Goldberg and Bainbridge: A Compare and Contrast

Folks have been asking me in e-mail if I had any thought about Jonah Goldberg’s recent assertion in the LA Times that Barack Obama’s proposed requirement of public service for teens and college students is not unlike slavery. The answer: No, not really; once the man declared that Mussolini was really a Socialist all his life, despite ample historical evidence to the contrary (Mussolini leaving Italy’s Socialist party, founding the Fascist party as an explicit right-wing refutation of Socialism, ordering the murders of prominent Socialists and then bascially daring anyone to do something about it on the floor of the Italian parliament) I recognized that Jonah Goldberg is kind of like the conservative movement’s special younger brother, the one that drank a pint of lead-based paint at age six, utters sentences where the verbs and nouns don’t quite match up, and gets moody and throws things when you gently try to explain that actually, no, goats did not land on the moon in 1983. In this context, of course Jonah Goldberg would suggest youth public service contributes to a “slave mentality.” It would be surprising if he hadn’t, frankly. It doesn’t mean such an attention-seeking comment merits serious consideration on my part.

(No doubt Mr. Goldberg’s rejoinder to this would be to point out that the book in which he gets lots about fascism wrong has racked up some lovely sales numbers; the obvious rejoinder to this is: well, you know. At this point on its downslope into minority, the conservative movement has a lot of special younger brothers.)

That said, while I don’t want to have to unpack Goldberg’s nonsensery, I would commend to you Stephen Bainbridge’s take on Goldberg’s column, as an example of someone who is a conservative with libertarian leanings, has serious reservations about Obama’s plan, and, heck, even hauls out the “S” word, yet does not descend into paint-quaffing madness. Aside from the quality of Professor Bainbridge’s comments, it’s worth noting the small irony that Goldberg’s platform for his gouting silliness is a newspaper, while Bainbridge’s rather more sensible discussion is hosted on a blog, and yet it’s the electronic medium that gets hammered for hosting bloviating ninnies. Funny about that.

69 thoughts on “Goldberg and Bainbridge: A Compare and Contrast

  1. Jonah Goldberg is Ann Coulter except not as good looking. They both get paid big bucks to say outrageous stuff.

    BTW, the “Obama as Fascist” meme is not just Goldberg – a fair number of hard-right sites are parroting it.

  2. Well, they managed to hijack the meaning of the word ‘liberal’. High on that success, they’re going for ‘Socialist’ and ‘Fascist”. Kind of odd, as follow up choices, but you know. Lead paint.

  3. Chris Gerrib:

    Oh, sure. And Goldberg knows his shtick. I do wonder if he thinks people actually take him seriously, however.

  4. You actually think conservatism is “on its downslope into minority”? Good luck with that, I guess.

    Anyway, Bainbridge said anything I would have on this topic, and much better than I would have, so I’ll leave it alone.

  5. As an aside, community service has been worked into high school curriculum here in Ontario for several years now. It’s just one of (not terribly arduous) requirements for graduation. Frankly, calculus was a lot tougher to get through.

  6. Kevin R:

    “You actually think conservatism is ‘on its downslope into minority’?”

    It’s definitely in the minority at the moment in Congress, and the polls for the last couple of years suggest the public is pretty disenchanted with it as well, especially the chunk of it associated with Bush. Now, you can argue that Bush isn’t a true conservative, and you’d get no real argument from me on that score. I don’t know that the public generally makes such a distinction.

  7. Scalzi @ 3 – I suspect that Jonah (and Ann) take themselves seriously. They believe they are right – where the trickery comes in is in how they say what they say.

  8. The comments I saw at the LA Times site on that op-ed were best described as not complimentary to Goldberg. Quite a few were on the theme of ‘Why are you publishing stuff by this idiot?’

  9. You know, John, calling Fascism “right-wing” is quite literally the Stalinist line. But nationalism aside, you’ll find it hard to find another “right-wing” aspect to it, in theory or in practice. Now, today’s neocon-dominated Republicans are certainly neo-fascist as they are guilty of the same “cult of the state” phenomenon that Giordano Bruno Guerri – an Italian socialist – describes in his Fascisti. But then, Democrats are also prone to la sacralizzazione della politica that both Guerri and Gentile considered to be the primary aspect of Fascism.

