Tag Archives: liberal

Comments on the Brain Essay

With regard to Jeff’s comments:

Jeff,

Thanks for your feedback. I am glad you liked it. Sorry I took a while to respond but my software work has been getting more time consuming lately. Here are my observations about your remarks.

First, without access to the details of these studies, we really don’t know what to do with this information. For example, it could be the case that 80% of those with an enlarged amygdala are conservatives, but only 0.01% of conservatives have an enlarged amygdala. If something like this is the case, then these studies really say nothing useful at all about conservatives.

Here are the studies the original article cited (there are more studies referenced in these studies as well):

http://blog.psico.edu.uy/cibpsi/files/2011/04/brains.pdf

http://lcap.psych.ucla.edu/pdfs/amodio_natureneuroscience07.pdf

The details about the study’s methodology are discussed in the beginnings of each article. The methodology looks sound to me as it is typical for these kinds of studies. Both of the institutions are top notch for neuroscience research.

Second, Mark goes on to depict conservatism, at least in part, as being about a fear of loss of control. But at least one counterexample exists, and a very large one: conservatives (or at least fiscal ones) advocate free markets, wherein control is utterly relinquished to the whims of trillions of individual and localized decisions; but liberals and progressives tend to dislike (fear?) the messiness and chaos of free markets, preferring something more planned, controlled, and centralized.

I suppose my take on this would be:

  1. Fear and problem solving are two very different discernable behaviors. If the response to a perceived problem is highly negative and emotionally charged then it looks like fear to me. If the response to a perceived problem tries to deal with the details of the problem and offer concrete, non-emotional solutions then I would think that would indicate a different part of the brain is operational. I am not sure dislike and fear are synonyms. I can dislike an ex-girlfriend but I do not fear her. I can disagree with Republicans on many things including the ‘free market’ but the ‘free market’ does not scare or threaten me.
  2. I think paranoia is a clearer, more intense example of fear than other types of generalized fear so I will try to use that as an example. I suppose anything can become the object of paranoia. I live in Boulder and seek out liberals as I did also in academia. I have never found liberals in those situations that I would describe as ‘fearing’ the ‘free market’. I have seen intense dislike of it though. For me, the fear thing is quite evident with paranoia – like ‘they are after me’ and ‘I need to get a gun to protect myself’ and ‘prying cold, dead fingers off my gun’ and ‘the blood of patriots’ and ‘the government is controlling us’ etc.. I have hardly ever heard liberals talk in these paranoid terms about the ‘free market’. I have, with effort, found some extremely leftist sites on the web that probably would fall into that category. However, I think that magnitudes and proportions matter in all these types of discussions. I do not know the statistical general population numbers for this kind of paranoia so I can only use my anecdotal knowledge and offer the impression that I think more conservatives fall into the paranoia category than liberals.
  3. If someone is trying to protect and defend something that he or she thinks they have and that someone is trying to take away, -that is a personal threat. Conservatives seem to think that they have something or once had it and that the liberals and government is trying to take it away from them (conservatives want to conserve, keep, hold on to). It seems to me that that reaction is typically one of fear. Just listen to Glenn Beck or Rush and think of the fear latent terms they are using. They actually have older people afraid to go out of their house for the big, bad, boogie, socialist, commy, radical Islamist, Obama control of the government which he is destroying (my dad included). While Beck and Rush are making money on this, older people are really getting scared by it all. I do not think liberals are ‘afraid’ of the ‘free market’. I think they want reasonable controls and regulation to make sure the market is more fair and not so tilted to the folks that are already huge beneficiaries of a tilted market. One thing certainly is different from the conservatives I described – liberals are not trying to protect something they think they had from the ‘free market’ that someone is trying to take away from them. Control may be fear based or reason based. I try to give some control for my kids but I do not fear my kids, I love them like crazy! I think you have to look at how the control is described (its terms, adjectives, adverbs, facial expressions, etc.) to figure out the emotive import.
  4. I think that one thing about this study is that it is time and culturally sensitive. For example, if we had a communist country and a ‘conservative’ party was perceived as trying to take housing, food, health care, etc. away from those that already comfortably had it, then I think a fear type, paranoid response could be feasible. As much as conservatives want to make the ‘nanny state’ argument in this country the census data* shows that 1 out of every 2 people are living at or near the poverty line (the poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four). ‘Nannies’ are generally for rich people – these income levels are not the lap of luxury. There is no way a family of four can be deemed ‘comfortable’ or getting ‘nannied’ by the government with this amount of income. I have never heard these folks defending their poverty situation in rhetorical terms like the conservatives use. In the latter case the issue is taking away something that is not working and in the former case the issue seems to be taking away something they think is worth protecting (dying for as the ‘blood of patriots’ demonstrates). I am not sure these studies should be taken as always applying to each and every case of what we think of as ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ for all time. I guess I look at it more like a snapshot of our particular present circumstances.

Third, and with tongue partly in cheek, could it be the case that those with a larger “part of the brain that processes conflicting information” (from Wikipedia’s definition of the anterior cingulate cortex) tend to be liberal because they are better equipped to deal with the resulting cognitive dissonance?

