A provocative comparison between fascism, Nazism, and the modern political left.
According to libertarian activist Samuels (In Defense of Chaos, 2013), the “so-called polar-opposite ideologies” of fascism and communism are “virtual carbon copies” and “almost indistinguishable” from each other. Both share common traits of authoritarianism, he says, as well as a preference for collectivism over individualism, a hostility to free market capitalism, and a predilection against freedom of speech and thought. Although much of his book centers on proving his contentious thesis on the communist origins of Italian fascism and German Nazism, his underlying objective is to connect them to today’s left. Samuels sees such parallels in leftist protests against conservative speakers on college campuses; what he calls the “Big Lie” of accusations of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; and what he terms the “positive racism” of affirmative action. Though starkly polemical, Samuels’ prose style is sophisticated, and at its best when challenging the contemporary right-left ideological axis. His discussion of the connections between the “Old Right” and communist governments are notable, as he points out that they both favor monarchic regimes and government-enforced morality. However, Samuels’ political agenda often lends itself to sloppy analysis when asserting connections between fascism/Nazism and the contemporary left. For example, his claim that today’s “Democratic Party still seems to attract racists and admirers of Hitler’s military and economic accomplishments” ignores myriad racist organizations to whom the Democratic Party is anathema. He also cites the alleged “popularity” of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan among Democrats as evidence of their racism; however, Farrakhan’s stances on traditional gender roles, and his skepticism of the federal government, are closer to those of the right than the left. Samuels accuses leftists of having “a muddled sense of history,” but much of his own retelling of the history of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany seems deliberately constructed to discredit his political opponents in today’s America.
An agenda-driven history that will appeal only to those who already share the author’s disdain of contemporary leftism.