Add new comment

"We are all fascists now"

Remember this Newsweek cover? It appeared almost 2 years ago (time sure flies, doesn't it?).  It was actually a reference to Richard Nixon's remark in 1971, "We are all Keynesians now."

But a little over a year before this magazine cover appeared, a book by Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, was published. The last chapter in the book is entitled, "The New Age: We're All Fascists Now." Wait a minute--fascism? the American Left? Isn't fascism a right-wing movement? Aren't conservatives forever being called "fascist"? Well, Goldberg's thesis was that fascism is in fact a left-wing movement. And to give you a little taste, on p. 51 Goldberg writes, "By the early 1930s he [Mussolini] had found it necessary to start putting Fascist ideology down on paper...doctrinal Fascist economics looked fairly recognizable as just another left-wing campaign to nationalize industry, or regulate it to the point where the distinction was hardly a difference.  These policies fell under the rubric of what was called corporatism, and not only were they admired in America at the time, but they are unknowingly emulated to a staggering degree today."

Hmmm...not sure about the "unknowingly" part. Here's the text of the President's remarks yesterday afternoon in Schenectady (accompanied by Hanna, Gillibrand, and others) at the corona—err—installation of Jeff Immelt of GE as the leader of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (which replaces the group formerly known as the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—you know, the guy who helped Reagan with policies that led to two decades of growth).

From FOX:

It is unclear how the administration plans to deal with the ethics challenges created by having a CEO whose income is determined by stock performance leading a panel designed to recommend government policies. G.E. (2009 revenue: $157 billion) is a huge government contractor and is always in the market for new subsidies and incentives....

Though intended to show Obama’s coolness with corporate America, the Immelt pick will likely reinforce the perception in American boardrooms that Obama likes to play favorites when it comes to the economy....

And while Volcker was said to have always been locked out of the Obama inner circle, Immelt should have the president’s ear. Immelt’s campaign donations and constant boosterism of the Obama agenda should provide a solid foundation for becoming a close adviser to the president, or perhaps just making that advisory role official.

The suspicious eye that will be cast on Immelt, though, may lessen his ability to provide the connection to the business world Obama has promised. Other CEOs are unlikely to see a competitor who pushes policies explicitly to benefit his company as an ally in the fight for a fair, free market.

No kidding.

For background on how this type of thing has come to be simply accepted by many (and to have ammunition—wait, am I allowed to say that?—for an intelligent comeback when someone calls you a fascist), read Goldberg's book. His style is entertaining, and while you might not agree with everything he says (I didn't), you'll undoubtedly be better informed.  Southworth Library doesn't own a copy but you can request one through interlibrary loan (and Tompkins County Public Library does have a copy).

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.