First, I like cognitive dissonance because it motivates me to think and do research. Perhaps one way to deal with cognitive dissonance is to pretend like it does not exist but there are more productive ways to deal with it (and actually like it with practice). With regard to your article, I think there is a bit of heavy handed stereotyping going on in it. I have never met a liberal or conservative that has claimed they are always right about everything. I would think of that as some sort of pathological problem. I think there are folks on both sides that get defensive, feel like they are pinned into a corner and lapse into a simplistic ‘well I am right and you are wrong’, lack of a defense, type argument. I also find the main premise of your article is that it obvious that Obama was wrong on everything (or most things) and the liberals ‘really’ know it and are just trying to cover it up – this is called a loaded question (or argument) because it makes unexamined conclusions at the outset. To make the claim that liberals really know Obama is awful is speculation on your part that needs further examination (not assuming it at the beginning and trying to dissect their intentions after the fact). This type of argumentative move reminds me of the anti-choice’ folks that automatically assume that pro-choice folks are ‘killing babies’, Nazis that believe in genocide, etc.. There is no middle ground for those types. They assume that you must believe that a fetus is a ‘baby’ and that any pro-choice discussion is really a defense of baby killing. This is a problem of extremism and radicalizing everyone else that does not believe in your truth. I call this type of argument the ‘pushing the middle ground to an extreme in order to refute it’ or straw man argument.

I really do think Obama has done a good job for the most part in light of what was happening when he came into office. I have written extensively on my blog using many statistics to show the progress that has been made in spite of all (including Republican naysayers) during the Obama administration including data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Treasury Department, GAO, CBO and many universities, notable market, economic, polling research organizations so I would think you would have to take that on first. I also think many people tend to forget the extremely deep hole the Bush administration left us in. One case where I personally recognize the ‘we were wrong so therefore we must pretend like we were right’ syndrome is for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The folks that put us over there seem to me to be unable to belly up to the bar and admit it was a mistake to go over there in the first place (except Ron Paul who is totally right on this subject!). I understand why folks feel a need to do this – all those amazing kids that were killed or maimed for life AND the huge deficit hole those wars dug for us. I saw this in the Vietnam War personally with my two older brothers whose young lives were lost in the jungle never to return and I THOUGHT we learned our lesson but I guess we must forget quickly. I also recognize that some may legitimately have thought these wars were necessary and it was a good thing we started them in which case, an examination of the facts, the supposed reasons, the benefit, the real as well as imagined results had we not started those wars, etc. would have to be investigated to arrive at any hope of a conclusion. Even still, this type of effort would not result in a ‘I was right and you were wrong’ silliness but probably more of a weighted, approximation that these facts, assumptions, conclusion seem to be more correct than their antithesis. Actually, I find that this form of cognitive dissonance that cannot settle on black and white conclusions is better to have going forward than the fantasmic black and white resolve that makes folks feel better but really only leaves them believing an easy delusion.

And finally, the point of these studies, or at least the way they’ve been reported in some cases, seems to include the implicit suggestion that liberals and progressives are smarter, more logical, less emotional thinkers than are conservatives. But interestingly, the most intelligent among us tend to lean pretty strongly libertarian. See, e.g., the results of a survey of Triple Nine Society members (who are in the 99.9th percentile for intelligence).

I did not see the results in the Triple Nine Society that are ear marks of a scientific and therefore well reasoned conclusion (statistical variance, random, double blind, etc.). Additionally, what is deemed ‘intelligence’ would have to clearly and narrowly be stated and defended in advance of even trying to make a conclusion. There were a few libertarian, conservative and liberal politicians mentioned but this is hardly a study. As a side, I will tell you a little story. When I lived in Dallas I made some Mensa friends and started going to their meetings. I was thinking about taking the test when some of them started telling me that they would give me answers and even the test I would take. Of course, this is anecdotal and perhaps not typical of Mensa but it discouraged me from going further – for me, it really just seemed like a club after that…

Oh, also, I did not think of these studies as giving any indication of intelligence. I think that was a leap on your part. I think the whole topic of intelligence is a can of worms (emotional, IQ, analytic, logical, poetic/artistic, folksy wisdom, etc.). I personally do not feel like these studies had anything to say about the intelligence of liberals or conservatives merely how they typically, in our particular present situation, handle making sense of their environment. There certainly is no claim to greater or lesser intelligence in the studies themselves…

*I highly recommend this report by the Census Bureau. It give much more detail than the usual statistics that are cited.

The Conservative and Liberal Brain

When conservatives beat the drum that the government is ‘controlling them’ many of us look at them the same way we would look at someone that told us the government put a radio in their head that makes them hear voices. When we hear that the secular world is controlled by Satan and evolution, climate change, environmentalism and abortion is a ‘humanistic’ war on God many of us roll our eyes and walk away. When they talk about God and guns we hope that God does not tell them to start shooting until we are out of range. While not all conservatives fit into these categories there are enough out there to make us wonder if there is more going on than meets the eye. -Look no further than neuroscience.

Studies have shown that the brain is different for conservative and liberals. The amygdala is larger in conservatives. The anterior cingulate cortex is larger in liberals. The amygdala evolved 500 million years ago. It is responsible for emotional fear responses.

The amygdala is part of the limbic system, the area of the brain associated with emotions. The amygdala is important for formation of emotional memories and learning, such as fear conditioning, as well as memory consolidation. Emotions significantly impact how we process events; when we encounter something and have a strong emotional reaction—either positive or negative—that memory is strengthened.

Persons with a larger or more active amygdala tend to have stronger emotional reactions to objects and events, and process information initially through that pathway. They would be more likely swayed towards a belief if it touched them on an emotional level.

Those with a larger amygdala are also thought to experience and express more empathy, perhaps explaining why one of the features of psychopathy is a smaller amygdala. This is not to say that someone with a smaller amygdala is a psychopath, just that they are probably less emotionally reactive or receptive.

