fascists. I must add, though, that there was a hell of a lot, maybe nearly everything, that I never understood.

  112. There was a book published by journalist David Neiwert in the nineties all about trying to define American fascism. It starts with “Is fascism an obsolete term? Even if it resurrects itself as a significant political threat, can we use the term with any effectiveness?” It looks like he’s put the whole book up online:

    http://www.cursor.org/stories/fascismintroduction.php

    He spent a lot of time in the late nineties covering separatists, UN conspiracy types, Christian Identity groups and other protofascist organizations in America. The thesis was that the beliefs of these groups were slowly being integrated into the mainstream republican party by people like Rush Limbaugh, and that the emerging populist republican party would qualify as a fascist party.

    It has a great history of groups and individuals with similar agendas in American history, like the Klan, and anti-communist demagogues in the fifties, and compares the failure of fascism to take root with its success in Europe. He basically concludes it didn’t happen here because FDR bought off the farmers with agricultural subsidies.

    It’s pretty left, and he thinks the desire to destroy Bill Clinton is what started the right and ultraright spiraling together, so be forewarned if you have strong feelings about Clinton.

  113. Ideologies of the left posit that material interests and the class conflicts they produce are the driving force of history.

    Ideologies of the right posit that cultural interests and the national conflicts they produce are the driving force of history.

    Ideologies of the left posit that class interests unite workers across national boundaries. The dismiss appeals to race or nation as false ideas planted to keep the people from being unified.

    Ideologies of the right posit that racial, national, or religious interests unite citizens of a nation or racial group across class divides. They dismiss appeals to economic interests as false ideas planted to keep the people from being unified.

    Ideologies of the left posit that equality is the natural state of human organization, and that inequality is an artificial construct.

    Ideologies of the right posit that hierarchy is the natural state of human organization, and that political, social, or economic equality are artificial constructs.

    For Goldberg to conclude that fascism is an ideology of the left, he must be either completely ignorant of what left and right mean, or completely ignorant of the history of fascism.

    “Nationalist Socialism.” Sure, if you take “nationalist” to mean “nationalist” and “socialism” to mean “doin’ bad stuff with the government.”

  114. Chris Gerrib: “… Mussolini, Hitler (and Stalin, for that matter) were very opportunistic politicians. They tended to say whatever they felt the populace would buy to get and keep power.”

    Very true, and has to be considered when considering the “socialist” part of “National Socialism.” The Nazi party arose in the 1920s, when socialism in various forms seemed to be ascendant. Any political party seeking to attract a mass following might be tempted to add the word to their brand.

    But that’s not the same as a real commitment to socialism. Once Hitler came to power and started to re-arm Germany he quickly realized he needed the support of the major industrialists, capitalists all. And so “socialism” was quietly moved to the side.

    This didn’t sit well with everyone, and there were some ideological battles over it. Cozying up to big business (especially munitions magnates) really stuck in the craw of Goebbels, for one, who was probably the most committed socialist of the inner circle. But his personal loyalty to Hitler led him to finally give in and go along. So calling the Nazis committed socialists, to say nothing of leftists, is pretty weak.

    [Source: The Devil's Disciples; Hitler's Inner Circle by Anthony Read. Good book!]

  115. I think we’ve hit on another difference between liberals and conservatives (the first being the previous post about letters encouraging John not to talk politics). Liberals have the good sense to disavow the whack-jobs on the fringe. Whack-jobs like Jonah Goldberg (and Coulter, Limbaugh, etc.) are celebrated by conservatives.

    You don’t like when Margaret Cho starts getting political? Neither do we. Think Michael Moore goes to far? So do we. Don’t see a problem with Jonah and Ann? That’s where we part ways.

  116. Joe above has it right – the distinctions between Fascism and Socialism/Communism have to do with differences in the relationship between the individual and society, and in the sense of what social and political organization is for.

    Go back and read your Hegel: Fascism derived from Hegel’s notions about the State (read ethnic/racial State) being the highest expression of human destiny. In his way of looking at things, the individual is only of importance as part of the destiny of the State. The individual as an individual is of no importance.

    Communist and Socialist ideologies do not posit any such quasi-mystical conception of the “State” – political organizations are just means to the end of creating an equitable social and economic system across all ethnic and national boundaries. There are no Hegelian notions of “National Destiny” in socialist or communist thinking.

  117. Rexulon: You said you didn’t see anybody saying that life was a glorious struggle, but if you look at both points 9 and 11, I will add that such rhetoric is very common in highly religious communities across the United States. And it is a major selling point (when combined with the rhetoric about Islamo-fascism) when it comes to recruiting.

    9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

    11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.

    Think of groups like Battlecry–they’re middle class religious folk who can afford the Battlecry tickets, lifestyle, and merchandise. They aren’t overtly struggling, but they feel the need to fight for something. So point 11 comes into play–they are to fight the powers of opposition and each person is enrolled in believing they are a hero. (Similar to Battlecry, Mormon youth in seminary are often exposed to a particular film showing them putting on the armour of God, and preparing to fight the armies of Satan.) This is not uncommon in many a conservative religious community. (I haven’t seen any devoutly religious left folk running out to enroll their kids in Battlecry, but I suppose it could happen.)

    Anyway, my point is “life is struggle” may not be true for everyone, and quite often NOT the people most often adopting it, but it’s very commonly employed as rhetoric in our society.

  118. While I may be restating some of what came before, here is what I see:

    Liberalism, progressiveism and socialism attempt to improve the existing state, personal power and quality of life of as many of the citizens as possible. The use of the power of the State is to be used to protect the average citizen from preditory practices and people.

    Feudalism (aristocracy), Communism (Party Bigwigs), 20th Century Dictatorships (Boss Thug and his buddies), Fascism (Party Bosses and Corporate Elite) and the current Neocon/Fundies (Party Bosses and the Corporate “Elite”) attempt to seggregate existing state, personal power and quality of life in the persons of a self designated few. The power of the State is to be used to protect the self-described “elite” and any preditory practices and people that they involve from the average citizen.

  119. rexulon @ 124

    Newspeak?

    “Code” words and phrases used in speaches, Rovian political stratagies and Frank Luntz reframing of the meaning of words (liberal among them) look a lot like Newspeak to me.

  120. Hybrid hits an important nail on the head. The philosophical foundations of fascism are rooted in Hegelian idealism. It should be noted that Marxist communist thought, as well, traces its roots to Hegel. Perhaps no philsopher has been as large a source of mischief both left and right.
    The importance of Hobbes to the foundation of political liberalism was not his solution, but his posing of the primary question of a theory of politics. Why should one obey the state?All of liberal thought procedes from this question.
    It is fair to say from a reading of the major canon of liberal political theory that liberals support intellectual freedom as opposed to authoritarian ablsolutes, diversity over conformity, the economic claims of the many over the privleges of the few.
    While it is fair to speak of some liberals as wishing to use the instrument of a democratic state to realize socialist economic aims, most liberals aim for the more modest goal of using the democratic power of the state as a restraint on the private sector’s ( i.e. corporations) collective tyrannies over the individual. Regulations leveling the playing field in the interest of maximum human freedom.
    Fascism’s most frightening expression probably is DeMaistre.
    Mussolini was a pig. His most memorable expression in his rhetoric was to call his intellectual opponents “shitheads”. Jonah Goldberg is an ignoramous.

    Suggested reading: David Spitz’s The Liberal Idea of Freedom, and Patterns of Anti-Democratic Thought.

  121. Fascism is a collectivist, stateist system where the slogan was “Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato,” “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”.

    I’m sorry, but that is not “right wing”.

    It’s not?

  122. What I think is this.
    Goldberg needed some revenue, looked around and saw the coulter, ponnuru cash cow book scam (funded by the usual crowd).He and was assigned the liberal fascism slant.
    History and facts really have nothing to do with it.

    Think Britney spears is to music as Pantload is to scholarly history.

  123. There’s so much conflation and confusion of terms here, it actually demonstrates the way that Jonah is able to play bait-and-switch. The comparison to Futurism upthread is apt, with its vision of inflicting sufficient mechanical violence upon language to separate it from meaning.

    Can we be clear when we’re talking about classical liberalism, the Lockean fount of both the democratic left and right today? Social contract, life-liberty-property, commonwealth as the sacrifice of bits of personal liberty for the protection thereof against dog-eat-dog?

    Can we also be clear that ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ in actual democratic politics have shifted over time for many very good reasons? For instance, the fact that Locke, Burke and the founding daddy-ohs lived in an almost entirely pre-industrial (and thus, pre-proletarian) landscape that was slowly overlaid with something quite different?

    Anyway, there’s a very good lecture that Thomas Lacqueur gives in his History 5 class at Berkeley (oh noes!) on this topic, called ‘The Failure of Politics Between The Wars’. He notes that both socialist and fascist movements reject the laissez-faire consensus that chugged into the mass slaughter of 1914-18. He also makes the point that fascist movements generally took supreme power in ‘new states’ — the messily-unified Germany and Italy, and the eastern states hacked out of the old empires in the Paris treaties, all places where national identity had been imposed top-down in living memory.

  124. 105: Sergeant E, what regimes are you taking as representative of the achievements of socialist rhetoric? Because I think when a lot of people think of a socialist country, they think of France.

    Which is interesting because for most of the post WW2 period at least France has been ruled by de Gaulle and his political heirs – people who are dirigist to be sure and all in favour of state intervention but not precisely socialist.

    For example consider the point brought up way up thread by Charlie Stross & myself with regard to healthcare. The UK’s failing NHS is a state run socialist system, the French highly efficient system is not. The French system isn’t perfect and is heavily in debt (as are the wonderful French railways etc etc) but you have to pay to get treated and you don’t usually get all of what you pay back. The government pays the insurance contributions of the unemployed but people in work pay their contributios through the various “social charges” that get added to their/their employers tax bills.

    I think better examples of “socialism at work” would be Sweden and Norway (although Norway benefits from having about as much oil as Saudi Arabia).

  125. ‘“Real” fascism died with Benito.’ – Franco is still dead, so you don’t have to worry about disturbing him.

    ‘…the Fascists started out in the Socialist Party and ended up in the Communist Party.’ – except for those Fascists that started out in the Fascist Party, and are still in it – family of a certain Italian comes to mind as a reasonable example. Strange how someone could write that the Fascists ended up as Communists, when the Fascists still have their own party, though with a few name and personnel changes over time. As an interesting note about how American frameworks are so inadequate in dealing with politics in other countries, according to an Italian co-worker from Turin, in the 70s, it was the fascists that used to hang out at disco clubs – that’s right, the fascists used to boogie.

    One thing being missed in these discussions is the role of the Catholic Church in European fascism, especially in light of the fact that Fascists were reliable opponents to godless communism. The Catholic Church is not ‘fascist’ in any meaningful use of the term within this discussion, but it was able to provide a strong framework for Fascists to exploit, while many Catholic Church leaders were accommodating themselves to a newly strengthened state.

    Of course, in many European countries, it is pretty easy to know what fascism is and how it acts – and nobody seems to be confused that fascism is ‘liberal,’ in anyone’s definition of the term. Maybe Goldberg should travel a bit more, and meet up with some of these liberal fascists – I’m sure that he would be an inspiring speaker at some East German public event involving a group of people who didn’t realize they were really liberals.

  126. The UK’s failing NHS

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. In specific, I do not think that a system that spends less per head than the US public spending on healthcare (ignoring private spending) (Source: WHO annual report, statistical annex) and does a good enough job that only 4% of the population have private healthcare insurance can be classed as failing. Underfunded, yes. Failing, no. (And it is highly efficient.)

    All this has been mentioned upthread. Now if you want to talk about failing healthcare systems, please provide evidence rather than just trying to throw mud.

    And Steve, you’re almost certainly right.

    Finally, Scott Fairbanks:
    Communism, Socialism, and Fascism agree that killing is the best way to coerce those who march differently even if they all have the same essential goal; total control of all aspects of commerce and civics. Your argument that Mussolini killed communist and socialist seems to support not refute the idea that they are of common parentage.

    Short sighted thugs tend to think that killing is the easiest way towards control. That’s a slightly different axis from political ideology, and is something that can crop up in almost any political approach (no “True Scotsman” fallacies please). It therefore is not a distinctive trait of either. And it certainly isn’t a distinctive approach of socialist countries like Sweden or Norway.

    The crucial distinction between Fascism and Communism is the social shape of the country they are trying to institute – Fascism wants a pretty rigid pyramid, whereas communism claims to want something entirely flat (but in practice this works out as something like a drawing pin, with The Party representing the point). Working examples of socialism (again, see Scandinavia – claiming the USSR was socialist based on the name is about as silly as claiming the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a democratic republic based on the name (or for that matter that the Nazis were socialist simply based on the party name)) tend to have the shape of a fairly narrow cloud with no one that disadvantaged or that advantaged compared to the rest, but distinct differences. More capitalist systems (and note that every western system is soft-socialist to some extent) have a shape that is rather more like a raindrop.

  127. Fascism defined as “anti-liberalism” —

    Liberalism 1800-1900 a.d. — “Classical Liberalism” — L19C, Anti-Socialist

    Liberalism/Progressivism early 1900-2007 a.d. — L20C, Pro-Socialist

    American Conservatives/Libertarians (2007) — Pro-L19C, anti-Fascist, anti-Communist, anti-L20C, Anti-Socialist

    American Liberals/Progressives (2007) — Pro-L20C, anti-Fascist, anti-L19C, Pro-Socialist

    Communists — Anti-Fascist, anti-L19C, Pro-Socialist

    Fascist — Anti-Communist, anti-L19C, Pro-Socialist

    Stalinists (communist) were anti-Trotyskyist (communist) — Stalinists labeled Trotyskyist as “right-wing” and “fascist” in order to purge them from the USSR.

    Stalinists (communist) were anti-National Socialists (fascist), Stalinsts labeled Nazi as “right-wing” and “fascist” in order to destroy them in WW2.

    Stainlists labeled anti-Communists as “right-wing” and “fascist” in order to mark them as enemies.

    Mussolini supported WW1 and was anti-communist, hence marked as “right-wing” — he then adopted this title, though he was still anti-L19C.

    Pro-communists in US labeled anti-Communists as “right-wing” and “fascist” in order to destroy them in Cold War.

    Many Liberals/Progressives were pro-communist. They deemed modern Conservatives/Libertarians as “fascist” — the smear continues today.

    Jonah Goldberg, Conservative, writes a book that sums up most of above. He gets called a “fascist.”

  128. I don’t have anything really substantive to add – much of what I would have said has been said, at least as ably as I would have said it. However, I did steal this quote from Jon Carrol. I’m not sure where he got it from, but it does seem to sum up the argument nicely:

    “Much has been made of the resemblance between the two totalitarianisms, communism and Nazism. They are undeniable, with this one difference, that the communists committed their crimes in betrayal of the values on which they founded themselves, and the Nazis in fulfillment of theirs.”

  129. Regarding the UK National Health Service: it’s no accomplishment for another developed country to spend less per capita than the US on health care. In order to spend more than the US, they’d have to require that all medical records be written by professional calligraphers with gold leaf on parchment.

  130. “the right wing better understands that controlling how things are discussed means you get to control what things are discussed.”

    I think that is pretty close to the mark, and puts the whole enterprise in proper perspective.

    Look at the full title of Goldberg’s book, and its purpose becomes clear:

    “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”

    Because the subtitle changed over the course of the screed’s long and comical gestation, I think many of us have tended to focus only on the oxymoronic main title. But what this whole process is really about may well be the right wing’s war on meaning.

