A Comment Not Fit For Publication at Vox Nova

Apparently, when Michael Iafrate accuses this blog of promoting ‘Christo-fascism’, the following response (in its entirety) is inappropriate:

I’ll simply repeat my long-standing objection to your use of the term fascism:

http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/12/05/ole-timey-country-simple-christmas/#comment-27594

Michael is free, of course, to conduct his comment threads as he likes, but it seems self-evidently ridiculous (not to mention uncivil) to write a post calling people names, and then delete responses challenging that description.  This is a shame, as it makes it very easy to dismiss even his legitimate criticisms. In any case, here is a link to the post which originally drew Michael’s ire.

153 Responses to A Comment Not Fit For Publication at Vox Nova

  • John Henry says:

    Apparently Michael has now posted a (somewhat longer) response in the comments at Vox Nova, which I’ll reprint here:

    John Henry – I realize that you take issue with my application of the term “fascist” to the views of some of your co-bloggers. That’s fine and you have made your point. Further comments on this will be deleted.

    I find it truly funny, though, that while you were over here protesting my use of the word as it applies to your blog, your co-blogger Tito posted this.

    It’s truly great to have your blog as such a great example of what is wrong with u.s. Catholicism. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

    In response to Michael (as his moderation of comment threads over there makes conversation impossible in that forum), I’ll note that:

    1) I don’t mind name-calling so much as the refusal to make any attempt to justify the charge.

    2) I would like to be able to state my points, rather than having them mis-characterized by Michael. It is not that I object to him calling people ‘fascists’. It’s that he hasn’t provided any evidence to justify the accusation, and in the past he’s displayed a remarkable confusion about what the word even means.

    3) It’s just lame to call people names, then delete the comments when they respond.

    4) I thought the timing of Tito’s post was amusing, but that’s not really relevant to his weird reaction to Don’s post.

  • Zach says:

    It’s upsetting because it’s not possible to have a conversation with Michael, yet he seems to want to have one with us. (sorry for the third person if you’re reading this, Michael)

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism. For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup. America is corrupt at its foundation, its very nature, and as such that nature must be destroyed and replaced with something. Nevermind what that something is (it’s too difficult to specify).

    The worst part is that he accuses us of making all these mistakes, of nation worship, etc, and we cannot understand them. Whether its different vocabularies or whether it’s because we are part of “the system” I cannot say.

    But it’s clear that he has a passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.

  • Michael is liberal. And that is exactly what’s wrong with the Catholic Church in the US.

    I am Catholic. And as such I believe in what the Founding Fathers of these United States tried to do: create a Christian Constitutional Republic, NOT a secular atheist humanist national democracy that the Obamination of Desolation is turning this country into with the help of faux Catholics of the liberal pursuasion: Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Leahy, etc.

    I say again: the best anti-American liberal democrat so-called Catholic is the defeated, muzzled and emasculated one.

    And I truly mean that. I have no time for liberal heretics and apostates.

  • John Henry – I don’t see much point in rehashing our disagreements about the meaning of “fascism.”

    I don’t mind name-calling so much as the refusal to make any attempt to justify the charge.

    I haven’t refused anything. We’ve discussed this issue publicly before. I just don’t see much point in doing so again when the use of that term is not a central feature of the post whose comments I was moderating.

    …he hasn’t provided any evidence to justify the accusation, and in the past he’s displayed a remarkable confusion about what the word even means.

    You can link to my comments about fascism and call them “confused,” but it is more likely that you are the one who is confused. There is considerable debate about the use of the word fascism and folks on the right and the left use it in reference to one another. You shouldn’t be surprised at my usage, not should you find it confusing. I can send you some reading material to help you see where I cam coming from if it will make you less confused.

    Let me respond to a few more inaccuracies (ed: from other commenters):

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism.

    This is not true on multiple counts. First, if you think my understanding of the word “fascism” is “hyper-personalized,” perhaps you need to get out more. Second, I have restricted my use of the term “fascist” to one, maybe two, individuals on this blog. I certainly do not equate patriotism with fascism. If I did I’d have to condemn about 98% of the people I know as fascists. I have in fact blogged at VN about the positive characteristics of patriotism (delinked from the nation-state, of course, but this is patriotism nonetheless).

    For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup.

    If I don’t see anything “salvageable,” why do you think I have an interest in radical social movements in Appalachia? In the american peace tradition? Dorothy Day? Howard Zinn? The Berrigan brothers? WHy does it surprise you that I think american radicalism is the only form of patriotism worth a damn? The status quo in america is corrupt. If the american ideals you want to uphold so badly mean anything at all to you, you would have to be a radical in some sense because those ideals are not being realized. A patriotism that simply wants to preserve the status quo or some kind of “olden days” is worthless.

    The worst part is that he accuses us of making all these mistakes, of nation worship, etc, and we cannot understand them.

    I don’t know who the “we”/”us” are, but you are right that many americans (yes, even Christians) simply cannot understand the idolatrous nature american civil religiosity. It’s that pernicious dualism that we always end up talking about, Zach. It allows you (plural you) to hold two sets of religious allegiances at once. But we know what Jesus said about God and mammon.

    But it’s clear that he has a passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.

    Again, over the top nonsense. It’s overkill to say that I have a “passionate hatred for everything American and every person who would defend what is good about America.” It’s an overreaction to say such things when I clearly express deep love and affection for various things american. But such overreaction, such defensiveness, springs from a deep attachment (perhaps a religious attachment) to the idea of “america” that you can’t seem to bear any sort of real criticism without spinning off into “HE HATES EVERYTHING ABOUT AMERICA” jibberish.

    Par for the course for MI. His anti-military bigotry is a regular staple at Vox Nova.

    One of the few truthful things said in this thread. Congrats, Mr. Gormley! I am anti-military and I say so with regularity on the blog.

  • Jonathan says:

    I had long had difficulty reading Vox Nova in general, and gave up entirely about a year ago. It was not so much that the posts got to me because of their generally liberal position. It was more the self-righteous tones that slowly began to accompany almost every post. I have not been back lately, but given the comments, I suspect it has not improved.

  • If you think Michael is liberal, you clearly don’t understand liberalism. Here’s a hint – the general tendency of this blog is in an ultra-liberal direction. That might not be the standard definition of the liberalism in the US, but it does represent “liberalism” as the old enemy of the Church.

  • Jonathan says:

    Tito,

    George Mason – I appreciate the Federalist (then, anti-federalist) leanings of his writings. :-)

    And thank you for proving my point, Henry.

    –Jonathan

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Here is the irony, as indicated by that thread as elsewhere on this topic:

    michael not only doesn’t make an effort to understand the term “fascism,” but persists in applying it to his enemies. This is rather curious, especially when coming from one claiming the positions of the Left, broadly defined…..because fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined!

    The early theorists and political practitioners of fascism understood themselves to be of the Left, and several were socialist newspaper editors. So let’s leave behind the modern epithet, which has come to have no meaning whatsoever, and come to understand the many points of history one could highlight here, and which were highlighted in John Henry’s link.

    The two chief currents of modern, Western “conservative” thought are throne/altar/traditionalism and economic liberalism. Both of these strands would be toxic to the fascist operating at times when it was a serious, coherent system of thought and action. The fascist was nationalist (which can certainly be a part of “rightist” political thought, broadly defined), statist, and against traditionalism. (As we see in the split with the communists – socialism in one country v. socialism international).

    So if michael wishes to call someone a fascist today, he should look to the Left. And if he were in Britain, he could (properly) criticize the BNP, which draws quite a lot of their support from Labour voters and Labour areas.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Hilarious!

    Historically accurate. Are you either capable or willing to discuss it like adults?

    I’ll start.

    Mussolini was the first political leader to implement the theories of fasces. The theories began with socialist newspaper editors about three decades before.

    These were its characteristics: corportism/statism, hyper-nationalism, hatred of democracy, egalitarianism, the values of enlightenment and modernism, collective organization, cult of the leader, love of symbols, and the engagement of violence.

    These were its chief inspirations: popular science, Marx, Sorel, and Nietzsche.

    I repeat: fascism was, and is, a movement of the Left, broadly defined. This was also how its early writers, and political leaders, understood themselves.

    Now: are you either capable or willing of not having a tantrum in your e-engagement? Are you either capable or willing of setting aside the name-calling, hatreds, and hostility, and actually engaging in definition, historical example, and socio-political context? If so, let’s do it.

  • John Henry says:

    I don’t see much point in rehashing our disagreements about the meaning of “fascism.”

    I don’t either – that’s why I linked to our previous discussion to provide context, rather than writing a lengthy comment about fascism in response to your post. But you’re the one, after all, who brought it up by saying this blog promotes ‘Christo-fascism’. As you deleted the comment linking to our previous discussion – and several others, none of which were offensive in any respect – the only conclusion I can draw is that what you’re really saying is that you want to be able to call people names, but you don’t want to go through the tedious exercise of actually explaining what you mean by those names or engaging in any sort of dialogue. That’s all well and good; as I said above, you’re free to play games with the comment approval button and carefully script the narrative in your combox. Don’t pretend that this is true, though:

    I haven’t refused anything.

    You certainly have: You both refused to publish comments responding to your accusation of fascism, and then refused to engage in a civil discussion about your use of the term. As to your comments about my alleged ‘confusion,’ they strike me as just another tiresome rhetorical device: you are quite happy to call someone a ‘fascist’ or ‘confused’, but curiously reluctant to engage in a conversation beyond the level of general insults. It is much, much easier, of course, to allege that someone is confused and offer to assist them, than to explain your definition of fascism or actually point out an error in theirs, but, then, the former approach is a bit of a cheap dodge isn’t it?

