LF & Hayek


From a reader: 

Hello Jonah,

I’ve almost finished reading Liberal Fascism.  I appreciate learning
some of the facts about the early American Progressives (late 19th
Century to WWII) in the book I wasn’t aware of.  As a person of
German-American ancestry, I discovered I can claim victimhood, too:
thousands of German-American citizens were jailed during WWI by the
Wilson administration!  Wow!  Cool!  But 100,000+ arrested and thrown
in jail – I’d never have imagined it was so many.

My mother told me that “English speakers” came to her Lutheran school
in southern Missouri and burned their German textbooks during the Great
War.  I asked her if they hurt anyone, and she said, “No.”  My father
told me that during the war, a policeman or a detective always sat in
the back of their Lutheran church and listened to the services.  His
job was to make sure no one said anything unpatriotic, anti-American,
etc.  Both of my parents have passed away, so I can’t go back and quiz
them some more.  I never thought to probe into this period in more
detail with them.  They were awfully young at the time: 9 & 10 years

Not to depress you, but F. A. Hayek’s little book, “Road to Serfdom,”
came out in 1944 and was a bestseller, at least in America.  It did the
same thing your book does – just emphasizing economics more than
politics.  It obviously never stopped the “liberal fascist” juggernaut
developing in both England and America.  Probably never even slowed it
down much.

Maybe the Internet with its widespread access by many more people will
improve the prospects that a book like yours will have a bigger impact
on the intellectual zeitgeist than “Serfdom” did.

Recall that Hayek spent 12 years in Germany, 1920 to 1932, so he had
firsthand knowledge of the German academic world’s fascination with
fascism.  He then moved to England and taught at the London School of
Economics until the end of WWII.  So he learned firsthand about how the
English elite became fascinated with socialist ideas.  The Labour Party
took over the government after WWII and nationalized health care, heavy
industry, some housing stock, etc. as we all know.

From an economics viewpoint, Road to Serfdom, is a devastating critique
of any centralized, top-down control of a large economy.  IMO it makes
it impossible to believe that any such approach can match a free-market
economy.  YET, the British and American academics blew it off.  When
the Brits read Serfdom, they ostracized Hayek.  His shunning was so
complete, he fled to America.  Even here, he couldn’t find a regular
economics position and ended up at the U. of Chicago with some social
science professorship.

IDEA.  Maybe creating a matrix to show how American/European Left and
their fascistic ideas have mutated over the past 150 years.  List the
key topics down the vertical side of the matrix and time periods across
the top L to R.  I’m trying to think how one could crystallize the
substance of your book for the “masses”!

Maybe cluster them into categories: those that stayed constant over
those 150 years (government set minimum wages, gov’t. supplied Social
Security, health care, etc.) and those that changed/switched sides. 
The latter would be mostly social “hot button” issues like abortion,
eugenics, racism, definition of patriotism, etc.  I’m an engineer and
like to create orderly structures in short, summarized forms!

What struck me in LF was how American Progressives went from defining
“patriotism” in WWI as a pro-war position to (for them) defining
patriotism as antiwar when Vietnam came around.  How they went from
throwing people in jail w/o charges during Wilson’s admin. to now
taking extreme civil rights/human rights positions w.r.t. radical
Islamic terrorists, combatants, etc.  How they threw German-Americans
in prison during WWI and Japanese-Americans in prison in WWII – and now
object to Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, etc.

Let’s see: what other switches are there?  Margaret Sanger was
anti-abortion and now the Left is pro-abortion.  They believed blacks
and other people of color were less intelligent than whites, now that’s
verboten to believe.

Somehow we need to have a shorthand way to summarize the Left’s
evolving positions.  Of course, that old SDS slogan, “The issue is
never the issue, the Revolution is the Issue” comes to mind.  The
issues are a means to an end, not the end in itself.  The end is power
and control – running the society.  (Which, if ever achieved, is empty
- meaningless.  Vanity.  All is vanity.  Solomon!)

Enough chatter.  Back to work.


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