Liberal Fascism
In times of sweeping political correctness, bullies attacking those who question the holy liberal trinity of diversity, inclusivity and equality, and a media which toes the party line while defaming dissenters, it's easy to see why more and more people are calling the current progressive groupthink "fascist". But if you look at history, as Jonah Goldberg did in his book, Liberal Fascism, you realize that this is kind of missing the point: today's left isn't merely using fascist tactics. No, fascism is, and always has been, a progressive, leftist project. What we today call conservatism has little to do with it - in fact, it's almost its exact opposite.

To understand this, we first need to realize that fascism is a revolutionary movement, in the tradition of the French Revolution. As Goldberg puts it,
...the French Revolution was the first totalitarian revolution, the mother of modern totalitarianism, and the spiritual model for the Italian Fascist, German Nazi, and Russian Communist revolutions. A nationalist-populist uprising, it was led and manipulated by an intellectual vanguard determined to replace Christianity with a political religion that glorified "the people," anointed the revolutionary vanguard as their priests, and abridged the rights of individuals.
Revolution isn't exactly a conservative talking point, now is it? Or consider an early program of Mussolini, "the father of fascism": some of the things these early fascists wanted included a lowering of the minimum voting age, the end of the draft, the repeal of titles of nobility, a minimum wage, building "rigidly secular" schools for the proletariat, a large progressive tax system... in other words, a classically leftist platform. Fascism was, in a sense, a Bolshevik revolution minus internationalism. Consequently, many American progressives at the time were full of praise for Mussolini. Hitler was similarly anti-capitalist and anti-conservative. Writes Goldberg:
The Nazis rose to power exploiting anticapitalist rhetoric they indisputably believed. Even if Hitler was the nihilistic cipher many portray him as, it is impossible to deny the sincerity of the Nazi rank and file who saw themselves as mounting a revolutionary assault on the forces of capitalism. Moreover, Nazism also emphasized many of the themes of later New Lefts in other places and times: the primacy of race, the rejection of rationalism, an emphasis on the organic and holistic- including environmentalism, health food, and exercise- and, most of all, the need to "transcend" notions of class.
Goldberg leaves no doubt that fascism - both Mussolini's classical fascism and Hitler's Nazism - but also communism as fascism's equally-evil-twin - is in essence collectivist, anti-capitalist, anti-religion (except that it can use religion sometimes to further its aims), wants to control everything in the name of welfare, progress and for the "good of the people", uses science as a sort of priestly class to provide justification for the leaders of "the movement", hates the individual and always seeks to advance the collective... yep, exactly the Orwellian nightmare we see today, mostly on the left.

NRW New Deal Fascism

Roosevelt's New Deal and its NRA: progressive fascism at its finest
It's really fascinating and chilling how Goldberg (re)tells modern American history through this lens, like the story of Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, who embraced exactly this kind of thinking - these were people who saw the constitution as a mere obstacle in the way of the great leaders and wanted absolute power in the name of "progress". It's astonishing to read the history of America around WWI and what Wilson and the whole progressive gang, including later FDR, had on their minds - people that have tremendous influence on progressive thinking to this day. And to say that the widely glorified 1960s revolution contained fascist elements would be an understatement - in fact, the violent, power-hungry mobs that shut down anyone even remotely opposing their radical ideas were eerily reminiscent of what happened at German universities in the 1930s.

If all of this seems confusing, the reason may be that we are dealing here with a phenomenon that is deceptive by its very nature. Weaponzing words and twisting their meaning has a long tradition with pathological leaders. A prime example is Josef Stalin's brilliant propagandist use of the word "fascism" to defame everyone and everything that didn't agree with him 100 percent - hence the stubborn use of the term by today's left to defame things that have nothing at all to do with fascism. The truth is, catchphrases and ideological justifications change, but the deeply pathological nature of fascism remains - whether we are dealing with Nazism, Mussolini's Fascism, Communism or today's liberal "progressivism".

stalin
© CC-BY-SA 3.0
Josef Stalin: the man who redefined the meaning of "fascism" for propaganda purposes
So, if we are to take seriously the oft-repeated mantra "never again", we need to come to terms with what fascism actually is and what it looks like. The problem is that its pathological nature makes it a moving target: fascism always adapts its language to what is hip and trendy. What we must do, then, is to look at the underlying principles - what are the features that are independent of the ideological slogans du jour?