    Fascism wasn’t a refutation of socialism, it was a simply a revision, a nationalist one which substitutes the nation for the working class. Hence its being known as “the Third Way” between Communism and liberal democratic capitalism. And if you want to see fascism in action, come visit Europe where the antidemocratic fascists in Brussels are doing their thing, lacking only the uniforms. Unsurprisingly, it is the Socialist parties that are the most enthusiastic about the new Eurofascism.

    So, while Fascists weren’t Socialists, they were definitely socialists. I don’t, however, think that Barack Obama is any more a neo-fascist than George Bush or John McCain.

  10. Vox:

    “Fascism wasn’t a refutation of socialism, it was a simply a revision, a nationalist one which substitutes the nation for the working class.”

    Mussolini would disagree with that assessment:

    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.

    Certainly Fascism was collectivist in its nasty, evil way, but “collectivist” is not synonymous with “socialist.” This is one of the places where Goldberg falls down, as far as I can see.

    That said, I don’t really want to have the discussion of whether Fascists are socialists (small “s” or big “S”) in this particular comment thread; it’s an aside to the point of Obama’s service idea and Bainbridge’s (and Goldberg’s) reaction to it.

  11. Mm, it’s always amusing to see Vox throw around -isms and -ists.

    I don’t see the problem here. Perhaps Jonah Goldberg is unaware of this, but community service for young people has long been a requirement if you, say, would like to attend university at the usual age rather than being a “nontraditional student”. You must have logged community service hours and the usual necessary total is about 40 hours. A lot of high schools are now actually requiring a similar commitment as well, at least here in Florida. (I think it has something to do with the belief that if the children aree out working to help people they’ll be too busy to ask about evolution, but that’s just me snarking my state.)

    It’s not new, it’s not exciting, tonnes of American children have to do this anyway, it’s not exactly rocking the boat to make it a federal requirement. I personally like it and would do required time even though I logged well over 200 volunteer hours when I was 14-18, and those days are long past. I think it might build a real sense of community and the acceptance that you really need to just suck it up and help your fellow citizen rather than the sum and total of your patriotic sentiments being waving sparklers around one day a year while drinking Bud and then maybe stumbling your way into a booth to fill in some bubbles every two or four years. Canadians are used to this…we could benefit.

  12. Service has an educational component — community service is assigned by judges to teach compassion, and to provide restitution. Education has a service component — an educated woman or man is presumed to be able to provide better service to civilization. Therefore:

    Jonah Goldberg got it wrong: school is like JAIL.

    (1) Compulsory;

    (2) Time off for good behavior (i.e. graduating, or even skipping a grade or testing out of a class);

    (3) self-segregated by race, ethnicity, and income;

    (4) huge demands on the income of most states;

    (5) unionized but outnumbered guardians (teachers or prison guards);

    (6) dominant emotions are fear, stress, and boredom — simultaneously;

    (7) Classroom management techniques in urban schools are taken from behavior modification techniques in prison;

    (8) Bad food;

    (9) Lack of privacy;

    (10) state and federal regulation, but only loosely enforced where individual rights are concerned;

    (11) sexual liaisons are predominatly with other inmates.

    Mind you, I have been a teacher since 1973, for many thousands of students from 6th grade through postdoctoral seminars. I love the classroom.

    Realistically, I suggest that the overburdened prisons relase a majority of their inmates to probation with electronic ankle-bracelets, conditonal on their attending community college. That is VERY much cheaper.

    Which returns us to the question of whether teachers should be allowed to carry handguns.

  13. That said, I don’t really want to have the discussion of whether Fascists are socialists (small “s” or big “S”) in this particular comment thread

    No problem. Just note that Mussolini is being quite specific there, he’s criticizing the concept of class struggle inherent to Marxist socialism, not socialism itself. Hence my point about him substituting the nation for the proletariat, etc. One wouldn’t argue that Marx wasn’t a socialist because he attacked the Fabians, after all.

