Monday, February 25, 2008


One does occasionally hear the term "The white man's burden" as a mocking reference to the claim that the British and other empires were good for the native peoples whom they dominated. I wonder how many people are aware that the term was originally the name of a poem and that the poet was Indian-born British poet Rudyard Kipling? Some, no doubt. But I would not at all be surprised to hear that NOBODY reading this was aware that the poem concerned was inspired by the deeds of a famous American "Progressive". Let me explain:

Right into the 1960's, the American Left (e.g. JFK) was patriotic and nationalistic. Nowadays they mostly make only a shallow pretense of patriotism. Getting the votes of minorities is their desperate aim these days and glorifying America does not serve that aim very well. And with Obama, even the pretense seems to be fading.

And the most nationalistic icon of the American Left in history was undoubtedly TR (Theodore Roosevelt), founder of the "Progressive" party. TR was the first Fascist leader of the 20th century -- where Fascism is conceived of as Leftism plus nationalism. He glorified war as a purifying force for the nation, built lots of battleships and invaded and took over three countries. And on the home front he attacked big business. Fascist enough? His conquests were in fact in the last few years of the 19th century but his Presidency of the USA continued into the early 20th century.

The British empire had however never been Fascist. It was run by conservatives most of the time and when the Left came to power they were much more inclined to wind it down than expand it. And, as the saying goes, the empire was mostly acquired "in a fit of absence of mind". It was not acquired as the result of any deliberate expansionist policy but rather as the byproduct of pursuing other objectives -- such as containment of the French. And if anyone doubts the humane impulse that formed British policy of the time, just reflect that it was in 1807 that Britain became the first major country to abolish slavery. And, unlike Abraham Lincoln many years later, the British both attacked it outside their own domain and abolished it at home. Lincoln's war "against slavery" was fought while permitting slavery in the North! Lincoln's war was really a power-motivated war with slavery as a thin pretext.

And India is an excellent example of the non-imperialistic origin of the British empire. The British first came to India as the representatives of a private company, the British East India company, and the aim was trade, not conquest. The company encountered various attacks on its operations, however, so gradually built up a private army to defend itself (perhaps a bit like the security guards employed by Halliburton in Iraq today). And when Indian princelings took on the company in battle, the company tended to win -- meaning that it eventually had large parts of India under its private control. At that stage, the British government got a bit concerned that the company was not treating the natives well and took over the company's military and rulership operations. So the British government in a sense "inherited" India rather than invading and conquering it. The history I have just given does of course simplify much for the sake of brevity but that is the essence of it.

And the humane thinking (mostly of Christian origin) behind British policy is spelled out in Kipling's poem. Kipling saw the British as having a civilizing mission and saw that mission as one of replacing savage values with humane and Christian ones. And he persuaded himself that TR had such values too. He wrote his poem as a commentary on the American takeover of the Philippines. He saw America as joining Britain in the mission of civilizing savages.

And what he wrote was very prophetic. And it was good prophecy because it was based on experience -- British imperial experience. He prophesied that the gift of liberty and humaneness that America would give to other nations would not be appreciated and would instead lead to resentment of America. And that was long before the liberation of France from the Nazis and the liberation of Iraq from Saddam! Here are some excerpts from a wonderful and idealistic poem that is now almost always misrepresented:

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;

By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;

And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard--

That's amazingly good prophecy by my lights. Very wicked of him to mention skin color judged by today's hysterical political standards but Britain and America WERE largely white countries at the time, and still are.

If anybody is wondering why I have suddenly started to blog about poetry, the story is here (or here).

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The last two centuries of German history is a subject that I have taken a particular interest in. Given that two enormously influential Germans emerged during that time (Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler) who brought great woe on the world, I think it behooves us all to seek what understanding we can find of how all that happened

A small reflection on Prussia, the home of German militarism

Prussia was originally the most Eastern tentacle of the German states, although it no longer exists as a legal entity. It is best known for its militarism and a certain Asian influence. I was once married to a fine woman of Prussian descent and she had the distinctly Asian high cheekbones and the faint impression of Asian eyes that one associates with the old East Prussia, in particular. A legacy of the Mongol hordes, one imagines.

