Liberal Fascism

I am reading the book Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. I have agreed with the premise of this book long before it was written.  He points out that liberals have made it their mission to incorrectly foist the 'fascist' label upon what we today consider the right-wing, or Conservative political beliefs.  In reality, that could not be more incorrect.  Fascism is a liberal phenomenon, almost by definition.  We were taught by academia (quite incorrectly) that the politics of Hitler and Mussolini was right-wing, when in fact it's left wing.  Fascism goes hand in hand with national socialism, and it frankly cannot function in a true right-wing limited-government environment.

In the modern American sense, a conservative (or traditional classical liberal) believes in small, limited government, typically limited by a written constitution.  Conservatives believe in the individual- that the pursuit of an individual's self-interest is also what is in the best interest of society.  This is based on the philosophies of Adam Smith, Voltaire and others.  They believe in laissez-faire free market capitalism, free trade, and in private property.  Conservatives generally limit the government to the functions of protecting individual rights, maintaining law and order, serving as an arbiter in the form of courts to uphold contracts, and providing military protection against foreign enemies.  In a nutshell, that's all that the government should do in the eyes of modern conservatives.

By contrast, a modern liberal, also called a progressive, believes in socialism.  They believe in a powerful central government dictating to the citizenry that which an elite believes is best for the society as a whole, even to the detriment of the individual.  They use phrases like 'the time the debate is over' and 'scientific consensus' to quash opposition to their policies and ideals- even when there is substantial disagreement.  (Hitler used these methods with quasi-science to great effect.)  They impose massive taxes on the people typically for two purposes: to generate revenue to fund the large government bureaucracy they require, and to redistribute wealth from the 'rich' to the poor, through government programs that they control.  They generally do not believe in private ownership, preferring a collective state ownership of the means of production, or if not overt state ownership, at least control over the means of production as well as 'critical' industries like banking, healthcare, etc.

Now that we have defined modern conservatism and liberalism, let's also define fascism.  There is not a consensus on the definition of fascism, but generally the following traits together form a fascist regime:
  • Authoritarian- Centralization of power, often into a single party or individual based on a commitment to the national community as an organic entity (rather than as individuals) bound together through ancestry, culture, and blood.
  • Totalitarian- Views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified in order to achieve the common good.  Tries to control all aspects of life including heath and wellbeing, using force, regulation, and social pressure to that end.
  • Nationalist often reaching the point of statolatry, or worship of the state
  • Indoctrination of the citizenry through propaganda, censorship, education, etc.
  • Opposition is demonized- usually labeled as enemies of the state and and quashed as quickly as possible under a fascist regime by agents of the regime as well as the public which is whipped into a frenzy by the propaganda and oratory of the regime.  Sometimes this reaches the extent of murder / purges of the opposition.
  • A leader that claims to be attuned to or the embodiment of the will of the people, often (but not always) rising to the point to create a cult of personality.
  • Collective policies that put the state/collective good above all individuals
  • Little or no respect for individual rights and freedom, such as the rights to bear arms, free speech, free religion, free press, etc.
In a fascist state, there may be the facade of a constitution, legislature, or even monarchy (in the case of Italy) but in practice, it's a dictatorship in the eyes of the dictator.  Fascism prefers a totalitarian single-party state that seeks mass mobilization of the nation through indoctrination, physical education, and discipline.  I would contend that every single leader/regime that I outline below meets every single one of the above criteria for fascism.  Here are several fascist individuals and regimes that have existed throughout history... let's review to see if they are more conservative or liberal...

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French

Napoleon was arguably the first fascist of modern history, even though that term did not exist until Mussolini.  He was also genocidal, in many ways building the model on which Hitler would build nearly a century and a half later, as well as Stalin, Mao, etc.  In 1799 Napoleon took 2,000 prisoners in Gaza and 3,000 in Jaffa, on the condition that their lives would be spared.  After the battles, Napoleon ordered the prisoners (including women and children) to be killed by bayonet, in order to save bullets and gunpowder.  Later, he slaughtered 100,000 rebellious slaves over the age of 12 by sulphur dioxide gas in Guadeloupe and Haiti, then known as San Domingo.

Napoleon is the child of the French revolution, his goal being to take the "ideals" of the French revolution to the rest of Europe.  He took French nationalism to new heights, convincing his countrymen that France was the greatest nation on Earth, and droves of French died for him in furtherance of that myth.  He ruled France as an absolute dictator with an iron fist and controlled a brutal police state in which he operated a vast network of secret police and spies.  The police shut down plays containing any hint of disagreement of criticism of the government.  The press was controlled by the state and used to express propaganda.  It was impossible to express an opinion without Napoleon's approval.