  • Jenny says:

    I admire yall for continuing to attempt to debate and comment at Vox Nova. I have almost completely moved it out of my blog rotation. I don’t mind reading opinions and perspectives different from mine, but condescension drips from many of the posts. I enjoy Kyle’s posts and RCM’s posts back when she contributed, but wading through the rest of it got to be too much of a chore. I’m sure there are other decent posters that I am leaving out. What cemented my decision to stop visiting regularly is the massive censorship of comments. It is their blog so they can do what they want, but the deletion of every third comment to preserve the “proper” dialog makes them look small and the threads unreadable.

  • Colin Gormley says:

    “One of the few truthful things said in this thread. Congrats, Mr. Gormley! I am anti-military and I say so with regularity on the blog.”

    Bigotry being a sin one would figure that this isn’t something to be boastful of…

  • Jenny

    Here is a clue; in most blogs, such moderation happens. The irony is that so many of my comments have been deleted on TAC and then lies said as to why. But hey, let’s not let the reality of the net get in the way of your false representation of facts.

  • Jenny says:

    I don’t know how other blogs are run. Comments may be deleted daily, randomly, or accidentally. My concern as a reader and very occasional commenter is that the threads are readable and the flow of ideas is followable.

    I do know that on Vox Nova there is a cascade of deleted comments with annotations explaining why the comments were unworthy and deleted followed by other comments responding to the now deleted post. In my opinion, it makes the threads unreadable and, thus, not worth my time. And, after all, mine is the only opinion that matters when I decide which blogs to spend my time reading.

    You also nicely demonstrate my dislike of the overall tone at Vox Nova. I state my opinion about the choppy threads and you promptly call me a liar. I’m not sure what I falsely represented. Are comments not regularly deleted at Vox Nova in a very noticeable way?

  • Donald

    That is not true. Many have been, and people have seen it.

    Jenny

    As for comments being deleted, since it happens everywhere, I guess you can’t read the internet? Seriously, many places don’t even allow comments. The fact that some are deleted should be neither here nor there, but it is interesting that those who complain about it only do so for some examples of it, not the whole. Which goes to show it is not the deletion of the comment which is the issue.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Jenny,

    Don’t waste your time arguing with these frustrated tin-pot commissars. They’re all bark and no bite, which is why they will never having anything more than comment boxes to dominate.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Karlson, as far as I can tell three of your comments have been deleted. Here is what was said on those three instances:

    Tito Edwards
    the-american-catholic.com/
    2009/02/07 at 1:21pm
    Henry K.,

    You need to grow up. I deleted another uncharitable comment of yours.

    30 #
    Tito Edwards
    the-american-catholic.com/
    2009/02/06 at 4:16pm
    I’ve deleted two uncharitable comments.

    To be fair to Henry K. & MM, I was poking fun at MM’s SUV posting over at VN. If Henry K. would have taken the time to be prudent and read the entire sentence instead of stopping at “dissident”, he would have understood that I was joking about the SUV posting of MM. I wasn’t trying to be vicious as Henry K (& MM) were insinuating.

    Their perception of intended malice would have been justified if the intent was there. It wasn’t.

    Enough said.

    Donald R. McClarey
    2009/04/03 at 3:42pm
    I deleted your last comment Mr. Karlson. Your mischaracterization of what Mr. Petrik was saying crossed a line. I am also placing you in moderation for the time being.

  • John Henry says:

    I think the basic point is that authors have discretion over their comboxes. It’s a bad system, but it’s better than most of the alternatives. At the same time, bloggers should recognize that they open themselves to criticism if they act capriciously.

    Henry certainly abuses comment moderation imo on occasion, although Michael is by far the most committed to ensuring no unapproved message disturbs his name-calling. I tend to have more of a laissez-faire attitude towards comments (I don’t think I’ve ever deleted any of Henry’s comments, for instance), but not everyone feels that way, and they are well within their rights, just as Jenny has every right as a reader to dislike the policy. Why Henry feels the need to behave so boorishly in response to her criticism I can’t say. Some VN threads are about as organic and authentic as a professional wrestling match, complete with pre-decided winners and losers based on what comments are allowed through. But that’s their call and its only some of the writers; Kyle, and Sam, and Brett, and even MM are generally fairly reasonable, particularly the first three.

    Joe – I think you are being uncharitable, and I don’t really understand why. The best response to condescension and contempt is rarely to respond in kind.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I’ve deleted one or two of his comments before as well – when they violate our rules of conduct, which to me aren’t for show.

    Why do they even bother coming here? Whatever truth may be present in their arguments is completely obscured beneath the mounds of hatred and contempt they hold for anyone who doesn’t already agree with them.

  • Donald

    There have been many instances, and Tito would write something, and it would be up before he deleted it. It has happened to many of us too. I would get emails from some people when he did it to them. It is quite common in here. But that is the last I will mention it. But I do find it interesting people wonder why there is a discussion of this when the whole post here is about VN and comments.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Regardless of what Henry says, I will choose not to get involved in mud-slinging.

    Unlike the other blog, we here allow all comments to be posted, as long as they follow the comments policy.

  • Zach says:

    Michael, what I meant about the conversation bit was this: we talk back and forth, but we never really understand each other. And as far as me needing to get out more, I think it’s more likely that we just disagree about what fascist means. I’d follow jonathanjones on this issue.

    On equating patriotism with fascism: I see this as the only possible explanation for your reading of Don’s comments, and your insistence on calling him a fascist. That post had nothing to do with fascism or anything religious but you insist on seeing something that is not there. Hence I think you have expanded the term to be essentially meaningless.

    I still think what I said about your understanding of American patriotism holds true, although I cede the point you make about theoretical patriotism de-coupled from the nation state. Again this is theoretically possible but not possible in practice (i.e. in reality), because America and the rest of the world is organized into nation-states.

    And concerning your putative love for things America: Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, and The Berrigan brothers love nothing distinctively American. It’s not possible to say you love something but that your love is dependent upon your hope for it’s total transformation into something else. In this case, you no longer love the original thing but something else entirely.

    And you’re right: the American ideals that I love are not being put into practice. But the ideas I love are American. They are not Western European or Latin American.

    Finally, the us/we refers to the contributors on this blog, as opposed to you. I do not hold two religious allegiances. I do not worship mammon. Jesus Christ is my only King.

  • Henry certainly abuses comment moderation imo on occasion, although Michael is by far the most committed to ensuring no unapproved message disturbs his name-calling.

    How would you have any idea what comments I moderate? I in fact let most comments through. Perhaps you’re simply irritated that some of your comments get deleted. Note that the only comments of yours that I deleted in that thread were comments in which you intentionally tried to continue a conversation that I said we weren’t going to have. You had fair warning and posted 2, maybe 3 more times comments that were virtually identical. You’re welcome to do that, but don’t call me unreasonable for not putting up with it.

  • Zach -

    And as far as me needing to get out more, I think it’s more likely that we just disagree about what fascist means.

    Well then say that. Don’t say that my view of fascism is “hyper-personalized” or “idiosyncratic.” You know well where I am coming from.

    …I cede the point you make about theoretical patriotism de-coupled from the nation state. Again this is theoretically possible but not possible in practice (i.e. in reality), because America and the rest of the world is organized into nation-states.

    This comment simply ignores reality. The world is not organized only by nation-states. Are native North Americans not able to be patriotic? They have no nation-state. Neither do Palestinians. I’ve blogged before about my love for the region that I come from. Has little to do with it being located within the boundaries of something called “america.” The nation-state system is an imposition.

    And concerning your putative love for things America: Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, and The Berrigan brothers love nothing distinctively American.

    What?

    It’s not possible to say you love something but that your love is dependent upon your hope for it’s total transformation into something else. In this case, you no longer love the original thing but something else entirely.

    And what is the “original thing” called “america” that I am supposed to love? Where is it? What is it? How do I locate it? What you say in this comment is true with regard to persons, not with abstractions like nation-states.

    And you’re right: the American ideals that I love are not being put into practice. But the ideas I love are American. They are not Western European or Latin American.

    Can you list for me these ideals that are “american-only”? Why are you opposing “american” and “Latin American”?

    I do not hold two religious allegiances. I do not worship mammon. Jesus Christ is my only King.

    We can say these sorts of things all we like. But the fact is, you and most of the writers on this blog casually approve of american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state. You celebrate it. I do not see any of you blogging about the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ. The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship. We can see what Donald worships. What do you worship?

  • But the fact is, you and most of the writers on this blog casually approve of american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state. You celebrate it. I do not see any of you blogging about the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ. The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship. We can see what Donald worships. What do you worship?

    This strikes me as a remarkably poorly thought out set of statements.

    First off “celebrating” something and “casually approving” of it would seem to be mutually exclusive. Second, while you might, given your proclivities, assume from silence that “most writers on this blog” casually approve of “american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state” since we don’t run around denouncing it all the time, it seems hard to claim that we “celebrate” such a thing when killing is a topic very little discussed and never to my knowledge praised on the blog. Perhaps in your own mind any post which mentions soldiers or the military in anything other than a negative fashion is “celebrating killing in the name of the nation-state”, but others can’t really be resonsible for what goes on in your own mind, only for what they actually write.

    More fascinating by far is your assertion: The things you are willing to kill and die for are the things you worship.

    Why are we to believe this to be true?

    I would hope that you, at least, would agree with all of us here that it is the duty of Christians, if necessary, to die the death of a martyr rather than to deny our faith in Jesus Christ. So certainly, in some cases, people die for Him whom they worship. But it is also reasonable to expect a parent to be willing to die to save his or her children. Does that mean that parents worship children? Christ tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Does that mean we worship our friends? Police, firemen and other rescue workers must risk, at times, losing their lives in defense of residents in their communities they don’t even know. Does that mean that they worship all residents in their communities?