    Jonah may well be as stupid as he seems. But somebody involved in bringing the book to fruition understood the nature of our press-mediated discourse very well. Somebody on the right knew that the fact that the author of this book is utterly ignorant of its subject matter would only serve to raise the book’s profile. And I’m guessing that this same somebody knew that, from here on, any time a mainstream press account dropped the f-word, the article would follow standard operating practice and recite the following: “Some claim that fascism was an extreme form of conservative politics. However, others claim that fascism is an extreme form of liberalism.”

    Goldberg’s book has already proven extremely successful as a weapon in the war on meaning: it has put reality in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t fork.

    And the banality of evil marches on.

  131. Francis D at #145:

    “…socialist countries like Sweden or Norway”:

    I don’t usually think of Norway as a socialist country. (Yes, I’m Norwegian; thanks for asking). We have a mixed-model economy, half-and-half socialist and capitalist; political disagreements largely involve squabbles over where the dividing line should go, with either/or-advocates typically relegated to the fringes. (The various communist parties combined usually end up with two or three percent of the vote.)

    It seems to me that all modern industrialized nations are mixed-model to some extent, including the US. (Although Norway is certainly more socialist than the US).

    Also, the mix has been changing over time, with the trend over the last half-century or so being towards free-market forces running a larger share of the economy (but with the government retaining partial ownership of the largest corporations, particularly in the oil industry).

    But: While this model appears to work well for us, it doesn’t immediately follow that it can be implemented succesfully anywhere or anytime. History, social stability, education and umpteen other factors play a role. The key one is probably wealth, of which we happen to have a sufficiency at the moment.

    An aside: A Norwegian newspaper recently ran an online poll, asking who people would vote for if they were allowed to vote in the US presidential elections. The results (at least at the moment in time when I looked) was 67% Obama, 24% Clinton, with nobody else above 2%. A similar poll just prior to the ‘04 elections gave a 70/7 split between Kerry and Bush. Which, if nothing else, supports the notion that European politics generally are to the left of US politics (to the extent that European and US politics are directly comparable).

  132. Readers of this thread might appreciate a reference to ‘All The Right Enemies-The Life and Murder of Carlo Tresca’ by Dorthy Gallagher. Tresca was known as the Bull of Lawrence for his success in leading the first victorious industrial strike in the U.S.
    Having brushed agaisnt Mussolini personlly while in exile in Switzerland, he became his most effective critic in Italian American politics. A left anti communist anti fascist, he was assasinated on January 11, 1943 at the corner of 15th st. and 5th avenue in New York. His murder remains officially unsolved, partly do to the fact that his political ememies were from both left and right. Many of Tresca’s friends felt he was the major reason Mussolini,s blackshirts were unable to terrorize the Italian community in New York before the war. Too bad Francis Ford Coppola did not see fit to romantisize a real Italian American hero for the American public. His story has it all.

  133. Petter #150: I think a lot of Americans tend to confuse European social democracy with socialism and/or communism.

    Also, on the main subject of the thread, Goldberg is either stunningly ignorant, stunningly dishonest, or (as I think is most likely) *both*; the purpose of his book appears to be excusing the right from any connection with the disastrous utopianism of the 20th century, lay the blame on the Leftist / liberal / progressive elements, and generate fear, uncertainty and doubt about the whole thing.

  134. I’m glad I found this link…I WILL NOT be re-subscribing to National Review (although I really like Derbyshire and Nordlinger).

  135. Josh Jasper waaaay back at #81 makes a point I think is really being completely overlooked in the debate about Jonah’s book, here and elsewhere.

    Frankly, I’m more than happy to accept that as an eonomic system, fascism bore similarities to socialism. But if fascism had MERELY been an economic system – would it have been as important, historically? Would we still study it with the same fervor, would Jonah (or anyone else) be writing about it, still?

    No – fascism (or “national socialism” for illustrative purposes) is less important for the socialism than for the “national.” It was fascism’s inherent nationalism which led to belligerence, which led to war, which led to global conflagration, etc.

    And if you’re going to compare doctrines on the basis of this – well, which is more nationalistic, conservatism or liberalism?

  136. Mussolini…bore an unsettling resemblance to George C. Scott

    AHA! Here’s the loophole Jonah can drive his fatass thru!

    He *looks* like George C. Scott!

    George C. Scott played General George Patton (same first name? Must be a liberal fascist plot!), and refused the Oscar.

    Why?

    Because in 1920, Benito Mussolini was kidnapped and General George Patton replaced him in Italy.

    So it was *Patton* who did a 180, and started the Fascist party in Italy AND the fascist movement! After all, we all know from the film was a authoritarian he was!

    So during World War II, having started the movement that ultimately dragged the United States into war in Europe, possibly to promote the interests of arms dealers worldwide, including the Krupp family (thus eventually forcing them to make hideously unreliable coffe makers), Patton played double agent as both enemy and three star Allied general!

    Meanwhile, Mussolini was free to start the American Communist Party, which as only Jonah knows, was a secret front for the Liberal movement in America!

    *whew*

    I gotta stop drinking decaf.

  137. Seth,

    I apologise for not being as clear as I had intended. It is not that the US spends more per head on healthcare than the UK. It’s that the US government spends more per head on healthcare than the British government. Health insurance paid by individuals and companies wasn’t included in the spending comparison. (US total spending on healthcare per head is, I agree, insane – but the majority of the stuff people point to is privately funded).

    Peter, I would actually agree with the mixed economy model. However as the right wing of America seems eager to cry “Socialism” whenever things like free healthcare for all are brought up, I’ll concede the point to them – which demonstrates that economies they consider socialist actually do work.

  138. Tyrone-

    Thanks for the chart. It was easy to understand. However, I don’t think one can equate automatically conservatives with libertarians. Some conservatives are a few steps short of libertarians, others are miles apart. For example, religious social conservatives who wish to use the power of the state to forbid all abortions, as opposed to merely having the federal government remain silent on that issue (differing to the individual states), in the name of making us a more Christian nation.

    So this part of your chart, “American Conservatives/Libertarians (2007) — Pro-L19C, anti-Fascist, anti-Communist, anti-L20C, Anti-Socialist”, might need some work, as it applies only to some segments of the conservative movement. IMO only, of course.

  139. Right-wing means “tradition” and left-wing means “change”. This is what the terms have meant since their inception during the French Revolution. The difference between “fascism” and “communism” is most notable in the roots of how the regimes arise.

    Communism results after a violent revolution, followed by seismic shifts in wealth redistribution. It usually starts within labor unions and other groups representing the lower classes. In the wake of the revolution, there is a dictatorship laying claim to a mandate of forging a “classless society”.

    Fascism is a reaction to perceived threats to the traditional order, using brutal force to bolster that order. As Mussolini described it, it is a “merger of state and corporate power”. The US Army during the WWII era had a great definition of fascism:

    “Fascism is a political, social and economic form of society wherein by virtue of a merger which has been accomplished between certain powerful financial interests and a military machine, the entire nation is under the dictatorship of this oligarchy. Individuality and freedom are suppressed ‘in the interests of the state’ which happens to be none other than the dictating oligarchy.” – U.S. Army Training Manuel during the WWII Era

    So Goldberg is downright wrong and ahistorical when attempting to equate fascism with being of the left. Fascism, since it’s inception and when it was practiced, was right-wing authoritarianism that sought to bolster a tradtional order by merging with established corporate interests.

    In the long-run, both fascism and communism result in police-states and lumbering dictatorships. But to insinuate that authoritarianism and collectivism only result from the “left” is to display what is known as in political science as abject stupidity.

  140. So, you dismiss something like the first three chapters of Jonah’s book — which you haven’t read — with an out of context pull from one document that uses the word “right” as translated (wonder what the Italian was) in which the remainder of the document extensively notes that Fascism grew out of socialism, in statements like “in the great river of Fascism one can trace currents which had their source in Sorel, Peguy, Lagardelle of the Movement Socialists, and in the cohort of Italian syndicalist who from 1904 to 1914 brought a new note into the Italian socialist environment – previously emasculated and chloroformed by fornicating with Giolitti’s party – a note sounded in Olivetti’s Pagine Libere, Orano’s Lupa, Enrico Leone’s Divenirs Socials.”

    John, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  141. Charlie (Colorado):

    “So, you dismiss something like the first three chapters of Jonah’s book –”

    Well, no. As noted, I haven’t read the book; I’m not responding to his book. I’m responding to other comments he made. If he has some sort of reasonable explanation for his thinking in his book, that’s lovely; too bad such reasoning didn’t make it into the Salon interview (what reasoning he had there for his argument didn’t much impress me). But your willingness to attempt to make me defend something I’ve openly noted I didn’t do is noted for future reference as evidence of your rhetorical skills and tactics, or lack thereof.

    Likewise, as has been noted elsewhere in the thread, it’s no great discovery that Fascism share commonalities with socialism; it would have been surprising if it had not, considering how many years Mussolini had been a socialist. As also noted elsewhere, however, the two philosophies also had significant differences, which are both relevant and put Fascism on the “right” side of the political grid.

    Inasmuch as you’re telling me to be ashamed because of something I didn’t attempt to do and for things that have no real relevance, I’ll be not being ashamed of myself, thanks all the same. But nice try.

  142. John Scalzi-

    Placing “Fascism on the “right” side of the political grid” appears to be a purely subjective exercise. As noted in your post, there are also commonalities with socialism. So those who claim that fascism is a “left” leaning phenomenom are equally correct, based upon what appears to be an entirely subjective review of both possibilities.

  143. American Conservatives/Libertarians (2007) — Pro-L19C, anti-Fascist, anti-Communist, anti-L20C, Anti-Socialist

    So Buckley and the National Review were speaking out in defense of Franco’s regime — in the 1950s, mind you — for what reason?

  144. stevem:

    Even if this true, I do think the founder’s intention counts for something. Mussolini explicitly argues Fascism is a “right” movement and the argument is not (contrary to recent suggestion) founded only in a throwaway line, nor was Mussolini some political naif, unfamiliar with existing political terminology, nor an amateur in rhetorical exercise. He understood what he was doing when he described fascism as “right,” and I think the willingness of people to dismiss that in order to score a few cheap points against 21st century US liberals is at best intellectually sloppy. Commonalities with leftist philosophies do not in themselves make fascism (and in this case Fascism) a left-leaning political philosophy.

  145. Eddie Clark @37 Being from (New Zealand) and currently living in (Canada) countries that tend towards more social democratic ideas than the US does,

    How does it feel to live under FASCISM, Eddie?

    Also, Gianluca at @39 makes the very straightforward and important point that the Fascists did not generally expropriate private property when they came to power, unless that property belonged to Jews.

  146. John Scalzi @151

    As also noted elsewhere, however, the two philosophies also had significant differences, which are both relevant and put Fascism on the “right” side of the political grid.

    So what aspects of Fascism made it “right wing”?

  147. Steve @ 162: Placing “Fascism on the “right” side of the political grid” appears to be a purely subjective exercise.

    No, it is not, unless you think all conceptual interpretation has a subjective component.

    The founders of fascism thought they were on the right. Fascist movements were virulently and violently opposed to the democratic liberal movements of their day (not just the communists) — for example Hitler was bitterly opposed to the Social Democrats and put them in concentration camps as soon as he could. (The Weimar Social Democrats were socialist but anti-Communist and were the closest party at the time to the ideology of the post-war Social Democratic parties in Europe, which is far left Democratic party liberalism in the U.S.) Despite using some socialist rhetoric in their rise to power, they never followed up on this rhetoric once they came to power. Neither Mussolini nor Hitler did expropriations or nationalizations of capitalist wealth after coming to power, with the exceptions of wealth owned by Jews or a few major political opponents. Hitler actually reversed Weimar-era nationalizations of some firms and banks.

    Both Hitler and Mussolini made militaristic nationalism and anti-communism by far their most important priorities once they came to power, and obviously subordinated any conceptions of civil liberties to these priorities. Of the two major American parties, the conservative Republican party, while it would be inaccurate to call it Fascist, is clearly the most nationalist, the most militaristic, and the most willing to sacrifice civil liberties on the American political scene.

    It’s obviously strained and anachronistic to try to read current political debates back directly to 1930s Europe. But assuming you want to play that game, it is objectively true that the Fascists were closer to contemporary conservatives than contemporary liberals.

  148. So what aspects of Fascism made it “right wing”?

    Strong alliances with corporations (Krupp, Farben, etc.) and total assault on labor unions and workers’ rights established in the Weimar era. Belief in the need for a strong military and militarization of government and domestic life. Complete subjugation of all local concerns to demands of a rapidly expanding national security state. Hostility to civil liberties (see Gestapo) and to civil rights for minorities, both political and racial/ethnic. Figurative attacks on academia and the press; literal violence against ethnic minorities (gypsies, Poles, Jews), liberal/leftist groups (trade unions, communists, socialists) and sexual “deviants” (homosexuals).

  149. John Scalzi

    Read for yourself, Frank.

    OK. Thanks.

    So since you choose to point to this instead of enumerate what is right wing, I’ll select

    Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State

    Fascism believes now and always in sanctity and heroism, that is to say in acts in which no economic motive – remote or immediate – is at work.

    After socialism, Fascism trains its guns on the whole block of democratic ideologies, and rejects both their premises and their practical applications and implements.

    In rejecting democracy Fascism rejects the absurd conventional lie of political equalitarianism, the habit of collective irresponsibility, the myth of felicity and indefinite progress.

    The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State. Instead of directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community, the liberal State restricts its activities to recording results. The Fascist State is wide awake and has a will of its own. For this reason it can be described as ” ethical “.

    Wouldn’t of of these be true of Stalin and Mao? Are they Right Wing as well?

  150. HT

    Strong alliances with corporations (Krupp, Farben, etc.) and total assault on labor unions and workers’ rights established in the Weimar era. Belief in the need for a strong military and militarization of government and domestic life. Complete subjugation of all local concerns to demands of a rapidly expanding national security state. Hostility to civil liberties (see Gestapo) and to civil rights for minorities, both political and racial/ethnic. Figurative attacks on academia and the press; literal violence against ethnic minorities (gypsies, Poles, Jews), liberal/leftist groups (trade unions, communists, socialists) and sexual “deviants” (homosexuals).

    Hmmm. Can you say “Cultural Revolution”?

    Stalin and Mao did all of these things, as did other despots and dictators: Kings and Queens.

    How does this define “right wing”?

    Who are you comparing it to?

    The defining elements off all of these are collectivist, stateists who have complete control of the economies and property.

    I just don’t see how this comes out as “right wing”. What is the analogous “right wing” in American politics?

  151. Snarking on the guy because he made an admittedly dumb verbal mistake is one thing. But there’s far too many here who wanna blast the guy’s argument who haven’t read his book.

    Why? Because they don’t like him, or more to the point his political leanings. Sorry but that just don’t fly with me. If someone’s right they’re right, and if they’re wrong they’re wrong. However they identify politically.

    Not saying wheteher the guy in question is right or wrong, I’ll save that judgement until after I’ve read the book.

  152. There is, after all, still an Italian fascist party. It was part of the coalition that supported Berlusconi. Now, it is pretty easy to find out what the National Review thought of Bush’s ally and best buddy, Berlosconi. If anybody wants to sell the idea that the Italian fascists were on the left, why don’t they use the awesome reach of the internet and contact some Italian conservatives about that?

    Actually, I think this slagging on Mussolini, who was Churchill’s hero in the 20s and was admired by everybody associated with the right in England and America, from Charles Lindbergh to the creator of Little Orphan Annie, is actually a trial balloon for slagging on Bush. Bush is, after all, the stateist of stateists, a warmonger with an enormous ego and a seventh grader’s conception of military tactics, and he is going to be busy, in the next couple of months, shuffling taxpayer money to failing banks. There’s your liberal fascist for you!

