By Jonah Goldberg
Hallelujah! The Bush nightmare is over. The dark night of American fascism is giving way to the dawn of hope, the Age of Obama. The forces of truth will once again prevail and the crypto-Nazis will be banished to their caves. That pretty much captures a large segment of current liberal conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic.
Over the course of his presidency, President George W. Bush and his supporters have been called fascists and Nazis thousands of times in books, articles, documentaries and by legions of poster-wielding 'progressive' youths with open-toed shoes and closed minds. Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone. For more than 70 years the Left has hurled the F-word at anyone who gets in its way - Stalin invented this tactic to de-legitimise socialist opponents, including Leon Trotsky, assassinated for leading a 'fascist coup'. As early as 1946, George Orwell wrote that: 'The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable".'
Today, a better working definition of a fascist might simply be a conservative who's winning an argument. But what if fascism means something more than 'bad'. What if fascism was not, and is not, a Right-wing phenomenon at all?
For instance, what were the motivating passions of fascism? For starters, there was the cult of unity. The Nazis mastered the spectacle of the crowd to project an aura of unity, equality and common purpose. Submitting yourself to the movement was sold as a cleansing, redemptive, fundamentally spiritual experience. Such spectacles were made possible by the cult of personality, the faith that a great leader would rise from among 'us' and bring everyone together. Well, where have we recently seen enormous rallies of ecstatic followers?
According to The New York Times, Barack Obama's own recruiters were trained not to talk about issues, but to 'testify' about how they 'came to Obama' the way one might normally talk about coming to Jesus. 'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' Obama told mesmerised crowds. 'Unity is the great need of the hour,' he insisted. We need unity, he explained, 'not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential [empathy] deficit that exists in this country'. Or as his wife, Michelle, put it: 'We need a leader who's going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.'
It's worth noting that in the Anglo-American tradition, unity is not, in fact, the highest political value. That's why we have constitutions, separation of powers and independent courts. The hero in the Anglo-American tradition is not the mob, but the man who stands up to it. And yet the cult of unity remains seductive, particularly in chaotic democracies. One way it manifests itself is in the myth of the Third Way, one of Tony Blair's enthusiasms.
It's ironic how the Left is always ready to brand a conservative who steps off the politically correct reservation as a fascist, but sees nothing wrong with embracing concepts that fit neatly within the fascist wheelhouse. Italian Fascism and German National Socialism were both sold as a Third Way that would bypass all hard choices. 'Neither Right nor Left!' was a central fascist slogan. The trouble with the Third Way is its core assumption that any hard choice is a 'false choice'. Economic growth and environmental regulations, socialised medicine and medical innovation, none of these things is at odds with one another so long as the right enlightened geniuses are in power.
The brilliance of the Third Way is that it sounds like a slogan for centrists and moderates, but is really a utopian vision for rule by benevolent masters. Nonetheless, it's also important to remember that fascist isn't necessarily synonymous with 'evil'. Militarism during the first third of the 20th Century was seen as the best means of organising society. Since then, liberals have been searching for a moral equivalent of war that would inspire citizens to drop their personal ambitions and, in President Woodrow Wilson's words, 'marry their interests to the state'.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal of the early Thirties was just such an enterprise, complete with militarised work, environmental and youth programs - the New Deal was initially hailed by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as a great fascist undertaking. These days, you cannot open a newspaper or magazine without finding some earnest liberal hoping, predicting or begging that Obama will launch a 'new New Deal'.
Obama styles himself after FDR and insists Americans must rally behind his agenda the way the 'greatest generation' fought the Second World War. But today, the desire to find a moral equivalent of war that will bind the individual to the State manifests itself in unlikely places. Consider the ever-increasing emphasis on 'the children'.
Ever since Plato, the idea of capturing the hearts and minds of children has fascinated social planners. Mussolini cast himself as a 'schoolmaster' to the nation, while in the Soviet Union a prize was given by the State in honour of a boy who informed against his mother and father. Late last year, a British energy company created a website to teach children how to become 'climate cops' and turn in their own parents.
