May 22, 2008

Not Flirting with Fascism

There?s much with which I agree in John?s latest post; however, when he mentions that in modern America, a ?high-tech vitalism? derived from Nazi ?bioethics ? reigns supreme,? I sense that he must live at a far more dangerous and thrilling address than do I. Flipping through the channels of contemporary American culture, I find plenty of goo-goo-gooing in adolescent song contests, cooking shows dedicated to hitherto unexplored uses of Velveeta and hotdogs, and reruns of ?Touched By an Angel.? Even the wife-swapping sitcom John mentions seems to be more about sappy, shabby Baby Boomer narcissism than the spirit of Dionysius. It might be interesting if our culture featured productions like ?Everybody Loves Heidegger,? ?As the World Eternally Recurs,? and ?Total Mobilization! The Musical,? but it doesn?t. 

I?m also highly baffled by John?s sense of the ideology of the ruling regime:

I think that in our post-Christian society, which cheerfully disposes of those humans whom it has dehumanized (tens of millions of fetuses, but I expect that others will be next), it might well be dangerous to throw around studies that attack even an exaggerated egalitarianism. People sense this?especially liberals, who are never far from offering free tubal ligations or euthanasia tablets. So it scares them, as it should. Please don?t convince me that it?s okay to send those people into internment camps. Please. Don?t.

Is the current welfare state really teetering on the precipice of genocide? Would the bureaucrats start rounding up low-IQ individuals for state extermination if they ever got their hands on The Bell Curve? Is the current class of public servants?now enthralled with ?diversity? quotas, egalitarianism in education (that is, ?everyone?s above average?), and the flying of the banner of global democraticization?really just about to make common cause with the Nazi trolls who once spammed our website? I think this is just about as plausible as someone ordering the poor ?to a gas chamber, go!? after reading a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

I find it infinitely more likely that the government might arrest Charles Murray for a ?thought crime? (and being that the implications of Murray?s research are so evil, would John stand in his defense if he were?) The other likely scenario is something that?s actually already happening: standardized testing, of all kinds, is given the old pomo desconstruction, and the evaluative vacuum is filled by university bureaucrats who attempt to more fairly redistribute intelligence. These are the government actions that are a clear and present danger, not mass murder. (N.B. Murray actually supports doing away with the SAT, although for sound reasons.) 

John?s misjudgment of our enemies on the left, and of the nature of American culture, actually reminds me a great deal of the recent work of our friend Jonah Goldberg, who?s gone on at length about the ?totalitarian temptation? in contemporary liberalism. That there are elective affinities between Mussolini?s corporate state, the New Deal, and HillaryCare is a defensible, if not particularly original, point; however, Goldberg takes this much further, attempting to trace a thread of continuity stretching from ?Hegel to Whole Food,? from ?Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning? (to take two of the books discarded subtitles.) John and Jonah both ask questions like, ?who really won the war?? that is, us of the high-tech vitalists? 

What both authors miss is the particularity of the ideology of each political regime. Paul seems closer to the mark when he defines fascism as ?a movement of the anti-libertarian Right ? [based on an] emphatic rejection of the principle of equality.? The Partito Nazionale Fascista and the DNC might have had similar tax and Ag polities, but the real question is how such things are integrated and articulated within a broader ideology (ultra-nationalism and managed equality respectively).

The question of abortion, which John brings up, makes a lot of this clear. Hillary is, of course, an abortion advocate par excelance, but then she suffered no conflicted conscience when she traveled as first lady to rural India, with daughter Chelsea by her side, to protest the culture of mothers? aborting unwanted young girls (a practice that has proliferated with the introduction of the ultrasound in the countryside). When a modern woman in an advanced society ?chooses? to terminate a pregnancy to assure her personal empowerment, then it?s all OK by Hil. If, however, a rural, non-emancipated woman aborts her fetus for backward, ?traditionalist? reasons, than it?s murder. Again the issue is one of ideology. Extremely rare is the contemporary abortion supporter who believes that any unborn child ?deserves to die.? Instead, for them, abortion functions within a nexus of ?self-fulfillment? and ?equality.? Before one can confront an enemy, one must properly understand him. Stalin banned abortion in the Soviet Union in the 1930s so as to increase the population of the socialist Motherland. Should Koba therefore be classified as a ?social conservative?? 

I don?t think we?re going to get anywhere by wringing our hands over an American culture of fascistic ?vitalism? or the genocidal tendencies of liberal bureaucrats. Moreover, all of this seems to be an avoidance of seriously confronting one of our cultures most beloved sacred cows and most strictly enforced shibboleths for entrance into public discourse??equality.? Robert Nisbet looked at the myth of equality without blinking in The Twilight of Authority, and for all their talk of global democracy, even the editors of Commentary have been willing to broach the subject of the ?inequality taboo.?  Why not us?   


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