Military strategists worldwide to this day study von Clausewitz -- the best-known Prussian military strategist and theorist. And it was, after all, the Prussian Gneisenau's insight that won the battle of Waterloo (OK. Nobody else has ever told you that but look it up). And we won't talk about Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein and the many other brilliant Prussian generals. And, largely because of its military prowess, Prussia did eventually take over most of Germany. And the part that Prussia did not take over -- Austria -- was essentially ALLOWED to remain independent by Prussia.

And the dominant figure in Prusssia was the nobleman -- the Junker (pronounced "yoonker", where "oo" is as in "book"). The Junker was a landowner with a pedigree stretching back into the mists of time. And a Junker was usually a military man in some capacity -- even if only as a reservist. And the iconic image of the Prussian Junker was a man in military uniform wearing the Prussian Pickelhaube (spiked helment).

So why in heaven's name was the above Prussian Junker in spiked helmet depicted prominently on a U.S. government site until recently? (You can still find a small version of the picture about halfway down here). It is because the man depicted there is one of the most famous Prussians of all time -- Prussian Kanzler (Prime Minister) Prince Otto von Bismarck -- the man principally responsible for uniting Germany under the Prussian crown and the man principally responsible for the great Prussian military victory over the French at Sedan in 1870.

OK! What's the joke? you are saying. That is NO reason for putting the guy on a U.S. government website! You are right. Everything I have said about Bismarck is correct but what I have left out is that he is also the man who was principally responsible for inventing social security! Yes: The modern welfare State was invented in Prussia for Prussians by a Prussian militarist! Those dastardly Prussians were also welfarists! Enough to blow the simple mind of any Leftist! Reality is far more complex than any of the guff that you learnt off Leftists during your education.

Hitler was also a socialist (welfarist) and a militarist. He was not a Prussian himself but Germany's Prussian traditions helped make what he did respectable (and indeed honorable) in the Germany of his time. No Leftist would tell you that welfarism often goes with militarism but it does in the real world -- as distinct from the Leftist dreamworld.

Hitler was in fact appointed as Reichskanzler (Prime Minister of Germany) by a Prussian Junker -- Marshall Paul von Hindenburg -- and Hitler made the most of that in his propaganda. See the 1930s Nazi election poster above. In translation, it reads: "The marshall and the corporal fight alongside us for peace and equal rights". Peace and equal rights! Where have I heard that before? It wouldn't be from modern-day American welfarists, would it? What surprising company welfarists keep! Not only Adolf Hitler but even Prince Otto von Bismarck!

The "mercenary" option for America

The very extensive deployment of reserve and National Guard troops to Iraq is a stark confession that the regular U.S. army troops and Marines are not remotely up to the tasks that have recently been demanded of them. And even the creation of more vacancies for regular troops in the armed services seems highly likely to run up against recruitmnent difficulties.

In the circumstances, various people (See e.g. here and here) have drawn attention to the fact that the US armed forces are already not wholly comprised of U.S. citizens. There are, in particular, large numbers of Hispanics serving and not all of them are "documented". And there are already provisions for "undocumented" troops who have served their time to be given accelerated access to full U.S. citizenship. So the suggestion is that more should be done along those lines -- that foreign troops be actively recruited -- with U.S. citizenship being offered as one of the rewards for service.

I am sure my thoughts on the matter are as politically incorrect as they are realistic so I have hesitated to enter that fray but I can resist no longer: The proposal goes close to hiring mercenaries and the track record of mercenaries is not good overall. So should it be done? I am inclined to think that it might be OK if strict selection criteria are applied and numbers are kept to (say) no more than a third of all U.S. troops.

One reason why I see merit in the idea is that it might draw into U.S. service a significant number of Germans and other Northern Europeans from countries with a distinguished history of military competence. Historically, Germans are probably second only to the Japanese when it comes to warrior virtues (lots of people TALK about fighting to the death but only the Japanese have ever done it) and it would seem that many Germans are natural-born warriors.

