Fascism & Thuggery Cont’d


From a reader:

Dear Mr. Goldberg,

I read with great interest the letter from Jim Ryan where he argues that your book has a weakness in that it doesn’t adequately address the popular conception of fascism as simply meaning brutal oppression.  I have to say that in my experience, Mr. Ryan’s view of the popular mind just isn’t true. 

I live in Vermont, so perhaps my experience with the word fascist being hurled about is somewhat greater than your average conservative, but it seems to me that a better definition of the popular conception of the meaning of fascism is this: any idea not in accord with modern progressivism.  Let me relate a personal experience to illustrate:  I was at a party a couple years ago, and the conversation turned to the idea that the State of Vermont should buy a series of hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River that were owned by a company that was entering bankruptcy.  I said that I didn’t think it was a good idea for the government to get into the business of owning businesses, leads to mismanagement, inefficiency, featherbedding, corruption, etc. etc.  For offering this (I thought rather mild) objection, somebody there turned to me and called me a fascist.  He was quite serious and I think a little peeved that a laissez-faire skunk had wandered into the progressive garden party. 

Now, setting aside for a moment the obvious point that the fascists of history would have been entirely supportive of the idea that the government should own power plants, where is the brutal oppression in my opinion that earned me the dreaded F label? 

Thank you for writing this book.  It is very eye-opening and I am learning even more from it on my second reading.  I think that in the years to come, it will be considered one of the most influential political books of our generation, perhaps of the century. 

Me: No surprise, I’m with this reader. I think the idea of the Gleichschaltung is far more central to fascism than brutality, and when you look at the effort of liberals to coordinate everything in one progressive government-led, if not necessarily controlled,  fashion the similarities to fascist thought are profound and significant. But people understand goon squads, they don’t understand the Gleichschaltung, so they focus on appearances rather than substance. 


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