Hillary Clinton summarised the attitude well when she insisted Americans 'have to start thinking and believing that there isn't really any such thing as someone else's child'. In her book, It Takes A Village, she reveals that babies of all classes are born in a state of crisis so profound that immediate state intervention is required. They need immediate aid from the 'helping professions' since even wealthy parents feel stress and 'we know that babies sense the stress'. If ever there was a utopian goal for government, the elimination of parental stress must be it.
Like so many progressives, Clinton seems ignorant of how her ideas might come across to people who don't already agree with her. For instance, those with a memory of Orwell's 1984 might be disturbed by her idea that the government should mount giant television screens wherever 'people gather and have to wait'. The screens would play, on a continuous loop, official instructions on how to care for your children.
Across the Western world, the politically correct micro-managing of daily life continues to intensify. In Britain, closed-circuit cameras, once used in the name of security, are now used to police everything from dropping litter to eating in your car. In Australia last month, a local government ruled that its beaches must be cleansed of sharp seashells that might cut children's feet. In Canada, thought-crime prosecutions are becoming routine.
It's also worth recalling that the mania sweeping Britain and parts of America for bans on tobacco, alcohol, fattening foods, non-organic foods and non-local foods has significant antecedents in Nazi ideology. Hitler Youth manuals proclaimed that 'nutrition is not a private matter', a slogan that summarises vast swathes of the eco-Left's propagandising. Nazis led the world in researching organic foods and alternative medicines (the concentration camp Dachau boasted the largest alternative and organic medicine research lab in the world).
Heinrich Himmler was an animal rights activist and proponent of 'natural healing'. Hitler and his advisers discussed the need to move the entire nation to vegetarianism as a response to the unhealthiness promoted by capitalism.
Even though we are greeted every day with countless stories of 'political correctness gone mad' we tend to dismiss them as solitary or silly. But the reality is that they fit into a bigger picture, a coherent Left-wing agenda. The idea is that there can be no safe harbours from politics. If 'you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem'. And it's up to the State and the social engineers to solve problems - whether you like it or not.
Why Liberals Still Think Like The KKK
The Democrat-led KKK opposed the liberation of blacks. The "anti-war" Leftists of today oppose the liberation of everyone else
Anyone who spends time reading message boards related to online news articles today can see things that are readily self evident. One of these self evident truths is that today's political and theological left still very much represent the racism they did when they initiated a secret society named the Ku Klux Klan. They do so in the policies they argue for and more importantly in the criticism they level against those who are brave enough to take action. Their anti-war extremism is one of the most telling signs. But don't merely take my word for it. Here is a sample from the Jerusalem Post from an American named John Ash:
I never realized Israel and its supporters had so many people who cheer on killing and destruction. The enthusiasm for the "brave IDF" is kind of weird when you consider that the air force is dropping bombs on defenseless people and the army is invading with tanks and artillery. The Gazans have not one airplane or tank, so where is the bravery in bombing and invading a defenseless area?From another American poster who goes by LibertarianSoul:
I am so sick of this "war". Isreal has gone too far this time. Our country needs to let Isreal go it's own way. What is wrong with you people over there???? You've been fighting for thousands of years. When will it end? As a Jew, does God want you to kill Muslims? As a Muslim, does god want you to kill Jews? God will judge all of you in the end and I would think that judgement will not be in either of your favor. This is ridiculous.These small samples were just the tip of the iceberg in the numbers of comments made. Yet here's the problem... When the party of left-wing America founded the Ku Klux Klan they did so because they wished to seize the rights of an entire people group, intimidate them into voting for the candidates they decided, and for anyone so messy as to get in the way they became people who did not deserve to live. One of the sitting members of the Unites States Senate who participated in Klan activity still sits seated by the same party that founded the Klan. His name is Robert Byrd. Power--even if gained through ruthless means--was the absolute objective to the Klan, and the Democrats who founded it.
The same historical parallel could be made by the ruthless rise of Adolph Hitler and his hatred based upon a person's race, skin color, or disability. For no better reason than to satisfy a dark perversion of his soul and to insure the kind of power that absolute fear instills in followers Hitler manipulated his own people to reach his objective, and to take lives. It should be pointed out that assisting him towards that goal was the patriarch of the newly revived (with granddaughter Caroline's Senate bid) Kennedy legacy. Joe Kennedy the father of Robert, John, and Edward sought to convince those at the end of World War I and through the duration of World War II that U.S. involvement by force was wasted effort, a task we could not make impact in, and ultimately the morally wrong thing to do.