Germany today is both very anti-military and very anti-American but that is only a broad generalization. There are sure to be a significant minority of Germans who are both pro-American and genetically the same fierce warriors that the Teutons have been for over 2,000 years. And I am sure that any Germans with the old genes in them would just LOVE to get their hands on America's cutting-edge military hardware! That alone would be a big reward. As a former army psychologist, I have some idea of how the military mind works.

America might even get some capable military commanders out of it all. Germans seem to just sprout able generals (Rommel and the incredible von Manstein being the best known recent examples) while Anglo-American forces are notoriously short of them. Just look at the appalling record of American military command in Iraq. It almost makes the British look competent! And when America did at last find someone who knew what he was doing there, he was Dutch by immediate ancestry -- General Petraeus.

And Germans and other Teutons tend to fit into Anglospheric civilization so seamlessly that their origin soon ceases to be noticed by all but the acutest observers. And high educational requirements for recruits would of course let Germans in as easily as it would keep the less-compatible third-worlders out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More on the Fascist element in Obama's appeal

"Alles muss anders sein" (Everything must be different) -- Hitler's briefest summary of his policies

History never repeats itself but sometimes it comes close. Obama is NOT a Fascist insofar as the Fascists were patriotic and Obama is the sort of America-hater that is now typical of the Left. Right up to JFK, the American Left was patriotic. It no longer is. And sometimes Obama doesn't even bother to pretend -- as we see below:

But in matters other than patriotism -- the appeal for unity, the preaching of "change", the vague but inspiring rhetoric and the automatic turning to government as the solution to every problem -- Obama is quite Fascist.

That does not mean that he would turn America into a Fascist nation if he became President. Because he doesn't seem to have thought things through, I think he would make a very ineffectual President, in fact. But the main reason why America will remain the Great Republic is that its political institutions, traditions and customs are very strong. F.D. Roosevelt was a strong and determined leader with a legendary base of support throughout the country who openly admired Mussolini and who did his best to put the Federal government in charge of just about everything in America -- but he failed. America is not easily changed by one man. Because Americans think that it is inconceivable for America to be anything but a democracy, it is highly likely that America will always remain a democracy. As judge Learned Hand notably said: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."

And Obama is no FDR. But identifying where Obama stands in history might just do a little to prepare people for the adventurism and reductions in individual liberties that he is likely to move towards if he gains office. The amazing revelations of what Obama is like without a teleprompter reveal him as having all the anger and hate of the Fascists too.

I mentioned vague but inspiring rhetoric. Here is the shouted climax of one of Hitler's impassioned speeches at the 1934 Nuremberg Parteitag (party rally), speaking particularly to the Hitler Youth:

"Vor uns liegt Deutschland, in uns marschiert Deutschland. und hinter uns kommt Deutschland" ("Before us lies Germany, in us Germany marches and behind us comes Germany").

The translation erases the cadences of the original German so why it got thunderous applause and inspired many may not be immediately obvious. Hitler is notoriously impossible to translate fully so you need to understand German and see a film of the original speech to really "get" it. But what exactly did it mean? It is rather absurd considered logically but as an emotional declaration of unity it was very powerful. I doubt that Obama will ever convey that message as powerfully -- but it is a very similar message to his.

And note another famous appeal for unity, unity in the State: "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato" (Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State) -- the words of Benito Mussolini.

Or how about G.W.F. Hegel, the German philosopher who started it all? (Translation only)

The state, which is that form of reality in which the individual has and enjoys his freedom; but on the condition of his recognizing, believing in and willing that which is common to the whole

And as far as Obama's "change" religion is concerned, see the quote at the head of this post and also note the following policy description:

A declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists" -- again the words of Adolf Hitler, from the "Philosophy and Organization" chapter of Mein Kampf

And Hitler also described his movement as having a 'revolutionary creative will' which had 'no fixed aim, no permanency, only eternal change'

It's amusing how Leftists love to see imaginary similarities between GWB and Hitler but will never in a million years see the real similarities between Obama and the Fascists that I have set out in detail. "Bush=Hitler" gives them a feeling of righteousness. "Obama=Hitler" gives me a feeling of sadness. That Fascism has huge and enduring appeal is a very hard thing for a libertarian to swallow. And as for personal popularity, let the picture below speak for itself:

