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The greens and the fascists

Taking a few days off from the blog has at least given me a chance to finish reading Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. This book (buy here) was a bit of an eye-opener for me, setting out in mind-boggling detail the links - both historical and philosophical - between fascism and the ideas espoused by modern day liberals and progressives. The sheer weight of evidence is extraordinary - from welfare, to land reform, to greenery, to the worship of the state it's hard to find any other areas of public policy in which the two  have so much in common. (Goldberg points out that anti-semitism was part of the Nazi creed, but not that of the Italian or Spanish fascists, and was therefore a policy of Hitlerism, but not really of fascism.)

But what struck me about the book was how often I noticed that there are also clear parallels between fascism and environmentalism. At a high level, both are alt-religions, which their adherents seek to impose on society with Jesuit fervour, spurred on by fear of impending disaster. Both are openly totalitarian, in the original sense of the word: in other words the creed is supposed to apply in every aspect of life, in every area of policy, and in the private sphere as much as in the public.

The methods are often the same too. Where fascists tried to generate an almost permanent sense of crisis in order to unite their country (Mussolini) or their volk (Hitler) around a share sense of national purpose, environmentalists try to create a permanent sense of ecological breakdown in order to unite society around their programme.

But at a detailed policy level too, the parallels are remarkable. From attempts to change diets, to the hijacking of the education system, it's the same thing. And the methods have remarkable similarities too, with guilt used as a tool, the language abused in service of political ends and the use of cod-psychologists to target dissenters. And even more sinister are the common history of fascism, environmentalism, population concerns and eugenics.

Goldberg is keen to point out that the liberal and progressive left of today do not share the violent tendencies of their fascist forebears: theirs is a gentler totalitarianism (again in the original sense of the word). The same case can be made for the greens. At least for now; it is hard to avoid observing that their rhetoric is becoming steadily more violent and the calls for unmistakably fascist policy measures are ever more common.

Watch with care.

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Reader Comments (216)

Salopian, Eli is an expert in climate science. Inaccuracy has never been a hindrance in climate science, some are very good at it, and consider it their speciality.

Jan 1, 2016 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Jan 1, 2016 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

The origins of this debate begin well before romanticism they in fact stretch back to Plato . The "Republic"and " Timeus" are at core of the AGW belief system.

Jan 1, 2016 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTreb1

"The book you link to [Three New Deals] says nothing about real Socialism which involves a massive transfer of wealth from the richest to the poorest in society."

I think what you meant to say was that, as history shows, real Socialism involves the impoverishment of everyone except the political elite and their cronies.

The point made by the book - and which as I say was well understood and accepted at the time - is simply the demonstrable fact that Socialism and Fascism (and indeed Communism) are leftist ideologies notable for their extensive commonalities. The essence of all of them is violence: an enforced collectivism where individual rights are suppressed 'for the good of society.'
As the saying goes when talking to lefties, apart from the war and the Holocaust what is it about the National Socialists that you don't like? Because they had a wonderful array of interventionist social policies which have broad leftist appeal. I recommend the following book on the subject:

There's a wonderful quotation in it from when German Communists and National Socialists were fighting each other in the Thirties. Seeing which way the wind was blowing, many Communists jumped ship and enthusiastically joined the other party. 'Communists make the best Nazis' (or words to that effect) said one approving National Socialist member.

Jan 1, 2016 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterwat dabney

wat dabney

You are right, but so are the leftists who say Hitler was an anti socialist capitalist. That's because he wasn't elected, he couldn't form a government. He was appointed chancellor on the recommendation of big business and the ruling class.

At that point, he not only threw socialism out of the window, he murdered the leaders of the left wing of the Nazi party.

There was also considerable support from American banks and business from the beginning to the end of Nazis.

Jan 1, 2016 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I believe it is time that the Bish took action against the trolls currently ruining the main blog.

Jan 1, 2016 at 3:19 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Illiberal, Dung! If you don't like it, skip it. If I were to advise the Bish, I might suggest he snip - as 'off topic' - suggestions to censor people. But instead I restrain myself (mostly).

Jan 1, 2016 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

"You are right, but so are the leftists who say Hitler was an anti socialist capitalist."

Very often the terms "Capitalism" and "free market" can be used interchangeably, however those of us on the right are ultimately free-marketeers rather than Capitalists.

So, yes, Hitler may not have been anti-capitalistic, but he was certainly anti-free market.

