weekly anti-goldberg rant

If it’s Monday, then Jonah Goldberg has likely dropped another brain-cell killing post on the intertubes. He does not disappoint today.

The beginning sets the off-base tone for the rest:

Readers of this blog, the book or, in particular people who’ve heard me speak about the book at length, know that I think political philosophy, or more accurately, political visions can be boiled down to Locke versus Rousseau. The Lockean vision holds that man is the captain of his soul, that his rights come from God, the individual is sovereign, that the government exists because men of free will cede certain authorities to it in order to best protect their lives and property.

The Rousseauian vision holds that the collective comes before the individual, our rights come from the group not from God, that the tribe is the source of all morality, and the general will is the ultimate religious construct and so therefore the needs — and aims — of the group come before those of the individual.

First off notice how decidedly reductionistic/simplistic and Western-centric this Lockean/Rossueauian dichotomy is. How would Confucius fit in this scheme? He emphasized promoting harmony and filial piety (collective side) though at the same time the government was responsive to and society was ordered upon The Rule of Heaven (God-equivalent, so Lockean).

Or the Qu’ran, the principal text in Muslim political discourse. The individual stands before God and is judged by his/her deeds alone and therefore has certain rights in this world that can not be trounced upon. But also of course heavy emphasis on the ummah (the social body of Muslim believers worldwide). Not to mention the critique within of tribal versus meta-tribal moralities (red and blue in Spiral terms) both of which have social-collective emphasis. So you see Goldberg has already lumped all “social collective” tendencies into one as if they were all the same.

Even within Western discourse, I’m not sure this dichotomy makes a great deal of sense. What about Hobbes? He is profoundly influential to Western political discourse and doesn’t easily fall into this Locke vs. Rousseau schema. (more…)

Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 11:57 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,

Cognitive Dissonance in Real Time

BookTV has the video goods on Jonah Goldberg’s speech to the Heritage Foundation last January promoting his (then newly released) book Liberal Fascism. Link to the video here.

The cognitive dissonance is unbelievable in this thing.

JG starts intelligently enough critiquing the views of folks like Naomi Wolf and Jeanne Garafolo, i.e. The Bush is Hitler Crowd. Wolf’s book compares the current US to Nazi Germany circa mid 1930s.

Because we have a Homeland Security Department. So did the Nazis. We had Abu Ghraib, they had Auschwitz. We invaded a country, they invaded a country.

Voila, Wilkomen to what Garafolo (apparently) calls the “43 Reich.”

Now I think Jonah overemphasizes how influential ignorant fools like those two ladies are within the Democratic Party, but they have some influence no doubt. They are left-wing nutters, just as we could base our judgment of the Republican party on I don’t know David Horowitz and wack jobs like that.

Nevertheless, suffice it to say there exists a googleplex amount of reasons to criticize sharply and mercilessly the Bush administration for its arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence and so forth. Check the archives of this blog for loads of examples.

But this is not Nazi Germany. So Jonah here is right. These people are making facile comparisons that seek to use a horrific destructive image to vilify a political opponent. As someone who believes Bushism should be critiqued, these folks are not helping because calling someone a Nazi ends the conversation and turns thinking folks off to any kind of critique. Worse it domesticates and sanitizes the words Nazi and Fascist which is an evil in and of itself (something completely missed by Goldberg).

Ok, so there’s goes Brother Jonah for the first couple minutes on this more or less non-crazy thread. And then after having rationally shown these people hold laughably idiotic views, he proceeds to do what I ask you? He says that the Nazis were a youth green movement that was into organic food and environmentalism. True enough except how is this different than what Naomi Wolf has done?

Apparently however according to Jonah’s logic, Wolf was in fact right–we are living in Nazi Germany in the 1930, only its Obama and the Democrats who are the Ruling Party (WTF???). Heh.  Double heh.

It would be hilarious if not for the fact he seriously believes his own mania and nobody calls him on it.  Collective cognitive dissonance.