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America

Woodrow Wilson believed first and foremost in absolute power.  He criticized Constitutional limited government, and the Declaration of Independence.  Wilson stated that "Government does now whatever experience permits or the times demand" and, as to limited government, "The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit..."

In a 1890 essay entitled Leaders of Men, Wilson said that a “true leader” uses the masses of people like “tools" and that 
“the competent leader of men cares little for the internal niceties of other people’s characters: he cares much–everything–for the external uses to which they may be put…. He supplies the power; others supply only the materials upon which that power operates…. It is the power which dictates, dominates; the materials yield. Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader.”  As to dissent, he stated “woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way.”

Wilson went out of his way to go to war with Germany, including provoking German attacks, in order to accomplish the "splendid things that come to a nation through the discipline of war.”  Once he got the war that he wanted, he used the opportunity, as most fascists do

the first change they get to expand government powers and silence any dissent.  In fact, Wilson created the first modern propaganda agency in the West called the C
ommittee on Public Information and was led by journalist George Creel.

Edward Bernays, an adviser to Wilson and participant in CPI operations, characterized the mission of CPI as the “engineering of consent” and “the conscious manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.” 

A trained group of nearly a hundred thousand men gave four minute speeches to any audience that would listen including spying on and turning in fellow citizens who did not buy 'Liberty Bonds' or who opposed Wilson in any way.  They portrayed Wilson as a larger-than-life leader and the Germans as less-than-human Huns, emphasizing fabricated German war crimes and horrors.

At Wilson’s urging, a Sedition Act forbade Americans from criticizing their own government in a time of war. Citizens could not “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the government or the military. The Postmaster General was given the authority to revoke the mailing privileges of those who disobeyed. About 75 periodicals were were shut down by the government in this way and many others were given warnings.

In the fashion of a police state, the Department of Justice arrested tens of thousands of individuals without just cause. One was not safe even within the walls of one’s own home to criticize the Wilson administration. A letter to federal attorneys and marshals said that citizens had nothing to fear as long as they “Obey the law; keep your mouth shut.” In fact, the Justice Department created the precursor to the Gestapo called the American Protective League consisting of the hundred thousand men previously mentioned.  I
ts job was to spy on fellow citizens and turn in “seditious” persons or draft dodgers. In September of 1918 in NYC, the APL rounded up about 50,000 people. This doesn’t even include the infamous Palmer Raids in which an additional 10,000 anarchists and labor activists that opposed Wilson were arrested. 

In 1915, in his address to Congress, Wilson declared, “The gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags…who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes….”

All in all it is estimated that about 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. 

Wilson took over the US economy completely.  He charged Bernard Baruch with running the War Industries Board, which would endeavor to control all industry in service to the state. It would serve as a precursor to the corporatist policies of Mussolini and Hitler.

Grosvenor Clarkson, a member and later historian of the WIB, would characterize the WIB as follows: “It was an industrial dictatorship without parallel–a dictatorship by force of necessity and common consent which step by step at least encompassed the Nation and united it into a coordinated and mobile whole.” He would also later say that the war was “a story of the conversion of a hundred million combatively individualistic people into a vast cooperative effort in which the good of the unit was sacrificed to the good of the whole.”  
The government weakened the spirit of the people to resist government tyranny.  Rationing and price-fixing characterized the wartime command economy.  Wilson even tried to dictate what people ate on a daily basis.

Therefore, Wilson was the first fascist president of the US and first major fascist dictator of the 20th century.  Wilson took over the US economy, infringed on American civil liberties especially by suppressing dissent, oppressed the “unpatriotic,” and purposefully sought to drag the US into war. This Marxist, totalitarian, jingoistic, and militaristic Democrat president was a fascist. He worshiped the power of the state, and such statolatry is exactly what fascism is. 

Adolph Hitler, Reichsfuhrer of Germany

Adolph Hitler is the name that comes to mind immediately when one thinks of fascism, such that NAZI and fascism are almost interchangeable in the minds of most people.  Nazi, of course, stands for National Socialism - two of the defining traits of fascism- nationalism and socialism, including total control of the state, the people, and the economy.  Of course, through political maneuvering, Hitler was reluctantly appointed Chancellor of Germany by the democratically elected President Hindenburg.

