Today's liberalism doesn't seek to conquer the world by force of arms. It is not a nationalistic and genocidal project. To the contrary, it is an ideology of good intentions. But we all know where even the best of intentions can take us. I have not written a book about how all liberals are Nazis or fascists. Rather, I have tried to write a book warning that even the best of us are susceptible to the totalitarian temptation.
This includes some self-described conservatives. Compassionate conservatism, in many respects, is a form of Progressivism, a descendent of Christian socialism. Much of George W. Bush's rhetoric about leaving no children behind and how "when somebody hurts, government has to move" bespeaks a vision of the state that is indeed totalitarian in its aspirations and not particularly conservative in the American sense. Once again, it is a nice totalitarianism, motivated no doubt by sincere Christian love (thankfully tempered by poor implementation); but love, too, can be smothering. . . .
Finally, since we must have a working definition of fascism, here is mine: Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that if views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force of through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The Religion of the State
Jonah Goldberg's new book Liberal Fascism reminds me of all the great stuff I read in the 1980's by Rushdoony. He was at his best when he was critiquing the pretensions of the modern messianic state. Goldberg's perspective complements Rushdoony's and is desperately needed in 21st century America. Here's a nice summary of his thesis (pp. 22-23):