Sunday, May 28, 2017


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Drawing from Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, economist Thomas Sowell asks “Who is a ‘Fascist’?” Using Benito Mussolini as his example, Sowell writes:

·       The Fascists were completely against individualism in general and especially against individualism in a free-market economy. Their agenda included minimum-wage laws, government restrictions on profit-making, progressive taxation of capital, and “rigidly secular” schools. Unlike the Communists, the Fascists did not seek government ownership of the means of production. They just wanted the government to call the shots as to how businesses would be run.

According to Sowell Fascists were Leftists in contrast to the right wing dictators, as Western intellectuals describe them:

·       Indeed, the whole Fascist economic agenda bears a remarkable resemblance to what liberals would later advocate. Moreover, during the 1920s “progressives” in the United States and Britain recognized the kinship of their ideas with those of Mussolini, who was widely lionized by the Left. Famed British novelist and prominent Fabian socialist H. G. Wells called for “Liberal Fascism,” saying “the world is sick of parliamentary politics.” Another literary giant and Fabian socialist, George Bernard Shaw, also expressed his admiration for Mussolini — as well as for Hitler and Stalin, because they “did things,” instead of just talk.

Ironically, the National Socialists (Nazis) were also deceptively termed “Fascists.”

·       In Germany, the Nazis followed in the wake of the Italian Fascists, adding racism in general and anti-Semitism in particular, neither of which was part of Fascism in Italy or in Franco’s Spain. Even the Nazi variant of Fascism found favor on the Left when it was only a movement seeking power in the 1920s.

In contrast, Sowell and Goldberg describe conservatism as embodying “limited government” and “traditional morality.” Sowell explains:

·       Fascism was not only looked on favorably by the Left but recognized as having kindred ideas, agendas, and assumptions. Only after Hitler and Mussolini disgraced themselves, mainly by their brutal military aggressions in the 1930s, did the Left distance itself from these international pariahs. Fascism, initially recognized as a kindred ideology of the Left, has since come down to us defined as being on “the Right” — indeed, as representing the farthest Right, supposedly further extensions of conservatism. If by conservatism you mean belief in free markets, limited government, and traditional morality, including religious influences, then these are all things that the Fascists opposed just as much as the Left does today.

When we understand Fascism as just another Left Wing manifestation, we need to take a complete look at the collective horrors of the Left and also reevaluate the much maligned conservatism, along with its fruitage.

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