My previous comments on the similarities between Obama and the prewar Fascists are here and here and here

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I note that someone else has seen the similarities between Obama's campaign and the campaigns of Adolf Hitler. See here. So I thought I might put up a few more quotes about Hitler's appeal that sound very much like Obama's:

As this writer noted:
When brainwashers spoke to Germans after the war, as part of efforts to "psychoanalyze" the Nazi experience, they found few remembered any specific content in Hitler's speeches. Almost all could remember being part of the experience, if they were in attendance, and most remembered the "excitement" in listening to them on the radio. The words 'hypnotic" and "mesmerizing" were the most used to describe the Fuehrer's voice. Even some people who professed to have disagreed with the Nazis grudgingly claimed that Hitler was a "a spellbinding speaker."

And note this comment:
"It was a sincere Hitler that they knew, whose words burned into the most secret recesses of their minds and rebuked them for their own shortcomings. It was the Hitler who would lead them back to self-respect because he had faith in them. This fundamental conception of Hitler made a beautiful foundation for a propaganda build-up. He was so convincing on the speaker's platform and appeared to be so sincere in what he said that the majority of his listeners were ready to believe almost anything good about him because they wanted to believe it.

And a few short quotes from The German dictatorship by K.D. Bracher (Weidenfeld, 1971, pp. 146-148):
"The youthful following, attracted by the romantic radicalism and emotional appeal of the "movement" became a significant factor" ... "Youth was indignant over the difficult and frequently unfair conditions of life, the manifold limitations of the times. The "movement" provided them with an outlet" ... "They protested against the seeming inertia of the politicians of the older generation..." "It was a truly religio-psychological phenomemon. Just as the concept of "belief" occupied a central place.." "Hitler appeared as the exponent of a new sense of life"

I imagine that many people reading the above will just not believe how similar Obama's approach is to Hitler's. They will feel that it is easy to tell the difference. If so, try this quiz. While there are Leftists there will always be Fascists.

And anybody who thinks Fascism belongs firmly in the past should ponder Putin's Russia. One of the most powerful Fascist States the world has ever seen is right with us now. Putin is wildly popular (in Russia) too.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Appeals to authority

It is the nature of intellectuals to think that they know better than anyone else. So they rarely defend the status quo. They mostly want to change it in some way that would suit themselves -- mostly to get the money away from those dumb capitalists and channel it in a direction that will be better for intellectuals. In short, intellectuals usually lean Left to at least some degree. Conservatives can take the status quo or leave it, depending on what the particular status quo happens to be. But a loathing of the status quo is intrinsic to Leftism -- so much so that they may often oppose a status quo that they themselves have been instrumental in creating -- with the now-common Green/Left opposition to windfarms (a shout-out to Ted Kennedy here) being one rather amusing example.

One outcome of all that it that Leftists generally find much comfort in the outpourings of intellectuals -- with G.W.F. Hegel and Karl Marx being early players in that field. So an appeal to authority often suits Leftists. They say, in effect: "All these wise men say we need to change the way we do things so that must be right." The most notable tendency of that today is of course the constant Greenie claim that there is a "consensus" among scientists about the human origin of the slight degree of global warming observed in the late 20th century (but which has been conspicuously absent since 1998). The Greenies luxuriate in having so many authorities on their side and they do their best to discredit the many experts who reject the Warmist view.

Sadly, of course, authorities can often be wrong. Even the smartest of intellectuals can make big mistakes when speaking outside their own field of expertise. Albert Einsten had clearly Marxist views on the economy, for instance. You can read his now mostly archaic thoughts on the matter in the old Marxist publication Monthly Review. And the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein, admired Communism so much that he actually emigrated to Russia. He lasted three weeks there and came back with distinctly modified views. Albert at least was wise enough not to put his money where his mouth was.