Predictably, Goldbergism is now infecting other staffers of NRO (filed under I s–t you not “Something Lighter”). Here’s Geraghty:

So, the recent news out of the Obama camp is that they’re planning a huge rally with thousands of people in a stadium, want to create a mandatory youth corps for national service, and are thinking about a big dramatic speech in Berlin.

It’s like they’re trying to sell copies of Jonah’s book or something.

Voila, clearly Obama is Hitler. It’s so obvious to me now, how could I have missed this before? Obama is giving a speech in a big stadium, Hitler did. We know Obama eats arugula–Hitler was a vegetarian. Obama must = Hitler.

No facile superficial analogies there. No, not a one.

Have these dudes so internalized these (admittedly unfair/unjust) accusations over the years that they are Nazis/fascists that they really can’t do anything except lob that grenade back at those who chucked it at them first?

Memo to Geraghty: Obama wants to give the speech at the spot where St. Ronald of Reagan told Gorby to “Tear Down this Wall.” Uh…you know like part of the whole homage to Big #40 not the Fuhrer. You dudes have been idolizing Reagan for so long, you’d think you’d be all tickled pink that a lefty liberal like Obama has such positive things to say about the Gipper. But sadly it would appear otherwise.

As I’ve said for a long time, nobody is a Nazi or a Fascist unless they wear a brown or black shirt with a swastika, goose step around, shave their head, believe in the supremacy of the White Aryan race, want to violently overthrow the liberal capitalist order, exterminate Jews, Romas, gays and lesbians, people with mental and physical disabilities, and take over the world. Until then, enough with the Nazi/Fascist name calling on all sides folks. Capice?

Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 9:48 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

New Right Meets New Left

Jonah Goldberg received a letter from a reader (link here, ht Daily Goose) wherein the reader argues that Goldberg´s book Liberal Fascism correctly points out that the real divide in politics is not left/right or liberal/conservative but fascist/libertarian (aka classical liberalism).

Now if you are thinking, hey what about socialists, communism, Marxism the answer is in this outlook fascism is a socialist movement, i.e. Fascism is the left.  So Fascism really stands for anything other than libertarianism.

Now there could be a lot of things to say to this.  One it´s a little outlandish to put it mildly to call anybody who isn´t a libertarian a fascist.  Particularly if you like me (and weirdly enough Michael Ledeen) you think fascism is the actual historical entity like the Nazis, Franco´s Spain, Italy under Mussolini, etc.  Although Ledeen has now broken his own rule, suggesting The Chinese regime may be considered the new Fascists.   

Another would be that since the current Bush administration is in its foreign policy run by former Trotskyite Jacobins (i.e. neocons) you could write a book I suppose defining conservatives–at least those kind–as Conservative Communists.  The cover would have an American flag with a hammer and sickle or something to evoke some controversy I suppose.   

A third would be, following the integral model of Ken Wilber, to say that the real criticism is of any collectivist political movements, represented by the lower qudrants in the model.  This would fit with Goldberg´s criticisms of more communitarian type movements within the right (e.g. Mike Huckabee and Crew).  In this analysis, the divide is not really between fascism and libertarianism but all forms of social-communalism (under the code word of Fascism) and individualism (aka classical liberalism/libertarianism).

But a fourth way and one that I´d like to explore a little (and has been I believe pointed out by others) is the strange convergence between Goldberg´s New Right (really 2nd generation version of movement conservativism) and the 60s New Left. 

In One-Dimensional Man, the classic text by ur New Left godfather Herbert Marcuse, Marcusse argued that the Cold War world was dominated by various forms of authoritarianism/totalitarianism.  One had been the Nazi repression of his Germany.  Then the Soviet gulags and Stalinist dictatorship which Marcusse savaged as a Western Humanistic Marxist.  And then following in the line of the Frankfurt School generally the argument that the New Deal Roosevelt capitalist America was a subterfuge version of authoritarianism, even perhap totalitarianism.  Sounds interestingly similar to Goldberg here yes (in one sense, one sense no of course).

