Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

luc

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I'm currently reading the book "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning", which was recommended by Laura in the "Psychopathic God" thread. Although I'm still in the middle of it, I must say it's truly fascinating and I think it's extremely important these days - especially when read with Political Ponerology in mind. It gave me so much to think about already that I'd like to share some of it.

The author takes the fascist programs and ideologies of Mussolini and Hitler and puts them in their historical context. He cuts through all the confusing labels such as left, right, conservative, liberal, classical liberal, progressive etc. that changed their meaning over time and were used as weapons by various actors, and shows the stunning similarity between "leftism" or "progressivism" and fascism - in fact, these ARE fascist. The point Goldberg makes is not that modern liberals act like fascists, but that fascism has been a left-wing, progressive project all along.

In other words, the picture that emerges so far is that fascism is clearly not "conservative" or what you would call "right-wing" today. In fact, it is collectivist, anti-capitalist, anti-religion (except that it can use religion sometimes to further its aims), wants to control everything in the name of welfare, progress and for the "good of the people", uses science as a sort of priestly class to provide justification so that the leaders can make the "right" choices, it hates the individual and always seeks to advance the collective... yep, exactly the Orwellian nightmare we see today mostly on the left. It's really fascinating and chilling how the author (re)tells modern American history through this lens, like the story of Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt for example, who embraced exactly this kind of thinking - these people saw the constitution as a mere obstacle in the way of the great leaders and wanted absolute power in the name of "progress". It's really astonishing to read the history of America around WWI and what Wilson and the whole progressive gang, including later FDR, had on their minds - people that have tremendous influence on progressive thinking to this day.

Anyway, here are some features of fascism that I discerned from the book so far:

1. Schizoidal decleration, i.e. "left to his own devices, man will always be stupid and cruel, so we must tightly integrate him into a top-down structure".

2. So we create a powerful state (aka. Big Government) that controls every aspect of life - as always for the "good of the people".

3. To advance our "great cause for the good of the people", we need to create a "movement", to "mobilize". It's always about action.

4. Our advanced understanding of the way towards "progress" rests on science; there's a priestly class of scientists who can tell us exactly where the problems are and what we need to do.

5. We need to break up traditional structures, allegiances, hierarchies, religions, classes etc., "only then can we reach our progressive goals" - these traditional structures obviously stand in the way of radical change.

6. We need to "educate" people, especially children. It's always the "lack of education" or that we "didn't convey the message well enough" etc. In other words, we need massive propaganda.

7. Truth is overrated - we need to be pragmatic here, often a lie will do a better job.

8. We need to boldly experiment on a grand scale, remember - it's about action. Just implement sweeping changes and see what happens.

9. Shut down opposing voices.

10. Violence, war etc. are necessary means to reach our goals - it's ultimately all for the "good of the people". You need to crack some eggs to make an omelette.

I think Goldberg comes close to fleshing out the ponerization process in the West (you might compare how he sees fascism to a pathocracy), and having the knowledge from Political Ponerology, you can see the whole ugly picture emerge - how bit by bit, we were led into a trap. In hindsight, it's really unbelievable how humanity could have let it happen - how we gave up our individuality, local communities, responsibility for our lives, traditional wisdom and so much more to the whims of a tyrannical, fascist state masked in niceties and "progressive" double-speak. Where far-reaching things are decided in some backrooms between institutions, "enlightened scientists" and big corporations tied to the state apparatus. How we lost our voices both individually and on a local community level so that "they" can do whatever they want to us, in front of our doors. How we could allow the complete re-engineering of everything from our values, our reactions, our vocabulary and so on - all in the name of "progress"!

That's also why true conservatism seems like the much needed antidote to fascism, because it's almost by definition its opposite. Granted, conservatism has been hijacked as well, for example by turning it into imperialist or Christian-fundamentalist "neoconservatism". But true conservatism that stands up and says "enough, we have deep and important values that are the basis of humanity and we see through your power games", is the right attitude towards fascism it seems. Or as Goldberg put it, it's not about being against change per se, but always asking: what change and why? At what cost? It's about questioning sweeping changes based on ill-defined concepts and looking at the details. We should keep in mind though that Goldberg himself brings his own conservative/classical liberal slant to the story, so it's understandable that as a reader, you get the impression that conservatism is the solution.

The thing is, it is all so muddled and complicated. For example, I think many people have trouble to see a truly free society as something positive because they share the view of various intellectuals who inspire these fascist movements that people are just bad. What is missing here, I think, is a genuinely religious outlook on the part of the individual - an alignment with goodness, truth and higher values. Everyone just doing what they "like" is not the answer, but neither is the alternative: a tyrannical central power. Incredibly, what we are seeing today is a combination of both: nihilism/"do what you like" AND tyrannical power that enforces this nihilism!

Another thing I thought about is our hyperdimensional perspective here, i.e. the theory that negative forces are shaping things behind history. Reading in Goldberg's book about how we got where we are seems so cruel and genius in its brutality that you really wonder if things are not subtly steered so that we end up here. It's exactly as outlined in Ponerology: it always begins with pathological ideas, or at least limited truthful concepts that are then wrongly applied universally. Then come other pathological figures and forces and take it to the next level and on it goes. At times, I feel really hopeless reading this book. What an entangled web we are finding ourselves in indeed! What an uphill battle against a devious plan spanning countless centuries, or so it seems! Maybe all this mess can be sorted out only in 4D or something, where maybe you can illuminate the world from all possible angles at once?

Also, reading about the history of the West's ponerization, it seems to me that each little step in the development of this fascist mindset and the implementation of its program were successful because even though most people didn't like it, they also looked the other way because it seemed unimportant or they thought it didn't really affect their lives that much. But taken together over the course of history, we were completely corrupted and brought to accept the total authority of the state and its priests and our total dependence on it. Look at Jordan Peterson and his pronoun scandal - people always say "it's no big deal, doesn't affect my life, maybe it's even a good idea" etc., but these things represent exactly the small steps towards ever greater fascism.

A final thought: Maybe I'm off here, but when I read this book, I wondered if we might not see a reemergence of real anti-semitism - which has a long tradition on the "progressive" side. It's a peculiar situation: you have this backlash against SJWs and "liberal fascism" by people like those from the "intellectual dark web", many of whom are Jews. Then of course there is the Israel issue and the justified disgust many on the left feel towards Israel's brutality and perhaps even more importantly that it gets away with it and calls everyone "anti-semite" who objects. Sadly, many Jews in the West have been brainwashed into accepting and justifying Israel's crimes. So all in all, this strikes me as quite an explosive cocktail - will there be a comeback of anti-semitism - the real one, not the one Israel throws at its critics? With all the pro-Israel pundits having cried "wolf" so many times, will anyone listen when real anti-semitism comes back? Maybe something to keep an eye on, don't know.

As I said, I haven't finished the book yet, and I don't know enough about American history to judge every claim Goldberg makes. I'm pretty sure that at times he pushed a little hard on the facts to fit them into his narrative. Nonetheless, he makes a compelling case with tons of quotes and references and it's quite the ride. The book really made me rethink many things about all those labels thrown around and gave me a new picture of modern intellectual and political history. I think it is a fantastic read especially when read through the Political Ponerology lens. Highly recommended!
 

Laura

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With a bit more fleshing out (like comparative quotes from Ponerology) this would make a great sott article! And one we would want to spread as widely as possible.
 

Meg

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Thanks for sharing your observations, Luc. It's certainly not a pretty picture. I've added the book to my reading list.

I think it would make a great article for SOTT, too with excerpts from PP like Laura mentioned.
 
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Voyageur

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Wow, I agree re SoTT article, nice one Luc. It could all be quoted, like this opening:

I think Goldberg comes close to fleshing out the ponerization process in the West (you might compare how he sees fascism to a pathocracy), and having the knowledge from Political Ponerology, you can see the whole ugly picture emerge - how bit by bit, we were led into a trap. In hindsight, it's really unbelievable how humanity could have let it happen - how we gave up our individuality, local communities, responsibility for our lives, traditional wisdom and so much more to the whims of a tyrannical, fascist state masked in niceties and "progressive" double-speak. Where far-reaching things are decided in some backrooms between institutions, "enlightened scientists" and big corporations tied to the state apparatus. How we lost our voices both individually and on a local community level so that "they" can do whatever they want to us, in front of our doors. How we could allow the complete re-engineering of everything from our values, our reactions, our vocabulary and so on - all in the name of "progress"!
I looked up the author awhile ago after Laura initially posted in the other thread and then noted this from wiki quotes:

wiki quote:

"My mother was the one who advised Linda Tripp to record her conversations with Monica Lewinsky and to save the dress. I was privy to some of that stuff, and when the administration set about to destroy Lewinsky, Tripp, and my mom, I defended my mom and by extension Tripp... I have zero desire to have those arguments again. I did my bit in the trenches of Clinton's trousers."