    Anyhow, what is your opinion on the mandated service proposal? I’m with Bainbridge and the “pox on both houses” brigade myself; I don’t see why forced volunteering is any better than a draft, except you’re less likely to get killed.

  14. Vox:

    “Anyhow, what is your opinion on the mandated service proposal?”

    I don’t know the specifics of the Obama plan in any great detail, so I can’t speak to it. In a general sense, I don’t have a problem with schools and government promoting public service and offering school credit or other incentives for it, since I like the concept of instilling the idea that service to the community is a good thing. I think mandating it is a fine way to have a lot of sullen teens resent community service as the thing that kept them from playing their XBox 360s on the weekend, like they wanted to, and thus do a half-assed job that benefits no one.

  15. So, Goldberg is speaking nonsense for saying this: “He would see that these goals are met by, among other things, attaching strings to federal education dollars. If you don’t make the kids report for duty, he’s essentially telling schools and college kids, you’ll lose money you can’t afford to lose. In short, he’ll make service compulsory by merely compelling schools to make it compulsory.”

    But Bainbridge makes correct in saying this: “Obama needs to make clear that any such program would be voluntary and ensure that it remains so by taking away federal funding from schools that make “public” service compulsory.”

    Perhaps you should re-read Bainbridge’s blog post. Goldberg is commenting on Obama’s current stated position (“we’ll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs”), while Bainbridge is seeking future refinement to Obama’s current stated position. The two are not irreconcilable, and are most simply reconciled by taking Bainbridge as presuming Goldberg’s reading as correct. And Bainbridge even says so: “It certainly can be read, as Jonah does, a plan to make ‘service compulsory by [effectively] compelling schools to make it compulsory.’ “

  16. Yes, but Goldberg says it stupidly, leading with “Oh Noes! A black man wants to rescind the 13 Amendment!” while Bainbridge unpacks the idea somewhat more intelligently. It’s the difference between treating an idea as idiotic partisan theater (Goldberg) and treating it as a flawed policy concept (Bainbridge). Presentation makes a difference in how the idea is unpacked, and how seriously one takes the message — and the messenger.

  17. Who decides what counts as community service? In high school I was state chair of the Teen Age Republicans (like Teen Age Werewolves, without so much facial hair). Our organization did some community service projects that were not political, except that we wore TAR pins or shirts or otherwise tried to get publicity for the work. My son’s religous school does similar community service work now. Would that count under the Obama plan? If not, then doesn’t the plan hurt those would would have otherwise been served? There is only so much time in the day and hours given to one program will certainly take away from the preexisting programs.

  18. You all may be interested in Goldberg’s last appearance on The Daily Show.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=147884&title=jonah-goldberg

    It was one of those times that Jon Stewart got so angry (if you could call it anger) he couldn’t stop putting Goldberg in his place even when the time for the interview ran out. I only wish they had posted the full interview. I have a gut feeling that it was on par with the time that Jon Stewart destroyed Crossfire in under fifteen minutes.

  19. John @ 17: “Presentation makes a difference in how the idea is unpacked, and how seriously one takes the message — and the messenger.”

    This from a man who tapes bacon to a cat. ;-)

  20. This is the second time in a week that I’ve read an article from the LA Times where I had to wonder if the writer was snuffing paint (the other article was an opinion column that where a Sports columnist tried to equate Womens Olympic gymnastics with child beauty pagents.)

    I wonder if we should get the LA times office examined, prehaps there are some dangerous fumes floating about.

    Oh and as for compulsory volunteer work, when you consider how many kids out there do volunteer work to pad their resume for college and that a lot of high schools, I have to say Meh.

  21. Anonymous:

    “This from a man who tapes bacon to a cat. ;-)”

    Yes, but when I do it it’s not political allegory. I think. Hmmmm.

  22. My son has volunteered at the local food pantry, because he truly likes the feeling he gets helping old people carry bags of groceries out to their ride. (My wife did something very right.)

    When he volunteers there, there’s usually a half dozen or so other teenagers sitting around in the back room playing with their gameboys because they “have to get community service hours” for something or other.