  153. John Scalzi

    They are certainly authoritarian, which in my opinion is neither specifically right or left.

    So if the economic system was Leftist and the authoritarian part is neither right or left, then what part is “right wing”?

    Roger

    Bush is, after all, the stateist of stateists

    Talk about redefining language…

  154. Stalin and Mao did all of these things, as did other despots and dictators: Kings and Queens.

    Stalin aligned with big business against labor unions? Stalin attacked communists? Stalin attacked the press? Stalin — himself an ethnic minority in the USSR as a Georgian — led a crusade against ethnic minorities? Really?

    Sweet Jesus, you are as dumb as a post.

  155. Stalin killed more Communists than probably anyone else in history, save maybe Mao. There were no independant labor unions in Stalin’s Russia, nor any “big businesses” independant of the state, so it’s really a moot point.

  156. Jackson

    Stalin aligned with big business against labor unions?

    There were no unions in Stalinist USSR

    Stalin attacked communists?

    What, was he in love with Trotski? And remind again of what the “Great Purge” was about.

    Stalin attacked the press?

    There was no free press in the Soviet Union; during or after Stalin

    led a crusade against ethnic minorities?

    Is it your belief that Stalin did not perpetrate the mass murder of Jews?

    Sweet Jesus, you are as dumb as a post.

    Thank you.

  157. HT @ 169:

    But that doesn’t stop Goldberg! He thinks that the homosexual movement in pre-war Germany “Provided oxygen” for the Nazi movement As The Cerpetbagger Report notes here.

    Goldberg dusts off the old, idiotic “gay nazi” meme, but sort of half backs off of citing “The Pink Swastika” as a real source, but then inistst on keeping one toe in, just to try and smear without really getting any of the substance he’s smearing with all over him.

    Goldberg isn’t just badly educated. He’s passing off lies as truth, and doing so in a way that he thinks is somehow disassociating himself with the liars.

    If right wingers want to hold him up as a model of scholarship, by all means, please do so. I cannot think of a better way of showing what nonsense right wing thought consists of.

    A gay Nazi conspiracy? Gay culture “Provided oxygen” for the Nazis??? Really. What pure idiocy.

  158. Jackson:

    “Sweet Jesus, you are as dumb as a post.”

    Try disagreeing on issues, not calling people dumb. It helps keep the tone here a good one. Also, Frank’s definitely not dumb.

    Josh Jasper, you forgot to include a URL.

  159. Trotysky was considered “right-wing.”

    Miltion Friedmen is cosidered “right wing.”

    Miltion Friedmen believed the same as Trotsyky.

    But only ecause Scalzi says so…

    “Maybe Goldberg should travel a bit more, and meet up with some of these liberal fascists…”

    “Liberal fascism” — as noted in the book, this was a reference to a speech by HG Wells.

    Judging a book by its cover isn’t fascism, it just retardism.

  160. Tyrone:

    “Miltion Friedmen believed the same as Trotsyky. But only ecause Scalzi says so…”

    I’m not aware of ever making such an argument myself. Probably because it would be a stupid argument. Also: Milton Friedman and Trotsky. I’d’ve chalked those up to typos, except that you consistently spelled both wrong.

    “Reason got your number”

    I saw it and responded. The logic there wasn’t sparkling, I’m afraid.

  161. A fundemental right wing characteristic of fascism finds its source in Plato’s dialouge from the Rebublic where Thrasymachus burst forth like an angry beast and shouts MIGHT MAKES RIGHT! Justice is, and always will be the interest of the stronger. Period. That is the birth of the fascist conception of the state. Clearly not a left wing idea. Power as its own justification is central to fascism, hence the emphasis on militarism and war as necessary for the very heath of the state. Lots of leftest have evolved into totalitarians (Stalin) but never from this foundation.

  162. Frank, you seem to like being deliberately obtuse. “Strong alliances with corporations (Krupp, Farben, etc.) and total assault on labor unions and workers’ rights established in the Weimar era” When exactly Stalin and Mao did this, as you claim ? And yes, you claimed that they did (“Stalin and Mao did all of these things”) By the way, that definition in the US Army manual is pretty good (way better than most attempts in this thread, certainly).

  163. Another problem is that even IF one assumes the conservative audience Goldberg is speaking to our liberals in the classical sense, he himself is not. He’s always had a bone to pick with the libertarian right and has more than once conceded he’s not as enthusiastic about “democracy” as the neocons. Remember his defense of Pinochet a few years ago? (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-goldberg14dec14,0,5277475.column?coll=la-opinion-center) I e-mailed him asking why it made sense to install an ACTUAL authoritarian dictator to forestall a democracy that some see as a POTENTIAL authoritarian dictatorship. His one-sentence answer was something to the effect of “when that government is headed towards communism.” In other words, whoever Jonah’s audience is, he himself hardly falls under the rubric of classical liberalism.

    He’s relatively entertaining in his conversations with Peter Beinert on “What’s Your Problem?” but even there he shows a laziness of thought. He seems to be a knowledgable guy who nonetheless feels he has to pull for his “side”, as if conservatism was just a baseball team and conscience hardly enters into it. Too bad.

  164. Frank is presumably smart enough to play so dumb. It’s actually edifying, because this kind of faux-naif nitpicking act is part of Goldberg’s methodology.

    Fascism is right-wing because of its conception of the State, its origins, its traditions, and social relations — and because of the way in which its actions mapped to that conception of the State and its primacy.

    The idea of a ‘Fascist International’ is inherently oxymoronic: in fact, the European Parliament’s first extreme-right caucus recently imploded. Why? A certain Alessandra Mussolini said that all Romanians were criminals, the Romanian ultra-nationalist delegation quit, and the caucus no longer met the 20-member threshold for official recognition. The name of that caucus? ‘Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty’.

  165. Come, on Frank! You know you’re wrong. ¿Exactly with what big businesses did Stalin formed alliances? ¿Who were that big Russian corporations that benefited from his rule? The preservation of capitalism is a constant of all self called fascist (or allies of ) regimes. There was a reason why the german conservative parties allied themselves with Hitler against that damn socialists, you know?

  166. John Scalzi-

    We have to be careful when determining a politician’s “intention” based on his or her spoken word. After all, even currently, some politicians like to cloak themselves as conservatives when they are not, liberals like to call themselves moderates, and socialists call themselves progressives. Politicians will adopt any label which they think will play to the audience. If one label becomes unaccepted, they adopt another. It’s a politicians deeds that count, not so much their rhetoric.

    However, looking to Mussolini’s rhetoric as quoted throughout this thread, including the language you provided, it is clear that he was laying claim to the right, as a matter of tradition/social policy, and the left as a matter of economic policy. That leftist economic rhetoric resulted in an oligarchy seems to be par for the course, regardless of whether the system is labeled socialism, communism or fascism.

    And as to his appeal to tradition and rightist issues, he was harkening back, apparently, to Italy’s rightful place as established by Ancient Rome. While today’s Americans conservatives want to maintain the status quo or, when enthusiastic, even turn back the clock, they mean back to WWII (isolation and/or a pulling in of our military horns, followed by decentralization of authority), not some idyllic imperialist Golden Age that ended 1500 years prior. In other words, much like his socialist rhetoric, the substance of Mussolini’s self-adopted “rightist” label appears to mean whatever he self-defined it as on a day to day basis.

    And Mussolini was a “conservative”, if using the term as might have been applied by Hobbes. The problem is, as others have illustrated, 20th century conservatives owe far more to Locke than to Hobbes. Its a matter of the labels changing in their meaning over time. Without acknowledging that apparent truth, it would then be fair to equate today’s Democratic Party with the then pro-Slavery Democratic party of the Civil War. And that would not be appropriate.

    The anti-imperialism and/or anti-militaristic position of the 20th century American conservative movement is fairly well documented until our most recent president. Though in fairness to him (and me), events over the last 6-7 years has clearly shown that we have enemies that are striking out against us who need to be combatted, however flawed his response to date may (or may not) have been. And even under Bush America is not engaged in wars of territorial expansion, unlike 20th century fascist Italy and Germany, or communist Russia and China.

    Finally, I think many are putting form over substance when they argue that fascism is rightist as business “aligns” or “merges” with the state, while under communism or socialism the state essentially takes the business. The end result of both is that the state effectivel controls the means of production, only the method of accomplishing that objective being different, in addition to, possibly, the identities of the most benefitted (an oligarchy of industrialists vs. an oligarchy of party officials).

    Just my two cents.

  167. There were no “Gerrman conservative parties” to speak of a the time, at least not in the American understanding of the word “conservative” (clasical liberal, small government, etc). They fact that both Mussolini and Hitler were regarded as “right wing” is an artifact of Communist terminology. Communists at the time were under orders from Moscow to describe anybody not part of the Party who was competing for the support of the working class (independent trade unions, social democrats, whatever) as “rightists” or “fascists.” This terminology stuck where everything else the Communists did failed.

    Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review. He was much closer to FDR (of whom Mussolini had many good things to say, as quoted in Goldberg’s book).

  168. Richard, see my comment above. Also, here (http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2008/01/methodology-of-liberal-fascism.html). And didn’t Victor Davis Hanson, one of the most strident neocons on the NRO website, write sympathetically about Mussolini?

    The point being, a conservative pointing out the similarities between liberalism and fascism had best look in his own backyard first. And Goldberg himself, by his own admission, is hardly an anti-authoritarian, libertarian-leaning, democracy-promoting classical liberal cum right-winger.

  169. Richard

    Communists at the time were under orders from Moscow to describe anybody not part of the Party who was competing for the support of the working class (independent trade unions, social democrats, whatever) as “rightists” or “fascists.” This terminology stuck where everything else the Communists did failed.

    And it remains the case to this day, which is precisely why Glodgerg’s book strikes such a chord with Leftists. If you can’t call Bush (and the Republicans) fascists, what else is there?

    Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review. He was much closer to FDR (of whom Mussolini had many good things to say, as quoted in Goldberg’s book).

    And FDR was impressed with Mussolini as well as I pointed out (way) earlier in this thread.

  170. As Scalzi said… I went back to the source material, the Doctrine of Fascism, and it’s hard to argue socialism and fascism have much to do with each other, especially since Mussolini is constantly hammering against it. In fact, he goes on as to smash the source of socialism — the struggle against classes.

    When the war ended in 1919 Socialism, as a doctrine, was already dead; it continued to exist only as a grudge, especially in Italy where its only chance lay in inciting to reprisals against the men who had willed the war and who were to be made to pay for it.

    ***

    The population policy of the regime is the consequence of these premises. The Fascist loves his neighbor, but the word neighbor “does not stand for some vague and unseizable conception. Love of one’s neighbor does not exclude necessary educational severity; still less does it exclude differentiation and rank. Fascism will have nothing to do with universal embraces; as a member of the community of nations it looks other peoples straight in the eyes; it is vigilant and on its guard; it follows others in all their manifestations and notes any changes in their interests; and it does not allow itself to be deceived by mutable and fallacious appearances.

    Such a conception of life makes Fascism the resolute negation of the doctrine underlying so-called scientific and Marxian socialism, the doctrine of historic materialism which would explain the history of mankind in terms of the class struggle and by changes in the processes and instruments of production, to the exclusion of all else.

    ***

    That the vicissitudes of economic life – discoveries of raw materials, new technical processes, and scientific inventions – have their importance, no one denies; but that they suffice to explain human history to the exclusion of other factors is absurd. Fascism believes now and always in sanctity and heroism, that is to say in acts in which no economic motive – remote or immediate – is at work. Having denied historic materialism, which sees in men mere puppets on the surface of history, appearing and disappearing on the crest of the waves while in the depths the real directing forces move and work, Fascism also denies the immutable and irreparable character of the class struggle which is the natural outcome of this economic conception of history; above all it denies that the class struggle is the preponderating agent in social transformations. Having thus struck a blow at socialism in the two main points of its doctrine, all that remains of it is the sentimental aspiration-old as humanity itself-toward social relations in which the sufferings and sorrows of the humbler folk will be alleviated. But here again Fascism rejects the economic interpretation of felicity as something to be secured socialistically, almost automatically, at a given stage of economic evolution when all will be assured a maximum of material comfort. Fascism denies the materialistic conception of happiness as a possibility, and abandons it to the economists of the mid-eighteenth century. This means that Fascism denies the equation: well-being = happiness, which sees in men mere animals, content when they can feed and fatten, thus reducing them to a vegetative existence pure and simple.

    As for conservative touches in fascism… the love of tradition.

    Hence the great value of tradition in records, in language, in customs, in the rules of social life (8). Outside history man is a nonentity. Fascism is therefore opposed to all individualistic abstractions based on eighteenth century materialism; and it is opposed to all Jacobinistic utopias and innovations. It does not believe in the possibility of “happiness” on earth as conceived by the economistic literature of the XVIIIth century, and it therefore rejects the theological notion that at some future time the human family will secure a final settlement of all its difficulties.

    ***
    The State guarantees the internal and external safety of the country, but it also safeguards and transmits the spirit of the people, elaborated down the ages in its language, its customs, its faith.

    The state “respects” the church”…

    The Fascist State sees in religion one of the deepest of spiritual manifestations and for this reason it not only respects religion but defends and protects it. The Fascist State does not attempt, as did Robespierre at the height of the revolutionary delirium of the Convention, to set up a “god” of its own; nor does it vainly seek, as does Bolshevism, to efface God from the soul of man. Fascism respects the God of ascetics, saints, and heroes, and it also respects God as conceived by the ingenuous and primitive heart of the people, the God to whom their prayers are raised.

    Belief in a strong military.

    It therefore discards pacifism as a cloak for cowardly supine renuncia­tion in contradistinction to self-sacrifice. War alone keys up all human energies to their maximum tension and sets the seal of nobility on those peoples who have the courage to face it.

  171. Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review. He was much closer to FDR

    And that’s an extremely silly point, because it conflates historical and political differences to the point of absurdity. As David Neiwert has pointed out, if you’re painting with that broad a brush, it’s not hard to identify common strands across the entire political spectrum of Europe and the ‘Anglosphere’ in the 1920s and 1930s. Lots of historians address that point: it’s uncontroversial. Except that such books sell by the tens to university libraries, and get reviewed in dry history journals rather than large newspapers. So Goldberg, as a controversialist, cherry-picks, fudges definitions across time and place, and comes up with a 450-page version of the ‘see, they were National Socialists‘ troll that has been a mainstay of internet arguments since the days of the 300 baud modem. That, plus his handy rolodex, makes for a guaranteed best-seller.

  172. When I Google “Victor Davis Hanson” and “Mussolini,” the first hit I get quotes VDH as saying, “Mussolini’s fasces, and the idea of an indomitable Caesarian Duce (or Roman Dux), were a pathetic attempt to resurrect imperial Rome.”

    The second says, “The [Bush] administration maintained, without wavering, that those who were blowing up Americans in Kabul, or Baghdad, or Westerners in Madrid and Bali were of the same ilk. Their differences were the stuff of legalistic nit-pickers who might have equally parsed Mussolini’s fascism from Hitler’s Nazism or claimed that Mao’s Marxism so differed from Stalin’s Communism that the two could never have teamed up in Korea with yet a third wild-card totalitarian.”

    So, no, I’m not accepting that VDH wrote “sympathetically” about Mussolini, without a source. And I believe Goldberg to be, in fact, “an anti-authoritarian, libertarian-leaning, democracy-promoting classical liberal cum right-winger.”

  173. stevem:

    “We have to be careful when determining a politician’s ‘intention’ based on his or her spoken word.”