    And do you really want, as a pacifist, to hold up “the glories of killing for the church or for Jesus Christ” as a positive good? To the extent that killing sometimes necessary to preserve that which is worth preserving, perhaps there are some situations where this might be necessary. And it is true that most of us here would probably defend the justice of the Crusades, which as I recall you consider to be “Christo-fascist”. But why even bring this up as a criteria for belief? One assumes that as a good pacifist you would explicitly not be willing to kill for the Church (whatever that may be taken to mean), so why suggest that being willing to kill in defense of something is proof of what one worships, since by that criteria you worship nothing?

  • John Henry says:

    How would you have any idea what comments I moderate? I in fact let most comments through. Perhaps you’re simply irritated that some of your comments get deleted. Note that the only comments of yours that I deleted in that thread were comments in which you intentionally tried to continue a conversation that I said we weren’t going to have. You had fair warning and posted 2, maybe 3 more times comments that were virtually identical. You’re welcome to do that, but don’t call me unreasonable for not putting up with it.

    Not that anyone cares at this point, but this is a lie, and it’s ridiculous anyway. My comments were deleted prior to any notice from Michael that commenting in response to accusations he made in his post was somehow inappropriate. Seriously, Michael, “I don’t want to ‘put up with’ responding to people I insult in my posts,” is your response?

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    So……no dispute about the meaning and history of fascism, a movement of the Left that Stalin successfully rebranded as “right wing” (which to him, as with Trotsky, it was) ? If there is no dispute, then perhaps those bloggers on the Left that wish to use the term for their name calling will correct their error.

  • First off “celebrating” something and “casually approving” of it would seem to be mutually exclusive.

    Not at all. americans mindlessly celebrate all sorts of things.

    Second, while you might, given your proclivities, assume from silence that “most writers on this blog” casually approve of “american soldiers killing in the name of the nation-state” since we don’t run around denouncing it all the time, it seems hard to claim that we “celebrate” such a thing when killing is a topic very little discussed and never to my knowledge praised on the blog.

    You do know about a guy named Donald who blogs for you, right? Ever read his posts?

    As for the killing and dying for what you worship, you don’t seem to be thinking too clearly… you’re twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious.

    Not that anyone cares at this point, but this is a lie, and it’s a ridiculous anyway. My comments were deleted prior to any notice from Michael that he considered responding in the comments to accusations he made in his post, was somehow an inappropriate topic of conversation.

    It’s not a “lie.” I deleted your comment due to its content and immediately told you why it was deleted and that it was not going to be a topic of conversation. You posted at least two more comments, identical to that one, and I deleted them.

  • You do know about a guy named Donald who blogs for you, right? Ever read his posts?

    He blogs with me, not for me. And yes, I read Donald’s posts with interest — and apparently with much better reading comprehension than you do. I am unaware of any of Donald’s posts in which he celebrated killing in the name of the nation state.

    As for the killing and dying for what you worship, you don’t seem to be thinking too clearly… you’re twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious.

    No, I’m pointing out that your statement was totally incoherant. If you think that it holds any meaning which is reasonable, you are certainly welcome to explicate it. However, responding simply by saying that others are “twisting, turning, avoiding the obvious” conveys nothing other than “I still think I’m right, but I’m unable to explain why, so I think I’ll try to issue some self-satisfied taunts.”

  • Donna V. says:

    It’s very difficult to understand him because he has a hyper-personalized (idiosyncratic) definition of every word he uses. e.g. everything said or done in defense of America is “fascist”, where the term fascist is expanded to include any American with a shred of Patriotism. For Michael, there is only one American patriot – the dissident and revolutionary. He sees nothing salvageable in America’s political or cultural makeup. America is corrupt at its foundation, its very nature, and as such that nature must be destroyed and replaced with something. Nevermind what that something is (it’s too difficult to specify).

    Zach nails it. For me, the greatest evidence of Western decadence is its absolute self-hatred, which is not found in other cultures, no matter how imperialist or gory their pasts (ie. Japan). The self-loathing leftist can see no good in American civilization. An extremely secular leftist (ie. Dawkins) can see no good in Western civilization and its traditional Christian faith at all – Christianity is nothing but sickness, oppression, sexism, etc. Michael I. is a Catholic (and I certainly do not doubt his belief in God), so he can not condemn Western Civilization as a whole. Instead, he directs his self-loathing at American Christianity, American culture, “imperialism” and so on. Those of us on the right honor our heritage while recognizing America has certainly fallen short many times of the ideals Americans profess to hold dear; it does not mean those ideals are ignorable any more than the ideals of Christianity are ignorable because Christians frequently fail to live up to them.

    Michael I. is to be pitied and prayed for: a man who hates his own country and his own heritage and finds the majority of his countrymen and women contemptible instead of basically decent human beings who err is not a man I envy. He, like other leftists, mistakes his self-righteous, sick self-loathing for virtue. It is not.

    Joe Hargrave, in contrast, is a man I have frequently disagreed with (except on abortion issues), but Joe, you make me think and reassess my own positions. I am probably a bit less economically libertarian than I used to be because of Joe’s cogent arguments. But then I have never doubted Joe’s love of country. He doesn’t come across as a man who despises his fellow Americans. I remember a 60′s leftist who said later that his fellow leftists had never learned “it’s impossible to change a country if you hate it.” Michael I. has never learned that lesson.

  • So “rationalization” is understanding what people actually write, rather than imputing to them all sorts of things they don’t actually write because you despise them. Got it…

    I must say, Michael, that I’m really glad that I already knew several pacifists — in person and online — before I ran across you. While I do not agree with pacifism, when it is held sincerely it is an idealistic and noble view. I never would have imagined, prior to running into your corner of the blogsphere, that it could we warped into a ideology entirely characterized by hate.

  • Donna V. says:

    Donald: BTW, here’s an example of the small-minded, “killer” Americans we are apparently supposed to loathe.

    I moved this weekend into my first home; a condo I absolutely love. The cable guy came today. I had never set up cable before and was warned that if the cable man said he’d be here at 9:30 a.m. it would probably be 9:30 p.m. when he’d show up. The cable man called at 9 a.m., said he’d be here at 9:30 and – was here at exactly 9:30. I chatted with him and found he was an Army vet, a sergeant and Iraq War vet who had to leave the service because of hearing loss. He is now an independent contractor who is going to school part-time. He shrugged when I complimented him on his promptness; “You have to be on time in the Army,” he said. “I’m still finding civilian life to be – sorry – sort of undisciplined and lax.” He told me his MOS and said during most of his time in Iraq, he had helped build schools. I gave the gentleman a decent tip and thanked him for his service.

    That’s the sort of bloodthirsty jingoistic redneck the whole world is afraid of? My latest brief encounter with one of our vets confirmed my opinion that they are the salt of the earth and the most decent of men.

  • Donna – Parroting the “he hates everything about america” nonsense. I addressed this above. Being critical — being ultra-critical — does not equal “hating” america. Please, for your own sake, think a little bit.

    Darwin – You, too, parroting the “hate” stuff. Where I am being “hateful” exactly?

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    That has been my experience with most veterans also Donna. As to the Catholic Anarchist, I will once more repeat Sir Walter Scott:

    “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
    Who never to himself hath said,
    “This is my own, my native land!”
    Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
    As home his footsteps he hath turned,
    From wandering on a foreign strand!
    If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
    For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
    High though his titles, proud his name,
    Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
    Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
    The wretch, concentred all in self,
    Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
    And, doubly dying, shall go down
    To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
    Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”

  • You, too, parroting the “hate” stuff. Where I am being “hateful” exactly?

    Actually, FWIW, I don’t think you hate the US particularly — I meant more generally that your thinking seems primarily defined by who you despise. Yes, you talk every so often about solidarity with the poor and the suffering, but the poor and suffering are curiously absent from your writing. Occasionally, you write about someone you admire, but it’s almost always in the context of the person despising the same people and institutions you despise. Thus, you’ve written about your admiration for Martin Luther King, yet your post on his birthday was simply a little known quote from him about how the US was the greatest source of violence and oppression in the world at the time and a warning that you would delete any comments from people daring to say anything positive about the US in relation to MLK. Or you admire Howard Zinn, but all one ever hears about him is that he denounced the same people you denounce. (Is that the sum total of his achievement? Denouncing?)

    By contrast, Don’s series of posts on military chaplains which seems to so raise you indignation focuses on people that Don admires: priests who displayed extreme personal bravery, not in pursuit of ‘killing in the name of the nation state’, not to carry a gun, but to go unarmed into the thick of battle to tend to the wounded and dying and provide last rites. Now, I suppose one can agree or disagree with the claim that these men are admirable for carrying the cross rather than the sword, and going at extreme risk to themselves to bring the sacraments to those “in the valley of death”, but it is at the very least very clear what Don admires, and that it is a positive action, not the mere denouncing of someone else’s action.

    When I say that your seem oddly centered on hate as someone who is supposedly a pacifist, I simply mean that your ideology seems entirely focused on what your reject (and typically reject in terms that demean and dehumanize the people you dislike “Christo-fascist”, “death-dealing”, “death-worshiping”, “baby-worshiping”, etc.) and to only reference positive action in the most vague terms. Perhaps it’s only a function of your online persona and you present a much more balanced approach in person. But whatever the reason, it does the causes you endorse a great disservice in your interactions online with all but those who already agree with you in the strongest terms and share your disdain for all others.

    my “hatred” of the u.s. military is precisely because of what it does to persons — both the persons who enlist and the persons the soldiers end up massacring.

    I think people would see that as more credible if you seemed to have any concern about the people who would end up being massacred if soldiers weren’t there to protect them. If the once concern is expressed with no acknowledgment that the other ever exists, it starts to look far more like ideology (and a callous one at that) than any concern for people.

  • Pinky says:

    DC, that last comment of yours is a very good description of MI’s blogging style.