    Having looked at Bainbridge’s quote from the speech, it seems to me that Obama is conditioning federal education aid on school districts developing service programs, not on participation levels in those programs, though I concur with Bainbridge that it’s not totally clear. So I don’t know whether I agree or disagree with Obama’s plan.

    But I can say, from personal experience, that mandatory community service is pretty much an oxymoron.

  23. (Rats. The ananymous post at 20 above is me.)

    More seriously: Yes, but Goldberg says it stupidly, leading with “Oh Noes! A black man wants to rescind the 13 Amendment!”

    The actual opener of Goldberg’s article reads: “There’s a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of racism from the nation, vows to run afoul of the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery.”

    “Run afoul of” is not “rescind.” One can recognize, and disapprove of, infringements of civil liberties without descending to absolutist parody; you’ve done so here plenty of times. Having read Goldberg’s entire article, I’m hard-pressed to see where his objection to Obama’s proposal makes that descent.

  24. Oh, Barack. Clearly it’s been too long since you were out of high school – the one I went to, had it been funded for some community service system, would’ve had something insanely convoluted that required forms in triplicate. As it was, the brighter students in mine just tended to help the teachers grade over our lunch period. We racked up a lot of hours over the year, and they got their workload reduced. Everybody was happy, it required jack-all for funding, and nobody had to mandate anything.

  25. Why I Love John Scalzi:
    Part One In a One Part Series (there are more, I’m just lazy)

    “…does not descend into paint-quaffing madness.”

    Thank you.

  26. Gerrymander:

    Amending the complaint to “Oh Noes! A black man plans to run afoul of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery!” does not necessarily change the asininity of the premise, Gerrymander, namely that mandated public service rises to constitutional scrutiny on 13th Amendment grounds. Which is the actual issue, to my mind. It’s fine that Goldberg doesn’t like the idea — it’s even fine that he think it amounts to involuntary servitude, which I think is a wholly arguable point. That it’s something that runs afoul of the US Constitution on slavery grounds strikes me as pretty dumb, and a pretty dumb way to frame the argument. Which is why even Goldberg steps back from it by the end of the column, instead blathering about a “slave mentality” it would promote, which is even more dumb.

  27. “This from a man who tapes bacon to a cat. ;-)”

    Yes, but when I do it it’s not political allegory. I think. Hmmmm.

    Let’s see… Bacon is clearly represents the rural farming interests. The cat, of a species noted for curiosity, symbolizes academia, while the tape is the business community of middlemen…

  28. Jonah Goldberg is Ann Coulter except not as good looking.

    I just Googled a picture of Jonah Goldberg, and I have to ask…have you ever actually seen Ann Coulter?

  29. does not necessarily change the asininity of the premise, Gerrymander, namely that mandated public service rises to constitutional scrutiny on 13th Amendment grounds.

    Does that mean you disagree with Bainbridge? Because he certainly does think that both conscription and Obama’s proposal rise to such scrutiny. He casts aspersions on both ends of the political spectrum in doing it, but his conclusion is clear: “Conscripting young people to do public service is just as much a form of slavery as conscripting them to go and fight in a war.”

  30. Gerrymander:

    “Does that mean you disagree with Bainbridge? Because he certainly does think that both conscription and Obama’s proposal rise to such scrutiny.”

    I’m not aware of saying that I agreed with Bainbridge on the topic, Gerrymander, merely that I found his analysis and presentation better. And yeah, I don’t agree. I don’t see military conscription as the moral or legal equivalent to slavery, nor, as a legal matter, does it seem to run afoul of the 13th Amendment. I don’t think mandated public service in schools is any more slavery than conscription, and independent of that argument, it’s certainly a lot less hazardous.

  31. Scalzi

    I don’t see military conscription as the moral or legal equivalent to slavery, nor, as a legal matter, does it seem to run afoul of the 13th Amendment. I don’t think mandated public service in schools is any more slavery than conscription, and independent of that argument, it’s certainly a lot less hazardous.

    Well there you have it.

    I’m all for voluntary public service with your choice of a) the military, b) Americorps, or c) The Peace Corps in exchange for being a citizen.