    Well, in this particular case, it’s his written word (or ghost-written, as the case may be) and the document is called “Doctrines of Fascism,” which is widely recognized to, you know, spell out the doctrines of Fascism. I think in this particular case it is safe to assume we know Mussolini’s intent from his words.

    Richard:

    “Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review. ”

    Well, no, in this particular quote his whole point was that Mussolini was only called a fascist and right wing because he was against World War One. Which is wrong.

  174. If socialism is defined as state control of the means of production for the greater good of the people and the proletariat, then the fascists were socialists.

  175. John,
    “Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review. ”

    When I refer to his “whole point,” I’m referring to the thesis of the book (which I have read), not the one quote you’ve pulled out of a Salon interview and made the subject of this thread. Sorry for the confusion.

  176. Richard,

    Actually I meant to delete the VDH passage before posting because I wasn’t sure if it was him who I read that about it, or another National Review neocon. After seeing that the sentence had not been deleted after posting, I too googled and couldn’t find the article I’d read that in – please consider the comment rescinded and apologies to any Hanson acolytes out there (Scalzi – is there a way to revise comments on here). That (and an earlier spelling error – “our” for “are”) is what I get for not Previewing it.

    However, the other assertions stand; I don’t believe National Review or Goldberg are fascists, but having proclaimed their sympathies for fascists in the past, I think it’s fair to judge them by the standards they try to use to tar liberals as fascists.

  177. Thanks for the clarification, Richard. I’ve not read the book and can’t comment on its contents.

  178. Yes, it was definitely not Victor Davis Hanson I read that about; on the contrary, he appears to have been pretty steadfast (if wrong-headed, in my opinion) about the similarity between appeasement of the 30’s fascists and appeasement of Saddam pre-war. The article I read is here, and it was about Michael Ledeen: http://www.amconmag.com/06_30_03/feature.html.

    Again, apologies for the mistake and mis-posting.

  179. Frank – it appears your confusing form with function. Yes, totalitarian regimes of the left and right control everything. That’s “form” (why dolphins look like fish) and actually the definition of totalitarian.

    The question is why they control everything, and to a large degree how. Italy and Germany did not desolve or nationalize firms, nor did they execute imprison or otherwise attack wealthy individuals and nobility. They also did not collectivize land.

    Communists wiped out their nobilities, took their land, and nationalized whatever companies existed. Granted, in both cases whatever liberty one had was granted by the state, and could be removed at whim, but this is a clear distinction.

  180. John,
    No problem. Before I leave, I want to say I loved “Old Man’s War,” “The Ghost Brigades,” and “Agent to the Stars” (But “The Android’s Dream” freaked me out) and I will someday get around to reading the copy of “The Last Colony” that I already bought.

  181. Richard:

    “But ‘The Android’s Dream’ freaked me out”

    Ha! Yes, well. It’s a little out there.

    Thanks for dropping in; you are always welcome.

    (which is not suggesting you have to go now, mind you; please feel free to keep commenting)

  182. Richard,

    As for Goldberg here are some links:

    on libertarianism: Look, the libertarian critique of the state is useful, valuable, important, and much needed. But, in my humble opinion, the libertarian critique of the culture — “established authority” — tends to be exactly what I’ve always said it was: a celebration of personal liberty over everything else, and in many (but certainly not all) respects indistinguishable from the more asinine prattle we hear from the Left. (The great compromise between libertarians and conservatives is, of course, federalism see “Among the Gender Benders”). http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDk2NDk3MDQ0MTJmNWQ0ZWUxYjc3MWRkMzhlODRiZDE=

    On authoritarianism, see the Pinochet link again, re-posted here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-goldberg14dec14,0,5277475.column?coll=la-opinion-center

    “But on the plus side, Pinochet’s abuses helped create a civil society. Once the initial bloodshed subsided, Chile was no prison. Pinochet built up democratic institutions and infrastructure. And by implementing free-market reforms, he lifted the Chilean people out of poverty. ” (Never mind the fact that a civil society existed before he took power in a violent coup)

    And as for democracy, by his own admission:
    “Personally, I have no passion for democracy.”
    “I can very easily see how my liberties could be better protected in a monarchy or an empire or even a dictatorship than in a democracy. It’s just that over the long haul, liberal democracies — with enough undemocratic checks in the form of constitutions, courts, etc. — are more reliable defenders of liberties than dudes in nice chairs.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg030503.asp

    (He has some good points here about mob rule though I tend to disagree with him on first principles; I think popular control of government is essential on a fundamental level, not just because it happens to produce liberty more often than not. Anyway, point remains, dude’s not very enthusiastic about democracy).

    As I said, I’m not trying to say Goldberg’s a fascist but I don’t think it’s accurate to act as if he stands in the classical liberal tradition.

  183. “My desire is to govern if possible with the consent of the majority; but, in order to obtain, to foster and to strengthen that consent, I will use all the force at my disposal…For it may happen that force may bring about consent, and, if that fails, there is always force.” Mussolini March 7, 1921

  184. Richard @ 198 And I believe Goldberg to be, in fact, “an anti-authoritarian, libertarian-leaning, democracy-promoting classical liberal cum right-winger.”

    I’m absolutely amazed at how nonsensical and wrong most of that that statement is. The thing is, Goldberg has a long record that’s easily searchable online. He clearly is not anti-authoritarian, libertarian leaning, or classically liberal. His “democracy promotion” consists of traditional neo-con invade and convert dogma.

    He is, for sure, a right winger. That much I won’t dispute.

  185. Michael Moynihan has pretty much destroyed this argument over at Reason.

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/124413.html#comments

    Mussolini was quite explicitly a socialist, as his own words indicate: he advocated state control of the economy. The fact he was also nationalist and militarist does not negate that, though some might consider those “right wing” values.

    Virtually all the oppressive movements of the 20th century (Communism, Nazism, Fascism) had in common the seductive delusion that state control of the economy would bring benefits to the common people. It was a very popular selling point for repressive ideologies from Europe to Asia to the Mideast; fortunately, here in America we were relatively immune to such notions, inoculated by the very draconian limits on government power put in place by our Founders.

    Terms like “right wing” and “left wing” are somewhat meaningless in that context, because (thankfully) in liberal democracies both “left” and “right” claim the mantle of 19th century liberalism: the sanctity of individual rights. They merely place different emphases on them (for the right, guns and worship, for the left, sexual freedom).

    The problem the left has remains the same: the balance between individual rights and equality enforced by the state can go horribly awry. The right has had a similar tension between traditional values and individual freedom, but that has not led to nearly as horrific an outcome because the State has a more passive role in their paradigm.

  186. Clearly Johah is out of his intellectual league. At one point in the interview he lumps Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto together as both employing the dialectic:

    “Yeah. But I think the problem is you get into one of these sort of overly doctrinal, “let’s go to the text” approaches where words get confused for things. Stalin never repudiated Marxism, but in almost every way, the checklist for the anatomy of fascism applies to Stalinism … Saying that you still believe in the dialectic and the cold impersonal forces of history found in “Das Kapital” or “The Communist Manifesto” isn’t an abracadabra thing where all of a sudden that means Stalin was really a Marxist or wasn’t a fascist in terms of how he actually operated.”

    I think even beginner students of Marx understand that he gave up on the dialectic by the time Das Kapital was published. How can someone be equipped to write a book discussing Marxism without understanding such a basic fact?

  187. TallDave:

    “Michael Moynihan has pretty much destroyed this argument over at Reason.”

    Yeah, not really. Although what he does do is proceed from the bad assumption that all collectivism and statism is inherently left-wing, which isn’t particularly true. You’ll find my response in the comment thread. In any event, if Mr. Moynihan’s response is what being destroyed looks like, being destroyed has an overinflated reputation.

    Likewise, your argument that Mussolini was a socialist is akin to the argument provided at comment #200, so I would commend you to my response at comment #201.

  188. I saw my most recent comment pop up after a long delay and then disappear again (when it appeared, it was with the caveat, “comment awaits moderation.”) Though I guess Richard checked out, it would be of interest to anyone curious about Goldberg’s own stand in the tradition of classical liberalism, providing quotes and links to where he proved otherwise.

  189. John,

    With respect, your #201 argument is logically wrong.

    “If a cat is defined as a four legged creature with a tail, my dog would be a cat.”

    That’s a classic “If A has property B, then if C has property B it must also be A” logical error.

    Mussolini was in fact a socialist: he wanted government control of the economy.

  190. “pretty sure Mussolini, at the top of his authoritarian game, was happily right-wing and not a socialist”

    The problem is that he could be both “right-wing” (depending on context, this can mean a lot of things, many of which did apply to Mussolini) and a socialist (which has basically one meaning:gov’t control of the economy for the ostensible benefit of the people) as well.

    Your cat may fetch a stick and remain a cat, after all.

  191. Chris Gerrib @206

    Frank – it appears your confusing form with function. Yes, totalitarian regimes of the left and right control everything.

    OK fine. But what I am trying to get people to define is how you tell the difference between a “right wing” authoritarian and a “left wing” authoritarian? What are the discriminating factors?

    Italy and Germany did not desolve or nationalize firms,

    But these firms were not allowed to produce what they wanted; there was no free enterprise it was all dicted by the state for the purposes of the state.

    nor did they execute imprison or otherwise attack wealthy individuals and nobility.

    Um, unless they were Jewish? Or could be claimed to be Jewish. Or unless they did not tow the Party line.

    But if someone would just define the difference between a Right Wing authoritarian and a Left Wing authoritarian, that would make me happy.

    And you all want me to be happy, right?

  192. TallDave @ 215 – err, wrong logic. “Cats” and “Dogs” are both subsets of “four-legged animals with tails.” They are, however, quite different animals. More to the point of this discussion, they don’t have particularly recent common ancestors.

  193. Josh, I’ve read pretty much everything Goldberg has written, and met him briefly once. He’s consistently pro-federalism, pro-small govermnment, and anti-tax. Any specific quotes you’re referring to?

    If by “right-wing,” you mean he supports the Iraq War, yeah, me too. Which also makes Goldberg anti-fascist, becuase if the Baath Party wasn’t fascist, the word has no meaning.

  194. TallDave @ 215 – err, wrong logic. “Cats” and “Dogs” are both subsets of “four-legged animals with tails.”

    Which was precisely my point: it’s logically fallacious to say that if one defines a cat as a four-legged animal, then your dog must be a cat.

    Saying that Mussolini is not a socialist is like saying that since your dog is not a cat, he cannot have four legs and a tail.

  195. Frank @ 217 – I thought that’s what I did. Totalitarian regimes of the left kick rich people out of their mansions because they are rich. Right-wing regimes suppress people (like unions) for the benefit of the rich.

    Please don’t confuse anti-Semitism for Fascism. Italy did not round up their Jews until after Mussolini was kicked out. Also, in both Italy and Germany, many of the production decisions were left to the industries until rather late in the war. Hitler opened up bids for tanks rather then direct factories to make tanks.

  196. “But if someone would just define the difference between a Right Wing authoritarian and a Left Wing authoritarian, that would make me happy.”

    Taking “left-wing” as meaning “socialist” this is very simple.: the determinative factor is the level of gov’t control of the economy.

    S Korea in the 1950s was a right-wing authoritarian government, as is Singapore today. North Korea and PRC would be examples of left-wing authoritarians.

  197. “That’s a classic ‘If A has property B, then if C has property B it must also be A’ logical error.”

    I agree there’s a logical error, it’s just not me having it. What I’m saying is that if you define two widely disparate entities using only a limited set of properties, and you define those properties are broadly enough, you’ll come to bad conclusions.

    In your case, giving an overly broad definition to the term “socialism” (“wanting government control of the economy”) and then ignoring all other points of variance between fascism and socialism will certainly allow one to suggest Mussolini is a socialist. But in the real world, as with my dog not being my cat, it’s not correct.

  198. Talldave @ 220 – It does not appear that you know what a “subset” is. Cats and dogs are members of a subset (or group) that includes all kinds of other animals.

    If you use a broad enough definition of the subset, anything can fit into it. By your logic, Reaganism is the same as Fascism and the same as Communism because all of them are members of the subset “political theories.”

  199. Tall Dave @ 220:

    Yes, and it’s just as logically fallacious to say because socialism has state-ist economic elements, fascism is socialism.

    Frank (through the thread) Do you really believe that “Bush is a fascist” is the only valid criticism that can be leveled at him? The first time you said it I assumed you were just engaging in hyperbole, but you’ve repeated it a few times.

  200. TallDave:

    I’m not sure how you do not see the irony of pointing me to a page with a couple dozen different definitions.

    Let’s narrow it down to this one, from the American Heritage dictionary via Answers.com:

    “Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.”

    As noted in various places in this thread, Italian Fascism did not generally feature collective or government ownership of production, which is a not a trivial point.

  201. Chris,

    I’m perfectly aware of what subset means. You and John seem intent on redefining “socialism” to mean something other than government control of the economy in order to argue Mussolini was not socialist.

    It might be plausibly argued he was less socialist than Hitler or Stalin, but clearly he was much more socialist than, say, Hillary Clinton.

  202. John,

    Note the common element of all those definitions.

    Quoting Mussolini:

    “complete and organic and totalitarian regulation of production with a view to the expansion of the wealth, political power and well-being of the Italian people.”

    This is much more socialist than any liberal democracy would today tolerate.

  203. TallDave:

    “You and John seem intent on redefining ‘socialism’ to mean something other than government control of the economy in order to argue Mussolini was not socialist.”

    Well, no. You, on the other hand, seem intent to skip over “collective or government ownership of production” to assert that Mussolini was. If you want to make the argument someone is playing fast and loose with definitions, TallDave, the mirror is right over there.

    As for “complete and organic and totalitarian regulation of production” he did it without collective or governmental ownership of production, so it’s not actually socialist. It might be fascist, though.

  204. Chris Gerrib:

    Yes, funny how if you actually stick with words meaning what they mean rather than what you want them to mean, you have different outcomes.

  205. “As noted in various places in this thread, Italian Fascism did not generally feature collective or government ownership of production, which is a not a trivial point”

    This was initially true, but eventually the Italian state’s hunger for power did devour industry.

    “From 1925 until the middle of the 1930s, fascism experienced little and isolated opposition, although that which it experienced was memorable, consisting in large part of communists such as Antonio Gramsci, socialists such as Pietro Nenni and liberals such as Piero Gobetti and Giovanni Amendola.

    While failing to outline a coherent program, fascism evolved into a new political and economic system that combined corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, and anti-Communism in a state designed to bind all classes together under a capitalist system. This was a new capitalist system, however, one in which the state seized control of the organization of vital industries. ”

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

    So it wasn’t socialism as practiced by communists, but rather a corporatist version.

  206. One dares call it — “Fascism”?

    Also, “control of the organization of vital industries” seems again more like regulation than ownership.

  207. John/Chris.

    The problem with that argument is that you must then argue “ownership” has a relevant difference from “control” when the State controls the corporations. It certainly made little difference from a practical perspective.

  208. Also, “control of the organization of vital industries” seems again more like regulation than ownership.

    It’s the difference between IBM shareholders electing a board of directors to decide what IBM produces, and George W. Bush telling IBM it will make ICBMs from now on.

  209. “The problem with that argument is that you must then argue ‘ownership’ has a relevant difference from ‘control’ when the State controls the corporations. It certainly made little difference from a practical perspective.”

    That’s a nice bit of weaseling there, TallDave, but actually it does make a difference. If the government regulates industries but allows individual ownership, then the fruits of the production (i.e., profits, etc) are not distributed collectively but go into the pockets of a few industrialists and to the government in the form of taxes. Socialism isn’t just about who owns the means of production but who benefits from it, although admittedly that more complex than what goes into a one sentence dictionary definition.