Geeze, what a situation....

Thanks for the review thus far.
 
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Keyhole

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I received this book as a birthday present recently and only started reading the first few pages, but I would also say that so far it looks fascinating! Although I am only at the beginning of the book. it reminded me of a past SOTT radio show with Jason, where he was explaining (if I remember correctly) how American imperialism and exporting "freedom and democracy" across the world is fundamentally a leftist proposition. There is much for me to learn about this and I don't think I properly am able to grasp it just yet... but nonetheless, I am under the impression that it is gonna shatter some of my beliefs about things.

FWIW, I also agree that the above would make a great article for SOTT with some additions from ponerology.
 
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luc

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There is much for me to learn about this and I don't think I properly am able to grasp it just yet... but nonetheless, I am under the impression that it is gonna shatter some of my beliefs about things.
Yes, same for me. Just one example: I always thought, in good-old leftist/Marxist tradition, that big business is to blame for most of the government corruption. That these evil, greedy companies "corrupted" the well-meaning state, and what we now need is more regulations, more central power to fight those corrupting influences. But think about it: the left is always arguing for a more powerful state that controls ever more aspects of life! And it's also not clear at all where the state begins and big business ends - in fact, you could argue the reverse - that what we see with big business and its relation to the state is essentially a socialist nationalization of industry in all but name. In this sense, the fascists corrupted the business world, not the other way around. You can see this for example with all the leftist ideology creeping into HR departments and all that - an ideology that comes from universities and activists that is totally anti-capitalist! It's such an entangled web with all these word games and labels that makes us all so confused. The terrifying thing is that perhaps there simply is no "macro solution" to all that - and we are left just with taking responsibility for our own, immediate life, learning and observing...

I will cobble together an article, thanks for the suggestion Laura and everyone.
 

CdeSouza

The Force is Strong With This One
Yes, same for me. Just one example: I always thought, in good-old leftist/Marxist tradition, that big business is to blame for most of the government corruption. That these evil, greedy companies "corrupted" the well-meaning state, and what we now need is more regulations, more central power to fight those corrupting influences. But think about it: the left is always arguing for a more powerful state that controls ever more aspects of life! And it's also not clear at all where the state begins and big business ends - in fact, you could argue the reverse - that what we see with big business and its relation to the state is essentially a socialist nationalization of industry in all but name. In this sense, the fascists corrupted the business world, not the other way around. You can see this for example with all the leftist ideology creeping into HR departments and all that - an ideology that comes from universities and activists that is totally anti-capitalist! It's such an entangled web with all these word games and labels that makes us all so confused. The terrifying thing is that perhaps there simply is no "macro solution" to all that - and we are left just with taking responsibility for our own, immediate life, learning and observing...

I will cobble together an article, thanks for the suggestion Laura and everyone.
The one argument people often use against Libertarianism is "who will build the roads?" And then it hit me one day while reading about the Roman invasion of Britain. Infrastructure is built as much to support an Empire as it is for towns to be able to trade goods. More so, I'd say.

I have some files saved from an old website called "Enterprisecorruption.com" and I recommend browsing the archived version of that site. This guy went through history studying speculative bubbles. Part of what he cobbled together is that government always tries expand its domain by convincing the public what it should be responsible for. Such as healthcare. Or roads. Or railway lines. So they create monopoly power (in the case of rail, lots of land appropriation) and the business of running railroads or medical supplies or what have you are farmed out to businesses that also try to become monopolies.

Meanwhile HR departments seem to be taking ideas from the Chinese "social credit" system where you either play by the rules, no matter how arbitrary (better wave that new pink and mauve trans flag around) or you're out of a job.
 

Anthony

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Yes, same for me. Just one example: I always thought, in good-old leftist/Marxist tradition, that big business is to blame for most of the government corruption. That these evil, greedy companies "corrupted" the well-meaning state, and what we now need is more regulations, more central power to fight those corrupting influences. But think about it: the left is always arguing for a more powerful state that controls ever more aspects of life! And it's also not clear at all where the state begins and big business ends - in fact, you could argue the reverse - that what we see with big business and its relation to the state is essentially a socialist nationalization of industry in all but name. In this sense, the fascists corrupted the business world, not the other way around. You can see this for example with all the leftist ideology creeping into HR departments and all that - an ideology that comes from universities and activists that is totally anti-capitalist! It's such an entangled web with all these word games and labels that makes us all so confused. The terrifying thing is that perhaps there simply is no "macro solution" to all that - and we are left just with taking responsibility for our own, immediate life, learning and observing...

I will cobble together an article, thanks for the suggestion Laura and everyone.
For some reason, I always thought that the left wanted a less powerful state. But it's just not true, they do want a strong state, but one that follows their ideological beliefs. As Goldberg writes, the left/progressives want a nanny welfare state that controls and intrudes into every aspect of people's lives (gender pronouns nonsense is a good example, or veganism), so they're perfectly fine with some sort of an Orwellian dictatorship.

If I'm not wrong, Peterson mentioned in a talk recently that the position of the left is to do away with the state. That's true, but it's only the first step, in the end they want to replace it with something even more totalitarian, while screaming that they're fighting fascism or whatnot, and fascists are, according to their twisted reasoning, all who are not leftists, and oppose their views.
 
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Altair

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For some reason, I always thought that the left wanted a less powerful state. But it's just not true, they do want a strong state, but one that follows their ideological beliefs.
As far as I understood reading Goldberg one have to differentiate between classical liberals and new liberals. From Wikipedia:

Classical liberals argued for what they called a minimal state, limited to the following functions:

  • A government to protect individual rights and to provide services that cannot be provided in a free market.
  • A common national defense to provide protection against foreign invaders.
  • Laws to provide protection for citizens from wrongs committed against them by other citizens, which included protection of private property, enforcement of contracts and common law.
  • Building and maintaining public institutions.
  • Public works that included a stable currency, standard weights and measures and building and upkeep of roads, canals, harbors, railways, communications and postal services.
 

Anthony

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As far as I understood reading Goldberg one have to differentiate between classical liberals and new liberals. From Wikipedia:

Classical liberals argued for what they called a minimal state, limited to the following functions:

  • A government to protect individual rights and to provide services that cannot be provided in a free market.
  • A common national defense to provide protection against foreign invaders.
  • Laws to provide protection for citizens from wrongs committed against them by other citizens, which included protection of private property, enforcement of contracts and common law.
  • Building and maintaining public institutions.
  • Public works that included a stable currency, standard weights and measures and building and upkeep of roads, canals, harbors, railways, communications and postal services.
Yes, that's how I understood it as well. I'm referring to the new liberals in the post above.
 

Altair

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I'm on chapter 7 in the book now and I must say it's a real eye-opener though the best way to understand all these movements and "-isms" is to read Ponerology chapter about ideologies. There is almost always the same pattern in emergence of such ideologies and movements: schizoids formulate such utopian ideologies ("schizoid declaration") and psychopaths overtake them and use for their nefarious purposes. Both exploit peoples' hopes and strivings for better life, for national pride, for finding meaning of life, for creating and living in a community and so on. Psychopaths use such utopian ideologies which reflect all these peoples' hopes as merely facades and they mean nothing to them. And all this ends almost in the same way. As Łobaczewski wrote:

For future reference, let us remember: ideologies do not need spellbinders. Spellbinders need ideologies in order to
subject them to their own deviant goals.
Here are some interesting quotes from Chapters 1-2.

Chapter 1. Mussolini: The Father of Fascism
Germany passed its hateful race policies— the Nuremberg Laws— in 1935, and Mussolini’s Italy followed suit in 1938. German Jews were rounded up in 1942, and Jews in Italy were rounded up in 1943. A few writers will casually mention, in parenthetical asides, that until Italy passed its race laws there were actually Jews serving in the Italian government and the Fascist Party. And on occasion you’ll notice a nod to historical accuracy indicating that the Jews were rounded up only after the Nazis had invaded northern Italy and created a puppet government in Salò.
[...]

