You call it a Rose, I call it Limberger Cheese

Woodrow Wilson

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, G...

“Forget ideology, I just want someone to fix the government.”   I seem to have heard this a lot lately, especially since the naming of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate.  Seems like a lot of people are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.  Leave them alone, their overtaxed minds just can’t put up with another day of ideological rhetoric.  They have simplistic ideas such as “just cut 50% of government”, or “just tax the 1% to get rid of the deficit.”  Unfortunately, which half of government is likely to be cut is entirely dependent upon ideology, and the richest 1% can’t make enough to pay off the deficit.

Ideology does matter and has mattered since the dawn of our nation.  But the careless interchanging and mutation of ideological words has deflected the ability to discern just who stands where on the ideological spectrum.  Today, I’d like to start clearing up some of that.  But, I’m an extremely lazy individual at heart.  I don’t like reinventing the wheel.  So I’m going to let Jonah Goldberg do it for me.  In his book Liberal Fascism, The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Doubleday, 2007), Mr. Goldberg has traced the course of Fascism from it’s early roots to the present, in all it permutations.

Of course, the bugaboo is always the question of definitions.  His view of fascism is that it is, at its core, “the view that every nook and cranny of society should work together in spiritual union toward the same goals overseen by the state. (p.80)”  Sounds like a pretty utopian society, doesn’t it?  Sounds like a lot of the sound bites we get from out political candidates, doesn’t it?  The only problem is, of course, that the state is in charge of deciding what is good and not good, and it will base not of it on what is good for the individual, as in “you.”  Mussolini defined it with these words:  “Everything in the State, nothing outside the state.”  He, of course, believed that this “totalitarian” utopia justified military coercion of the people, in other words, brute policing force.  Unfortunately, he was the second great leader in modern history to use such anti-democratic means for his ends.  The first was American President Woodrow Wilson.

Not much is written these days about Wilson’s goon squads, like the American Protective League, that spied on neighbors and helped round up 100’s of thousands of “dissidents.”  Not much is written about his propaganda committees, or his liberal use of censorship that closed thousand of newspapers around the US.  We all know about Prohibition.  But few of us really understand that it was the brainchild of a fascist dictator who thought he could better control the people by outlawing drinking.  (Of course, the sudden explosion of gang activity from that time is one of the highly unfortunate results.)  We are not told these truths because others who follow in the footsteps of Wilson need to suppress this truth in order to try and try again to make it a reality.

I could go on and on, but I’ll close by letting Goldberg summarize for me.

Wilson didn’t act alone.  Like Mussolini and Hitler, he had an activist ideological movement at his disposal.  In Italy they were called Fascists.  In Germany they were called National Socialists [or Socialist Democratic].  In America we called them progressives.

The progressives were the real social Darwinists as as we think of the term today–though they reserved the term for their enemies.  They believed in eugenics.  They were imperialists.  They were convinced that the state could, through planning and pressure, create a pure race, a society of good men.  They were openly and proudly hostile to individualism.  Religion was a political tool, while politics was the true religion.  The progressives viewed the traditional system of constitutional checks and balances as an outdated impediment to progress because such horse-and-buggy institutions were a barrier to their own ambitions.  Dogmatic attachment to constitutions, democratic practices, and antiquated laws was the enemy of progress for fascists and progressives alike.  Indeed, fascists and progressives shared the same intellectual heroes and quoted the same philosophers.”  (p.81)

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2 Comments

Filed under Law and Politics

2 responses to “You call it a Rose, I call it Limberger Cheese

  1. B

    I found your blog in a google search because I am re reading liberal fascism and was trying to find out more about Wilson’s “goon squad.” I noticed that you had a link to the appeal democrat in your related articles section. Are you from the Yuba Sutter area?

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