Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Liberal Fascism": A Critique from the Left

Hillary Clinton is a fascist for advocating public advertisements that offer tips on how to raise children, according to Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, but Reagon, Bush I and II, Kissinger, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and their support, to limit myself to only a single example, for overt, violent and objective fascism, such as the neo-fascist, paramilitary, guerrilla death squads in Latin America, isn't even mentioned!

Also not mentioned is the Ku Klux Klan, which was the first proto-fascist (I use the term despite the caveats necessitated by Zizek's analysis) movement in America, nor does Jonah bother to mention any of the real-existing fascist groups and movements in America - such as the KKK, neo-Nazis, white nationalists generally, vigilante border groups, etcetera - because that would at the same time demonstrate the truth of American fascism and falsify his entire Ann Coulter-reminiscent, far-right political screed...fascism is a product of the so-conceived political right, always has been and continues to be.

Another peice of alleged evidence offered by Jonah is the fact that The New Republic - which he argues isn't actually liberal, it's progressive and somehow progressive is actually a code word for racism and collectivism, as he mumbled on Jon Stewart's show, yet we on the left know how far to the right, how subservient to power, the TNR really is - allegedly wrote kind words about Benito Mussolini, yet unmentioned, for reasons which seem apparent immediately, is the glowing review the recently deceased William F. Buckley Jr. (the crown-prince of conservatism, representing the right without question or ambiguity) penned for 'General Franco' in Jonah's ideological backwaters of the National Review; (lets also not forget the shared ideological commitments of the socioeconomic dogmas of 'the Chicago Boys', Friedman, Greenspan, the IMF, the WTO, Pinochet, Suharto and so on).

I would think that we would also do well not to forget that Benito himself publicly declared in a speech railing against Italian liberals who were asking for the actual programs as were to be implemented by Benito that "fascism is anti-liberal."
There is also for Jonah the inconvenient fact that fascism has been well studied and thoroughly analyzed in academia and has been decisively placed on the right of the political spectrum (are there any real arguments against this conclusion? No).

Another laughable argument Jonah concocts is the trivial observation that "many" Nazis were vegetarians and concerned with the organic and the environment. Jonah implies that, therefore, the animal rights and ecology movements are fascist, which is a juvenile and obvious non-sequitur, literally analogous to arguing that Hitler had a mustache, therefore, mustache's signify fascism. He cannot refrain himself from reminding everyone that the Nazi party itself was allegedly rife with homosexuals. What he neglects to mention (rhetorical question: what are his views on homosexuality again?) are the scores of homosexuals massacred in Nazi death camps because they were gay. Jonah's argument is revisionist history at its worst and most hateful. Jonah's neglect of the holocaust's inclusion of homosexuals brings to bear another point about Jonah's inference that the Nazis were socialists.

The Nazi party, being fascist, was by definition not socialist, hence the separate term and category.
As soldiers who were with Hitler testified, Hitler was ideologically-rabidly anti-Marxist and anti-socialist, in part due to his crazed anti-Semitism - as 'spartacus' online chronicles "[h]is fellow soldiers described him as 'odd' and 'peculiar'. One soldier from his regiment, Hans Mend, claimed that Hitler was an isolated figure who spent long periods of time sitting in the corner holding his head in silence. Then all of a sudden, Mend claimed, he would jump up and make a speech. These outbursts were usually attacks on Jews and Marxists who Hitler claimed were undermining the war effort."
Hitler constantly ranted and raved about Marxism and Bolshevism as being Jewish conspiracies to take over and control the entire world.

spartacus continues;

Hitler saw socialism as part of a Jewish conspiracy. Many of the socialist leaders in Germany, including Kurt Eisner, Rosa Luxemburg, Ernst Toller and Eugen Levine were Jews. So also were many of the leaders of the October Revolution in Russia. This included Leon Trotsky, Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Dimitri Bogrov, Karl Radek, Yakov Sverdlov, Maxim Litvinov, Adolf Joffe, and Moisei Uritsky. It had not escaped Hitler's notice that Karl Marx, the prophet of socialism, had also been a Jew.

It was no coincidence that Jews had joined socialist and communist parties in Europe. Jews had been persecuted for centuries and therefore were attracted to a movement that proclaimed that all men and women deserved to be treated as equals. This message was reinforced when on 10th July, 1918, the Bolshevik government in Russia passed a law that abolished all discrimination between Jews and non-Jews.