Before Hitler, in fact, it never occurred to anyone that fascism had anything to do with anti-Semitism. Indeed, Mussolini was supported not only by the chief rabbi of Rome but by a substantial portion of the Italian Jewish community (and the world Jewish community). Moreover, Jews were overrepresented in the Italian Fascist movement from its founding in 1919 until they were kicked out in 1938.
[...]

While academics debated the finer points of Mussolini’s corporatist state, mainstream America’s interest in Mussolini far outstripped that of any other international figure in the 1920s. From 1925 to 1928 there were more than a hundred articles written on Mussolini in American publications and only fifteen on Stalin.
[...]

Hollywood moguls, noting his obvious theatrical gifts, hoped to make Mussolini a star of the big screen, and he appeared in The Eternal City (1923), starring Lionel Barrymore. The film recounts the battles between communists and Fascists for control of Italy, and— mirabile dictu— Hollywood takes the side of the Fascists. “His deportment on the screen,” one reviewer proclaimed, “lends weight to the theory that this is just where he belongs.”
[...]

Fascism certainly had its critics in the 1920s and 1930s. Ernest Hemingway was skeptical of Mussolini almost from the start. Henry Miller disliked Fascism’s program but admired Mussolini’s will and strength. Some on the so-called Old Right, like the libertarian Albert J. Nock, saw Fascism as just another kind of statism. The nativist Ku Klux Klan— ironically, often called “American fascists” by liberals— tended to despise Mussolini and his American followers (mainly because they were immigrants). Interestingly, the hard left had almost nothing to say about Italian Fascism for most of its first decade. While liberals were split into various unstable factions, the American left remained largely oblivious to Fascism until the Great Depression.
[...]

While in Switzerland, Mussolini worked quickly to develop his intellectual bona fides. Writing socialist tracts wherever he could, the future Duce imbibed the lingo of the international European left. He wrote the first of his many books while in Switzerland, Man and Divinity, in which he railed against the Church and sang the praises of atheism, declaring that religion was a form of madness.
[...]

Had he died in 1914, there’s little doubt that Marxist theorists would be invoking Mussolini as a heroic martyr to the proletarian struggle. He was one of Europe’s leading radical socialists in arguably the most radical socialist party outside of Russia.
[...]

As Mussolini said in an interview in 1932, “It is faith that moves mountains, not reason. Reason is a tool, but it can never be the motive force of the crowd.” This kind of thinking has been commonplace on the left ever since.
[...]

If Mussolini stood on Sorel’s shoulders, then in an important respect Sorel stood on Rousseau’s and Robespierre’s. A brief review of the intellectual origins of fascist thought reveals its roots in the Romantic nationalism of the eighteenth century, and in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who properly deserves to be called the father of modern fascism.
[...]

...the French Revolution was the first totalitarian revolution, the mother of modern totalitarianism, and the spiritual model for the Italian Fascist, German Nazi, and Russian Communist revolutions. A nationalist-populist uprising, it was led and manipulated by an intellectual vanguard determined to replace Christianity with a political religion that glorified “the people,” anointed the revolutionary vanguard as their priests, and abridged the rights of individuals.
[...]

Both Mussolini and Lenin are reported to have had the exact same response to the news of the war. “The Socialist International is dead.” And they were right. Across Europe (and later America) socialist and other left-leaning parties voted for war, turning their backs on doctrines of international solidarity and the dogma that this was a war for capitalism and imperialism.
[...]

The most shocking example came when the socialists in the German parliament voted in favor of granting credits to fund the war. Even in the United States the vast majority of socialists and progressives supported American intervention with a bloodlust that would embarrass their heirs today— if their heirs actually took the time to learn the history of their own movement.
[...]

From the beginning, fascism was dubbed as right-wing not because it necessarily was right-wing but because the communist left thought this was the best way to punish apostasy (and, even if it was right-wing in some long forgotten doctrinal sense, fascism was still right-wing socialism). It has ever been thus.
[...]

Mussolini on occasion acknowledged that fascism was perceived as a movement of the “right,” but he never failed to make it clear that his inspiration and spiritual home was the socialist left.
Chapter 2. Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left
WAS HITLER’S GERMANY fascist? Many of the leading scholars of fascism and Nazism— Eugen Weber, A. James Gregor, Renzo De Felice, George Mosse, and others— have answered more or less no. For various reasons having to do with different interpretations of fascism, these academics have concluded that Italian Fascism and Nazism, while superficially similar and historically bound up with each other, were in fact very different phenomena.
[...]

The words “fascist” and “fascism” barely appear in Mein Kampf. In seven-hundred-plus pages, only two paragraphs make mention of either word. But the reader does get a good sense of what Hitler thought of the Italian experiment and what it had to teach Germany. “The appearance of a new and great idea was the secret of success in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution owes its triumph to an idea. And it was only the idea that enabled Fascism triumphantly to subject a whole nation to a process of complete renovation.”

The passage is revealing. Hitler acknowledges that fascism was invented by Mussolini. It may have been reinvented, reinterpreted, revised, or extended, but its authorship— and, to a lesser extent, its novelty— were never in doubt. Nor did many people doubt for its first fifteen years or so that it was essentially an Italian movement or method.
[...]

What is important is that Hitler didn’t get the idea for Nazism from Italian Fascism, and at first Mussolini claimed no parentage of Nazism. He even refused to send Hitler an autographed picture of himself when the Nazis requested one from the Italian embassy. Nevertheless, no Nazi ideologue ever seriously claimed that Nazism was an offshoot of Italian Fascism. And during Nazism’s early days, Fascist theorists and Nazi theorists often quarreled openly. Indeed, it was Mussolini who threatened a military confrontation with Hitler to save Fascist Austria from a Nazi invasion in 1934.
[...]

Italian Fascist ideologues went to great lengths to distance themselves from the Nazi strains of racism and anti-Semitism. Even “extremist ultra-Fascists” such as Roberto Farinacci and Giovanni Preziosi (who was a raving anti-Semite personally and later became a Nazi toady) wrote that Nazism, with its emphasis on parochial and exclusivist racism, “was offensive to the conscience of mankind.”

...it is perfectly true that Nazi ideology cannot be summarized in a program or platform. It can be better understood as a maelstrom of prejudices, passions, hatreds, emotions, resentments, biases, hopes, and attitudes that, when combined, most often resembled a religious crusade wearing the mask of a political ideology.

Contrary to his relentless assertions in Mein Kampf, Hitler had no great foundational ideas or ideological system.
[...]

The Nazis rose to power exploiting anticapitalist rhetoric they indisputably believed. Even if Hitler was the nihilistic cipher many portray him as, it is impossible to deny the sincerity of the Nazi rank and file who saw themselves as mounting a revolutionary assault on the forces of capitalism. Moreover, Nazism also emphasized many of the themes of later New Lefts in other places and times: the primacy of race, the rejection of rationalism, an emphasis on the organic and holistic— including environmentalism, health food, and exercise— and, most of all, the need to “transcend” notions of class.

For these reasons, Hitler deserves to be placed firmly on the left because first and foremost he was a revolutionary. Broadly speaking, the left is the party of change, the right the party of the status quo. On this score, Hitler was in no sense, way, shape, or form a man of the right.
[...]

You can see why the Marxist left would resist the idea that Hitler was a revolutionary. Because if he was, then either Hitler was a force for good or revolutions can be bad. And yet how can you argue that Hitler wasn’t a revolutionary in the leftist mold? Hitler despised the bourgeoisie, traditionalists, aristocrats, monarchists, and all believers in the established order.
[...]

A related definition of the right is that it is not merely in favor of preserving the status quo but affirmatively reactionary, seeking to restore the old order. This perspective obviously leaves much to be desired since most libertarians are considered members of the right and few would call such activists reactionaries. As we shall see, there is a sense in which Hitler was a reactionary insofar as he was trying to overthrow the entire millennium-old Judeo-Christian order to restore the paganism of antiquity— a mission shared by some on the left but none on the right today.
[...]

The perception of Hitler and Nazism as right-wing rests on more than a historiographical argument or Hitler’s animosity to traditionalists. The left has also used Hitler’s racism, his alleged status as a capitalist, and his hatred of Bolshevism to hang the conservative label not only on Hitler and Nazism but on generic fascism as well.
[...]

This introduces one of the most significant differences between Mussolini and Hitler. For most of his career, Mussolini considered anti-Semitism a silly distraction and, later, a necessary sop to his overbearing German patron.
[...]

