In the final chapter of Liberal Fascism, Mr. Goldberg provides a warning that fascism has shown up from time to time on the right side of the aisle. Conservatives can get into trouble when we start attacking the free market system or when we start legislating “compassionate conservatism”. Whether it’s President Bush’s faith based initiative, or McCain’s campaign finance reform, conservatives aren’t immune to the desire to legislate “good” behavior. How do we avoid developing the same tendencies that liberal’s have ? How do we avoid developing a conservative version of “liberal fascism”?
Mr. Goldberg gives us a very useful warning in this final chapter:
The cliche that the road to hell is paved with good intentions has more than its fair share of truth. I do not dispute that liberals have what they believe are the best of intentions as they push for a “modern” European welfare state. But it’s worth keeping in mind that a Europeanized America would not only stop being America: there’s also no reason to believe it would stop at merely being Europeanized. To paraphrase Chesterton: the danger of an America which stops believing in itself isn’t that it will believe in nothing but that it can believe in anything. And that’s where the darker dystopian visions start becoming plausible. Like useful idiots of yore, today’s liberals want nothing but the best, but by pushing open then door to get it, they may well let in something far worse.
Had Mr. Goldberg written this book this year, I believe he would have cited the auto bailouts and TARP. Both programs were passed under the Bush administration, and both programs opened the door to much more far reaching efforts by the Obama administration. The auto bailouts have allowed President Obama to become more and more involved in how the auto companies function, and to begin controlling other sectors. TARP has become a slush fund for the executive branch to do with however it pleases. I respect President Bush. However, I am convinced to this day that he was too worried about his legacy in the final six months of his office and couldn’t stand to see two major auto makers fail, and to see the market collapse on his watch. The worse part is that by the time these programs were hatched, both of those events had already happened. The car companies had failed, and, with the possible exception of Ford, are still failing. The markets did collapse, though nothing as devastating as the Great Depression. Even with TARP, the stimulus program, and every other law passed at aiding our economic recovery, there is no guarantee we are out of the woods yet.
Which brings me to the final point. President Bush forgot, and President Obama may never have realized what makes America great. It is the spirit and ingenuity of our people. If GM and Chrysler had gone into full bankruptcy (which they both did anyway), they would have either restructured to become a stronger company, or they would have been broken apart and sold to individuals with the desire to try and make better cars. If the financial sector had collapsed, (and it may yet) we would have gone through some painful times, but America would have come out of it stronger and with many of the problems that still plaque us solved.
I think the government should be in the business of providing those things our nation originally told it to provide such as protection from foreign enemies. Anytime we start legislating to protect people from themselves, we get into trouble. That rule is true whether it is a Democrat or a Republican purposing the legislation.
I really enjoyed this book, and have thoroughly enjoyed the discussions here on Red State. Eric’s original post didn’t give an order to the book list, so if anyone knows which book we should be starting no next, please let me know.