Socialism is the workers' control of the means of production and distribution; Communism is the abolition of private property; and Fascism retains the veneer of ownership whilst in reality property-rights are gutted and the state dictates usage (the "Third Way," espoused by Hitler and Blair amongst others.)
Things are of course rather more complicated than that since, for example, Socialism originally had a strong internationalist bent (at least as proposed) and Fascism was nationalistic. However today's "Socialists" have long since dropped the internationalism and are typically nationalistic ("British jobs for British workers" as the execrable Gordon Brown put it.) And the Labour Party dropped its commitment to nationalisation whilst at the same time insisting on a state-operated health service; which the Conservatives also support. So things are more blurred than ever between the different strains of leftism.

"Crony-Capitalism" is essentially the Fascist economic model in action and is the antithesis of free markets.

Jan 1, 2016 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterwat dabney


Why should I lose a discussion I am enjoying just because some wassock wants to play silly games, they should start a new 'silly games' thread in the discussion section rather than derail a decent discussion.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:42 AM | Registered CommenterDung

John Shade (Dec 28, 2015 at 1:53 PM)

The Monty Python skit on the sundry Fronts of Judea is funny because of the schismatic nature of socialists and socialism.
Which is one of the thing commenters here have in common with socialists, and which differentiates us and socialists form the Greens, who manage to unite millionaires, anarchists and Sir Paul Nurse under the same banner.

Hilary Ostrov (Dec 30, 2015 at 11:00 AM)
Bless you for bringing some concrete information and interesting analysis to this daft thread. Cohen on Goldberg is just another ex-lefty tying himself into knots in order to justify his own convoluted passage rightwards, but it's interesting for all that.

John Whitman (Dec 30, 2015 at 2:12 PM)
Did you mean “causal” “...association of the formal philosophy of pragmatism with .. Fascism” or was it really casual? Whichever, Goldberg's book seems even more insane than the Bish's summary would suggest.

Jan 2, 2016 at 9:48 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

There are days (and threads - on my own blog and those of others!) that make me wonder if I'm merely a voice in the wilderness - or even the proverbial tree falling in the forest that nobody hears!

So it certainly brightened my "catch up" day (well very late evening - or early morning depending on where one is geographically located in this virtual universe) to read the comments of Radical Rodent [Dec 31, 2015 at 12:29 PM] and Geoff Chambers [Jan 2, 2016 at 9:48 AM]

As an aside, I've been on the 'net for well over twenty years; i.e. in the now ancient text-only - and, believe it or not - totally advertisement-free "bulletin board" pre-WWW days. Even those early days on the web were advertisement-free!

But it seems to me that - ubiquitous and annoyingly repetitive ads aside - with each passing year, the speed to label - and spout inanities - in lieu of thoughtful (and - perish the thought - articulate) comment seems to increase:-( Furthermore, IMHO, hashtags on twitter have - for the most part - struck me as being a waste of 140 character space, notwithstanding the "work-arounds" via insertion of images/graphics.

Some sites (not this one!) have so many ads that have to load before the actual content becomes reasonably scrollable that it reminds me of the days when my connection was via a 14.4 modem!

Now that I've got all that off my chest ...

Thanks, guys for your notes of appreciation ... and Happy New Year to all:-)

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:26 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Eli. Defecate. Not deficate. OK? (Think 'faeces'). This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Jan 2, 2016 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

People scramble about looking for alternatives to fossil fuelled thermal power plants more desperate choices are made.

Jan 2, 2016 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBRYAN

Almost unbelievable

The reactor that was re-booted last week has had to shut down again because of safety issues.
All this to avoid burning fossil fuels the only safe practical cheap reliable power source.

Jan 4, 2016 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

I realize that lefties just about have to tie themselves in knots trying to avoid the truth in Goldberg's book. But the book is solid in the research, the logic and the conclusions.

It is amusing that people who have not read it and don't understand it dismiss it on the basis of their own failed understandings of the political spectrum. It's not even amusing to read the silly rebuttals which attempt to argue that some government in the past which claimed to be of a particular type did something which was not consistent with its supposed governing philosophy. That kind of argument doesn't even rise up to the level of stupid.

Hillary -- good stuff.

Geoff -- raise your game.

Eli -- find a game

Jan 7, 2016 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Singing fashion style legend David Bowie has passed away
Over to Dork of Cork for comment

Certainly an Influence in my life when I was growing up
Milton Keynes bowl 1983 I was there
Went off him in later years

And actually local to me
My sister went to college with one of the girls from Ashes to Ashes video
All the old boys in the local pub in Beckenham knew him and Peter Frampton.

Jan 11, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

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