Liberal Fascism – Chapter 4

Confession: We have a liberal troll who, when I don’t get a post up on Monday, sends me needling emails about what losers we all are for even attempting this. If nothing else, his email serves as a good reminder that I need to post. But this week I did not read. I got busy at the SPN Conference, then came home sick. Luckily, Warrior is always diligent and we can use his. Besides, this is a group effort. Shame on y’all for letting a left-wing troll who also emails praise for Hitler beat you guys to harassing me. In any event, read Chapter 5 for Monday. — Erick

“Franklin Roosevelt’s Fascist New Deal”

Favorite Chapter Quote, “He [FDR] spoke in generalities that everyone found agreeable at first and meaningless upon reflection.” pg 129

In Chapter 4, Goldberg goes a long way toward establishing the idea that, in the teens, twenties and thirties of the last century, Fascism was on the ascendency. And one of it’s most hearty acolytes was FDR. “The notion that FDR harbored fascist tendencies is vastly more controversial today than it was in the 1930′s, primarily because fascism has come to mean Nazism and Nazism means simply evil.” Pg 123 The fascist (Hitlerite) nature of New Deal fiscal policy was actually invoked as a point in its’ favor at the time.

The “intellectual home of the New Deal” (pg 123) was the New Republic, which often admired the fascist goings on in Mussolini’s Italy. Since fascism was melding with nationalism internationally at the time, FDR, whether a “true” fascist or not, became a totalitarian by default. His only ideology was an amalgamation born of expediency and ambition.

Goldberg gives some personal and political background on FDR, emphasizing his strong support of Wilson’s excesses. In the area of militarism, his ardor for military preparedness was extreme even for a time of national obsession with it. In collusion with Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge and other “Big Navy Boys” (pg 126), he went so far as to leak info that Republicans could use to bash an insufficiently militaristic Wilson.

As Asst. Secretary of the Navy, he worked for a racist journalist named Josephus Daniels. When not banging out horribly offensive editorials about blacks, Daniels supported the modern-day laundry list of left wing causes: gubmint education, gubmint healthcare and so on. When the war ended, Daniels and FDR pushed for a peacetime draft, new sedition codes and shouted “that America might need to become a super-Prussia.’” Pg 127

After a crushing defeat as VP candidate on the Cox-Roosevelt ticket in ‘20 (the American public was fed up with Progressivism by this time), he contracted polio and stayed out of the public imagination for the next decade or so, coming out to nominate Al.Smith in ‘24 and again in ‘28. Goldberg remarks that this series of events was actually in FDR’s favor politically. There’s nothing worse than an over-exposed politician. (BTW, what time is The Won scheduled to appear today to address the blah blah blah league of shameless, slobbering media sycophants?)

In the next few pages, Goldberg chronicles FDR’s defacto “Third Way” philosophy/governing style, ostensibly between capitalism and socialism. I was reminded on pg 129 of how his management style was to set two departments or individuals on the same task and sit back and watch. (This was Hitler’s mgt style as well.) The resultant triangulation, though practical politically, resulted of course in an ever-shifting center as public opinion and other factors swelled and ebbed. Although modern libs speak fondly of “the Roosevelt legacy,” in reality no such thing existed – the New Deal had no unified plan. Pg 130

What it did have was many, many similarities with Italian Fascism and German National Socialism. All touted the middle way, which sounds innocuous, as it is meant to, but is ultimately utopian because it rejects the cold hard reality of trade-offs. Thomas Sowell, Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and popular conservative author waxes eloquent on a number of issues involving the idea of trade-offs. His recent book, Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One, is replete with examples of just the kind of political choices the Third Way crowd (including The Won) try to avoid by using vast and technologically sophisticated arrays of rhetorical smoke and mirrors.

