Dystopian, yes. Unimaginable, no. In fact, a version of our present moment was imagined more than eight decades ago by novelist Sinclair Lewis who wrote a still readable (if now fictionally clunky) novel, It Can’t Happen Here. Its focus: the election as president of a man we might today call a right-wing “populist,” but who,... Read More
Can We Stop Feeling Quite So Helpless and Hopeless in a World on the Skids?
In the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s 1984 soared onto bestseller lists, as did Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which also hit TV screens in a storm of publicity. Zombies, fascists, and predators of every sort are now stalking the American imagination in ever-greater numbers and... Read More
If neoconservatives and progressives truly understood fascism, they would stop using the word as a smear term. That is because both groups, along with most political figures and commentators, embrace fascist ideas and policies.Fascism’s distinguishing characteristic is a “mixed economy.” Unlike socialists and communists who seek to abolish private business, fascists are content to let... Read More
Let me begin with this disclaimer. This essay is not intended as an endorsement of Donald Trump for president. There are many valid reasons to criticize Trump. In his presidential campaign, he has been vulgar, childish, and extremely general in most of his political positions; and when he does express something specific, he tends to... Read More
What's the Difference Between an "Unabashed Nationalist" and a "Fascist"?
“Fascist”, it appears, is the go-to epithet for characterizing nationalists and racists we don’t like. “Nationalist” is apparently the go-to epithet for characterizing fascists we do like. The Western media is coping with the conspicuous and undeniable presence of fascists in the Ukrainian paramilitaries by rebranding them. A recent case in point was in a... Read More
This week, I will turn to the third charge in the indictment against the First World War: the rise of fascism. What was fascism? The word itself is problematic. For many, especially those of a Marxist bent, it was an attempt to divert working people from the real cause of their problems. For other, it... Read More
The wildly exaggerated threat of so-called Islamic terrorism is being shamelessly used by some western governments to boost their flagging fortunes at a time of economic malaise. Marketing fear is a sure-fire political ploy, as the Bush administration showed. But if you think promotion of “terrorism” hysteria in order to curtail democratic freedoms is something... Read More
A broad-minded reactionary takes libertarians to task for abusing the term.
Having been at work on a book dealing with changing definitions of the “F word,” meaning in this case not the one-time obscenity but the ultimate evil in the world of political correctness, I find my comments on the subject have caused considerable irritation. Although I once assumed that only the conventional left was fixated... Read More
Although the adjective “fascist,” as George Orwell pointed out during and right after World War II, was a slur applied to “those we don’t like,” the indiscriminate use of the “F” word seems more common now than it was in 1945. Political correctness drives this revival, although the association of fascism with absolute evil was... Read More
Jack Ross has raised an interesting point regarding my attempt to exonerate Leo Strauss from the charge of being a Nazi sympathizer. According to Jack, Strauss’s demonstrated affinity for right-wing Zionism, and his stated admiration for that movement’s godfather, Zeev Jabotinsky, would suggest an attraction to the interwar European Right. Therefore the charge that Strauss... Read More
William Altman’s voluminous study of German Jewish political theorist Leo Strauss (1899-1973) does not break any new ground in trying to link its subject to the far Right. The author’s theme has been amply treated in multiple monographs and in feature articles in the New Yorker, New York Times, The New Republic, Le Monde, and... Read More
Neocons misuse the f-word.
Behind Glenn Beck loomed the faces of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, and the American progressive John Dewey. The host gestured to the photos as he revealed the common link to Fox viewers: all favored state intervention in the economy and apparently did not believe in the concept of natural rights... Read More
New Zealander K.R. Bolton has sent for my benefit a self-published work, Thinkers of the Right: Challenging Materialism, which is one of the most enlightening studies of the interwar Right I’ve encountered in years. Its author, who explained to me that no New Zealand academic or commercial press would touch his “extremist” material, lives in... Read More
Having participated this weekend in an Internet discussion courtesy of Paul Craig Roberts, it seems to me that "fascist" is bandied about on the right in the same careless way as one finds on the left. Note that the anti—New Deal American Right in the thirties fell over themselves denouncing FDR and his minions as... Read More
At last The Chronicle of Higher Education has published my response to Alan Wolfe's charges against me (in its May 5 issue), together with what seems a repetition of this eminent sociologist's earlier complaints. I am soft on fascism because I place quotation marks around that term. I also have the habit of "defending" Holocaust-deniers,... Read More
While Jonah Goldberg, braving Redneck America, was steering a rented car all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska to Washington, D.C., the resourceful Rich Lowry set out to keep the ideology of Goldbergismalive in the popular imagination. As his recent syndicated column ["War on Iraq actually fills liberal goals," LA Daily News, September 3, 2002] amply... Read More