The Instigator
ReaganConservative
Pro (for)
Losing
30 Points
The Contender
Harboggles
Con (against)
Winning
34 Points

Fascism is a phenomenon of the Left, not the Right.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/22/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,809 times Debate No: 3345
Debate Rounds (1)
Comments (10)
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ReaganConservative

Pro

Ask the average, reasonably educated person what comes to mind when he or she hears the word "fascism" and the immediate responses are "dictatorship," "genocide," "anti-Semitism," "racism," and of course, "right-wing." Delve a bit deeper, and move a bit further to the left, and you'll hear a lot about "eugenics," "social Darwinism," "state capitalism," or the sinister rule of big business. War, militarism, and nationalism come up a lot as well. Some of these attributes were indisputably central to what we might call "classical" fascism, the fascism of Mussolini, and the Nazism of Hitler. Others, like the widely misunderstood term "social Darwinism," have little to do with fascism. But very few of these things are unique to fascism, and almost none of them are right-wing or conservative, at least in the American sense. Consider militarism. Militarism was central to fascism in many countries. For some thinkers in Germany and the U.S., war was truly the source of important moral values. This was militarism as a social philosophy pure and simple. But for far more people, militarism was a pragmatic expedient: the highest, best means for organizing society in productive ways. Militarism seemed to provide a workable and sensible model for achieving desirable ends. Mussolini used this logic. Such ideas had an immense following in the U.S., with many leading progressives championing the use of "industrial armies" to create the ideal workers' democracy. FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, as militaristic a social program as one can imagine, borrowed from these ideas, as did JFK's Peace Corps.

This trope has hardly been purged from modern liberalism. We always hear about the "war on cancer," the "war on drugs," the "War on Poverty," and exhortations to make this or that social challenge the "moral equivalent of war." From health care to gun control to global warming, liberals insist that we need to get beyond politics and put ideological differences behind us in order to do the people's business. The experts and scientists know what to do, we are told, therefore the time for debate is over. This, albeit in a nicer and more benign form, is the logic of fascism, and it was on ample display in the administrations of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and JFK.

Fascism is not a phenomenon of the right at all. It is one of the left. Even more telling, FDR's defenders openly admitted their admiration of fascism. The New Deal did emulate fascism; but Italy and Germany were secondary models, post hoc confirmations that liberals were on the right track. A simple fact remains: progressives did many things that we would today call fascist, and fascists did many things we would today call progressive.

Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy. Modern liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.

For more than 60 years, liberals have insisted that the bacillus of fascism lies semi-dormant in the bloodstream of the political right. The ranks of the left-wing intellectuals are infested with ideas and thinkers squarely in the fascist tradition. Yet, all it takes is the word "Marxist" to absolve most of them of any affinity with these currents.

Under the politics of meaning, all of society's institutions are wrapped around the state like sticks around the fascist blade. Every individual is responsible for maintaining not only his own ideological purity but that of his fellow man. Michael Lerner, Hillary Clinton's self-anointed guru and progressive activist, is, in effect, the ideologist of the liberal Gleichschaltung, the Nazi idea of coordinating every institution in society. This becomes apparent when he shifts to a discussion of how these reforms are to be implemented. Lerner writes that all government agencies and private businesses should issue "annual ethical-impact reports," which would assess "their effect on the ethical, spiritual, and psychological well-being of our society and on the people who work in and with these institutions." His intent is arguably nicer, but is this really so different from the bureaucratization of ideological loyalty that required German businesses and institutions to constantly provide documentation showing their assertive loyalty to the spirit of the new era? Spiritual slackers in twenty-first century America would no doubt find such scrutiny fascistic, albeit in a very caring and nurturing way.

Lerner believes it is the job of every profession, coordinating with the state, of course, to "reflect" on its own contribution to the spiritual and psychic health of the national Volksgemeinschaft. "Such reflection, for example, has led some lawyers associated with a politics-of-meaning perspective to envision a second state of trials, in which the adversary system is suspended and the focus is shifted to healing the problems and pain that the initial trial has uncovered in the community." That may sound a little silly to some ears, and it hardly seems to threaten a fascist coup. But if there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors, but with lawyers and social workers saying, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

As we've seen, ideologically fascist and progressive totalitarianism was never a mere doctrine of statism. Rather, it claimed that the state was the natural brain of the organic body politic. Statism was the route to collectivism. Government was merely the place where the spiritual will of the people would be translated into action (Marxists liked to use the word "praxis" to describe this unity of theory and action). One consequence of this view is that institutions and individuals that stand apart from the state or the progrssive tide are inherently suspect and labeled selfish, social Darwinist, conservative, or, most ironically, fascist. The state's role is not so much to make every decision as to be the metronome for the Gleichschaltung, ensuring that the decision makers are all in perfect agreement about the direction society needs to take. In a properly ordered progressive society, the state wouldn't take over Harvard or McDonald's, but it would certainly ensure that the Harvards and McDonald's had their priorities straight. The politics of meaning is ultimately a theocratic doctrine because it seeks to answer the fundamental questions about existence, argues that they can only be answered collectively, and insists that the state put those answers into practice.

