Thursday, February 28, 2008

Liberal Fascism, Islamism and the 21st century

Hugh Hewitt interviews Jonah Goldberg about his book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History Of The American Left From Mussolini To The Politics Of Meaning. Hewitt goes over the evolution of liberalism from its impeccable fascist pedigree with Goldberg, a kind of spoiler of the book. But what's really interesting was this exchange:

HH: And you know, it’s the same temptation over and over again, and it’s one abroad in the land right now, which is why I want to pause on this, which is Rousseau believed that man was good, you know, that the state came along, or that society came along and screwed things up, but that actually, that men were innately good. And that’s simply not a conservative view, Jonah Goldberg. It’s anti-conservative. It’s also anti-theology in most senses.

JG: Right. I mean, I think the fundamental difference, the difference that defines the difference between American, Anglo-American conservatives and European welfare states, leftists or liberals, is Locke versus Rousseau. Every philosophical argument boils down to John Locke versus Jacques Rousseau.

HH: Yup.

JG: Rousseau says the government is there, that our rights come from the government, that come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics. And that is the defining distinction between the two, and I think that distinction also runs through the human heart, that we all have a Rousseauian temptation in us. And it’s the job of conservatives to remind people that the Lockean in us needs to win.

This exchange captures the link between the 20th century struggle against Communism and Fascism and the 21st century's epic battle against radical Islamism. The key difference between those ideologies and the Lockean view is where they put God -- or if you prefer Ultimate Legitimacy -- in relation to society. Both liberal fascism and Islamic fundamentalism put God on earth; both are theocracies in the sense they believe that God actually rules temporally. In the first case the Deity takes the form of an enlightened vanguard; in the second case Allah rules through the Caliphate via Sharia law.

But the price of putting God on earth is dragging Him through the mud of politics. If one truly believes that God looks like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama one eventually comes to the view that the Almighty isn't everything He's cracked up to be. By contrast, locating God outside of politics is, to use a current buzzword, "de-weaponizing" the numinous; removing what is too great and awesome for our complete understanding from the sphere of political manipulation.

That doesn't mean the Lockeans remove God from the Universe. On the contrary they keep him there. But when God is invoked, it is always as our understanding of Him rather than as God Himself. In other words human organization can never attain to the sanctity of the Koran or the Communist Manifesto. It never becomes a divine instituion. It is only ever a government -- by the people, of the people and for the people.

And only if we keep it so shall it never perish from the earth. The words "My Kingdom is not of this world" preserves both God's Kingdom and our freedom. We may come to God, through the perils of life and danger of damnation. But we arrive before Him as free beings. Sans the muttawa and sans the scourge of political coercion.


Blogger acymizin said...

And on an even more fundimental level, it is Aristotle vs. Plato.

Plato of the ideal perfect deduced world. Aristotle of the particular imperfect induced natural sciences.

Plato and philosophical idealism naturally leads to collectivism and attempts to perfection of mankind, always with disasterous results. Aristotle's ethics failed miserably; I mean the golden mean being always the best course. I think Ayn Rand is a major improvement on Aristotle's ethics and politics.

2/28/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I regard Lockean secularism to be the most inherently pious form of government, for it does not presume to speak for the will of God. Much harm has come to humanity because of the self-righteous man who thinks he is hearing the word of God when he is actually listening to the sound of his own voice. The Pharaonic State was the original theocratic state, for it conflated the power of Pharaoh with the will of Heaven. And ever since the dawn of civilization, the call of the Pharaonic State has tempted humanity.

Should it really be the responsibility of the government to act as a surrogate parent for America’s children? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the government to foster conditions where parents can take care of their own children without governmental interference? Social services should only consider taking children away from their parents as a last resort, not as a first resort as is often the case with lower income families, where children are taken away only to become victims of their foster parents.

Public schools must be community schools, not laboratory experiments designed alienate children from their parents. Although the upper classes may be accustomed to outsourcing the care of their children, this custom must not be imposed upon the entire community. In a real village, parents love their children and take care of them without receiving constant advice from the mayor's wife.

2/28/2008 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I do not agree with your take on either Plato or Aristotle but mentioning the Greeks provides a good segue into Wretchard's post.

Benedict XVI made a thought provoking point in his Regensburg lecture a couple years ago (in addition to his "What has Islam contributed to mankind") that the Ancient Greeks were more complete philsophers than their postmodern brethren because the Greeks did not exclude any ideas from the conversation.

The postmodern political conversation does not permit any possible discussion of God, or anything else, for that matter, that does not originate from a human generated a=b+c kind of proposition. Modern philosophy fell apart when the next set of elites established that a=d+e. The next generation, unable to resolve the disrecpancy, simply proposed that a= had no solution at all other than what you wanted to give it at the time. This is where we are today.

C.S. Lewis nailed down the consequences of ignoring ancient wisdom in Men Without Chests. Lewis could have included Barack Hussein Obama by name.

2/28/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Chavo said...

I think it would be more appropriate to use Hobbes to define a conservatives' view of human nature rather than Locke. Hobbes famously said, men's lives are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" due to the inherent "state of nature".

Locke contributed to the political theory (among other things) giving rise to the French and American Revolutions. He was the imprimatur source for the declaration of independence.

Rousseau was the founder of the Romantic movement who was heavily influeced by John Locke. I do agree that Rousseau is the father of modern progressivism. I'm careful not to use liberalism because there is a distinction that is often overlooked today.

2/28/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"God the Knowable": category error

2/28/2008 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Chavo said...

From Wikipedia: On Hobbes

According to Hobbes' and canonical theory, the essence is as follows: Without society, we would live in a state of nature, where we each have unlimited natural freedoms. The downside of this general autonomy is that it includes the "right to all things" and thus the freedom to harm all who threaten one's own self-preservation; there are no positive rights, only laws of nature and an endless "war of all against all" (Bellum omnium contra omnes, Hobbes 1651). In other words, anyone in the state of nature can do anything he likes; but this also means that anyone can do anything he likes to anyone else. To avoid this, we jointly agree to a social contract by which we each gain civil rights in return for subjecting ourselves to civil law or to political authority. In Hobbes' formulation, the sovereign power is not a party of the contract but instead the sovereign is its creation; so it is not bound by it.

Again from Wikepedia on Locke:

Unlike Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance. Like Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature allowed men to be selfish. This is apparent with the introduction of currency. In a natural state all people were equal and independent, and none had a right to harm another’s “life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

Fundamentally, each man had a very different view of human nature. They both agreed that "sovereign states" were required but for different reasons, Hobbes to reign in man's passions, Locke as an arbiter to ensure men did not act in a selfish manner.

They also parted ways in that Hobbes believed the sovereign was above the social contract, whereas, Locke believed that because the sovereign was created as a social contract by the governed then it is accountable to the governed.

Giving it a bit more thought than my previoius post, it might be more precise to say that conservatives take a more Hobbesian view of human nature while ascribing to the political theory of governance of John Locke.

A perfect example of Hobbesian state of nature is Somalia.

Whew! It's been a long time since I dusted off the philosophy cobwebs.

2/28/2008 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Impeccably argued, gentlemen, almost worthy of Buckley. But don’t forget that today “God” can come in many forms. The Global Warming types clearly think they are purveyors of His word, as are the Professional Feminists, Race Lords, and many others; twenty years ago the Nuclear Winter people assumed this mantle. So “scientists” can be “God”, too.

In the Radical Islamics I think we have all the sincerity and piety of a TV Evangelist. They are running a scam for their own benefit and in order to ensure that the Masses get enough Opiate to keep them down – or at least pointed in the desired direction.

My years in a certain large 5-sided building led me to conclude that people are mostly motivated by their own self-interest. Worse, most of them cannot tell where what they believe ends and where what they need to believe to satisfy their desires begins. Add in the fact that any organization makes some attempt to match its own goals with those of its members and you have unanalyzable motivations as the norm. It all gets mixed up in the human mind, but strangely enough, the final course of action is inevitably what they wanted to do anyway.

2/28/2008 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

the final course of action is inevitably what they wanted to do anyway

The heart can guide the mind, but the mind can't guide the heart.

2/28/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger weswinger said...

This thread enables me to urge Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Paperback)
by Stephen R. C. Hicks upon Belmont Clubbers. It is a very dense exploration of the subject by a leading Objectivist philosopher. The important thing is that he provides the reader a context to understand all of the Left's strategies.

2/28/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

Rousseau, Nietzsche and Plato were materialists. The materialist view of man is that he is only an animal, albeit a highly evolved and mostly intelligent one.

John Locke and our founding fathers were theists, and believed that man is made in the image of God, and is endowed with irreversible human rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Of logical necessity, the materialist view of man results in reversible human rights which come from government; and so in the end, they are not really human rights - they are government endowed privileges.

The view of man as having a divine nature and divinely ordained and irreversible human rights leads to liberty and justice. The materialist view of man leads to totalitarianism and injustice.

This irreconcilable conflict regarding the nature of man and the nature of just government power has lead to war over and over, and will do so again in the future.

I'll take my stand with my dad who fought the forces of totalitarianism in WWII, and with our founding fathers who did so in their day. I'll fight for my freedom and that of my children and their children.

2/28/2008 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I never realized that FDR was a fascist. I always though he was on the other side. And what about Churchill? He started out as a liberal.

So let's see here:

Hitler = Fascist.
Mussolini = Fascist.
Stalin = Fascist.
Ito = Fascist.
FDR = Fascist.
Churchill = reformed Fascist
Charles Lindbergh = Comservative.

How patriotic of Goldberg to call one of our best Presidents a Fascist.

2/28/2008 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

This is a great thread and I enjoy reading it.

My $.02 worth. Since I have returned to the sources of Catholic theology, and recent strides in cosmology, astrophysics, and mathematics have so enabled it to be revived, the cosmological argument for the existence of an Intelligent Creator (albeit the original argument has be nuanced by what modern science has unfolded)informs us that the human being receives his and her nature from this Creator. We ARE therefore endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights (and responsibilities, in the Catholic tradition anyway)so as to act as moral agents in our world. The state exists to defend what is already ours. It does not give them to us. When it ceases to perform this function, we may overthrow it and replace it.

I used to be Rouseauian in my outlook in my revisionist Marxist days, which is to say I used to believe the man is naturally good. The fact is that life and experience have disabused me of that notion. Moreover, I used to believe that the right structures for society would create a moral human being. History has shown that to be false, to my satisfaction. In point of fact, what we have observed about the various socialist/totalitarian societies that do exist and have existed conclusively demonstrates that these have not created a new moral human being. Quite the reverse. And more to the point, structures cannot achieve this, since there are flaws in human beings - some of them hideously evil - that derive from events at the level of genes and proteins that can predispose some individuals to monstrous evil. In my view, because of this, I can only conclude that there is a titanic battle going on at the cosmic level between God and Satan that we can only dimly perceive, let alone understand.

