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Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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8 Responses

  1. Will says:

    I mean, I’m not a big fan of Goldberg, but having written a book about fascism, I’m sure he’s come up with some sort of refutation for this and similar charges. I kind of buy the idea Mussolini’s own ideology was so incoherent that we shouldn’t draw conclusions from his grandiose pronouncements.Report

  2. Katherine says:

    Reading the interview, I’m sensing Goldberg is confusing (honestly or, far more likely, disingenuously) socialism with statism. And, as most right-wingers do, liberalism with socialism.

    Both socialism and liberalism can involve state involvement in society and the economy, but they can also be libertarian in orientation. Fascism, on the other hand, requires statism; a libertarian fascist is a contradiction in terms.

    One of the underlying problems in any conservative argument about ideology is the confusion of the welfare state with socialism. On the contrary, the welfare state was created as a block against socialism, making terms like “Bismarckian socialism” used by conservatives laughable. Bismarck was an inveterate enemy of socialism and banned socialist organization.

    Although Bismarck’s policies were far from fascism, their ideas has some things in common; one of these things was trying to bring the workers on side. They still loathed socialism and liberalism. Socialism was, in theory, about international solidarity between workers to acheive social revolution. Fascism was about avoiding this revolution and bringing together the classes within a nation to achieve domination of all other (or all nearby, for the less ambitious) nations. Goldberg is confusing low-level means (such as government management of vital industries) with ends: management of industries so that the workers get a fair share of the profits and to prevent looting of resources with no benefit to the people, versus management of industry to fuel a war machine.Report

  3. Michael Drew says:

    Was this book influential enough in places I’m not current with that we still need to be refuting it?Report

    • EngineerScotty in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Influential with whom?

      Do political scientists take Goldberg seriously? Most probably not, for all the flaws outlined in the various criticisms referenced above, and more.

      But there is a significant contingent of the population who believes that Obama is the next coming of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao (all rolled into one!); who view benign public health initiatives (and similar things) as Step One in the construction of a nanny police state of some sort, and who view a Presidential address to schoolchildren on the need to study hard as a latter-day Triumph of the Will. And, as Greenwald pointed out, this is nothing new–some of the same hysterics were found during Clinton’s two terms.

      One of the biggest problems I think with our politic culture is that both liberals and conservatives are viewed by opponents in such ridiculous caricature. Certainly, liberals are guilty of ascribing ridiculous motives to conservative viewpoints, but the “liberal fascist” mythology is one that seems to have taken root in many conservative communities.

      And, as Orwell says–the name doesn’t mean anything anymore. (For that matter, neither do “Nazi”, “communist”, or “socialist”, at least not in US political discourse–all of them are now generic insults, rather than labels signifying any discernible political ideology. Which is how it is possible, I suppose, for someone to claim that the President is simultaneously all of these things and do it with a straight face).Report

  4. Katherine says:

    The other vital fact that Goldberg is missing is that, in addition to fascists hating socialism, and in addition to socialists and communists being the primary opposition to the Nazis in Germany, fascists also defined themselves by their utter opposition to liberalism. This point is perhaps closer to the mark than my earlier one given the title of Goldberg’s book; but again, Goldberg seems to have trouble differentiating between liberalism and socialism.

    Fascists believed that liberal political ideas – basic freedoms such as speech and assembly; parliamentary governance / strong legislatures; separation of powers – brought corruption to government and weakness to the state. Members of the legislature did not represent the Nation, only small sectional interests; only a single strong executive, invested with all the powers of government, could represent the will of the people and the interests of the nation. (If we’re going to compare US political views to fascism, the “unitary executive” is at least a watered-down version of a foundational fascist belief.) The idea of inherent rights was dangerous to the Nation as it allowed communists and foreign infiltrators to subvert it. Other modern-day liberal ideals were also anathema: internationalism, the idea that the military is not infallible, sympathy for the poor, gay rights, women’s rights, support for immigrants, rehabilitation of criminals. Despite the famous Kennedy quote, the basic premise of liberalism is that the state exists to make people’s lives better. A basic premise of fascism is that citizens exist to serve the state and Nation.Report

  5. Bruce Smith says:

    Goldberg is congenitally incapable of seeing how badly elite capitalism needs the state to blunt the edge of its vicious libertinism as it screws the poor.Report

  6. Bruce Smith says:

    Oops. Should read. Goldberg is congenitally incapable of seeing how badly elite capitalism needs the state to blunt the edge of its vicious libertinism as it screws the poor and the environment.Report