    (wait! that reminds me of something. It’s on the tip of my tongue….nevermind)

    Oh, OK. I’d be in favor of it in exchange for a “GI Bill” as well.

    Mandatory service? No.

  32. Instead of babbling on about mandatory volunteerism, maybe the new President’s Department of Education should focus on producing students who can actually, you know, read and do math and stuff. An 18 year old who can balance a checkbook and pass a basic reading comprehension test is an increasing rarity. All this electioneering bloviation about “service” crap is like requiring sailors to scrub the decks while the engines are on fire.

  33. You’ll note above that I don’t think mandatory service is a good idea, either, Frank. It doesn’t mean I think it’s legally or morally akin to slavery.

  34. That’s vaguely silly. Like someone said upthread, we’ve been doing this in Ontario for about…eight years now, I think? And it’s not at all a fuss. Hell, convention volunteering can count towards the required hours.

    Also, have any of them thought about how this is a wonderful way for students to get employment references that’ll help them land jobs? That’s part of what I used mine for.

  35. Yes, Leah, but you up there in Canada are used to being servile tools of THE MAN. Here, we must have freedom!

    FREEDOM!

    (Hey! The “h1″ tag works!)

  36. The thing is, plenty of schools have public service programs. Plenty of *conservative run schools* have public service programs. Who was complaining back when they started?

  37. No, no, Frank:

    FREE SPEECH!

    AND GUNS!!!

    See, that’s better.

    (Note to everyone: please don’t actually start using the “h1″ tag for every little thing. It’ll make the comments, um, messy.

  38. On the other hand, Canada does not conscript non-volunteers into military service except in WWI and WWII. And even in those cases, there was a huge debate and a lot of hurt feelings.

  39. Now that I’ve seen the Jonah Goldberg Daily Show clip, I have to agree with Paul at 29, Goldberg is way better-looking than Ann Coulter.

    As for the rest of it….how community service is defined and how easy it is to hook into something that counts as community service is a big question. I’ve talked to some high-schoolers and their parents, and it gets weird sometimes. If Obama is saying that as we have this requirement (and we sure as hell do where I live), then we need to *define* it, that would be good.

    I know I could go read the articles, but my brain is still reeling from the Daily Show clip…..

  40. For the record, here are the capsule summaries of recent Jonah
    Goldberg columns according to the L.A. Times itself:

    July 8, 2008
    Forced servitude in America?
    There’s a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black
    presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of racism
    from the nation, vows to run afoul of the constitutional amendment
    that abolished slavery.

    July 1, 2008
    Can Obama rescue Bush?
    Breaking news! The ultimate White House insider plans a tell-all book
    about the Bush years. Boasting unprecedented access to the president’s
    thinking, it will run counter to almost everything we’ve been told
    about Bush’s radical presidency.

    June 24, 2008
    The risk of Silly Putty policies
    ‘Americans are a moral people. They will not sustain a foreign policy
    rooted in a cold pragmatism that averts its gaze from the tragedy of a
    little country to maintain cordial relations with its oppressor.
    Churchill said long ago: The belief that security can be obtained by
    throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion.”

    June 17, 2008
    Canada’s thought police
    Mark Steyn, my friend, colleague and arguably the most talented
    political writer working today, is on trial for thought crimes.

    June 10, 2008
    Dining room dollars
    Al Gore claims (though I’ve found no evidence to back it up) that
    “good enough for government work” once implied that such work met the
    highest standards of excellence. Maybe. But in the U.S. Senate’s
    kitchens, “good enough for government work” means any meal that
    doesn’t require a stomach pump.

    June 3, 2008
    Obama’s judgment on Iraq falls short
    It looks like the presidential battle between Sens. John McCain and
    Barack Obama will be about one overarching theme: judgment versus
    experience. And Exhibit A will be the Iraq war.

    May 27, 2008
    Michelle Obama is fair game
    ‘Lay off my wife.”

    May 20, 2008
    The church of green
    I admit it: I’m no environmentalist. But I like to think I’m something
    of a conservationist.