    So, sorry: Still not socialism. Still Fascism, however!

    “It’s the difference between IBM shareholders electing a board of directors to decide what IBM produces, and George W. Bush telling IBM it will make ICBMs from now on.”

    Ah. So when the US Government goes to Boeing and says “We want you to make strike fighters,” it’s socialism. Interesting. Now, admittedly, Boeing can say no, but it’s unlikely to do so, so from a practical perspective, it’s all the same.

  210. The rightwing defense of Goldberg’s inanities is proof that American schools have to do better teaching history. Right and Left aren’t eternal markers, of course – in the 18th century, one could be radically left in demanding decentralized government and free trade in reference to monarchy – as Thomas Paine – while the right – the Tories – would have defended mercantilism and the divine right of kings – the latter doctrine being defended, now, only by Vice President for Life Cheney. Paine, by the way, also came up with an early social security scheme – he was a lovely fellow all the way around. A shame he was embraced by Ronald Reagan, but being posthumous means people never have to say their sorry when they rip you off.

    Mark Mazower”s Dark Continent has a pretty brilliant book about Europe in the thirties which lays out the commonalities among all parties in developing a ‘fertility’ politics – the Swedes as well as the French, Germans and Italians were freaked about a fake threat to their declining ‘racial base’, and all adopted social welfare programs partly to meet this supposed threat – which has reared its head on the right again, with all those wingnuts afraid of Eurabia coming to town, and white people gettin’ grievously left behind. The same fear, of course, in the right’s panic about the free flow of labor across boundaries – capital is fine, with them, but labor, that’s spooky! To track what is left and what is right at any one time, the best method is to use what the people at the time said. It might be in fifty years that some Goldbergian fool will claim that the Bushies, who went into Iraq much like the Soviets went into Afghanistan, were the communists of this time, hard to the left – in which case, the comments of people who lived in our time become relevant evidence that this isn’t so.

    But if you exclude evidence from people at the time, you can make up about any story you want. I’m just waiting for the National Review cretin’s revision of the civil rights era, with George Wallace as the hero of the movement.

    Of course, this will all be forgotten in three months, and make not a scratch on history, but it will plant the seed in the jerkwater heads of the ditto crew that FDR was an inch away of joinin’ Mussolini and Hitler.

  211. One dares call it — “Fascism”?

    Sure, and we could call what the Soviets did “communism,” but still recognize it was was a heavily socialist system.

    This argument actually goes back to the 1940s. According to his bio Hayek wrote “The Road to Serfdom” because he was worried people thought Nazism was a capitalist response to Communism. I don’t remember him saying much about the Italians, though.

    That’s a nice bit of weaseling there, TallDave, but actually it does make a difference. If the government regulates industries but allows individual ownership,

    It’s not weaseling. See my IBM example above. The U.S. government regulates industry, but does not tell them what to produce (that would be socialism).

    Socialism means what it means, and what Mussolini did was socialism by most accepted definitions. Or as you put it: “Yes, funny how if you actually stick with words meaning what they mean rather than what you want them to mean, you have different outcomes.”

  212. TallDave @206

    Taking “left-wing” as meaning “socialist” this is very simple.: the determinative factor is the level of gov’t control of the economy.

    S Korea in the 1950s was a right-wing authoritarian government, as is Singapore today. North Korea and PRC would be examples of left-wing authoritarians.

    I’ll accept this.

    So now if we go back to Scalzi’s source material, from which I previously quoted, we find some definitions of Fascism

    Fascism believes now and always in sanctity and heroism, that is to say in acts in which no economic motive – remote or immediate – is at work.

    The State, as conceived and realized by Fascism, is a spiritual and ethical entity for securing the political, juridical, and economic organization of the nation, an organization which in its origin and growth is a manifestation of the spirit.

    The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporative, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their res­pective associations, circulate within the State.

    We are, in other words, a state which controls all forces acting in nature. We control political forces, we control moral forces we control economic forces, therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state. We stand for a new principle in the world, we stand for sheer, categorical, definitive antithesis to the world of democracy, plutocracy, free-masonry, to the world which still abides by the fundamental principles laid down in 1789. (Speech before the new Na­tional Directory of the Party, April 7, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 120).

    And don’t forget Sheldon Richman epitat on Fascism I linked back in 65

    As World War II approached, the signs of fascism’s failure in Italy were palpable: per capita private consumption had dropped to below 1929 levels, and Italian industrial production between 1929 and 1939 had increased by only 15 percent, lower than the rates for other Western European countries. Labor productivity was low and production costs were uncompetitive. The fault lay in the shift of economic decision-making from entrepreneurs to government bureaucrats, and in the allocation of resources by decree rather than by free markets.

    So we can conclude that Mussolini’s fascism was indeed Left Wing authoritarianism

  213. “It’s not weaseling. See my IBM example above.”

    Yes, I already commented on that. Also, it’s not responsive to the part about who benefits: the few or the many. Which is integral to socialism.

    “Socialism means what it means, and what Mussolini did was socialism by most accepted definitions.”

    Well, no. Unless by “most accepted definitions” you mean “the definitions I’m making up right now.” By most accepted definitions, Mussolini was actually a fascist. Which is a different thing than being a socialist.

  214. Ah. So when the US Government goes to Boeing and says “We want you to make strike fighters,” it’s socialism.

    Surely you are aware the government solicits bids from defense contractors companies and induces their cooperation by paying them, rather than issuing executive orders telling them what to make?

    Now, admittedly, Boeing can say no, but it’s unlikely to do so, so from a practical perspective, it’s all the same.

    In fact companies decline government work all the time, for various reasons. Italian companies under Mussolini did not have that option.

  215. Also, it’s not responsive to the part about who benefits: the few or the many.

    I’m quite sure Mussolini argued the benefit was to the many, often and volubly. It certainly was not to the benefit of the owners of the companies to have their businesses ruined by bureaucratic dictats.

    By most accepted definitions, Mussolini was actually a fascist.

    I don’t think anyone argues that.

    Which is a different thing than being a socialist.

    Now you’re telling me that your dog cannot have four legs and a tail, because that would make him a cat. A fascist can be a socialist, just as a Communist or a liberal democrat can.

    “the definitions I’m making up right now.”

    Well, again, read through that list of definitions. Very few of them do not say “government control of the economy” in one way or another.

    We can easily say what fascism without socialism would have looked like: Mussolini would not have dictated to the corporations. In fact, this is what early Italian fascism looked like; it only gained socialist aspects later (I’m tempted to call Mussolini a “progressive socialist”).

  216. “Surely you are aware the government solicits bids from defense contractors companies and induces their cooperation by paying them, rather than issuing executive orders telling them what to make?”

    From a practical perspective I’m not entirely sure that all those “single bid” contracts the government’s been handing out recently conform to this scenario; likewise, I’m not sure you can say that, oh, Fiat’s cooperation with the Fascist government was not significantly induced by visions of massive profits.

    I certainly agree that Boeing (to go back to this example) can say no to the government if it came looking for something. I am equally sure they won’t. Again, practical perspective is in play here.

  217. From a practical perspective I’m not entirely sure that all those “single bid” contracts the government’s been handing out recently conform to this scenario;

    Well, I don’t like monopolies either, but the practical difference is George W. Bush cannot have the president of Boeing arrested for refusing to make the JSF.

  218. If we’re looking for working descriptions of socialism, we could always go with Clause IV of the British Labour Party, adopted in 1918 and replaced by Blair in 1995:

    To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

    As Scalzi has said, the differences between this defining principle as practiced and that employed by Mussolini are not trivial, no matter how many TallStories get thrown into the mix.

    Frank: proving that dogs are cats again? You seem astonishingly pleased with yourself.

  219. 247,

    Yes, that’s a fine definition of socialism under liberal democracy.

    I don’t think anyone would argue the differences between socialism as practiced in Britain and Fascist Italy are trivial, but it’s a lovely strawman you’ve knocked down there.

  220. Goldberg on Your Nonsense:

    “What mattered is that Stalin had proclaimed that ‘the Right deviation now represents the central danger’ to Communism and therefore anyone he called a rightist needed to go. Unless of course you believe that, say, Bukharin actually was a rightwinger. And even if he was, he was a rightwinger only in the sense that he came from the arbitrarily labeled ‘rightist’ faction of the most leftwing party on Earth.

    Something similar was at word with Mussolini. He was not claiming to speak for the reactionaries of classical liberalism or for the reactionaries of tradition and monarchy, when he said he was of the Right. ”

    (http://liberalfascism.nationalreview.com)

    We could actually listen to Goldberg and understand the context of history and reasonable arguments, or we can bemoan that he doesn’t teach the Gospel as taught by High School poli-sci teachers or Wikipedia….

  221. John Scalzi

    I certainly agree that Boeing (to go back to this example) can say no to the government if it came looking for something. I am equally sure they won’t. Again, practical perspective is in play here.

    Being in this particular industry, I think I can speak to this.

    The government doesn’t go to Boeing and say “make me a strike fighter”

    The government says “We want a strike fighter and it must fulfill these requirements. Who wants to play?

    And then companies compete to get the contract.

    Just take the F-22 example. There were two teams: One consisted of Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics the other Northrop/McDonnell Douglas. Each team had to build a demonstrator with their own cash and go through a series of flight tests to show their compliance to requirements.

    The Lockheed team won.

    Recently, there was a famous case where Boeing CFO Michael Sears spent some time in jail for his part in a conflict of interest case where he secretly hired an individual who was part of the government procurement system. Boeing subsequently won a contract to produce tankers for the air force. Once this came to light, the bid and the award were rexamined.

    And even more recently, European defense contractors are allowed to bid on military contracts. Marine One, the helicopter that carries the President will soon be an AgustaWestland EH101 which is made by a joint venture between Westland Aircraft in the UK and Agusta in Italy called AgustaWestland.

  222. TallDave:

    “the practical difference is George W. Bush cannot have the president of Boeing arrested for refusing to make the JSF.”

    Thankfully not; however, I don’t imagine the board allowing a CEO who refused to make a JSF to stay CEO for long. So clearly, and once again from a practical perspective, the Government of the United States can force Boeing to do its will.

    My point here is to note the general uselessness of the “practical perspective” argument.

    “I’m quite sure Mussolini argued the benefit was to the many, often and volubly. It certainly was not to the benefit of the owners of the companies to have their businesses ruined by bureaucratic dictats.”

    This is an argument? Even if one is to argue that businesses heavily regulated by the fascist government was not ultimately beneficial to the businesses, it does not mean that the fruits of the interaction between business and government were enjoyed by the few rather than the many. Mussolini could argue the benefit, but from an economic point of view, it’s obvious that it’s not true. Fascism did not work like socialism. That’s because it wasn’t socialism and didn’t try to be.

    “again, read through that list of definitions. Very few of them do not say ‘government control of the economy’ in one way or another.”

    This doesn’t mean a) you’re not still eliding the “government or communal ownership” part of it because it’s inconvenient to you, or b) not still making the bad equivalence between regulation and ownership.

    I would suggest to you than rather settling for a single sentence definition of socialism, you actually read up on it in all its complexity. The more you know about it, the more it will become patently obvious that socialism and fascism are not the same. It’s clear that socialism and fascism are both statist and collectivist; after that, things diverge significantly.

  223. So, in summation, if one accepts socialism as gov’t control of the economy, then Mussolini was very socialist by our standards, but if one insists that it’s only socialism if the government owns the means of production, then his government control of the economy is merely another facet of his totalitarianist tendencies (though this definition also excludes quite a few policies of modern liberal democracies also generally described as “socialist,” such as universal healthcare, Social Security, minimum wage, free education, etc).

    Anyways, interesting discussion. I learned a bit about Italy, and hopefully others did too.

  224. Tag, your it:

    “We could actually listen to Goldberg and understand the context of history and reasonable arguments, or we can bemoan that he doesn’t teach the Gospel as taught by High School poli-sci teachers or Wikipedia….”

    You mean to say that having been absolutely and correctly pummeled for his idiotic misspeaking, Goldberg corrects us all by offering up his own definition of what “right” is and then saying “clearly, by this definition of ‘right,’ Mussolini was left!”

    Wow! I’m suddenly convinced! Thanks!

    You know, since even Mr. Goldberg himself admits he’s engaging in revisionist history, I’m not obliged to treat every one of his rhetorical wiggles as having a basis in reality. I certainly agree that by Mr. Goldberg’s definitions of what “right” means, Mussolini may very well be “left,” but it does not follow that Mr. Goldberg’s novel interpretation of history is especially compelling, or based in much other than his desire to sell books.

    Again, I’ve not read the book so I can’t comment on it directly, but from the bit you linked to, it’s pretty clear a) he’s moving the goalposts of what the right/left political schism, and b), he’s dancing as fast as he can to avoid the tomatoes thrown at him. I have no problems with either; introducing a new point of view to history can be valuable, and if he wants to make the point that his conceptualization of history is valid, he’s going to have to take on all comers.

    That said, his complaint that “Again and again people are throwing a few Mussolini quotes at me where he talks about being on ‘the Right’ and therefore — case closed — he was on the ‘Right.'” misses the point. Mussolini didn’t throw out the comment that Fascism is right-focused and then just drop the idea: the fact of it saturates the entire “Doctrines” document. One pegs him with the “right” quote because it’s the obvious refutation, because Mussolini comes right out and says “I’m on the right.” But it’s the entire document that makes the argument.

    Either Goldberg knows that and wants to short-circuit discussion of the fact, or he doesn’t know it, in which case he probably ought not be writing about Fascism.

    TallDave, as always, thanks for the good conversation.

  225. Thankfully not; however, I don’t imagine the board allowing a CEO who refused to make a JSF to stay CEO for long. So clearly, and once again from a practical perspective, the Government of the United States can force Boeing to do its will.

    No, it can’t. The board can vote to dissolve the company if they wish, or just decide to make something else. Under Mussolini, they would be arrested for such an act.

    It’s not a small difference. For instance, Mussolini could order you to write inspirational Italian propaganda instead of sci-fi novels)

    My point here is to note the general uselessness of the “practical perspective” argument.

    If you recall, the point was that government ownership under Communism is not practically different than government control under Italian Fascism. The reason is that in both cases, the State controlled the means of production via their monopoly on force. In a liberal democracy or a nonsocialist autocracy like 1950s Taiwan or S Korea, this does not happen.

    Mussolini could argue the benefit, but from an economic point of view, it’s obvious that it’s not true.

    Of course it’s not! Do you suppose the Russians benefitted from Stalin? Extreme socialism doesn’t work very well; that was demonstrated in the Cold War — and as Frank noted above, it didn’t help Italy either.

  226. if someone would just define the difference between a Right Wing authoritarian and a Left Wing authoritarian

    A right wing authoritarian uses the power of the state for right wing purposes, a left wing authoritarian uses it for left wing purposes. See? Easy. Fascists are right wing authoritarians.

    BTW, just to help you out, all modern governments have been at least somewhat authoritarian. The liberal tradition (which is at least ostensibly followed by both Democrats and Republicans in this country) does want to limit the authoritarian powers of the state, but even in this country both parties have strong illiberal elements.

    Mussolini was in fact a socialist: he wanted government control of the economy.

    Socialism is not the same as “wanting government control of the economy”. That is absurdly ahistorical and simplistic. Socialists want to use the government control for particular socialist purposes, like redistributing wealth to the “working class”.