The Frankfurt argument was that capitalist and bourgeoisie American MayTag-ism created what they called mass society.  Suburbia, over-medication, obesity, mindless TV culture, degradation of local culture, and de-politicization of the populace via excessive entertainment focus (American Idolization as it were).  All as a means of control. 

The Reaganite New Right following from the work of individuals like Milton Friedman and Frederick Hayek similarly argued for against the Welfare Liberal (Fascist?) consensus of the 50s-70s.  Recall that Eisenhower and Nixon were both upholders of the New Deal synthesis. 

Sidenote:  I think the most charitable interpretation of Liberal Fascism is that it is an attempt to interpret The Road to Serfdom for the coming new progressive post-Bush era.  Though I did like the book more the first time. 

Of course the New Right did so in order to align itself with the new moneyed and rising info tech sector, attacking the industrial labor base of previous US industry.  And then later the alliance of the Wall Street conservatives with the Moral Majority Social Conservative Cultural War right.  Whereas the New Left attempted more individual personal forms of liberation, in many cases nothing more than the expression of previously repressed yet narcissistic psychic elements.  Rather than a true transcendence. 

So while the New Left (now Old? it is about 50 years young at this point) is the constant brunt of movement conservatism criticism, lately I see it more and more as almost long lost separated siblings. 

For something like this argument in a much fuller form, Brink Lindsey´s The Age of Abundance.  A summary form in this article, The Aquarians (New Left) and Evangelicals (New Right). 

Another interesting line of comparison (for a different day) would be between paleoconservatism and the New Left, say on mass production agriculture and the loss of localized culture to homogenous capitalist consumer mentality. 


Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 3:04 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

Classic Self-Parody Courtesy Jonah Goldberg (w/Update)

Full post here. This is great:

I should also say that some of the attempts to turn the lapel flag thing into a de mimimis issue leave me underwhelmed as well. “It’s just a lapel pin!” seems to be a common refrain among liberals flabbergasted that they’re on defense about all this. I understand, at least when the frustration is in good faith. But it’s really not just a lapel pin any more than the flag is just a piece of cloth at the end of a stick. Even flag burners acknowledge this point, which is why they burn flags and not blankets or bar towels. If John McCain wore a confederate flag lapel pin, very few of these people would be saying “it’s just a lapel pin.” Symbolism matters. Symbols stand for something. That’s why we call them symbols.

I seem to recall something about McCain and the Confederate flag…..what was it.

Oh yeah (my italics):

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) — Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from atop the South Carolina Statehouse on Wednesday, acknowledging that his refusal to take such a stance during his primary battle for the Palmetto State was a “sacrifice of principle for personal ambition.” (April 19th, 2000)

To be fair the criticism isn’t really of McCain as it is of the media and the double standard and the lack of recent historical memory (a la Goldberg).

Update I: Per Matthew’s comment, if it was unclear that I didn’t get this, yes the main point of Goldberg’s post was about symbols and how symbols matter and you don’t go treading on symbols lightly and act like hey no big deal it’s just a symbol. Agreed.

I still disagree with Goldberg’s take on Obama relative to this, but on the symbols matter front, agreed.

Given that I have a 2,000 year old symbol of Roman execution and torture and the hope of Christian salvation (cross) united with a roughly 3,000 year old Indian symbol of the nature of reality (Karmic wheel) tattooed on my back I think I understand the power of symbols. Literally, in the flesh.

I feel it is a tad pedantic I have to mention that at all and seems to me some bad faith on the part of my interlocutor, but so that’s all square, there it is.

My parody point was that I found it quite amusing that in the midst of that argument he ends up creating a hypothetical to prove his point that inadvertently has him reviving an actual historical event that plays poorly (worse than Obama?) to McCain. JG ends up in a pile o’ actual historical flag issue dog s–t because of his (unnecessary) hypothetical. It’s only that much better because it actually has to do with a flag and with the Confederate flag even (the one mentioned in his hypothetical!!!). That he would not at all find any irony in that comparison is for me classic. To mix my metaphors, talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Or the clavicle or the frontal lobe maybe.

