Fascism isn’t a right-wing phenomenon at all, argues National Review editor-at-large Goldberg in this lively polemic.
Contemporary liberals are the true heirs of Hitler and Mussolini, he says. To prove his point, the author looks back to the early-20th-century rise of two radical international movements: communism and fascism. Both promised the destruction of a corrupt elite and rule by no-nonsense patriots who knew what the people wanted and would usher in utopia. Both were considered efficient, modern successors to moribund 19th-century parliamentary democracy. The American Left’s pre–World War II admiration of communism is old news, but most readers will blink to learn of the gushing adulation Mussolini received from Americans across the political spectrum. Goldberg contends that the principles espoused by fascist leaders were similar to those of American progressivism. Liberals remember progressives as do-gooders who cleaned up the food supply and improved working conditions, which they did—but so did fascists. Like them, American progressives were racists and imperialists, stridently patriotic and anti-foreign. The world’s first fascist regime, Goldberg maintains, was led by America’s greatest progressive, Woodrow Wilson. His administration jailed thousands of dissenters, censored mail and newspapers and sent an army of semi-official badge-wearing goons to disrupt meetings and assault anyone who opposed America’s participation in World War I. FDR and LBJ also practiced a gentle form of fascism, Goldberg insists, and 21st-century fascism is represented by—was there ever any doubt?—Hillary Clinton. Conservatives cannot be fascists, says the author, because they espouse a small federal government that avoids meddling in citizens’ lives and businesses. Goldberg admits, however, that conservative presidents from Reagan to Bush have happily used federal power to promote their own meddling agendas, realizing that voters would not tolerate a major shrinkage of the government.
A partisan but entertaining historical analysis.