Liberal Fascism

What’s Left?

From a reader:

Jonah, I really enjoyed your book.  Hopefully its sales success will be proportional to the apoplexy you have inspired on the Left.    Have you read What’s Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way by Nick Cohen?  It’s by a British journalist and is about how the Left devolved into its current sorry state where it’s de rigeur to make excuses for primitive religious fundamentalist murderers.  He makes the same point you do about the overlap between Joseph de Maistre and contemporary identity politics.  But this passage really caught my attention, since I had just finished your book when I picked up Cohen’s.  On page 89, he writes:  

“The reason communism doesn’t seem all bad to me is the same reason the BBC gives airtime to Trotskyite comedians but not to Neo-nazi raconteurs: the far left was meant to be solidly against the extreme right.  In reality, the anti-fascist left was a bit of a myth.  Communists and fascists worked together against liberalism many times in the Twenties and Thirties.  Rationally, I know it was a natural partnership because the similarities between communism and fascism were more important than the differences.  But viscerally to anyone brought up on the Left after the Second World War, an unwavering opposition to fascism was the trait in which we could take the greatest pride.  There was a hierarchy.  The best society was some form of socialism that varied according to taste, and like the kingdom of God never came.  The runner-up was what we had: a liberal democracy with a mixed economy.  The lowest of the low was fascism or some other kind of chauvinism.” 

  Obviously, Cohen has an ability to objectively see the Left for what it was and what it is that many of his ideological mates completely lack.    Thanks again for a very entertaining and enlightening book. 

Me: I haven’t read the  book, though I’ve heard good things and it sits on my pile of to-read books.

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