    Part of what is going on here appears to be the weird narrowness and ignorance quality of libertarian-influenced thinkers — everything is about libertarian economics, and every movement is defined by how it relates to libertarians, even though libertarians have never been anything but a small minority in most advanced countries.

  227. For instance, Mussolini could order you to write inspirational Italian propaganda instead of sci-fi novels

    And let me add I would be personally aggrieved by that, whether or not we agree it is socialist.

    :)

    Thanks for the conversation.

  228. TallDave wrote: “No, it can’t. The board can vote to dissolve the company if they wish, or just decide to make something else.”

    If the government offers a sweet enough deal, then if the board refuses they get into the question of whether they are serving their fiduciary duty to the stockholders, and thus at risk of a lawsuit.

  229. Oh, an important distinction between liberalisms is that some liberalisms believe that the combination of voting rights, civil rights, free speech, and democratic institutions are a sufficient brake on government power, while other liberalisms (like libertarianism) believe that government must be categorically forbidden from a broad range of actions (like financial redistribution), regardless of whether these are sanctioned through a democratic process.

    Libertarians are constantly saying that versions of liberalism that contend that democratic institutions and voting rights can be a sufficient brake on government power are actually “authoritarian” or even fascist. But true Fascists saw the difference — they were equally opposed to libertarianism and democratic institutions.

  230. An interesting difference between fascists and socialists is the role of Congress-type bodies.

    The various forms of socialism/communism make a big deal of their Party Congresses and whatnot. It may only be for show, and they may only be rubber-stamping the decisions of the ultimate ruler, but they make their most of the theater, presumably to maintain the pretense of common workers being in control rather than an Autocrat.

    That doesn’t seem to be the case with fascist goverments. The legislative bodies might meet, but they don’t play much of a role – at least not in the case of common conceptions of fascist Italy and Germany, where it’s all about the head guy and legislatures.

    I suspect there may also be a difference in government rhetorical style. Communist states go for similarly wordy bureaucratic pronouncements. The kind of long-winded bureaucratic proclamation one would expect from the Soviets or Maoists would seem out of place in a Nazi context.

  231. Richard @ 220 –

    Josh, I’ve read pretty much everything Goldberg has written, and met him briefly once. He’s consistently pro-federalism, pro-small govermnment, and anti-tax. Any specific quotes you’re referring to?

    He’s got an entire essay on his disdain for libertarianism, he’s pro-Bush which means he’s pro-large government. Being “anti tax” in his context could well be motivated by some potential libertarian desires, but as we’ve established that he’s not a libertarian, that’s a red herring. He’s selective in what taxes he’s against. For example, he’s pro-tax on same sex couples living together (being anti same sex marriage) but anti tax on straight couples who happen to have the rights to get married. He lies in saying that he’s pro “some sort of civil union” because it’s a convenient position he an take that won’t get him in any danger.

    No specific quotes, but if you’re that familiar with his work, it’s obivious.

  232. Kayjayoh:
    I thought you were going to link this one

    http://xkcd.com/261/

    Which seems to illustrate almost perfectly what flinging around the word fascist leads to.

    And the two sides seem to be talking past each other.

    According to the one side “Everyone who wants to centralise the economy and bring it under government control is a socialist. Mussolini wanted to bring the economy under his control. Therefore Mussolini was a socialist.”

    According to the other side “Authoritarians want to bring everything including the economy under central control. Socialists can be (or are – it doesn’t matter) authoritarian in which case they want to the economy under their control for socialist ends. Mussolini wanted to bring the economy under his control and therefore was an authoritarian. Mussolini did not want ends that were socialist and therefore was not a socialist.”

    And one of the key differences between the sides is that all the socialists I have ever met have ends in mind rather than wanting the economy controlled for its own sake. The hard-line socialists I know want a radical realignment of the economy to benefit the worst off, and the only way to do this that they can see is with government control. There are many other reasons to want government control of the economy with you in charge – one is to profit your friends, and one is to help keep the social order intact (which is pretty much the opposite of the radical realignment the socialists want).

  233. For the libertarians one wonders where political democracy as a method of reconciling individual freedom and social order becomes important. Are the methods of democracy, free speech, due process, elections historically of the left or right? Does every law or regulation promulgated by the state, ipso facto, represent a loss of individual liberty.
    Goldberg’s attempt to smear liberalism with arguments out Herbert Spencer’s Man Versus State, which no one knows, or reads anymore is just an indication of the right’s lack of relevance. I ask any libertarian to explain how any freedom they demand of the state does not require the protection of that freedom in the form of a legal right. Those who want freedom must establish which freedoms for whom. This means a system of liberties and concomitant restraints. This is pretty basic stuff. Only the dumbing down of America can explain the appeal of libertarian thought. Hayek was not a libertarian. For some libertarinism is the fools gold of America’s new village idiots. In sum, a pernicious virus from America’s aggressor class.

  234. For some reason it took a while to appear before, and when it did it was further up the thread. So since people are still debating Goldberg’s libertarian, anti-authoritarian street cred (i.e. him & his National Review buddies are actually “classical liberals”), here is Goldberg himself on the (various) subject(s):

    Richard,

    As for Goldberg here are some links:

    on libertarianism: Look, the libertarian critique of the state is useful, valuable, important, and much needed. But, in my humble opinion, the libertarian critique of the culture — “established authority” — tends to be exactly what I’ve always said it was: a celebration of personal liberty over everything else, and in many (but certainly not all) respects indistinguishable from the more asinine prattle we hear from the Left. (The great compromise between libertarians and conservatives is, of course, federalism see “Among the Gender Benders”). http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDk2NDk3MDQ0MTJmNWQ0ZWUxYjc3MWRkMzhlODRiZDE=

    On authoritarianism, see the Pinochet link again, re-posted here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-goldberg14dec14,0,5277475.column?coll=la-opinion-center

    “But on the plus side, Pinochet’s abuses helped create a civil society. Once the initial bloodshed subsided, Chile was no prison. Pinochet built up democratic institutions and infrastructure. And by implementing free-market reforms, he lifted the Chilean people out of poverty. ” (Never mind the fact that a civil society existed before he took power in a violent coup)

    And as for democracy, by his own admission:
    “Personally, I have no passion for democracy.”
    “I can very easily see how my liberties could be better protected in a monarchy or an empire or even a dictatorship than in a democracy. It’s just that over the long haul, liberal democracies — with enough undemocratic checks in the form of constitutions, courts, etc. — are more reliable defenders of liberties than dudes in nice chairs.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg030503.asp

    (He has some good points here about mob rule though I tend to disagree with him on first principles; I think popular control of government is essential on a fundamental level, not just because it happens to produce liberty more often than not. Anyway, point remains, dude’s not very enthusiastic about democracy).

    As I said, I’m not trying to say Goldberg’s a fascist but I don’t think it’s accurate to act as if he stands in the classical liberal tradition.

    And now I’m off to watch the Democratic, er, liberal fascist debate.

  235. Now having gotten home, found Liberal Fascism on my stoop, and read the first tenth of Jonah’s book, I have to say the evidence is pretty strong. Mussolini called himself a socialist, held positions in socialist organizations and was praised as a socialist by contemporaries. In fact, the moniker Il Duce first came from such praise by a leading socialist (Olindo Vernocchi) who called him the “Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy” at a Socialist congress in 1912. He even wrote a socialist book called Utopia in a nod to Thomas More.

    Jonah does make clear that Fascist syndicalism was different than socialism as we understand it, though. So perhaps you’re both right to some extent.

    An interesting book, anyway. I hadn’t even planned to order it but Glenn got me interested with his constant linking of the sales #.

    If the government offers a sweet enough deal, then if the board refuses they get into the question of whether they are serving their fiduciary duty to the stockholders, and thus at risk of a lawsuit.

    My assumption here was that the stockholders were the ones refusing the deal (perhaps they find 777s more profitable) and the board is faithfully representing their interests. But again, the government is allowed to pay corporations to make things; that is not the same as using its monopoly on force to compel them. And of course, in a free market system, you can bet other companies would be lining up to take Boeing’s multibillion-dollar business.

  236. TallDave:

    He definitely was a socialist at one time. Then they just stopped returning each others’ calls.

    Glad you’re getting your money’s worth.

  237. TallDave wrote:” Mussolini called himself a socialist, held positions in socialist organizations and was praised as a socialist by contemporaries. ”

    By that logic, the Iraq war was launched by a bunch of Troskyites in the Pentagon. The neocons used to be Trots, so they must still be.

  238. TallDave:

    “History always seems to be much more complicated than our simple labels.”

    Hush! That’s no way to sell books!

  239. Jon,

    Well, post-1991, many Trotskyists probably accepted the obvious desirability of liberal democracy but kept their revolutionary ideals. (After all, the proletariat in liberal democracies were clearly better off than in Communist countries.)

    It would probably not be incorrect to say the war in Iraq grew partly out of the revolutionary principles of the ex-Trotskyite neocons, or that Mussolini’s syndicalist/Fascist philosophy of economic control by the state grew partly out of his socialism.

    Reminds me of a Michael Totten essay about the two Kurdish Communist parties, which sit across the road from each other (he actually went to the wrong one by accident) but are not on speaking terms. Their main difference is that one accepts liberal democracy, the other follows the Soviet model.

  240. So Buckley and the National Review were speaking out in defense of Franco’s regime — in the 1950s, mind you — for what reason?

    Just wondering if Jonah knew that Franco allowed volunteers to fight alongside the Nazis against the USSR. Also, did Jonah happen to know the most basic facts of the Spanish Civil War? Has he never heard of Guernica?

  241. 180 – ‘Goldberg dusts off the old, idiotic “gay nazi” meme….’

    Well, that gay Nazi theme is very widely accepted in Germany, as long as it clear that the gay Nazi theme has to do with massive denial of a gay Nazi being gay. In other words, the most flagrant closet cases tend to be found on the neo-Nazi side of German life.

    Whereas Germany has a number of leading political figures who are gay and in office (and in civil unions, for that matter), from all major parties, including the Christian Democratic Union, the extreme right wing, from the Reps to the NPD is noted for the extreme divergence between words against ‘decadence’ and actions.

    It would be fair to say that any number of deeply committed German extreme right believers (though not the street thug youth of East Germany) have a wide stance.

    A related note – when Marines and ex-Marines were somewhat regularly beating and killing gays in DC (a couple of decades ago), the Washington Post noted the observation of an owner of a video store in Dupont Circle, who said that many of his customers for gay porn were Marines. However, he remarked that he had no idea if they were enjoying it or using it to stoke their violent urges. Many Germans would not see this as an either/or question.

  242. So, in summation, if one accepts socialism as gov’t control of the economy, then Mussolini was very socialist by our standards, but if one insists that it’s only socialism if the government owns the means of production, then his government control of the economy is merely another facet of his totalitarianist tendencies (though this definition also excludes quite a few policies of modern liberal democracies also generally described as “socialist,” such as universal healthcare, Social Security, minimum wage, free education, etc).

    Actually, I would argue that the first and last of those four listed pretty clearly qualify – one of thel premises behind universal healthcare is (correct me if I’m wrong) that healthcare will better serve everyone if it’s not done in a profit-seeking fashion. Likewise, there aren’t any profits in free education – no stockholders or anything. The benefit is that the populace is now more educated, which ideally means better-suited to create wealth as a whole.

    Minimum wage is intended as a form of wealth transfer to the workers … so not government OWNERSHIP but …

    And Social Security … again, who, exactly, is making a profit off of it?

  243. –I visited a few shipyards for the Navy, and talked with the board of a yard which decided not to build ships for the Navy (despite the potential profit). I’ve seen evidence that some corporations decided not to get in on the joint strike fighter competition, although it wasn’t specifically Boeing. So although there can be a powerful financial incentive to produce what the gummint wants you to produce, one can say no…and I’d contend that makes a heck of a lot of difference.

    –I’ve had speaking mistakes where I said some gobsmackingly [(tm), A.S.] braindead things in the past that reflect a lack of knowledge of something I actually knew. Could happen to others. I try to be clear in my acknowledgement and apology when I screw up, but also try not to use the word “bandersnatch” when doing so. Such a term might make things worse–especially if I misspeak that word, too.

    –If anything I’m glad there’s a vigorous discussion of this stuff going on. The history is interesting in itself but the subject is worth going over.

    –Holy cow, Scalzi comment threads are long things. How do you manage to get writing done? Hell, how do you manage to sleep?

  244. John,

    You are obviously a great writer, but on your comments on the US economy are sadly off base. I work for a large manufacturing company and we regularly turn down government contracts. The government can be a pain to deal with as a customer – slow payer, bureaucratic, pesky FOIA price disclosure issues among other reasons. No-one goes to jail and our CEO gets to keep his job.

  245. The last time I read the Communist Manifesto, Marx spent a portion of it decrying the various other kinds of socialists, so as to make clear that his own scientific socialism was the best. Among them are reactionary socialists, “half lamentation and half lampoon,” who seek to ally with the working class to smite the bourgeoisie. In other words, right-wing socialists.

    One can certainly argue that Bismarck was willing to go a long way to defang the socialists in 19th century Germany, rendering them docile servants of the state who would naturally approve whatever war budget the Kaiser wanted (as they would in 1914, contra the claim of those who believe that laissez-faire capitalism led the charge to WWI).

    If the fallen nobility of europe can wave red flags, why is it impossible for a socialist to don the mantle of State and Tradition to justify government control over production? Wouldn’t this win over exactly the right people? And wouldn’t you be just the Clever One for Squaring the Circle and bringing Social Need and Tradition back together again? Behold, the first version of the “Third Way.”

    The point is, socialism is about a “collective” (state) response to inadequacies of production. This can take many forms, wear many cultural and aesthetic trappings. Arguing about whether the capitalists benefit or the working class benefit is missing the point: the only real winners are the bureaucrats, tame intelligensia and politicos who are paid in the coin they desire: power over others.

    This is a feature of all socialist states, left or right, and is an unacknowledged impetus in socialists who reside in liberal or mixed states: the desire to save is the desire to change is the desire to dominate. The screeching Code Pink harpy is of a different form and uses different methods than the Chekist; but the root is the same. Scratch a rebel and find an ersatz aristocrat.

    So we might do well to consider the deeper question, i.e. how much power and money (which is merely power in potential form) should we give the government, and for what purposes? Democrats aren’t Fascists, but they are socialists, and they ought to be obliged to a) refrain from using a socialist term to describe their liberal opponents, and b) to explain why their form of socialism will work better than the Great Social Disasters of the 20th Century.

  246. Arguing about whether the capitalists benefit or the working class benefit is missing the point: the only real winners are the bureaucrats, tame intelligensia and politicos who are paid in the coin they desire: power over others.

    This is simply foolish. Visit any country with free health care and free education and you will find many many winners.

  247. This is simply foolish. Visit any country with free health care and free education and you will find many many winners.

    Oh, will I? And I won’t find anybody who sits on the dole for decades because the state that distributes these “free” benefices tightens regulations to the point where innovation and job creation are limited to the corporations already large enough to pay for all these “free” things? Or because the taxes required for all these “free” things similarly limits the growth and creation of small businesses, leaving only established players in the game? Who is it burning all those cars in Paris? Greens?

    Sell that fairy tale somewhere else.

  248. Inasmuch as you’re telling me to be ashamed because of something I didn’t attempt to do and for things that have no real relevance, I’ll be not being ashamed of myself, thanks all the same. But nice try.

    Then you should be ashamed of yourself for ripping the point of the sentence screaming from its home in order to avoid what I said.

    Including the parenthetical in which I made the point you’re doing so having not even bothered to read it. And the rest of the paragraph, in which the very document you’re asserting is authoritative makes the same point Goldberg does. Which, of course, you don’t know because you can’t be troubled to read the book before criticizing it.