And so we are in need of grace - for those of us who are not so fatally flawed at the genetic and neurological level, so that we can be more than thugs and brutes.

Between Plato and Aristotle, I choose Aristotle. Not that he's the whole kit and caboodle, because no one philosopher has it all. It's just that Plato's perfection of ideas is a bit farther than what we are capable of. In fact, some of what feeds totalitarian instincts is an unbalanced drive for perfection. This world is not perfect. We are not perfect. There can be no perfect society. Utopianism should be dead by now, but it is demonstrably a faith and not a science. And a misplaced faith at that. It is premised on the fact that if one can only demolish particularity, and cram it into a mold that one powerful enough enforces, then we can bring heaven to earth and God (or Allah)marks the end of history.

I've learned that it is better to patiently await the moment we leave this world in order to enter God's house, rather than to delude ourselves into thinking we can put God into our house. And to spend our lives here, balancing our pursuit of our own ends with a moral sense of caring for others too. There is joy in that. A lot of people find happiness in that way.

I haven't yet read Jonah Goldberg's book and need to buy it. I remember 30 years ago when I first began to dabble in Marxist analysis. It was heady stuff, but I was always aware that the other side was putting up some serious arguments against it, and I always took them seriously. It would have been unthinkable, to me, to see conservatives cut off and shut up, but I do remember people who wanted that done. Now, some of them who went into academic careers are doing exactly that. They are caught up in a religious zeal. There is nothing rational about it. And for many of us who left the Left, when, beginning in the late nineties when Islamic jihad was really becoming more obstreperous, the Left began to show solidarity with the head choppers those of us who evolved away from Marxism knew we had made the right choice. And we all burned our bridges after 9/11. For me, there is no going back, since I cannot see what there is to go back to on the Left.

At this juncture in history, the totalitarians are making common cause against liberty. Even if the alliance is an uneasy one, it is still an alliance of common interests. The Left now persecutes the Jews and Israel, and gives tacit approval of Islam's desire to wipe the Jews out. Hajj Amin al Husseini was a Nazi lapdog in the Middle East and the Balkans, baying for the blood of the Jews. There is no significant difference between Nazism, Communism, and Islam. They have their own unique quirks, to be sure, but they share the passion to bring the world back to the zero point.

2/28/2008 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Kevin, your confusion is probably the result of years of hearing the word "fascist" as a slang rather than as a technical term.

"He is a dog" doesn't mean he is a dog, though dogs do exist.

Never a good idea to devalue words that may be needed later.

2/28/2008 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Fred, what model are you using for the starting point of your reasoning? Open, Closed, Steady state, other?

2/28/2008 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

It may not be a closed universe, but it definitely is becoming a closed-minded universe.

2/28/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

"God the Knowable"

"What God is in Himself," "God and his mysteries as they are in themselves"--the phrases have a Kantian ring. But if Kant was right(Kant and old fools like Herbert Spencer) and the Thing in Itself is unknowable, Bourgoing, De Condren and all the other masters of the spiritual life were engaged in a wild goose chase. But Kant was right only as regards minds that have not yet come to enlightenment and deliverance. To such minds Reality, whether material, psychic or spiritual, presents itself as it is darkened, tinged and refracted by the medium of their own individual natures. But in those who are pure in heart and poor in spirit there is no distortion of Reality, because there is no separate selfhood to obscure or refract, no painted lantern slide of intellectual beliefs and hallowed imagery to give a personal historical coloring to the "white radiance of Eternity."....The Thing in Itself can be perceived--but only by one who, in himself, is nothing.

Perennial Philosophy, Huxley

I never tire of reading this.

2/28/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

... "de-weaponizing" the numinous ...


I suspect that's exactly what the Founders had in mind.

2/28/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Kevin what is Fascism?

Fascism subsumes EVERYTHING into state direction and control.

From Wikipedia:
"Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers the individual subordinate to the interests of the state, party or society as a whole. Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, racial, religious attributes. Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: patriotism, nationalism, statism, militarism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, corporatism, populism, collectivism, autocracy and opposition to political and economic liberalism."
FDR certainly had many of these attributes in the New Deal and Mussolini admired FDR's approach to the Depression and said so many times. For example FDR's National Recovery Act had price-setting by unelected national boards. If that's not corporatism I don't know what is. One tailor went to jail for pressing pants cheaper than the listed prices.

Certainly TODAY much of Hillary Clinton's and Barack Hussein Obama's program consists of corporatism ala the National Recovery Act, or handing over education policy de jure to NEA, etc. Populism and collectivism rule both candidates, from it "takes a village" to the holding of a "Muslim Summit" where the US would do what "Muslim Leaders" demand.

I would not call FDR or Hillary or Obama a "fascist" but I would acknowledge that they have many elements of Fascism, particularly their deep antipathy to a "liberal" society with limits on government and areas where government does not tread. Hillary and Barack Hussein Obama both agree that the 2nd Amendment must be tossed aside for pressing government needs. Hillary (and FDR) both sought to restore some "golden age" of America that existed only in myth. Barack Hussein Obama promises to "redeem" America by his "holy" presence.

Barack Hussein Obama is the definition of a cult of personality. Hillary not so much.

Part of the Fascist inheritance of the Democratic Party is the mutation of attitudes towards America, American patriotism and nationalism. Mussolini type fascism had no trouble expressing love of nation, etc. Democrats by and large loathe America, because it is not perfect, and hate all it's symbols, values, and so on. Almost NO Democrat would consider himself a patriot (he'd take it as an insult) nor would he consider any aspect of American Patriotism or the Nation worth preserving. The Flag embarrasses him or disgusts him or both.

What Democrats have done is substitute various international institutions for AMERICA. Thus the UN is preferred to America. The Flag disdained in favor of Fidel, or Che, or the flag of Iran, or Ahmadinejad, or some other symbol or man or what have you. The more the enemy of the US, the better. Their collectivist urgings are found in "international institutions" which free of "American taint" are thought to be both "better" but also planetary in scope.

This is why Barack Hussein Obama, Obamathemessiah! is essentially running for World President.

He is of course a dangerous man. A fool like Mussolini (who he shares many, many traits including idolizing a past that never existed and dreams of a utopian world empire). He is also very dangerous. Because he's a fool.

A man like Franco could be odious. Disgusting. Or Pinochet. Brutal and tyrannical. But ultimately, a danger only to their citizens and inhabitants. Because they were not fools, and understood the limits of the power of their people, nation, and state.

Men like Mussolini or Obama listen to the hype and rhetoric and BELIEVE it. They believe they can restore the Roman Empire, or make some magical World Kingdom of Talk and Negotiations.

2/28/2008 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger reoconnot said...

Nice post Pangloss. I feel like I'm in a dream when I listen to Obama except in my dream he is the most vacuous speaker I have ever heard. And I'm shocked that few see him as I do.

And then I hear some conservative rave about how articulate he is. And I'm even more shocked. And I then I worry that my dream will become a nightmare.

It's as if the whole country is attending a Jim Jones rally. And I'm on the outside looking in.

I find everything about this guy iccky, from his naivite about security, to his smugness, to the way he dances with Ellen D.

He's creepy. When Nixon lied, at least he sweated.

2/29/2008 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger mouse said...

"I had a dream about Barack Obama..." Nice writing, pretty mean though. I first read it several hours ago and it stayed in my mind. Several hours of the image of the vacuous one staying in my mind. That is mean.

And in somewhat of the same nature of what you should not do to people who like to read your stuff:

"But the price of putting God on earth is dragging Him through the mud of politics. If one truly believes that God looks like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama one eventually comes to the view that the Almighty isn't everything He's cracked up to be."

Wow, Hillary as Goddess. I think my spirit has been damaged.

It is true though, that the totalitarian impulse of the left only deifies it's dear leader momentarily, the true deity being the state; so if Hillary is elevated to divinity at least when she passes it will be as mummified and the new vibrancy of Godhead will descend to the next in line... probably Obama.

This is a night for bad dreams.

Actually, Hillary has a great wholesomeness: she's a shrew, and every body knows it. I think that's going to cut down on her beatitude. About Barack though I don't know. I try to understand things empathetically but I just can't catch the charm... Perhaps it's not that he's granted deification by his audience but that to his audience he grants deification: In mass we are all not so much godly, but Gods...? I just can't see anybody following him anywhere except into euphoria.

This whole primary season is very strange, but I don't think Barack is either Mussolini or Jim Jones, I think he's more like Elvis without the energy.

2/29/2008 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Let's not forget the totalitarian/facist nature of the right - particularly the religious right, and to a lesser extent the military right. For that matter we can also jump on the totalitarian nature of the fiscal right. It's my way or the highway baby.

Kinda silly in the end all this blather about liberal fascism especially if you take into account the nature of the use of force in fascism.


fas·cism /ˈfæʃɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[fash-iz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3. (initial capital letter) a fascist movement, esp. the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.

2/29/2008 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel Frank said...

This thesis is best spelled out in Thomas Sowell's brilliant book, "A Conflict of Visions". This book should be one of the foundational texts of any conservative's (or classica liberal's) library.

2/29/2008 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger shivermetimbers said...

In his work, "The Drama of Atheist Humanism," Henri De Lubac traces the origin of 19th century attempts to construct a humanism apart from God (Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Comte, etc.,) leading to the worst forms of despotism.

It is interesting that, according to Lubac, Dostoevsky was the only one who really responded to this ideology.

He wrote, "The revolutionary socialists are the heirs of the Western school, embraced atheism. 'To annihilate God' is the first point in their program and the first watch word spread abroad by their tracts. No longer contenting themselves with a vague belief in progress, they undertake to build up humanity without God."

The first phase of this work is destructive: destruction of the old society and especially destruction of everything that owes its origin to faith in God. Not only is heaven emptied, but man is secularized.

Dostoevsky pointed out that there were two atheistic socialistic strains. He refers to this new 'Tower of Babel,' which is being built without God, not to reach heaven from earth, but to bring heaven down to earth. If it is not God who is helping man to build this tower, than who is?

"The tower of Babel will certainly remain unfinished like the first one." the Grand Inquisitor says to himself. "After toiling a thousand years at it, men will come and seek us out, and it will be for us to finish it." Of the two atheistic formulas, Dostoevsky recognized, the first was the subject of "The Possessed" and the second was set forth by the Grand Inquisitor, created by Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov.

But, having freed himself from God, will man be so very free after all?