Published in: on April 29, 2008 at 9:29 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

Michael Ledeen contra Jonah Goldberg

Michael Ledeen, not exactly a left-winger, friend of Goldberg (Jonah is one of his bosses at National Review), has some sharp criticisms of Liberal Fascism.  For the record, Ledeen studied in Italy and his doctoral thesis was on Italian Fascism.

Ledeen’s article here.   (Ledeen’s wiki here).  Read the whole thing, but two quotations stuck out for me. [my emphasis]

But he’s got the concept right. Up to a certain point. He’s got it right when he suggests—although this could have been much more explicit—that fascism was a revolutionary movement. But then he shies away from the consequences of that insight, because many of the people he wants to call “liberal fascists” are boring reformers, certainly not revolutionaries. And he shies away from the revolutionary nature of fascism for another reason, too: because it shows that revolution is not just a leftist political phenomenon. Jonah wants to have us believe that fascism was ‘of the left.’


What is missing from Jonah’s book—he mentions it in passing a few times, but never gives it the weight it deserves—is the specific historical context from which fascism was born: the First World War. Fascism was created in the trenches of that war, it was a war ideology from beginning to end, and the central core of fascism was composed of two basic concepts: first the conviction that the only people worthy of political power were those who had been tested and proven in combat (for the most part, the brownshirts were veterans, and the Socialists they attacked had been pacifists or neutralists or isolationists). And second, that the essence of Western civilization was under siege from the left, that is, from Communists and Socialists.

Here’s what I wrote on my post on this book:

Still, I bring up the history, particularly the violence because I think talking about “fascistic” without describing/analyzing actual historical fascism is highly problematic any way you slice it. Particularly when the definition in question (conveniently I would say) leaves this pervasive violence element out.


Rather I think an argument that makes government-managed health care a version of fascism is wrongheaded at the least, ideological at the worst. One could make an argument such a system is illiberal, excessively statist, especially if the government-managed system has a monopoly…but fascist? Particularly if it is installed by democratic process and not say via violent revolution.

Again, Goldberg is right the history of American progressivism is filled with racism, eugenics, illiberalism, authoritarianism (both political and economic), war-mongering, and a desire for unity.  There is a nasty history of confluence between the government and big business (military, food, educational system, surveillance, banking, etc.) in the US that has stripped personal liberty.  That trend is common among both Republicans and Democrats.  But fascism is not the right word for this politics.

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Response to Matthew

Matthew has a post up with a call out to “fans and ex-fans of Wilber” to answer the question of whether Wilber’s definition of integral exudes fascistic elements based on the definition of fascism employed by Jonah Goldberg.

Goldberg’s definition of fascism (excerpted from Matthew’s post, Matthew’s emphasis):

I see fascism as a political religion. That doesn’t mean I think there’s some book, like a bible, that if you read it you will become a convert to this political religion. Rather I think it is a religious impulse that resides in all of us — left, right, black, white, tall, short — to seek unity in all things, to believe that we need to all work together to go past any of our disagreements and that the state needs to be, almost simply as a pragmatic matter, the pace-setter, the enforcer of this cult of unity. That is what I believe fascism is.

… Today we don’t use the word “totalitarian,” because the connotations have been so hardened in our minds. But we use these other words like “holistic” all the time. This quest for wholism, this idea that everything goes together, that we are all part of a single political, social organism … was deeply and profoundly central to the intellectual movements and eddies that fed into Nazism.

Now the first thing to say is that I don’t agree with Matthew that this is a “good definition of fascism”. It’s too abstract imo to be of much value. [Goldberg, I think, wants, really needs to make his definition of fascism so broad as to be able to fit “liberals” under its umbrella]. i.e. Before deciding on Wilber’s definition, the first thing I think to ask is: is this even a good definition of fascism?

Goldberg says that everybody has a fascist impulse. Ok, that’s fine. I agree. Why not. So in that sense Wilber does, as do I, as does Goldberg, as does Matthew, as does everybody. I guess you would need to do a fascism scale, as it were, to compare.