    I’m fascinated by the AC/VN feud in theory (I’d love to get the history behind it), but I’m utterly bored by it in practice. The feud brings out the worst in both camps. The thing is, every site has trolls, and if a site has too many of them it dies on the vine. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    But as Catholic sites, AC and VN have a greater obligation to promote charity and particularly to avoid feuds with Catholics who are not spreading heresy. I have seen misrepresentations and rudeness, but I don’t remember seeing a flat-out heresy. Heresies should be condemned and corrected, because they’re deceptive, but bad behaviour can be deleted or left to stand on its own, because it testifies to its own sinfulness.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Donna,

    “Joe Hargrave, in contrast, is a man I have frequently disagreed with (except on abortion issues), but Joe, you make me think and reassess my own positions. I am probably a bit less economically libertarian than I used to be because of Joe’s cogent arguments. But then I have never doubted Joe’s love of country. He doesn’t come across as a man who despises his fellow Americans. I remember a 60’s leftist who said later that his fellow leftists had never learned “it’s impossible to change a country if you hate it.” Michael I. has never learned that lesson.”

    What can I say but that this made my day?
    :)

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Let me also add this: I’m a little more politically libertarian because of folks such as yourself and others here. I used to have a sort of disdain, and then a sort of indifference, towards the Constitution. Not anymore.

    I think we’re helping each other find the right amount of libertarianism, not too little, and not too much.

  • I agree with Pinky. Perhaps the AC/VN feud would be best served not by a serious of posts which snipe at the symptoms of the disagreement, but by actually engaging in a debate on the core issue seemingly in dispute: what is the proper response of a Catholic to the United States of America in 2010?

    That, or put Tito & MI in a cage fight. Either one would work to settle the feud ;)

    P.S. I don’t actually think they should fight, and I don’t condone violence. Just in case that was unclear.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    For the record, the dispute is not between MI and I.

    Plus due to my reversion to my faith, I prefer to go to a third party and resolve this like Christians. Though I have no dispute with the good MI.

    But I appreciate the humor and sadly six years ago I would have accepted the offer. Probably a chess board inside the cage match and the first to win nine 1/2 games takes the title!

  • Zach says:

    Michael Denton has a good question and it deserves a good answer. What is the proper response of a Catholic to American life today? Maybe we can do a series where we all answer this question. It would be interesting.

    If I had to answer in one word, that word would be: pray

  • Tito Edwards says:

    MRD,

    I used to play a lot of chess.

    I even taught a neighbor and his two sisters how to play chess. They ended up being US Chess amateur champions and where I stopped playing competitively after high school.
    :)

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    what is the proper response of a Catholic to the United States of America in 2010?

    The same atitude that all patriots should have. Love for the nation and working to correct defects in the republic. Of course, the problem then is that people will differ on what the defects are, and the remedies needed to correct the perceived defects. However, thus it has ever been. That is why we have elections and why we debate issues that are in contention.

    In regard to a feud between Vox Nova and The American Catholic, I think it is more appropriate to say that bad blood exists between a few members of that blog and some of the members of this blog. Most of the members of Vox Nova I have no problem with.

  • John Henry says:

    I agree that the ‘feud’ idea is overblown. Michael wrote a post in which he said that this blog promotes ‘Christo-fascism’; I responded to the post with the comment above and another comment, both of which Michael deleted, neither of which was in the least uncivil. I thought deleting comments in response to such a serious charge was a breach of blog etiquette and basic civility, so I wrote this post. After publishing this post, I noticed Michael had written a response, which I responded to in the comments here. None of the other writers here are responsible for my response, although (unsurprisingly) many of have expressed agreement in the comments that Michael conducts himself poorly.

    I do not impute Michael’s incivility to any of the other contributors at VN, all of whom are far, far more charitable and committed to dialogue than he is, and most of whom are scrupulously fair in both their comments about others and their comment moderation. Admittedly I used the title ‘Vox Nova’ in the post; I had originally planned to use his name rather than the blog’s (I probably should have in retrospect), but my intention was to minimize the effect on Michael’s Google footprint, as he is a grad student and at some point will be looking for a job. Also, it is the VN comment policy which forms part of the background of my complaint. In any case, as Don says, the ‘feud,’ such as it is, is between individuals rather than blogs – and a minority of the individuals at that.

    Also, at the risk of outing myself as a militaristic ‘fascist,’ let me just say that chess boxing is awesome.

  • Donna V. says:

    Joe: glad to have made your day:-) While I am no fan of the nanny state, I find extreme libertarians distasteful too – and not just because of their pro-abort stance. I just worry more about the nanny staters because there are far more of them and they actually hold power. You could probably fit all the hard-core Ayn Rand fans in the US into a couple of football stadiums and have seats left over.

    Michael I.: Sorry if I misread you. However, you have in the past characterized your ideological opponents as “Christo-fascists”, war-lovers, flag-worshippers and what not, so the mischaracterizations and oversimplifications do not come from one side alone. Surely you can understand how labeling normal expressions of patriotism idolatry might just make a reader get the notion you hate your native land. I agree with Pinky that DC wrote an excellent post about how you come across online. You might be a heck of a nice guy in person for all I know, but all I know of you is your online persona, which is relentlessly negative and abrasive and guaranteed to raise hackles.

    Can I ask you if there anything about the US that you love or admire? I don’t mean the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall or the Grand Canyon or the NYC skyline. Do you find any of its institutions or any aspects of its history worthy of admiration? Because if you’ve ever said anything positive about the US, I’ve missed it.

  • Tito, once you stop going around calling me pro-choice and an “alleged” Catholic, THEN you can truthfully say that you have no dispute with me.

    Darwin, well and good. But then say that I am all critique and say nothing “positive,” which is s fair enough criticism for sure. Don’t be lazy and just tar me as “hateful.”

    Donna, as an anarchist you would expect that I do not have much if anything positive to say about american institutions. The positive parts of u.s. history are precisely the parts when the people themselves point out new ways of relating, new paths to justice, etc. As I am something of a personalist, what I find “positive” about america is precisely the PEOPLE. Despite our bloody and unjust history, some people are able to break out and prefigure another way. This is what I love about America. (capitalization was intentional there!)

  • Rick Lugari says:

    Tito,

    I have a number of problems with Michael’s ideology and behavior (shared with many who have spoken thus far). That said, I think comments like your last one are both unhelpful and illogical. It does not follow that one must be pro-abortion to vote for a pro-abort candidate. If that’s the case, then anyone who voted for Bush are against abortion except in case of rape, incest, and life of the mother. That’s simply not true. A vote like that is a calculation that we make. As wrong headed and unacceptible that position is, it’s far better than what the other side holds.

    I imagine you must feel some of the frustration some of us feel when hearing some Catholics pontificate on morality and public policy while they seem to weigh everything from an arbitrary minimum wage law to farm subsidies higher than abortion, but that’s really another issue.

    Bottom line, shortcuts in reasoning and arguing like that are just as invalid and uncharitable as those we see from the other side. Just sayin’.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    John Henry,

    He stated as much while he was in Canada and submitted an early vote for Obama. He has never denied this.

    John Henry and Rick Lugari,

    If MI says he is a Catholic and is well aware of the position of the Church as well as the Fifth Commandment then he is a pro-abortionist.

    I try to live a simple life as a child. The teachings of Jesus are without nuance nor gray areas. If you guys continue to obfuscate the Truth in order to have your precious dialogue with deviants and dissidents that will never change their mind because they feel intellectually superior to God’s children as well as to you, then so be it.

    As for me, I will have a clean conscious because I live as best as I can possible live by God’s commandments.

    You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mat 5:48)

    “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (cf. Mat 18:3)

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Just to be clear.

    Michael Iafrate has voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America

    If you guys have a problem with that because it touches on your delicate sensitivities as being “illogical” and “unhelpful” then I guess it’s a free country and you guys can deal with your tortured conscious to the best of your abilities.

    Just sayin’.

  • Tito

    How can you have a pure conscience if you purposefully misrepresent someone else, who has told you several times they are not what you claim?

    Should I call everyone who voted for GW Bush pro-torture? Pro-unjust war? Obviously neither is the case. Some people who voted for him might have been but the fact is a vote does not represent that one agrees with everything said and believed by the one who receives the vote.

    Thou shalt not give false witness is a big one, Tito. Look into it.

  • Art Deco says:

    You know, Henry, after sifting through the quantity of verbiage some folk produce on that subject, I am not sure I mind being called ‘pro-torture’; I am inclined to suggest to officers of the Central Intelligence Agency that they cease waterboarding in favor of recordings of the readings of the collected thoughts of Mark P. Shea.

  • Pinky says:

    In response to Michael Denton’s question, I thought the whole point of this site was to discuss what it means to be a Catholic in contemporary America. VN, on the other hand, is about being a Catholic progressive, so there are bound to be disagreements.

    On another subject, I just found out about chess-boxing a week ago, following a link on the Wikipedia article about biathlon. It’s kind of freaky to see it mentioned here. Maybe there’s a groundswell.

  • John Henry says:

    Pinky, you’re right about the purpose of this site. It could be argued that the goal of this post is to make a point about the conditions necessary for the type of conversations Michael D. requests; dialogue is impossible when comments directly responsive to the post are deleted. Alternatively, it could be argued that this type of meta-discussion about Michael’s self-admitted lack of constructive commentary – and unwillingness even to publish dissenting comments – does not advance that purpose.

    Obviously, my goal was the former – if Michael is going to call people fascists, I believe he should allow them to respond as long as they do so civilly – but I appreciate your and Michael D.’s suggestion that this is unhelpful (although Michael D.’s views on this seem to have evolved – no one’s written more about Michael I. than him and this observation remains true as ever).

  • John Henry:

    I was referring less to the post and more to the overall discussion, both in this combox and in general in the “ac/vn feud.” Obviously you can point out that an opponent is being unfair by deleting comments.

    I’m not sure why you think my views have evolved, or which views you refer to.