"You gave men still more freedom instead of taking it from them: Had you forgotten that, rather than freedom to choose between good and evil, man wants peace - though it be the peace of death." The Grand Inquisitor speaks.

In this excellent book, Lubac shows that atheism i its various forms is bankrupt, making for disintegration and enslavement and leading to suicide, collective and individual, physical and mental.

The great thinker George Weigel writes about the French theologian who has done a lot of thinking about the decline of Europe:

Henri de Lubac was one of 20th-century Catholicism's most distinguished theologians. Like other Europeans who had witnessed the Continent's travail during the first four and a half decades of the century, Father de Lubac was haunted by the question, "What happened?" Or, perhaps more to the point, "Why had what happened, happened?"

Father de Lubac was fascinated by the history of ideas, which he knew to be fraught with "real world" consequences. Thus, during the early 1940s, he turned his attention to some of the most influential intellectual figures in pre-20th century European culture. The result was a book, "The Drama of Atheistic Humanism" ["Le Drame de l'humanisme athée"], which argued that the civilizational crisis in which Europe found itself during World War II was the product of a deliberate rejection of the God of the Bible in the name of authentic human liberation.

This, de Lubac suggested, was a great reversal. In the classical world, the gods, or Fate, played games with men and women, often with lethal consequences. In the face of these experiences, the revelation of the God of the Bible -- the self-disclosure in history of the one God who was neither a willful tyrant (to be avoided) nor a carnivorous predator (to be appeased) nor a remote abstraction (to be safely ignored) -- was perceived as a great liberation. Human beings were neither the playthings of the gods nor the passive victims of Fate. Because they could have access to the one true God through prayer and worship, those who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus could bend history in a humane direction. History was thus an arena of responsibility and purpose.

Yet what biblical man had perceived as liberation, the proponents of atheistic humanism perceived as bondage. Human freedom could not co-exist with the God of Jews and Christians. Human greatness required rejecting the biblical God, according to atheistic humanism.

This, Father de Lubac argued, was something new. This was not the atheism of skeptical individuals. This was atheistic humanism -- atheism with a developed ideology and a program for remaking the world. As a historian of ideas, de Lubac knew that bad ideas can have lethal consequences. At the heart of the darkness inside the great mid-20th century tyrannies [of] communism, fascism, Nazism, Father de Lubac discerned the lethal effects of the marriage between modern technology and the ideas borne by atheistic humanism.

He summed up the results of this misbegotten union in these terms: "It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true is that, without God, he can only organize it against man." That is what the tyrannies of the mid-20th century had proven -- ultramundane humanism is inevitably inhuman humanism. And inhuman humanism cannot neither sustain nor defend the democratic project. It can only undermine it or attack it. .

2/29/2008 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

You people are so disappointing, especially when it comes to a knowledge of philosophical stuff.

Locke is the guy who was paralysed but was able to get up and WALK after the plane crash on the Island.

Rousseau is the French lady who had a child with the leader of the "others."

C'mon, guys! Pay attention!

What? You mean this isn't the "LOST" fan site?


Never mind.

2/29/2008 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Mouse said in an earlier comment: "...I don't think Barack is either Mussolini or Jim Jones, I think he's more like Elvis without the energy."

The sway of Elvis is not to be under-estimated. It was noted about a decade after his untimely death that he had already made more money DEAD than he had during his life. And I have seen with my own eyes that there are individuals who have constructed actual shrines in their homes to the memory of Elvis, and PRAYER GROUPS, fer Pete's sake, that pray in his name as if he were a saint whose persistent spirit would intercede with the Deity for them.

Boy, if Barack Hussein can tap into that sort of power source, he'd be UNSTOPPABLE.

2/29/2008 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

If you do not have the book here is the author's NRO feature article and the best Liberal Fascism Summary I've seen on the net.

The book is near or at #1 on the NYT Bestseller List. You gotta' love it when something comes out of the blue to give instant angina to Lefties everywhere. I may like "liberal fascist" even better than the old "commie" moniker.

2/29/2008 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Murky in the detail recollection, but author Jonah Goldberg's mom Lucianne had some major role in breaking the Lewinsky affair. Some family -- generation after generation, pumping clean air into the swamp fog of Cloud-Cukoo-Land.

2/29/2008 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...


Don't project leftie mindlessness onto Jonah Goldberg. You said he "called FDR a fascist". Not. Lefties call folks who disagree with them fascists (hat tip to Joe Stalin, who started the trend), and preen themselves that they've won some sort of heavy intellectual honors.

Goldberg (since you obviously haven't read the book) first lays out what fascism is, according to the blokes who invented it.

Then he shows how much New Deal thinking (statism, autocracy, trashing Constitutional limitation of government intrusion into individual rights) was taken from fascist thinking, and how much the fascists themselves admired the New Deal.

You ought to try some reading once in a while, it's broadening.

2/29/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Speaking of Elvis impersonators…

Why not have a rhetorical version of American Idol, but where the entire point of the competition is to make a speech that is both as uplifting and as vacuous as humanly possible? The idea is to make the speech so simple a six-year-old can understand it, lace it with emotional buzzwords to melt the hearts of the audience, and fill it with empty platitudes to make people feel warm and fuzzy. Points are deducted for actual content, while points are added for any rhetorical similarity to Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

I do wonder if today’s fans of Obama are yesterday’s fans of Barney.

For that matter, has anybody ever tried to play buzzword bingo on an Obama speech?

2/29/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ultra interesting!

2/29/2008 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Folks, look at it this way.

Another way to look at what Jonah Goldberg says in his book is how I saw it explained back around 1985.

Take a blackboard and draw a horizontal line on it. All the way to the Right end mark that “Anarchy.” Anarchy as in you get off the boat, hike into the unpopulated woods of the New World, cut down trees and build a cabin, and generally survive and live however you can.

At the Left end of the line write “Ant Colony.” All actions are either Mandatory or Forbidden.

Right of Ant Colony you will have 1960’s Albania and Red China, then the USSR, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, etc. in that order, the Soviets being somewhat to the Right of Mao’s China but to The Left of the Nazis.

Over on the Right side of the board the next thing after Anarchy is probably the Old American West, followed by, say, the 13 Colonies, and so on.

Now, FDR is certainly to the Right of the Nazis but he sure is well Left of George Washington. Ronald Reagan is Left of George Washington and probably Left of TR Roosevelt. GW Bush is Left of Reagan but probably to the right of GHW Bush. I don’t know whether, say, LBJ is Left of FDR – very probably. I guess that Jonah argues that Wilson was Left of FDR by some degree.

When you try to put the Nazis to the Right of FDR and the USSR to his Left as Kevin and many others try to do – well, it does not work, logically.

Insuf Sensitive: Have you read “FDR’s Folly?” That’s a good one.

2/29/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Buddy - Here's the Wikipedia entry on Lucianne G. - Don't know much about her myself but this entry suggests that her life-story is something less that breath of fresh air. Check that Nixon connection and her publishing history - "Madame Cleo's Girls" etc. Sounds pretty foul actually...Would've let this go - but thought you might be interested so...Best, b.

Her career started at the Washington Post in 1957 followed by a year working at the Democratic National Committee in 1960. She became a consultant to the White House staff under President Kennedy in 1961 for two years. She set up Cummings and Associates in 1963.

Decades later, Jeffrey Toobin's book A Vast Conspiracy alleged that Goldberg claimed to friends that she had an affair with Lyndon Johnson while working in the White House. [1] After Goldberg threatened Random House with a libel suit, a Washington Post writer claimed he and others overheard her bragging about an affair with Vice President Hubert Humphrey as well. Goldberg denied both affairs and denied telling any such stories. [2]

In 1966, she married Sidney Goldberg, an editor at the news syndicate North American Newspaper Alliance and Lucianne Goldberg did occasional freelance work for the syndicate. During the 1972 presidential campaign she joined the press corps covering candidate George McGovern, claiming to be a reporter for the Women's News Service, an affiliate of NANA. In fact, she was paid $1000 a week by Richard Nixon operative Murray Chotiner for regular reports about happenings on the campaign trail. She said "They were looking for really dirty stuff...Who was sleeping with who, what the Secret Service men were doing with the stewardesses, who was smoking pot on the plane--that sort of thing." [3] [4]

Goldberg set up her own literary agency in 1972. One of her clients, celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley, sued Goldberg in 1983, charging breach of contract, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty over proceeds from Kelley's book on Elizabeth Taylor. The jury awarded Kelley $60,000, but the judge reduced the award to $40,000 and dismissed the ruling of fraud. [5]

She published her first book, Purr Baby Purr, in 1970, which was a critique of feminism. Goldberg started writing a column called "Footlights of Broadway", syndicated by NANA. Goldberg published her first novel, Friends in High Places co-written with Sondra Robinson, in 1979. Her first solo novel Madame Cleo's Girls, a story of three call girls, was published in 1992, followed by People Will Talk in 1994. Goldberg has also ghostwritten the steamy novel Washington Wives (1987) for Maureen Dean (wife of Watergate figure John Dean), among other works.[6]

[edit] Clinton scandal
Please help improve this article or section by expanding it.
Further information might be found on the talk page or at requests for expansion. (January 2007)

Goldberg met Linda Tripp in the early part of the Clinton administration while assisting an author writing a book on Vince Foster. Tripp spoke with Goldberg resulting in Lewinsky bringing the tapes to her in 1997. [7] Goldberg also urged Tripp to take the tapes to Kenneth Starr and brought the tapes to the attention of people working on the Paula Jones case. [8] She started speaking to reporters about the tapes in the fall of 1997, notably to Michael Isikoff of Newsweek. [9] Within days of the scandal breaking on the Drudge Report, the Democratic National Committee circulated an "information sheet" to reporters with information intended to damage Goldberg. [10] Goldberg spoke at an anti-Clinton rally organised by the Free Republic.

Although Goldberg was deeply involved in the Lewinsky scandal, Starr never subpoenaed her to testify in front of the Grand Jury. Starr never explained why he did not subpoena her.

[edit] Commentator
Following the impeachment scandal, Goldberg has launched a conservative internet forum called is similar in format to the Free Republic; Goldberg was a prominent poster on Free Republic but (according to Free Republic) she had a dispute with the forum's founder, Jim Robinson, over the direction of the forum. Goldberg sought a forum to promote the Republican Party while Robinson sought to promote American conservatism regardless of party affiliation. Thus, Goldberg and several others left Free Republic and was born.[11]

Though the forum does not allow "Articles from hate group sites such as KKK, Aryan Nation, American Nazi Party, etc." [12], it has been criticized for racist comments posted on its forums. Mark Lane, founder of the now defunct website, complained about the website's content to the US Marines, prompting them to pull their advertising from the site. [13]

Goldberg also launched a talk radio program.