On the other hand, while emotional sensitivity can be a good thing, too much emotionality can have negative consequences. For example, Borderline Personality Disorder, characterized by poor and uncontrollable emotion regulation, features a hyperactive amygdala. (Link)

The amygdala has many functions, including fear processing [11]. Individuals with a large amygdala are more sensitive to fear [12], which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amygdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief system. Similarly, it is striking that conservatives are more sensitive to disgust [13, 14], and the insula is involved in the feeling of disgust [15]. On the other hand, our finding of an association between anterior cingulate cortex volume and political attitudes may be linked with tolerance to uncertainty. One of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex is to monitor uncertainty [16, 17] and conflicts [18]. Thus, it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views.(Link)

The anterior cingulate cortex only recently evolved. It is responsible for higher cognitive learning – error correction is a big function of the anterior cingulate cortex.

The ACC has a variety of functions in the brain, including error detection, conflict monitoring1, and evaluating or weighing different competing choices. It’s also very important for both emotion regulation and cognitive control (often referred to as ‘executive functioning’)—controlling the level of emotional arousal or response to an emotional event (keeping it in check), as to allow your cognitive processes to work most effectively.

When there is a flow of ambiguous information, the ACC helps to discern whether the bits of info are relevant or not, and assigns them value. People with some forms of schizophrenia, Paranoid Type, for instance, typically have a poorly functioning ACC, so they have trouble discerning relevant patterns from irrelevant ones, giving equal weight to all of them. Someone can notice lots of bizarre patterns—that alone isn’t pathological—but you need to know which ones are meaningful. The ACC helps to decide which patterns are worth investigating and which ones are just noise. If your brain assigned relevance to every detectable pattern, it would be pretty problematic. We sometimes refer to this as having paranoid delusions. You need that weeding out process to think rationally.

Mental illness aside, being able to sort out relevant patterns from irrelevant patterns logically is difficult to do when heavy emotions are involved. Imagine being under extreme emotional duress (such as having a fight with your significant other) then sitting down to analyze a set of data, or read a story and pick out the main points. It’s ridiculously hard to think logically when you’re all ramped up emotionally. This is why emotion regulation goes hand-in-hand with cognitive control and error detection.

Too much emotion gets in the way of logical thinking, and disrupts cognitive processing. This is why in times of crisis, we learn to set aside our emotions in order to problem-solve our way out of a dangerous situation. Those with the ability to maintain low emotional arousal and have high cognitive control are generally better at handling conflict in the moment, plus tend to be the least permanently affected by trauma in the long term2. They tend to be more adaptable to changing situations (or have a higher tolerance for complexity), and have what we call cognitive flexibility.(Link)

This article states:

What does this boil down to in practical terms?

In order for a person to embrace a cause or idea, it needs to be meaningful for them. Each type of person has a different way that they assign meaning and relevance to ideas. Let’s take liberals and conservatives, since we are theorizing that they are two distinct thinking styles: liberals would be more flexible and reliant on data, proof, and analytic reasoning, and conservatives are more inflexible (prefer stability), emotion-driven, and connect themselves intimately with their ideas, making those beliefs a crucial part of their identity (we see this in more high-empathy-expressing individuals). This fits in with the whole “family values” platform of the conservative party, and also why we see more religious folks that identify as conservatives, and more skeptics, agnostics, and atheists that are liberal. Religious people are more unshakable in their belief of a higher power, and non-religious people are more open to alternate explanations, i.e., don’t rely on faith alone.

So—for liberals to make a case for an idea or cause, they come armed with data, research studies, and experts. They are convinced of an idea if all the data checks out–basically they assign meaning and value to ideas that fit within the scientific method, because that’s their primary thinking style. Emotion doesn’t play as big of a role in validation. Not to say that liberals are unfeeling, but just more likely to set emotion aside when judging an idea initially, and factor it in later. Checks out scientifically = valuable. Liberals can get just as emotionally attached to an idea, but it’s usually not the primary trigger for acceptance of an idea.

Conservatives would be less likely to assign value primarily using the scientific method. Remember, their thinking style leads primarily with emotion. In order for them to find an idea valuable, it has to be meaningful for them personally. It needs to trigger empathy. Meaning, they need some kind of emotional attachment to it, such as family, or a group of individuals they are close to in some way.

Let’s state the obvious disclaimers. This neurological evidence should not be taken as categorically true of all conservatives or all liberals. This is not in any sense reductionary evidence. It is certainly feasible that some conservatives could have a larger anterior cingulate cortex and some liberals could have a larger amygdale. It is also possible that conservatives and liberals could have both brain areas smaller or larger. Additionally, the brain changes and adapts as it is used or not used. However, my interest in this topic is to try to understand conservatives. I grew up in the Deep South and did not even know a liberal until I started college; although, I was liberal from birth. I have often been disappointed in the explanations (or lack thereof) that conservatives have given me for their ideology. However, there have been some exceptions to this with public figures like David Brooks and William Buckley. I have also come across various philosophers like Nietzsche, Foucault, postmodern philosophers that could lend some ideas to conservatism. In any case, the neuroscience findings may explain certain kinds of behavior that the actual people (i.e., conservatives) cannot explain.

From “The New Unconscious”, here are some interesting studies and results:

More recent research with nonhuman animals has emphasized the amygdala’s role in emotional learning and memory. Work by Davis (1992), Kapp, Pascoe, and Bixler (1984), and LeDoux (1992) has shown that while the amygdala is not critical to express an emotional reaction to stimuli that are inherently aversive, it is critical for learned fear responses.

Ran R. Hassin;James S. Uleman;John A. Bargh. The New Unconscious (Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience) (p. 62). Kindle Edition.

