We can have a free society or a welfare state. We cannot have both.
Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society (Robert Higgs)
An individual has no meaning apart from the society in which his individuality has been formed.
The Promise of American Life. Herbert Crowley
In 1920 the Nazi Party issued its “unalterable” and “eternal” party platform, co-written by Hitler and Anton Drexler and dedicated to the overarching principle that the “common good must come before self-interest.”
In the early 1920s, noting the similarities between Italian Fascism and Russian Bolshevism was not particularly controversial. Nor was it insulting to communists or fascists. Mussolini’s Italy was among the first to recognize Lenin’s Russia. And as we’ve seen, the similarities between the two men were hardly superficial. Radek noted as early as 1923 that “Fascism is middle-class Socialism and we cannot persuade the middle classes to abandon it until we can prove to them that it only makes their condition worse.”22
Fascism, at its core, is the view that every nook and cranny of society should work together in spiritual union toward the same goals overseen by the state. “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State,” is how Mussolini defined it. Mussolini coined the word “totalitarian” to describe not a tyrannical society but a humane one in which everyone is taken care of and contributes equally. It was an organic concept where every class, every individual, was part of the larger whole. The militarization of society and politics was considered simply the best available means toward this end. Call it what you like—progressivism, fascism, communism, or totalitarianism—the first true enterprise of this kind was established not in Russia or Italy or Germany but in the United States, and Woodrow Wilson was the twentieth century’s first fascist dictator.
The progressives were the real social Darwinists as we think of the term today—though they reserved the term for their enemies.
They believed in eugenics.
They were imperialists.
They were convinced that the state could, through planning and pressure, create a pure race, a society of new men.
They were openly and proudly hostile to individualism.
Religion was a political tool, while politics was the true religion.
The progressives viewed the traditional system of constitutional checks and balances as an outdated impediment to progress because such horse-and-buggy institutions were a barrier to their own ambitions. Dogmatic attachment to constitutions, democratic practices, and antiquated laws was the enemy of progress for fascists and progressives alike. Indeed, fascists and progressives shared the same intellectual heroes and quoted the same philosophers.
Today, liberals remember the progressives as do-gooders who cleaned up the food supply and agitated for a more generous social welfare state and better working conditions. Fine, the progressives did that. But so did the Nazis and the Italian Fascists. And they did it for the same reasons and in loyalty to roughly the same principles.
=Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Jonah Goldberg)
Is it too much to say that since the French Revolution, the left has been the source of virtually all political evils, and continues to be so in our day?
There can be no doubt that great cruelty and violence can be and have been inflicted in the name of preserving the existing order.
But when we compare even the worst enormities of the more distant past with the leftist totalitarian revolutions and total wars of the twentieth centuries, they are in general a mere blip. The entire history of the Inquisition, said Joe Sobran, barely rises to the level of what the communists accomplished on a good afternoon.
The French Revolution, and particularly its radical phase, was the classic manifestation of modern leftism and served as the model for still more radical revolutions around the world more than a century later.
As that revolution proceeded its aims grew more ambitious, with its most fervent partisans demanding nothing less than the total transformation of society.
In place of the various customs and settled ways of a France with well over a millennium of history behind it, the radical revolutionaries introduced a “rational” alternative cooked up in their heads, and with all the warmth of an insane asylum.