[edit] Family
Goldberg's first marriage, to her high school sweetheart William Cummings, lasted three years before they separated in 1960. In 1966 she married Sidney Goldberg, an executive with a New York features syndicate; he died in 2005. Goldberg is the mother of political commentator Jonah Goldberg and Joshua Goldberg. Although Goldberg is an Episcopalian, her sons were raised in their father's Jewish faith.

2/29/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

benj -- the wiki authors for sure have her dressed out as a no-holds-barred muckracker.

Muckracking being the ordinary careers of so many DC denizens, what's amazing is that through such a hostile field someone could advance himself all the way up to President of the USA, and yet could still also have so few compunctions about handing out, for so paltry and personal a return, such ready-wrapped-on-a-silver-platter, nation-paralyzing, Oval Office-besmirching, teach-the-world's-children-about-oral-sex, lit-fuse dynamite.

2/29/2008 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

...when God is invoked, it is always as our understanding of Him rather than as God Himself.

Very nice, Wretchard.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident" is what elevates the Declaration from mere sophistry and assertion. Our common ground is our shared philosophy of God [and thereby man's essential qualities], not God Himself.

And of course, when the moderns separate God from man's rights, they obliterate the common ground, the mutual understanding, the bedrock of the Founding.

2/29/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

I'm not a squeamish type, but if I ever met Mrs. G., I'd head for a bath quickly...Hope the apple fell far from the tree, but it doesn't appear that's the case. Haven't read the book - but the title is Orwellian. JS Mill = Fascist? He could get away with "pogressive Fascism" or "Corporate Liberal Fasicsm" - EArly 20 Cent progs were notoriosly anti-democratic. They often FEARED populism and, ah, IMMIGRANTS! Big on City Managers as opposed to direct elections etc. Evidence of all that was offered by New Left Historians decades back. Back in the 70s, Christopher Lasch assigned my class an anthology - was the title "New Leviathan"? - that included good (though slightly tendentious) Marxist analyses of American "corporate liberalism" side by side with libertarian critiques by cats like Murray Rothbard (who flirted with the left in the 60s before returning to the Cato fold. I wonder if Jonah cites him/them. In any case, his thesis doesn't sound strikingly original. It's all in the treatment, of course, but (again) that Orwellian title isn't promising...

2/29/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

benj, it's #1 on the NYTimes bestseller list. I haven't read it so won't presume to analyze it, but you -- being as you are a defender of the judgment of the people -- must admit he is onto something.

2/29/2008 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jrod said...

"Liberal Fascism" as a term was coined by H.G. Wells, as I learned from PB's informative link.

Well done Mad Fiddler re: Locke, Rousseau, Lost. I paid attention for a while, at least until the show "lost" me.

2/29/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

Benj, certainly others have mined the same vein that Jonah Goldberg mined with LF. Look at the Skarbutts blog that I indexed for one big serving of very smart writings on the same subject. I've written a few things along the same lines myself, mostly prior to the release of LF.

To your characterization of Liberal Fascism as Orwellian language (presumably with Orwellian language defined as obviously oxymoronic phrases of confused morality); I'd counter that Orwell was himself opposed to both Communism and Fascism precisely because they were equally wrong to his mind. He would not have seen them as opposites, rather as ideological brothers who were rivals because they both wished to conquer the same territory for their empire. Along another line, most of the people whom Stalin had killed in the purges were Socialists and Communists, does that make him an anti-Communist Fascist, or does it prove that Communists, like Fascists, eat their own?

Both fascists and communists descend from Rousseau via Darwin, Nietzsche, and Karl Marx. Both reject Christian morality and embrace moral relativism and the will to power, believe that individual and group rights are granted by the government (rather than the classical liberal statement that rights emanate from the Creator and must be protected from Government interference), censor and disarm their populations, and believe in centralized management of the serf economy rather than the uncontrollable fecundity of free market capitalism.

And another thing, fiscal conservatives can stick to their convictions without being totalitarian. Stopping government spending on charity does not prevent people from supplying private charity. But government seizure of money for government charity does prevent people from supplying private charity. By this comparison, fiscal conservatism is demonstrably less totalitarian than taxation for charitable purposes, because it allows freedoms to individuals that are taken away by the nanny government.

2/29/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

- - and Plato were materialists. The materialist view of man is that he is only an animal, albeit a highly evolved and mostly intelligent one.

Plato a materialist? Somebody's pulling a leg.

2/29/2008 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Also meant to mention on a previous thread, benj, that the model you extoll, of ''worker ownership of the means of production'' is not 'scary' at all, but is in fact the familiar American story of upward mobility thru individual effort -- of a work life, even as a salaryman, of entrepreneurial labor.

You are right re the Founders' radicalism--how else would a nation a mere 200 years old have 95% employment, 3% interest rates, and 70% worker home-ownership?

And even the capitalist-icon corporate sector is wide open to to worker ownership, via freely-traded shares in all "public" corporations.

Given all that, one wonders about the advocacy of "more' worker ownership -- how, besides what we're already doing, is that to be effected?

Through expropriation of others' property--others who strive to better themselves in large part because their labor's results will be safe?

2/29/2008 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

''worker ownership of the means of production''

That's what small farming is all about.

2/29/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Kevin said...

I never realized that FDR was a fascist. I always though he was on the other side. And what about Churchill? He started out as a liberal.

So let's see here:

Hitler = Fascist.
Mussolini = Fascist.
Stalin = Fascist.
Ito = Fascist.
FDR = Fascist.
Churchill = reformed Fascist
Charles Lindbergh = Comservative.

How patriotic of Goldberg to call one of our best Presidents a Fascist.
Jacob's son Joseph was no communist. In Exodus we learn that the pharaoh had turned the Hebrews into slaves. But before Genesis ends Joseph turned the Egyptians into slaves of the pharaoh. The relationship of the Egyptians to the pharaoh was pretty much the same as that between russians and stalin.

Genesis 47:18-24 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, "We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate."

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh's, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, [a] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, "Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children."

2/29/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

There's no sign in Egyptian records of the Israelits ever having been in Egypt. Which doesn't meant they weren't there, of course. But does mean Bible stories ought to be taken with salt.

2/29/2008 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Maybe during the time of the Hyksos, 'who ruled without Re.'
Then a new pharoah arose, 'who knew Joseph not.'
"Go Down, Moses,
Way Down To Egypt Land
Tell Old Pharoah
Set My People Free"

2/29/2008 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I, too, was stunned to read that Plato was a materialist.

Today's totalitarianisms (and one old one that is 1,400 years old)do not descend from any one thinker (except for Islam, which is Muhammad's creation). These ideologies are composite creations, in which intellectual and psychological features are interchangeably used in a variety of recipes. Their net effect is the abnegation of the individual living in liberty. All of them, including Islam, I consider to be demonic - hideously evil, malforming the human being and create cadres of leaders who, lacking authentic moral restraint, engage in all the worst sins that man can indulge.

About the idea of workers owning the means of production... this is not such a simple thing as many would believe. In my Marxist days I was very enthusiastic about this idea. And even today I have some residual enthusiasm for that idea, but I don't see it as the magic bullet to assuage people's sense of insecurity.

All products and industries go through cycles, from the early, entrepreneurial stage to early growth through the mid cycles of profitability and on to the mature stage, where profit margins are under pressure from competitors and when incremental gains in growth in earnings typically are gleaned from cost-control measures. Even a company that is owned by all the workers can never escape this cycle. And you cope with the cycle by continual proactive planning to bring newer ideas and products to market, to keep the company going.

I didn't learn this idea until I went through graduate business school - a place where most politicians and lawyers (who often are pols too)never go. So, they have a static, zero-sum view of the world. I cannot emphasize enough that capitalism cannot retain its dynamic propensity for growth without RISK. That is why risk must be rewarded. When you go down the road of using tax policy to punish risk, you choke off economic growth and vitality.

Both of the Democratic Party candidates have a zero-sum view of the world. They are, at heart, redistributionists, and thus do not wish to see stockholders rewarded above and beyond the wage earner.

But now most Americans are shareholders, directly owning stocks or via mutual funds. If either of these candidates become POTUS and they alter the equation unfavorably for those whose pensions hold equities, you can be sure that there will eventually be a reckoning for those politicians who hew to the redistributionist philosophy.

2/29/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

bobal, there's a cable tv show -- i think it's on the history channel -- called "The Naked Archaeologist" -- this Canadian scholar/documentary producer, Simcha Jacobovici, sifts through biblical history from unexpected angles -- lots on interviews with local Levantine historians and such. Anyhoo, one of his shows "The Exodus Decoded" is absolutely mind-blowing -- do a search, you can probably find a synopsis. I won't characterize his finds and conjectures as 'evidence' but it sure is interesting -- and imho plausible enough, in a good, open way, to get one's rapt attention.

2/29/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger bobal said...

There's no sign in Egyptian records of the Israelits ever having been in Egypt. Which doesn't meant they weren't there, of course. But does mean Bible stories ought to be taken with salt.

2/29/2008 04:56:00 PM

Its true that before the 10th century BC or before King David--the records are sketchy--but these days hardly a year goes by without someone translating the libraries or deciphering inscriptions of adjacent kingdoms to Israel and finding mention of characters also mentioned in the bible.

2/29/2008 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I think a lot of stuff in the Bible is historical. I agree, lots of new finds all the time. A decade or more ago the bone box of Caiaphas was found. I'd be the last guy to say it's all made out of clothe, I didn't mean to imply that. On the other hand, I'm doubting the ark is on Ararat.

2/29/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

And I doubt any self respecting Egyptian pharoah, other than an alien Hyksos perhaps, would hire an Israelite to run the show.

2/29/2008 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

----I never realized that FDR was a fascist. I always though he was on the other side. And what about Churchill? He started out as a liberal.

Poor Kevin. He's so confused. Why don't you just post on the E! site. They are discussing Brittany Spears again tonite.

2/29/2008 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Lorenzo said...

Goldberg's thesis is fundamentally silly. At the core of Fascism is the glorification of conflict and violence for its own sake and its expression of superior Will.

To damn US liberals for being foolishly dovish is to say how Fascist they are not.

The Fascism/Nazism analogues of our time are Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda and the jihadis. US liberals typically don't understand them precisely because -- however collectivist, however fond of state coercion they are -- US liberals typically fail to understand the mentality which glorifies violence and conflict for its own sake and which sees politics as a matter of superior Will.

Thinking you can win people over by talking to them, being nice, not being threatening, is so unFascist it's not funny. Though this thread has thrown up some important points: regarding the original thesis, could we move on please.

