Friday, January 25, 2008

Liberal Fascism Chapters 4 to 7: New Deal, Great Society, 60’s Radicalism, and Liberal Racism

These central chapters offer an abundance of intellectual and social history. There is a lot there and there is no reason to summarize it here. At this point in my series on the book, I’ve made the philosophical points of my own that I wanted to make: the points about the analysis of “right,” “left,” “liberal,” and “fascist,” the point about the core piece of political philosophy of the book being an argument that liberalism is evil because its fascism, and the refutation of the "So What?" criticism. What remains after this post is for me to subject the last section of the book – the chapters on liberal economics and Clinton-era liberalism – to scrutiny, since it is there that the best chance that the “So What?” criticism might be resurrected.

Still, I have a few thoughts about this middle section of the book. Here is the picture that these four chapters seem to me to paint. The history of 20th Century American liberalism was a mix of this:
  • Eugenicist enthusiasm and disgust for the poor and the non-Anglo Saxon. This is the fascistic goal of creating a new Man.
  • Big-government experimentalism: New Deal social experimentation with big-government programs, with no particular moral philosophy or philosophy of human nature, and no clear picture of what the Great Society would be like or on what grounds its future superiority justifies downgrading the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance.
  • Rage and violence (the ‘60s.)
  • Multiculturalism, in which people are thought to have absolute rights to have their subculture preserved, and in which one’s ethnicity replaces one’s humanity or individual character as the primary quality in virtue of which one deserves respect.
I can add to the thesis that liberal fascism in America was stupidly experimentalistic by noting that, indeed, the philosophical work came decades later. The best work of liberal philosophy of social justice, John Rawls’s 1971 A Theory of Justice, came after the social programs were all underway. And Rawls’s theory (see Philosoblog’s archives) turns out to be of little merit. The moral philosophy of liberalism was an afterthought; it was a day late and a dollar short.

The common philosophical theme in the four features of 20th Century liberalism is the antipathy of liberalism to individualism. By "individualism" I mean the view that each individual’s rights to his property and liberty should be values of near-trump status (values that should almost always override other considerations), while individual character and humanity are to be the basis by which respect due to anyone is determined. There was no sign in liberalism of reverence for the sanctity of the individual or for his duty to look after himself. Without such salutary considerations, the liberal mind was left to contemplate the tardiness of country’s progress toward to creating the Great Society. Most of the 20th Century had slipped by and still no Great Society. The rage erupted in the ‘60’s. Liberals realized that it would be a long hard slog against conservative America to bring off the socialist utopia. Multiculturalism, a philosophically incoherent idea, was embraced as an additional armament for fighting conservative culture and disempowering the wealthy.

What’s left of the eugenics movement is continued pressure on the abortion and birth-control fronts. Of course, support for abortion is not motivated only by eugenics. It is aimed at eliminating the way of life that entails that a mother’s duty to keep her child alive is more weighty than her right to be free of entanglements that might inhibit her ability to compete in the business place against the traditional players. However, it’s difficult to accept that liberalism’s enthusiasm for eugenics evaporated after WWII and the Holocaust. An obscene compulsion to build a new Man, so well suited to the fascist project of building the new State, doesn’t just disappear so easily. Having been confronted with the hideous reality of itself in the Holocaust, the compulsion produces self-loathing and guilt, as it should. If the obsession with eugenics did not persist, the guilt would eventually suffice and itself fall away, leaving the liberal to regard blacks as neither worthy of extermination nor elevation on pedestal. But if the obsession persisted in spite of the guilt and self-loathing it aroused, we shouldn't be surprised to find the conscious mind and behavior elevating the blacks and other minorities onto a pedestal. This is the origin of multiculturalism. It isn't merely a tool to erode the power of traditional American culture; it is also a symptom of the persistence of the eugenicist impulse in the liberal mind. But that's only my view. As for Goldberg, he says,

There are only three basis positions. There is the racism of the left, which seeks to use the state to help favored minorities that it regards as morally superior. There is racial neutrality, which is, or has become, the conservative position. And then there is some form of “classical racism” – that is, seeing blacks as inferior in some way. According to the left, only one of these positions isn’t racist. Race neutrality is racist. Racism is racist. So, what’s left? Nothing except liberalism.

However, I do not find it plausible that liberal fascism underwent an abrupt and complete revolution from racism to regarding minorities as superior. Let's speculate for a moment on an alternative view of the matter. It is more likely that both racism and the contradictory compulsion to regard minorities as superior persist in the liberal mind. Both are irrational impulses aimed at building the Great Society and new Man. Even after the Holocaust, embracing race neutrality was not an option, as racial neutrality would militate against the fascistic dogma that individual qualities outweigh group membership. A mind that must persist in seeing people more as members of groups than as individuals if it is to accomplish its most important goal doesn't drop this cognitive habit so easily. The irrational hatred of blacks was tenacious, by the late 20th Century deeply ingrained in the liberal-fascist mind. Given the political goals of this mind, the unavoidable guilt and self-loathing resulting from its hatred of blacks therefore could find only one resolution: to extend grossly exaggerated and inappropriate amends to blacks. Think of “protesting too much.”

So, eugenics is gone, for the most part (though it remains disturbing that Margaret Sanger, the founder of what is now called Planned Parenthood, had a goal of eliminating the black population in America.) What’s left is the hatred, the guilt, and the irrational and grotesque amends. But the amends aren’t entirely irrational, as they contribute to eroding the values and social structures championed by the conservative. I think that most liberals still fear and loathe blacks, while believing that they have profound regard for blacks and celebrating them as special or even superior. Yet, this incoherent psychology incoherence is better suited to the goals of the fascist mid than any other psychologically possible alternative. It's incoherent, but it works.

This picture of liberal racism dovetails with the general view of liberalism that emerges from these central chapters. Liberalism – American fascism – involves a kind of mild derangement. I’ve called it a hypnotic state in previous posts. This is because the mind of a liberal embraces certain values while shielding itself from the force of arguments that show them to be bad ideals. This is a mind which makes itself believe that its big-government ideals are not totalitarian while the small-government ideals of the conservative are totalitarian. Liberals aren’t insane, of course. Insanity is more profound impairment. Nor are liberals evil, by and large. It’s just that they are obsessed with a fascist vision, an evil political goal. The obsession manifests itself in various derangements. I think that one of these is simultaneous hatred and reverence for blacks and other minorities. Of course, this is really just speculation, as plumbing the depths of psychology usually is.