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« Check-in on Intrade | Main | This Looks Like The Future Of Displays »

Another Review

...of Jonah's book, by someone (shockingly) who has actually read it--Daniel Pipes:

To understand fascism in its full expression requires putting aside Stalin's misrepresentation of the term and also look beyond the Holocaust, and instead return to the period Goldberg terms the "fascist moment," roughly 1910-35. A statist ideology, fascism uses politics as the tool to transform society from atomized individuals into an organic whole. It does so by exalting the state over the individual, expert knowledge over democracy, enforced consensus over debate, and socialism over capitalism. It is totalitarian in Mussolini's original meaning of the term, of "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." Fascism's message boils down to "Enough talk, more action!" Its lasting appeal is getting things done.

In contrast, conservatism calls for limited government, individualism, democratic debate, and capitalism. Its appeal is liberty and leaving citizens alone.

I've been arguing with people for decades that there is little useful difference between fascism and socialism/communism. Certainly what difference there was was pretty transparent to the user. I think that nine out of ten (if not ninety nine out of a hundred) times that the word "fascist" is used (particularly as an epithet) it is utterly mindless. As Pipes notes, "Already in 1946, George Orwell noted that fascism had degenerated to signify 'something not desirable.'"

Classical liberalism is as far as it's possible to be from both fascism and socialism. While the notion of a one-dimensional scale to describe political views is ludicrous enough in its own right, the notion that, on such a scale, libertarians and fascists would be on the same side is demented, but many people (particularly ignorant leftists) continue to maintain this delusion.

I'd like to think that Jonah's book will provide a corrective to this decades-long calumny, but sadly, as is often the case, the people who need to read it the most probably won't. They'll just continue to ignorantly fulminate about the cover.

[Late morning update]

Jonah writes in USA Today today about Putin's role model:

While Time saw fit to linger on "the Russian president's pale blue eyes," they left out a fascinating rationale for Putin's power grab. For much of the last year, the Russian government has been lionizing an American president who roughly seized the reins of power, dealt briskly with civil liberties, had a harsh view of constitutional niceties and crafted a media strategy, which critics derided as "propaganda," that went "over the heads" of the Washington press corps.

George W. Bush? Nope. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Putin has routinely invoked FDR as his role model. "Roosevelt laid out his plan for the country's development for decades in advance," he gushed at a news conference last fall. "At the end of the day, it turned out that the implementation of that plan benefited ordinary citizens and the elites and eventually brought the United States to the position it is in today."

"Roosevelt was our military ally in the 20th century, and he is becoming our ideological ally in the 21st," Putin's chief "ideologist," Vladislav Surkov, explained at a state-sponsored conference commemorating the 125th anniversary of FDR's birth.

There's a rich irony here. For years, liberals have wailed about the moral hazard of Bush's supposedly crypto- (or not-so-crypto) fascist presidency. And yet it's FDR, Lion of American Liberalism, who, some seven decades after his death, endures as the role model for Russia's lurch toward authoritarianism, if not fascism.

An inconvenient truth.

So, class, is Vlad a communist? A fascist? Both? Neither?

And if you don't want to take Putin's word for it, Hitler and Mussolini are involved, too.

Also, he notes the Bush derangement:

Back in the here and now, GWB has done nothing remotely like what FDR did (for good or for ill, some might say). Despite the constant bleating about his hostility to the rule of law and civil liberties, he hasn't tried to, say, pack the Supreme Court, or round up hundreds of thousands of Japanese (or Muslim) people.

Bush's critics certainly have a point that our leaders need to think about the example we set. It's advice liberals should have heeded long ago.

Indeed, though I disagree that they're liberals.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 08, 2008 08:07 AM
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