    You’re not interested in truth, John, you just want to make fun of The Other Side. If you’re not ashamed of this, it’s because you lack intellectual honesty.

  249. Charlie (Colorado):

    “Then you should be ashamed of yourself for ripping the point of the sentence screaming from its home in order to avoid what I said.”

    Well, no. I just stopped at your first bad argument, on the grounds that any further argument springing from it would be, by consequence, also bad, and thus not really worth addressing at that time. I’m not ashamed at pointing out the manner in which your argument was bad from the start, although I am sad for you that you can’t structure your arguments better. I’m also sorry that you don’t appear to realize that you don’t always get the argument that you’ve practiced having in your head; that’s the magic of talking with other people. Hope that helps.

  250. Andrew P @ 279

    The screeching Code Pink harpy is of a different form and uses different methods than the Chekist; but the root is the same. Scratch a rebel and find an ersatz aristocrat.

    Reminds me of something Frank Herbert wrote in his classic treatise on politics, economics, religion, and ecology (aka The Dune Chronicles)

    Safaris through ancestral memories teach me many things. The patterns, ahhh, the patterns. Liberal bigots are the ones who trouble me most. I distrust the extremes. Scratch a conservative and you find someone who prefers the past over any future. Scratch a liberal and find a closet aristocrat. It’s true! Liberal governments always develop into aristocracies. The bureaucracies betray the true intent of people who form such governments. Right from the first the little people who formed the governments which promised to equalize the social burdens found themselves suddenly in the hands of bureaucratic aristocracies. Of course, all bureaucracies follow this pattern, but what a hypocrisy to find this even under a communized banner. Ahhh, well, if patterns teach me anything it’s that patterns are repeated. My oppressions, by and large, are no worse than any of the others and, at least, I teach a new lesson.
    -The Stolen Journals

    God Emperor of Dune

  251. This is simply foolish. Visit any country with free health care and free education and you will find many many winners.

    Oh, will I?

    Yes, yes you will. Look! There are 25 of them!

    There are functioning countries on the planet in which people live well and business thrives outside North America.

  252. Scalzi, Marx actually was active in a political party, First International. He tried to inject his form of Communism into the political process. He does not get a free pass. Some of his ideas make possible sense 5,000 years from now. That he tried to inject them into the present showed his own hubris and failings that he wanted to speed up that process so he could see it in his own lifetime. He did a lot more than just theorize.

  253. There are many, many large obstacles that need to be hurtled before you can make an argument that fascism was in fact a phenomenon of the left rather than the right, but arguably the biggest one is the existence of voting logs. Fascism either came to power or contested power in both Germany and Spain through democratic means (relatively peacefully in the former case and violently in the latter). It’s not hard to track what sections of the Spanish population supported the Falangists, and it’s just as easy to look at the Nazi rise, where they picked up their support from, and which other political parties they were in competition with. Thomas Childers (who was my professor at Penn and whose authority on the subject is infinitely greater than Monsieur Goldberg) wrote a book called The Nazi Voter, which explores exactly that subject material. Suffice to say, the Nazis weren’t drawing their votes from the SDP. They vaulted into prominence when they started pulling votes from the traditionally right wing parties, be they monarchist, Catholic, etc, etc, in much the same way that Franco and the Falangists had the overwhelming support of both the landowners and the Catholic Church in their “Second Reconquest,” with both groups being profoundly anti-labor, anti-secular and utterly reactionary.

    To argue that 1930’s fascism was a left wing phenomenon means not only insisting that the leading politicians didn’t mean what they said, it also means insisting that the people who voted for them didn’t know what they were voting for, even when there are oodles and oodles of records showing that they did. It’s a fool’s errand.

  254. JB:

    “Scalzi, Marx actually was active in a political party, First International. He tried to inject his form of Communism into the political process. He does not get a free pass.”

    I’m not aware of suggesting he was supposed to be getting a free pass, I just think he would be surprised at the idea that true communism would arise without a socialist phase first.

  255. no. they are independent questions. I want to join the silly pointless argument, but I have no frame of reference. I fully support benign dictatorships of immortals as my primary political leaning. Do I sit on the left or the right?

    And I have no idea who the guy prompting the silly argument is. How does he compare to Tila Tequila?

  256. I think Goldberg is supposed to be on The Daily Show tonight (can’t swear to that). That should be good for another 300 posts, yes?

  257. That liberal fascism blog is awesome:

    Besides, as I’ve said a million times, nationalism and socialism are almost always synonymous terms. Hugo Chavez is a nationalist who is nationalizing his country’s industry. Or you could say he’s a socialist who is socializing his country’s industry. The two words are interchangeable: socialized medicine is nationalized medicine.

    He really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  258. Marx actually went against his own writings which suggested that communism would develop naturally.

    He probably wouldn’t be surprised to see socialism as a placeholder for communism because he was politically active in making this happen. Still, that goes against at least some of his writings.

    What I’m saying is that Marx himself skipped the bits he didn’t like and pushed things. I dislike when people try to defend Marx, by saying “well, others didn’t do it right.” He himself didn’t do it right and ignored his own theories.

  259. JB:

    “He probably wouldn’t be surprised to see socialism as a placeholder for communism because he was politically active in making this happen.”

    Well, inasmuch he believed socialism was a necessary step for communism to occur, this seems obvious.

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by saying he suggested that communism would happen “naturally”; he certainly noted that class struggle was necessary, and that’s not a “natural” process, in which natural means a process unguided by human thought (it is true he’s a bit vague about how one goes from socialism and classes to communism and classless society).

    Basically what I’m hearing you say is that Marx agitated for the things he was writing about; well, yeah. Also, and aside form this, saying “even Marx didn’t do Marx right” doesn’t negate the idea that no one’s done Marx right. It might suggest it’s not possible to do Marx right, because people aren’t that damn patient. I have no argument against that idea.

  260. So what we have in place is a Nationalized Tila Tequila and people think this is the same as a Socialized Tila Tequila or now people think we should Socialize Tila Tequila, though it is almost the same thing. Like texting her or IM’ing her is practically the same thing, except they’re different.

    Finally, I am starting to understand.

  261. Simply nationalizing Tila Tequila does not imply that everyone gets a piece of Tila Tequila’s pie, although access could range from, say, the access allowed to visitors to the Grand Canyon or be restricted to those allowed rear-door access in the White House.

  262. And really, what we have to remember is that if Tila Tequila were actually ever truly socialized, most of her appeal would be gone.

  263. Another fasces sidelight– in the 19th c. Americans considered the Roman fasces to be a sign of the rule of law (in some ways the opposite of what “fascism” means today), and thus you can find symbolic fasces carved all over the US Capitol, and also represented by the ceremonial mace of the House of Representatives.

  264. John, when we met at the Heinlein con, you seemed reasonably intelligent, but I’ll be happy to break it down into smaller pieces, since you’re having such trouble.

    (1) Any argument about the contents of a book that starts off “I haven’t read the book” is starting at a severe disadvantage. Not to put to fine a point on it, it makes you look silly.

    (2) Since you assert as an authority that 1935 document in which it says that Fascism is on the “right”, you can’t escape the authority of the very same document that says in so many words that Fascism grew out of socialism and syndicalism.

    (3) That is precisely the argument of Goldberg’s chapters 1 and 2.

    Either you agree with Jonah’s chapters 1 and 2, or you don’t believe that the document you cited is authoritative.

    Or, of course, you don’t actually care about mere reason in the quest to anathematize the heretic.

  265. Lesee… healthcare (since that seems to be one of the metrics people use to say the socialist model fails)… the US has fallen to 19th of 19 nations. We spend more (by virtue of tax breaks) of the public dollar, while also making the private citizen spend some of his hard earned dollars (thus engaging in wealth redistrubition, from the bottom to the top), and we still have 47 million people who don’t have any health care.

    As to the e-mails with Goldberg, I’ve not been impressed with the responses he’s sent me. One of them was to say that the Orwell quotation was refuted by, “the bulk of academic thinking today” and so supported his claims.

    After that he refused to answer my questions, and said the critics were just cherry picking his statements, and not addressing any of the substance. After that, he’s not said anything in response to my asking him to explain how the various contradictions in his e-mails to me could be resolved.

    If that’s as much as he can do, it would be better for him to not respond to e-mails

  266. Terry Karney-

    Its early, so maybe I am misreading this. Are you suggesting that a dollar of “tax breaks” equals a “public dollar”? Further, that a person voluntarily paying for medical insurance is the government engaging in “wealth redistrubition”?

    If so, all dollars would be “public dollars” and anything the government doesn’t pay for, such a groceries and comic books, is the government engaging wealth redistribution. Which seems a more than a little upside down.

  267. Charlie (Colorado):

    “Any argument about the contents of a book that starts off ‘I haven’t read the book’ is starting at a severe disadvantage. Not to put to fine a point on it, it makes you look silly.”

    Which is why I’ve been quite explicit that I haven’t read the book, to you and others, and am basing my commentary on what of Goldberg’s commentary on the subject that I’ve read, which are not in the book. I’m not sure why you continue to have a problem grasping this. Most other people have figured it out pretty well. All you’re that you’re doing in insisting I have an argument with the book when it’s been made clear on several occasions that I have not read the book is to make yourself look like you have a problem understanding simple and obvious English.

    “Since you assert as an authority that 1935 document in which it says that Fascism is on the ‘right’, you can’t escape the authority of the very same document that says in so many words that Fascism grew out of socialism and syndicalism.”

    It’s a 1932 document, actually, although the transcription that’s on the net is from a book published in 1935. This may be the source of your confusion.

    Also, really? Because this would seem to contradict your thesis:

    Fascism [is] the resolute negation of the doctrine underlying so-called scientific and Marxian socialism, the doctrine of historic materialism which would explain the history of mankind in terms of the class struggle and by changes in the processes and instruments of production, to the exclusion of all else.

    There’s also lots of chunky surrounding material explaining and expanding this statement, which I note to forestall a “cherry-picking” argument. Again, you can read it if you want. It’s hard to miss, actually.

    The best you can do in the document to suggest it says that Fascism grew out of socialism is this statement:

    From beneath the ruins of liberal, socialist, and democratic doctrines, Fascism extracts those elements which are still vital. It preserves what may be described as “the acquired facts” of history; it rejects all else.

    But if you’re going to do that, you also have to acknowledge that fascism equally and also grew out of liberalism, which as I understand it would certainly throw a monkey wrench into Mr. Goldberg’s formulation of things.

    That said, contrary to your “it says in so many words” suggestion, the document specifically and explicitly rejects socialism on historical and structural grounds. So if your “so many words” argument is precisely Mr. Goldberg’s argument in chapters one and two of his book — which I’ve not read, so I’ve only your word for it — then it’s a pretty dumb argument, since it apparently ignores the actual text of the document to impose an interpretational subtext.

    That is, if Mr. Goldberg has bothered to read it at all with any seriousness, claiming as he does in the interview only a vague recollection of it, which is interesting, as it’s a seminal document on Fascism, which he wishes to suggest he’s on expert on. That’s a little like saying you’re an expert on the Socratic dialogues but having only a vague recollection of Crito.

    It’s certainly true that in the Salon interview Mr. Goldberg is making the argument that “[Mussolini] said a lot of stuff” and appears to use that rationale to dismiss anything that actually and factually contradicts his pet theory. However, I would suggest that we actually look at text rather than impose a convenient and fungible “so many words” subtext, and that we acknowledge that while Mussolini did in fact say a lot of stuff, the text of a document laying out the official doctrine of Fascism is more weighty regarding the interests and aims of Fascism than “lots of stuff” Mussolini might have said. That Mr. Goldberg appears not to grasp this does not speak well for the seriousness of his scholarship, which is a subject I’ve hit on before.

    “Either you agree with Jonah’s chapters 1 and 2, or you don’t believe that the document you cited is authoritative.”

    What bullshit logic. I can’t say that I agree with chapters one and two of Jonah’s book: I’ve not read them. When I read them, I can say whether I agree with them or not. Until then, I’m not going to offer an opinion one way or another. Likewise, a belief in the authority of the Doctrine of Fascism can be — and in my case is — absolutely independent of Mr. Goldberg’s book, because, all together now, I’ve not read Mr. Goldberg’s book.

    The best you can suggest is that Mr. Goldberg does a better job making his argument in his book than he does in interview or on the Web, to which my response is, I certainly hope so, because what I’ve read of his argument out here leads me to believe it’s a generally a crap argument, dependent on selective and incomplete scholarship, sloppy understandings of concepts like “socialism,’ ‘collectivism,’ ‘statism’ and ‘fascism,’ and the need to suggest that his deficiencies in scholarship are actually somehow virtues.

  268. John Scalzi @313

    But if you’re going to do that, you also have to acknowledge that fascism equally and also grew out of liberalism, which as I understand it would certainly throw a monkey wrench into Mr. Goldberg’s formulation of things.

    But your source document also defines these terms, which is helpful given the confusion of how these terms have been redefined today.

    For instance, the document clearly states that Liberalism means individualism and fascism means collectivism.

    If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.

    And

    We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State.

    He is also saying that fascism supersedes Socialism

    But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State

    Of course but Communist China and the Soviet Union felt no need for trade unions because the state was already fulfilling that function.

    In today’s parlance individualism is “right wing” and collectivism is “left wing”.

    So I think it is fair to judge fascism as leftish and America as rightish.

  269. Who wants to see Scalzi v. Goldberg on CNN or another news channel? Just put the two in a room with nothing but two chairs and Wolf Blitzer (only present for added hilarity, because he’s a complete tool), leave the camera running, and boom – instant entertainment.

  270. Frank:

    “In today’s parlance individualism is ‘right wing’ and collectivism is ‘left wing’.”

    Oh, nice try, Frank. But I very emphatically reject that individualism is a right wing phenomenon here in the US, otherwise, to use just one example, the ACLU wouldn’t be looked on with such utter loathing by the right every time it represented an individual against the state, asserting his or her Constitutional and individual rights against the government.

    I certainly agree that the right wing would like to assert that individualism is seen as theirs, however. But it’s not true. If anything, individualism runs on another axis to “right” and “left,” with absolute collectivism on one end and total anarchy on the other.

    So, in short, Frank: No.

    Ryan:

    I think Goldberg and I would actually be a hell of a lot of fun together, as long as we’re not restrained to talking just about politics.

  271. And @ 316: Pure collectivism doesn’t fit many modern Democrats’ views of their party, or many liberals’ views of their chosen political philosophy. If collectivism were truly a province only of the left-wing in America, why are so many left-wingers opposed to invasions of personal privacy, such as the warrantless spying on American citizens?

    Sure, a good chunk of left-wingers promote government solutions to large problems (Social Security, universal health care, etc.), but when it comes to a person’s individuality, that’s held sacred. Diversity and multiculturalism are prized assets of the modern left-wing, and the government is there to protect and encourage this personal freedom, from abortion to free speech to the freedom to not get poisoned by Chinese lead.

    An example of collectivism the modern left wing in America is through the recent example of Don Imus. Lefties were furious at the dude for being a racist ass and CBS fired him under pressure from advertisers and activists. The ridiculous and idiotic PC “movement” is collectivist, but the entire idea was created by right-wing radio goons so they could have a turn to play the victim.

    Collectivism can be applied just as easily to the right wing in America, and it can be refuted just as easily (promotion of individual liberty through the gun culture, opposition to individual liberty through evangelical mega-churches and discrimination against abnormal people like gays and immigrants, etc.).

