Green Room

Liberal Fascism is the new black

posted at 4:00 am on October 3, 2011 by

Over the weekend Rep. Paul Ryan reviewed The Price of Civilization, the new book from Jeffrey Sachs, which apparently argues that America needs to adopt Euro-socialist policies, rather than learn from the misery inflicted by the worst of democratic socialism there. Rather than rehash that debate, I want to focus on the totalitarian and liberal fascist aspects of the book Ryan mentions.

According to Ryan: “The Constitution imposes too many restrictions on government interference for Mr. Sachs, and we’d be better served if we moved toward a ‘French-style’ constitution that consolidated the executive and legislative branches and empowered experts to help us manage the ‘complexity of our economy.’ ” Ryan also notes that Sachs echoes the arguments of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham. Ryan does not mention that Rousseau’s theory of the general will is the forerunner of modern totalitarianism and Bentham’s idea of Utopia was a prison under his total control.

It is worth noting that Sachs is not considered a fringe character. He has been named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” twice and Vanity Fair magazine put him on its list of 100 members of the New Establishment. Moreover, Sachs is hardly alone in indulging these sorts of thoughts on the left.

Ed Driscoll collects a few examples. Gov. Bev Purdue (D-NC) recently suggested “we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.” Former Obama budget director Peter Orszag wrote a piece for TNR arguing “we need to jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions that would make legislative inertia less detrimental to our nation’s long-term health.” (Ezra Klein’s defense of Orszag shows the disdain for bicameralism or checks and balances you would expect from someone who finds the Constitution too old and confusing to be anything more than a political football.) Lastly, Driscoll recalls NYT columnist Thomas Friedman’s desire that we be China for a day (a proposal that would likely ensure that we were China for a very long time). Although Driscoll also found a tantalizing video of Pres. Obama finding tempting the idea of acting on his own, you have to read the NYT to find Obama complaining that it would be so much easier to be the president of China.

But wait… there’s more. US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers a harangue that could have been titled, “All Your Wealth Are Belong To Us,” and the video goes viral. The left lapped up a relatively unvarnished argument that the people are slaves to the state. When Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was asked “Of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?”, there is a reason she did not have an answer. When Fareed Zakaria pines for the US to adopt a parliamentary system, he is in tune not only with Sachs, but also Woodrow Wilson, who was not a big fan of separated powers or checks and balances. When a legion of lefty pundits argue that Republican “obstruction” of Obama’s agenda shows that “the system is broken,” they reveal an Orwellian contempt for the system of separated powers our Founders envisioned (and argued for in no less than five of the Federalist Papers) for the protection of our liberties.

This Fall, it seems that liberal fascism is the new black — and it likely will remain in style for the foreseeable future. After all, progressives think they are losing and black is the color for mourning clothes.

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great piece karl

cmsinaz on October 3, 2011 at 7:43 AM

And these libtards never stop to think of what if the tables were turned. Of course in their design, the tables will never be turned with them firmly in place to dismantle what we had. Why don’t these nuts take it to another country and complete their utopia?

AH_C on October 3, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Good piece.

There was also a NY Times Magazine cover story a few years ago by Jeremy Waldron, a leftist “legal philosopher”, suggesting the First Amendment was a relic causing disharmony between America and the rest of the civilized world. We need less of that free speech stuff and more subservience to the State! It’s all part and parcel with the Left’s raging and relentless need to engineer and control society and human life.

rrpjr on October 3, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Black is slimming, especially, in this case, to your cash flow.

SouthernGent on October 3, 2011 at 10:18 AM

parliamentary system = fascism
europe = bunch of fascists
woodrow wilson = fascist
everyone who’s not a “conservative” = fascists!

i realize you’re preaching to converts here, but who do you think is going to take this too-crazy-even-for-fox-news beckian nonsense seriously? outside your echo chamber, you’re a pathetic joke.

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Nice.

W.Wilson was an idiot, and after WW1 Europe was having none of his Utopian ideals. Odd, that history thing. Somehow we got stuck with his dam^ed notion of united nations.

Our system is not broken, its working as designed.

orbitalair on October 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM

sesquipedalian,

Yes, suggesting we cancel elections, do away with normal legislative mechanisms to “get around the politicians” (per Orszag) and fundamentally alter our system of separated powers just so progressives can get their preferred policies is not liberal fascism. Arguments based on Rousseau’s theory that true freedom rests in subservience to the state are not liberal fascism. The argument that people owe anything the state demands to the state to the state because all of their wealth flows from the state is not remotely liberal fascism. You are displaying an absolute ignorance of the subject.