It was not until May, 1919 that the German Army entered Munich and overthrew the Bavarian Socialist Republic. Hitler was arrested with other soldiers in Munich and was accused of being a socialist. Hundreds of socialists were executed without trial but Hitler was able to convince them that he had been an opponent of the regime. To prove this he volunteered to help to identify soldiers who had supported the Socialist Republic. The authorities agreed to this proposal and Hitler was transferred to the commission investigating the revolution.

Information supplied by Hitler helped to track down several soldiers involved in the uprising. His officers were impressed by his hostility to left-wing ideas and he was recruited as a political officer. Hitler's new job was to lecture soldiers on politics. The main aim was to promote his political philosophy favoured by the army and help to combat the influence of the Russian Revolution on the German soldiers.

Spartacus

Here is more to supplement the background of Hitler, Nazism and fascism proper:

The behaviour of the NSDAP became more violent. On one occasion 167 Nazis beat up 57 members of the German Communist Party in the Reichstag. They were then physically thrown out of the building.

The stormtroopers also carried out terrible acts of violence against socialists and communists. In one incident in Silesia, a young member of the KPD had his eyes poked out with a billiard cue and was then stabbed to death in front of his mother. Four members of the SA were convicted of the crime. Many people were shocked when Hitler sent a letter of support for the four men and promised to do what he could to get them released.

Incidents such as these worried many Germans, and in the elections that took place in November 1932 the support for the Nazi Party fell. The German Communist Party made substantial gains in the election winning 100 seats. Hitler used this to create a sense of panic by claiming that German was on the verge of a Bolshevik Revolution and only the NSDAP could prevent this happening.

A group of prominent industrialists who feared such a revolution sent a petition to Paul von Hindenburg asking for Hitler to become Chancellor. Hindenberg reluctantly agreed to their request and at the age of forty-three, Hitler became the new Chancellor of Germany.

Although Hitler had the support of certain sections of the German population he never gained an elected majority. The best the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) could do in a election was 37.3 per cent of the vote they gained in July 1932. When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis only had a third of the seats in the Reichstag.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor he announced new elections. Hermann Goering called a meeting of important industrialists where he told them that the 1933 General Election could be the last in Germany for a very long time. Goering added that the NSDAP would need a considerable amount of of money to ensure victory. Those present responded by donating 3 million Reichmarks. As Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary after the meeting: "Radio and press are at our disposal. Even money is not lacking this time."

Behind the scenes Goering, who was minister of the interior in Hitler's government, was busily sacking senior police officers and replacing them with Nazi supporters. These men were later to become known as the Gestapo. Goering also recruited 50,000 members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) to work as police auxiliaries.

Hermann Goering then raided the headquarters of the Communist Party (KPD) in Berlin and claimed that he had uncovered a plot to overthrow the government. Leaders of the KPD were arrested but no evidence was ever produced to support Goering's accusations. He also announced he had discovered a communist plot to poison German milk supplies.

On 27th February, 1933, someone set fire to the Reichstag. Several people were arrested including a leading, Georgi Dimitrov, general secretary of the Comintern, the international communist organization. Dimitrov was eventually acquitted but a young man from the Netherlands, Marianus van der Lubbe, was eventually executed for the crime. As a teenager Lubbe had been a communist and Hermann Goering used this information to claim that the Reichstag Fire was part of a KPD plot to overthrow the government.

Hitler gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night."Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Hermann Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.

Thousands of members of the Social Democrat Party and Communist Party were arrested and sent to recently opened to concentration camp. They were called this because they "concentrated" the enemy into a restricted area. Hitler named these camps after those used by the British during the Boer War.

Left-wing election meetings were broken up by the Sturm Abteilung (SA) and several candidates were murdered. Newspapers that supported these political parties were closed down during the 1933 General Election.

Although it was extremely difficult for the opposition parties to campaign properly, Hitler and the Nazi party still failed to win an overall victory in the election on 5th March, 1933. The NSDAP received 43.9% of the vote and only 288 seats out of the available 647. The increase in the Nazi vote had mainly come from the Catholic rural areas who feared the possibility of an atheistic Communist government.