Nazism is founded upon the bedrocks of opposing capitalism, big business, the bourgeois, the Jews, and the communists or Marxists.  As is well known, Hitler did not tolerate opposition, imposing strict control of the media, gun control, and using the SA and the SS to silence dissent- from imprisonment to mass executions.  Nazi propagandists such as Joseph Goebbels whipped the public into a frenzy to support Nazi goals, reinforce German and Aryan superiority ideals, and demonize and destroy any opposition.  Nazis were radical environmentalists and animal welfare activists, and enthusiastic supporters of eugenics including sterilizing or eliminating people who did not meet their Aryan standards.  Nazis, while still allowing some private property, had strict control over the means of production, appointing Nazis to manage and run most factories and businesses.

After the Reichstag (legislative building) burned in a fire blamed on Communists, but likely to have been started by Nazis, Hitler demanded that the legislature pass the Enabling Act which gave Hitler's cabinet full legislative powers for four years.  It was passed, while the legislators were surrounded by SA guards, and to the exclusion of Communists and several Social Democrats who were not allowed to attend.  From this point on, Hitler had absolute authority over the state, including requiring all SA, SS, and all soldiers to swear allegiance directly to Adolph Hitler.  As is well known, Hitler initiated a series of wars to expand the reach and scope of Germany, invading Poland, France, the Soviet Union and others. He also murdered at least 6 million Jews through the efficiency of his gas chambers and concentration camps.  Hitler is a quintessential fascist in nearly every respect, but also very much a liberal when it comes to social policies and state control.  He certainly does not exhibit any aspects of a small government conservative who believes in capitalism, individualism and individual rights.

Benito Mussolini, Il Duce of Italy

Benito Mussolini coined the term fascism and was a dedicated socialist writer and orator.  In 1912, he became the editor of Italy's official socialist periodical called 'Avanti!' through which he could express his views.  Initially, he opposed entry into World War I, but later changed his mind after pondering Marx' notion that social revolution follows war.  Once he started supporting the war, in opposition to the socialist party, he was removed from his position and from the party.  The was then conscripted to fight in the war, and became virulently pro-Italian.

After the war, Mussolini opposed the socialist party but was convinced that a dictator was needed to solve Italy's problems.  He decided to form a party of his own, called the 'fasci di combatiimento' who were fighting bands of revolutionaries who ware black.  He and his group terrorized socialists, unions, and unsupportive locals which is likely where those who, on the surface, arrive at fascism being a right-wing affair.  However, to the contrary, he was very much a socialist even if he wasn't a member of the party.

In 1922, the King- presiding over a very weak government under pressure from Mussolini's supporters, offered Mussolini the position of Prime Minister and he effectively became dictator.  He used his power to pack the parliament with Fascists and held a dubious/fixed election in 1924 after which he effectively crushed and murdered all opposition.

He invested massively in public works projects and programs described as battles.  While he recognized what was happening in the United States under FDR as Fascist, he is on record asking his people to not refer to the US as fascist because the term was not popular in the Untied States and could be used against FDR's fascist administration.

With the outbreak of war, Mussolini initially supported France, not Germany.  But hungry for territorial gains for his renewed Italian empire, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia successfully, but that action alienated Britain and France, ultimately resulting in an axis between Italy and Germany.  Mussolini was impressed by German success, but ultimately Hitler and Mussolini did not get along well and coordinated their actions poorly.

Ultimately, Mussolini was removed from power by the Fascist Grand Council and the King ordered his arrest after public support faded due to the poor performance of Italy during the war.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America

Franklin Roosevelt's regime is easily responsible for the largest expansion of federal government power in the history of the country to that time, including dramatic centralization of power, usurpation of the power of states, and dictatorial rule.  Roosevelt famously stated that he preferred to do what he wanted, and let someone else worry about Constitutionality later.

He created the National Industry Recovery Act (NRA) in which businesses is almost a direct remake of Mussolini's "corporate state" fascism.  Specifically, it authorized the President to regulate industry and permit cartels and monopolies (aka protect Roosevelt's buddies) and also established a public works program known as the Public Works Administration (PWA) and ultimately created over 10,000 pages of new regulations on business.  The NRA is known for it's 'blue eagle' logo and the slogan 'We do our part.'  Those who did not participate were treated harshly by the administration, resulting in what is a de facto government veto over businesses they didn't like, driving customers and vendors elsewhere through threats, intimidation, and regulation.  The US Supreme Court ultimately ripped into the NRA/PWA as being unconstitutional in 1935 when a number of lawsuits reached them.