One who has attempted to study pathological regimes and how they come to power was Andrew Lobaczewski. Having witnessed the horrors of communism first hand, he and his peers in Nazi - then Soviet-controlled Poland looked at the phenomenon from a psychological perspective and reported their findings in his book, Political Ponerology. He coined the term "pathocracy" to describe a regime that is pathological in a clinical sense - a system that serves the warped worldview of pathological individuals who seek to corrupt the entire society. The process by which a normal, functioning society is transformed into a pathocracy he calls "ponerization": it starts with a set of ideas by intellectuals that sounds promising, but that is much too narrow, black-and-white and has certain pathological features. One of these is what Lobaczewski calls "the schizoidal declaration": a fundamental belief that, left to their own devices, people will always be stupid and cruel, and must therefore be tightly integrated into a powerful structure - all for "the good of the people" of course.

The next step is that individuals with various pathologies see the potential of these ideologies and instinctively use them to gain power. Despite their rhetoric, their drive is not to make the world a better place, but to subdue and corrupt the society of "normal people", which they see as a threat. In the words of Lobaczewski:
To individuals with various psychological deviations, the social structure dominated by normal people and their conceptual world appears to be a "system of force and oppression". Psychopaths reach such a conclusion as a rule. If, at the same time, a good deal of injustice does in fact exist in a given society, pathological feelings of unfairness and suggestive statements emanating from deviants can resonate among those who have truly been treated unfairly. Revolutionary doctrines may then be easily propagated among both groups, although each group has completely different reasons for favoring such ideas.
Goldberg's book comes close to fleshing out the ponerization process as it has taken place in the West and, with the knowledge from Political Ponerology, you can see the whole ugly picture emerge - how, bit by bit, we were led into a trap. In hindsight, it's really unbelievable how humanity could have let it happen - how we gave up our individuality, local communities, responsibility for our lives, traditional wisdom, and so much more, to the whims of a tyrannical, fascist state masked in niceties and "progressive" double-speak. Where far-reaching decisions are made in some backrooms between institutions, "enlightened scientists" and big corporations tied to the state apparatus. How we lost our voices both individually and at a local community level so that "they" can do whatever they want to us, under our very noses - and, increasingly, behind our backs. How we could allow the complete re-engineering of everything - our values, our reactions, our vocabulary and so on - all in the name of "progress"!

10 Principles of Fascism

The picture of fascism that emerges from Goldberg's description of the history of fascist thought and action, from Wilson to Stalin and Hitler, might be condensed into 10 principles. Here they are, along with some comments about how they play out in today's world:

1. Schizoidal declaration, i.e. "left to his own devices, man will always be stupid and cruel, so we must tightly integrate him into a top-down structure". For an example of how this plays out today, look no further than the worldview of today's liberal "activists", whereby everyone and their grandma is an oppressor, racist, misogynist and potential rapist. And if you think you're not, then you just aren't aware of your "unconscious bias". The solution, in good old fascist tradition, is the massive re-education and policing of speech and thought, of course!

2. In order to reign people in (because they can't be trusted), we need to create a powerful state (aka Big Government) that controls every aspect of life. It's always the fascists who call for a powerful state to force people "into line". In their system, you are not allowed to make different choices - you march along or perish. Bureaucracy rules. And while we can argue about different policies and political systems forever, the line is clearly crossed when the state dictates our very values and replaces local families and communities as a source of meaning and ethics. But this is precisely the fascist program: to pretend the nation-state, or indeed some vague internationalism, can emulate the functioning and sense of belonging that are the hallmark of small communities. All the marching and virtue-signalling, all the attempts to dictate new values like equity, diversity, veganism, non-smoking or giving regular "consent" to your dancing partner, the moral but also legal pressure on institutions, businesses and private homes all point in the direction of the state becoming the archetypal devouring mother that destroys the souls of her children by trying to protect them from themselves.