Even if Hitler’s nationalism, populism, anti-Semitism, and non-Marxist socialism took more time to germinate, the relevant point is that what came to be known as Hitlerism or Nazism was already a significant current in Germany and elsewhere in Central Europe (particularly Czechoslovakia). Hitler would give these inchoate passions a name and a focus, but the raw materials were already there. Unlike Mussolini’s Fascism, which was mostly a creation of his own intellect, Hitler’s ideology came to him largely preassembled. Mussolini’s Fascism, moreover, played no discernible role in the formation of early Nazi ideology or Hitler’s embryonic political vision.

The Nazis’ ultimate aim was to transcend both left and right, to advance a “Third Way” that broke with both categories. But in the real world the Nazis seized control of the country by dividing, conquering, and then replacing the left.

This is the monumental fact of the Nazi rise to power that has been slowly airbrushed from our collective memories: the Nazis campaigned as socialists. Yes, they were also nationalists, which in the context of the 1930s was considered a rightist position, but this was at a time when the “internationalism” of the Soviet Union defined all nationalisms as right-wing. Surely we’ve learned from the parade of horribles on offer in the twentieth century that nationalism isn’t inherently right-wing— unless we’re prepared to call Stalin, Castro, Arafat, Chávez, Guevara, Pol Pot, and, for that matter, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy, right-wingers. Stalin himself ruled as a nationalist, invoking “Mother Russia” and dubbing World War II the “great patriotic war.”
[...]

What distinguished Nazism from other brands of socialism and communism was not so much that it included more aspects from the political right (though there were some). What distinguished Nazism was that it forthrightly included a worldview we now associate almost completely with the political left: identity politics.
[...]

Yes, the Nazis were anti-Semites of the first order, but anti-Semitism is by no means a right-wing phenomenon. It is also widely recognized, for example, that Stalin was an anti-Semite and that the Soviet Union was, in effect, officially anti-Semitic (though far less genocidal than Nazi Germany— when it came to the Jews). Karl Marx himself— despite his Jewish heritage— was a committed Jew hater, railing in his letters against “dirty Jews” and denouncing his enemies with phrases like “niggerlike Jew.”
 

Altair

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Some quotes from chapters 3-6.

Chapter 3 Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of Liberal Fascism

Fascism, at its core, is the view that every nook and cranny of society should work together in spiritual union toward the same goals overseen by the state. “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State,” is how Mussolini defined it. Mussolini coined the word “totalitarian” to describe not a tyrannical society but a humane one in which everyone is taken care of and contributes equally. It was an organic concept where every class, every individual, was part of the larger whole. The militarization of society and politics was considered simply the best available means toward this end. Call it what you like— progressivism, fascism, communism, or totalitarianism— the first true enterprise of this kind was established not in Russia or Italy or Germany but in the United States, and Woodrow Wilson was the twentieth century’s first fascist dictator.
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Wilson didn’t act alone. Like Mussolini and Hitler, he had an activist ideological movement at his disposal. In Italy they were called Fascists. In Germany they were called National Socialists. In America we called them progressives. The progressives were the real social Darwinists as we think of the term today— though they reserved the term for their enemies (see Chapter 7). They believed in eugenics. They were imperialists. They were convinced that the state could, through planning and pressure, create a pure race, a society of new men. They were openly and proudly hostile to individualism. Religion was a political tool, while politics was the true religion. The progressives viewed the traditional system of constitutional checks and balances as an outdated impediment to progress because such horse-and-buggy institutions were a barrier to their own ambitions. Dogmatic attachment to constitutions, democratic practices, and antiquated laws was the enemy of progress for fascists and progressives alike. Indeed, fascists and progressives shared the same intellectual heroes and quoted the same philosophers.
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These two visions— Darwinian organicism and Christian messianism— seem contradictory today because they reside on different sides of the culture war. But in the Progressive Era, these visions complemented each other perfectly. And Wilson embodied this synthesis. The totalitarian flavor of such a worldview should be obvious. Unlike classical liberalism, which saw the government as a necessary evil, or simply a benign but voluntary social contract for free men to enter into willingly, the belief that the entire society was one organic whole left no room for those who didn’t want to behave, let alone “evolve.” Your home, your private thoughts, everything was part of the organic body politic, which the state was charged with redeeming.
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In his unintentionally chilling 1890 essay, Leaders of Men, Wilson explained that the “true leader” uses the masses like “tools.” He must not traffic in subtleties and nuance, as literary men do. Rather, he must speak to stir their passions, not their intellects. In short, he must be a skillful demagogue.
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The prevailing assumption today is that the rise of fascism in Europe transpired on a completely independent track— that due to numerous national and cultural differences between America and Europe, it couldn’t happen here. But this makes no sense whatsoever. Progressivism and, later, fascism were international movements— and, in their origin, expressions of great hopes— that assumed different forms in different countries but drew on the same intellectual wellsprings. Many of the ideas and thinkers the Fascists and Nazis admired were as influential here as they were in Italy and Germany, and vice versa.
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To better understand the spirit of this fascist moment, we need to examine how progressives looked to two other great “experiments” of the age, Italian Fascism and Russian Bolshevism. Some of this was touched upon in Chapter 1, but it’s worth repeating: liberals often saw Mussolini’s project and Lenin’s as linked efforts. Lincoln Steffens referred to the “Russian-Italian” method as if the two things constituted a single enterprise.
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...most progressives believed that the Bolsheviks had stumbled on the passage out of the old world and that we should follow their lead. When the war ended and Progressivism had been discredited with the American people, the intellectuals looked increasingly to the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy as exemplars of the new path that America had foolishly abandoned after its brilliant experiment with war socialism.
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Today we unreflectively associate fascism with militarism. But it should be remembered that fascism was militaristic because militarism was “progressive” at the beginning of the twentieth century.
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The idea that war was the source of moral values had been pioneered by German intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the influence of these intellectuals on the American mind was enormous. When America entered the war in 1917, progressive intellectuals, versed in the same doctrines and philosophies popular on the European continent, leaped at the opportunity to remake society through the discipline of the sword.
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More important than socializing industry was nationalizing the people for the war effort. “Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way,” Wilson threatened in June 1917. Harking back to his belief that “leaders of men” must manipulate the passions of the masses, he approved and supervised one of the first truly Orwellian propaganda efforts in Western history. He set the tone himself when he defended the first military draft since the Civil War. “It is in no sense a conscription of the unwilling: it is, rather, selection from a nation which has volunteered in mass.”
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Then there was the inevitable progressive crackdown on individual civil liberties. Today’s liberals tend to complain about the McCarthy period as if it were the darkest moment in American history after slavery. It’s true: under McCarthyism a few Hollywood writers who’d supported Stalin and then lied about it lost their jobs in the 1950s. Others were unfairly intimidated. But nothing that happened under the mad reign of Joe McCarthy remotely compares with what Wilson and his fellow progressives foisted on America. Under the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the Sedition Act of May 1918, any criticism of the government, even in your own home, could earn you a prison sentence...
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Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but it has been estimated that some 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another. All were punished, many went to jail.
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So does this mean that the editors of the New Republic, the progressives in Wilson’s government, John Dewey, and the vast majority of self-described American Socialists were all suddenly right-wingers? Of course not. Only in Italy— home of the most radical socialist party in Europe after Russia— did support for the war automatically transform left-wingers into right-wingers. In Germany the socialists in the Reichstag voted in favor of the war. In Britain the socialists voted in favor of the war. In America the socialists and progressives voted in favor of the war. This didn’t make them right-wingers; it made them shockingly bloodthirsty and jingoistic left-wingers. This is just one attribute of the progressives that has been airbrushed from popular history.
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In the liberal telling of America’s story, there are only two perpetrators of official misdeeds: conservatives and “America” writ large. progressives, or modern liberals, are never bigots or tyrants, but conservatives often are. For example, one will virtually never hear that the Palmer Raids, Prohibition, or American eugenics were thoroughly progressive phenomena. These are sins America itself must atone for. Meanwhile, real or alleged “conservative” misdeeds— say, McCarthyism— are always the exclusive fault of conservatives and a sign of the policies they would repeat if given power. The only culpable mistake that liberals make is failing to fight “hard enough” for their principles. Liberals are never responsible for historic misdeeds, because they feel no compulsion to defend the inherent goodness of America. Conservatives, meanwhile, not only take the blame for events not of their own making that they often worked the most assiduously against, but find themselves defending liberal misdeeds in order to defend America herself.

