Monday, April 25, 2005


It is now a very common cry among older American "liberals" to say that the Democratic party has moved away from them (e.g. here). The Democrats of today are (rightly) seen as very different from the Democrats of (say) the Truman or JFK eras. By the same token, to younger American "liberals" Truman and JFK seem hopelessly reactionary and conservative. If they had been anyone other than Democrat notables they would be branded as "Fascists". The great similarities between the foreign policies of Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, JFK and GWB can usually be greeted by contemporary Democrats only with averted eyes.

Fortunately for the peace of mind of the Left, they usually know practically no history. If they were capable of going back further they would find that the problem in fact gets worse the further back you go. In the era before World War II, "progressives" were very fascist indeed. The two great heroes of the prewar American Left that contemporary Leftists still know something about are FDR and Woodrow Wilson. FDR did his best to socialize the entire American economy as part of his "New Deal" and Woody is regarded as the father of the League of Nations, predecessor of the United Nations. Yet FDR was an admirer of Mussolini, whom he referred to as "that admirable Italian gentleman" and Woody was a good ol' Southern boy who promptly cut back on the rights of blacks as soon as he became President and wrote at length about the distinctive qualities of Aryans (Yes: Aryans, the same guys Hitler idealized). I have documented all that (and more) here (or here).

And when you go right back to the writings of Marx and Engels themselves you find in them virulent antisemitism, Germans viewed as a superior race, contempt for "niggers", belief in eugenics, support for black slavery, support for British rule over India, belief in war as a purifying force and just about everything else that the modern-day Left regards as anathema. Again I document that at great length elsewhere

So how come? Why has the Left done such a huge about-face over time and why were the Leftists of yesteryear so "Fascist"? It couldn't be simpler. It is just another case of the general rule that Leftists really believe in nothing at all. They only believe in themselves and in their entitlement to power. So they just use whatever thinking is popular at the time and stretch it to absurd lengths in order to make themselves seem holier than the next guy. The racial and eugenic theories that Marx, Engels, Hitler and the prewar American Left believed in were accepted throughout society as wise and insightful right up to World War II so Leftists were their most energetic and extreme advocates. As soon as Hitler's deeds discredited such theories, however, the Left reversed gears immediately, easily and without a qualm.

As a noted historian of the British Conservative Party points out, however, conservatives by contrast are by temperament compromisers and pragmatists, people who are cautious and distrustful of grand theories in general -- so they have always seen small (but only small) amounts of truth in most theories. Most of the world's common beliefs and intellectual fashions of the last several centuries have had some reality behind them and conservatives have always been able -- and continue to be able -- to see and acknowledge those bits of reality -- without at the same time being so incautious as to think that reality can be reduced to a few simple formulas or rules.

As they have always done, for instance, conservatives do think that race exists and that some differences between races are real and important (such as the black crime-rate) but they have never drawn from that the sweeping inferences that Leftists such as Marx, Engels and Hitler did -- that there are superior races which have a right to kick out or exterminate inferior races. Even at the height of the British Empire in the 19th century, when conservatives were as racist as they have ever been, far from trying to exterminate or kick out Jews the British Conservative Party actually made a flamboyant Jew (Disraeli) their Prime Minister! A more extreme contrast with the gas ovens could hardly be imagined! Conservatives have always been able to recognize the reality of race without at the same time wanting to persecute other races. Murders of millions by Stalin and tens of thousands by Castro are still to this day greeted with indulgence by the Left of American politics whereas in the "racist" days of the old British Empire the killing of a couple of score of Indians at Amritsar by a British General (Dyer) led to a huge outcry in Britain that eventually saw the General cashiered for his pains.

So that in the end is how the Left get away with blaming the political Right for the deeds of Hitler. What Hitler preached was in his day mainstream Leftism and almost everything he said could also be found in the writings of Marx & Engels but Leftists today have done such an about-face that what Hitler preached is now not readily recognizable as Leftism. And since some of the things that Hitler advocated to an extreme -- such as national independence and patriotism -- are part (but only a part) of normal human motives, conservatives continue to see some virtue in them and are not reluctant to say so. So the claim that Hitler was a Rightist is an easy accusation to get away with. Conservatives still recognize the small elements of truth that Hitler took to outrageous extremes, while Leftists deny all reality that does not suit their propaganda needs of the moment. That conservatives have never extended any of their ideas to support deliberate mass murder -- as Leftists have done on many occasions from Lenin on -- is conveniently overlooked.

An obvious comment on the above that Leftists might want to make is that if modern Leftism is so different from pre-war Leftism, then pre-war Leftists such as Hitler cannot really have been Leftists. But most of what Hitler spouted was straight from Marx & Engels (see here) so if Hitler was not a Leftist then neither were Marx & Engels -- and if Marx & Engels were not Leftists, then who would be? This still of course leaves untouched the common modern claim that "liberals" are not Leftists. But since both Communists and "liberals" have the same avowed goal -- government-enforced equality -- that is a very hollow claim indeed. At the height of the Cold War, it was common for American "liberals" to defend Communists as being just "liberals in a hurry". I agree with that. And I particularly agree with its logical corollary: That "liberals" are just slowed-down Communists.

(A short version of this post appeared on Blogger News yesterday)


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