    May 13, 2008
    Why we need nukes and Gitmo
    What do Yucca Mountain and Guantanamo Bay have in common?

    May 6, 2008
    Give voters a clue
    The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. was a sideshow, a distraction, a sham
    and a shame. So sayeth many of the brightest stars in punditry. How
    sad that we wasted so much time on what Sebastian Mallaby of the
    Washington Post called an “absurd digression.” Barack Obama himself
    constantly frets that we are “caught up in the distractions and the
    silliness and the tit for tat that consumes our politics,” which
    “trivializes the profound issues.” Yes, by all means, the profound
    issues are what the campaigners should grapple with. Grapple away on
    matters of substance and policy. Bread-and-butter concerns.
    Kitchen-table topics and pocketbook issues.

    The L.A. Times also provides this:

    Jonah Goldberg is one of the most prominent young conservative
    journalists on the scene today. His column, syndicated by Tribune
    Media Services, offers shrewd analysis on a wide range of subjects,
    from political philosophy and economic trends to popular culture, with
    an entertaining writing style that speaks to a whole new generation.

    With keen wit and hard-hitting insight, Goldberg brings a fresh
    perspective to the typical right-left debate, by rejecting party
    lines, talking points and stale clichés. He is the 2001 winner of the
    prestigious Lowell Thomas Award.

    Goldberg’s columns and articles have rapidly generated a large
    readership. A member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, Goldberg
    is a contributing editor for National Review and founding editor of
    “National Review Online,” for which he writes a popular feature, “The
    Goldberg File.” He is a former columnist and contributing editor for
    Brill’s Content and former media critic for The American Enterprise.
    He also served as Washington columnist for the Times of London.
    Goldberg has written about politics and culture for the New Yorker,
    the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Public Interest, the Wilson
    Quarterly, the Weekly Standard, Slate, TheStreet.com, New York Post,
    Women’s Quarterly and Food and Wine.

    Goldberg has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “Larry King Live,”
    “Today,” “Nightline,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “Politically
    Incorrect,” “Special Report with Brit Hume,” “Geraldo,” “NBC Nightly
    News” and numerous other television and radio programs. He was senior
    producer of the award-winning series “Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg”
    on PBS.

  41. Lord save me from unenthusiastic volunteers. They’re more trouble than they’re worth.

    (My high school required service— but it was a private, Catholic school, so you could argue that everyone knew what they were getting into. And it was part of a class, so your grade was based on attendance and essays on the work and so forth. Strangely enough, they gave me credit for a night church choir that I took part in that year.)

  42. Yeah. Cause receiveing $4,000 a year in exchange for public service is so much like having someone else who has ultimate power over your life–can sell you or your family members at any time–can do anything with your body that they wish–can beat you and mistreat you if you do something they don’t like. Working from dawn till dusk with no payment of any kind. Being sold and treated as if you are animal. And having no legal recourse what so ever.

    Obama’s plan is so much like that.

    I have seen the error of my ways.

  43. I take Goldberg’s invocation of the 13th Amendment about as seriously as I take people who un-ironically use the term “sheeple.”

    It certainly had the desired affect though; we’re all talking about him. For anyone who questions why the LA Times would print his work, there’s your answer.

  44. Robert:

    “It certainly had the desired affect though; we’re all talking about him.”

    Yeah, but we’re mostly talking about how he’s a bit of an ass. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

  45. The parable of the bacon and the cat:

    : The story of the bacon and the cat is the story of a dream…Once there was a cat, going about its business. Then a man, for no particular reason, taped bacon to it. The cat could not even eat the bacon. “Oh no,” thought the cat, “why has God forsaken me?” But the cat eventually came to the conclusion that there was no answer, that life was simply a Kafkaesque fable in which s/he was both its protagonist and its victim.

    Later on, the cat killed some mice and felt better.

  46. All flavors of socialism are collectivist at the core. They also owe a lot to feudalism and paternalism. Marx and Lenin may have written a lot about authoritarianism fading away as socialism matured, but history has shown much the opposite result.

    Benito Mussolini on the other hand was, at the heart, a bandit chief who pulled off one fuck of a heist.