It was Joe Kennedy then like his off-spring today who always threatened to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. military force. Force--I might add--that has never sought to expand the boundaries of our own "empire." And usually more times than not it was force that was used to liberate people, grant freedom to persecuted groups, and to topple genuinely evil concepts like Nazism, Facism, Totalitarianism, Communism, and on our own shores of slavery.
Thus the anti-war crusaders, and "progressive left" (as they like to view themselves) argue endlessly about the tragedy of collateral damage, innocent lives lost, and rights of the victims caught in crossfire. Yet ne'er do they speak to the atrocities being committed prior to the engagement of the enemy. In America, none of the anti-war groups that wished to see Bush impeached, said even a word about Saddam's brutal crimes against his own people.
Some of these anti-war extremists even argued to me personally that the Civil War was not a war that deserved to be fought. That slavery would have been a better alternative to war. This said to my face by those who are members of the political party that founded the KKK.
Israel is the area of greatest hypocrisy for these types. For while they utter complaints about innocent "Gazans" who may have perished never once do they bring attention to the fact that it is the Palestinians own militant arm of terror that places those civilians in harm's way to begin with. American leftists never fail to mention body counts of those killed in war, but never do they find it convenient to mention the numbers of innocents lost by the original acts of terror that precipitate that engagement.
Since the official "cease fire" between Gaza and Israel thousands of missiles have been launched at southern Israel. Hamas--an avowed terror group who goes so far as to publish their goals and objectives online--has made calculated moves to place their base of operations in places they believe they won't be found--hiding in civilian areas.
Israel has taken on the difficult task of re-entering Gaza, going house to house to seek and destroy Hamas members, equipment, and resources so as to protect its own population. In one of the most notably noble acts one can undertake in war, they even telephoned those living near the Hamas targets prior to the bombing raids to allow them time to safely remove their families from the areas. Despite that generosity Hamas has continued its all out assault and shows no sign of stopping. We would do well to pray for quick and successful raids in the region, and praying that the only loss of life that is encountered are by Hamas members directly. In doing this we can hope that less lives will suffer.
Because the alternative to not doing it looms as significantly greater loss for both sides involved. And that is what Liberals have trouble understanding.
French intellectuals collaborated happily with the Nazi occupier in WWII
The history of France under German rule during World War II is a depressing tale of collaboration, corruption and subsequent denial that taxes the will of even the most determined Francophile.Writes Mark Falcoff in his WSJ book review of Frederic Spotts' The Shameful Peace.
Perhaps not surprisingly it was not a French scholar but an American one, Robert Paxton, who produced the first serious examination of the period (1940-44). Now comes Frederic Spotts, a British writer known for his studies of German history. With "The Shameful Peace" he lifts the lid on one of the least known -- and most shameful episodes -- of the period: namely, the role of artists and intellectuals in occupied France.An excerpt on France's "blindness to several cardinal truths about the Occupation":
The first effect of the armistice was to convert the French capital into a kind of vacation paradise for the German occupier. . Representatives of leading Nazi figures, notably Hermann Goering, sacked the homes of wealthy Jews for masterpieces of art -- an expedition in which some of the city's grandest art dealers were pleased to assist. Even low-ranking German functionaries partook of the feast. "I never lived so well anywhere," a secretary-typist later recalled. "We could buy what we wanted. . . . [It was] the most wonderful and unforgettable time of my youth."
One area where the Germans completely understood what they were about, however, was in the co-opting of the French cultural establishment. What made the French experience of German occupation so different from that of, say, Poland or Czechoslovakia or Greece was that Hitler, far from trying to eradicate French national culture, chose to nourish it as a distraction from his other demands. . The most obvious minions of Berlin were fascist or protofascist intellectuals who had been at war with French democracy long before the armistice. . Here there could be no surprises. Other writers, however, had not been fascist proponents in the 1930s and simply went with the flow. As novelist Jean Giono put it with great economy of words: "I prefer being a living German to a dead Frenchman."