War socialism under Wilson was an entirely progressive project, and long after the war it remained the liberal ideal. To this day liberals instinctively and automatically see war as an excuse to expand governmental control of vast swaths of the economy.
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Progressivism was largely a middle-class movement equally opposed to runaway capitalism above and Marxist radicalism below. Progressives hoped to find a middle course between the two, what the fascists called the “Third Way” or what Richard Ely, mentor to both Wilson and Roosevelt, called the “golden mean” between laissez-faire individualism and Marxist socialism. Their chief desire was to impose a unifying, totalitarian moral order that regulated the individual inside his home and out. The progressives also shared with the fascists and Nazis a burning desire to transcend class differences within the national community and create a new order.
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Progressives and fascists alike were explicitly indebted to Darwinism, Hegelianism, and Pragmatism to justify their worldviews. Indeed, perhaps the greatest irony is that according to most of the criteria we use to locate people and policies on the ideological spectrum in the American context— social bases, demographics, economic policies, social welfare provisions— Adolf Hitler was indisputably to Wilson’s left.

This is the elephant in the corner that the American left has never been able to admit, explain, or comprehend. Their inability and/ or refusal to deal squarely with this fact has distorted our understanding of our politics, our history, and ourselves. Liberals keep saying “it can’t happen here” with a clever wink or an ironic smile to insinuate that the right is constantly plotting fascist schemes. Meanwhile, hiding in plain sight is this simple fact: it did happen here, and it might very well happen again. To see the threat, however, you must look over your left shoulder, not your right.
Chapter 4. Franklin Roosevelt’s Fascist New Deal

...the New Deal was conceived at the climax of a worldwide fascist moment, a moment when socialists in many countries were increasingly becoming nationalists and nationalists could embrace nothing other than socialism. Franklin Roosevelt was no fascist, at least not in the sense that he thought of himself in this way. But many of his ideas and policies were indistinguishable from fascism. And today we live with the fruits of fascism, and we call them liberal.
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FDR witnessed, approved, and, on occasion, participated in all of the excesses of World War I. There’s no record anywhere that he disapproved of George Creel’s propaganda ministry or that he had any larger misgivings about the war abroad or at home. He watched as Creel’s acolytes actively promoted what they dubbed “the Wilson cult.” He approved of the oppression of dissidents and heartily celebrated the passage of the Sedition and Espionage acts.
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This raises the first of many common features among New Deal liberalism, Italian Fascism, and German National Socialism, all of which shared many of the same historical and intellectual forebears. Fascist and Nazi intellectuals constantly touted a “middle” or “Third Way” between capitalism and socialism. Mussolini zigzagged every which way, from free trade and low taxes to a totalitarian state apparatus. Even before he attained power, his stock response when asked to outline his program was to say he had none. “Our program is to govern,” the Fascists liked to say.
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The Third Way holds that we can have capitalism and socialism, individual liberty and absolute unity. Fascist movements are implicitly utopian because they— like communist and heretical Christian movements— assume that with just the right arrangement of policies, all contradictions can be rectified. This is a political siren song; life can never be made perfect, because man is imperfect. This is why the Third Way is also authoritarian. It assumes that the right man— or, in the case of Leninists, the right party— can resolve all of these contradictions through sheer will.
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The German and American New Deals may have been merely whatever Hitler and FDR felt they could get away with. But therein lies a common principle: the state should be allowed to get away with anything, so long as it is for “good reasons.” This is the common principle among fascism, Nazism, Progressivism, and what we today call liberalism. It represents the triumph of Pragmatism in politics in that it recognizes no dogmatic boundaries to the scope of government power.
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Ever since FDR’s presidency— when “liberalism” replaced “progressivism” as the preferred label for center-left political ideas and activism— liberals have had trouble articulating what liberalism is, beyond the conviction that the federal government should use its power to do nice things wherever and whenever it can.
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For the liberals and progressives, everything was expendable, from tradition to individualism to “outdated” conceptions of freedom. These were all tired dogmas to be burned on the altars of the new age.

When FDR was elected president in 1932, three events were viewed as admirable experiments: the Bolshevik Revolution, the Fascist takeover in Italy, and the American “experiment” in war socialism under Wilson. By 1932 admiration for the Russian “social experiment” had become a definitive component of American liberalism— in much the same way that admiration for Prussian top-down socialism had been two decades earlier. Simply, the Soviet Union was the future, and “it worked.”
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A deep aversion to boredom and a consequent, indiscriminate love for novelty among the intellectual classes translated into a routinized iconoclasm and a thoroughgoing contempt for democracy, traditional morality, the masses, and the bourgeoisie, and a love for “action, action, action!” that still plagues the left today...

Many of George Bernard Shaw’s bons mots seem like shots in the dark against the monster of boredom— which could only be conquered by a Nietzschean superman. At one time or another Shaw idolized Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini as the world’s great “progressive” leaders because they “did things,” unlike the leaders of those “putrefying corpses” called parliamentary democracies.
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Or consider H. G. Wells. More than any other figure, his literary escapism and faith in science as the salvation of man were seen as the preeminent antidotes to the disease of Western malaise. In the summer of 1932, Wells delivered a major speech at Oxford University to Britain’s Young Liberals organization, in which he called for a “ ‘Phoenix Rebirth’ of Liberalism” under the banner of “Liberal Fascism.”
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Wells confessed that he’d spent some thirty years— since the dawn of the Progressive Era— reworking the idea of liberal fascism. “I have never been able to escape altogether from its relentless logic,” he explained. “We have seen the Fascisti in Italy and a number of clumsy imitations elsewhere, and we have seen the Russian Communist Party coming into existence to reinforce this idea.” And now he was done waiting. “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.”

By 1941 no less a figure than George Orwell couldn’t help but conclude, “Much of what Wells has imagined and worked for is physically there in Nazi Germany.”
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Just as progressivism constituted a definite international moment during the second decade of the twentieth century, so in the 1930s the Western world was riding through a storm of collectivist sentiments, ideas, and trends. In Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, and Finland, quasi-fascist parties received their highest share of the votes.
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...Richard Pipes described Bolshevism and Fascism as twinned heresies of Marxism. Both sought to impose socialism of one sort or another, erase class differences, and repudiate the decadent democratic-capitalist systems of the West. In a sense, Pipes’s description doesn’t go far enough. While Fascism and Bolshevism were surely heresies of Marxism, virtually all collectivist visions at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries were heresies of Marxism in the sense that Marxism itself was heretical. All of these isms, as the philosopher Eric Voegelin argued, were premised on the idea that men could create utopias through the rearrangement of economic forces and political will.
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From the dawn of the Progressive Era through the 1930s, the intellectual and ideological landscape was fractured within this larger camp. The fight between left and right was for the most part between left-wing and right-wing socialists. But virtually all camps subscribed to some hybridized version of Marxism, some bastardization of the Rousseauian dream of a society governed by a general will.
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Germany prospered under Hitler according to the most basic indicators. The birthrate increased 50 percent from 1932 to 1936; marriages increased until Germany led Europe in 1938– 39. Suicide plummeted by 80 percent from 1932 to 1939. A recent book by the German historian Götz Aly calls Hitler the “feel good dictator” because he was so successful in restoring German confidence.
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Mussolini and Hitler also felt that they were doing things along similar lines to FDR. Indeed, they celebrated the New Deal as a kindred effort. The German press was particularly lavish in its praise for FDR.
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But the most glaring similarity between Nazi Germany, New Deal America, and Fascist Italy wasn’t their economic policies. It was their common glorification of war.
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The Blue Eagle was the patriotic symbol of compliance that all companies were expected to hang from their doors, along with the motto “We do our part,” a phrase used by the administration the way the Germans used “Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz.” Now largely airbrushed from popular awareness, the stylized Indian eagle clutching a band of lightning bolts in one claw and an industrial cogwheel in the other was often compared to the swastika or the German Reich eagle in both American and German newspapers.
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Because one of the central goals of the early New Deal was to create artificial scarcity in order to drive prices up, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration ordered that six million pigs be slaughtered. Bountiful crops were left to rot. Many white farmers were paid not to work their land (which meant that many black tenant farmers went hungry). All of these policies were enforced by a militarized government.

In urban centers the plight of blacks was little better. By granting new collective bargaining powers to unions, FDR also gave them the power to lock blacks out of the labor force. And the unions— often viscerally racist— did precisely that.
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Meanwhile, under Johnson’s watchful eye, policemen would break down doors with axes to make sure tailors weren’t working at night and— literally— yank newsboys from the street because they didn’t work for big corporations.