Liberal Fascism

"Riots not Diets": violence and stupidity have always been the hallmarks of fascism
3. To advance our "great cause for the good of the people", we need to create a "movement", to "mobilize". Many people associate fascism with war. But for fascists, the point is not so much war itself, but mobilization. It's always about getting people to act - doing trumps thinking. Consider the insanity of LA painting its streets white "against climate change" or publicity stunts like the crushing of regular light bulbs in Berlin to "protest" against their energy footprint (ironically enough, had they done this with energy-saving bulbs, this stunt wouldn't have been allowed under environment protection laws because of all the chemicals and electronics in there), or the whole #MeToo craze. Recognize the fascist flavor here: it's not about intelligent discussion of vastly complex topics such as climate change, energy policy or the complicated relationship between men and women in the modern age. No - it's about "mobilization", about marching and screaming, no matter how ill-defined the reason or how idiotic the cause.

4. Our advanced understanding of the way towards "progress" rests on science; there's a priestly class of scientists who can tell us exactly where the problems are and what we need to do. We all should remember that Marxists, in the tradition of Hegel, thought they had a scientific grasp of history and could accurately predict the future based on their "scientific" principles. For the Nazis, racist theories were scientific consensus, or as we might say today: "the science was settled", or better yet: "an overwhelming majority of scientists agreed". In hindsight, it's easy to dismiss Marx's "Historical materialism" or the Nazis' experiments to prove the racial superiority of white people as pseudoscience, but for the people at the time, it was anything but. Racist scientific theories were mainstream even before the Nazis, and in the 19th century, people really did believe that science can predict history just like it can predict the movements of planets. The same thing is happening today when "enlightened scientists" preach their gospel from think-tanks, governmental bodies, university faculties and press offices. We should ask ourselves: how will future generations look back at today's dogmas of die-hard materialist atheism, rigid neo-darwinism, global warming scaremongering or the gender studies departments' outright denial of biological facts such as the differences between men and women? Not to mention the medical carte blanche to poison children with hormones to treat "gender dysphoria", and let's not forget the food pyramid scam that was imposed on the Western world by fascist force, which causes misery on an unprecedented scale. This is not to say that science isn't important of course, but let's make no mistake: fascism always uses far-reaching claims of ideological scientific orthodoxies to further its agenda.

5. We need to break up traditional structures, allegiances, hierarchies, religions, classes etc., "only then can we reach our progressive goals". Traditional structures obviously stand in the way of radical change. The hallmark of the fascist program is to do away with everything that came before and to rewrite history: in the good old spirit of the French Revolution, it's about violently overthrowing the existing order, to "transcend classes" and to mercilessly stamp out any source of meaning and psychological sanity outside the progressive agenda. Families have no place in this and are degraded to mere tools for advancing the ideology. Everyone who is resentful and bitter for various reasons is given free reign to break down those "oppressive" structures of normal people hailing from generations past. This goes along with a grotesque glorification of the youth - lack of experience and wisdom is elevated to a virtue in fascists' eyes. Pathological revolutionaries always try to speak to the youth, probably because older folks are generally better equipped to see where such revolutionary programs inevitably lead. Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the tearing down of traditional structures in today's world is the literal tearing down of statues or the banning of literary works because of "offensive language" or the author's race. Anything deeper than the latest fad must go to the trash bin so that the new, unrestrained New Order can be built.

6. We need to "educate" people, especially children. If the masses refuse to embrace the radical program, it's always because of a "lack of education" or that "we didn't convey the message well enough". In other words, we need massive propaganda to set those stupid traditionalists straight. If you look at the education policies of the Nazis, Communists or today's progressives, these are shockingly similar. The content and ideological focus may change, but the principle is always the same: separate children from their families as early as possible, weaken the family structure, and put them in state institutions for education to break the bond between child and family so that the child's primary allegiance lies with the state and its ideology. Today, this is apparent in all its ugliness with the postmodern education ideals that use feminism to justify taking away babies after just a few months, teach cultural and moral relativism, equality of outcome, the obsession with sex and "diversity" and tolerate no other viewpoint whatsoever. Needless to say, the indoctrination of the population must be total - to that end, the media must toe the line 24/7, and attack dissenters, always.