  47. “no, goats did not land on the moon in 1983″

    That is just a strawman. Goldberg didn’t say that goats landed on the moon in 1983. What he said was that many aspects of modern goat herding in 1983 actually resemble aspects of authentic moonwalking.

    Please let’s get the facts straight.

  48. I don’t see military conscription as the moral or legal equivalent to slavery, nor, as a legal matter, does it seem to run afoul of the 13th Amendment. I don’t think mandated public service in schools is any more slavery than conscription, and independent of that argument, it’s certainly a lot less hazardous.

    The draft is a necessary evil.

    “Mandatory volunteerism” is an unnecessary evil.

    If you want me to work – PAY ME!

    Instead of babbling on about mandatory volunteerism, maybe the new President’s Department of Education should focus on producing students who can actually, you know, read and do math and stuff.

    YES, YES, exactly right!

  49. The USSC declined to review a case that failed in challenging the draft on slavery grounds in the early 1960s, IIRC.

    You can’t require that someone volunteer, that’s just too much word corruption.

    Laws that require “doing good” merely move “doing good” over the fence, from the freedom side to the tyrant side.

  50. I don’t think he’s particularly paint-quaffing stupid so much as embracing the lazy punditry that’s so popular now: offering a false choice between your way and exactly one bizarre alternative. In the same vein:

    if we don’t “defend marriage” we’ll wind up with sex-crazed degenerates fornicating with animals in the streets.

    If you have any doubts that the US Economy is a perfect model of free enterprise and competition, aside from concerns that it might be over regulated, you must be a card-carrying communist.

    If you don’t buy in to the Green agenda 100% you must be the moral equivalent of the villains from Captain Planet, going out of your way to pollute just because you like to make fuzzy animals cry.

    If you see any flaws in characterizing President Bush as simultaneously a retarded monkey, a master conspirator, and evil incarnate you must be some kind of megachurch religious right neocon fascist.

    etc.

  51. ‘But nationalism aside, you’ll find it hard to find another “right-wing” aspect to it, in theory or in practice.’

    Um, fascism’s total devotion to the extinction of communism, at least in the Italian, German, and Spanish versions of the 1930s?

  52. no_scottbot: Sounds like a family feud. Plenty of siblings and cousins have slaughtered one another with great abandon in order to win the crown. Why not related political systems?

  53. not_scottbot:

    ‘Um, fascism’s total devotion to the extinction of communism, at least in the Italian, German, and Spanish versions of the 1930s?’

    The Italian, German, and Spanish fascist parties were not devoted to the extinction of communism or socialism. They were devoted to the destruction of their political parties. The fascist dogma was almost all pulled wholesale from the writings of Lenin and other socialist pioneers. The fascist leaders realized that their most likely supporters were already members of existing communist and socialist parties. In order to gather their support they had to destroy their competitors for the loyalties of socialistic sympathizers. It is a truism in war and politics; First destroy those most like yourself. That’s why fighter pilots always engage enemy fighters first, then the bombers, and lastly surface targets. The most effective method of destroying a tank is using another tank, etc.

  54. A reminder to folks that of the many things I really don’t want this thread to be about, a pointless rehash of whether Fascism is really Socialism is one of them.

  55. Okay, but how ’bout meta-arguing about Tribar’s analogy?

    Fighter pilots don’t always engage enemy fighters first. Interceptors go after the bombers. They only engage enemy fighters to the extent necessary to get to the bombers. And the most effective method of destroying another tank these days is a missile, usually launched from a helicopter.

    I like stevem’s analogy better. It may not be any more accurate, but the idea that WWII was just sibling rivalry because mom always loved Socialism more than Fascism is good for a chuckle.

  56. ‘The Italian, German, and Spanish fascist parties were not devoted to the extinction of communism or socialism.’

    The Nazis, especially the Nazis, would wonder just what the hell you are talking about. Unless you don’t know what ‘Bolshevik’ means. Hitler would be personally insulted to think that his masterwork in prison shared much of anything with Lenin’s writings. As a matter of fact, could you point out the passages in Lenin’s writing concerning the Dolchstoss? Or the ones about racial purity?

