There has been a lot of pure garbage on the net about liberals being fascists of the Nazi variety. People who espouse this nonsense probably took their cues from a very conservative journalist, Jonah Goldberg, in a book called “Liberal Fascism”. Jonah was a journalist for the National Review, originally started by William F. Buckley. Buckley had a show for many years I watched on PBS called, “Firing Line”. Although, I disagreed with many of his arguments based on logical fallacies, I did appreciate a show where arguments could be developed more fully and both sides could get a fair hearing. Buckley died in 2008, the same year Goldberg published “Liberal Fascism”. The book was not written in the style set by Buckley but was very fanciful to the point of not only not giving the history of German fascism a well-researched treatment but to the point where the vast majority of scholars which research that time period in Germany, thought of it as purely fabricated and an intentional gross revision of history. Professor Paul Bookbinder writes this about the liberals and conservatives of this time in Germany:
The parties on the left were strong supporters of progressive taxation, government social welfare programs, labor unions, equality and economic opportunity for women. They were less nationalistic, militaristic and antisemitic than the parties on the right. They favored greater government involvement in—and control of—business and industry and were to varying degrees anti-religious. Still, there were strong differences and major conflicts between the two major leftist parties. The Social Democrats were strong supporters of the Republic and democracy while the Communists were opposed to both, favoring a Russian style communist dictatorship. The parties on the right were strongly nationalistic and supported large military. They were opposed to social welfare programs, labor unions and progressive taxation. They favored an economy directed by industrialists and landowners with large estates. They were antisemitic and favored traditional roles for women. The Nationalists were a more traditional Conservative Party, while the National Socialists were a radical party wanting revolutionary change. Both parties publicly supported the Churches and the role of religion in society but some elements in the Nazi Party harbored hostility to traditional religion.1
I highly recommend this essay on the political parties of that era. In any case, does this description remind you more of Democrats or Republicans? Please, do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that all Republicans are fascists as that would be ludicrous. I am merely making the point that, historically speaking, the fascists had more in common with what we think of now as conservative ideology than liberal ideology. This directly contradicts Goldberg’s thesis. Those that parrot Goldberg’s fantasies on the web are quite content to ignore much evidence to the contrary. The real problem we are facing is that many on the web do not seem to believe there are facts that may or may not confirm their beliefs. They simply want to emote their beliefs without critical thought or challenge.
Personally, I find this to be a serious and deadly threat to democracy. Once we have a critical mass of people that could care less about any objective reality apart from themselves, we have achieved a fatal blow to democracy itself. Democracy cannot survive on baseless opinions. Democracies were fashioned in the critical kilns of Enlightenment which valued the ability of the individual to think critically and make more sound judgements. Once folks have lost the desire to research facts, they do not put the work into trying to base their opinions on established facts and well-reasoned logic. Additionally, they are susceptible to our highly sophisticated marketing culture which, over time, can reinforce thoughts and beliefs on many subjects combined with group and peer support.
Donald Trump is not a fact-based person. He has contradicted himself and lied so much that the only apparent reason he has for it is manipulation. He, along with Fox News (started by a gossip rag publisher) have effectively created a cult of true believers. Facts mean absolutely nothing to these folks. There have been indictments and guilty pleas which every responsible citizen should read. The bulk of these travesties are yet to come out in the Mueller investigation but there is no doubt, based on the vast wealth of information we now know, that Trump is guilty of obstruction (even Giuliani recently admitted Trump was guilty of obstruction and could be impeached unless they manipulate public opinion to his favor!). And this does not even start on collusion with the Russians. There are many in his campaign and current staff that had complicated business relations and political favors with the Russian government. Trump’s own son has stated that the Russians were very happy to fund his golf courses. How can 75% of Republicans, who in the recent past were highly suspect of the Russians, belittle this and write it off as all lies and Democratic manipulation of the FBI, CIA and, Trumps own high-level, appointments in the Justice Department?
It is obvious. For many years Fox News and politicians have fostered in their viewers the idea that the Federal Government is the source of all their problems. If the only authority which can be trusted is Fox News and far right politicians, then only they can be trusted to be the purveyors of truth. Facts? Research? Other views, simply written off. Hitler called this simply, “propaganda” – everyone should read “Mein Kampf” (translated “My Fight”) lest we repeat the past we forgot. Trump supporters want to physically fight journalists, gays, liberals, blacks, Hispanics, etc. but they consistently do not want to fight me with well-reasoned arguments. I am not a small guy. I have been lifting heavy weights for decades. Yet, I know that a physical fight will solve absolutely nothing. That sentiment would only serve to fester the instability of social cohesion. Even more so, a physical fight over issues of beliefs is a full and complete admonition that one cannot defend their position. It is an arrogant profession of ignorance. It is the mindless act of brute force over everything that brought us out of the caves. I prefer to either: 1) win an argument based on facts and research or 2) learn something I did not know before. However, I am no pushover. If you want to play with me you better be willing to do the same work I will do to get to the real facts of the issue. I have no need to ‘know everything’. I am quite content to profess ignorance and make my sole mission only to learn what I do not know. I know that both participants in a good argument are benefited by the facts and logic exercised in the process.
Why have I made these points? In Nazi Germany there were many conservatives and liberals that kept their mouth shut and allowed Hitler and his assassins to take charge of Germany when there was an opportunity to impact the horrific tragedies to come. I am of the firm opinion that we are starting down the road to the Third Reich2, albeit perhaps only the First Reich at this point. Do yourself a favor and look at the history of the Reich. All of us need to make a concerted effort to get to the facts and create logical consistency in our thinking. This is the most historically pressing need of our time. Those that will not or do not make a stand against what is happening are a fatal part of the problem. There certainly is a time when silence and withholding judgement are important – this is not that time. At some point those that know better and prefer appeasement and silence are just as culpable as the aggressors. If we let this current infection foster, our democracy will be its corpse. Please vote and let others know in no uncertain way that what Trump and his supporters are doing is not only wrong but highly dangerous!
2 Reich (/ ˈ r aɪ k /; German: (listen) is a German word literally meaning “realm”. The terms Kaiserreich (literally “realm of an emperor”) and Königreich (literally “realm of a king”) are used in German to refer to empires and kingdoms respectively.