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Friday, August 01, 2008

Liberal fascism: A survival manual for non-fascists in Canada (and probably in Europe)

Civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant has published the promised material showing that "Nazi" scares in Canada have in fact been created by "anti-hate" groups, determined to expand their powers.

When I searched on the topic early this morning, I mostly saw headlines from the blogosphere, not from legacy mainstream media. A sign of the times, to be sure. No wonder so many people want to control the Internet ... ("because the Internet is so, well, ... irresponsible! Anyone can post, even people who actually know key information!")

How to make sense of Levant's shocking revelation? I recently read a book I strongly recommend, Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism (Doubleday 2007).

Get it, read it. Buy one for your neighbour, and pass on your own copy.

For now, here is the basic idea:

Many people think that fascism is Nazi salutes. So, no Nazis, no fascism, right?

No, it is not that simple. The best known fascists were the Nazis. As a result many of us mistake their "Hogan's Heroes" military goofery for the basic idea.

In reality, most of the modern Western states that are hurtling toward fascism are nanny states.

Instead of ordering you into a concentration camp, the government orders you into poverty, lifetime speech bans, and sensitivity training. For "your own good", of course.

All a bit more comfortable than a concentration camp. But - either way - there is no mistaking the relationship between you and government. The government is there to Fix Your Thoughts. Change Your Speech. Make You Either Virtuous or Extinct.

The basic idea: Fascist states are states where the government assumes roles that people used to attribute to God.

It doesn't matter whether you believe in God. If you make the government God, well you've got a God. And your new God is in your face, at every opportunity. Not like the Old One.

Goldberg offers a number of characteristics of the fascist state that well describe Canada today under the rule of our "human rights" commissions - which make themselves judges both of a clergyman's sermons and a comic's jokes. Here are the five I think most relevant:

1. Identity politics: Fascist politics revolves around "identities": "transgendered person", "generously proportioned person", "first X-type person to ... ", "an X-type victim of ... " et cetera.

Hordes of taxpayer-funded advocates promote tax-funded rewards for a given identity - or compensation for an injured identity, extracted from some hapless victim who has already been ruined by legal fees.

Identified traditionalists are key targets. For example, it is not accident that, as Ezra Levant has pointed out, white Christian males are disproportionately targets. They thrived in the days of liberal democracy. The extent of their persecution is the extent of its decline.

2. Culture of grievance All fascist cultures, whether the nanny state or Islamic fascism (obligatory beards and burqas) or whatever, are cultures of grievance. The basic message is: We are not happy and it is someone else's fault! That guilty person must be made to admit it and be punished! And pay us money, ... lots of money!

3. Enemies The fascist always has "enemies." You or I, by contrast, mainly have rivals and competitors. Conveniently for the fascist, her enemies are the enemies of "the state" or "the people." Those enemies justify the immense amount of power she wants over our lives. She needs that power to fight the enemies - who are everyone's enemies, or so she claims.

And if the enemies that justify her power don't exist, she must invent them! That explains why anti-hate groups invented the 1960s Canadian "Nazi" scare.

4. Constant crises Fascist states, nanny or otherwise, thrive on crises because crises enable them to acquire power that no sane person would give them in the absence of a crisis.

Have you noticed the sheer number of "crises" that afflict fat, rich societies today?

How about this one: The "crisis" of obesity. Lots of people are fat. So? Calling fat a crisis justifies the nanny state telling you what you can and can't eat, banning stuff, and policing the popular fast food industry in the same way that some "human rights" commissars now hope to police late nite comedy.

The reality: There is no crisis.

Millions of people say yes to a second helping and no to a long walk.

That is not a crisis. It is a personal choice that can affect health and appearance. It may raise health care costs - but if most adult taxpayers are slightly overweight, the increased costs are costs we have volunteered for.

The reality, by the way, is that underweight people are far more at risk of early death than overweight ones. And a true crisis would be if millions of Canadians were starving and there was no way to get food to them.

5. Government is religion This last point is, in my view, the greatest concern. All fascist states, including the communist* variant, become a religion to their supporters. Pay attention when someone insists that the government should "inspire" people or "increase self-esteem." People should go to church or an ashram or a Humanist counsellor or something if they want that kind of thing.

The government of a free society is a limited government - limited in its objectives and strictly defined in its powers. It is not there to solve existential problems or make us all love and respect each other. In other words, it is the exact opposite of Canada's "human rights" commissions - which are unlimited and undefined, and increasingly out of control.

Obviously, it is going to be very difficult and take a long time to solve the problems we have created for ourselves by allowing government to become a schlock religion that loves us and creates self-esteem.

There are some encouraging signs, however. For example, hat tip to Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council for noting that even B'nai Brith, which has long supported the nonsense, is now calling for reform:

The call marks a milestone in the debate over Canada's human rights bureaucracy because B'nai Brith Canada has long supported the quasi-judicial human rights legal system and the censorship of "hate speech."
Perhaps they have been spooked by Levant's revelations. Well, no time like the present.

*Note: Communism is a form of fascism. Its "identity politics" is the industrial working class, thus it is internationalist rather than nationalist. So the Soviet Union invaded Hungary, Czechosolovakia, and Poland to enforce the "workers' state."

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