7. Truth is overrated - we need to be pragmatic here. Often a lie will do a better job. If you are out to save the world and get the population to march towards a new dawn, an enlightened age of prosperity and equality for all, you are excused for telling some lies to further your noble agenda. And this is precisely how fascists past and present see the world. It's all for the good of the people - always. And sometimes a lie is just more effective to rally people for the good cause, is it not? You see, once you have "completely" understood how you can lead society into a great new golden age, the end justifies the means. It's no coincidence that politicians and activists seem to get away with ever more outrageous lies - one word should be enough for proof: Hillary.

8. We need to boldly experiment on a grand scale. Remember - it's about action. Just implement sweeping "reforms" and see what happens, never mind the law of unintended consequences that says it's much easier to make things worse than it is to make things better. But fascists are not really about making things better. This would require hard and humble work, and fascists hate that. They just love reveling in their power. They essentially play God by reshaping the whole world in their own, pathological image.

Liberal Fascism Progressive Nazis
9. Shut down opposing voices.
Intelligent discussion can be messy and reveal the infinite complexity of political and ethical questions. Fascists hate such complexity, so they need to crush dissent or even the most subtle questioning of their goals and intentions. Current examples include the spooky Lindsay Shepherd tribunal, the violent confrontation of Bret Weinstein at Evergreen College and the vicious attacks on Jordan Peterson. It should be no secret by now that those who dare opposing current ideological narratives, no matter how grotesque - from the Novichok business to the made-up chemical attack in Douma, from radical social constructionism to the blatant promotion of perverse sexual practices at Gay Prides - are fair game. And yes, you can't even hint at such things in private discussions with friends, family or coworkers who bought into the narrative of "the movement" without fearing social or even professional repercussions. Let that sink in.

10. Violence, war etc. are necessary means to reach our goals - it's ultimately all for the "good of the people". You need to crack some eggs to make an omelette. That has always been the mantra of the pathological revolutionary. The fascist Antifa goons are its current manifestation, as are interventionist wars in the name of "compassion". And what is "mobilization" or "activism" anyway if not a form of paramilitary coercion? These people are not out to make a good argument, they are out to force you into accepting their distorted version of reality. No wonder given that postmodern philosophy denies the existence of truth and objective values and sees everything as a jungle of groups exercising raw power. Given these premises, all you can do is be a victim or victimize others. The current blend of fascists pretends to be the former while being the latter.

A Healthy Conservatism: An Antidote to Fascism?

Many liberals think that conservatism means to stubbornly refuse change, and that if the conservatives had had their way in the past, there would still be slavery, women wouldn't be allowed to vote and homosexuality would still be illegal. The problem is that this is a massive strawman argument: hardly anyone, conservative or not, argues for slavery or for making homosexuality illegal. Conservatives simply don't like that liberals impose their radical way of life on them. They are instinctively disgusted by the liberal excesses they are forced not only to see, but to participate in.

In other words, what those liberals who rail against "fascist conservatives" are doing is attacking a caricature, a fata morgana of conservative extremism. What they don't understand is that conservative attitudes must be seen relative to the society in which they are expressed. For example, wouldn't they agree that in Hitler's Germany, to "resist change" was a good thing? To speak out against the radical transformation the Nazis sought to implement? We find ourselves in a similar situation today: those called - and defamed as - conservatives these days are not just stubborn traditionalists with a temperamental proclivity for rigid structure. No, these days simply asking questions about the sweeping changes, the radical re-engineering of everything - from our romantic relationships right up to international relations - with the fascist force of "movements" and "activism" makes you a conservative. Again, whether resisting change is a virtue or not depends, obviously, on the kind of change you are resisting.

Granted, conservatism has been hijacked as well, for example by turning it into imperialist or Christian-fundamentalist "neoconservatism". But true conservatism that stands up and says "enough, we have deep and important values that are the basis of humanity and we see through your power games" is the right attitude towards fascism, it seems. Or, as Goldberg put it, it's not about being against change per se. That would be ludicrous. It's more about asking: what change and why, precisely? At what cost? It's about questioning sweeping change based on ill-defined concepts and looking at the details.