    I’m kind of flattered that you think I’ve written more on Michael I than anyone else. Although that probably was true at one point, I don’t know if it’s true anymore, especially if you consider comboxes (though your link brought back some memories). My last post on him was a joke post imploring him to become a Saints fan when they played the Patriots. If you’re right, perhaps I’m an expert in Michael I., which at least would make me an expert in something. :)

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    My first year in law school I wouldn’t have had the strength to blog, even if blogs had been with us at that time. I was very happy when that particular academic year ended. Second year was much better and Third Year was easier than my undergrad years.

  • To say my blogging during my 1L has been sporadic would be rather generous. I do it randomly, though usually when I have something worth writing I’m too busy and when I have the time there’s nothing worthwhile for blogging.

  • John Henry says:

    1L = First year law student. 3L = Third year law student.

    Lawyers and law students are overly fond of using expressions no one else understands. And, in fact, on occasion the Supreme Court has been known to conjure up entirely new meanings for words on the spot.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    No one can out-gibberish attorneys. I spent my morning at 341 meetings, and in the afternoon worked on a complex and tedious forcible entry and detainer.

  • Center of Competence (there’s for humility)
    Plan Of Record
    ladders = a tool for recording orders that a customer will place but hasn’t placed yet
    Master Sales Plan
    Maser Procurement Plan

    Though actually, I’m not sure that helps that much…

  • Donna – I did think of one american institution that I respect: Gibson Guitars.

    In all seriousness, one more point about your last comment. You are concerned about the way I characterize “normal” expressions of patriotism. But this is precisely what is up for discussion: what is “normal” and why do we judge it to be so? If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “If the agency determined that the petitioner is an adopted person, if the department of health informed the agency either that the file of releases does not contain a release or releases filed by one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents that authorize the release of identifying information to him and does not contain a release or releases filed by any biological sibling that authorizes the release of specified information to him or that the file of releases contains at least one such release but a withdrawal of release has been filed that negates each such release, if the agency did not inform the court that it had determined that one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents as indicated on the petitioner’s original birth record were deceased, and if the court did not determine that one or both of the petitioner’s biological parents as indicated on that record were deceased, the judge shall order that the petition remain pending until withdrawn by the petitioner and order the department of health to note its pendency in the file of releases according to the surname of the petitioner as set forth in his original birth record; shall inform the petitioner that he is an adopted person and, if known, of the county in which the adoption proceedings occurred; shall inform the petitioner that information regarding his name by birth and the identity of his biological parents and biological siblings may not be released at that time because the file of releases at that time does not contain an effective release that authorizes the release of any such information to him; and shall inform the petitioner that, upon the subsequent filing of a release by or the death of either of his biological parents, or the subsequent filing of a release by any of his biological siblings, the petition will be acted upon within thirty days of the filing in accordance with division (E) of this section.”

    Res ipsa loquitur. :)

  • Rick Lugari says:

    That may well be the case, Jay. Probably because lawyers rely on Latin terms a lot and while those may seem gibberish to many, they have a precise and relevant meaning. Corporate speak is sometimes just legitimate shortcuts, but often times it’s just silly euphemisms.

  • If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

    This doesn’t strike me as gelling with what mainstream Germans wrote during the 30s and 40s. Many if not most people were entirely aware that the National Socialists were ulta-nationalistic — it’s just that at first many people didn’t think that was a big problem, and as it became a big problem people weren’t sure how to get off the bus and hoped that if they kept their heads down it would all be okay.

    The claim that a country could become primarily fascist and almost no one would notice is a lot harder to credit. Perhaps more credible would be the claim that the US has become dangerously imperialistic. You could draw a parallel and claim that the US now is like the Brittain was in the 1800s, exerting domination over many and yet generally convinced that it was doing the world a favor by doing so. But the fascism claim just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Fascism was not a subtle ideology, it’s not the sort of thing most people would miss. And it involves more than people putting out the stars and stripes three days a year and putting yellow ribbon or flag magnets on their cars.

  • samrocha says:

    Holy smokes! I have been missing out — big time! I don’t even know where to begin. I am already tired, though; unless we are really going to have cage/chess matches. If that is the case, then, sign me up for the cage!

    Pax et bonum,

    Sam

  • John Henry says:

    If americans DID get off track and move into ultra-nationalism (what I am calling fascism) how would we know? Mainstream Germans didn’t know.

    I don’t think there’s much evidence for that view. Ordinary Germans were well aware that Hitler was an ultra-nationalist. To take an illustrative example, In ‘Salt of the Earth,’ then-Cardinal Ratzinger describes how his father (a small-town rural constable) would frequently denounce Hitler and his nationalism throughout the late 1930′s in private, and took a different and even more rural job so as to be as far removed from the Nazi’s as possible. If the analogous small town Sheriff in the middle of Idaho knows about it, so does everyone else. Now, many Germans did not expect Hitler to act on his ultra-nationalistic rhetoric in the way he did, but they certainly weren’t unaware of his ultra-nationalism. It wasn’t Hitler’s ideology that caught them by surprise, it was his actions – and it was similarly his actions that caught most of the European leadership by surpise even though they were also familiar with his ideology. People seemed to think “surely, he can’t be that crazy…” But he was.

  • samrocha says:

    Lucha libre sounds wonderful. I’ll begin looking ofr a mask and spandex.

    A small caveat here, as many of you know (because you raised some formidable objections at times) VN has staked-out very strong objection to liberalism. Given that record, it might not be a fruitful dialectic to try to engage.

    But let’s get back to lucha libre and killing Hitler!

    —Sam

  • John Henry says:

    Any chance you could elaborate on that a little bit Sam? “Liberalism,” I’m afraid, is a term with a number of different meanings. I think Alan Wolfe’s argument that individual autonomy is the foundational principle of liberalism is the most useful starting point; but that idea can be cashed out in so many different ways (for instance, anarchism could be considered a natural offshoot of liberalism using that principle, so, too, MM’s insistence that the state is the best instrument to meet the needs of the individual). I guess what I’m asking is what definition of liberalism are you using,and why does that definition rule out a ‘fruitful dialectic’. In my experience, different temperments and differing levels of willingness to consider opposing points of view are the chief obstacles to discussion; when people are open to communicating – actually willing to do it – then different dialectics can be explored easily enough in the course of the conversation.

    Additionally, it seems to me you are implicitly assuming that there is some sort of serious difference between all of the contributors of VN and all the contributors of AC, rather than differences between individual contributors. So I guess your comment sounds to me like 1) All VN people are against X (which we haven’t defined); 2) All AC people are for X (which, again, we haven’t defined and likely isn’t true); and 3) X has such an important impact on our intellectual outlooks or dialectics that conversation is impossible. So I guess I’ll start with: what do you mean by X?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Meanwhile, certain people from VN simulatenously accuse TAC of being “fascist” and “liberal” – and I don’t think they do so on the basis of Jonah Goldberg’s thesis. It’s just the smear of the moment.

    Don’t support Obamacare = nihilism, individualism, liberalism
    Support the troops = nationalism, quasi-fascism and fascism

    Ironically, most fascists historically would have probably supported Obamacare, all other things being equal, while many radical individualists and liberals have opposed wars. In further irony, few people have been more critical of liberalism in history than fascists.

    But why would inconvenient truths such as those stand in the way of a good smear? Idiots in this country call the tea party people FASCIST for wanting smaller government, lower taxes, and states rights! That isn’t just a lie – its an Orwellian, Big Brother style lie, a lie so absurd and obscene that it threatens to shatter your mind apart at the very notion that a person could even utter it.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Joe is exactly right on fascism. It was a statist movement of the Left (which is how the theorists of fascism understood themselves, and why there could be easy alliances, as well as fierce battles, with socialists and Communists – they competed for the same constituencies).

    I again repeat my call for michael to engage the substance of this point. And if he won’t or can’t, fine – but drop the epithet.

    Concerning liberalism: Its almost impossible to reduce liberalism to a single theoretical position. And I seriously doubt, now that the Enlightenment bottle has been popped, that an anthropocentric, rather than a theological, view of human affairs as it concerns human potential will fade from the debates of the cousins of right and left liberalism (freedom v. equality). All Western political parties are knee deep in liberalism, and perhaps necessarily so insofar as they value democractic processes. (And so, for example, although I am firmly of the traditionalist Right and oppose liberalism ala Jim Kalb, it cannot be escaped because I participate in the polis).

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Though, to be fair, the Church was competing for the same constituencies as well.

    That’s the one thing I don’t like about the “liberal fascism” thesis – it seems to be based in an idea that individualism ought to be a perfectly adequate alternative to communism and fascism, to various forms of “collectivism.” The individualist-collectivist dichotomy is as false as our modern Democrat-Republican dichotomy.

    The truth is that both communism and fascism recognize the same things that the Church and classical political theory recognize as well.

    So we have to be careful with this. All of these schools of thought recognize the reality of class tension and class warfare, and seek to deal with it in their own ways.

  • samrocha says:

    Well I seem to have gotten into some trouble for being too breezy. Here is what I mean by ‘X’:

    Henry and I (and perhaps others) have written several posts against liberalism. I even titled on of them “Don’t forget, liberalism is bad.” Since we did that, and since many of the contributors of VN mostly agree outright or are friendly to that view, then, it would be hard to stick the label ‘liberalism’—especially to myself or Henry—without being equally as careful.

    I always think of myself politically as something like a leftist conservative or a postmodern theocrat. Sounds really slippery, but my writing explains it better—but not exhaustively, to be sure. I won’t cite it here because, frankly, I don’t get so wound up in com boxes, for the most part. (Unless, I am happen to be in a tizzy with Mr. hargrave over abortion, ha! Cheers, Joe!)

    I came here mostly because I heard there were chances to wrestle. Maybe I just got my hopes up. What happened to lucha libre? Should I give on VN and AC in spandex and glittery masks?