As proof that all of us have this fascistic impulse….The National Review, a paper which employs Goldberg, wrote an editorial praising Augusto Pinochet, an actual fascist dictator, upon his death. [While Goldberg worked for the paper btw]. Prior to Goldberg, NR also wrote an encomium to Francisco Franco, another actual fascist.

So yes, “we are all fascists” (the title of a chapter in JG’s book) if you want. Although writing laudatory praises of fascist dictators would I think put one farther down the sympathetic road than some vague desire for unity. But I digress.

Now to the specifics of his actual definition, which I find wanting in many ways.

1)Fascism as a political religion.

–Well….Iberian Fascisms (Spain and Portugal) along with their Croatian cousin are typically referred to as Catholic Fascism. i.e. The Catholic Church aligned with the state was the source of this enforced cultural unity. That seems to weaken his thesis.

German Nazism certainly used the state to enforce its will. It was also however a revival of Teutonic Pagan religion–along with occultist spiritual practices in the inner circle. Himmler read the Bhagavad Gita as essentially his revelatory text.

Political religion as long as you realize that it can be melded with religious religions, which relativizes the state element.

The Fascism that Goldberg has most clearly in mind is Italy under Mussolini (check the subtitle of his book and Ch.1), prior to the outbreak of the war. And that I gather prior to its industrialization and mobilization for war.

But what is totally missing (because the definition I think is not particularly historical or concrete) is the militarization of society. Fascism is not just the desire to seek unity in all things, but in European Fascism actually enforcing that unity through a systematic use of violence.

So it is not some abstract version of “getting beyond our differences” to achieve a goal (that might just be political compromise and pragmatism for God’s sakes). The history of Fascism suggests the concerted elimination and repression of differences–e.g. Jews, gays, and “imbeciles” in concentration camps.

And if you are a fan of the Islamo-fascist label, then the imposition of a non-democratic guardian council of religious clerics who say execute women caught in adultery publicly by stoning in a soccer stadium (i.e. Taliban Afghanistan).

Last time I checked Integral Institute didn’t have an armed militia, brown shirts, or try a putsch against the US government. [Sorry I forgot we are talking about “liberal fascism” here which has a smiley face and a Hitler mustache. A nice, friendly, “feminine” fascism :)].

Now granted Matthew admits that Wilber’s philosophy isn’t fascist outright but rather “exudes” (possibly) fascistic elements. Still, I bring up the history, particularly the violence because I think talking about “fascistic” without describing/analyzing actual historical fascism is highly problematic any way you slice it. Particularly when the definition in question (conveniently I would say) leaves this pervasive violence element out.

That’s why I don’t like people calling Bush-Cheney a fascist nor people calling liberals fascists. Unless your goose-stepping calling for the return of The Third Reich, then I don’t think fascism is a good choice of words.

Other words than fascist–given the history and the connotations involved–that could be used to describe the negative tendencies Goldberg has in mind are collectivist, pathological wholism, and depending on the context, statist. I think the word totalitarian still possesses strong valence; it is telling in my mind that Goldberg wants to extricate fascist from totalitarian because again of the violence/terror issue I would say. Totalitarian to most people, I think, evokes violence (e.g. concentration camps, gulags). And 20th century Progressives were not the most violent of people as compared to the Fascisti.

The only event in progressive-New Deal Liberal America that qualifies I suppose as fascist/totalitarian was FDR’s concentration camps against Japanese-Americans (“forced internment“)–note the violence. Though on the other hand that brutal activity was over-turned by the Supreme Court, which the executive branch obeyed. I don’t think Hitler was accepting a checks and balance system. Perhaps also eugenics legislation, e.g. forced sterilization (promoted by both the left and right at the time sadly in the US).

2)Fascism as wholism (religious impulse).

As I said, in my earlier review of his interview on the book, Goldberg is on better ground here. Again this relates to early Italian (and somewhat German) fascism, though the seeds of violence were already there from the get-go.