The consequences of being duped into such chimerical sophistry can be seen in CA today. In a section on incremental decision-making from Chapter One of Applied Economics (pg 3), Sowell quotes “a noted economist” who succinctly renders the real-world denoument of “I want it all” thniking thusly, “…no voting system could prevent the California electorate from simultaneously demanding low electricity prices and no new generating plants while using ever increasing amount of electricity.” See? No trade-offs! We in CA, like a troop of spoiled children, want our cake and eat it too.

BTW, CA is rife with similar examples. Want to lower rents for poor people? Simple. Just legislate rent controls. Want green space and undisturbed views? No problem. Pass a slew of land use restrictions. What’s the trade-off, otherwise known as cost? Well, as far a rent control, no new housing will be built because investors can’t realize sufficient return to bother with it. Thus creating an artificially expensive housing shortage and a deterioration of existing property (how does one maintain apts with rising repair costs {there’s that word again}and no new revenue?) And the law of unintended consequences comeuppance of land use restrictions? You guessed it, another housing shortage. Or as Dem demagogues put it, an “affordable housing crisis.” Also, as a side benefit, service workers who can’t afford astronomically high rents and real estate prices must commute many more miles to work, further contributing to their economic woes (and thereby magnifying yet another liberal boogyman — the ever-expanding, though truly fantastical, carbon footprint.) Which leads to even greater demands on energy and greater consumption of it, which leads to…well, you can probably begin to see the fallacy of “the third way” by now.

Another off-shoot of third way thinking is Authoritarianism because it assumes an elite group of “experts” can resolve all conflicts and solve all problems. And though exclusively Quixotic in result, like night follows day they will inevitably use force to try. Just how far this science fiction has advanced in the general population was seen dramatically during the campaign when one BHO supporter confidently and joyfully declared that she would no longer have to worry about paying rent or putting gas in her car once the Obambi was elected. One doesn’t have to go back that far for examples either. Recently a man in New Orleans, upon hearing from the Annointed One that, although Katrina restorations were going painfully slow, there was nothing he, POTUS, could do, asked “Why don’t you just write a check?” Why indeed? In the land of “the third way,” all things are possible. (And to decide that they aren’t would be racist, homophobic, xenophobic, selfish, greedy and probably unpatriotic as well.)

Goldberg cites politico-historical antecedents pushing the middle-way shell game as a “Bismarckian attempt to forestall the Red menace.” We’ll see shortly how much communism’s reputation had improved in 50 years when the groundswell for socialist programs by Father Coughlin et al actually pressured FDR into adopting some of them as a way of fending off political pressure from the further left. Liberalism is pragmatism as informed by William James and its’ proponents often are impatient to implement their policies. In 1932, eschewing America’s failure to keep up a war planning model during the Roaring Twenties, the cries for action by Stuart Chase epitomized the Progressives’ anxious insistence on taking action now! Asked he, “…why should Russians have all the fun of remaking the world?” Pg 133

Two more American fascists grew from the ripe international collectivist/nationalist soil of the twenties, a time when Oswald Mosley of the Bristish Union of Fascists set his sights on becoming Prime Minister and semi-fascist parties were springing up everywhere, e.g. Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Finland, etc. Father Charles Coughlin and Huey Long are now often posited as “right-wing” by the modern left. Goldberg spends several pages debunking such nonsense. The author chronicles some of the basics on page 138, where he notes that Coughlin railed against “international bankers” who were purportedly preventing “prosperity and justice.” (I hate to keep asking “Sound familiar?” but if the shoe fits…) Coughlin also supported gubmint activism, FDR and “state capitalism.” Again, Goldberg recounts that disparate ideological flavors within the broader rubric of Progressivism/Fascism were the players assigning terms of derision to opposing factions. The Zeitgeist of the era was composed of “hybridized versions of Marxism” and “most differences were between left-wing and right-wing socialists.” Pg 139

After having decided that FDR wasn’t radical enough for him, Coughlin, an execrable anti-Semite, founded the National Union for Social Justice. Listed on page 142 of Liberal Fascism is the wish list of leftist nostrums he wanted to foist on the country: a guaranteed “living wage,” snatching private property when convenient, gubmint support for the unions, wartime nationalization of industry, etc. I guess old King Solomon was right, there IS nothing new under the sun.

