Liberal Facism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change
Re-issued in paperback, with a new afterword.
by Jonah Goldberg
Recommendation: buy a copy today, buy another for your “progressive” friend, and read.
Here’s what happened.
In 1793, influenced by the writings of weeping pussy-willow philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, and a year after they joyfully stuffed their king in a hole, French intellectuals created the Committee for Public Safety, in which it was decided that the safest thing to do was to lop off as many heads as possible.
“L’etat c’est le peuple,“, said Robespierre. “And I know what is best for them, for I am an expert.” It was true: Robespierre was a lawyer and was very smart. He said, “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency. To forgive them is barbarity.”
However, le peuple soon tired of his jawing, and of slipping on all that blood and staining their clothes. So they ushered Robespierre to the Guillotine of Clemency. And to take his place, they installed the dictator Napoleon. Who decided, in the name of l’égalité, to proportionally kill as many non-French people as he killed French people. “It is for their own good,” he said.
For intellectuals in England, bliss it was to read of rivers running red. True, they reasoned, not everybody who was whacked deserved it, but it was a small price to pay to progress to the socialist utopia that was just over the horizon. Browning wrote in the Old York Times, “You can’t make an omelet without cracking a few skulls.”
Wordsworth, however, had ordered steak. So he turned his back on the Revolution and became the first ever neoconservative. Joined with Burke and a then-sane English government, they defended themselves against the socialist curse, both with ideas and ships o’ the line. Napoleon was defeated.
Later, Marx looked back on the French Revolution and lamented, “Nice try.” He theorized, “Next time wait for the world’s workers to rise up and slaughter their employers. Then we will have true socialism.” Unfortunately for Marx, he blinked out before witnessing the next major blood bath.
Which, after a few false starts, was ushered in by Lenin, an intellectual who agitated for international socialism and the rights of the people. Molotov also fought for rights. He said, “We are all brothers now.” Those that demurred were made to drink his cocktail. One of Lenin’s rights was Full Employment, whose first beneficiaries were coffin makers and gulag guards. In the true socialist spirit, these workers toiled night and day for decades.
Meanwhile, in Italy, Mussolini knew that Marx’s prediction failed. Workers of the world would not spontaneously unite. They needed a boot to the face for motivation. Determined to provide this, he rode his ass to Rome and bundled Italian workers into fascio, opting for national, not international, socialism. “Further,” said he, “I am its duce.”
Lenin was furious. He said, “There can only be one true socialism, and that is international socialism! Further, I am its jiudep.” Mussolini retorted, “Says you!” Result? Schism! The Judean People’s Front was no longer on speaking terms with the People’s Front of Judea.
Though they were on bapping terms. Occasionally, an Italian international socialist would meet an Italian national socialist in the street, and they would begin a doctrinal discussion of workers’ rights, minimum wage laws, and whether it was best to seize the property of, and ban all, religions now or next Tuesday. Tempers ran hot, fists would fly, and Mussolini’s soldiers would march in to restore order.
About the same time in Germany came along Herr Schicklgruber, wearing lederhosen with custom Hindu stitching. He thought his brother to the south hit on a fine idea. “It’s national socialism for us!” he shouted to enthusiastic audiences. “Further, I am its führer.”
Hitler decided to mend fences. He said to Russia and Italy, “Boys, boys! The whole world is watching. Enough bickering! What matters is that we’re all socialists. Can’t we promise to just get along?” Russia agreed, as did Italy, but Hitler promised with his fingers crossed.
Hitler wasn’t done tinkering. “Gee,” he mused, “Wouldn’t life be grand if we didn’t have all these pesky Jews running around? Also, can somebody do something about the party name? It’s too long.” Rumor has it that Goebbels derived the shorthand “Nazi!” after hearing Hitler say “national socialism” while sneezing.
For intellectuals in America, very heaven was it to be young. International, national, who cared! It was socialism at last! They saw the future and it worked. “If only we could have it here!” they lamented. “But the American people just don’t understand how smart we are and how we know better.”
In Part II, we see whether this was true.
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