Investigations into the neural systems of fear conditioning have mapped the pathways for learning from stimulus input to response output. One finding that has emerged from this research is that information about the identity of a stimulus can reach the amygdala by more than one pathway. Romanski and LeDoux (1992) have shown that there are separate cortical and subcortical pathways to convey perceptual information to the amygdala. If one pathway is damaged, the other is sufficient to signal the presence of a conditioned stimulus and elicit a conditioned response. It has been suggested that these dual pathways may be adaptive (LeDoux, 1996). The amygdala responds to stimuli in the environment that represent potential threat. The amygdala then sends signals to other brain regions and the autonomic nervous system, preparing the animal to respond quickly. The subcortical pathway to the amygdala can provide only a crude estimation of the perceptual details of the stimulus, but it is very fast. The cortical pathway allows the stimulus to be fully processed, but it is somewhat slower. This crude, fast subcortical pathway may prepare the animal to respond more quickly if, when the stimulus is fully processed and identified by the cortical pathway, the threat turns out to be real.

Ran R. Hassin;James S. Uleman;John A. Bargh. The New Unconscious (Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience) (pp. 62-63). Kindle Edition.

Although the amygdala is critical for fear conditioning, it also plays a broader, noncritical role in other types of learning and memory. The amygdala can modulate the function of other memory systems, particularly the hippocampal memory system necessary for declarative or episodic memory. McGaugh, Introini-Collision, Cahill, Munsoo, and Liang (1992) have shown that when an animal is aroused, the storage of hippocampal-dependent memory is enhanced. This enhanced storage with arousal depends on the amygdala. The amygdala modulates storage by altering consolidation. Consolidation is a process that occurs after initial encoding by which a memory becomes more or less “set”or permanent. McGaugh (2000) has suggested that perhaps one adaptive function of this slow consolidation process is to allow the neurohormonal changes that occur with emotion to alter memory. In this way, events that elicit emotional reactions, and thus may be more important for survival, are remembered better than nonemotional events. This secondary role of modulating the consolidation of hippocampal-dependent memories with mild arousal is another way the amygdala can influence emotional memory.

Ran R. Hassin;James S. Uleman;John A. Bargh. The New Unconscious (Oxford Series in Social Cognition and Social Neuroscience) (p. 63). Kindle Edition.

This result tells me that the amygdale is the key and best suited for survival situations. Some of the latter studies in this book show that those with damage to this area of the brain can learn how to adapt to these situations using other parts of the brain. There are also studies that show that the amygdale can be employed for memory of dangerous situations by merely hearing about something dangerous. For example, if someone tells you that a certain dog may bite, your amygdale will help you remember this warning for the next time you encounter the dog. This is called ‘instructed fear’. This tells me that when conservatives hear that President Obama is a dangerous socialist they may physically take this as an emotional memory about a looming danger.

The studies also show that this whole process can be subliminal or unconscious. In fact, many of the findings in this book show that practically everything we think is conscious, including agency and control, actually take place unconsciously. Even more so, the problem that these studies are highlighting is that we really do not know why we need a conscious or what function it serves. I covered some of this material in this essay.

Here are some of my personal conclusions from this data:

Control is about the fear of loss of control. This fear drives preservation and conservatism. Conservatism does not want to relinquish what it believes it has; it wants to maintain. Its instinct is based in the need to survive so it is fundamentally emotional. However, not all threats are equal. Some perceived threats are really simply a need for change, sometimes fundamental change is required. Thus, the amygdale that is hyperactive can be illusional. It can stimulate to the point of imminent threat and paranoia. Only those that have equally overactive amygdales will ‘understand’ the need to act rashly and believe the justification for it.

For me, conservatism, especially the older conservatives, were the keepers of a critical function of society, -the need to maintain stability. Large populations have a certain kind of massive momentum that resists change. It is sort of like a gigantic cruise ship; it does not change directions very quickly. Societies need stability and ‘conservatism’ to some extent to maintain order, prevent social anxiety and prevent anarchy in the worst case. These studies also show that there are functions in the brain that moderate change. They provide damping effects on novel situations and reinforce the ‘tried and true’ for behavior. The down side of this is that sometimes as society meets new challenges a dogged insistence on the ‘tried and true’ may actually exasperate societal functions that are not working. In this case the ‘tried and true’ may no longer be tried or true (if it ever was). In the worst case, this can lead to revolution, violence and mass anarchy. This is why populations need liberals.

Liberals want to find progressive solutions to new challenges. When conservatism bogs down and gets stuck in a rut that is not working for large sections of society, liberals become the vanguard for change. This actually keeps untenable circumstances from getting out of control and finally resulting in bloody revolutions. Communists actually see this as a negative, bourgeois effect that continues to oppress mass populations; it effectively consorts with the status quo and laissez faire to oppress large populations with the ‘liberal face’ of conservatism. At some point, history has shown that the communist critique of the bourgeoisie is certainly true and both conservatives and liberals prevent needed and meaningful change. If a society adopts a ‘no right is too far right’ approach to government then the legitimate, liberal function is repressed and the tipping point for revolution is brought dangerously closer. The brain has the same pitfalls.

Especially in view of technology and its demands, no or little education is more and more an untenable life choice. Manufacturing is becoming more and more automated in wealthy countries and manual labor for tasks that are not automated make it hard for those types of manufacturers to make the profit they require to stay in wealthy countries. A brain that wants to preserve what it has will have a harder and harder time staying afloat without government assistance in this fast paced environment. This is why the problem solving functions of the brain is required for novel situations or situations that are no longer tenable.

A conservative oriented person that is doing ok is not going to want to make massive changes to help others that are in real need. The tendency in this case is for insular behavior. Folks in this situation will adopt hands off political ideologies and resist change. As long as these folks are in a majority for democratic governments they will fashion a conservative government. However, if a critical mass of adversely effected populations is exceeded the liberals will win out and the government will get more and more liberal. I believe this is where the United States finds itself.