Huey Long qualifies as fascist because of one trait which is inevitably found in all statists – hubris. He truly believed that he embodied the vox populi and indeed was quite popular in his time. Yet the overweening nature of his mob rule mentality was what made him dangerous. As he himself said, “There is no dictatorship in Louisiana. There is a perfect democracy there and when you have a perfect democracy it is pretty hard to tell it from a dictatorship.” Pg 144

So, of the big two fascist threats to FDR, one was grossly populist and the other horribly elitist. In addition, Upton Sinclair and Dr. Francis Townsend, two more leftist threats to the New Deal crowd’s power, brought pressure on Roosevelt to move further left and move he did. Social Security was a sop to keep these baying collectivist hounds quiet and mollify their influence viz a viz his own and stands as yet another example of “third way” Roosevelt expediently “splitting the difference.”. Pgs 144-5 (Five largest current budget items? Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the debt and defense. Well, one of these is constitutionally mandated anyway.)

That Roosevelt and Hitler both made a fetish of catering to “the forgotten man” seems fairly mundane until one realizes that only half the proposition is “compassion.” The other half is stirring up “resentment against ‘fat cats,’ ‘international bankers’ and ‘economic royalists’” and eventually in Hitler’s case, the Jews. Even without the racial aspects (are heterosexual Christian white men the new Jews?) the crowd of heavies could easily be translated today as Wall-Street, bankers and “the rich,” who of course keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer. And let’s hope they do get richer, because if Obama has his way and they don’t, not only will the poor get poorer (which I don’t concede is happening anyway), but we will ALL get poorer.

Using populist demagoguery to get elected is also a tried and true strategy to gain power and is not bad, in and of itself. Hitler had his own version of “It’s the economy stupid.” Between 1932 and 1939, conditions in Germany improved markedly, more so than in the U.S.: employment increased, marriage and birth rates went up and suicide rates went down. Hitler admired Henry Ford for producing cars destined for the average volk. Hitler himself had such a scheme in mind, the fruition of which provided me with the automobile on which I learned to drive – the Volkswagon. (Of course, Hitler wasn’t able to deliver to his volk…)

Indeed, Mussolini and Hitler admired FDR’s approach. The Nazi party’s official newspaper, the Volkischer Beobachter, praised him lavishly. While reviewing FDR’s book, Looking Forward, Mussolini essentially enthused, “This guy’s one of us.” Pg 147 Speaking of FDR’s book, the Volkischer Beobachter stated flatly that several sections of it could have easily been written by a National Socialist. Pg 148

Goldberg dovetails back to the most startling similarities between Nazi Germany, New Deal America and Fascist Italy – the imminent and continual need for a war or, in William James construction, “the moral equivalent of war.” And it was needed of course as a pretext for mobilization, organization and social planning. Democracy, by its’ nature, is sloppy. It’s like herding cats. Pg 149 The socialists/collectivists/progressives want action and more action and they want it NOW. Although Prez Obeyme’s socialist health insurance plan won’t take effect until 2013, it must be passed NOW. It’s a crisis you know. And it’s just the latest in a long line of them: war on poverty, war on drugs, global cooling, global warming, etc.

In the next few pages, Goldberg iterates the endless depredations on liberty conjured up under the New Deal. Although not quite as violent and out of bounds as during Wilson’s turn, it still reeks of head-crackers, jackbooted thugs breaking down doors and the merest and most innocent non-compliance resulting in jail time. One Jacob Maged, a 49 year-old immigrant dry cleaner spent three months in jail for charging 35 cents to press a suit rather than the National Recovery Administration’s (NRA) mandated minimum of 40 cents for all “loyal Americans.” Pg 155