Today's liberalism doesn't seek to conquer the world by force of arms. It is not a nationalist and genocidal project. To the contrary, it is an ideology of good intentions. But we all know where even the best of intentions can take us. Even the best of us are susceptible to the totalitarian temptation. Liberals agree with Hillary Clinton's intentions; they just assert that anyone who finds them oppressive is a fascist.
Harboggles

Con

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, and/or 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."

AKA 1 man making the decisions. Or even 1 body, such as the republican party.

I need only refer you to our budget and you will see that our spending has been pro republican for the last 8 years. Republicans are the ones pulling the purse strings. I have no idea if it's Bush, Cheney, or the RNC.

Every year during the Democratic controlled white house, life has been better, spending has been down, budgets have been in reach, presidents have been popular. Bill Clinton is the only president in History to have a higher approval coming out than he did coming in!

Stop bringing things down to Conservative and Liberal and start looking at the big picture of right vs. wrong.

Ps. You clearly copied and pasted this from somewhere.
Debate Round No. 1
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by shwayze 9 years ago
shwayze
the classic liberal response:

"Every year during the Democratic controlled white house, life has been better."

Haha, I mean seriously?

ReaganConservatives dominated.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
PS- ReaCon, I voted for you anyway, since your opponent was terrible. He did not make a single valid arguement relevent to the topic.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
Could you post a link for that Sycrone?

And ReaCon, I just need to point out that Reagan DEFINATELY possessed at least three of the traits listed as Fascistic (patriotism, militarism, anti-communism) and arguably two more (nationalism and populism). I read Liberal Fascism, and while I've got no problems with Goldberg's analysis of everything before 1970, afterwards he seems to ignore the fascistic tendencies among Republicans. While this is tolerable for his book, since he's trying to dispel a common myth, it is not accurate to claim in a debate on this site that Fascism is solely of the left and then point to Reagan as an example of a conservative.
Posted by Scyrone 9 years ago
Scyrone
Since it wasn't your debate, Reagan, and you clearly copy/pasted it from somewhere, the vote goes to Con.

that Liberal Facism book has SOOOO many flaws it is unreal.

For one example, look at the debate between Jonah Goldberg and John Stewart.
Posted by ReaganConservative 9 years ago
ReaganConservative
Wait, which president enforced a law that made it illegal to speak out against the government? Oh yea, Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Wait, which president imprisoned over 120,000 innocent Japanese-Americans just because they were Japanese? Oh yea, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"Bill Clinton is the only president in History to have a higher approval coming out than he did coming in!"
--And he was also the 2nd president in United States history to be impeached. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Haha!

"Stop bringing things down to Conservative and Liberal and start looking at the big picture of right vs. wrong."
--I believe I am right on this one.
Posted by ReaganConservative 9 years ago
ReaganConservative
"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."
--Thank you for conceding that fascism is a phenomenon of the Left.

"Every year during the Democratic controlled white house, life has been better, spending has been down, budgets have been in reach, presidents have been popular."
--And interest rates have been at 21%, inflation has been at 14%, unemployment has been at 11% (Carter), we've been attacked multiple times without an aggressive response (Clinton), and we've had interns providing special "services" to the president (Clinton). Remember Vietnam? Wait, who was the president that got us into that? Oh yea, Democrat JFK. And Democrat Lyndon Johnson turned it into a quagmire. Wait, which presidents revived the "Great Society" which resulted in 50 million dead babies, epidemic rates of suicide, depression, drug addiction, child molestation, suicidal children, and a progressive education system that produced massive amounts of illiteracy and ignorance, and a 50% divorce rate? Oh yea, Democrats JFK and LBJ. Wait, which presidents had dozens of confirmed, by the Venona Report, Communist spies working in their administrations? Oh yea, Democrats FDR and Harry S. Truman.

Wait, which president defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot? Oh yea, Republican Ronald Reagan. Which president's economic policies sparked 96 cosecutive months of economic growth and solved the economic mess left behind by Democrat Jimmy Carter? Oh yea, Republican Ronald Reagan. Wait, which president's tax cuts that sparked the technology boom and peace dividend that enabled Bill Clinton to achieve his surplus? Oh yea, Republican Ronald Reagan.
Posted by Vi_Veri 9 years ago
Vi_Veri
I wonder why Harboggles always has to insult his opponent.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
Forget "reading," ReaCon's either copying and pasting directly from the book or he's copying and pasting directly from a review of the book.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
Not necessarily. The problem is ambiguity in the terms right and left. The modern right shares many traits with fascism. The war on drugs, the Boy Scouts, the emphasis on patriotism, strict immigration controls and the war in Iraq, which are far more strongly supported on the modern right, all lean towards fascism. The only people who can really say that fascism is a phenomenon of the left are libertarians.
Posted by shwayze 9 years ago
shwayze
I'm assuming you read/are reading "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg. One of the best and most revealing books I've ever read. You'll own whoever takes this debate.
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