Demographics are more and more against the conservative agenda chiefly because the disaffected minorities are getting larger than the decreasing majority that prefers conservatism. In this setting, the conservative will start to sound more and more anachronistic and irrelevant. If new strategies are not provided in this country to positively address issues like health care, immigration, poverty and discrimination the only alternative is to restrict democratic power either by law or by manipulation (i.e., money is protected by free speech). The manipulation tactic is a time limited tactic, it is temporary. It will only work as long as a mass of people’s physical situation is tolerable and conservatism informs them that conserving works better for them. However, at some point the rhetoric will not provide needed fundamentals for these populations. If conservatives then insist on conserving, the blow back will be more severe. I do not think we will reach this point until all the options for conservation have been deployed and tried and exhausted themselves.

One last point, I do not think that all liberal solutions are solutions and may actually exasperate problems. I view this as similar to the problems the space program encountered in the early days. Many ideas and proposals were tried and failed in the early days of space explorations. It was a messy process that had no guarantee of success but, as a country, the United States resolved that space exploration was not optional. When necessity drives political requirement not succeeding is not an option. The conservatives will find that they will reach a point of diminishing returns if they keep blaming liberals for ‘true’ conservatism not working. It is similar to the tinny sound non-believers hear when Christians keep telling them that the historical violence of Christianity was not ‘true’ Christianity. The ‘trueness’ of appealing to the ‘tried and true’ wears thin no matter what the excuses if it is not working. This is why issues like health care cannot be ignored forever. If conservatives cannot or will not demonstrate a viable solution, necessity will drive a novel solution and liberals will be the force behind it.

Fascism is Liberal and Squares are Circles

George Santayana remarked that forgetting history was tantamount to repeating it.  I would add that re-writing history is also tantamount to repeating it.  How do you re-write history – simple, propaganda.  Propaganda is the art of equivocation.  If you have an ideology to promote and you minimize differences and maximizes similarities that reinforce your dogma then the only other thing you need to do is get people to believe it by repeating it enough.  If you can achieve this you can re-write history and start down the road of its horrific repetitions.  With regard to the assertion made in many posts I have read, the equivocation is this: Liberalism = Socialism = Totalitarianism = Evil.  The other unspoken equivocation is Conservatism = Capitalism = Nationalism = Good.  By “Nationalism” I mean, God/Good is on the side of the US (or more particularly – the Republican party since  liberals may or may not be Nationalistic as also Democrats can be liberal or conservative economically and/or socially – see how these equivocations break down when thought is applied).  I have no interest whatsoever in defending socialism only in preserving differences and preventing equivocation and dogmatic, homogenizing of history.  Additionally, I totally agree that this nonsense goes on from both sides!  I oppose it equally from the left too.

After doing some research I found a source of these equivocations to be a book by Jonah Goldberg called “Liberal Fascism”.  The Heritage Foundation and the National Review are promoting it.  Jonah Goldberg is a Fox news commentator and editor at the National Review.  He did go to college but I can’t find if he even got an undergraduate degree (??).  He is not a scholar and his work is at best considered right-wing propaganda by scholars (i.e., liberal, commie academics) oh, and also serious conservatives.  His book appeals to the same crowd as Ann [Reich] Coulter.  He also thinks the KKK came from liberalism.  Maybe we should round up these commie liberals and execute them or at least start a “black list” in the name of anti-fascism and love of God and country? – give me a f***ing break

 “Not without reason was Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism widely expected to be a bad book. As many predicted from the title, Goldberg does not content himself with rebuking those who call anyone who disagrees with them a fascist. Instead, he invents reasons of his own for calling anyone who disagrees with Jonah Goldberg a fascist.”

                                             January 28, 2008 Issue
                                             Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative

                                             Goldberg’s Trivial Pursuit

 http://amconmag.com/2008/2008_01_28/review.html

Myth: Hitler was a leftist.

Fact: Nearly all of Hitler’s beliefs placed him on the far right.

http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-hitler.htm

“Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere.” (p. 32)

                                                          Benito Mussolini, 1935, The Doctrine of Fascism, Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

 Gosh, I guess that would explain why the first prisoners rounded up and sent to Dachau — the first Nazi death camp — were socialists and communists:

“Dachau is one of the first concentration camps the Nazis establish. The first prisoners arrive two days later. They are mainly Communists and Socialists and other political opponents of the Nazi party. Dachau is the only camp to remain in operation from 1933 until 1945.”

                                                   http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2007/12/liberal-fascism-preview.html

 For that matter, of course, there are still genuine fascists and proto-fascists with us today. They go by such names as the Aryan Nations, Christian Identity, or National Socialist Movement. And they’re all aligned, politically, to the far right.

http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2005/10/ultimate-newspeak.html

“National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with the democratic order.”

                                                                                                                          Hitler to Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction, pg. 186

“Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production…. Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied – the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society….”

“The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State….”

                            In 1932 Mussolini wrote (with the help of Giovanni Gentile) and entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.html

And thus the Left is forced more and more to turn to Bolshevism. “In Bolshevism they see today the sole, the last possibility of preserving the present state of affairs. They realize quite accurately that the people is beaten so long as Brain and Hand can be kept apart. For alone neither Brain nor Hand can really oppose them. So long therefore as the Socialist idea is coined only by men who see in it a means for disintegrating a nation, so long can they rest in peace.”

“But it will be a sorry day for them when this Socialist idea is grasped by a Movement which unites with it the highest Nationalist pride, with Nationalist defiance, and thus places the Nation’s Brain, its intellectual workers, on this ground. Then this system will break up, and there would remain only one single means of salvation for its supporters: vis. to bring the catastrophe upon us before their own ruin, to destroy the Nation’s Brain, to bring it to the scaffold – to introduce Bolshevism.”