    In Germany, it is still considered the height of bad taste to point out that Hitler was forced to invade the Soviet Union because of the threat to western civilization posed by Stalin. The reason that it is the height of bad taste here, to the point of losing employment in a firestorm of public outrage when in the public eye, is that the Nazis said the same thing themselves, while invading the Soviet Union. Germans, at least, have no problem understanding what the Nazi party stood for, and who it considered its enemies to be.

    Of course, the Nazis were socialists – it says so right in their name, after all. Which is why all the members of the SPD (the socialist party of Germany), founded in the time of Bismarck, either fled Germany, were jailed, or decided to simply fade as far into the woodwork as possible.

  57. In deference to John’s repeated reminders, I’ll only respond briefly. The various flavors of fascism that arose in western civilization (Italian fascism, German nazism, and American progressivism) varied greatly. One of the things they shared though was the cult of the ‘Great Leader’. As a result, each country’s version of that political concept reflected the leader’s moral and political values (so Nazism under Hitler, a maniacal rascist, adopted racial genocide as a priority, while Italian fascists were not into ‘racial purity’, but nationalized more industries).

  58. I know I’m a little late here, but I just have to comment on the weirdest part of this whole thing. I, myself, have argued against government-required “mandatory volunteering” requirements on 13th Amendment grounds (because, well, service, that’s not paid or for that matter chosen, required without any kind of arrest-charge-trial-verdict-sentencing sequence, sounds to me an awful lot like what it’s on about), but the part of the speech excerpted in the Bainbridge post doesn’t sound like it’s talking about that at all.

    I mean, I could be misreading it, but requiring public schools to offer community service programs doesn’t sound much to me like requiring public school students to do community service, and neither does creating a $4,000 grant to college students who do 100 or more hours of community service per year; in fact, they both sound to the ears of this attempting-to-pay-for-college student like a really good idea, which is about the opposite of my reaction to John Edwards’ scheme.

    That’s not to say I don’t still have my reservations–the “goal” language in particular makes me a bit wary, because it’s not one that could get near to being met without making community service a requirement–but just reading what’s said, it doesn’t come close to dinging my personal “the rights of youth are being violated again!” radar. And if he did follow it up with “and I want to penalize public schools which do require community service of its students, because that violates both the spirit of volunteerism and the Constitution/right to self-determination” or something similar–not very likely, since it’s not very politically savvy to recognize the rights of minors, but at least it’s compatible with what he’s said so far–I’d be all in favor of it.

  59. Let’s play name that party. Here is a list of SOME of the planks from a party’s platform, which part is it:

    1) The abolition of all income obtained without labor or effort.

    2) We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

    3) We demand the nationalization of all enterprises (already) converted into corporations (trusts).

    4) We demand profit-sharing in large enterprises.

    5) We demand the large-scale development of old-age pension schemes.

    6) We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle class; the immediate communalization of the large department stores, which are to be leased at low rates to small tradesmen. We demand the most careful consideration for the owners of small businesses in orders placed by national, state, or community authorities.

    7) We demand land reform in accordance with our national needs and a law for expropriation without compensation of land for public purposes. Abolition of ground rent and prevention of all speculation in land.

    8) The State must raise the level of national health by means of mother-and-child care, the banning of juvenile labor, achievement of physical fitness through legislation for compulsory gymnastics and sports, and maximum support for all organizations providing physical training for young people.

    9) We demand laws to fight against deliberate political lies and their dissemination by the press.

    10) We demand freedom for all religious denominations, provided that they do not endanger the existence of the State or offend the concepts of decency and morality.

    There are more but that’ll do. Hmm, so which party is it? Are these ideas reminiscent of a ‘right wing’ ideology that tends to support free enterprise, freedom of the press, property ownership and individual rights? Or is it more reminiscent of a ‘left wing’ ideology that tends to support the ideas of collectivism, statism, lack of property rights, lack of freedom of speech?

    IMHO, this seems much more collectivist and statist and thus more left leaning than right leaning. Oh, and BTW all of these items were directly lifted from the NAZI PARTY PLATFORM.

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