Monday, June 21, 2010

Don’t Blame Fascism

Behind Glenn Beck loomed the faces of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, and the American progressive John Dewey. The host gestured to the photos as he revealed the common link to Fox viewers: all favored state intervention in the economy and apparently did not believe in the concept of natural rights as found in the Declaration of Independence. Thus all of them flirted with fascism.

The final and most fundamental reason for the establishment Right’s antifascist pretensions is a deeply rooted leftist mindset in which fascism remains the world’s greatest evil. In the 1980s, neoconservatives came to control the American conservative movement in what was mostly a friendly takeover. Conservative foundations and journals began sliding toward the Left, and in the new pantheon of conservative heroes one found such previously unlikely figures as Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, and eventually Martin Luther King.

In the neoconservative version of anti-Communism, the enemy remained on the Right. The Soviet dictatorship became what Truman described after World War II as “Red Fascism.” This was also the way the German socialist Kurt Schumacher defined the new enemy after 1945, when he denounced the “red lacquered Nazis.” Unlike the old anti-Communist diatribes in National Review, Human Events, and Modern Age, later neoconservative anti-Communism, as Sam Francis once observed, gives evidence of a “leftist gestalt.” The present “conservative” struggle shows the same gestalt, as it battles the recycled menace of interwar fascism.

Antifascist neocons are in fact far to the left of characters like Mussolini. The ghosts haunting American politics are not the specters of Heidegger or Hitler lurking behind Obama and Mrs. Clinton. They are the spirits of old anti-Stalinists like Trotsky that now possess the establishment Right.