“So the Left neither can nor will help. On the contrary, their first lie compels them constantly to resort to new lies. There remains then the Right. And this party of the Right meant well, but it cannot do what it would because up to the present time it has failed to recognize a whole series of elementary principles.

“In the first place the Right still fails to recognize the danger. These gentlemen still persist in believing that it is a question of being elected to a Landtag or of posts as minister or secretaries. They think that the decision of a people’s destiny would mean at worst nothing more than some damage to their so-called bourgeois-economic existence. They have never grasped the fact that this decision threatens their heads. They have never yet understood that it is not necessary to be an enemy of the Jew for him to drag you one day on the Russian model to the scaffold. They do not see that it is quite enough to have a head on your shoulders and not to be a Jew: that will secure the scaffold for you. “

“In consequence their whole action today is so petty, so limited, so hesitating and pusillanimous. They would like to – but they can never decide on any great deed, because they fail to realize the greatness of the whole period. “

“And then there is another fundamental error: they have never got it clear in their own minds that there is a difference or how great a difference there is between the conception ‘National’ and the word ‘dynastic’ or ‘monarchistic.’ They do not understand that today it is more than ever necessary in our thoughts as Nationalists to avoid anything which might perhaps cause the individual to think that the National Idea was identical with petty everyday political views. They ought day by day to din into the ears of the masses: ‘We want to bury all the petty differences and to bring out into the light the big things, the things we have in common which bind us to one another. That should weld and fuse together those who have still a German heart and a love for their people in the fight against the common hereditary foe of all Aryans. How afterward we divide up this State, friends – we have no wish to dispute over that! The form of a State results from the essential character of a people, results from necessities which are so elementary and powerful that in time every individual will realize them without any disputation when once all Germany is united and free.’

“And finally they all fail to understand that we must on principle free ourselves from any class standpoint. It is of course very easy to call out to those on the Left, ‘You must not be proletarians, leave your class-madness,’ while you yourselves continue to call yourself ‘bourgeois.’ They should learn that in a single State there is only one supreme citizen-right, one supreme citizen-honor, and that is the right and the honor of honest work. They should further learn that the social idea must be the essential foundation for any State, otherwise no State can permanently endure. “

“Certainly a government needs power, it needs strength. It must, I might almost say, with brutal ruthlessness press through the ideas which it has recognized to be right, trusting to the actual authority of its strength in the State. But even with the most ruthless brutality it can ultimately prevail only if what it seeks to restore does truly correspond to the welfare of a whole people. “

“That the so-called enlightened absolutism of a Frederick the Great was possible depended solely on the fact that, though this man could undoubtedly have decided ‘arbitrarily’ the destiny – for good or ill – of his so-called ‘subject,’ he did not do so, but made his decisions influenced and supported by one thought alone, the welfare of his Prussian people. it was this fact only that led the people to tolerate willingly, nay joyfully, the dictatorship of the great king. “

“And the Right has further completely forgotten that democracy is fundamentally no German: it is Jewish. It has completely forgotten that this Jewish democracy with its majority decisions has always been without exception only a means towards the destruction of any existing Aryan leadership. The Right does not understand that directly every small question of profit or loss is regularly put before so-called ‘public opinion,’ he who knows how most skillfully to make this ‘public opinion’ serve his own interests becomes forthwith master in the State. And that can be achieved by the man who can lie most artfully, most infamously; and in the last resort he is not the German, he is, in Schopenauer’s words, ‘the great master in the art of lying’ – the Jew. “

“And finally it has been forgotten that the condition which must precede every act is the will and the courage to speak the truth – and that we do not see today either in the Right or in the Left. “

“There are only two possibilities in Germany; do not imagine that the people will forever go with the middle party, the party of compromises; one day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to dissociate themselves from it. And that party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead us to complete destruction – to Bolshevism, or else it is a party of the Right which at the last, when the people is in utter despair, when it has lost all its spirit and has no longer any faith in anything, is determined for its part ruthlessly to seize the reins of power – that is the beginning of resistance of which I spoke a few minutes ago. Here, too, there can be no compromise – there are only two possibilities: either victory of the Aryan or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew. “

“It is from the recognition of this fact, from recognizing it, I would say, in utter, dead earnestness, that there resulted the formation of our Movement. There are two principles which, when we founded the Movement, we engraved upon our hearts: first, to base it on the most sober recognition of the facts and second, to proclaim these facts with the most ruthless sincerity. “

“And this recognition of the facts discloses at once a whole series of the most important fundamental principles which must guide this young Movement which, we hope, is destined one day for greatness:

1. ‘National’ and ‘social’ are two identical conceptions. It was only the Jew who succeeded, through falsifying the social idea and turning it into Marxism, not only in divorcing the social idea from the national, but in actually representing them as utterly contradictory. That aim he has in fact achieved. At the founding of this Movement we formed the decision that we would give expression to this idea of ours of the identity of the two conceptions: despite all warnings, on the basis of what we had come to believe, on the basis of the sincerity of our will, we christened it ‘National Socialist.’ We said to ourselves that to be ‘national’ means above everything to act with a boundless and all-embracing love for the people and, if necessary, eve to die for it. And similarly to be ‘social’ means so to build up the State and the community of the people that every individual acts in the interest of the community of the people and must be to such an extent convinced of the goodness, of the honorable straightforwardness of this community of the people as to be ready to die for it.

