Liberal!=Fascism

Jonah Goldberg protests my take on the title of Liberal Fascism. Some of his argument is a misreading of my post, perhaps because I was unclear--when I said that

The fascist ideal, which I'd liken to the dream of making every citizen behave like a cell within a mighty body, driven by a Great Leader functioning as the brain, was in many ways a new and pernicious vision. But the constituent parts, such as ferocious group loyalty, xenophobia, an antipathy to individualism, and the hunger for a charismatic strongman, were certainly not.



I was not listing those elements as specifically right, or left, wing, but merely as general human tendencies which became major elements of Fascism. The point is that when Goldberg says that militarism preceded fascism, and that therefore it is somehow not characteristic of fascism, I don't think this works as a defense. Any element that is characteristic of fascism will have preceded it; human nature just doesn't undergo that many rapid innovations.

I think Goldberg is actually making a valid point, which is that Fascism!=Conservatism. Fascism was a compendium of left and right wing ideology; part of what gave the movement its power was its co-option of (to my mind) some of the most appalling elements of each. The liberals who think that "Liberal Fascism" is somehow more definitionally stupid than "Conservative Fascism" are, I think, patting themselves on the back a little too hard. They didn't call themselves "National Socialists" for no reason, and pointing this out is, so far as I am concerned, God's work.

But though I am very much all for the goal of stopping people from deploying the term fascist against any conservative they happen to disagree with--and particularly libertarians, who, will their horror of both state intervention in the economy and nationalism, are literally as far from fascism politically as it is possible to get--ultimately, I just don't like inflammatory titles. I find things like "a politics of meaning" creepy, but calling it fascist isn't going to do anything except give a flutter of satisfaction to people who already hate Hillary Clinton, and alienate her sympathizers.