Il Douche

November 1st, 2012

Progressivists sure do love them some dictators. But given the history of liberal-fascism, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Whoever made it, the Mussolini/Fascist/dictator vibe is undeniable. And even if you were entirely unfamiliar with the famous Mussolini scowl replicated in the 2012 campaign sign, why would any Democrat voter find this particular Obama portrait appealing or impressive? It reeks of Big Brother-ish totalitarianism all on its own, even without an historical precedent. Why depict your lovable candidate as a menacing, frowning tyrant?

Could this be the progressives’ secret love of totalitarianism peeking through once again? Many have already demonstrated the progressive/totalitarian connection. In fact, our own Ed Driscoll previously noted back in the 2008 campaign some extremely disturbing graphic parallels between Obama campaign/cult posters and those of earlier, uh, shall we say movements.

If you are a progressive reading this, you likely imagine yourself the polar opposite of the Fascists, but I ask you to stop and ponder a moment how you, your belief system and your behavior are viewed by others. When we see people demanding greater government power and expressing unquestioned devotion to a charismatic leader, we think “incipient totalitarianism.” You only exacerbate that impression by imitating the very design philosophy of previous totalitarian movements.

Are you sure you’re on the right side of history?

I’m damned sure they aren’t, deny it though they always have. The Progressivist ideology is one with the other statist blights on human history; socialism, communism, Islamism, all are at their core about rigid government control over the masses, necessarily denying them liberty and self-determination. Just because our present-day liberal fascists bleat disingenuously about their devotion to “freedom” doesn’t make it so.

As for Mussolini, their devotion to him (and Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Che, et al) is another thing they’re desperate to deny, but also an incontrovertible part of the historical record:

For example, in 1926 the famous progressive muckraker Ida Tarbell visited Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. She gushed:

“I saw that he had a most extraordinary smile, and that when he smiled he had a dimple … When Mussolini accompanied me to the door and kissed my hand in the gallant Italian fashion, I understood for the first time an unexpected phase of the man which makes him such a power in Italy.”

Another progressive journalist, Lincoln Steffens, called Mussolini “the divine Dictator.” Steffens wrote, “The man is as powerful as an elemental force.” Not to be outdone, the magazine publisher Sam McClure, who published articles by these and other progressive authors, declared that fascism was “a new and dawning civilization,” Mussolini solved “the problem of democracy,” and Italians were “the one free people.”

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin excited progressives even more than Mussolini. An estimated 20 million citizens of the Soviet Union were killed by their own government, and Stalin was responsible for more those deaths than any other Soviet ruler. English author H.G. Wells reported that he “never met a man more candid, fair and honest…no one is afraid of him and everybody trusts him.” The English playwright George Bernard Shaw hailed Soviet prisons where victims “could stay as long as they liked.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ambassador to Moscow Joseph E. Davies purred that Stalin’s “eye is exceedingly wise and gentle.” One of the members of FDR’s “Brain Trust” was Rexford Guy Tugwell who became an admirer of the Soviet Union after his 1927 visit. He admitted that there was “ruthlessness, a disregard for liberties and rights,” but he insisted it was all worthwhile. Economist Stuart Chase praised communists for their “burning zeal to create a new heaven and a new earth.” Chase added, “Why should Russians have all the fun of remaking a world?”

The most famous of Stalin’s shills was New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, the first Western reporter to interview Stalin (1930). Duranty described Stalin as “a quiet, unobtrusive man who saw much but said little.” Duranty claimed that Russian peasants welcomed the Soviet seizure of their homes, their fields, their crops and their farm animals. Duranty soared to awesome heights of duplicity when, during the early 1930s famine that killed some 6 million people in the Ukraine, he reported: “There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation.” He told a fellow journalist: “The ‘famine’ is mostly bunk.”

Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for whitewashing Stalin.

As I said above, there’s a reason for the affinity for monstrous tyrants:

The totalitarian impulses that animated both fascism and progressivism were once viewed by the Left as evidence of compassion and humanitarian concern for the welfare of the lowly. In its original sense, the word “totalitarian” did not have the negative connotations it has acquired over time. Mussolini himself coined the term to describe a society where everyone belonged, where no one was abandoned socially or economically. This ideal dovetailed neatly with the progressive (and fascist) desire to eliminate class differences among the populace. In many of his speeches, Hitler clearly stated his intent to erase all lines of division between rich and poor. Robert Ley, who headed the Nazis’ German Labor Front, boasted: “We are the first country in Europe to overcome the class struggle.”

Consistent with the totalitarian roots of fascism and progressivism alike, was the progressives’ dismissal of America’s traditional system of constitutional checks and balances as an anachronistic impediment to social progress. Progressives reasoned that such restraints on power would only slow the process by which the governing elite could implement their programs to refashion society in accordance with their own progressive vision.

The degree to which progressive and fascist values complemented and echoed one another was on clear display in the work of the progressive writer and New Republic founder Herbert Croly (1869-1930), one of the most important voices in American intellectual history and a leftist icon for more than a century. Specifically, Croly embraced economic socialism; promoted febrile nationalism; said that a “great” and heroic revolutionary leader was needed in order to restore American pride; rejected the concept of parliamentary democracy; believed that society could be guided to enlightenment by an intellectual elite – a cast of “social engineers” whose “beneficent activities” could bring about a “better future”; and rejected individualism, saying that “an individual has no meaning apart from the society in which his individuality has been formed.” All of these ideals were, by definition, both fascist and progressive.

They can squirm all they like, but there has never been a more appropriate and plainspoken appellation for them than “liberal-fascists”–a term originally coined by dedicated Progressive HG Wells to describe the movement, now despised by modern Progressivists who conveniently wish to disassociate themselves from fascism and, as Jonah G says, “projected their own sins onto conservatives, even as they continued to borrow heavily from fascist and pre-fascist thought.” The very fact that classical liberals are no longer referred to as “liberals” at all is testament enough to their success at rewriting and falsifying history.

Back then, they were a lot more honest and forthright about what they were, and about the totalitarian nature of their big plans for the little people. Otherwise, though, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  1. November 1st, 2012 at 18:12 | #1
    It's astonishing but true that when we covered a bunch of the muckraker authors in (public) high school, the (unionized) English teachers never peeped a word about any ties between the "progressive" muckrakers and communists, socialists, fascists, or (oddly) anarchists. Also astonishing but true, the influence of the European Communists on the American Progressives and their fellow travellers never seemed to merit a mention by the (unionized) history social studies teachers.
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