    Peace,

    Sam

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    While its true that the Church made its peace with the umbrella term “statism,” I don’t think its accurate to state that the Church was competing with them in a socio-political sense (both Communism and Fascism were “modernist” and mostly secular….). But you are right to caution that all three had disdain for classical liberalism, and that a dualist political dichotomy misses a lot.

    Goldberg’s book made him more libertarian, and I think that’s part of the point that should be highlighted when one delves into the history. Those on the Left should drop “fascist,” because it is a term of Leftist DNA. In the Western democracies and quasi-democracies from which the term came (I’m thinking of, for example, the Hapsburgs and those admiring the Papal States, and three cheers for them), the Fascists were strongly opposed to the two chief currents of what came to be developed as of the “Right” : throne and altar, and economic liberalism (even as those two things don’t go together very well.)

  • And, we don’t have go talk about Franco. We can go with Joseph de Maistre (and I am a fan of his thought, even if I see the dangers of it). Isaiah Berlin has discussed Maistre’s relationship with Facism (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=3510) — and while I think he is wrong in his interpretation of Maistre, he is right in saying how Maistre’s thought was looked to and used by the Facists. This highlights how Facism WAS a thing of the right and adapted the problematic aspects of the right (and I say this as one who is of the right).

    Indeed, The Doctrine of Facism suggested itself as being of the right!

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Bring a more substantive argument, Henry.

    From my prior definition of fascism, a short analysis of Franco:

    -corportism/statism, ok, check
    -hyper-nationalism, check
    -hatred of democracy, sure, check
    -egalitarianism, no
    -the values of enlightenment and modernism, no
    -collective organization and cult of the leader, love of symbols, and the engagement of violence, fine, check

    So in this quick analysis, two of the five most important characteristics of fascism are missing (and the violence point should be put in the context of horrific Communist violence). It could be argued that from the 1920, when Mussolini as the heir to Sorel began to fade and the socialists fought more fiercely amongst themselves, that fascism moved to the (nationalist, traditionalist) “Right.” But this is an awkward argument, because Franco did not claim socialist/fascist theorists as intellectual predecessors, and because he only retained some of the characterists of how fascists developed and understood themselves in the (strongly modernist) first few decades of fascist organizations.

  • Dale Price says:

    “Except you are wrong–hence Franco.”

    That begs the question of whether Franco was, in fact, a fascist. His distrust of the truly fascist Falange, and his sidelining of that movement after the Civil War argues otherwise. Yes, the JONS existed as a part of Franco’s postwar government, but not in the way its founders envisioned. He fused the Falange with the Carlists, for pete’s sake–talk about oil and water.

    Franco was an authoritarian monarchist with the prejudices and bedrock worldview of the 19th Century Spanish Catholicism that formed him. His political thought went no further than that, and it’s hard to argue otherwise.

  • Dale

    Whether or not he was Facist is not the question, really. Look carefully what Jonathan suggested: that the Facists didn’t like “crown and altar.” But they did work with Franco, who wanted to restore “crown and altar.” Indeed, the “crown and altar” types like Maistre (through others like Schmitt) have indeed had an influence on Maistre and shows the association of Facism with the right.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Franco despised politicians, whatever their political orientation. He often said that politics and politicians were destroying Spain. (Looking at the history of Spain during the 19th and early 20th centuries I think Franco had a point.) Franco used the Falange as he used the Carlists, instruments for his purposes, but nothing more. Franco, as Dale stated, was an old style Spanish monarchist. He viewed himself as a caretaker for a monarchy that would eventually be restored, although he had no illusions about monarchs as individuals. I think as a political philosophy Franco despised Fascism almost as much as he despised Communism. It was no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that when Franco sent off the Azul Division to fight on the Russian Front, he made sure it was led by regular officers but that the ranks were packed with volunteers from the Falange.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Nazi and Fascist support for Franco no more makes Franco a true fascist than Soviet support for any number of parties – including the Democratic Party – makes them communist.

    That is just geopolitics – you support the party within a country that is most likely to be sympathetic to your aims. So no, fascists did not support “crown and altar”, but they always opposed Bolshevism – as did “crown and altar” types.

    In fact, Franco did not enter the Axis and strove to keep Spain out of the war.

    Most importantly, though, the Church supported Franco and Salazar, because they protected the Church against the far greater threat of communism and left-anarchism.

    Oh, and one more thing: Johnathan, Franco was not a corporatist. The economic ideas of the Falange were discarded by the 1950s and Franco implemented the policies of the IMF and World Bank, which in that context actually produced a Spanish economic miracle, and saw Spain’s position in the world economy rise to 9th place.

    Franco, like Pinochet, combined the full laissez-faire agenda with a military regime. And under these conditions, I might also add, the worlds greatest and most successful workers’ cooperative, the Mondragon, came into existence.

  • Joe

    Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise. Notice, again, I didn’t call Franco a Facist — I said he presented a problem to Jonathan’s claims about Facists.

    And again, I have shown where one can find the common ground if one wants to look.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Henry,

    I responded to that. I said,

    “So no, fascists did not support “crown and altar”, but they always opposed Bolshevism – as did “crown and altar” types.”

    I made it clear that this was simply an anti-Bolshevik alliance. Their association with Franco only says one thing: that they were united in their opposition to Bolshevism. That’s all it was ever about.

    If you look at the Nazi anthem, the Horst Wessel song, there’s a part about their comrades shot by “the red front and reactionaries” – by reactionaries, they mean precisely the throne and altar types. Hitler rails against them in Mein Kampf. And Franco and Salazar both understood this.

    So, again, it is wrong to mistake a purely political alliance for ideological agreement. The enemy of my enemy is my friend – that’s how things work in politics.

  • Joe

    The Facists gave support to Franco. So they did support the crown and altar types. And if one studies their association with Franco, it was more than merely one dealing with communism.

    You really need to read Mussolini, who said “fascism, which did not fear to call itself reactionary…” Seriously, I don’t think you have looked at him at all.

  • Hence, Mussolini: “Fascism, which did not fear to call itself reactionary when many liberals of today were prone before the triumphant beast (Democracy), has not today any impediment against declaring itself illiberal and anti-liberal…” (Gerarchia, March 1923)

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Henry,

    Here we go again, with your monumental arrogance and historical ignorance.

    I specifically acknowledged the historical fact of fascist/nazi support for “crown and altar types” – I didn’t deny it.

    What I disagreed with was the significance you place on that. You are trying to say it has ideological significance – I’m saying it was anti-Bolshevik alliance. No, Hitler and Mussolini did not want a Bolshevik Spain in their rear in the event of a war against the Soviet Union, for which Hitler had been planning for many years. That has nothing to do with their ideological attitude towards “throne and altar.” Do you understand nothing about geopolitics?

    “And if one studies their association with Franco, it was more than merely one dealing with communism.”

    Oh really? What did you study? Bring up specific examples before you accuse others of not knowing history. I’ve read the Doctrine of Fascism and Mein Kampf. Maybe you have too – but logic has never been your strong point, so it doesn’t matter what you read if you don’t understand the meaning behind it.

    Look at Mussolini’s words: it did not fear to CALL ITSELF reactionary. Meaning, fascism is always politically pragmatic; it will call itself reactionary, it will defend the traditional religion of a nation, it will do all sorts of things to ingratiate itself to the people.

    Vis a vis liberalism and communism, fascism may well have been “reactionary”; compared to throne-and-altar ideology, it was radically progressive, which is EXACTLY WHY Franco and Salazar rejected fascism, which is why far-right parties in other European countries were always split between fascist and reactionary wings.

    Finally, what does Fascism’s opposition to liberalism have to do with anything? I’ve acknowledged a hundred times that fascism was a mortal enemy of liberalism – but that alone doesn’t suffice to make it “reactionary.” Fascism combines progressive and reactionary ideas, just like, I might add, the Catholic Church and distributism do.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    From the Doctrine of Fascism:

    ” If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary, for it anticipates the solution of certain universal problems which have been raised elsewhere, in the political field by the splitting up of parties, the usurpation of power by parliaments, the irresponsibility of assemblies; in the economic field by the increasingly numerous and important functions discharged by trade unions and trade associations with their disputes and ententes, affecting both capital and labor; in the ethical field by the need felt for order, discipline, obedience to the moral dictates of patriotism.”

    Oh, but what does Mussolini, the founder of fascism, know next to Professor Karlson, against whom no one’s opinions or thoughts can stand!

    Do you ever get tired of being wrong?

  • Joe

    You didn’t prove me wrong at all. Of course I quote Mussolini and you didn’t even recognize it. The fact that it comes out of the right and develops into something new doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from the right. The fact that you take another quote doesn’t make mine wrong. It is not either-or.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Joe, fair enough. Henry, the socialist-laden founders of fascism understood themselves to be of that which they were, the modernist and progressive Left. Details tomorrow, busy today.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Henry,

    Are you serious? You’re either the most illiterate, or most dishonest person I have ever encountered on these forums.

    With regard to the Mussolini quote you say I “didn’t even recognize”, I actually said:

    “Look at Mussolini’s words: it did not fear to CALL ITSELF reactionary. Meaning, fascism is always politically pragmatic; it will call itself reactionary, it will defend the traditional religion of a nation, it will do all sorts of things to ingratiate itself to the people.”

    So I did recognize it. Illiteracy, or dishonesty?

    Secondly, I DID PROVE YOU WRONG. Mussolini’s words:

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    ” The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary”

    How many times do you need to read it? How illiterate or dishonest can you be? YOUR quote only has Mussolini saying that fascists will CALL themselves “reactionaries” – when that is what the politics of the moment call for. In the ACTUAL DOCTRINE, the actual founding document of Italian fascism (not to mention Mein Kampf), it is clearly established that fascism is a revolutionary ideology.