“2. And then we said to ourselves: there are no such things as classes: they cannot be. Class means caste and caste means race. If there are castes in India, well and good; there it is possible, for there were formerly Aryans and dark aborigines. So it was in Egypt and Rome. But with us in Germany where everyone who is a German at all has the same blood, has the same eyes, and speaks the same language, here there can be no class, here there can be only a single people and beyond that nothing else. Certainly, we recognize, just as anyone must recognize, that there are different ‘occupations’ and ‘professions’ [Stände] – there is the Stand of the watchmakers, the Stand of the common laborers, the Stand of the painters or technicians, the Stand of the engineers, officials, etc. Stände there can be. But in the struggles which these Stände have amongst themselves for the equalization of their economic conditions, the conflict and the division must never be so great as to sunder the ties of race. “

“And if you say ‘But there must after all be a difference between honest creators and those who do nothing at all’ – certainly there must! That is the difference which lies in the performance of the conscientious work of the individual. Work must be the great connecting link, but at the same time the great factor which separates one man from another. The drone is the foe of us all. But the creators – it matters not whether they are brain workers or workers with the hand – they are the nobility of our State, they are the German people! “

“We understand under the term ‘work’ exclusively that activity which not only profits the individual but in no way harms the community, nay rather which contributes to for the community. “

“3. And in the third place it was clear to us that this particular view is based on an impulse which springs from our race and from our blood. We said to ourselves that race differs from race and, further, that each race in accordance with its fundamental demands shows externally certain specific tendencies, and these tendencies can perhaps be most clearly traced in their relation to the conception of work. The Aryan regards work as the foundation for the maintenance of the community of the people amongst its members. The Jew regards work as the means to the exploitation of other peoples. The Jew never works as a productive creator without the great aim of becoming the master. He works unproductively, using and enjoying other people’s work. And thus we understand the iron sentence which Mommsen once uttered: ‘The Jews is the ferment of decomposition in peoples,’ that means that the Jew destroys and must destroy because he completely lacks the conception of an activity which builds up the life of the community. And therefore it is beside the point whether the individual Jew is ‘decent’ or not. In himself he carries those characteristics which Nature has given him, and he cannot ever rid himself of those characteristics. And to us he is harmful. Whether he harms us consciously or unconsciously, that is not our affair. We have consciously to concern ourselves for the welfare of our own people. “

“4. And fourthly we were further persuaded that economic prosperity is inseparable from political freedom and that therefore that house of lies, ‘Internationalism,’ must immediately collapse. We recognized that freedom can eternally be only a consequence of power and that the source of power is the will. Consequently the will to power must be strengthened in a people with passionate ardor. And thus we realized, fifthly that …”

“5. We as National Socialists and members of the German Workers’ Party – a Party pledge to work – must be on principle the most fanatical Nationalists. We realized that the State can be for our people a paradise only if the people can hold sway therein freely as in a paradise: we realized that a slave state still never be a paradise, but only – always and for all time – a hell or a colony. “

“6. And then sixthly we grasped the fact that power in the last resort is possible only where there is strength, and that strength lies not in the dead weight of numbers but solely in energy. Even the smallest minority can achieve a might result if it is inspired by the most fiery, the most passionate will to act. World history has always been made by minorities. And lastly… “

“7. If one has realized a truth, that truth is valueless so long as there is lacking the indomitable will to turn this realization into action! “

“These were the foundations of our Movement – the truths on which it was based and which demonstrated its necessity. “

“For three years we have sought to realize these fundamental ideas. And of course a fight is and remains a fight. Stroking in very truth will not carry one far. Today the German people has been beaten by a quite other world, while in its domestic life it has lost all spirit; no longer has it any faith. But how will you give this people once more firm ground beneath its feet save by the passionate insistence on one definite, great, clear goal? “

“…thus we were the first to declare that this peace treaty was a crime. Then folk abused us as ‘agitators.’ We were the first to protest against the failure to present this treaty to the people before it was signed. Again we were called on the masses of the people not to surrender their arms, for the surrender of one’s arms would be nothing less than the beginning of enslavement. We were called, no, we were cried down as, ‘agitators.’ We were the first to say that this meant the loss of Upper Silesia. So it was, and still they called us ‘agitators.’ We declared at that time that compliance in the question of Upper Silesia must have as its consequence the awakening of a passionate greed which would demand the occupation of the Ruhr. We were cried down ceaselessly, again and again. And because we opposed the mad financial policy which today will lead to our collapse, what was it that we were called repeatedly once more? ‘Agitators.’ And today? “

“And finally we were also the first to point the people on any large scale to a danger which insinuated itself into our midst – a danger which millions failed to realize and which will nonetheless lead us all into ruin – the Jewish danger. And today people are saying yet again that we were ‘agitators.’ “

“I would like here to appeal to a greater than I, Count Lerchenfeld. He said in the last session of the Landtag that his felling ‘as a man and a Christian; prevented him from being an anti-Semite. I say: my feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. It points me to the Man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to the fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as sufferer but as fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through that passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and of adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have not duty to allow myself be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. And as a man I have the duty to see to it that human society does not suffer the same catastrophic collapse as did the civilization of the ancient world some two thousand years ago – a civilization which was driven to its ruin through this same Jewish people. “

“Then indeed when Rome collapsed there were endless streams of new German bands flowing into the Empire from the North; but, if Germany collapses today, who is there to come after us? German blood upon this earth is on the way to gradual exhaustion unless we pull ourselves together and make ourselves free! “

“And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress which daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see it work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week it has only for its wage wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people is plundered and exploited. “

“And through the distress there is no doubt that the people has been aroused. Externally perhaps apathetic, but within there is ferment. And many may say, ‘It is an accursed crime to stir up passions in the people.’ And then I say to myself: Passion is already stirred through the rising tide of distress, and one day this passion will break out in one way or another: and now I would ask those who today call us ‘agitators’: ‘What then have you to give to the people as a faith to which it might cling?’