Perhaps more to the point, sensible conservatism might simply be what Andrew Lobaczewski called the natural worldview of "normal people", as opposed to the entirely different perception of psychopathological deviants who seek to impose their moribund inner life on society. This is how he describes it:
In the psychopath, a dream emerges like some Utopia of a "happy" world and a social system which does not reject them or force them to submit to laws and customs whose meaning is incomprehensible to them. They dream of a world in which their simple and radical way of experiencing and perceiving reality would dominate; where they would, of course, be assured safety and prosperity. In this Utopian dream, they imagine that those "others", different, but also more technically skillful than they are, should be put to work to achieve this goal for the psychopaths and others of their kin. "We", they say, "after all, will create a new government, one of justice."

Pathocratic leadership believes that it can achieve a state wherein those "other" ["normal"] people's minds become dependent by means of the effects of their personality, perfidious pedagogical means, the means of mass-disinformation, and psychological terror; such faith has a basic meaning for them. In their conceptual world, pathocrats consider it virtually self-evident that the "others" should accept their obvious, realistic, and simple way of apprehending reality. For some mysterious reason, though, the "others" wriggle out, slither away, and tell each other jokes about pathocrats. Someone must be responsible for this: pre-revolutionary oldsters, or some radio stations abroad. It thus becomes necessary to improve the methodology of action, find better "soul engineers" with a certain literary talent, and isolate society from improper literature and any foreign influence.
...
The conflict is thus dramatic for both sides. The first feels insulted in its humanity, rendered obtuse, and forced to think in a manner contrary to healthy common sense. The other stifles the premonition that if this goal cannot be reached, sooner or later things will revert to normal man's rule, including their vengeful lack of understanding of the pathocrats' personalities.
In other words, the fascists - or "pathocrats", as Lobaczewski called them - are terrified of the "rule of normal people" and therefore viciously attack even the most basic common sense as "conservative" or even "alt-right" and its advocates as "deplorables", in the infamous words of Hillary Clinton. But clinging to common sense and traditional values is just a healthy reaction by normal people to the ever-increasing domination of pathological individuals in positions of power. Of course, this is impermissible to the pathocratic fascists, so if they can't blame it on the stupidity of the "deplorables", aka the "pre-revolutionary oldsters", then it must be - tada! - "Russian meddling". It's astonishing how precisely Lobaczewski's analysis predicts the behaviour of the current liberal-fascist establishment.

Antisemitism and Identity Politics

When talking about fascism, we should also briefly touch on the hot-button topic of antisemitism - because this is one thing many people ascribe to fascism as opposed to leftism. But this is far from being the whole truth. While Hitler, of course, brought Jew-hatred to a whole new genocidal level, Mussolini's fascism wasn't antisemitic at all until he fell under Hitler's thumb. Conversely, antisemitism on the left has always been a thing. Writes Goldberg:
Yes, the Nazis were anti-Semites of the first order, but anti-Semitism is by no means a right-wing phenomenon. It is also widely recognized, for example, that Stalin was an anti-Semite and that the Soviet Union was, in effect, officially anti-Semitic (though far less genocidal than Nazi Germany - when it came to the Jews). Karl Marx himself - despite his Jewish heritage - was a committed Jew-hater, railing in his letters against "dirty Jews" and denouncing his enemies with phrases like "nigger-like Jew."
And how could it be otherwise, considering that identity politics is nothing but another form of racism? For the progressive fascists, all that counts is group membership, primarily race. If you have adopted this pathological ideology, nothing prevents you from going full-Hitler and seeing "the Jew" as someone with perennially immutable, negative characteristics. This danger is even amplified by the bitter irony that many Jewish people themselves are playing the identity politics game in the form of their uncritical support for Zionism and the primacy of ethnicity that goes along with it.

