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Comments by CK MacLeod

On “On re-reading Liberal Fascism: Defining Evil Down

Never fear - those were approving if slightly appalled exclamation points. Consider also that today is (well still is on the West Coast) the anniversary of the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

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Seems like a sloppy use of the word "tyrannical" to me, Sully.

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@ J.E. Dyer:
Since you say you lack for time, I'll keep my response brief - also since I don't want to leave yet another long loose end on a discussion about what the American experiment is - or about what it makes sense to try to say it is.

If you're trying to suggest that every form of government except for "limited government constitutionalism" qualifies as "fascist," then you're defining evil down. If not - if there's something else that made fascism fascistic, then it may be a calumny to associate progressivism with fascism simply because both were ideologies at work in the 20th C that indulged in what you call "prophylactic" governance.

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JEM - the discussion is as alive as we want it to be - zombie Tinkerbell style - and anyway the post ain't so old. So please don't hesitate to post your reply here, and thanks in advance for any help steering me out of error - especially before you alert the fearsome yet congenial JG! - or for any opposition that forces me or us to think harder or better about any point of interest. You're also welcome to try your hand at authoring a response post, if you're of a mind to.

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@ Sully:
You're not going Paulbot on us now, are you, Sully?

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@ fuster:
Just exploring my own reasons for hesitation. I really don't mind getting into fights and becoming a poster-boy (pixel-boy?) for RINO-hatred. I like seeing juvenile plays on my name appear on random HotAir threads - figure it virtually ensures attention, boycotters notwithstanding, and I accept the scorn of imbeciles as a sign I'm on the right track. But there's no urgency to writing on LF right now, and putting it up at HA (no rice bowl, btw, it's toadly unpaid, except when people click on an Amazon link) might be grandstanding/attention whoring... Maybe let it be a ZC exclusive, held in reserve.

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@ fuster:
What - destroying the after-market by encouraging to put their used copies on sale?

I'm thinking now I won't post this piece to HA. It might just come across as picking a fight. It can remain a reference for future uses. @ narciso:
Was a good piece by JED, but which subject at hand?

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@ Joe NS:
Son of the South, fersure, born Staunton, VA, brought up Savannah - but liberal sophisticated Presbyterian circles, with recent Scottish and northern roots: Not Old South/plantation class. Dad a handsome, respected Pres. Mom born in England of Scots minister. Learning disability.

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@ Zoltan Newberry:
Could you handle the Awesome Responsibility of posting via e-mail? Your missives would go directly to the front page (though of course they could be proofed and edited after the fact).

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Joe NS wrote:

One of Nevins’ more salient points was just how little influence the Executive branch had on Congress, and that particularly included the Chief Executive, who was respected in a ceremonial way but more often than not ignored.

A major theme for Wilson, too, in his most important work of political science, CONGRESSIONAL GOVERNMENT - which I haven't read, btw, except in abstracts via the Wilson biography I've been making use of.

Naturally, the Wilson-haters use Wilson's analysis, and the 29-y-o budding author's interest in parliamentary government, as "proof" that he sought either a dictatorship or (redundancy alert) evil European pollutions of pristine American perfection.

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@ Joe NS:
Seriously, though - that's all quite interesting, and I mean it, but the facts as you present them cut both ways. How was a pygmy government, instituted to "promote the general welfare" and "secure the blessings of liberty," etc., supposed to contend over the long run with the likes of Standard Oil and kin?

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andOne clerk!

no doubt a hard worker.

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@ Rex Caruthers:
Within a couple of decades they'd end up being hard to distinguish from each other and would re-unite amidst the political equivalent of "make-up sex."

Much more likely, and all to the better, is that we'll keep on arguing from the extremes and muddling along down the middle. JPod had it about right in his recent Commentary essay, I think. See Recommended Browsing.

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fuster wrote:

I would even venture into a reading of your longer version should you place it before us.

That's kind, or indulgent, or maybe both. Let's see how it plays out in discussion, and whether a supplementary post, or page, is justified.

Zoltan Newberry wrote:

I wish Goldberg woud come here to respond himself to our Tsar’s erudite reflections.

At some point I'll post this to HA, and trust that avid HA reader Glenn Beck will pass it on to Goldberg if Goldberg doesn't run across it himself.

I find that by posting these pieces first to ZC, I get a chance, with the help of the ZCers, to test and cure them, and I frequently discover typos, mistakes, un-clarities, and potentially embarrassing rhetorical excesses. Since there are folks gunning for me over there, and since I'm taking on popular figures on the right, I'm very grateful for the collective editing, even though there have also been times when hostile readers have come to ZC and grabbed statements from our discussion to use against me.

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Incidentally, Mussolini’s adoption of the fasces as, not only the symbol, but for the very name of his political party places them in a whole new category of political meaning from whatever ceremonial and anodyne purposes they were put to before.