“Nothing at all, for you yourselves have no faith in your own prescriptions. “

“That is the mightiest thing which our Movement must create: for these widespread, seeking and straying masses a new Faith which will not fail them in this hour of confusion, to which they can pledge themselves, on which they can build so that they may at least find once again a place which may bring calm to their hearts.”

                                                        Adolf Hitler
                                                         Speech of April 12, 1921

http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/111hit1.html

” 2. The danger to which Russia succumbed is always present for Germany. Only a bourgeois simpleton is capable of imagining that Bolshevism has been exorcised. With his superficial thinking he has no idea that this is an instinctive process; that is, the striving of the Jewish people for world domination, a process which is just as natural as the urge of the Anglo-Saxon to seize domination of the earth. And just as the Anglo-Saxon pursues this course in his own way and carries on the fight with his own weapons, likewise the Jew. He goes his way, the way of sneaking in among the nations and boring from within, and he fights with his weapons, with lies and slander, poison and corruption, intensifying the struggle to the point of bloodily exterminating his hated foes. In Russian Bolshevism we must see the attempt undertaken by the Jews in the twentieth century to achieve world domination. Just as in other epochs they strove to reach the same goal by other, though inwardly related processes. Their endeavor lies profoundly rooted in their essential nature. No more than another nation renounces of its own accord the pursuit of its impulse for the expansion of its power and way of life, but is compelled by outward circumstances or else succumbs to impotence due to the symptoms of old age, does the Jew break off his road to world dictatorship out of voluntary renunciation, or because he represses his eternal urge. He, too, will either be thrown back in his course by forces lying outside himself, or all his striving for world domination will be ended by his own dying out. But the impotence of nations, their own death from old age, arises from the abandonment of their blood purity. And this is a thing that the Jew preserves better than any other people on earth. And so he advances on his fatal road until another force comes forth to oppose him, and in a mighty struggle hurls the heaven-stormer back to Lucifer.

  Germany is today the next great war aim of Bolshevism. It requires all the force of a young missionary idea to raise our people up again, to free them from the snares of this international serpent, and to stop the inner contamination of our blood, in order that the forces of the nation thus set free can be thrown in to safeguard our nationality, and thus can prevent a repetition of the recent catastrophes down to the most distant future. If we pursue this aim, it is sheer lunacy to ally ourselves with a power whose master is the mortal enemy of our future. How can we expect to free our own people from the fetters of this poisonous embrace if we walk right into it? How shall we explain Bolshevism to the German worker as an accursed crime against humanity if we ally ourselves with the organizations of this spawn of hell, thus recognizing it in the larger sense? By what right shall we condemn a member of the broad masses for his sympathy with an outlook if the very leaders of the state choose the representatives of this outlook for allies?

  The fight against Jewish world Bolshevization requires a clear attitude toward Soviet Russia. thou cannot drive out the Devil with Beelsebub.
  If today even folkish circles rave about an alliance with Russia, they should just look around them in Germany and see whose support they find in their efforts. Or have folkish men lately begun to view an activity as beneficial to the German people which is recommended and promoted by the international Marxist press? Since when do folkish men fight with armor held out to them by a Jewish squire?

  There is one main charge that could be raised against the old German Reich with regard to its alliance policy: not, however, that it failed to maintain good relations with Russia, but only that it ruined its relations with everyone by continuous shilly-shallying, in the pathological weakness of trying to preserve world peace at any price.

I openly confess that even in the pre-War period I would have thought it sounder if Germany, renouncing her senseless colonial policy and renouncing her merchant marine and war fleet, had concluded an alliance with England against Russia, thus passing from a feeble global policy to a determined European policy of territorial acquisition on the continent.”

                                                    Mein Kampf
                                                    (1926)

http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/111hit1.html

“What Hitler and Mussolini favored and promoted was a system where the State and private corporations served each other’s special interests, much like the situation in America today. They both stood for protecting private ownership from the social revolution, which sought to redistribute wealth and promote public ownership of the means of production.”

http://rationalrevolution.net/war/condition_of_modern_american_soc.htm

In 1932 Mussolini declared that the 20th century would be the “Fascist century” by stating:

“If it is admitted that the nineteenth century has been the century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy, it does not follow that the twentieth must also be the century of Liberalism, Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the “Right,” a Fascist century.”

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.”

— Benito Mussolini Fascist dictator of Italy

“We stand for the maintenance of private property… We shall protect free enterprise as the most expedient, or rather the sole possible economic order.”

— Adolf Hitler

The fascists hated the socialists. I have many, many quotes from Hitler and Mussolini detesting the Russian socialists and the French liberals. The current American Nazi groups also hate liberals and recruit their clowns from the far right.  Nowdays, the far right is fond of calling Democrats socialists and fascists. The two are mutually exclusive.  You can’t have it both ways unless you just insist on being historical revisionists which by the way the Nazis were really, really good at.  Hitler called it propoganda.

It is precisely that Hitler was nationalistic that he confiscated property from the Jews.  The Jews were not Aryan and not only did not deserve property, they did not deserve to live according to the Nazis.  The property was not confiscated because Hitler was against private property.  Ever heard of the Volkswagen (folks wagen). Hitler loved it…still around today as a private company. Communism (new word – not socialism) thought nationalism was the reason why wars were fought and class systems were founded.

Go ahead and call liberals fascists – just remember that if you participate in propaganda to further your cause you are part of the condemnation to come for forgetting history yet once again!