    Just give it up, Henry. You’re out of your element, you know nothing about this history or these ideas, this isn’t your theology class or whatever it is you teach. Stick with what you know and stop trying to pretend that you know more than Johnathan or I about political theory.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    From the Appendix of the Doctrine of Fascism:

    ” In spite of the theories of conservation and renovation, of tradition and progress expounded by the right and the left, we do not cling desperately to the past as to a last board of salvation: yet we do not dash headlong into the seductive mists of the future. (Breve preludio, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 14). `negation, eternal immobility, mean damnation. I am all for motion. I am, one who marches on (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, Lot Jon, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 203).”

    This is yet more proof that fascism is neither right nor left, doctrinaire reactionary or progressive. It is as Mussolini always maintained, unique and original, combining what it wants in its own way.

  • Joe

    Yes, I know nothing about history and the connection between the right with facism which is why I have highlighted some major examples (who you ignore). You take one passage and make everything out of it, without seeing how it connects to the rest. It is clear, you really think you know much. But I would recommend to you as I did what I recommended to Jonathan: read Isaiah Berlin on Maistre and his relationship to Facism. You can go to many other sources if you want, but Berlin is one I know Jonathan respects — which is why I pointed him out. Seriously, this IS something I know.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Stanley Payne is the foremost historian of fascism. He “defines” fascism by noting common features among the varieties.

    “Stanley G. Payne’s Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including:[13]

    the creation of an authoritarian state
    a regulated, state-integrated economic sector
    fascist symbolism
    anti-liberalism
    anti-communism
    anti-conservatism.
    As the common aim of all fascist movements he sees elimination of the autonomy, or in some cases the existence of, large-scale capitalism.”

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Henry,

    “You take one passage and make everything out of it, without seeing how it connects to the rest.”

    That passage comes directly out of the Doctrine of Fascism, which is the summary of Italian fascism written by the man who invented it. That statement is actual in accordance with the rest of that work, it is a perfect summation of it.

    How can you even speak of me “ignoring” things when you systematically and deliberately ignore those facts which falsify your hypothesis? Your quotes only establish one thing: that Mussolini was willing to say what needed to be said. In the Doctrine, where isn’t talking about rhetorical strategy but the philosophical foundations of fascism, he says something else. It is YOU who is ignoring context so that you can pretend to look like you know something.

    What Isaiah Berlin had to say about Maistre has nothing to do with whether or not fascist support for Franco implies, suggests, or proves an ideological connection between them (which is the only claim of yours I took issue with) – if that was Berlin’s argument, then he was as wrong as you are.

    The differences between falangism, fascism, and Nazism were all clearly understood and articulated by the proponents of each school.

    There’s only one group that lumps them all together for one reason: leftist revolutionaries, because all of these groupings are hostile to them, so it is to their advantage to have everyone believe that they are indistinguishable and the same.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Oh, and by the way, I provided more than one quote – did you miss the second one, or did you forget how to count?

    I could provide more quotes from The Doctrine, from Mein Kampf, from Mosley’s writings, probably even from Lincoln freaking Rockwell to dispel this silly argument.

    Look how Mosley’s BUF copied the Horst Wessel song:

    “Against vested powers, Red Front, and massed ranks of reaction,
    We lead the fight for freedom and for bread!”

    How much more clear can it get? Fascism is neither reactionary or progressive, left or right – it is what it needs to be in the moment to secure the loyalty of the masses.

  • DC

    LOL. There has been no “digging.” What there has been, however, is Joe really showing himself without the background — which really is necessary for any proper hermeneutic so as not to proof text. I’ve suggested a few sources to look into for the background — because, well, surprise surprise, I’ve actually studied the matter. And his ignorance of why theology engages this issue and studies it ALSO demonstrates his lack of understanding in the area.

    But I will leave it at that. I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head. He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics. I have explained the meaning already — but he wants to make it as if Facism is ex nihilo and there was no connection to the right. Strange and only two ways one can do that.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Henry,

    You’ve made a complete fool of yourself here, and using the word “hermeneutic” can’t save you.

    I only challenged one claim you made – that fascist support for Franco implied, suggested or proved an ideological linkage between fascism and “throne and altar ideology.”

    In case you don’t remember, this was your claim:

    “Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise.”

    It was this claim that I proceeded to show was completely wrong, based on extensive quotations from the founding document of fascism, which you apparently have never read. In fact its pretty obvious to me that you are relying on second – maybe third hand – sources to inform your view of fascism. (Way to spell “FASCISTS” by the way – I guess you fail spelling!)

    I do want to address your Orwellian claims, though, not because I think you’ll benefit but because your toxic lies should not go unanswered.

    “I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head.”

    You’re a liar. You quoted one source to support your claim that Mussolini was a reactionary (and provided a link to a lecture that one has to pay to read – though that lecture has nothing to do with the specific point you made that I was challenging).

    The one source you quoted, I directly addressed, multiple times. So that’s lie number one shot down.

    Next:

    “He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics.”

    You gave absolutely no context for your Mussolini quote about fascists being willing to “call itself” reactionary; I gave you two full paragraphs from Mussolini’s fascist manifesto that directly demonstrate the opposite, and I could produce more upon request.

    If you’re going to use isolated quotes from second-hand sources, what gives you the right to make these absurd claims about me for giving you full quotes from the original source? You didn’t offer us any “hermeneutics” – you lazily offered up one quote and didn’t even try to construct a rational argument using facts and historical context to support it, as I did, talking about the geopolitical situation leading up to WWII.

    So, you’ve lied, and failed again. That’s two lies.

    ” I have explained the meaning already — but he wants to make it as if Facism is ex nihilo and there was no connection to the right. ”

    And now we come to lie number three. First of all, I’ve said repeatedly that fascism combined reactionary and progressive ideas. Obviously that means there is some connection to “the right.”

    What I denied and rejected was one simple thing – that fascist support for Franco at all suggested, implied, or proved a concrete ideological relationship, as you asserted. I gave you the context for that support, an anti-Bolshevik political alliance. I pointed out – something you didn’t deny – that Franco and Salazar explicitly rejected fascism as modernist, that many right wing parties split over the issue of fascism being a neo-pagan technocracy opposed to traditional religion, economics, and social values.

    In your ineptitude, or your malicious, hateful lying, you ignored all of that. I think its really more your gross incompetence than malice, but there’s got to be some of that as well.

    Fascism is not “ex nihilo” – Mussolini even explicitly declares that no ideology is completely original or unique, every one is constructed on the basis of old ideas. At the same time there is a new and original way in which fascism blends existing ideas – which is why Mussolini said that fascism is revolutionary, not reactionary.

    So, once again, you’re wrong. And in a pathetic and ridiculous attempt to save face rather than owning up to your mistakes, you resort to the most bizzare and easily debunked lies. You really ought to be completely ashamed of yourself.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Oh, and then there was this dubious claim:

    “Indeed, The Doctrine of Facism suggested itself as being of the right!”

    How do you know that? Where was the “hermeneutics” on that one? The Doctrine of Fascism (you know, Fascism with an “S”), only mentions “the right” once; and when it does show up it is in “scare quotes”, you know, “like these”, to indicate that one can take it or leave it.

    It’s obvious from an actual reading of the document, especially when Mussolini twice rejects reaction as the basis of fascism, that fascism is only considered to be a “right” ideology from the standpoint of communism and liberalism, which everyone knows are “left.”

    Nowhere in that document does Mussolini identify in some sort of positive and consistent way with “the right.”

    Here is what he says:

    “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State. ”

    So, not only is “right” in scare quotes, there is also a total rejection of individualism, an embrace of collectivism and of the State – all positions that many people who self-identify as “rightists” absolutely reject. So maybe there is a legitimate dispute as to what is the true legacy of “the right”, but in any case, it is clear that Mussolini mostly uninterested in establishing fascism as “right wing”, especially in the CONTEXT of the OTHER QUOTES I provided.

    BUT

    There’s one more quote, since you’re so cracked up on the idea that fascism is related to Maistre, that I should have included before – good thing I saw it now! If this doesn’t clear the air, I don’t know what will.

    ” The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet.”

    One more time:

    “History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet.”

    Followed by:

    “Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is ecclesiolatry. Dead and done for are feudal privileges and the division of society into closed, uncommunicating castes.”

    Right! Which is exactly what Franco believed too, I guess. Oh wait…

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    And while we’re on the topic of Maistre and Berlin, you might want to check out this book review.

    http://www.mmisi.org/ma/43_02/craiutu.pdf

    “A Modern Maistre is therefore useful in debunking the uncritically accepted myth of Maistre as a precursor of fascism, even if it remains true that, secularized and transformed by the scoundrels who claimed to be his heirs, Maistre’s teachings proved dangerous. After demonstrating that Maistre was not a decisionist a la Carl Schmitt, Bradley observes that“traditionalism and fascism were in manyways antithetical” and correctly identifies the huge gap between the traditionalist Right and the radical, fascist Right in thetwentieth century. Those who defended monarchy and tradition in early nineteenth-century France were not modern in the proper sense of the word because they lacked the brutality of the moderns, their infatuation with innovation, and their passion for remaking the old world according to an entirely rational scheme. “Fascism,”writes Bradley, “affirms the new, the modern (al-though in a grotesquely distorted form), not traditional custom.”

    Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time Berlin was just plain wrong about something. Johnathan may respect him, and others might – I must say that I’ve never particularly cared for his style.

  • Henry,

    I’ve given things which have been ignored because they went over Joe’s head. He quotes out of context because he fails hermeneutics.

    Um, no. You produced a single Mussolini quote, which even so didn’t make your case very well, and then doggedly insisted that it proved your point despite more wide-ranging discussion and quoting from Mussolini from Joe.

    Certainly, fascism did not spring up ex nihilo, nothing does. But your claim that it is more an outgrowth of the right than the left only works in a sense that would allow one to reduce everything to a product of the right, in that the “right” represents the influences that came before while the “left” represents their more modern manifestations. At which point you claim would be true, but trivially so.

