Magazine article The American Conservative

Don't Blame Fascism: Neocons Misuse the F-Word

Magazine article The American Conservative

Don't Blame Fascism: Neocons Misuse the F-Word

Article excerpt

BEHIND GLENN BECK loomed the faces of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, and the American progressive John Dewey. The host gestured to the photos as he revealed the common link to Fox viewers: all favored state intervention in the economy and apparently did not believe in the concept of natural rights as found in the Declaration of Independence. Thus all of them flirted with fascism.

To drive home this point, Beck had invited Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, on to his program. Goldberg sees ominous connections between the economic corporatist Mussolini and the shenanigans of the current Democratic administration. To him, Hillary Clinton's notion that it takes a village to raise a child resembles nothing so much as the policies of Hitler's head of the German Labor Front, Robert Ley. This evidently Nazi-esque rhetoric comes to Hillary by way of her longtime advisor Michael Lerner, a Jewish leftist. Like the Nazis, Lerner and presumably Hillary believe that "morality, politics, economics and ethics: none of these things can be separated from anything else." Indeed, the welfare-state policies advocated by Lerner, according to Goldberg, look as if they were lifted from the Nazi platform of 1920.

Nor is that all: the vegetarian and ecological concerns of many Democrats seem similar to the beliefs of interwar fascists and Nazis. Hitler and Himmler prefigured these contemporary American fashions, Goldberg warns, as he notes that "many on the left talk about destroying whiteness in a way that is reminiscent of the National Socialist effort to de-Judaize German society." To anyone else the difference between these situations might seem obvious: while Hitler's plan was directed at a generally helpless minority in his country, the anti-white posturing of American journalists and educators is an acquired taste among the predominantly white elite.

But Beck and his guest are hardly the only movement conservatives who perceive a world fascist threat. Rudy Giuliani remains at war with "Islamofascism." Other Fox News luminaries, such as Charles Krauthammer, Sean Hannity, and Fred Barnes, are preoccupied with the same demon. Norman Podhoretz's World War IV is not surprisingly subtitled The Long Struggle against Islamofascism. Given these weighty authorities, it seems that fascism is America's #1 enemy.

Fascists, real or imagined, have long been the European Left's preferred opponents. The f-word in Europe is directed against all who stand in the way of further gay and feminist rights or unlimited Third World immigration. Anyone on the wrong side of these issues is labeled a fascist, which really means Hitler. The Left is perennially fighting Nazis in the form of any position or figure deemed insufficiently progressive. And now American neoconservatives are getting in on the fun, but with a twist: just as European leftists are convinced that anyone concerned about historic nations and traditional morality is a fascist, so neocons are equally sure that fascism is fundamentally a left-wing phenomenon.

They're all wrong. While conservatives are not fascists, as the Left would have it, neither are fascists leftists, as Goldberg and company believe.

There were in fact different fascisms in the 1920s and 1930s, and they were not always on the same side. As late as 1934, the Italian fascist leader Mussolini tried to come to the aid of the Austrian clerical fascist Engelbert Dollfuss, whom Hitler's henchmen in Vienna finally assassinated. Not all fascists were racists or especially anti-Semitic, and until the Axis agreement was reached in 1936, it did not seem that Hitler and Mussolini would be on the same side in any future war.

Mussolini, who in 1922 became the first fascist to take over a European government, claimed to represent and embody a "national revolution," not a single class--such as the Italian proletariat--let alone the "workers of the world. …

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