Friday, July 31, 2009

Obama the "Liberal"

There were several requests in my last blog post to expand on my premise about Obama's similarity to previous fascistic movements. I suppose I can finally get around to doing so.
An aside: I have no idea why it's been so long since I've posted. I guess I haven't had much interesting to say about science, video games, or philosophy, and there's only so much I can say about politics without drumming the same beat over and over.
In any case, I have to be very careful here. Goldberg spends a lot of time in his book detailing what he means by fascism because its use today is so generalized. Most people just use it as an epithet for something they don't like. "You mean they took the free coffee out of the break room? What a bunch of fascists."

Also, Goldberg spends the first part of the book looking at the fascist movements of Europe, first Italy and then Germany, then follows up with the American fascist movements before talking about what they ended up looking like in modern America. Yes, it happened here in America. No, it wasn't identical to Italian or German fascism. All of these movements were born of their own time period to specific peoples, so each fascist movement is going to carry specific markers. Italian fascism didn't involve virulent anti-semitism, and American fascism never involved dictators (though it came close at times). My point being that fascism doesn't just mean, "tyrannical dictatorship," and because Goldberg spends hundreds of pages setting up his premises, it would be very difficult for me to do the arguments justice in a single blog post.

So, why do I think Obama is eerily reminiscent of American fascist movements? The political messianism, the cult of youth and action, the reliance on personality and destiny rather than argument and idea; those are strongly familiar themes. The general philosophy of governance is similar, too: Everything within the state, nothing outside the state. American fascism (which took the name "progressivism") worked diligently to dissolve individualism, erase the lines between private corporations and the federal government, establish a welfare state so expansive that people would be absolutely reliant on the government, and create a government not "of the people" but of benign experts who would create an ordered society through their expertise and brilliance as opposed to the debauchery of "democracy."

So what do we see? A man who campaigned on "hope and change," as "the One we have been waiting for." Under his governance, the federal government became the majority shareholder of a major American corporation and has attempted to expand that ownership to the healthcare field. We have more "czars" in the Obama administration than Russia ever had. The drumbeat for a "new New Deal" repeats almost every other day.

So, no, I'm not calling Obama a Hitler or a Mussolini. He's more like a Wilson or an FDR. But it would be worth it to understand why the comparisons can be made before criticizing them. I recommend reading Goldberg's book; even if you disagree with conservatives, it's worth it to understand where ideas come from and how they evolve over time. If you end up thinking that he's gotten it wrong, at least you know what it is that he's arguing first.