Thursday, January 03, 2008

More "liberal fascism" UPDATED

This is one of the best blog-comments I've ever seen. It offers a clear-as-you-could-hope-for explanation of how the right came to be associated with fascism, and why many on the left do not share Jonah Goldberg's conviction that conservatives are merely those who put individual liberty above all else.

So, back to populism: The question of where to draw the line between genuine attempts at creating equal opportunity regardless of class background and the creation of new hierarchies in which those most moved by the sight of the Jesus fish (in my mind forever associated with Elaine's boyfriend Puddy), with the most blue-collar self-presentation, shall occupy the highest position is one that must be posed with more vigor.


From the obvious department, Huckabee will not be receiving the Jewish vote. From that same department, if you want to look more Jewish (or black, Asian, female, gay...) than you already do, have your photo taken next to Mike Huckabee.


Ted F. said...

I use the terms "judicial activism" and "federalism" all the time non-ironically, and I sure don't mean I oppose Brown v. Board of Education.

djac1236 said...

The linked comment is a good example of how the right became associated with fascism in the minds of some anti-conservatives: irrational, ignorant, hateful rhetoric designed to vilify political opponents.

I'm shocked that it would be cited here without condemnation. After years of reading this blog, I'd thought I had a better handle on what Phoebe would do.

Phoebe said...


The linked comment is the reality of the behind-closed-doors discussions that lead to some--not all, not most--of the votes won by Republicans. That is part of what makes the comment funny. The other part is that it is a caricature of what some--not all, not most--of the left imagines goes on in the minds of those on the right.

I believe this also addresses Ted F.

djac1236 said...

It remains beyond me to imagine that a well-educated, well-meaning commentator could traffic in such malignant deceits.

What possible basis could there be for your report of the reality of behind-closed-doors discussions save an antagonistic imagination? Who has given evidence of this "reality", designed by you to be beyond sight? The accusation is a filthy smear of decent people based on imagined acts of imagined party members. If there are disgusting cells of racists and anti-Semites conversing in the shadows, the only thing tying them to the Republican Party is anti-conservative bigotry- unless you wish to highlight some evidence of such. in which case, I will join you in decrying same.

Besides, the original post was directed at conservative's public policy rhetoric, not only their putative private origins. Why should bigots use code-words when they are huddled beyond disapproving eyes and ears? The original commentators accusation was that every conservative concern he could imagine masked the ugliest of motives. He invited his readers to be repulsed by conservatives for the simple act of engaging in civil debate.

Perhaps you presented the the comment as a caricature of leftist thought, but I don't believe it originated as such. Perhaps I'm wrong and I don't to reread it. I would agree that it presents what part of the left imagines to be the thinking of part of the
right, but it strikes me as poisonous to essential civil discourse. And I find your giving credence to it in the comment above disappointing.

Tom said...

Perhaps you presented the the comment as a caricature of leftist thought, but I don't believe it originated as such.

I agree. My sarcasm-dar picked up nothing from that post.

It offers a clear-as-you-could-hope-for explanation of how the right came to be associated with fascism, and why many on the left do not share Jonah Goldberg's conviction that conservatives are merely those who put individual liberty above all else.

That doesn't even make sense, unless you're arguing that fascism is just a fancy word for racism and antisemitism. Those things often go hand-in-hand with Fascism, but they're not essential to it.

Andrew Stevens said...

I have to agree especially with Tom. Racism and anti-Semitism simply are not fascism. I am not terribly conservative, but I do live in Iowa and I'm a white guy so I know something of what rural conservatives think.

Nobody thinks Jews when they hear "cultural elite." They think Hollywood movie stars, most of whom are of European descent. It's possible that there are still people who think Jews when they hear "New York bankers," but it's been probably fifty years since a Republican has spoken disparagingly of New York bankers unless one counts the John Birchers (who thought Eisenhower was a Communist). And the John Birchers were completely drummed out of the Republican party back in the '60s. (However, it is possible that Huckabee plans on resurrecting "New York banker" rhetoric. When asked which Republican stood for liberal fascism in this election, Jonah Goldberg replied, "Huckabee, Huckabee, and Huckabee.")