It should not be surprising to learn that General Johnson was an ardent disciple of Fascism. As head of the NRA, he distributed copies of The Corporate State by Raffaello Viglione— an unapologetic Fascist tract by one of Mussolini’s favorite economists.
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By 1934 Johnson’s fascist methods and, more important, his unstable personality had led to his downfall. And while he was undoubtedly the most unrelentingly fascistic and pro-Fascist member of the Roosevelt administration, his ideas and methods were not at all out of the mainstream.

The Research and Planning Division of the NRA commissioned a study, Capitalism and Labor Under Fascism, which concluded, “The fascist principles are very similar to those which have been evolving in America and so are of particular interest at this time.”

It’s ironic that in the 1930s it was far from out-of-bounds to call the New Deal or FDR fascist. Yet for the two generations after World War II it was simply unacceptable to associate the New Deal with fascism in any way. This cultural and political taboo has skewed American politics in profound ways. In order to assert that the New Deal was the opposite of fascism— rather than a kindred phenomenon— liberal intellectuals had to create an enormous straw man out of the modern conservative movement. This was surprisingly easy. Since “right-wing” was already defined as anti-Roosevelt, it did not take much effort to conflate the American right with Nazism and fascism...

The myth of right-wing fascism only began to unravel decades later thanks to an unlikely figure: Ronald Wilson Reagan, a former Roosevelt Democrat. In both 1976 and 1980 Reagan refused to retract his opinion that the early New Dealers looked favorably on the policies of Fascist Italy.
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But why was the taboo there in the first place? One answer is both obvious and entirely understandable: the Holocaust. As one of the signature evils of human history, the extermination of European Jewry colors everything it touches. But this is terribly inaccurate, in that various other fascist regimes don’t deserve to be blamed for the Holocaust, including Fascist Italy. Nowhere here do I suggest that New Dealism was akin to Hitlerism if we are to define Hitlerism solely in terms of the Holocaust. But fascism was already fascism before the Holocaust.
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Today, particularly under Bush, it is precisely this attitude that liberals call fascist. But that yardstick is too short to get the full measure of what made the New Deal fascistic. We render fascism and Nazism into cartoons when we simply say that they were evil. The seduction of Nazism was its appeal to community, its attempt to restore via an all-powerful state a sense of belonging to those lost in modern society. Modernization, industrialization, and secularization sowed doubt and alienation among the masses. The Nazis promised to make people feel they belonged to something larger than themselves. The spirit of “all for one, one for all” suffused every Nazi pageant and parade.
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The yearning for community is deep and human and decent. But these yearnings are often misplaced when channeled through the federal government and imposed across a diverse nation with a republican constitution.
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While the cultural left has long seen the outlines of fascism in the alleged conformity of the 1950s, the third fascist moment in the United States actually began in the 1960s. It differed dramatically from the first two fascist moments— those that followed the Progressive Era and the New Deal— largely by virtue of the fact it came after the hard collectivist era in Western civilization. But as with the previous eras, the 1960s represented an international movement. Students launched radical uprisings around the world, in France, Indonesia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Senegal, South Korea, Mexico, and the United States. Meanwhile, working from within the establishment, a new cohort of liberal activists sought to re-create the social and political dynamics of their parents’ generation, to further the legacies and fulfill the promises of the Progressive Era. This two-pronged assault, from above and below, ultimately succeeded in seizing the commanding heights of the government and the culture.
Chapter 5. The 1960s: Fascism Takes to the Streets

The radicals and their student sympathizers believed themselves to be revolutionaries of the left— the opposite of fascists in their minds— yet when one of their professors read them the speeches of Benito Mussolini, the students reacted with enthusiasm. Events came to a climax when students took over the student union and the local radio station. Armed with rifles and shotguns, they demanded an ethnically pure educational institution staffed and run by members of their own race.
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In popular myth the 1960s was a gentle utopian movement that opposed the colonialist Vietnam War abroad and sought greater social equality and harmony at home. And it is true that the vast majority of those young people who were drawn to what they called the movement were starry-eyed idealists who thought they were ushering in the Age of Aquarius. Still, in its strictly political dimension, there is no denying that the movement’s activist core was little more than a fascist youth cult. Indeed the “movement” of the 1960s may be considered the third great fascist moment of the twentieth century. The radicals of the New Left may have spoken about “power to the people” and the “authentic voice of a new generation,” but they really favored neither. They were an avant-garde movement that sought to redefine not only politics but human nature itself.
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German youth culture in the 1920s and early 1930s was ripe with rebelliousness, environmental mysticism, idealism, and no small amount of paganism, expressing attitudes that should be familiar to anyone who lived through the 1960s. “They regarded family life as repressive and insincere,” writes one historian. They believed sexuality, in and out of marriage, was “shot through with hypocrisy,” writes another.
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Since then, what we now call identity politics has become the norm in academia. Whole departments are given over to the exploration and celebration of race and gender differences. Diversity is now code for the immutable nature of racial identity. This idea, too, traces itself back to the neo-Romanticism of the Nazis.
What was once the hallmark of Nazi thinking, forced on higher education at gunpoint, is now the height of intellectual sophistication.
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First of all, young people were not uniformly “progressive.” Public opinion surveys found that young Americans were often the most pro-military while people over fifty were the most likely to oppose war. Numerous studies also show that radical children were not rebelling against their parents’ values. The single best predictor of whether a college student would become a campus radical was the ideology of his or her own parents. Left-leaning parents produced left-leaning children who grew up to be radical revolutionaries. The most significant divide among young people was between those attending college and those not. But even among campus youth, attitudes on Vietnam didn’t turn negative until the 1960s were almost over, and even then there was much less consensus than the PBS documentaries would suggest.

Moreover, the student radicals themselves were not quite the antiwar pacifists that John Lennon nostalgists might think. They did not want to give peace a chance when the peace wasn’t favorable to their agenda.
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Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the group John Kerry spoke for and led, internally debated whether or not it should assassinate politicians who supported the war.
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This raises an even more fundamentally dishonest aspect of the 1960s myth...

It’s bizarre how many people remember the 1960s as a time of “unity” and “hope” when it was in reality a time of rampant domestic terrorism, campus tumult, assassinations, and riots. Nostalgia for their own youth can’t explain this myopia, since liberals also pine for the 1930s as a time when “we were all in it together.”
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In other words, it is not unity the left longs for but victory; unity on terms not their own (such as the “staid conformity” of the 1950s) is false and misleading. In the 1930s and 1960s, the left’s popular-front approach yielded real power— and that is the true object of liberal nostalgia; nothing more, nothing less.
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The elevation of unity as the highest social value is a core tenet of fascism and all leftist ideologies. Mussolini adopted the socialist symbol of the fasces to convey that his movement valued unity over the liberal democratic fetish of debate and discussion.
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Liberalism rejected the idea that unity is more valuable than individuality. For fascists and other leftists, meaning and authenticity are found in collective enterprises— of class, nation, or race— and the state is there to enforce that meaning on everyone without the hindrance of debate.
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In academia a parallel revolt was under way. In 1966, at a conference at Johns Hopkins University, the French literary critic Jacques Derrida introduced the word “deconstruction”— a term coined by Nazi ideologues— into the American intellectual bloodstream. Deconstruction— a literary theory which holds that there is no single meaning to any text— caught fire in the minds of academics and students alike who hoped to be liberated from the dead weight of history and accumulated knowledge. If all texts were diversely interpretable with no “true” meaning at their core, then the important thing— the only thing really— was the meaning the reader imposed upon the text. In other words, meaning is created through power and will. The right interpretation is the one held by the interpreter who “wins” the academic power struggle. According to Derrida and his acolytes, reason was a tool of oppression. Beneath every seemingly rational decision was pure Nietzschean will to power. Derrida hoped to snatch the veil from the Enlightenment and reveal the tyranny of “logocentrism” beneath (another word with fascist roots).

