Conservative Liberal Fascism

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One of the odder elements of the Liberal Fascism argument is that having defined both "liberal" and "fascist" in very odd ways, at the end of his book Jonah Goldberg gets around to dealing with the recent rise in the United States of a more statist strand of conservatism which he then construes as a brand of liberal fascism. Michael Gerson is, as you can see in today's column, basically the Julius Streicher of this new movement:

Thompson's argument reflects an anti-government extremism, which I am sure his defenders would call a belief in limited government. In this case, Thompson is limiting government to a half-full thimble. Its duties apparently do not extend to the treatment of sick people in extreme poverty, which should be "the role of us as individuals and as Christians." One wonders, in his view, if responding to the 2004 tsunami should also have been a private responsibility. Religious groups are essential to fighting AIDS, but they cannot act on a sufficient scale.

On a Goldberg-free note, the specific position Gerson is defending here -- conservatives should support government action to combat extreme public health emergencies in the third world -- probably isn't super-controversial, but the logic of his argument certainly is quite different from the strand of thinking that's dominated the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan. But like most other reform-minded conservatives out there, I've never seen Gerson quite confront the point that you can't have a more activist state unless you make taxes higher.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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