Almost - but it turns out that "Fascisti" was the conventional Italian name for political groups/bands/leagues etc. I think it is relevant, however, that the Fascists unified this independent political impulse on its own terms. They were the "groupists," and the fasces remain relevant for the same reason: They ended up representing the essence of politics, power, for its own sake and at the source. The Fascisti generally represented an alternative to traditional sources of power - church, royalty, establishment - etc. It was at the same moment that M dropped internationalism and looked into ancient history for his validation that his fascists became truly the Fascists. You might say that he stripped the will to power of burdens and distractions, fully revealing the fasces.

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@ Joe NS:
Income tax was a live issue continuously after the CW. It was made impractical by the Supreme Court Pollock decision, requiring the Constitutional Amendment - which was supported by all parties, and passed, as required, by 3/4 of the states. To blame it on the progressives is in that sense to suggest that progressivism had by then become the effective American consensus. There may be some truth to that (see #12 above).

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I confess that I am puzzled as to why those reforms seem uppermost in your mind in judging the legacy of Progressivism.

Because they're neglected, minimized, and discounted by the critics; because they directly contradict the notion that the progs were authoritarians merely seeking the expansion of unchecked government; because conservatives have made good use of direct democracy, recall of officials, primary challenges, etc., pretty much exactly as the reforms were intended; because the demands for government transparency and voter education and participation have characterized the conservative critique in the Age of (mrp) ; and for a bunch of other reasons.

It doesn't mean that there aren't potential downsides to direct democracy and other political reforms of that type, but, when they were first implemented, the need for them was very strongly felt as a means to strengthen democracy against concentrations of power, especially economic power - the creeping oligarchy of the day. In that wacky Bucky Fuller essay I mentioned the other day, in looking at the massification of economy and politics in his own day, he justifies his own program as follows:

Democracy must, as consumer and worker,
as soldier and mother,
as scientist, or simple employer,
be made adequate cathode
to the mighty merged annode.

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@ Joe NS:
Please do note that the progs did not invent the income tax or even invent its "progressivity" - unless you're of a mind to generalize a transcendant progressive impulse and declare Honest Abe a progressive, since it was during his Civil War administration that the first American income tax was instituted. Since I'm actually of the opinion that progressivism is deeply American, I won't mind such an extension of the term, but then you'll have to grant me the Founding and even more the Framing of the Constitution as progressive moments, and I may eventually end up calling human civilization, life on Earth, and the expanding universe progressive. I believe it not just because it's absurd, though that doesn't hurt.

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The motivational backbone, the transcendental aspirations of Progressivism, are its most important “aspects.” The persuasive power of various Progressivisms is more indebted debt to Emerson than Dewey. I have somewhere claimed that Progressivism, as we behold it today, is a religious zombie.

But here I have to demur a bit: There was without doubt a heavy religious aspect to classic Progressivism - from the religious calling averred by leading Progs to the widely remarked tent revival quality of the 1912 Prog Convention, where speechifying from the dais was interrupted and accompanied by ecstatic hymn-singing. (What a thing that must have been to attend!) All the same, progressive politics was very much of this world, expressing a determination to make real improvements in real lives. I disagree especially with those, like Mr. Beck, who relentlessly assert that the progs, just like the commies, were utopians. Many of them toyed with visions of a just society and some hoped that through some harmonic convergence of science, morality, and humanity, very great leaps forward could be accomplished, but, compared to the real revolutionaries of the day, they were a rather circumspect and highly law-abiding, merely reformist bunch. Even the more extreme-tending leaders like TR conceived of what they were doing as a relatively conservative alternative to revolutionary utopianism.

On “Paul Ryan on Real Progressivism

@ fuster:
Actually, Goldberg DOES define fascism, he just defines it prejudicially, in a manner favorable to his thesis - as a species of liberalism that has little to do with the the fascism that Joe just evoked rather poetically above.

I am in the process of preparing a piece that dwells inordinately on this question of definition. I say inordinately because it's around twice as long as it should be. I hope that it will be a little less inordinate by the time I post it. My ability to work on it effectively is also somewhat impaired by an injury to my hand.

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@ J.E. Dyer:
Wouldna sed it, didna believe it.

In regard to Goldberg and Beck, Beck is obviously more melodramatic and his radicalism is much more overt. In Goldberg, the utopianism is more implicit and possibly inadvertent, yet unavoidable, as when he equates "Third Way"-ism with fascism, and states that the only other alternatives are communism and laissez-faire capitalism. I would argue that there are many gradations and multiple dimensions of alternatives, and also that the history of self-consciously "Third Way" movements is much, much richer than Goldberg seems aware, or is willing to acknowledge. Goldberg himself seems to me to be a much more moderate personality and pundit than LF is a book.

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However, you probably did read his "working definition" of fascism, then blotted it out of your little frog brain.

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@ Zoltan P. Newberry:
Worry not, one way or the other, fine - but that goes also for me and my good friend Paul Ryan and my old buddy Newt if we like to tweak Harry Obamalosi and their army of facilitators as phony persimmons, and traitors to original preregrinationism.

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