The antics of the alphabet agencies during the thirties is quite a colorful read. The NRA’s leader was a character dubbed Hugh “Iron Pants” Johnson. Blue Eagle propaganda parades and mobs rivaled Germany’s Nuremberg Rallies for ersatz pomp and sheer size. Even school children were not immune to the president’s super-sized exercise in Orwellian methods. One-hundred thousand of them to be exact, were dragooned into Boston Commons and forced to swear an oath “to do my part.” (Did I ask, “Sound familiar?” yet?) Pg 155 During a 1934 visit to Italy, one of FDR’s Colombia eggheads known, infamously in my opinion, as one of the “Brain Trust,” Rex Tugwell, admired Mussolini’s handling of the press. Said he, “I find Italy doing many of the things which seem to me necessary…Mussolini certainly has the same people opposed to him as FDR has. But he has the press controlled so that they cannot scream lies at him daily.” Yeah, lies like, “Hey Il Duce, your feather-brained schemes are leading us down the path to death and destruction.” Some “brain trust.” Pg 156

The chapter’s gravamen is perhaps the necessity for contemporary leftists to distance FDR, a liberal hero, from what fascism eventually led to, i.e. the Holocaust. Liberal intellectuals co-opted the Soviet taxonomy already in place and villainized conservatives as a strawman to protect one of their leading lights and sterilize the very real dangers of their pedantic and insufferably self-righteous ideas. Pg 157 Most people today still don’t recognize that FDR and Progressivism’s “ideology of power” created one of the modern left’s favorite patsies – the horrid “military industrial complex” of Eisenhower’s phraseology. Pg 158 And have you EVER heard “internment camps” and “FDR” mentioned in the same breath by the (formerly) popular press? Neither have I.

Since power is the sine qua non of the liberal existence and since they are convinced of their own eternal righteousness, any group or party other than themselves who wields it cannot be trusted. We saw this little detail in stark relief when the rent-a-mob protests against G.W. Bush were replaced by the grass-roots anger of ordinary citizens over the Won’s plans to nationalize on fifth of the economy. As Goldberg so exquisitely puts it, “Dissent by the right people is the highest from of patriotism. Dissent by the wrong people is troubling evidence of incipient fascism. The anti-dogmatism that progressives and fascists alike inherited from Pragmatism made the motives of the activist the only criteria for judging the legitimacy of action.” Pg 158 (And a strong contender for Favorite Chapter Quote.)

The chapter concludes by suggesting that liberalism’s ultimate motivation is to create a tribal community, that is, a foil to the frustration and isolation brought on by modern, technologically driven lifestyles. FDR opined that “we have been extending to our national life the old principle of the local community” as a foil to the “drastic changes” taking place in modern America. Pg 159 How much more so is this true now? Quite unfortunately, the necessary adjustments are not to be had through any kind of gubmint, much less the Leviathan we have now on the federal level. That is of course, unless the gubmint decides to do far less to “help” us than it is doing now, a prospect I find difficult to believe and dang nigh impossible to achieve as Town Hall attendees, Red State members and TeaPartyExpress patriots are finding out now. Make no mistake though, I believe we should try. We must try. The price of failure will be national humiliation and personal oblivion. In sum, another contender for Favorite Chapter Quote, “The government cannot love you, and any politics that works on a different assumption is destined for no good.” pg 160

Goldberg ends the chapter by restating one of his original premises, that American traditions, history and culture are bulwarks against any widespread socialism of a traditional nature in this country. No gulags, bloody purges or gas chambers are likely for us. We will experience the more benevolent kind of socialism along the lines of Britain’s current social disaster.

“We’re from the gubmint and we’re here to help you!” is the new fascists’ rallying cry. That’s why the book has a smiley face wearing a Hitlerian mustache on it. If we don’t work hard to stop it, we will soon get “genteel fascism.” Pg 161 That’s why the inimitable C.S.Lewis says it best:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

– C. S. Lewis

Next week: Chapter 5 “The 1960′s: Fascism Takes to the Streets”

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