This tendency is strong in many ecological critiques of modernity (particularly stemming from Heidegger who in fact never apologized for his Nazi affiliation). Though again you can find that critique from Michael Zimmerman, connected to Ken Wilber.

Now as Matthew has I believe read Wilber’s book Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality, he will know that someone who has spent a great deal of time criticizing “holistic” philosophies as having fascist underpinnings is of course Ken Wilber. My own opinion is that Wilber has a deeper philosophical and spiritual understanding of why this drive for unity, as Goldberg says, is within us all and why it can turn deadly and violent and evil. But that is a sidepoint–either way there it is.

For those not in the know about this side of fascism, the short answer is this. Fascism (as Goldberg rightly points) conceived of society as an organism. Like a single body, everybody else then is a organ or digit in the body. If the brain (i.e. The Fuhrer/Il Duce) says move, you move, just like a brain telling the finger what to type. Resistance to this social body is then conceived (in this model) as a contagion or virus. A disease, like a cancerous tumor, in sum. And in medicine, you cut out the tumor–hence for society along this model, you “cut out” the offending disease (i.e. mass systematized, intentional violence and murder). Contagions could be political dissidents (liberals, socialists, communists) as well as races (e.g. in Nazi ideology The Jews as a verminous plague, sapping the vitality of the “pure” Aryan organism).

Wilber, however, holds to a holonic (not holistic) view: namely that individuals are members of society not parts thereof (the latter view is termed holistic and is quasi-fascist). Members as opposed to cogs in the machine have (or should have) the right to choose to participate or not in a group (free within the bounds of the legitimate law of course). Holons and quadrants emphasize that a person is both a free individual and a member of a social groupings. Autonomy and relationality.

The political consequences of this theory is the state is not intrinsically the de facto pace setter of this unity. Wilber’s political philosophy, based on a notion of levels of development, is largely to let each level police itself (as I read his politics). Which is a conservative judgment btw.

Now, whether or not one thinks levels is a valid concept, for the sake of the argument, that is hardly enforced comprehensiveness. Also Wilber’s work being taken up by business interests, religious and spiritual communities, NGOs/development workers, among others, hardly suggests the state as the prime trend setter of the unity (which btw the theory doesn’t absolutize, i.e. unity, as an end in itself to begin with).

Wilber’s work also teaches nonduality, which contrary to misunderstanding does not seek unity in all things–that view is called monism. Nonduality teaches that there is a One and a Many and that the Ultimate Truth is that which is the essence of both, neither seeking to impose the One on the Many nor wanting all the Many-s to fly off in all directions, disconnectedly. Greater integration, complexity, and differentiation.

So in Wilber’s terminology of Two Truths, relative (quadrants/holons) and Absolute (awakening), then neither exudes fascist elements in my judgment.

3)Wilber’s definition of integral as “comprehensive, not leaving anything out”.

This is what Matthew is really after. Now the reason I took the country road to get here is that I think minus understanding that context just outlined, the words “comprehensive, inclusive, not leaving anything out, balanced” could easily be misunderstood and I suppose placed in the context Matthew places them be read (read into?) a fascistic echo. Those words don’t make any sense without some basic sense of Wilber’s thinking I argue.

Parenthetical remark: Per the earlier comment that this fascist, if you will, tendency is within all, then yes “comprehensive/not leaving anything out” could veer towards a kind of collectivism and by this definition must have some of that “f-word” within it. So could anything (by the definition), so I’m not sure how much learning takes place there. Again I don’t think fascist makes any sense minus militarization & violence, but whatever, there it is.

But given “everybody is a fascist” the real question is does Wilber’s definition of integral have say more fascistic elements than others? More tendencies in that direction in other words. Gotta judge on a gradient for this idea to have any specific relevance, make any heads or tails of this, I think.

The problem I have with the way Matthew has written his piece is that he helpfully gives Goldberg’s definition of fascism–and the quotation is long enough to give him (Goldberg) space to expound on what he means by certain words. The definition of integral from Wilber is de-contextualized and gives no reference from him (KW) concerning what he means by those words quoted.