    But I did get a major laugh out of “because he fails hermeneutics”. The way that word gets butchered in the Catholic blogsphere is pretty sad, but this newly invented playground usage is one of the funniest yet. I think this ranks up there close to the fellow who showed up and told Joe, “You fail ontologically.”

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Interloper,

    I challenge you to back that up. Or are you just someone Henry ran and cried to so you decided to show up to give him a pat on the back?

    I read and quoted what Henry said several times:

    “Once again, the suggestion was that the Facists were of the left and couldn’t stand the “throne and altar types.” My point is that their association with Franco says otherwise.”

    The “suggestion”, made by someone else, was entirely right in the context of fascism’s rise – the Doctrine and Mein Kampf make that abundantly clear.

    The fact that professor Karlson introduces that is supposed to somehow contradict the claim is explained by other factors: an anti-Bolshevik political alliance. (Have you all forgotten that the USSR was supporting the communists in Spain?) It does not “say otherwise.”

    Mussolini’s direct disavowal of Maistre and the work of other students of his thought also throws a lot of doubt on his other claim: “Maistre’s thought was looked to and used by the Facists.” Though granted, that’s not Henry’s argument, but Isaiah Berlin’s – and its an argument that’s flawed at best. If its to be used, it probably best be left to someone who knows what they are talking about, i.e., not Henry.

    So, “Interloper”, whoever you are, are you game? Can you see now that I do read what Professor Karlson has to say, and that I have valid reasons for disagreeing? Or are you part of a mindless, thoughtless cheering squadron summoned up for moral support? (at least mine gives reasons for their understanding of events!)

  • What? The folks at The American Catholic can’t demonstrate characteristics of fascism and liberalism at the same time? Are you kidding? Fascism itsef was/is never consistent. It has contradictory elements. Are you suggesting that you folks are entirely consistent in your views and positions? Please. The contradictions of american conservatism are well known and most of you exhibit all of them. The fascist ones among you are likewise inconsistent and contradictory.

    For the fellow who suggested MM and I get out “talking points” together, let me point out that MM have never agreed on everything. I disagree with him on a lot of things.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Alright, back to the topic at hand.

    Why do I make my statements about fascism?

    Let us look at this document, highlighted by the outstanding British conservative M. Oakeshott:

    http://www.constitution.org/tyr/mussolini.htm

    This is a progressive, modernist, socialist-style document through and through.

    “Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State.”

    “There is no concept of the State which is not fundamentally a concept of life: philosophy or intuition, a system of ideas which develops logically or is gathered up into a vision or into a faith, but which is always, at least virtually, an organic conception of the world.”

    Ect. ect. ect., and lots more where this came from.

    Fascism from Italy (where it was born and bred by socialists) was the first systematic leftist (and nationalist, these two terms used to go hand in hand) opposition to the imperialistic Moscow-centric communism.

    Joe and Dale and others have adequately handeled the Franco question. If one wishes to make the charge of Franco, they must accept the use this word as a descriptive term as something done very awkwardly.

    So many other points as well. Where does the name Benito come from for the political founder of fascism? Benito Jaurez, the revolutionary. Benito, like his father, was a fanatical socialist who adapted his internationalism to an Italian populace.

    The one reference I would recommend off the top of my head is the chapter “From Marxism to Fascist Statism” in Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s “Leftism Revisited.”

    E.v.K-L was a true European conservative who hated all revolutionaries (making him an awkward fit for American conservatives and their economic liberalism). He knew his fascism, which destroyed homelands, and provides a wealth of information about these leftist movements from a perspective we can hardly imagine. (If you have JSTOR access, look him up there too.)

    Anyway, there’s a lot to say on this topic – particularly about how ideologues like michael continue to fall into the Stalinist trick (literally, this was a Stalinist trick) of labeling revolutionary and modernist movements of the Left that they hated because it took away from their own power as “right-wing.” Fascism WAS “right-wing” to Stalin because it was nationalist (and again, nationalism was for several decades until the end of the Second World War a vital part of the Western Left broadly defined), but only the ignorant would persist in applying “fascist” to those of the center-right today. It does not fit, because the two strongest currents of the DNA of the center-right in Western liberal nation-states today is economic liberalism and throne and altar traditionalism.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “What? The folks at The American Catholic can’t demonstrate characteristics of fascism and liberalism at the same time? Are you kidding? Fascism itsef was/is never consistent.”

    Is this how you try to rationalize calling everything you don’t like “fascist”? By making it an essentially vague and useless term?

    Aside from the fact that I disagree with you about fascism’s consistency, it is simply a fact that one of the things the fascists were explicit about – Mussolini, Hitler, Mosley, et. al. – was their hatred of liberalism, which they equated with individualism, the antithesis of their own ideology, which was collectivist.

    Given that history, no, a person really can’t be a true liberal and a true fascist at the same time. In the mind of an uneducated person led astray by a duplicitous manipulator, perhaps – a person, say who uses political terms as swear words to try and discredit opponents instead of historically defined categories.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    michael,

    Once again your comment makes no sense outside of the evidently overwhelming desire to berate and name-call your “opponents.”

    Fascism was a coherent, systematic, and well thought out political philosophy (particularly in Italy, the fascist country that was greatly admired by American leftists and self-styled progressives for many years) and governing guide – until Hitler betrayed Stalin.

    That all of this has gone down the memory hole, particularly in light of the Communist rebranding of the term, should not excuse ignorance. Find a new epithet – it would be shocking should you lack creativity on that front.

  • Joe – We all know that the explicit statements of a political movement should not be considered the be-all and end-all of the views that it held. The “explicit statements” of republican “pro-lifers” or of “anti-war” democrats should be proof enough of that.

    Fascism, likewise, has always had contradictory elements.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Even if that’s true, movement that calls itself revolutionary, takes power, and proves through its policies that it is carrying out a social revolution, is probably revolutionary too. Just because it isn’t an egalitarian or proletarian revolution doesn’t mean it isn’t a revolution.

    At any rate the argument that the fascists, especially Mussolini, Hitler, Mosley, are primarily “of the right” (if by “right” we mean reactionary and/or traditional) is an argument that doesn’t hold water.

    Nor do I fully agree with Johnathan in saying that they are “of the left.” Nor do I agree with you that they are “contradictory” – at least not in the sense of a logical contradiction.

    If you mean there are antagonistic elements, sure. Antagonism and contradiction are two different things, a distinction that is lost on a lot of people.

    I generally think people should be allowed to define themselves, that unless there is some glaring and obvious logical contradiction, which there isn’t in these cases.

  • Jonathan,

    It does not fit, because the two strongest currents of the DNA of the center-right in Western liberal nation-states today is economic liberalism and throne and altar traditionalism.

    I’m wondering if I can poke at this a bit in a spirit of inquiry. Would you say that it’s specifically throne and altar traditionalism which is still a force in the center right in Western liberal nation-states today? Maybe I’m thinking in a heavily American context, but I’m not sure where one would find much throne and altar left to support.

    Traditionalism is certainly a stream of thinking on the right, but it seems to me that it’s cultural/moral/religious traditionalism more broadly defined, encompassing everything from people who still believe that marriage has as an essential element the rearing of children to those who want to see explicit acknowledgment of religion in the public square to agricultural/craftsman traditionalists to any number of other tradition-oriented concerns. But is anyone serious really running around seeking the return of confessional states or monarchies?

    Franky, the few “monarchists” I know are distinctly un-traditional in their approach to politics and culture. It seems more a result of having read too much Fantasy at a formative age than any real rooting in tradition.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Darwin, I was writing in the context of Western nation-states since the French Revolution, which I consider the beginning of modern politics. I will address the point more fully on Monday.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Darwin,

    To address your points more specifically, and let us generalize crudely:

    I would not say that it’s specifically throne and altar traditionalism which is still a force in the modern center-right of Western states. These states are liberal through and through, left-liberal (equality) and right-liberal (freedom) always in tension. These center-right parties and voters have little resemblance to the “Old Right” (following Sen. Taft, who was “leftist” on some questions such as public housing but hated Wilsonianism and advocated for an epistemological modesty in approaching policy).

    These liberal arguments were in direct opposition to fascism (but note that “progressive” arguments were not!). To flesh out the definition of fascism already stated above, and again recommending von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:

    Fascism was the cult of state organized unity, and it was a movement of centralized planning, group identification, and willing obedience to a charismatic leader. This movement was collectivist and authoritarian – large, intrusive, and modernist, a rallying point to or a substitute for commonality, an organism that should nearly always respond when people “hurt.”

    Fascism should be understood as a supercharged nationalistic statism, finding its theoretical wellsprings in Hegelian historicism and Rousseau’s protean “general will,” Nietzschean will-to-power — all of which overturned the older liberalism of Locke, the Enlightenment, and the American Founders.

    Your points about traditionalism are well and good, but also inconsiderate of the context of the times when fascism was ascendant (Nietzsche and Georges Sorel plus modernist, progressive state planning – roughly the first three decades of the 20th Century). In addition to Western liberalism (mostly “classical”), the other “rightist” opposition was throne and altar traditionalism. One need not claim it is now a big part of the “right” (I don’t, even as I also lament the Palin-style populism) to recognize that such traditionalism WAS a big influence in the West, and still survives on the right in Europe. Less so in America, certainly, but then again we are a revolutionary country founded upon abstracted principles, not blood and soil.

    So two strands of the “right” were chief enemies of fascism, the socialist-laden, modernist, authoritarian theory of governance and political practice that ran roughshod over throne and altar and was defeated by Western liberalism.

  • Thanks, Jonathan. I see what you’re saying now. I think I’d been slipping on the term “modern” and forgetting that when we talk fascism we are (in the real world) talking primarily about the ’20s through the ’40s.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .