From a reader:
Three quick points from a sporadic antagonist: 1. The Staudenmaier piece you linked to directly was impressive indeed (I haven’t had time to read Biehl’s companion piece yet, but it looks equally interesting). Obviously, they aren’t writing in response to Liberal Fascism, but they do adopt a left/right typology that’s pretty directly in contradiction to yours. Bravo for linking to them anyway! 2. A while ago, you mentioned that a reader had urged you to see the sci-fi flick Zardoz (staring Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling, written and directed by John Boorman [!]). At the core of the story is an almost perfect society with ageless beautiful people . . . living off the labor of miserable wretches outside of the magic circle (literally). I have always thought of this conceit as a fairly imaginative but still standard commentary of the us-versus-them, privileged-elite-verses-the-exploited-masses sort of tale. But I was struck by the parallels between Zardoz and Staudenmaier’s description the Third Reich’s environmentalist-infused “expansionist politics of Lebensraum (the plan of conquering ‘living space’ in Eastern Europe for the German people).” In his telling, the tool of ruthless state control was deployed in the service of the despicable goal of elevating the environment and lives of one Volk at the expense of the rest of humanity. I’m not sure I’ve seen you discuss that aspect of German fascism. 3. Although I profoundly disagree with much of what you write (and still think much of it stems from a long history of hurt feelings and a thoroughly bruised ego), I regularly share your output and links with my 24-year old Obama-loving son. Your stuff definitely provides a good mental workout for those of us on the other side. Thanks.
1. Of course they use “right” and “left” in ways that I would dispute. Ninety-nine percent of scholars, intellectuals on the left and the right do that. Virtually all of the scholars and writers I invoke in my book to bolster my case would still refer to the “German right.” Heck, I would probably refer to the German right. The Nazis were in an important sense “on the right” in Germany — because they were in Germany! Classical liberalism had been crushed in Germany a generation earlier. The split between right and left was on the axis of national socialism and international socialism, brown-v-red and all that. In economic terms, the whole country was very, very, far to the left by our lights. So the nominal “rightwing” was still leftwing by our standards. Trotsky, Radek and others rightly dubbed Mussolini a “rightwing socialist.” Well, in my book even the most rightwing socialist lives on the left side of the spectrum. But the fact that Nazis called themselves of the right, as did Italian Fascists, doesn’t mean their “right” and our understanding of the “right” are the same thing. One of the things I do which seems to cause so many critics so much agitation is that I dare to define my terms. For example, I place fascism on the left because I see socialism as a phenomenon of the left. 2. Good point. Will ponder and discuss. 3. Your attempt to dispute my arguments by questioning my motives is unpersuasive, inaccurate and ultimately shabby. I could write what I write because I was attacked by rabid otters as a child, it would have no bearing whatsoever on the merits of my arguments or the veracity of the evidence I present.