There is certainly truth to the accusation that there is at least a tinge of anti-black racism behind law and order conservatives, so I think there is some small justice to the comments on "tough on crime" and "liberal welfare state." (Most welfare goes to whites, but many ignorant people, some of them conservatives, seem to be unaware of this.) However, "activist judges" refers to Roe v. Wade, not Brown v. Board of Education and the Second Amendment is dearly prized in Iowa, where nobody is afraid of blacks (although there are a small minority who don't like them based on what they've read about them).

I am forced to wonder if the writer of the comment (and, for that matter, the distinguished blog writer) has ever even met a conservative or a Republican.

Phoebe said...

Some of my best friends are conservative Republicans, and depending whom you ask, I'm one as well.

My previous comment holds. The comment I linked to hits upon the two truths I mention.

Andrew Stevens said...

Djac1236 has already adequately answered this. You talk about the "reality" of something that you haven't witnessed, can't possibly ever witness, and just have to make wild guesses about exactly how much of it there is. Perhaps you're right and there's exactly as much of it as you think there is. If so, this is entirely an accident - the result of being right with a lucky guess.

Phoebe said...

What would confirm that I had witnessed this. Must I provide names and addresses?

Andrew Stevens said...

My apologies; I wasn't aware that you were even claiming to have witnessed it. (At no point until now did you say so.) If so, I will take you at your word. I find it more than a bit astonishing that people whom you know well enough to know who they vote for (or that they vote at all) would make anti-Semitic or other racist comments around you, so I had made the apparently false assumption that you were basing this on some sort of hearsay.

I find that the conservative Evangelical Christians that I talk to are more than willing to talk about the Scriptural basis for their opposition to homosexuals and homosexuality and the Scriptural basis for their defense of traditional gender roles (and therefore sexism in some form). I find this quite abhorrent enough. It has always been my assumption that if there were a significant number of them who were racist and anti-Semitic as well that they would be equally open about that. They aren't, so I conclude that the idea that many (or most) conservatives are closet racists is almost surely false. In all other areas, these people are not in the least worried that their ideas will offend people. Indeed, they seem to delight in it.

Of course, if we're just talking about traditions (the start of your post), there is no question that the racists bolted from the Democratic to the Republican Party between the 1950s and the 1960s and, to the shame and dishonor of the GOP, the Republicans let them in. But I am also of the opinion that this has been mostly extirpated, David Duke of Louisiana being its last gasp. I still occasionally meet some virulent racists. They do not vote Republican; they do not vote at all. (Though there was some interest when Pitchfork Pat made his run in '92.)

djac1236 said...

Such a transparent dodge dissuades me from pursuing my original compliant. I've yet to develop the sort of patience that Andrew has exhibited. And I teach algebra to thirteen-year-olds.

Also, depending who you ask, I'm Elvis.

Andrew Stevens said...

Patience is a virtue. I find that when people doubt the sincerity and good will of their political opponents, it is usually wiser, more effective, and better for the blood pressure to reason with them than to turn around and accuse them of lack of sincerity and good will instead.

Of course, one of the places where I differ with the political left, which places such a high value on sincerity (so much so that they only grudgingly, if ever, grant it to their political opponents), is that I regard it as a rather trivial virtue. The 9/11 Truth Movement and the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement are insane, but I have no doubts that they are sincere and believe what they are saying (just as the Birchers did). Similarly, I have no doubts that our esteemed host really does believe that there is a significant fraction of the Republican Party who wants to bring back Jim Crow and lynching. It is even understandable why she believes this. Fifty years ago, it was true.

The motives of the commenter she linked to are, I believe, much less pure. That particular commenter, I imagine, very much wants to see himself in a world in which it is very clear who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. While he is certainly sufficiently convinced of his own righteousness to qualify as a good guy, reality has not provided him with sufficiently evil opponents, so he has to invent them. Since the great triumph of the political left in recent decades has been convincing virtually everyone of the evils of racism, what better way to seize the mantle of righteousness than to imagine that your opponents' capitulating on this score was all just a big sham, that they haven't agreed at all, and are just waiting for their chance to resurrect the old regime?

It is fascinating to me that an ideology which makes a very big deal of its rejection of Manichean moral schemes, is so obviously seized in its grip.

djac1236 said...

More power to you. I recognize that my exit from the discussion was less than gracious and apologize for being so easily frustrated. On the other hand, patiently beating my head against a brick wall seems of little use, especially when you seem more adept at employing more effective tactics.