But as one of the resident lefties here, why don’t you tell us all what you and your pals would have said if, during the Bush Adminstration, Rick Perry had suggesting cancelling elections, just to make things run smoother? When the Dems won back Congress in 2006, what would you have said if former Bush officials had suggested we look for ways around the normal legislative process, just to get their agenda running? When Dems were filibustering GOP nominees and bills, the Left freaked over the so-called nuclear option, so what would the Left have said if prominent GOPers had suggested eliminating the Senate?

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Obama is at war with us.

His army wants to behead people.

faraway on October 3, 2011 at 12:34 PM

2008 wasn’t an election; it was a coup.

ahem on October 3, 2011 at 12:34 PM

This Fall, it seems that liberal fascism is the new black

It finally looks like the National Socialist Left is coming out of the closet as far as their totalitarian ideals are concerned.

History has shown us that such regimes do not start out as such but gradually evolve into totalitarians over time.

That was a very nice enumeration of this regimes first steps Karl.

Hopefully November 2012 will put a stop to its Progress.

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM

You forgot Woody Allen and his call to appoint Obama czar.

ahem on October 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM

sesquipedalian,

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 12:25 PM

I also curious as to why freedom trouncing inceptions like Attack Watch don’t bother so-called ‘Liberals’ like sesquipedalian?

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 12:45 PM

I am so tired of this element of the left and I’m quite certain the majority of Americans agree with me.

November 2012 cannot come soon enough.

booter on October 3, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Excellent write-up, Karl.

.

Lawrence on October 3, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Apparently, the left has never stopped to consider why we have separation of powers and checks and balances.

Either that, or they think that human nature is somehow different now, substantially better now than it was in the past.

Either that, or they just don’t care. They just want power. All of it. Now.

ZenDraken on October 3, 2011 at 12:53 PM

You are displaying an absolute ignorance of the subject.

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 12:25 PM

probably so – i’ve not watched beck nearly enough to be able to connect the dots between rousseau, woodrow wilson, hitler and the worldwide leftist-islamist conspiracy – but i’m not surprised to see that you and ryan are misinterpreting rousseau’s theory of general will to support the wacky idea that everyone you don’t agree with is a fascist.

But as one of the resident lefties here, why don’t you tell us all what you and your pals would have said if, during the Bush Adminstration

err, does “unitary executive” not ring a bell anymore, or is it only fascistic if a democratic president does it?

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 12:59 PM

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 12:59 PM

So it doesn’t bother you that prominent members of the National Socialist Left have been calling for the suspension of our electoral process?

And things like Attack Watch don’t bother you?

Chip on October 3, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Testing my comments are not posting.

Dr Evil on October 3, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Liberal fascism is redundant.

ButterflyDragon on October 3, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Excellent piece, Karl.

I disagree, though with this:

“When Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was asked “Of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?”, there is a reason she did not have an answer.”

At the time, I read the transcript of the interview with Schakowsky, and her answer, essentially that it depends upon what we (meaning Americans) decide what government should do, is exactly the right answer. If, G-d forbid, we are involved in another all-out war, we may decide to devote the overwhelming majority of our GDP to the war effort, in which case we may only be allowed to keep 25% of what we earn.
Actually, thanks to HotAir (see http://hotair.com/archives/2011/09/16/audio-you-dont-deserve-to-keep-all-your-money-dem-congresswoman-says/) we see her actual answer:

“I’ll put it this way, you don’t deserve to keep all of it. It’s not a question of deserving, because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together.”

Of course, we have to elect representatives (i.e., senators and representatives in Congress and corresponding representatives in state governments) and a new president so that together we decide to do less things, and to more efficiently do those things that we do decide to do.

Ira on October 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Yeah – the mask is really slipping in the run-up to 2012.

gwelf on October 3, 2011 at 1:43 PM

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Yes “unitary executive” does ring a bell with me, and it was the left using exactly the sort of language used here to further the argument. The difference is that the unitary executive is in fact part of the fabric of Constitution; the argument is over the scope of that doctrine. In contrast, the left — unlike the Right during the W admin — is now suggesting getting rid of separated powers and elections, the very horrors the left thought would happen under W and never did.

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM

You’ve really upset sesquipedalian – you must be on to something.

gwelf on October 3, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Ira on October 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Where I live, I get to hear a lot of Schakowsky and am confident the reason she swerved into the “govt is something people do together” talking point (which is what it is; Dems say this a lot) and didn’t have a direct answer to the question is because she believes exactly as Warren does.

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism” is an excellent read, by the way. Sesquipedalian might learn something from it, if he/she/it actually reads books.

iurockhead on October 3, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Lets also remember the context of liberals talking about people not deserving to keep all of their property:

We have a current total deficit of ~15 Trillion, with unfunded liabilities in the 100+ Trillion rage.