This, too, was a replay of the pragmatic spirit that had sought to liberate society from the cage of inherited dogma. Pragmatism inspired Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Benito Mussolini, as well as their court intellectuals, to discard the “putrefying corpse” of classical liberalism and parliamentary democracy in order to empower “men of action” to solve society’s problems through bold experimentation and the unfettered power of the state.
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The parallel between the reformation of American universities in the 1960s and what occurred in Nazi Germany runs even deeper. Deconstruction is a direct and unapologetic offshoot of Heidegger’s brand of existentialism, which not only was receptive to Nazism but helped foster it. Heidegger was the great inheritor of Nietzsche’s assault on truth and morality, which held that we make our own truth and decide our own morality. For Heidegger and Nietzsche alike, good and evil were childish notions. What matters is will and choice.
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Deconstruction’s indebtedness to the fascist avant-garde remains one of the most controversial subjects in academia today, precisely because that debt is so obvious and profound. Paul de Man, for example, was a Nazi collaborator in Belgium who wrote seething pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic articles for a fascist newspaper during the occupation. Herbert Marcuse, a protégé of Heidegger’s, became the leader of the New Left’s academic brain trust. He attacked Western society mercilessly, arguing that “liberal tolerance” was “serving the cause of oppression”— an argument that echoed the fascist assault of the 1930s almost perfectly.

Carl Schmitt, a grotesque Nazi philosopher, is among the most chic intellectuals on the left today. His writings were passed around as samizdat by New Left radicals in Europe, including Joschka Fischer, who spent the 1970s beating up policemen in West German streets and later became foreign minister and vice-chancellor in the government of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005.

For more than sixty years, liberals have insisted that the bacillus of fascism lies semi-dormant in the bloodstream of the political right. And yet with the notable and complicated exceptions of Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom, no top-tier American conservative intellectual was a devotee of Nietzsche or a serious admirer of Heidegger. All major conservative schools of thought trace themselves back to the champions of the Enlightenment— John Locke, Adam Smith, Montesquieu, Burke— and none of them have any direct intellectual link to Nazism or Nietzsche, to existentialism, nihilism, or even, for the most part, Pragmatism. Meanwhile, the ranks of left-wing intellectuals are infested with ideas and thinkers squarely in the fascist tradition.
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In a seminar there may be important distinctions to be made between, say, Foucault’s “enterprise of Unreason,” Derrida’s tyrannical logocentrism, and Hitler’s “revolt against reason.” But such distinctions rarely translate beyond ivy-covered walls— and they are particularly meaningless to a movement that believes action is more important than ideas. Deconstruction, existentialism, postmodernism, Pragmatism, relativism: all of these ideas had the same purpose— to erode the iron chains of tradition, dissolve the concrete foundations of truth, and firebomb the bunkers where the defenders of the ancien régime still fought and persevered. These were ideologies of the “movement.”

The movement of the 1960s didn’t start out destructive. In fact it started out brimming with high-minded idealism and hope. [...]

A subconscious current ran through the entire society, a quest for community and galvanizing leadership.
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The SDS’s (Students for a Democratic Society) original mission wasn’t radical; it was humane: community outreach.
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As Alan Brinkley has noted, most of the protests and conflagrations of the 1960s had their roots in a desire to preserve or create communities.
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There is no disputing that Nazism was an evil ideology from the first spark of its inception. But that does not mean that every adherent of Nazism was motivated by evil intent. Germans did not collectively decide to be Hollywood villains for all eternity. For millions of Germans the Nazis seemed to offer hope for community and meaning and authenticity, too.
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Germany was filled with millions of young men who were receptive to the shining ideal that Wessel represented. Of course, the virulent anti-Semitism of the Nazis makes it difficult to see (and impossible to forgive), but the dream of a unified, classless Germany was deeply heartfelt by many Nazi joiners; and if reduced to that alone, it was not an evil dream at all.
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For those willing to look past a lot of meaningless rhetoric about Marxism, the fascist nature of all this was glaringly obvious. Indeed, one could simply take countless radicals at their word when they said they were “beyond ideology” and all about action. One of the most obvious giveaways was the New Left’s obsession with the “street.”
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Saul Alinsky, whose Rules for Radicals served as a bible for the New Left (and who later became one of Hillary Clinton’s mentors), shared the fascist contempt for liberals as corrupted bourgeois prattlers: “Liberals in their meetings utter bold words; they strut, grimace belligerently, and then issue a weasel-worded statement ‘which has tremendous implications, if read between the lines.’ They sit calmly, dispassionately, studying the issue; judging both sides; they sit and still sit.”

Substitute the word “fascist” for “radical” in many of Alinsky’s statements and it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference: “Society has good reason to fear the Radical … He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous..."
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Rather than call these regimes fascist— which I firmly believe they were— we’ll merely note the similarities between these Third World movements and regimes and the conventional fascist ones. Mao, Ho, Castro, and even the Panthers were all ethnocentric movements of “national liberation.” This is precisely how Mussolini and Hitler depicted their causes. Hitler promised to get Germany out from under the thumb of Versailles and “international finance capitalism.” Mussolini argued that Italy was a “proletarian nation” deserving, like Germany, its “moment in the sun.” Mao’s Cultural Revolution, his mixture of socialism and folk Chinese custom, fits perfectly in the fascist wheelhouse. What is Castro but a military dictator (note the constant uniform) who has burnished his leadership cult with socialist economics, nationalist rhetoric, and unending Nuremberg Rally populism?
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By the end of the decade, the civil rights movement had for all intents and purposes become a Black Power movement. And Black Power, with its clenched fists, Afro-pagan mythology, celebration of violence, emphasis on racial pride, and disdain for liberalism, was arguably America’s most authentic indigenous fascism.
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On January 28, 1961, Muhammad sent Malcolm X to Atlanta to negotiate an agreement with the Ku Klux Klan whereby the Klan would support a separate black state. 60 More generally, the Black Power movement became addicted to violence, setting the tone for the white left. H. Rap Brown had exhorted his followers to “do what John Brown did, pick up a gun and go out and shoot our enemy.” Malcolm X repeatedly exhorted blacks to employ “any means necessary.”
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It was in the 1960s that the left convinced itself that there is something fascistic about patriotism and something perversely “patriotic” about running down America. Anti-Americanism— a stand-in for hatred of Western civilization— became the stuff of sophisticates and intellectuals as never before.
Chapter 6 From Kennedy’s Myth to Johnson’s Dream: Liberal Fascism and the Cult of the State

Historically, for many liberals the role of the state has been a matter less of size than of function. Progressivism shared with fascism a deep and abiding conviction that in a truly modern society, the state must take the place of religion. For some, this conviction was born of the belief that God was dead.
[...]

While not a modern liberal himself, JFK was turned after his death into a martyr to the religion of government. This was due partly to the manipulations of the Kennedy circle and partly to the (much more cynical) machinations of LBJ, who hijacked the Kennedy myth and harnessed it to his own purposes. Those purposes, consistent with the “nice” totalitarian impulse of the progressive movement in which Johnson had cut his political teeth, were nominally secular, but on a deeper, and perhaps unconscious, level fundamentally religious.
[...]
And here Goldberg gets it wrong for some reason underestimating the role of Allen Dulles and the Deep State in all this:

Kennedy was an aggressive anti-communist and Cold War hawk. He campaigned on a fictitious “missile gap” with the Soviets in a largely successful effort to move to Richard Nixon’s right on foreign policy, tried to topple Castro at the Bay of Pigs, brought the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis, and got us deep into Vietnam.
He would transform the Kennedy personality cult into a cult of government. To this end, LBJ, a crafty and clever politician, made shameless use of JFK’s assassination, converting it into precisely the sort of transformative national crisis that had always eluded Kennedy himself. His legacy, the modern welfare state, represents the ultimate fruition of a progressive statist tradition going back to Woodrow Wilson. As we’ve seen, Wilson and the progressives laid the intellectual foundations for the divinized liberal state.

We have already discussed at some length the personalities driving American liberalism. It is now necessary to take what may seem like a sharp detour to address the cult of the state itself in American liberalism. Without this historical detour, it is difficult to see modern liberalism for what it is: a religion of state worship whose sacrificial Christ was JFK and whose Pauline architect was LBJ.
[...]

It was also around this time that through a dexterous sleight of hand, Progressivism came to be renamed “liberalism.” In the past, liberalism had referred to political and economic liberty as understood by Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Adam Smith. For them, the ultimate desideratum was maximum individual freedom under the benign protection of a minimalist state. The progressives, led by Dewey, subtly changed the meaning of this term, importing the Prussian vision of liberalism as the alleviation of material and educational poverty, and liberation from old dogmas and old faiths. For progressives liberty no longer meant freedom from tyranny, but freedom from want, freedom to be a “constructive” citizen, the Rousseauian and Hegelian “freedom” of living in accord with the state and the general will. Classical liberals were now routinely called conservatives, while devotees of social control were dubbed liberals.
[...]