Consider the explosive situation we find ourselves in today: on the one hand, you have a huge backlash against political correctness, SJWs and mainstream leftist extremism, aka fascism, from what nowadays is called the "right" or "conservative". Many of those voices are Jewish - like those Jewish members of the so-called "intellectual dark web". Right there, you have a target for "progressive" antisemitism. Leftists are ripe for it because their whole thinking is already dominated by racial categories. Then there is the controversy of Israel: most of those who speak out against the current fascist insanity see themselves as pro-Israel, including of course many Jews.

All of this creates a lot of confusion with all these political labels and camps (as if we didn't have enough such confusion already). The problem is that those opposing the blind pro-Israel viewpoint often stand on the left, and indeed on the side of SJWs - but in this case, they have a point: no matter what you think politically about the Israel/Palestine issue, shooting innocent children or randomly harassing folks just because you hate their ethnicity is reprehensible, period. Even if you buy the rest of the Israeli party line - the absolute right to defend itself, the Jews' entitlement to the holy land, that the Palestinians are to blame for everything that happened to them since 1948 etc. - there simply is no moral universe where you wouldn't be obliged to call out Israel's appalling excesses. But that's not what happens and, sadly, many Jews (and conservative pundits for that matter) have been brainwashed into justifying and tolerating even the most horrendous, genocidal adventures of "their" state and are not shy calling about anyone who points out this obvious truth an "antisemite".

All in all, this looks like the perfect storm: how long until today's liberals start blaming the Jews again for the ills of the world? And when antisemitism strikes again - who will believe those who are against it if the concept has been watered down and rendered ineffective by Israeli propaganda for so long? It's not so difficult to envision a scenario where the so-called anti-fascists and their progressive brethren adopt fascism in the full-fledged, Hitlerian sense - antisemitism and all. Irony of ironies. But what do you expect from a history of pathological actors messing with peoples' heads by constantly re-defining and weaponizing words and labels?

Beware of New Movements

The lesson we should all take away from the leftist-progressive craze, as well as Goldberg's and Lobaczewski's books, is that fascism can come in all shapes and colors. The ideologies, the buzzwords, the "things that need to be done for the good of the people" can always change. What remains though is fascism's essence and its revolutionary, top-down, authoritarian, "get people to march unisono" nature, which can be recognized.

Reading about the history of the West's descent into fascism, it seems that each little step in the development of this fascist mindset and the implementation of its program were successful because even though most people didn't like it, they also looked the other way because it seemed unimportant or they thought it didn't really affect their lives that much. But taken together over the course of history, we were completely corrupted and brought to accept the total authority of the state and its priests, and our total dependence on it. Look at Jordan Peterson and his pronoun scandal - people always say "it's no big deal, doesn't affect my life, maybe it's even a good idea" etc, but these things represent exactly the small steps towards ever greater fascism.

We should keep these mechanisms in mind because it's clear that we will see new "movements" emerge in opposition to the pathological leftist politics of today, and it's equally clear that these movements will be subject to the same process of ponerization as outlined in Political Ponerology. Even if the initial ideas are half-decent, without adequate psychological knowledge and, I would argue, spiritual wisdom, these movements themselves will quickly degenerate into fascism of one form or another.

Maybe it would be a good exercise to take a look at the 10 points outlined above whenever someone comes along and presents his or her "great, scientifically informed program" to finally "put humanity back on track" by applying this or that insight universally as if it was the scientific world formula for spiritual salvation. Then we can check: does that leader or movement want to break traditional structures down? Does it want to re-educate the masses and especially children? Is it about "activism" - act boldly now, ask questions later? Does it strive towards radical change - especially when it comes to traditional values and virtues? Chances are that any movement that emerges will show some or many of these features or will develop them quickly once it gains some traction.

So what are we left to do? I'm with Jordan Peterson here - no movement, no party, no leader and no scientific insight by some genius can "save" us. Our spiritual growth is up to us as individuals. We either accept the burden of suffering that life inevitably brings, our individual responsibility and the humility that goes along with it, or we may get sucked into spiritual death by the mephistophelian forces that forever promise us enlightenment, progress and a new golden dawn... if we'd just offer up our souls.