2/29/2008 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

---At the core....expression of superior Will.

Goldberg does not damn liberals for being dovish, and recounts at length 'liberal's' assumption of superior will..

Here are some of my favorite examples...

We will take things away from you on behalf of the common good.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., this morning left open the possibility that, if elected, her government would garnish the wages of people who didn't comply with her health care plan.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the internment with Executive Order 9066, which allowed local military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones", from which "any or all persons may be excluded." This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast...

Some compensation for property losses was paid in 1948, but most internees were unable to fully recover their losses

One of the most controversial New Deal policies was the seizure of citizens’ gold.[2]... In 1933, when Roosevelt became president, the United States had the largest gold reserves of any nation in the world. He announced on March 8, 1933, a few days after taking office, that the gold standard was safe. But three days later, he issued an executive order forbidding gold payments by banks; Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., announced on March 11 that “the provision is aimed at those who continue to retain quantities of gold and thereby hinder the Government’s plans for a restoration of public confidence.”[3] Thus, according to Morgenthau, any limit on government power was bad for public confidence.

Fear of devaluation spurred a panic, which Roosevelt invoked to justify seizing people’s gold. On April 5, 1933, Roosevelt commanded all citizens to surrender their gold to the government.

Special counsel John C. Danforth was amazed that most Americans were willing to believe, without evidence, that the government intentionally burned up a group of its citizens at Waco, Texas, in 1993. Danforth said that amount of mistrust, revealed in a poll last September, undermines the fundamental bargain of American democracy -- that government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. But in his 10-month investigation of the Waco siege, Danforth also concluded that the government itself was partly at fault for the mistrust. When it came to telling what really happened at Waco, the government was its own worst enemy.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/ July 23, 2000
By William H. Freivogel And Terry Ganey

Wilson, "a friend of free speech in theory," David M. Kennedy has written, "was its foe in fact." He signed the Espionage Act of 1917, which imposed fines of up to $10,000 and jail sentences ranging to 20 years on persons convicted of aiding the enemy or obstructing recruiting, and he authorized the postmaster general to ban from the mails any material that seemed treasonable or seditious. In May 1918, again with Wilson's approval, Congress passed the Sedition Act, which made "saying anything" to discourage the purchase of war bonds a crime. The law also made it illegal to "utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the government, the Constitution, or the uniform of the army or navy. Socialist periodicals were suppressed, and Eugene V. Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison for making an antiwar speech. Ricardo Flores Magon, an anarchist, fishing a statement criticizing Wilson's Mexican policy, an issue that had nothing to do with the war.

These laws went far beyond what was necessary to protect the national interest. Citizens were jailed for suggesting that the draft law was unconstitutional and for criticizing private organizations like the Red Cross and the YMCA. One woman was sent to prison for writing: "I am for the people, and the government is for the profiteers."

Goldberg says 175,000 were jailed. Perhaps you can prove him wrong

2/29/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I simply can't resist -- a very timely liberal expression of Superior will, with a Jonah Goldberg and a presidential politics tie in from another Belmont Club thread.....

'Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon."

This excerpt from William Ayers' memoir appeared in the New York Times on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 -- a few hours before Al Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ayers, once a leader in the Weather Underground -- the group that declared "war" on the U.S. government in 1970 -- told the Times, "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough."

Ayers recently reappeared in the news because reported Friday that Barack Obama has loose ties to him. ... I don't think Obama supports domestic terrorism, and I'm sure he can offer eloquent explanations for why he shouldn't suffer any guilt by association. ...

2/29/2008 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

As far as gentle folk being congenitally indisposed toward fascist behavior, that's a pretty weak myth in light of the well known antics of the left over the years since Florida 2000.

It even has a name, BDS, which refers to an early stage of the same sort of irrational demonizing behavior in which likewise and otherwise reasonable folk engaged in late 20s & early 30s Europe.

Besides, every movement is on best behavior (no matter how bad that best behavior might be) during the early phase, before it gains power.

2/29/2008 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Like a pretty girl seeking a rich husband.

2/29/2008 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

So do we have the proper oppositions in order?

Man is the measure of all things.
God is the measure of all things.

How can both be true?

I think this was the internal question of the 1st millenium bc. It was symbolized in the tales of God's mating with mortals to produce cyclops, centaurs, minatours in greek mythology or elephant men in Indian mythology.

Jesus resolved the issue by himself being both fully God and fully Man.

Great men can hold seemingly contradictory positions in their head and still function. Most of us cannot. So most Christians in practice go back and forth from on position to the other.

3/01/2008 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger bobal said...

And I doubt any self respecting Egyptian pharaoh, other than an alien Hyksos perhaps, would hire an Israelite to run the show.

2/29/2008 06:15:00 PM
Jewish representation in the Russian communist party was second only to the Russians themselves. The politburo itself was heavily weighted towards Russian jews during Stalin's reign. However, during his last years he initiated the doctor's plot. Had he not died he would have purged the party of jews and exiled Russia's jewish population to Siberia--or worse. Khrushchev first purged jewish Russians from the politburo and his successors finished the job.

the storyline of the rise & fall of Russian jews has marked similarities to that of joseph/pharaoh/moses. Even small details like the communists embalming of Lenin looks a lot like pharaoh mummification .

3/01/2008 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

So do we have the proper oppositions in order?

Man is the measure of all things.
God is the measure of all things.
Another way to phrase this is to ask.

How can man live in both time & eternity.

There are more oppositions. Can you think of them.

3/01/2008 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

charles, yes, the biggie: God's Plan vs man's Free Will.

3/01/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

But if, as the exponents of the Perennial Philosophy have always maintained, man is not only a body and a psyche, but also a spirit, and if he can at will live either on the merely human plane or else in harmony and even in union with the divine Ground of his being, then the statement makes perfectly good sense. The body is always in time, the spirit is always timeless and the psyche is an amphibious creature compelled by the laws of man's being to associate itself to some extent with its body, but capable, if it so desires, of experiencing and being identified with its spirit and, through its spirit, with the divine Ground. The spirit remains always what it eternally is; but man is so constituted that his psyche cannnot always remain identified with the spirit. In the statement, "At one time I am eternal, at another time I am in time," the "I" stands for the psyche, which passes from time to eternity when it is identified with the spirit and passes again from eternity to time, either voluntarily or by involuntary necessity, when it chooses or is compelled to identify itself with the body.

Perennial Philosophy, Huxley

You don't need Jesus to do this, though it might help.

3/01/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

But all these men, even La Rochefocauld, even Machiavelli, were aware of certain facts which twentieth century psychologists have chosen to ignore-the fact that human nature is tripartite, consisting of a spirit as well as of a mind and body; the fact that we live on the borderline between two worlds, the temporal and the eternal, the physical-vital-human and the divine, the fact that, though nothing in himself, man is "a nothing surrounded by God, indigent of God, capable of God and filled with God, if he so desires."

Perennial Philosophy Huxley

What I can do you can do, and more, Jesus said.

3/01/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Lorenzo: That is somewhat less accurate than the typical comic-book view of Fascism. In WWII the USA had to became considerably more warlike in terms of actions than the Axis. We did far more than they did in terms of using violence, although we never lined up people and gassed them. The Germans never deployed a single aircraft carrier, did not build enough heavy bombers to put on a good airshow, and never developed, let alone actually employed, nuclear weapons. We were a hell of a lot better at violence than they were. Did that make us Fascist? Well, in terms that a Vietnam-Era Antiwar Protestor would agree with, I guess it did.

At the core of Fascism is Control. As in Control of people’s actions, and even their thoughts. The glorification of violence comes as consequence of that very basic fact. You have to use violence and the threat of it to Control people.

In reality, the Nazis wanted a quick and easy end to the war, not fully mobilizing their economy until it was far too late to do them any good. And the Soviets pretty much never fought anyone after WWII, preferring to use proxies, propaganda, and threats.

3/01/2008 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Bobal said....

Perennial Philosophy, Huxley

You don't need Jesus to do this, though it might help.

3/01/2008 01:31:00 PM
You need to Jesus to do this. Without him, the result is wierd half man half beast--as the Mycenaean Greeks pointed out in the myths of the minotaur beneath the kings palace.

They knew our age was coming. You can see it in the story of Icarus and Daedelus. They just had huge gaps in understanding. We have huge gaps in our .understanding too.

3/01/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

They knew our age was coming. You can see it in the story of Icarus and Daedelus. They just had huge gaps in understanding. We have huge gaps in our .understanding too.

3/01/2008 03:14:00 PM
Daedelus was a scientist. Its important to recognize here that science is a branch of philosophy. A major league screw up in the english speaking world occured in the late 1500's-early 1600's when frances bacon put out his tree of knowledge. He put theology as a subbranch of philosophy--right in the same league as witch craft. Aint so.

Philosophy is man centered. Philosophical propositions end in the personality and character of man. Science is a branch of philosophy. It relies on the proposition that man is the measure of all things. Bottoms up.

Theology is God centered. Theological propositions end in the personality and character of God. Theology relies on the proposition that God is the measure of all things. Top down.

3/01/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

charles, yes, the biggie: God's Plan vs man's Free Will.

3/01/2008 11:26:00 AM
the odd thing is that you'll find these kinds of tensions map over very well into tensions between the astro physics of the very large and the quantum mechanics of the very small. Both systems work internally but they don't work with each other.

String theory was invented to resolve this tension. But no part of the theory has been proved experimentally after almost 40 years of work by many exceedingly brilliant minds.

Math is a branch of science/philosophy.

I'm not saying that quantum mechanics and astrophysics can't be bridged to produce something ineffible. However, I do think that when that happens we will be well on our way to the stars.(For Just as Daedulus could see into the future--we can too. However, the acceleration of scientific/technological innvation means that we're not talking about a future that's 2000 or ever 200 years away.) Further, I don't think that bridging the two (astrophysics & quantum mechanics) will enable us to know the mind of God. He is greater still. He stands outside the laws of Nature. He is, After all, Nature's God.

3/01/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Chavo said...

I do agree that Rousseau is the father of modern progressivism.
A woman I knew in college who was working on her phd in french philosophy at columbia U summed up Rousseau's philosphy thusly: "Whatever I do is your fault."

This is called imputed evil. An evil is imputed to us that is not ours. (though we each of us has plenty of our own.)

What Jesus does is impute a Righteousness that is not our own-- to each of us who believe in him. How? All the sins of the world are laid on him. All the sins of believers are imputed to him. There is a transference that goes on here. We give each on our own --our sins to Jesus and he imputes his righteousness to us. Good deal. There's more. He enables us to enter into the holy of holies. The presence of God.

