Saturday, February 02, 2008

Gottfried on Goldberg

Paul Gottfried is a very grumpy conservative who spends most of his time attacking other conservatives. His own stance seems to be somewhere between paleoconservatism and libertarianism but no doubt he would be grumpy about that characterization too.

So it is no surprise that his short review of Jonah Goldberg's book is grumpy too -- apparently accentuated in this case by the fact that Gottfried has himself written to similar effect but has has not got nearly as much publicity as Goldberg. So amid the gloom, one reads a few quite good comments:
"Italian Fascism, until Mussolini unwisely threw in his lot with Hitler in 1936, enjoyed immense support among socialists in the U.S. and Western Europe. For many foreign partisans of Mussolini's corporatist experiment, fascism looked very much like socialism. And since fascists talked about "national revolutions" and condemned market capitalism, they seemed to the editors of The New Republic, and many others, much like those standing on the left side of History.

Well into FDR's first term, he and his Brain Trusters looked to the Italian model as a usable blue print for "mobilizing" the American people in the face of the Depression. Massive subsidies to reactivate the work force and to carry out public works programs of all kinds were aspects of the New Deal that had already been tried out by the Italian Fascist state. And unlike the Nazi regime, which came to power in 1933 just before FDR's inauguration, Mussolini did not oppress Jews or impose anything resembling Nazi race laws until after his shift into Hitler's orbit. As late as 1935, he was the most outspoken and vigorous enemy of Hitler on the European continent."

Gottfried probably has picked up a few minor errors in Jonah's book -- such as just where Carl Schmitt fitted into the Nazi regime -- but there are also major points on which he is plain wrong. He says:
"Fascism was a movement of the anti-libertarian Right. What made it a force of the Right, to repeat my point one last time, was its emphatic rejection of the principle of equality and its search for social models in antiquity-as opposed to the Left's vision of an ideal future that might be extended to the entire human race

The claim there -- that the Left differ from Fascists in that the Fascists to a degree looked backwards for inspiration -- entirely ignores the love-affair between the Greens and the Left that we see today. The current Left generally do their best to facilitate the Greenie push to return us to a romanticized and idealized past. Think of Al Gore! Modern-day Leftists are just as reactionary as Hitler and Musso were -- maybe even more so. Hitler and Mussolini were in fact clear precursors of the Greenies. See here and here.

Secondly, Gottfried's claim about "rejection of the principle of equality" also ignores Hitler's central slogan: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer. Hitler wanted all Germans to be one. The slogan means "One people, one government, one leader". Hitler DID want all Germans to be equal -- though of course he wanted himself and his henchmen to be the wise leaders who would guide the masses (The Fuehrerprinzip). But how is THAT different from the Leftist spokesmen of today? In Orwell's memorable phrase, both the Fascists of yesteryear and the Left of today believe that "all pigs are equal but some are more equal than others". That the modern-day Left are more circumspect about saying as much is the only difference. Both believe in their own superior wisdom and try to impose their tyrannies however they can

Gottfried also seems to be quite out of touch when he says this as evidence of the difference between Fascism and Leftism:
"Fascist government did nothing of significance to change productive forces or to redistribute wealth. It made owners, managers, and workers into contributors to an overarching Fascist order; and it required industrial leaders to consult with Fascist mediators before "releasing workers from their duties." Workers were then given unemployment compensation"

Sorry but that seems like a pretty good description of (say) the British Labour Party government of today -- with its unfair dismissal laws and its abject failure to close Britain's notorious social class gaps. And the red-tape with which British industry has been burdened does seem to me to have "made owners, managers, and workers into contributors to an overarching Fascist order". Their degree of autonomy shrinks year by year.

Gottfried thinks he is so much wiser than Jonah but he shows precious little evidence of it.



Lawless U.S. Congress: "Let us pause to salute the US Congress, whose members have once again shown themselves capable of surmounting partisan friction and institutional gridlock when it comes to serving a group of Americans they care about deeply: themselves. When the 110th Congress returned from its holiday recess two weeks ago, the mountain of unfinished business it had left behind in 2007 was still waiting -- everything from judicial nominations to bilateral trade agreements to the terrorist surveillance program to the farm bill. But the gentlemen and gentlewomen of the House and Senate made sure that nothing would impede what has become almost an annual tradition: the hike in their own salaries. When the sun rose on Jan. 1, so did congressional pay, from $165,200 to $169,300 -- a tidy little jump of $4,100... It is also unconstitutional. Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to pay itself with public funds, but the 27th Amendment circumscribes that authority. It provides: "No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." The amendment limits the power of Congress to change its salary by preventing any pay raise from taking effect until the voters have had their say."

Hillary's Smear Campaign: "Beginning with the South Carolina debate, and continuing as an applause line in many stump speeches thereafter, Hillary Clinton has accused Barack Obama of representing an inner-city slum lord while practicing law in Chicago. Of all people, Sen. Clinton should know better. During the Whitewater investigation, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr investigated the legal work performed by Mrs. Clinton, then a partner in the Rose law firm, on behalf of Jim McDougal and his bank, Madison Guaranty. Mr. Starr believed that Mrs. Clinton helped orchestrate the fraudulent land deal known as Castle Grande. He subpoenaed her billing records, hauled her before a grand jury, and relentlessly pursued her..... Mrs. Clinton's willingness to ignore the truth for short-term political advantage is exactly what breeds the partisanship that's paralyzed Washington for too many years, and the cynicism felt by so many Americans, especially the young. Getting ahead by any means possible is the strategy."

What McCain's Got: "In a time of Republican confusion, Sen. John McCain, reviled as an unreliable maverick, has won three GOP primaries. Florida showed why he's winning.... When Mr. McCain took the stage in Sun City, the applause was polite. When he finished, he got a standing ovation. He has been at this game a long time, and his ability to sense and ride the emotional flow of an audience is astonishing. It discomfits some, including me, that Mr. McCain seems like a live, capped volcano. But in front of an audience like this, and before a younger group two days later at the Tampa Convention Center, he stood with that tight, little upper body of coiled electricity and plugged his message of honor, commitment and threat straight into the guts of his listeners. Rudy Giuliani's antiterror message has been strong and credible, but it was almost an abstraction compared to the meat and potatoes of the McCain presentation.... Mr. McCain is hapless on economics. The answer to why he nonetheless beat Mr. Romney by eight points with economic voters is in large part his effective denunciations of the Bush-GOP spending surge in the first veto-less term. There's nothing "maverick" about that. That spending is the main thing that drove the GOP base into its famous funk."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Fascism was a movement of the anti-libertarian Right. What made it a force of the Right, to repeat my point one last time, was its emphatic rejection of the principle of equality and its search for social models in antiquity-as opposed to the Left's vision of an ideal future that might be extended to the entire human race

In Triumph of the Will I distinctly recall a speech to the Hitler Youth in which the Fuhrer promised his young followers a future without classes or social distinctions. This promise may not have "extended to the entire human race" but it doesn't sound much like an acceptance of inequality either. Hitler may not have believed his own rhetoric on the matter, but he certainly appealed to a utopian socialism to win support.

I think drawing exact parallels between the European and American left-right divide has always been difficult. Classical liberalism has never found a home in continental Europe as it has in the English-speaking world.