Liberal Fascism

Susan Sontag Was Right

From a reader:

I was surprised to run across a reference to this item in a book of essays, and even more surprised to be able to find the related NY Times reference from 1982 still available today online. I didn’t see a reference to this in your book – perhaps there is one but I read it too quickly to notice.  

“I would contend that what they illustrate is a truth that we should have understood a very long time ago: that Communism is Fascism – successful Fascism, if you will. What we have called Fascism is, rather, the form of tyranny that can be overthrown – that has, largely, failed. ‘Facism With a Human Face’   ‘’I repeat: not only is Fascism (and overt military rule) the probable destiny of all Communist societies – especially when their populations are moved to revolt – but Communism is in itself a variant, the most successful variant, of Fascism. Fascism with a human face.’’


Me: I’m aware of Sontag’s writing on fascism (at least a lot of it). And, she deserves  serious credit for going off reservation on this stuff. But, I would dissent from the idea that Communism’s face was more human (in the USSR, China, Cambodia et al) than it was in Italy or (to the extent Franco was even a fascist) Spain.  I did reference Sontag in a couple places in the book, but not the 1982 essay (it hit the editing room floor). But I remember how much my Dad loved this bit:

In a passage eliminated from The Nation version, Miss Sontag also criticized liberal publications. ‘’Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader’s Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or The New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?’’ 

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