3/01/2008 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

What man in his right mind would want another man to die for him, to transfer his own sins, and the responsibility for them, to someone else?

Gird up your loins like a man, you can't slither out of them by loading them onto some other back. Change your ways. Make amends.

3/01/2008 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Science is a branch of philosophy. It relies on the proposition that man is the measure of all things. Bottoms up.

I'll drink to that. I don't give a fig about Zeus, let him do what he wants, the old nobodaddy.

3/01/2008 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

And in your heart of hearts, admit it or not, you all agree with me, or you wouldn't go to the doctor. You'd turn to prayer, when the cyst is found.

3/01/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

bobal said...

And in your heart of hearts, admit it or not, you all agree with me, or you wouldn't go to the doctor. You'd turn to prayer, when the cyst is found.
I both pray and go to the doctor.

In fact I pray and ride in airplanes.

I pray more often in airplanes than in the doctor's office.

3/01/2008 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger bobal said...

What man in his right mind would want another man to die for him, to transfer his own sins, and the responsibility for them, to someone else?

Gird up your loins like a man, you can't slither out of them by loading them onto some other back. Change your ways. Make amends.

3/01/2008 09:07:00 PM
Listen friends, and mark my words in this moment and this hour--
God is jealous for his name for his name is jealous.

Nor is this a charming flower to set before a man
nor one of his commands.

Yet, without Jesus, this is more than we can love as we desire peace,
and less than we can know as we desire joy.

For the sacred fire
that makes us liars--
I mean, that separates speech from dreams,
and separates our flesh from the future--
is God’s power manifested.
So, in the year and the hour-- for his sake, invest your desire in Jesus.
Follow his holy fire for right now. Right now he intercedes for us in heaven!

Some will say we are people of the way.
We are people of the way.
We praise his holy name Yahweh.
I am who I am.
I cause things to be.
I am the first cause of creation.
We praise his holy name Elohym.

And say “Thank you Jesus for your precious blood--
better, so much better than the blood of Abel.

How then shall we pray.
Bless me a lot oh God.
Show me your kingdom and righteousness in such a way that my thoughts words and deeds reflect your wisdom and knowledge and that for the sake of your honor and glory so that I will live long in your presence in this life and the next.

And may your hand be with me and keep me from evil.


3/01/2008 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

But you do go to the doctor's office:)

If God is jealous, maybe the Mormons are right, He was once a man like us, only He is just new to the job, and some of His humanity hasn't worn off yet:)

That would explain the jealous part. But this old nobodaddy is more than jealous, he's crazy, demanding whole cities including the innocent be slain, something much worse than any good man would do.

3/02/2008 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger jhleibniz said...

A few thoughts that came to mind from reading this blog when I should have been asleep, and finished early in the morning:

Power-lust among elites: If a person has a powerful sense of intellectual superiority to the vast majority of humanity, and also a sense of moral superiority based on a desire to relieve unjust suffering, perhaps we should not be surprised if such a person thinks that he or she, or someone who thinks the same way, should be in a position to make everyone else do what they are told, without putting in their own stupid little variations that would interfere with realizing the great vision.

Shivermetimbers has a thorough and scholarly discussion of something that I have thought for a long time: speaking of “making a religion” out of global warming, or the environment in general, or the power of government, or whatever, as various commenters and posts in this and other blogs have often done, does not really do justice to the way that distorted religious feelings propel a lot of the activism on the left. Has anyone else noticed how much environmentalist calls for conservation echo Christian calls for repentance and renunciation? Does anyone here doubt that, if it served his purpose, ex-Vice President Gore would paraphrase the cadences of Jonathan Edwards’ eighteenth-century sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” into exclamations like, “Oh average American consumer! Do you not see that Gaia is very angry with you?” Shivermetimbers’ comment adds perspective to Goldberg’s observations about Michelle Obama’s speaking of her husband as if he were a new Savior, instead of merely a candidate for a terrestrial political office.

Different criteria for classification can give drastically different results. Years ago, I saw a summary of Jerry Pournelle’s doctoral dissertation in political science. He used what I presume to be the mathematical technique of factor analysis to classify political movements along two axes that seemed best interpreted as running respectively from authoritarianism to antiauthoritarianism, and from rationalism to irrationalism, and concluded that the conventional classification of political movements into “left” and “right” was useless if not misleading, since, for example, communism and anarchism have generally been viewed as both leftist, despite being polar opposites in his classification, with communism being rationalist and authoritarian, while anarchism is irrationalist and antiauthoritarian. Likewise, Nazism and Mussolini’s fascism, being irrationalist and authoritarian (in basing government on the mystical intuition of the Leader), are polar opposites of various rationalistic and antiauthoritarian branches of conservatism, even though Nazism and fascism are usually thought to be right-wing movements. Eventually it occurred to me that maybe there was some validity to the conventional ideas of left and right after all, if you consider that, for the left, what one might call the psychological center of gravity has always been in the future, and for the right, it has been in the past. So where does this leave Hitler and Mussolini, who, for all the radical socialism of their respective policy plans, also invoked powerful backward-looking themes in gaining or holding power? (Hitler, of course, promised to restore the glory Germany lost when it was “stabbed in the back” in losing World War I, as well as a mythical Wagnerian greatness of pre-Christian times, and either Goldberg or a previous commenter alluded to Mussolini’s promises to restore the Roman Empire. You may recall that the invasion of Ethiopia was supposed to be a first step toward this restoration.)

Is it reasonable to view Wilson’s call for what has been termed “self-determination of peoples” as a universalization of the Southern diehard’s insistence that the South should have been allowed to secede? In assessing Wilson, including his contempt for the US Constitution, we probably shouldn’t forget that the effect on him of his life as a Southerner in the aftermath of the US Civil War. (To be fair, the phrase “self-determination of peoples” was coined by the British Prime Minister of the time, David Lloyd George, who undoubtedly was thinking of the struggle of his own Welsh people against being ruled by the English.) This aspect of Wilson’s ideas is certainly radical, but is it as liberal as it has usually been taken to be?

3/02/2008 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger shivermetimbers said...


"Shivermetimbers has a thorough and scholarly discussion of something that I have thought for a long time"

Thank you for the kind comment, but the scholarship and praise goes to Father de Lubac, who, by the way taught alongside and is close friends for many years with the current Pope. I was simply quoting from his work.

Additionally, the later part of my post was quoting George Weigal's commentary of de Lubac.

At best, I was little more than a signpost who was pointing to a great intellect.


3/02/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Nice post and comments.

Aristotle I think, arrived at the best set of ethics capable of being created at the time - the moral equivalent of bringing a compass to the process of navigating by dead reckoning, he enabled people to find true north no matter the time of day or weather, which was a huge step forward in navigation – but it still required relying on past and present knowns to get from point A to somewhere near point B. What it lacked, was a way to tie things back to surface reality, which is where Rand’s epistemology makes the similar improvements possible in ethical navigation, that the marine chronometer enabled for mariners (GPS still requires something more – heck of an upgrade charge too).

I used to put Plato firmly in the philosophical bad guy camp, but have adjusted that of late. I think Plato was far more interested in the immaterial than most quick reads realize, and so he is often used as a guide for materialist purposes – and while he was describing globes, his readers thought he was drawing maps and so they insist that Greenland really IS larger than north America. I also think Plato very much had ‘DIAlog’ in mind with his writings, and so left many provocative equivalents of ‘Liberal Fascism’ statements strewn about his dialogs for people to stop and say What!? so that they would continue the dialog into new directions - unfortunately few do. Case in point, in the Republic where he’s had his pupils devise the ideal state and agree that in the beginning parents polluted with bad ideas should just leave their children to the tender mercies of the new republic and be led off – I think that was supposed to be a big Hello! Led off to where! Do you really think they’ll allow that?! You’d have to Kill them! How would that serve your new idea of the Good!?” . Unfortunately people like Pol Pot thought it was a monolog, didn’t question it further, and did just that.

I disagree on the Rousseau/Locke relation with Hobbes being more central to the Founders. In fact, Hobbes and Rousseau were just different sides of the same coin, believing that men’s passions were primary givens and only disagreed on whether they should be released or restrained by the state. Locke certainly had the flaws of Empiricism, and if all of his particulars were followed they too could lead to a form of leftist statism, but most of those particular errors were in contradiction to his fundamentals, and those were in dead opposition to Rousseau, and more fundamentally, Descartes.

To mix up a cocktail of previous metaphors, as Aristotle was the navigational forefather of Rand, where 1a + 2b = something close to 42, Rand enabled the algebraic ciphering necessary to solve for a and b and arrive at 42 (however, you do still need to remember the question that brought you there). Descartes is the source of a = d + e, Rousseau gave it style and appeal as A = D + E! and Kant came along and made it A is unknowable, so D & E must be asserted by the largest choir! - to which the post modernists came along and said 'choir, schmire, we don't need no stinking notes or choir director, just yell as loud as you can!' (how's that for a metaphorical long island ice tea?).

Locke rested his philosophy upon the existence of Free Will, that man can know the truth, but can also be in error, and so must act accordingly. The Rousseauian line either rejects or so devalues free will as to make it of no account and views man as mechanism, as naturally good, which means that goodness is automatic – and given the proper environment that perfection is automatically achievable by nudging his environment this way and that towards the perfection they believe their rationalist system can and should determine, after all, a=d+e!.

The key to better navigation is realizing that while the world is knowable, and Truth is one, man is capable of error in his knowledge of it and there is always more to the picture than can be seen; also man is capable of desiring what should be undesirable not only in his own life, but for how he would like to have others live their lives, and therefore he should have no more power than is necessary to assure that others do not attempt to impose their conclusions over other peoples choices.

"the final course of action is inevitably what they wanted to do anyway - The heart can guide the mind, but the mind can't guide the heart." encapsulates Rousseau's idea of the noble savage and Hobbes brutal savage. What Aristotle, Locke and Rand observed, is that to have any hope of gaining control over the heart, Man must establish habits of reasoned responses, from the smallest choices on up, building lego-like to the largest, always guided by your best conception of what embodies the Good, the Beautiful and the True - while keeping in mind that you could be wrong, so never stop checking your course against the landscape of reality.

I also give a big thumbs up for "Thomas Sowell's brilliant book, "A Conflict of Visions". Sorry for the length, my head says this probably should have been a post of my own, but my heart...(uh-oh).

3/02/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

re jhleibniz comment --only a movie clip, but doesn't it show that to such a high-minded goal as a resurrection of the grieving people, a little temporary--even abstract, if out of sight--unpleasantness toward those not 'on board' would be a mere ripple in the great--as the song says--"golden flow to the sea".

Oh and then there's videos like this --not to be compared, but perhaps to be kept in view, out there on the edge of the mind.

3/02/2008 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/02/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Rwe said “Take a blackboard and draw a horizontal line on it. All the way to the Right end mark that “Anarchy.” ... generally survive and live however you can. At the Left end of the line write “Ant Colony.” All actions are either Mandatory or Forbidden."

Or this way... take that line and lay a rope on top of it, tie a ribbon around the center and mark that point over the ground as the marker signifying an inviolable respect for individual rights - prepare for a game of tug-of-war.

At the left end of the rope, the team captain wears a t-shirt labeled 'ant colony utopia & political correctness', the captain at the right end with 'Heaven and religious observance".

The center, is the ideal upon the line, to which both sides inevitably stray from, but the left, thinking it actually can build its utopia here and now runs pell mell to haul everyone over to their side; while the right, believing that it can only approximate its utopia in the heart, its actual realization never possible upon the line, seeks to anchor itself against change yelling "Stop!" (RIP WFB) while moving towards its end only as it is trying to draw the lefts side back towards the center.

Occasionally the Right realizes it has overcorrected and relaxes its hold a bit; the left eagerly takes up that slack and runs with it.

If either side ever succeeds in dragging the other entirely over to its side, the game is over.

(Deleted & reposted to correct dyslexia)

3/02/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

If seperation of state from religion, competitiveness for power and providing a high degree of freedom for citizens empowers a state. If this empowerment of the collective state is its own good, for the privileges a powerful state can provide.

The "Rousseauian" examples of states - communist, fascist or islamic - all were/are weaker than the opposing "Lockean" states. Thus can it be observed that the deification of rights (ascribed to Locke) is merely the best yet discovered mechanism of achieving the most powerful state (that Rosseau would find most virtuous)?

3/02/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Trying to say - a somewhat Lockean approach may deliver the Rousseauians desired result. Whereas the ascribed Rosseauian approach of restricting free will, leads to a weakening of the state that is directly conflicting the Rosseauians ultimate goal. This makes it seem the most practical Rousseauian approach to achieving the goal should in fact be to grant greater free will.

3/02/2008 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

/buddy et al who took this thread toward the subject of Worker OWnership - here's the (oldish) interview w/ Williamn Greide- author of "Ths Soul of Capitalism" - May be of interest.
Reconstructing America

By William Greider

William Greider tries to "explain power in plain English" to everyday people. But he's always ready to learn from them as well. His new book, The Soul of Capitalism, calls attention to citizens whose businesses and working lives hint at how Americans might remake our society. While First of the Month will always be responsive to voices that holler NO to power, Greider's earned positivity makes him our kind of yes man. The Soul of Capitalism manages to be deeply -- even willfully -- optimistic without buying into the bottom-line of happy globalists. We hope the following interview with the author gives you reasons to look forward to the Reconstruction of America.

FOTM:In the Soul of Capitalism you argue that Americans must re-invent the economic engine that's made America the richest country on earth. Tell us why you predict a change in Wall Street's core values is "likely to occur."

GREIDER:In an ironic way, Wall Street's crimes and excesses are more visible than the innards of corporations. People can read the numbers and see the reckless waste and other contradictions. The New York Times had a business-section piece the other day on global warming and took note of the fact that better social performance produces a better bottom line, with major corporate logos as evidence. These facts are not secret and there are numerous interests outside the big boardrooms that can act on them in their investing behavior. The disconnect between conventional business lore and practical reality will sooner or later force people to move, even if the big banks and brokerages wish to remain in denial.

FOTM: You allow that Americans are currently at the mercy of imperious financiers who love liquidity not community, yet you propose that a kind of counter-culture is busy being born thanks to more conscientious venture capitalists, forward-thinking union officials, bootstrappers, enviro-developers, et. al. How is this trajectory related -- or opposed -- to the ongoing incorporation of the 60's "cultural revolution" (what Tom Frank has dubbed "the conquest of cool")?

GREIDER: That's a very interesting question, but I think its approach to cultural change is too shallow. This is not simply about a softer focus or people changing their values. It is about people discovering their self-interest has been misdefined for them by the current system. I'm not sure whether that's cool or hot, but I know people act on it once they grasp that they are actually losing something of value in their lives.
FOTM: You point out that American workers have the potential to transform the nature of American capitalism through their pension funds (now worth $6 trillion dollars; "$10 trillion before the stock market meltdown"). To quote AFL-CIO's Ronald Blackwell: "The capital that belongs to working people should serve their purposes and values; right now it doesn't. If this can be accomplished, I envision a labor movement that will step forward as an able critic of business as usual. Labor, which has frequently been seen as a narrow special interest, would become an advocate for real development and the whole community -- and labor will have real money in its pocket to back up its advocacy?" Can you give us examples of union officials who are currently using pension funds to back up their advocacy for workers and communities? And would you allow that unions have been slow to exercise their power on this front?
GREIDER: The unions that have rediscovered ownership and its potential for the future mostly got there from necessity -- trying to defend viable production that the home office was prepared to jettison. Some of those early leaders like Lynn Williams of the steel workers always had a larger vision -- an economy in which worker ownership is the general pattern -- but it's damned hard to be visionary when your back is against the wall. Most of organized labor still does not see all the possibilities and many are still skeptical of changes that would complicate the bargaining position for unions. But I do think labor generally is ahead of the curve in understanding the potential power of their wealth holdings to force changes that go beyond narrow definitions of "economic gains." They are in the early stages of figuring out how to apply this power.
FOTM: Over 10 million Americans are worker-owners in some 11,000 employee-owned companies. In the Soul of Capitalism , you tell the story of an exemplary temp agency called Solidarity that's owned by the temp workers -- many of whom are ex-cons and/or recovering addicts. How did you find out about their business?
GREIDER: The origins of Solidarity are far more complicated than I described in the book. It began with BUILD, the strong and enduring Baltimore community organization developed by the Industrial Areas Foundation, a network that originated with Saul Alinsky. The first objective was to develop a union for marginalized workers of many kinds -- from crossing guards to Head Start aides -- and ways to improve incomes for the working poor. That led, among other things, to the living wage legislation that was pioneered in Baltimore and has since spread around the country. The temp agency was launched as an extension of those efforts and I learned about it from friends who were active in the development. These same inner-city pioneers are now on the brink of acquiring a small bank, which will provide the kind of financial oxygen that all struggling small businesses need to survive and flourish.
FOTM: You celebrate "humanist-populist-capitalists" who are practical visionaries and introduce readers to John Logue -- Director of the Ohio Ownership Center...
GREIDER: John Logue is not a capitalist himself -- he's a political science professor at Kent State who had the nerve and stamina to develop the Center as necessary infrastructure to assist companies and unions make the transition to employee ownership. (That is ¬ to provide experienced lawyers, accountants and bankers with the expertise to do the necessary business deals.) The "humanist-populist-capitalists" are the owners who on their own figured out why this transition could be good for wealth creation and quality as well as for the workers who become owners. They are not sentimentalists, but practical-minded types who, if pressed, will acknowledge that this also seems "the right thing to do."
FOTM:You recently heard Logue lead a workshop on what workers might want if they could create "an employee-owned industrial park." Tell us about that and why you found it inspiring?
GREIDER: The discussion among worker owners and their allies about a "Mondragon in Ohio" -- an industrial park composed of small, employee-owned companies sharing assets and overhead functions -- illustrates for me the open-ended nature of human possibilities, once people imagine beyond existing structures of control. It also explodes the usual stereotypes about what workers want. They want whole lives, they want more control over their destinies, they want practical, intelligent, self-interested collaboration with others. The present system not only discourages such creative thinking, it makes it impossible for most workers even to entertain new ideas. Given the advanced level of our development, this seems to me a criminal waste of human capabilities.
FOTM: You devote a chapter -- "Consuming the Future" -- to America's environmental crisis. While you allow that employee ownership doesn't necessarily guarantee a firm will challenge the narrow hegemonic logic of consumerism/materialism, you tell of a worker-owned firm -- Blue Ridge Paper Products -- that's been relatively responsive to environmentalists. What's the lesson implicit in their experiences on this front?

GREIDER: What's happened at the North Carolina mills and processing plant illustrates why power is the crucial variable -- ideally power located close to the operating realities of a company.This doesn't turn the workers or their union or their management into idealized visionaries. Quite the opposite, they now have the power to alter things within the flow of production -- practical changes that will yield real-life benefit where they live.This is what I mean by well-informed self-interest. As the union veep said, "we live here too." From the other side of this great divide, environmentalists are now talking up-close with the people who have control and who vet all their recommendations in the practical setting of running a mill profitably. This does not lead to utopia, I repeat.But it brings the pressure points closer together and makes the trade-offs more visible to both sides.Human experience suggests this is a better basis for reconciliation than hammer-and-tongs confrontation or orders from on high by a few remote insiders.
FOTM: You're fully aware of the new limits to growth, but even here you resist pessimism. Tell us where and how natural capitalism is winning and what kind of institutions will enable Green values to trump bottom-line imperatives?

GREIDER: You can look at the chemical industry or the furniture industry -- both notorious polluters -- and see lots of surprising gains in companies, large and small, that have embraced the commitment to sustainability. This too is self-interested, if only to avoid a black eye with consumers. But it also promises more efficiency in the long-term and prudent avoidance of obvious financial risks. The corporate lobbyists prevail today in blocking stronger regulation but it doesn't take a management genius to figure out that sooner or later they are going to lose. Then rogue companies will face very steep costs and deteriorating stock prices. Europe is way ahead on these matters, having imposed recovery and recycling regulations that require development and design capital in the short run but deliver great savings in the long run.
That's before you calculate the social costs that have been eliminated. While these variables have been factored in by ecologists (and some corporate managers) the connection between private and public interests lacks political standing. (It would help if a few brave candidates began to articulate a deeper conception of economic values). As progress on this front becomes more visible, it should encourage a more complex process of revaluation -- what are the true costs in the production process and products? Economists tend to be oblivious here because their discipline teaches them to be concerned only with the costs to the immediate producers or the costs of change. That reactionary perspective will sooner or later lose political clout as citizens learn to see the subject whole.

FOTM: You recognize the power of corporations must be restrained ASAP and you focus on the resistance offered by citizens' groups (like the Program on Corporation Law and Democracy). What's the basic question that should inform struggles here?

