The Familiar Ring of Fascism

Something from a recent David Brooks column ought to sound familiar:

The government will be much more active in economic management (pleasing a certain sort of establishment Democrat). Government activism will provide support to corporations, banks and business and will be used to shore up the stable conditions they need to thrive (pleasing a certain sort of establishment Republican). Tax revenues from business activities will pay for progressive but business-friendly causes — investments in green technology, health care reform, infrastructure spending, education reform and scientific research.
If you wanted to devise a name for this approach, you might pick the phrase economist Arnold Kling has used: Progressive Corporatism. We’re not entering a phase in which government stands back and lets the chips fall. We’re not entering an era when the government pounds the powerful on behalf of the people. We’re entering an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable — and often oligarchic — framework for capitalist endeavor.
After a liberal era and then a conservative era, we’re getting a glimpse of what comes next.

From Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism:

In reality, if you define “right-wing” or “conservative” in the American sense of supporting the rule of law and the free market, then the more right-wing a business is, the less fascist it becomes. Meanwhile, in terms of economic policy, the more you move to the political center, as defined in American politics today, the closer you get to true fascism. If the far left is defined by socialism and the far right by laissez-faire, then it is the mealymouthed centrists of the Democratic Leadership Council and the Brookings Institution who are the true fascists, for it is they who subscribe to the notion of the Third Way, that quintessentially fascistic formulation that claims to be neither left nor right. More important, these myths are often deliberately perpetuated in order to hasten the transformation of American society into precisely the kind of fascist — or corporatist — nation liberals claim to oppose. (285)
As we’ve seen, ideologically fascist and progressive totalitarianism was never a mere doctrine of statism. Rather, it claimed that the state was the natural brain of the organic body politic. Statism was the route to collectivism. (335)
The real threat is that the promise of American life will be frittered away for a bag of magic beans called security. (393)
… both [George W. Bush and Bill Clinton] are products of a new progressive spirit in American politics. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, liberals believed that the demise of national security as a defining issue would allow them to revive the progressive agenda. They hoped to invest the “peace dividend” in all manner of Third Way schemes, including new-corporatist public-private partnerships, emulating the more enlightened industrial policies of Europe and Japan. … The climax of all this was Hillary Clinton’s attempt to take over American health care, which in turn released largely libertarian anti-bodies in the form of the Contract with America and the, alas short-lived, Gingrich revolution. (400)

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Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
15 years ago

Jonah Goldberg apparently says that In reality, if you define “right-wing” or “conservative” in the American sense of supporting the rule of law and the free market,
So, supporting the “rule of law” is “in the American sense” “right wing”? I guess that means that Nixon’s claim that “if the president does it, it’s not illegal” must mean that Nixon was a “left wing” or at least “not right wing” politician?
Jonah Goldberg… you have a message from George Orwell on line 2.

15 years ago

Bravo, Thomas Schmeling,
There’s “rule of law” and there’s “free market”. They are not related. They are separate and unrelated entities, independent of one another. Anyone attempting to link them needs to do a lot more explaining and a lot less asserting. “Rule of law” existed in Athens and Sparta well before anything like a “free market” existed.

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