We are going deeper into debt at a rate of ~1.5 Trillion per year.

Liberals have already taken (borrowed against) the property of people that haven’t even been born yet.

Before we go on about how much “we” owe as individuals to federal government, government needs to prove it can spend within it’s means and do so without corruption.

It’s also telling that the services cited by Warren and her ilk regarding the proper roll of government always mention those things which are actually done by local government (firefighters, police, teachers etc). They have a hard time justifying federal spending at anywhere near the levels we have right now.

gwelf on October 3, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I give up I must have 4 comments stuck in the spam filter.

Dr Evil on October 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Ryan also notes that Sachs echoes the arguments of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham. Ryan does not mention that Rousseau’s theory of the general will is the forerunner of modern totalitarianism and Bentham’s idea of Utopia was a prison under his total control.

You provide not merely a wrong and paranoid interpretation of Bentham’s panoptican, but you are slandering one of the great heroes of economic conservatism. Let me quote the wikipedia on Bentham’s politics:

His position included arguments in favour of individual and economic freedom, usury, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts.[2] He argued for the abolition of slavery and the death penalty and for the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children.[3]

As it turns out, his arguments in favor of usury were advanced against Adam Smith’s attack on usury in the “Wealth of Nations” and were quite influential in making usury a notion of the past. I don’t think I can understate the benefit of letting the interest rate be set by the free market.

thuja on October 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM

woodrow wilson = fascist

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Woodrow Wilson segregated the Federal government and the armed forces. He kept the Feds from investigating lynchings. Jim Crow laws got teeth with his encouragement. He embroiled us in a world war we didn’t need to be involved in. Like most progressive academics, he supported eugenics ideas.

Are you a Wilsonian, sesquipedalian?

theCork on October 3, 2011 at 4:43 PM

thuja,

Bentham could be economically “liberal,” as the term was understood then (his scheme for “pauper management” aside), but had no belief in natural individual rights. Moreover, Bentham’s utilitarianism was subsequently used to justify all sorts of government intervention:

By placing happiness rather than liberty as the ultimate end of all
legislation, utilitarianism sanctioned a much more extensive role for
the government than liberalism had previously admitted. From Locke
onwards, liberals argued that the state’s two main functions were to
act as `umpire’ by ensuring that the rules of the game were played
correctly, and as `protector’ by upholding the natural rights of
individuals against injury and injustice. Yet now the state was seen
as having a more active role to play in positively promoting the
happiness of its subjects.

It would appear that if happiness is the ultimate goal, then freedom
can be considered beneficial only in so far as it promotes that
happiness. What this implies is that if freedom came to be seen as
an inadequate means of achieving Bentham’s principle then it would be
logical to discard it in favour of a process that would. In other
words, positive action by government is in no way prohibited if it
could shown to produce a beneficial outcome in terms of happiness.
Those who follow the logical implications of utilitarianism must
accept that “If it could be shown that happiness could be more
effectively promoted by restricting freedom than by enlarging it,
they would be bound by their own principles to favour restricting
it.”

Given the Rousseauian nature of the Sachs critique, advocating strongly for Eurosocialism, that Sachs is being utilitarian in the latter, statist/totalitarian sense.

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Natural rights seems a circuitous path to economic liberalism. I support economic liberalism out of notions from Hayek and Schumpeter. In particular, I believe Hayek’s Economic Calculation Problem critique of socialism. I take great joy in Schumpeter’s concept of the business cycle as a process of creative destruction, because a life or an economy without change is dead.

In fact, I agree with Bentham that natural rights are “nonsense upon stilts”. I don’t think our view of a philosophical concept has any bearing on Bentham’s or mine economic ideas. I would also point to all the cruel bigotry against gay people in the past justified by natural law–as I guess Bentham would have.

Let us consider the rhetorical worth of natural rights in promoting a free market policy. Let’s say the gold standard (or other precious commodity standard). What do we really gain by claiming the gold standard is a natural law? Most people in 2011 will look at you funny if you make such an argument. You get more people to think the gold standard as a good solution by pointing out that a gold standard does much the same thing as a balanced budget amendment, but avoids the bad consequences of a balanced budget amendment.

thuja on October 3, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Given the Rousseauian nature of the Sachs critique, advocating strongly for Eurosocialism, that Sachs is being utilitarian in the latter, statist/totalitarian sense.