The parallel would be if I were to summarize Goldberg’s definition of fascism thusly: a holistic, seeking unity, political religion.

Would you be able to answer a question based on that definition? I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so. I’d get some sense, but it could also be open to major misinterpretation, particularly when placed in a context that (seems to me) like a leading question. If I saw such a line, I would rightly want to know what the author means by holistic, a political religion, etc.

I think the same thing should be done with the Wilber quotation. Wilber is a philosopher and is using those words I believe in a specific philosophical context. [The quotation in question also functions as an attempt at a summary of his view, which like all summaries is prone to obscure and dumb down more than it clarifies or articulates.] In other words, I’m not sure Wilber means those words in the way that (so-called) common wisdom/understanding might suggest. Might, might not, but minus any other information, how am I or anyone else in a position to judge?

Philosophically, I would maintain those words (by his own theory) apply only within his conceptualization of the integral worldspace. So the comprehensiveness in question, is already highly circumscribed and contextualized. And again voluntarily chosen. So I see a chasm there from that to fascism (as poorly defined by Goldberg imo).

And hell, even minus the philosophical question, things like comprehensive, not leaving anything out, and balanced sound like very good qualities I would want in for example a judge, a college admissions board, a police officer/criminal investigator, an actuary. They might just mean thorough and not, I don’t know, fascistic.

Context matters.

Even if one thinks that Wilber’s definition of integral needs no more unpacking, the charge of exuding.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines exude as 1. “oozing forth” (as in sweat) as well as:

2. To exhibit in abundance: a face that exuded self-satisfaction.

I take Matthew’s question about whether Wilber’s def. of integral exudes fascistic elements to be of this second definition. By that meaning of the term, then no I don’t think his philosophy exhibits in abundance fascistic elements. [Maybe MD has a different understanding of exuding?].

A)I think the definition of fascism provided is a poor one. (see above for argument as to why) And that’s not just a dodge, btw. Rather I think an argument that makes government-managed health care a version of fascism is wrongheaded at the least, ideological at the worst. One could make an argument such a system is illiberal, excessively statist, especially if the government-managed system has a monopoly, but fascist? Particularly if it is installed by democratic process and not say via violent revolution.

B)I don’t think Wilber’s definition of integral (or philosophy more broadly) exhibits in abundance fascistic elements.

–Again I think a legitimate debate could be had on a question of liberal vs. illiberalism. 1)In the theory itself 2)In the practice. Questions about how much emphasis and what role, if any, the federal state legitimately has. Is discussion free enough in the integral community online (a la Habermas)? But fascistic, come on.

–But again I’m going to harp on this point, without the systematic use of violence as a weapon of terror to upset the status quo governing system attempting to create the conditions necessary for a revolutionary takeover of power—-how is this fascistic?

[On how Goldberg leaves out the history of right-wing American fascism, here.] Jonah’s response to that piece here.

Published in: on January 11, 2008 at 5:45 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , ,

Jonah Goldberg on his Book


Here is an interview with Jonah Goldberg explaining his own views, his own take, his argument from his new book. (On with Helen and Glenn Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. Instapundit).

The book is obviously controversial–the title alone is that–so I think it’s good to check in with his views first before reading others.

Goldberg emphasizes that he is not saying that all liberals are fascists. He is arguing that the narrative of 20th century political discourse is that fascism is a movement of the right-wing whereas in fact (according to him) it is actually a left-wing movement. Nazism was the national socialist party–he is putting the emphasis on the socialist.

From there he argues American progressivism (from Woodrow Wilson, through FDR, social gospel-ism, to Hillary Clinton) is not the son or daughter of continental National Socialism, but as he says, more its niece or grandniece. i.e. Progressivism is about the state running everything–the so-called nanny state.

And that I think is where there are some cracks in the floorboards of his thesis (to put it nicely). It is certainly true that the Italian and German fascists appealed to the proletariat and lumpen-proletariat to gain power. (more…)

Published in: on December 27, 2007 at 11:52 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,