Thursday, January 17, 2008

All fascism all the time

bonus link to Jonah's appearance on The Daily Show

In today's Liberal Fascism moment, Jonah Goldberg says --

For many socialists and progressives, socialism was racism and racism was socialism. Nazism was socialism for a race. The Nazi view was uglier and more extreme than anyone else's, but it was not philosophically so distinct from the views of many progressives in America and socialists in Britain ... An excerpt from the book:

[quote] Just as socialist economics was a specialization within the larger Progressive avocation, eugenics was a closely related specialty. Eugenic arguments and economic arguments tracked each other, complemented each other, and, at times, melted into each other.

Sidney Webb, the father of Fabian socialism and still among the most revered British intellectuals, laid it out fairly clearly. “No consistent eugenicist,” he explained, “can be a ‘Laissez Faire’ individualist [that is, a conservative] unless he throws up the game in despair. He must interfere, interfere, interfere!” The fact that the “wrong” people were outbreeding the “right” ones would put Britain on the path of “national deterioration” or, “as an alternative,” result “in this country gradually falling to the Irish and the Jews.” [end quote]

Using the miracle of Google, one comes across this post by Duncan Money explaining the context for the Webb quote: widespread concerns about Irish Catholic immigrants in Britain. And yes, such sentiments did merge with "theories" of prominent statisticians of the day (remember the "proof" that we would all end up the same height?) to produce some weird pronouncements.

But -- what do we expect given the circumstances? All of today's concerns about immigrants depressing wages and integration of a different religion magnified many-fold, and all in the context of what was then the UK's "Irish Question". Yet the UK never got to the point of putting all Irish people in concentration camps.

So Goldberg's classification is that any left-wing figure of the day who had concerns about immigration was a fascist, and different only in degree and not type from the Nazis. But because right-wing anti-immigrants aren't socialist, they're not fascist. Got it?

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