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 5:30 PM

now this is just gibberish. it’s a sad attempt at emulating jonah the whale’s interpretation of intellectual history, which is comically ignorant and shallow to begin with. of course, modern day “conservatives” have no choice but to rely on these pseudo-scholars to claim intellectual support for their views.

turning to, you know, actual scholars you find that fascism is

“a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

and yes, this sounds eerily like “conservatism” as practiced in rush limbaugh’s America. this is also why jonah the whale felt like he needed to throw the term back at liberals (“i’ve been called a fascist and a Nazi by smug, liberal know-nothings, sublimely confident of the truth of their ill-informed prejudices. Responding to this slander is, as a point of personal privilege alone, a worthwhile endeavor,” says the victimized goldberg on p 392) – and concoct a phony narrative for support. that’s all goldberg’s book is: a hilarious reaction to criticism one expects from adolescents. and “conservatives,” who apparently wasted all that money on college tuition, are lapping it up and thoroughly discrediting themselves intellectually in the process.

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 8:34 PM

In contrast, the left — unlike the Right during the W admin — is now suggesting getting rid of separated powers and elections, the very horrors the left thought would happen under W and never did.

Karl on October 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM

only one person suggested suspending congressional elections – not a representative sample – and it reflects a frustration with members of congress more concerned with their own power than the common good, a sentiment currently shared by nearly 9 in 10 Americans. sachs expresses the mainstream liberal idea of an activist government that works within the open market framework to create a more balanced economy and more equitable society. orszag argues for a better, more streamlined legislative process, not for doing away with democracy. on schakowsky and, by extension, on warren, you’ve already been corrected by a fellow commenter. the quote from obama expresses a banal truth, not some yearning for totalitarian powers. zakaria personally prefers the british model of government. wilson is just thrown there for some reason.

even ignoring the red herring that is your boneheaded insistence on branding any opinion you feel compelled to oppose as fascism, this post is a lazy attempt to tie factoids derived from random quotes into a cohesive argument, and you deserve to be called out for it.

sesquipedalian on October 3, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Excellent write-up, Karl.

Lawrence on October 3, 2011 at 12:52 PM

DITTO.

And, tangential remarks following regarding Elizabeth Warren:

she’s proof that academia is so far gone around the Leftwing bend that it’s become an opposition to what it is supposed to be: educating minds to think and reason.

Warren, having moved into government, unfortunately, brings her “LIBERAL FACISM” along and therein lies our national misfortunte. Because she does not represent someone who assists and informs free-thinkers to reason and consider, she demands a subservient, obedient, subjective ‘normal’ or mean (or, standard, everyone’s the same, don’t vary off that course, which is what leads to fascism or is fascism in government).

Lourdes on October 4, 2011 at 9:22 AM

…Warren, having moved into government, unfortunately, brings her “LIBERAL FACISM” along and therein lies our national misfortunte.

(…)

Lourdes on October 4, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Apologies, misspelling, I am somewhat tired at this hour, the end of my ‘day’ early in the AM on present schedule.

Should be: “LIBERAL FASCISM”

Lourdes on October 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM

sachs expresses the mainstream liberal idea of an activist government that works within the open market framework to create a more balanced economy and more equitable society. orszag argues for a better, more streamlined legislative process, not for doing away with democracy.

Now you’ve let the mask slip haven’t you?
So, it is a “mainstream Liberal idea” to have an “activist” government?? A government that by your own words “create a more “balanced” economy and more “equitable” society”???

So, in your view, suspending The People’s Right to vote is NOT “doing away with Democracy” (although, by definition, it most certainly IS), the government should be “activist” and should make sure we see equal OUTCOMES and not equal OPPORTUNITY.

You know, for someone who is obviously a pompous, elitist individual, believing in your own intellectual and moral superiority, you sure are awfully shortsighted and ignorant of History.

Jus sayin.

KMC1 on October 4, 2011 at 11:04 AM

So, it is a “mainstream Liberal idea” to have an “activist” government?? A government that by your own words “create a more “balanced” economy and more “equitable” society”???

shocking, right?

So, in your view, suspending The People’s Right to vote is NOT “doing away with Democracy” (although, by definition, it most certainly IS)

orszag didn’t argue for taking away the right to vote, but this just shows the pitfalls of relying on others to pre-digest information for you.

the government should be “activist” and should make sure we see equal OUTCOMES and not equal OPPORTUNITY.

no, liberals want to see an activist government that seeks to level the playing field for everyone – such as equal rights and the provision of social services like access to education, health care, infrastructure, and basic supports for the poor – which promotes equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.

You know, for someone who is obviously a pompous, elitist individual, believing in your own intellectual and moral superiority, you sure are awfully shortsighted and ignorant of History.

being an unashamed elitist, let me point out that the rules of grammar dictate what words should begin with a capital letter, not your enthusiasm.

sesquipedalian on October 4, 2011 at 11:42 AM