After the 1933 General Election Hitler proposed an Enabling Bill that would give him dictatorial powers. Such an act needed three-quarters of the members of the Reichstag to vote in its favour.

All the active members of the Communist Party, were in concentration camps, in hiding, or had left the country (an estimated 60,000 people left Germany during the first few weeks after the election). This was also true of most of the leaders of the other left-wing party, Social Democrat Party (SDP). However, Hitler still needed the support of the Catholic Centre Party (BVP) to pass this legislation. Hitler therefore offered the BVP a deal: vote for the bill and the Nazi government would guarantee the rights of the Catholic Church. The BVP agreed and when the vote was taken, only 94 members of the SDP voted against the Enabling Bill.

Hitler was now dictator of Germany. His first move was to take over the trade unions. Its leaders were sent to concentration camps and the organization was put under the control of the Nazi Party. The trade union movement now became known as the Labour Front.

Soon afterwards the Communist Party and the Social Democrat Party were banned. Party activists still in the country were arrested. A month later Hitler announced that the Catholic Centre Party, the Nationalist Party and all other political parties other than the NSDAP were illegal, and by the end of 1933 over 150,000 political prisoners were in concentration camps. Hitler was aware that people have a great fear of the unknown, and if prisoners were released, they were warned that if they told anyone of their experiences they would be sent back to the camp.

It was not only left-wing politicians and trade union activists who were sent to concentration camp. The Gestapo also began arresting beggars, prostitutes, homosexuals, alcoholics and anyone who was incapable of working. Although some inmates were tortured, the only people killed during this period were prisoners who tried to escape and those classed as "incurably insane".

Hitler's Germany became known as a fascist state. Fascist was originally used to describe the government of Benito Mussolini in Italy. Mussolini's fascist one-party state emphasized patriotism, national unity, hatred of communism, admiration of military values and unquestioning obedience. Hitler was deeply influenced by Mussolini's Italy and his Germany shared many of the same characteristics.”

So, in summary, the Nazis effectively seized power on the backs of industrialists horrified of a potential Russian-Bolshevik-like revolution in Germany (and here would be a good place to recommend the reading of the left-Marxist, anti-Bolshevik writings of Rosa Luxemburg, Herman Gorter and company, the Junius Pamphlet and Gorters 'Open letter to Comrade Lenin' coming to mind) by whipping up fear-mongering and red-baiting among the reactionary bourgeoisie. After they rose to power among their first actions was to destroy the labor movement and trade unions; which, if one were to know anything at all about socialism, one would already know that this policy was and is diametrically opposed, fundamentally and in essence, to even the most basic of socialist principle - the labor movement and trade unions being the life blood of socialism. It was for these reasons that union leaders, labor activists and socialists, communists and anarchists of all stripes were among the first to populate the Nazi death camps (along with Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses and so on), in the instances wherein they were not killed outright.

Jonah's vulgar revisionist history is, in the final analysis, reminiscent of David Irving's work. In fact, his entire inverted screed is what one would expect were Ann Coulter and David Irving to co-author a book.

4 comments:

melloncollie said...

Quote: ". . . which is a juvenile and obvious non-sequitur, literally analogous to arguing that Hitler had a mustache, therefore, mustache's signify fascism."

That line literally made me laugh out loud!! Very good (and funny) point.

Liberal Fascism is an infinitely stupid book. The arguments are banal, the writing is shoddy, and the analogies require super-human stretches of the imagination. Seriously, has Goldberg never met a conservative who eats organic food? Because I can introduce him to some.

And the homophobic tirade is ridiculous. The existence of some gay Nazis supports the gay rights movement's views that a certain perecentage of the population is naturally gay. If there were gay Nazis (and I'm sure there were), it is simply because many people (including those in fundamentalist, anti-gay religions) are gay.

This is another great post, JDHURF. You're a terrific writer and thinker. Keep up the excellent work.

Renegade Eye said...

I plugged your post at my blog.

I'll respond later,

Dave Marlow said...

As I said when you initially posted this on PCF, I wholly echo your remarks. When the book originally came out, I read it and planned on writing a critique. As time got away from me, I figured I could do more productive things than tear a hole in Goldberg's book. You seem to have done just fine on that front.

JDHURF said...

Thank you all for stopping by and commenting.