At a time when both food and fuel were painfully scarce, many cultural figures preferred to live well rather than poorly. The list here is far longer -- a virtual "Who's Who" of the French artistic world [including Picasso, often cited as a principled anti-Fascist, and Celine, often quoted by our detractors as an example of someone with obviously superior francophone sensibilities, artistic prowess, lucidit‚, and so on]. [Cocteau's] record of the times, Mr. Spotts writes, "gives the impression that the Germans he knew were visiting tourists rather than officers of an invading army."
. The need to nourish the myth of la France combattante -- the cornerstone of Gaullist ideology -- required far fewer collaborators than actually existed. The myth was also necessary to wrest the nimbus of Resistance from the communists, who claimed exclusive rights to it. Then, almost before anyone knew it, anti-Americanism became the ideology of choice for French intellectuals and artists, bringing both left and right happily together.
.the Occupation yielded its secrets only slowly and partially. The story remains complex and confusing, without a satisfying conclusion. Biography is still sanitized; history continues to be rewritten; silence prevails over candour. "The true France was not at Vichy, the true France never collaborated." So spake President Sarkosy as late as May 2008, on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War. But though the myths continue to be officially perpetuated, everyone in France knows they are false. Consequently there remains what de Gaulle once referred to as "a dull pain in the depths of our national consciousness'.Source
For all that has been written about the subject, for all the continuing [unease] and for all the importance of the issues involved, if you want to know how artists and intellectuals survived, worked and adapted, or if you want to have some idea of what cultural life was like and what policies were followed by German and Vichy authorities, you will have difficulty finding answers.
.Failure to understand the importance of culture in a nation's life was not a mistake Hitler made. For him culture was not peripheral but central to his Occupation policy. In the arts he saw a narcotic to be used to pacify the French and make them amenable to collaboration while he was busy with his war in the Soviet Union. So he not only allowed but actively encouraged a rich artistic life... At the . time there were . artists who socialized with the Enemy and in some cases toured Germany as Hitler's guests as though unaware that the two countries were still at war.
.After the war the German ambassador in Paris during the Occupation made the astonishing claim that "it would be extremely difficult to name any notable French artist who had not supported collaboration'.
Playing outdoors protects young eyes from myopia
The differences reported below do seem to be quite stark and well controlled so the "safety" freaks who try to stop almost all outdoors childhood play may be damaging the vision of those children
The hours spent in front of the PlayStation or at the computer play no role in ruining a child's sight, with Australian researchers finding that being cooped up indoors is what gives children glasses. Children should spend two to three hours a day outside to prevent them becoming short-sighted, says a study by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Vision Science. A comparison of children of Chinese origin in Australia and Singapore, which has the highest rate of myopia in the world, found the only significant difference was the time spent outdoors.
The study, conducted on the centre's behalf by Australian National University and Sydney University researchers, challenges the prevailing assumption that near work, such as watching television, reading a book or playing computer games, ruins vision. Ian Morgan from the ARC Vision Centre yesterday said exposure to daylight appeared to play a critical role in limiting the growth of the eyeball, which is responsible for myopia or short-sightedness.
Professor Morgan said it had been apparent for a couple of hundred years that more educated people were short-sighted, but the research suggested spending some hours a day outdoors could counteract the myopic effects of study. "Video games are as ineffective as reading on vision," he said. "Computers are pretty neutral, watching television doesn't seem to affect vision. The only difference we could find is the amount of time spent outdoors. "As you are involved in intensive education through to studying at university, you ought to be conscious of this well into your mid-20s."
The research says about 30 per cent of six-year-olds in Singapore are short-sighted enough to need glasses, compared with only 3 per cent of Chinese-Australians. Both groups spend the same amount of time studying, playing video games, watching television and reading books. But Singapore children spend an average 30 minutes a day outdoors compared with two hours in Australia.
Professor Morgan said similar trends were seen in India, with 5per cent of rural-dwelling Indians being short-sighted compared with 10 per cent of their urban cousins and 65 per cent of those living in Singapore.
Myopia is increasing in urban areas around the world, and is described as an epidemic in parts of east Asia, with Singapore the world capital. Australia has a level of myopia more commonly found in the Third World, with only 0.8 per cent of six-year-olds of European origin being short-sighted. They spend on average three hours a day outdoors.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.