    Point is, America was founded on a social contract (government of the people, by the people, etc.), which is, essentially, collectivism. Unless you want to start arguing America was founded as left-wing institution, you need to rethink when you start saying the conservative movement is “all about individualism and you don’t get any, neener neener.” Neither side has a firm grasp on either collectivism or individualism. They possess both to varying, generally healthy degrees, and both sides generally oppose authoritarianism (except for the neo-cons, but nobody likes those assholes).

  272. It’s pretty simple to understand what is going on- Jonah’s theory requires an incredibly poor understanding of what it means to be a liberal (or a conservative in any practical sense, for that matter), and an incredibly poor understanding of what it meant to be a fascist. He and his defenders are defining each of those three entities by the only definition that can accommodate his theory- by an argument that the significant difference between liberals and reactionaries is their tendency to statism, and that the fascists were statists, therefore whichever group is more statist is in fact just like the fascists (or the socialists, for that matter). It has no room for nuances of any kind- the degree to which modern liberals would make use of government to achieve social aims or their sense of the worth of individual rights vis-a-vis the rights or requirements of the state. It also has no room for any honest appraisal of reactionary government in this country- looking at the facts on the ground, it’s difficult to contradict the observation that reactionaries make greater use of the power of the state than liberals do.

    But it also misses the point by focusing on such an arbitrary means for classification. Rather than looking at the self-professed aims of liberals, conservatives and fascists, it restricts itself to looking at one and only one mechanism to pursue those means, i.e. the use of government regulation. It’s either a strikingly impoverished understanding of what actually moved or moves these groups, but it smacks of Holocaust denier methodology in the way that it focuses on a narrow band of facts that support the theory while ignoring the mountains of facts that contradict the theory. Which is why this “theory” smacks of an undergraduate paper written by the class Republican rather than a piece of scholarly work.

    (And I should note that like John, I have not read the book, and I’m basing my comments on what I’ve seen from JG in interviews and written defenses/responses.)

  273. Steve M: I am not saying, per se, that a dollar of tax breaks is directly equivalent to public dollars. But taxes are how we collect the money we feel the gov’t needs to do the things we want society to have done.

    By making it a tex deduction to spend on private insurance, the amount of money in the tax pool is reduced. That’s a direct reduction of public monies. We do lots of things with the tax code to change how people behave (the capital gains tax, for example, seems to have been an attempt to encourage people who were getting money which was in the really high marginal brackets to invest it, and so move it to a lower bracket, and stimulate other sections of the economy).

    So, rather collect 1,200 bucks a head, per year, and getting a medicare/VA/military style healthcare system for everyone, we have everyone who wants insurance pay at least that much.

    Then we give tax breaks. Health-saving plans let you take untaxed money out of the tax pool, completely. Some of them are regressive. The one I was in took any money I didn’t spend, in that year, on co-pay, medicines, etc. and gave it to the federal gov’t. I was being directly encouraged to remove tax money (actually more than just tax money; because it was removing 100 percent of that money from my taxable income) from the federal gov’t and give it to the medical industry.

    So we are, in effect, taking public money (in the form of taxes owed) and giving it to private entities (we do this in several other ways too, we decided we want people to own homes, so we let them take mortgage income and deduct it, that moves some money to banks, but the value of the home actually ends up in the hands of the citizen. To prevent some abuses we call people who buy and sell too quickly speculators; and tax the sale of the home as a capital gain, but I digress).

    If we removed that tax break, and spent the money to fund a single-payer health care system, the amount we have to spend would (looking at the places where they are doing that) would drop, and the the care would improve (at the very least 47 million people who are one illness away from bankruptcy wouldn’t have that worry).

    But we are told we have the best care in the world, and that we aren’t being taxed to get it. Both of those assertions are questionable.

  274. As I understand it, Mussolini, at least sometime pre-1932, was bragging that he was a socialist. As of 1932 forward, he was arguing that fascism was the negation of socialism. At some point, Mussolini begins to jail/kill socialists. It seems clear, and I don’t think anyone is disputing, that fascism is a form of collectivism, differing from socialism by method of implementation.

    Assuming the above is true, I would be interested in knowing when Mussolini began his program against socialism. After all, despite socialist policies (allegedly, for those who disagree), its awfully hard to justify oppression of socialists if agreeing with them. If there is a connection in time between the two, it would seem to be evidence that his “negation” of socialism were mere words to justify his oppression of socialists, as opposed to a pseudo-socialist reality (imperfectly implemented, as all socialist governments have been, to date).

    Terry Karney-

    I think we come from differing perspectives. I take the starting point that no dollars are “public” dollars and only become “public” dollars when actually taxed.

    For example, I am a 1/3 owner of a business with 15 employees. We provide health insurance. We deduct from our gross reciepts business expenses, such as medical insurance expenses. The balance is our gross income, which is subject to taxation.

    One can argue that the government losses revenue by allowing business expense deductions. I take the opposite position, however. If deductions were not allowed, the cost of being in business would go up and there would be fewer businesses, and thus less tax taxable revenue. Essentially, as you pointed out, the tax code can be used to encourage certain conduct but, likewise, can become so oppressive, that it discourages conduct.

    There is only so much blood (money) that can be squeezed from people. Eventually they come to a point where they’d rather be fishing than working.

    As government health care, you use the VA as an example. By reputation (the reality I am unsure of, despite being a veteran), that is probably a poor model to hold up. Public perception is that government health care, such as Canada and Great Britian, will result in less quality. Those who want government health care are going to have to convince people like me that it won’t screw it up, as they seem to do everything else it touches.

  275. stevem:

    “As I understand it, Mussolini, at least sometime pre-1932, was bragging that he was a socialist.”

    Well, he definitely was a socialist at one point, no doubt about it. He broke with them after the first world war.

  276. Nice try John (@318)

    But the Right does not scream everytime the ACLU defends individuals against the State. In fact, a friend of mine, James Taranto, who currently edits the Best of the Web for the Wall Street Journal and is considered “conservative” was once defended by the ACLU when as editor of his college newspaper he was removed and suspended from school because he allowed a cartoon to be published that was critical of Affirmative Action.

    Some on the right complain about certain “causes” that the ACLU tends to defend such as using the 1st Amendment to attempt to remove “Christian” religious artifacts from schools while leaving other religions alone. Or the recent case where they are trying to claim that sex in a public restroom is a privacy issue. To some, at least some in the ACLU seem to have an agenda that goes beyond simply defending Civil Rights. But that’s an argument for another time.

    To me it appears that they often do work that does challenge government power and I’m OK with that.

    But you have to go beyond such a meager example and look at the issues that “the Right” supports:

    2nd Amendment rights are individualist (And I am not aware of the ACLU ever taken a case supporting the 2nd Amendment).
    Federalism is anti-collectivist (and the “middle way” between individualism and collectivism)
    Local control of schools is individualist
    Capitalism is economic freedom and individualistic
    Property rights are individualistic
    Rule of law holds that people, not environment, are responsible for their actions

    Granted there people on the Left who also hold values that are individualistic but “on balance” the Right tends more towards decentralization, less towards collectivism than the Left.

    If anything, individualism runs on another axis to “right” and “left,” with absolute collectivism on one end and total anarchy on the other.

    So then on what “axis” does Fascism exist and what are the poles?

    In other words, what is it about Fascism that makes it “right wing” if we can’t use the collectivist/individualist axis?

    And that is the question I’ve been trying to get you to answer for some time now.

  277. How far after WWI? And was there a change in Mussolini’s economic policies (as actually implemented as opposed to his rhetoric) following his 1932 denunciation of socialism?

    Essentially, Mussolini takes power as a socialist. Did he change his economic policies after that change?

  278. Righteous Bubba

    Witness James Taranto’s love for the ACLU.

    Didn’t say the ACLU wasn’t above criticism. And this is a great catalog of how wacky that organization can be.

    What I did say was “But the Right does not scream everytime the ACLU defends individuals against the State.”

    And it is a fact that the ACLU defended him. But a) not every ACLU office and crew are the same and b) the National organization is often wackier than the locals.

    As James said in one of your cases

    The ACLU used to be so committed to free expression that it would even represent Nazis and Klansmen seeking to express their views. But apparently they draw the line at the Boy Scouts.

  279. Didn’t say the ACLU wasn’t above criticism.

    Oy.

    But the Right does not scream everytime the ACLU defends individuals against the State. In fact, a friend of mine, James Taranto, who currently edits the Best of the Web for the Wall Street Journal and is considered “conservative” was once defended by the ACLU when as editor of his college newspaper he was removed and suspended from school because he allowed a cartoon to be published that was critical of Affirmative Action.

    Once upon a time a used-car salesman gave me a cookie and coffee. Now I spend large amounts of time talking about how awful used-car salesmen are. This proves my attitude towards used-car salesmen is reasonable.

  280. Conservatives are not per se hostile to the ACLU. As I conservative, I cannot help but shake my head at the double standards and sometime inane actions of the ACLU. But I’m not hostile to it. The ACLU serves a valuable and necessary function, on occasion.

    Double standard as I’m not aware of any ACLU effort to support in individual right to bear arms, despite the vast majority of scholarship supporting that right. Inane as, by constrast, they somehow find away to support a right to have sex in public bathroom stalls.

    The ACLU, if it wanted to earn some respect and be taken more seriously as an organization, needs to take a long hard look at itself. As it is, the seem of adopt a drug addled Northeastern liberal interpretation of civil rights, as opposed to a more consistent and justifiable approach.

  281. Quick note to folks: I’m at a convention over the next several days and will only be online a limited amount, which means that I’m not going to have time to answer in full (or even really read) the entries posted after my last post, and it’ll be several days before I can catch up. Please, continue on without me.

  282. Inane as, by constrast, they somehow find away to support a right to have sex in public bathroom stalls.

    If you’re talking about Larry Craig, I have no sympathy for the guy, but take a look at the particulars of the case and ask yourself what he was actually arrested for.

    Anyway, I don’t personally believe that conservatives hate the ACLU but the propaganda machine obviously and indisputably does. No mention of the ACLU can go without its caveat.

    As it is, the seem of adopt a drug addled

    I’ll have what you’re having.

  283. “Jonah Goldberg, who has never once used someone else’s verbal flubs for mocking purposes, ever, gets annoyed that people are amused that during a talk at the Heritage Foundation (update, 2:13pm: actually, in this Salon interview; he apparently himself forgot where he said it,”

    That’s the nature of “verbal flubs”. We don’t recognize when we’ve made them because we are thinking something different than what we say. The point he wanted to make was fairly early in his book and it is this. Mussolini was on the left as is clear from his ideological pronouncements, his hanging out with the left, his acceptance by the left, etc. Then he and many other leftists decided to support entry into WWI and that got some other leftists upset and thats when he was first labeled as being on the right.

    Which you have to admit is pretty lame. If Hillary advocates invading Mexico to set up universal health care I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make her a right wing war monger.

    He makes that point in the book and he also goes in to origins of fascism and correctly. So obviously he didn’t “forget” or doesn’t know this stuff. He merely as you say made a verbal flub or misspoke.

    Funny think is I’ve been reading a couple of these articles and the left is still essentially making that claim. They are claiming that because Mussolini was pro-war and nationalistic that by definition puts him on the right. But those are only the means he advocated not the ends. The ends he advocated were all the standard socialist talking points. Then when he got into power he acted like every other authoritarian socialist from Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot to Mugabe, Saddam, and Chavez.

    Well maybe I was wrong there, the former socialists on my list who actually went fully socialist and stole all the property immediately were far worse for their economies than the latter. They ended up getting more people killed on simply economic grounds. In fact when you consider all there actions and the timing of those actions their socialist economic policies cause some of the worse suffering on their people. Mugabe only started causing starvation and shortages in his country when he started stealing land from whites, and setting price controls.

    Socialists also like to claim that Stalin and Hilter aren’t socialist because they fought with the socialists (of which communists are a subclass) on the streets. That’s another ridiculous belief. Protestants fought Catholics for centuries but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t Christians, and certainly doesn’t make them Buddhists. Stalin had Trotsky assasinated with an ice pick and his communist pals slaughtered plenty of other communists. That doesn’t make them Republicans.

    To associate Mussolini and Hitler with the American right because some communists in Italy and Germany didn’t like his nationalism is just plain silly. The same thing is true for inter-ideological schisms. Especially when neither of them shared any of the ideological talking points that the American right was at the time and is at the time for.

  284. “Now, I know it’s not the fashion to prefer the original sources to current, revisionist views of history, but what can I say, I went to the University of Chicago, and we’re old fashioned that way.”

    Go Maroons (especially the class of ’91).

  285. To Righteous Bubba@336

    You completely missed my point. You linked to a picture of the KKK as if somehow that would refute Brian Macker@332 point about linking fascist’s to the American Right. But what do the KKK have to do with Facsists or the American right? Nothing. The KKK started after the Civil War in the South. It eventually expanded into other areas of course. But it’s primarily southern. For more than a century after the Civil War what was the de facto party of the South? (Hint it’s not the Republicans). Am I saying The KKK is an arm of the Democrat party? No. But a better case could be made for that than linking them with the Republicans. Which is obviously what you’re trying. Though even if you could link them to the R’s how does that have anything to do with Fasists? If the picture was of neo-nazi’s you’d maybe have a facist link.

    The problem I see with a lot of the criticism (though not all it must be said) of Goldberg is that too many of you think liberal=good, conservative=evil. This is just ridiculous. That’s also why myself and several have noted on this thread or the other that the whole right/left way of looking at politics just doesn’t work too well. Amongst other things you get this sport’s team mentality where you root for your team annd boo the other team.

  286. Richard @ 191: There were no “Gerrman conservative parties” to speak of a the time, at least not in the American understanding of the word “conservative” (clasical liberal, small government, etc).

    After the inflation and the depression, with six millions out of work and more than that working poor, with the middle class having lost savings and security, and the monied classes scared to death of communists, “small government” was very much *not* en vogue in the final years of the Weimar republic.

    The German People’s Party with its romantic and idealist background might have been closest to the American common usage of “conservative”, and it had already been bought and sold by industry magnates in 1930 and made deals with the Nazis.

    Most conservativism in that time was “We want the Kaiser back”, i.e, the wish for a time machine to bring back the years before the Great War, the desperate desire of the bourgeoisie not to rock the boat, a military longing for another war to recapture glory, meaning and influence, but not above thuggery if opportunity presented itself, and a land-owning aristocracy desiring to return to feudalism. That’s what people wanted to “conserve”, as if they had not already lost it.

    You want to see a small government politician in Weimar Germany, look at Bruning. You’ll notice what it got him.

  287. I keep hearing about all the industries that Hitler, Franco and Mussolini nationalized. Maybe someone could provide a list of nationalized companies?

  288. You don’t want to f**k around with Goldberg,because he’ll hit you with the Jackhammer… especially when he finds out that you have such infamous descendants.

  289. FYI, “Liberal Fascism” will be No. 3 on the “New York Times” best seller list when it comes out next week. Also, Goldberg’s just been nominated for a Pulitzer for his column (not the book).

    .

  290. Thank you for the response John. It is your blog and you set the rules, I get that. I just hear too many right wingers saying the NAZIs were socialists and it bugs me. Socialism is a left wing ideology and the Nazi’s were NOT left wing. What can I say, the ignorant annoy me.

  291. There’s a reason why Jonah Goldberg is known as Doughy Pantload to many bloggers in the reality-based community.

  292. Reading this thread makes me think about… I find it fascinating how what I think of as equality and what I think of as freedom so often switch their places in my mind. What we label euqality and what we label freedom — I wonder how much of our disagreement over which is more importand stems from us having the opposite idea of which is which and how much is genuine disagreement.

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