And experts can even go wrong when speaking WITHIN their field of expertise. Almost all of my academic career was devoted to exposing the flaws in the Leftist theories conventional among political psychologists. I was repeatedly able to show that the reigning consensus was contradicted by the facts. I don't believe I changed anybody's views, however. Ideology is not easily knocked off its perch by mere facts. But for anybody willing to look, I think I was able to show very clearly that the consensus within my own field of expertise was just plain wrong. You can see therefore why I regard ALL appeals to authority as very third-rate thinking -- as a rather pathetic substitute for looking at the actual evidence.

Given that the Green/Left have so conspicuously hitched their wagon to appeals to authority, however, it does on occasion become necessary to reply in kind. If a Leftist says: "All the experts say... " one needs to reply: "But THESE experts deny ..." if one is to have any hope of making a persuasive case. In other words, although appeals to authortity have little objective merit, they do have considerable persuasive power for many people and one has to recognize that and fight back by questioning the authority concerned -- and an easy way to do that is to quote OTHER authorities with different opinions. And I do that often on my Greenie Watch blog.

It is is also because of the Leftist authority-orentation (an orientation which makes it all the more amusing that Leftist psychologists constantly brand conservatives as "authoritarian") that I occasionally make mention of my academic background and the fields wherein I can speak with some authority. I would much rather discuss ANY issue on the basis of the facts but if a Leftist insists on personalized arguments in a field where I happen to be an authority, then I feel that I might as well take the easy way out and squash the Leftist using his own hammer. It might just conceivably teach him something about the inherent inconclusiveness of relying on arguments about persons rather than on arguments about the facts. I do however draw the line at claiming any GENERAL authority. Leftist academics very often do implicitly claim that. They get credit for pronouncements made outside their own field of expertise. A linguist like Chomsky, for instance speaks on all sorts of topics outside of his field and Leftists seem to get great comfort from his "authoritative" misrepresentations. They are fools do do so. Arguing from an irrelevant authority is in fact what logicians refer to as one of the informal fallacies.

I was rather amused recently, however, when a very skeptical reader asked for my list of academic publications. He evidently thought that I must be the sort of fraud one so often finds on the Left. When he was referred to a full list of the relevant citations, he lost that battle but as a comeback complained that many of my publications were quite short. He seemed to think that you could judge the worth of a research article by its length! I am sure that a lot of acadenics wish that were true. Writing reams of waffle seems to come very easily to many of them. If there is any criteriality in the length of a research article, I would tend to think that merit is more likely to lie with short articles. If you know what you are talking about and your results are clear, you don't need to ramble on.

I certainly do strive for succinctness in all that I write. People are more likely to read and understand what one has to say that way. But there are of course some topics that NEED to be discussed at great length -- histories and literature reviews, for instance -- and for my sins I do sometimes write at length in those areas. Most notably so here and here and here.

With my academic background I suppose I could be said to be an intellectual but I sedulously avoid that label. Intellectuals generally seem to me to be a rather miserable bunch who are puffed up with oversimplified theories and who are prone to parasitizing others. By contrast I have always been happy with my lot in life. I have the gift of contentment and "just the facts" will do me fine. And when I do splash out big with money (usually by giving it away. My own needs have always been small), I do it with money honestly earned in business -- not with money ripped off the taxpayer under some pretext. But being someone who has been successful in business as well as in academe does make me an odd bod, I guess.

Update: What is an "intellectual"?

In his usual memorable way, the delightful Dr. Spooner once said: "I have in my breast a half-warmed fish". I suspect that the definition I am about to offer is little better than a half-warmed fish but here goes: I think an intellectual is someone who defends popular ideas in a particularly persuasive way -- which is why the label is usually attached only to people who are much in the public eye. There are many scholars and scientists labouring away at making a contribution to knowledge and understanding but it is only when they get into the public eye that they become "intellectuals". And if the ideas they espouse are complex or difficult to follow they will simply not get into the public eye. The ideas concerned have to be readily comprehended by the intelligent layman.

