Now this is an interesting point:
Dear Mr. Goldberg:
Always interesting to read your posts and (some of the) reader responses. One of the most recent, inquiring about what a “real” right-wing regime is, and how to recognize such, you characterized as a fair question. On that I agree. But the question originates from a fundamental ignorance about the nature of fascism, as originally conceived by its purest practitioner, Mussolini. Mussolini, as you know, considered himself a radical, and said once (paraphrase) that he and Lenin were the only true revolutionaries in Europe. He was a man of the left, and fascism, as so conceived in 1920s Italy, was a leftist regime. Can there be right-wing fascists? Sure–as long as the fundamental building blocks of authentic Mussolinian fascism are in place: corporatism, statism, a co-opting and/or subjugation rather than destruction of private property, enough nationalism and bread/circuses to keep the populace’s energy directed towards ends that don’t threaten the regime.
I think the reader is basically right. John Ralston Saul talks about how America has an “unconscious civilization” of fascism. I think he’s too Marxist, but makes the same basic point I make, which is that we’ve inherited some corporatist and fascistic arrangements without realizing it. The worst thing for the country and for conservatism would be for the Right to become complacent about these arrangements. That’s why I have my whole discussion on the “Tempting of Conservatism” and rightwing progressivism. I think there’s a real danger of having Republicans and conservatives making peace with the welfare state and simply becoming “rightwing” versions of liberals, rewarding their constituencies, imposing their values etc. (Somewhere in the book, I have a quote from FDR in which he says something like: Democratic/New Dealer control of the government was good because the good guys ran it, but it would be bad or fascistic if some other faction got in there.)
Of course, it’s still worth noting that conservatives — properly understood — who embrace statism, cease to be conservatives. But I think the reader is still getting at a real danger.