Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thomas Sowell on Obama and Liberal Fascism

The National Review Online contains today’s latest article by the great economist, political theorist and author Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution, entitled ‘Barack Obama: Dictator of the Left’, in which he comments on the struggle to explain to the public at large some common misconceptions or disinformation about political movements of the Left.  The beginning paragraph spells it out nicely:
It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.”  He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy.  But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
True enough.  In my lifetime, in the off-side of the near past, I have had my time in the trenches (literally, but here figuratively) explaining the same concepts to the victims of American public education.  There are some, among those who care, who are comfortable with using the socialist label, as this is the most common understanding of a system that depresses individual liberty for the purpose of control of not just the economy but for the inevitable and inescapable control of the social culture as well.  But Dr Sowell is correct in what may seem to be a quibble over terminology.

The article pays homage to the momentous (yes, that is what it is) recently published contribution to American political discourse – Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, a detailed and readable history of the development of fascism and the American contribution to it.  Fascism is a creature of the Left, a fact that was widely recognized during its halcyon years of the 1920s and 30s.  It was only at the direction of the Communist Party, after the surprise invasion of Soviet Russia by the Nazis and other European Axis powers, that fascism became defined, through repeated assertion, as an extreme right-wing manifestation.  Not so.  As Dr Sowell briefly explains it:

What socialism, fascism, and other ideologies of the Left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people – like themselves – need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, i.e., the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.
The vision of those of the Left is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves as superior beings pursuing superior ends.  In the United States, however, this vision conflicts with a Constitution that begins, “We, the People . . . ”
That is why the Left has for more than a century been trying to get the Constitution’s limitations on government loosened or evaded by judges’ new interpretations, based on notions of “a living Constitution” that will take decisions out of the hands of “We, the People,” and transfer those decisions to our betters.
As with practically anything that Dr Sowell writes, read the whole thing.  But as to a further explanation, the movement of the Left in America extends beyond the general definition of fascism that includes a nationalistic movement (there is no real specific definition – q.v. Goldberg).  This modern version incorporates a strong anti-Americanism (thanks to Donald Sensing for the timely resurrection of this article), coupled with an internationalist bent (thus, for example, the reliance on the United Nations or NATO for a seal of approval for US foreign initiatives; or the internationalist faction in American jurisprudence that looks beyond the US Constitution to laws of other countries or to treaties for incorporation into internal US law, as exemplified by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer). 

What we see now is an amalgamation of the internationalist aim of early Soviet communism with the fascist idea of a market economy directed and regulated by the state (but not through 'ownership of the means of production') , facilitated through an association with labor unions, controlled by an elite installed through a ‘revolution from above’ and supported by a coalition of radicalised factions.

I do not use these terms glibly, but rather with their precise meanings.  A real understanding of what the Left wants to accomplish through Obama – not just a tingly-legged frisson of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ – is a requirement of a truly enlightened electorate.


  1. Goldberg's book really is good and Sowell as ever. Obama definitely fits the definition of a liberal fascist.

    His recent remarks have been bizarre, contending that more government will somehow improve the private economy. It can only get worse if he is re-elected. About all we can hope for is for the Supremes to undo Obamacare, uncertainty about which is holding back business expansion.

    I remain hopeful that the Reps can at least hold the House and take back the Senate. I think they are just as crooked as the Dems but at least they know how to improve the economy. It ain't rocket science, unless your ideology keeps getting in the way.

  2. The link to the Hoover.org article appears to be broken. Which article is it?

    1. The link is still active from what I can see. It's an article from National Review Online of the same date. Perhaps a Google search might help.

    2. Ah, but if you're referring to the Donald Sensing citation, I'm afraid I'm at a loss. I can't even access Donald's archives of that time. So much of the internet is perishable.


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