He created Social Security which created a whole new class for the welfare state: senior citizens.  It added massive new taxes, a horrible return on the 'investment', and a 'trust fund' that is regularly raided, and in fact now depleted by government.

Roosevelt created an Office of Censorship during the war and used it to censor media coverage of his own travels in order to conceal his deteriorating health and to hide visits with his mistress, Lucy Page Mercer Rutherford.

He created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which was a paramilitary program for unemployed, unmarried men between ages 18-25.  They worked rural government lands ballooning to 300,000 people at one point, and processing more than 2.5 million over it's nine year existence.  Workers were managed by US Army officers and reported to General Douglas MacArthur.

He created the Works Projects Administration (WPA) which hired millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects such as roads, buildings, etc.  Roosevelt used the WPA to add to his political machine.  The WPA was called a seedbed for communists, and those too lazy to get a 'real job.'  Often public projects were done in areas that Roosevelt wanted to shore up politically, not based on economic need.  There was also a perception that the WPA encouraged poor work habits.  In fact, a Senate subcommittee reported that "To some extend the complaint that WPA workers do poor work is not without foundation... Poor work habits and incorrect techniques are not remedied.  Occasionally a supervisor or a foreman demands good work."  Sometimes projects would slow down deliberately because foremen had an incentive to keep going, rather than finish a project.

He signed Executive Order 9066 which sent 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps- a flagrantly Unconstitutional and racist act.  After the 1936 Berlin Olympics he met with the white American athletes and ignored black athletes including Jesse Owens who won four gold medals.  In fact Jesse Owens reacted to statements about Hitler snubbing him as follows: "Hitler didn't snub me- it was FDR who snubbed me.  The president didn't even send me a telegram."

FDR had no respect for the individual rights embodied in the Bill of Rights such as freedom of the press (he censored the press), freedom of speech (he prohibited dissent), the right to bear arms (he passed the National Firearms Act in 1934).  Instead, he offered a 'Second Bill of Rights' which included the right to a job; the right to earn enough to provide adequate food, clothing & recreation; the fight of every farmer to raise and sell his products; the right of every businessman to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from monopoly (which he prevented through state sponsorship via the NRA so this is a bit of doublespeak here); the right to a decent home; the right to adequate medical care; right to protection from economic fears; right to a good education.  In a word- socialism, or in other words the right to be wholly dependent upon the federal government.  FDR ordered the arrest of Montgomery Ward CEO because he refused to pay the exorbitant taxes demanded by him.

Roosevelt also snubbed individualism in favor of collectivism in nearly every sense.  He dramatically expanded the welfare state and regulation of the economy including extensive government planning of the economy.  Many modern economists of the Austrian/Chigago school believe that through FDR's interventionism, he prolonged the Great Depression and made it much worse than it otherwise would have been without the massive government spending and programs that were funded by debt and confiscation of private property, but of course that is not what is taught by academics and the public education system.  In fact, FDR doubled taxes, making it much more expensive for employers to hire people and harder for entrepreneurs to raise capital.  He destroyed food, broke up banks, drive the cost of living up, and engineered laws which dramatically impacted poor blacks.

Even FDR's own Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau made the following statement in a private meeting in 1939: "No, gentlemen, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong, as far as I am concerned, somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises… But why not let’s come to grips? And as I say, all I am interested in is to really see this country prosperous and this form of Government continue, because after eight years if we can’t make a success somebody else is going to claim the right to make it and he’s got the right to make the trial. I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started."  Mr. Doughton: "And an enormous debt to boot!"  HMJr.: "And an enormous debt to boot! We are just sitting here and fiddling and I am just wearing myself out and getting sick. Because why?  I can’t see any daylight. I want it for my people, for my children, and your children. I want to see some daylight and I don’t see it…"

Interestingly, the abandonment of many of these policies coincided with the strong economic recovery of the 1940s.  Government cannot create economic prosperity, because government jobs are ultimately funded by taxes or debt.  Taxes come from other citizens who cannot purchase goods, invest in projects, or hire workers, and debt has to be re-payed.  It's also worth mentioning that true to form with most fascists, FDR did not consider himself to be subject to the Constitution, or any other rules, laws, or traditions which is why he decided to run for an unprecedented third term in the White House.  There were outcries at the time within the United States that it was a dictatorship under FDR.  Since he couldn't technically fire the justices on the Supreme Court, he wanted to increase the size of the court from 9 to 15 judges, so that he could appoint 6 new justices that were friendly to him.  He tried his darnedest to be a dictator, and definitely was in his eyes.  The Supreme Court and to a lesser degree Congress exerted their power and therefore limited the power and reach of FDR, but he did everything in his power to rule as dictator over the United States, and was most definitely a fascist based on the definition.