GREIDER: The democratic question -- who has power to decide, who is excluded from any meaningful voice? I am convinced that virtually all institutions within capitalism will perform better for society and for genuine economic gain if they undergo democratizing reforms. Some are simply too large and too concentrated in their power to be reformed in this manner. They will be replaced gradually by many, many smaller firms and those smaller firms will have to learn how to overcome the disadvantages of their size and scale through cooperative networks -- shared functions, markets, expertise. This is doable but difficult. As I suggested in the book, it is actually a good fit with the new technologies and some well-established companies are already heading in this direction.
Other reformers would say that I'm TOO patient -- that it's possible to achieve much greater changes much faster by confronting such issues as the corporate charter and changing it to require concrete social obligations alongside the profit motive in the behavior of companies. I am not opposed to that goal. I do doubt that it is politically attainable any time soon -- especially before there are more obvious outlines of an alternative social reality, existing examples of successful reform that people and politicians can observe.

FOTM: While you acknowledge the "plain fact" that "reinventing capitalism is impossible without reformation of government," your own vision is marked by your clarity about the (relative) pointlessness of national party politics at this juncture. Would it be right to assume that you've pretty much bought out of disputes on the left between, say, liberal Democrats and Greens?

GREIDER: I deliberately avoided the ideological disputes in my book, partly because these tend to turn the discussion to large abstractions rather than toward concrete examples from reality. My strong feeling is that we are about to enter a new era of reform (something like the early 20th century) but it's a bit premature to try to define its outlines and contending forces.
Someone once said: let a thousand flowers bloom. We will learn soon enough which ones flourish and which ones wilt of their own contradictions. I am for radical change. I am for incremental change. I have an idealized notion of how things might turn out. I also have patience and tolerance for imperfect experiments that may be half-steps toward something larger. If you believe, as I do, that we really are at a new moment in history, you have to acknowledge that we simply do not know enough yet to describe what the future will look like with ideological certainty. This means we're on a longer, open road, but it holds true to what we say we believe about democracy.

FOTM: While you suggest that national party politics is a non-starter given that corporations rule Washington, you note that local and state politics are more promising venues for political reformers. I wonder if you paid much attention to what recently happened in Alabama where the conservative, born-again Republican governor tried to take on entrenched class power? Do you consider that battle to be an anomaly or is it a sign of what could happen (for better or worse) in the future?

GREIDER: I tried to write this book in a way that would speak to ordinary Americans. That approach assumes that underneath class and partisan labels, even regional and religious differences, there is a commonality. I believe some aspect of my subject should be available to most everyone, whatever their circumstances. That is wishful, I know, but that was my goal. It required me not to demonize some citizens as backward and others as enlightened. I have found some confirmation for this approach in people's reactions to the book.
Thinking in those terms, the dilemma of born-again Christian Republicans, especially in the conservative south, is particularly acute. I hope my book pokes at their sensibilities too. The recent battle over tax reform in Alabama demonstrates how difficult it is to overcome class-determined cultural reflexes and self-injuries. People of modest means rushed to vote against their own interests, as well as those of their state and society in general. A pessimist would say these dividing lines are immutable. My life's experience -- witnessing how the civil rights movement changed this country, changed all of our lives -- tells me that cannot be so.

FOTM: Many of your exemplary capitalists are Republicans -- David Stockman, Robert Monks. Do their counter-cultural business practices hint at the possibility of a significant realignment of our party politics down the line?

GREIDER: Yes, but don't ask me how. We have already seen currents shift over the last two decades as some who grew up affluent and Republican (myself included) found the liberal Democratic party more comfortable, while lots of working class Democrats moved in the opposite direction, feeling abandoned or disrespected by the party of their upbringing. I can't read the future currents with any confidence because, frankly, neither party is yet prepared to embrace what I describe. Who owns the idea of worker ownership, for instance? There are a scattered few in both parties who advocate it now, but is this a conservative idea or a liberal idea? It's not easy to answer that question.
FOTM: It's been suggested (most recently by the journalist Christopher Caldwell) that liberty is the foundational principle of those on the right while equality is the key for people on the left. Would you elaborate on the idea that the examples of soulful capitalism you cite implicitly refuse this antimony?

GREIDER: I reject the long-argued view that those are polar opposites. I embrace both and so do most Americans. If we tinker with the words a bit, it seems clear that liberty and equality go hand in hand, especially in our modern circumstances. First, if liberty in fact means the freedom of self-realization, then most Americans cannot possibly become genuinely free without engaging in collective action. Second, in a society of great abundance where scarcity is no longer the main challenge, then equality must be based on something beyond material accumulation. It should be founded on the ability -- the right -- to live one's life as fully as one's spirit and energy allow. This is an old socialist conception, of course, but I do not envision everyone winding up with the same bank account. Or the same set of aspirations and talents (or the same level of money-seeking intensity). What I can imagine is a society in which every child feels a sense of entitlement (as Robert Coles called it). To go anywhere in this country and feel comfortable, if not at home. To pursue life's possibilities from a platform of material comforts and with the skills to participate fully in work that is self-fulfilling (also productive). To reach beyond one's inherited circumstances -- or to remain comfortably within them. We need -- someday -- a new bill of rights. I am not sure I will be around for that happy moment, but it could be an empowering national goal -- literally liberating for most citizens.

FOTM:The Soul of Capitalism's sense of possibility may seem out of time at a moment when many commentators see America on the verge of a kinder, gentler fascism. Do the doomy analyses of the academic left confirm their distance from the experience of everyday people -- and experience in general? (I'm reminded on this score of a well-known man of the left who ended what was meant to be a stirring address at a "Socialist Scholars Conference" with the following call: "Back to the libraries!")

GREIDER: There is of course a lot of brilliant analysis and I read it. I do think, however, that much of the left-liberal progressive side (but not all) is looking backward, not forward.Their most creative decades are way in the past and it's naturally hard for them to let go. One implicit purpose of my new book -- never stated plainly -- is to help younger thinkers break free of that past and see the present more clearly, more creatively. There is plenty of misery in our present circumstances, but it is not like the 1930s or 1890s and it is not going to be like those times. This sounds arrogant, which is why I did not state it plainly in the book.

FOTM: Your invocation of the need for "radical patience" reminds me of the lessons implicit in Lawrence Goodwyn's great books on the American populist movement and Poland's Solidarnosc. I know you appreciate those works. Tell us why they matter to you...

GREIDER: Goodwyn's books gave me the language of democracy -- and the nerve -- to write the kind of books I have written. He has also been my great teacher in person -- rigorous and yet unbelievably generous. Whenever we talk, I feel refreshed and ready to plunge on. The core of what I learned from him is that the deeper politics of this country lies in the experiences and stored knowledge of ordinary people. It flows along mostly unnoted, like an underground river, and once in a great while it surfaces with force and changes the society.
When he explained this to me years ago, I realized this is what I had been hearing as a reporter for many years in my encounters with ordinary folks who lack power and influence, who have no credentials or even much book learning, but who know certain things -- important verities that ought to be part of our democratic politics, actually some day ought to steer it.
This view offends many learned citizens, of course, regardless of their political persuasions. But I can listen to Goodwyn or listen to those ordinary citizens and realize that they are speaking for the core of our history. They should be able to speak for our common future. So I am on their side. I write my books in the hope that explaining power in plain English may help them find their voice.

FOTM: In your acknowledgements, you mention that you're indebted to your editor Alice Mayhew who told you (gently) to start over after reading an early draft of the book? How did she help you?

GREIDER: In a subtle sense, she gave me the authority to write the book I have written (for better or worse). She read early chapters and saw that the pace I had set was going to make a very long book in which I told too many stories and slipped in the big points along the way. In effect, she said: don't hide behind a lot of stories -- wonderful as they may be. Come out front and say what it is you wish to say. As a reporter, I had learned to do the former. So I tried to do the latter. There is more me, upfront, in this book than in my previous ones. It is also (I hope) easier to read, easier to see my message whole.
FOTM: You argue that citizens need to think like capitalists - "to develop their own forward-looking narratives for the society and figure out how to make them come true" -- but isn't there a danger in a relentless focus on the future. Doesn't that give a historical pass to George W. Bush's class? I'm reminded of the President's suggestion that the recent corporate scandals might have had the silver lining of making Americans a more ethical people: "I believe people have taken a step back and asked, 'What's important in life? You know, the bottom line and this corporate America stuff, is that important? Or is serving your neighbor, loving your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself?'" As one commentator noted: "No decent human being could disagree. But no half-intelligent human being could fail to note that such things are a lot easier to say when you've already banked your own 30 or 50 mil." Does it make sense to foster a hand-as-dealt acceptance (at least for now) of current class-based disparities in wealth?

GREIDER: I suppose my emphasis on "thinking forward" could be misunderstood. But I am trying to coax people -- especially young people -- out of their sense of resignation and timidity.I've had beer-drinking sessions with young people in which I announce one rule -- let's not talk about current politics and issues. Let's talk about what you want this country to become, say, 25 years from now.Once they get over a natural hesitation (nobody wants to sound like a fool), the conversation becomes rich, illuminating and contentious. Once you have articulated a vision of the future, then you can work your way back to the present and talk about how the country might get there. At a minimum, it's a lot more fun than droning on about how hopeless things are.

FOTM:In your chapter on "Public Works" you look back to grand moments of government-sponsored economic development (like Lincoln's Homestead Act-- "some 80 million acres of government land became the private property of families.") Does the administration's current readiness to fund the reconstruction of Iraq offer an opening to politicians inclined to make the case for public works in America?

GREIDER: Yes indeed. We are getting some good questions raised by candidates in this presidential cycle about the purposes of government and the follies of empire. I expect those questions to intensify in the next few years as Americans at large begin to grasp that we are not the triumphant economy they have been told. When our foreign creditors start to exercise power over our destiny as a nation, this is going to be very upsetting for folks. It could turn reactionary, of course. Or it could open a rich discussion, not only of our role in the world, but about re-developing our nation's interior landscape. I think most Americans would choose make the latter a priority.

3/03/2008 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger bobal said...

But you do go to the doctor's office:)
A lot of effort in all churches is put into prayer for church members in hospitals. Its Pretty typical practice of all churches. Typically people will pray that the doctor will work skillfully and the patient will respond properly to treatment and that God himself will be with patient during their time of trial. This last comes during during surgeries. A yearly physical won't get much prayer.

Whenever people are inspired to worry. That is whenever they talk to themselves because of stress Christians are commanded to turn the worry into prayer. So that rather than talking to yourself--you're praying to God. Now I understand you would discount God as an artificial construct and account "I" as the real deal . So that when you talk to yourself you split your "I" in two and have one "I" talk to the other.

You get a lot of psychiatrists these days who will talk candidly about the limits of psychiatry.

Reminds me of a joke.

A psychiatrist was asked what he thought about schizophrenia.

He said, "I'm of two minds on the matter."

3/02/2008 02:17:00 AM

3/03/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...


3/03/2008 12:35:00 PM  

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