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Ledeen on Liberal Fascism: Unresearched, Lazy, and Wrong

At Pajamas Media, Michael Ledeen gives an absolute barracking to Jonah Goldberg's new book. Ledeen, who learned about fascism from Italy's greatest historian of fascism, Renzo De Felice, stays fastidiously polite while noting that it's difficult to write cogently about … Read More

By / January 17, 2008

At Pajamas Media, Michael Ledeen gives an absolute barracking to Jonah Goldberg's new book. Ledeen, who learned about fascism from Italy's greatest historian of fascism, Renzo De Felice, stays fastidiously polite while noting that it's difficult to write cogently about fascism without understanding what fascism is:

“Fascism, at its core, is the view that every nook and cranny of society should work together in spiritual union toward the same goals overseen by the state.” That is not fascism; it’s absolute monarchy, it’s the Sun King in France, it’s the great enlightened despots like Frederick the Great. But it’s not Mussolini or his imitators, and certainly not Hitler, whose vision was global, not just national. The issue is “the same goals,” not just the methods of rule, and here’s where Jonah’s eccentric thesis, for all its provocative value, leaves history behind and strides into…vision, I suppose. Just a few lines later, he claims that “Woodrow Wilson was the twentieth century’s first fascist dictator,” and that’s just silly.

There's a fairly extensive literature out there on the origins and varieties of totalitarianism. Some of it's left-wing. Some of it's right-wing. Left-wing totalitarianism has a property in common with right-wing totalitarianism: being totalitarian. Left-wing totalitarianism has a property right-wing totalitarianism doesn't have: being left wing. And vice versa. By Leibniz's Law, they're not the same!

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