As economic policy, the New Deal was a failure. If anything, it likely prolonged the Depression. And yet we are constantly told that the New Deal remains the greatest domestic accomplishment of the United States in the twentieth century and a model liberals constantly wish to emulate, preserve, and restore.
[...]

The New Deal amounted to a religious breakthrough for American liberalism. Not only had faith in the liberal ideal become thoroughly religious in nature— irrational, dogmatic, mythological— but many smart liberals recognized this fact and welcomed it.
[...]

The war against Hitler was as pristine an example of good versus evil as we’ve seen in the history of warfare. But that doesn’t mean the war (and the New Deal mobilization) had only salutary effects. People grew accustomed to following the exhortations of elites— in the press, at leading institutions, and in government— without much reflection or skepticism. These elites told the American public that the war and state planning had “saved” Western civilization and that it was now America’s job to keep it safe.
[...]

For liberals in the late 1920s and early 1930s the Soviet Union was like Bismarck’s Prussia a generation earlier— a model to be emulated. During the 1930s the Soviets were on the front line fighting the fascist threat. In the 1940s the Soviets were our allies. But after the war it soon became clear that Soviet intentions weren’t that honorable and that Soviet methods were embarrassingly difficult to distinguish from Nazi methods.
[...]

After the war, liberals could not tolerate such tactics when aimed at their own ranks. Their denial that their own ideas and history had any link with totalitarianism was so total that anybody who suggested otherwise had to be destroyed.
[...]

What I am saying is that what it meant to be a liberal was changing very rapidly after World War II. And once again, the losers in a liberal civil war— the right wing of the left— were demonized. Liberalism was in effect shedding its unrefined elements, throwing off the husk of the Social Gospel and all of that God talk. Had not the Holocaust proved that God was dead? The old liberals increasingly seemed like the William Jennings Bryan character in Inherit the Wind— superstitious, angry, backward.
[...]

Adorno was the lead author of The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950. The book presented evidence that people holding “conservative” views scored higher on the so-called F-Scale (F for “Fascism”) and were hence in dire need of therapy. The political scientist Herbert McClosky likewise diagnosed conservatives as a pre-fascist “personality type” comprising mostly “the uninformed, the poorly educated, and … the less intelligent.” For McClosky, Adorno, and establishment liberals generally, conservatism was at best the human face of the madness of Nazi-style fascism.
[...]

The original Marxist explanation of fascism was that it was the capitalist ruling classes’ reaction to the threat of the ascendancy of the working classes. The Frankfurt School deftly psychologized this argument. Instead of rich white men and middle-class dupes protecting their economic interests, fascism became a psychological defense mechanism against change generally. Men who cannot handle “progress” respond violently because they have “authoritarian personalities.” So, in effect, anyone who disagrees with the aims, scope, and methods of liberalism is suffering from a mental defect, commonly known as fascism.
[...]

Bill Clinton titled his “blueprint” for America Putting People First, but when the people rejected his agenda, we were informed that “angry white men” (read white “authoritarian personalities”) were a threat to the Republic. Similarly, when the people supported New Deal social planners, one could barely find an inch of daylight between Progressivism and populism. But when the same people had become fed up with socialism from above, they became “paranoid” and dangerous, susceptible to diseases of the mind and fascistic manipulation. Hence, liberal social planners were all the more justified in their efforts to “fix” the people, to reorient their dysfunctional inner lives, to give them “meaning.”
[...]

Much like the Nazi movement, liberal fascism had two faces: the street radicals and the establishment radicals. In Germany the two groups worked in tandem to weaken middle-class resistance to the Nazis’ agenda. In the previous chapter we saw how the liberal fascists of the SDS and Black Panther movements rose up to terrorize the American middle class. In the remainder of this chapter— and the next— we will explain how the “suit-and-tie radicals” of the 1960s, people like Hillary Clinton and her friends, used this terror to expand the power and scope of the state and above all to change the public attitude toward the state as the agent of social progress and universal caring and compassion.
[...]

JFK’s death, meanwhile, was the perfect psychological crisis for liberalism’s new phase. Woodrow Wilson used war to achieve his social ends. FDR used economic depression and war. JFK used the threat of war and Soviet domination. Johnson’s crisis mechanism came in the form of spiritual anguish and alienation. And he exploited it to the hilt.
[...]
 

Mike

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Anyway, here are some features of fascism that I discerned from the book so far:

1. Schizoidal decleration, i.e. "left to his own devices, man will always be stupid and cruel, so we must tightly integrate him into a top-down structure".

2. So we create a powerful state (aka. Big Government) that controls every aspect of life - as always for the "good of the people".

3. To advance our "great cause for the good of the people", we need to create a "movement", to "mobilize". It's always about action.

4. Our advanced understanding of the way towards "progress" rests on science; there's a priestly class of scientists who can tell us exactly where the problems are and what we need to do.

5. We need to break up traditional structures, allegiances, hierarchies, religions, classes etc., "only then can we reach our progressive goals" - these traditional structures obviously stand in the way of radical change.

6. We need to "educate" people, especially children. It's always the "lack of education" or that we "didn't convey the message well enough" etc. In other words, we need massive propaganda.

7. Truth is overrated - we need to be pragmatic here, often a lie will do a better job.

8. We need to boldly experiment on a grand scale, remember - it's about action. Just implement sweeping changes and see what happens.

9. Shut down opposing voices.

10. Violence, war etc. are necessary means to reach our goals - it's ultimately all for the "good of the people". You need to crack some eggs to make an omelette.
One thing that struck me by your review Luc, and thank you for it, is how a lot of these points seem to dovetail with the creation, activities and views of the National Security State/Deep State or what have you. As we seem to understand, its origins and roots had ties to integrating people and ideas from the Nazis into the the United States military-defense-intelligence apparatus. Though it seems to be hard to discern for the majority of people, it seems like these ideas and points tie into what has taken place in terms of UFOs and secrecy surrounding it. It is like all of the actions taken and justification for those actions surrounding the UFO topic in terms of doing it in the interests of mankind as a whole dovetail well with the mindset laid out in the bullet points and the slow transformation of society worldwide toward a worldwide fascism. FWIW
 
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I saw a classic "who will build the roads" moment in costa rica. Educated white expats wanted a well-built', overengineered modern road to go from a village up to the expat settlement higher on the hills. They hired a bigh standards engineering company, which struggled with the humid tropical (and very clayish) realities of the region. The underbelly layers of the road would slide on the clay, buckling and tearing as it slid slowly downslope.
Then the village got nearly bankrupt, the locals got pissed, they chased the engineers out and they all got together to build it themselves in classic wisdom-of-the-land style (two narrow parallel trenches to fit the width of a car, with an occasional cross-trench to link the two, stuffed with irregular stones and cement)
The people built it by themselves at much lower cost, it suits the landscape better (both esthetically and functionally!) and they built it working weekends in less time than the engineering firm had foreseen for their own project.
All of it from a small community coming together to avoid having incompetent strangers take over (at least, incompetent in terms of local context).
The roads will be built. Cheaper and more appropriately. Unless, that is, communities are dismantled and the natural social behaviour of humans is pathologized and diverted. That's when the State becomes needed, and it knows that very well.
 

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I saw a classic "who will build the roads" moment in costa rica. Educated white expats wanted a well-built', overengineered modern road to go from a village up to the expat settlement higher on the hills. They hired a bigh standards engineering company, which struggled with the humid tropical (and very clayish) realities of the region. The underbelly layers of the road would slide on the clay, buckling and tearing as it slid slowly downslope.
Then the village got nearly bankrupt, the locals got pissed, they chased the engineers out and they all got together to build it themselves in classic wisdom-of-the-land style (two narrow parallel trenches to fit the width of a car, with an occasional cross-trench to link the two, stuffed with irregular stones and cement)
The people built it by themselves at much lower cost, it suits the landscape better (both esthetically and functionally!) and they built it working weekends in less time than the engineering firm had foreseen for their own project.
All of it from a small community coming together to avoid having incompetent strangers take over (at least, incompetent in terms of local context).
The roads will be built. Cheaper and more appropriately. Unless, that is, communities are dismantled and the natural social behaviour of humans is pathologized and diverted. That's when the State becomes needed, and it knows that very well.

One feature of fascism seems to be that it wants to transfer the desirable features of a small, local community to the nation state level. But as Nassim Taleb said I think: some things don't scale!
 
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