And one reason why most intellectuals seem to be Left-leaning is that Leftist ideas are the ones most in need of defending. Some Leftist ideas -- such as the belief that you can provide more and better accomodation for the poor by instituting government rent-control -- are so obviously mad that not even an intellectual could defend them (except in NYC of course). But other ideas -- such as the desirability of universal government healthcare -- are attractive enough to warrant defending. And if you have been to a government hospital lately, you will very likely feel that only an intellectual could defend that idea. I am sure that Hillary Clinton goes to private hospitals.

So I think I can safely say that I am not an intellectual. I get no mainstream media exposure at all. Since I would much prefer to be regarded as a scientist or a scholar, however, I feel rather pleased about that. Most "intellectuals" seem to me to be very poor scientists and scholars -- Noam Chomsky, for instance.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More on Obama as the heir to Fascism

Message to Leftists: Bush=Hitler is reasonable but Obama=Hitler is not?

Let's look at some evidence bearing on the above question. I won't spend any time on the first equation above because I think that by any objective assessment Bush is simply a fairly conventional center Rightist who has acted well in accordance with the policies ("compassionate conservatism") that he proclaimed before gaining office. I actually see GWB as more a Christian gentleman than a real conservative.

The Left-dominated educational system has ensured that it is now known only to historical specialists but Hitler, by contrast, gained power on promises that were to a large extent the direct opposite of what he eventually did when he gained office. He actually campaigned on an ANTIWAR platform! See two of his 1930s election posters below. The first one reads: "Mit Hitler gegen den Ruestungswahnsinn der Welt" ("With Hitler against the armaments madness of the world") and the second reads: "Mit Adolf Hitler "Ja" fuer Gleichberechtigung und Frieden" ("With Adolf Hitler "Yes" for equal rights and peace").

There is a fuller picture from which both the above images were taken here. Hitler's British counterpart, Sir Oswald Mosley, of the British Union of Fascists, campaigned on a very similar platform. See below:

Obama eat your heart out!

I am perfectly confident that Obama will never gain the unrestricted power that Hitler did or that he will do as much damage as Hitler did but to place him in an accurate historical context should nonetheless help to predict the directions in which he will move if he gains office as POTUS -- something that is otherwise difficult because of the high generality of what he says in his speeches and his very limited voting record as a political office-holder.

I have previously pointed out how Obama's constant calls for unity above all are very much like what Hegel, Hitler and Mussolini preached. As I said on that occasion:
In fact, with his constant inspirational calls for national unity, Obama is eerily reminiscent of the Fascists. If he spoke German he might well be inclined to adopt as his slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer -- as Hitler did ("One nation, one government, one leader")....

Put very briefly, the Fascists were (following Hegel) the "one big happy family" Left while the Communists were the deeply embittered "class war" Left. Hitler only hated the Jews. Marx, Trotksy, Lenin and Stalin hated just about everybody -- Marx particularly so. You can readily see why the two types of Leftist despised one-another.

And presenting oneself as the man of the "middle way" -- which Obama does -- is also of course classic Fascism. It was a major theme of Mussolini's. So there are good reasons to compare Obama to the prewar Fascists. And it is therefore also no surprise that this sounds VERY much like a common reaction to Hitler's speeches among pre-war Germans:
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair.

The other great leaders I've heard guide us toward a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

Hitler's speeches had a similar effect. As Elie Wiesel noted:
"The fact is that Hitler was beloved by his people - not the military, at least not in the beginning, but by the average Germans who pledged to him an affection, a tenderness and a fidelity that bordered on the irrational. It was idolatry on a national scale. One had to see the crowds who acclaimed him. And the women who were attracted to him. And the young who in his presence went into ecstasy.

So, once again we see that Fascism is not dead. It is now called "Progressive" -- as indeed it always was.

But Obama is a warm and kindly figure, you might say -- not a madman like Hitler. To say that is to ignore history, however. A warm and kindly figure is exactly how most prewar Germans saw Hitler. See here for instance. It's just snake-oil skillfully sold by someone who is very good at it.

So what do I predict if Obama gains office? I predict a maximum attempt to extend the reach of government into all aspects of American life. So the only hope that remains for what is left of America's freedoms (and it is a hope with reasonable prospects) is that the Senate will thwart him. SCOTUS could also be of some help but nobody would want to rely on it.

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.