Monday, February 18, 2008
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT AUTHORITARIANS
his is the graphic center-piece on the cover of Jonah Goldberg's new book, Liberal Fascism, currently all the rage among American progressives. And I mean that literally -- the rage is astounding, especially among those who've never cracked it open to have a look.
This is not a book review, as I haven't read it yet either. But I have read many extended excerpts at the above link, which is Jonah's "book blog," and it seems he has done quite a bit of scholarly research into the roots of many of the political ideologies whose names are thrown around with wild abandon these days by people who don't really know what they mean. To many folks, the title itself would seem to be an oxymoron (except perhaps for some Canadians, who could relate to it with memories of the Liberal Party's "born to rule" ethic).
These days the label "progressive" has taken favour over "liberal," but I doubt Goldberg would be under less attack today had he titled it "Progressive Fascism" -- even though his delving into the history of the "Progressive Movement" of the early 20th century, and its fascinations with fascism, state power, eugenics and many other aspects of authoritarian do-gooder philosophy are apparently major themes in the book. Why anyone would prefer to be known as a "progressive" today, explicitly recalling that well documented political movement, is quite a mystery if one knows the historical background.
The 'happy face' graphic stirs a lot of anger too, among those for whom 'fascism' is just another word for 'conservatism.' What the enraged don't seem to get is that it isn't Mr. Happyface with Hitler's moustache, it's a Mr. Happyface that someone has scribbled a Hitler moustache on. It seems to me there's a difference in intent between the two. It's grafitti, reminiscent of Hitler-Bush, Hitler-Cheney or Hitler-Condi placards seen at ANSWER rallies. Anybody can be Hitler. All you need is a black marker.
One thing about Goldberg's book that I can say (repeat: haven't read it yet), and that is his timing is impeccable. A near religious revival is sweeping his country, with many otherwise sensible people proclaiming a new savior, whose message to them is, "We are the ones we've been waiting for." He doesn't have supporters so much as he has followers, chanting his Word in eye-glazed adoration while some faint at his feet -- and all fueled by inspiring bromides and platitudes. Policy proposals are so 'last year', and will be irrelevant when The Change happens anyway. It's a bit like Harmonic Convergence (remember that?). We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Not long ago, one of my childhood's favourite Canadians revealed his own potential for extreme authoritarianism, and intolerance for heresy. Dr. David Suzuki told students at McGill University that politicians who don't hew to the global warming orthodoxy, or who don't agree that "the science is settled," should be thrown into prison. If you'd like to see how settled it is, take a look here for both sides of the issue.
The revised graphic will also have to do for the Great Imam of the Church of England, Rowan Williams (although his whiskers of wisdom are considerably bushier than David's). He told his flock recently that Islamic Shari'a Law was to be an inevitable addition to the British legal system. Isn't it nice that fascism, in any of its modern incarnations, always comes with a kind and gentle smile? Of course he didn't mean anything like hand-chopping of thieves, stoning of adulterers or hanging of homosexuals. Only that many British Muslims have no affinity for the laws of the country they have chosen to call home, and Britain would be well advised to make them feel more comfortable by importing some of the laws of the countries they left behind.
After all, these laws are "received jurisprudence" given by Allah to his people 14 centuries ago. What could go wrong? These are laws which are so universal, they haven't changed by even one word in all that time. It's an Archbishop of Canterbury Tale of the times we live in, as depicted in Chaucerian prose so ably by the indispensible iowahawk.
17 Hie and thither to the Arche-Bishop's manseOne hundred and one lines of gut splitting hilarity, so don't forget to read the whole thing.
18 The pilgryms ryde and fynde perchance
19 The hooly Bishop takynge tea
20 Whilste watching himselfe on BBC.
Vigilance means watching for danger where you least expect it.
Labels: Free Speech