Joseph Stalin, Premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Joseph Stalin is obviously a Communist, but that does not mean that he's not also a fascist.  Liberals tend to portray Stalin as the 'opposite' of Hitler, and while they were enemies, they were very similar in terms of policies and they way they ruled their countries.  In fact, communists in Germany were told to support the Nazi's during their rise to power, under the communist plan "First brown, then red."  Let us look at the facts...

Stalin created and maintained a totalitarian regime.  He created a paranoid police state where all enemies of Stalin, and hence of the state, were tracked down and eliminated by the NKVD/KGB which ultimately imprisoned millions in gulags and murdered an estimated 20 million though purges during his reign, far more than Hitler.  All media, education and entertainment was state controlled, censoring anything even remotely disagreeable.

Stalin required nearly everyone to answer directly to him, and through the Communist party which has complete control of the government.  Communism in the Soviet Union was the definition of a one party system.  He was very paranoid that enemies were everywhere and out to get him.  He conducted a series of purges in which millions died because they were real or perceived enemies.  In fact, he killed 70% of his officer corps in a purge that preceded war with Germany in 1941, and as such the Red Army performed very poorly at the start of the conflict, with little experience in the ranks.

He also fiercely advocated Soviet nationalism through the concept of "socialism in one country."  It's also ironic that Communism's stated policy is a dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e. a worker's paradise, but in fact, Stalin and other Communists are the worst exploiters of the workers for the "good of the country."  Workers are asked to put the country first, and the workers as individuals do not matter, in true form of statolatry.

Together, these facts confirm Stalin's fascism, despite disagreement from liberals.

Mao Zedong,Chairman of the People's Republic of China

Mao Zedong followed closely the example of Stalin and of Hitler.  The political hierarchy and class distinctions within the Communist Party replaced the ideology of egalitarianism.  The thoughts of Mao Zedong in China were seen as gospel, as infallible wisdom of the leader who was never to be questioned or disagreed with.  Disagreement with Mao resulted in becoming a class enemy.  Chinese nationalism was directed through loyalty to the Communist Party.  In China, the Communist Party and China became one and the same, much like in the Soviet Union.  Even racism came into play, as the Han were considered the superior race within China, and the job of the government was to pacify, educate, and control the lesser peoples such as the Tibetans.

Mao conducted purges similar to Stalin, also killing millions of real and perceived enemies.  Through mismanagement, he succeeded in killing millions more through the 'Great Leap Forward' when he ordered the agricultural base of the country to destroy/smelt their steel agricultural tools in an effort to industrialize and modernize the country.  Millions starved creating the largest famine in human history when agricultural production plummeted. 

Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq

Saddam Hussein grew up in the highly idealogical Ba'ath party structure and his governing policies were driven by his ideological, pseudo-intellectual background.  He considered Arabs to be the master race with glorious history and accomplishments and he deified himself and the state above all else.  He was also fascinated with violence, warfare, and killing.  It's well known that he ruled Iraq with an iron first and allowed no dissent, often developing internal 'allies' through fear alone.  He was known to kill his closest friend and ally as a test of his devotion.  In many ways, like many fascists, he was not what you would call a clear thinker.  He also killed around 5,000 Kurds though a poison gas attack.  He considered his race superior to the Kurds and in this way was similar to Hitler's thinking.  Saddam was clearly a textbook fascist.

Kim Jung Il, Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Kim Jung Il is a fascist due to the exaltation of himself as the head of state, requiring dedication and worship from his people, and exhibiting tight control and a reign of fear over his citizenry.  He uses propaganda extensively, allows no dissent whatsoever, and controls every aspect of the lives of the North Korean people.  He regularly has people imprisoned and killed who oppose him or do not embrace his leadership.

Now that you have read about each of these fascist leaders & regimes, are they liberal or conservative?  I think the answer is obvious and it's not what you were taught in school.


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