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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Jonah Goldberg on Liberal Fascism

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HH: It’s a special couple of hours. You’ll want to pay attention very, very closely. An unusual title is on the New York Times bestseller list here as we begin 2008, and it’s called Liberal Fascism: The Secret History Of The American Left From Mussolini To The Politics Of Meaning, it’s written by Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times columnist, longtime contributing editor to the National Review, lives in Washington, D.C. He’s out here in California. Part of our conversation today conducted by cell phone, part in studio, Jonah Goldberg, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JG: Hey, Hugh, thanks for having me. Sorry for the weird circumstances of doing this by cell at the beginning.

HH: Well, I like cell and studio. It allows the audience in on the fun of broadcasting live, that sort of thing.

JG: (laughing)

HH: Jonah, you’re off obviously on a book tour. Are you surprised by the success of Liberal Fascism? It’s really taken off.

JG: Well, I mean, I would be dishonest if I said otherwise. Yeah, I’ve been surprised at how well it’s done. It’s pretty humbling, and I mean, I like to think it has something to do with the quality of the book and the word of mouth and the reviews, and all that. But I think part of it also has something to do with…you know, it’s sort of like an idea whose time has come. I have this theory about badly written books. I don’t think mine is badly written, but there are a lot of really famous badly written books that have done extremely well. You probably remember Greening Of America…

HH: Oh, yes, in your book.

JG: It’s a hideously terrible book.

HH: Yup.

JG: But it captured this zeitgeist thing, and just took off. And I’ve been astounded by how many people I’ve met who have said you know, I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to write this book, or this is what I’ve been saying all my life, or my dad always used to say this. And I think there’s been this pent up demand for a book like this, because so many people have bee frustrated, so many conservatives have been frustrated by being called fascists or Nazis, when they thought, like I argue, that’s a really gross distortion of the historical record.

HH: Now obviously, this is a book of intellectual history, but it’s also a romp through American and European history. And let’s begin with fascism itself. It’s a particular style and structure of government, and it’s got a history in the United States. And despite those sloppy references to Bush-Hitler and the fascists of the right, et cetera, I think the key to your argument is that the fascist tendencies have overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, been on the left in America, and that they were within the 20th Century Democratic Party, and that those tendencies are alive and well today. Is that a fair statement of sort of the arching theme of Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg?

JG: It certainly…I think it’s entirely fair for the arguments of the book after, say, the first two chapters and the introduction, where there, I try to place Nazism and fascism, in their classical expressions in Europe, as left wing phenomenon. And then when I move to America, I think you’ve pretty much gotten it right.

HH: And I want to start in the first two chapters, because I think that’s probably a lot of the picture that Americans don’t get. They may understand the Wilsonian phase, they’ll certainly remember FDR, or at least histories of the New Deal, and they’ll probably have lived a lot of the 60’s, so we can come back to that. And of course, they’re living today’s Democratic left. But let’s start on Page 14…

JG: Okay.

HH: “American liberalism is a totalitarian, political religion, but not necessarily an Orwellian one. It is nice, not brutal. Nannying, not bullying, but it is definitely totalitarian, or holistic, if you prefer, and that liberalism today sees no realm of human life that is beyond political significance, from what you eat to what you smoke to what you say. Sex is political. Food is political. Sports, entertainment, your inner motives and your outer appearances all have political salience for liberal fascists.” Now Jonah, you probably have taken a lot of bricks already, but that line, as well as the line about the white men being the Jews of liberal fascism, are probably the two that got you the most heat. Am I correct about that?

JG: I would guess. I mean, it’s sort of, it’s kind of like picking out which pieces of flak that caused the most damage when they hit me.

HH: Yup.

JG: But yeah, the white man being the Jew of liberal fascism is probably the most. But that first one is a big one, but I’m perfectly happy to defend both of them, so…

HH: Well, I agree this is completely true, but isn’t it funny, though, that you say they’re nice and not bullying, but people are angry at you. Leftists are really mad as hell at Jonah Goldberg for Liberal Fascism.

JG: Oh, no, they’re furious. You know, my Amazon page has been hacked several times now. Pictures of the book were replaced with pictures of me with a Hitler mustache, and even less charitable things. Books are being hidden in bookstores. I mean…and I’m no huge fan of Mike Huckabee, but you know, when he says, borrowing an old Air Force phrase, that when you’re catching flak, you must be over the target. I think I did hit a nerve with this. And that’s why the first wave of attacks on this were dedicated to simply discrediting me and saying this is a book no one has to read, no one needs to bother with this guy. As Tom Sowell said in his lovely review of the book, the natural impulse from a lot of people on the left has been to shun it, rather than to deal with it.

HH: And before we dive in to what you actually have to argue, have any members of the liberal elite or on the left, even further to the left than the liberal elite, looked up from Liberal Fascism and said you know, he’s got a point?

JG: Well, you know, not a lot, but there was a really sort of fascinating piece by Richard Bernstein, who’s a, you know, serious liberal intellectual, who used to be with the New York Times for eons, and now he’s writing for the International Herald Tribune. And he wrote this, it was this sort of weird, lots of caveats, lots of hemming and hawing, but he just kept returning to the fact that I’m this smart guy, and I’ve written this interesting book, and gosh darn it, and you know, I make all these good points, and it was like pulling teeth, but it was basically a very positive review of the book. And that was the closest I’ve seen. I mean, Ron Radosh, who’s now basically a conservative, and used to be a socialist intellectual, he gave it a rave review, sort of dealing with this, because he knows this history. But mostly, the attempt has been to shun it, to ridicule it. You know, Matt Yglesias, the blogger, you know, he had this sort of silly review, where he says it’s absurd to say that Woodrow Wilson belongs on the liberal side of the political spectrum, which I thought was just sort of an incredibly dismissive thing to do.

HH: What?

JG: The New York Times…

HH: He made that argument?

JG: Oh, yeah. No, he said oh, it’s sort of silly to talk about Woodrow Wilson being on the left. That doesn’t make any sense. And I just thought that was…

HH: Oh, my gosh. I missed that, but…

JG: …a weird assertion. You know, this, coming from a guy who is, when the New Republic had its 90th anniversary issue not long ago, it was Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and JFK. Those were the five sort of hereoes, the Mt. Rushmore of liberalism.

HH: Right.

JG: And you know, it sort of seems odd to me to make that argument. But that’s come out. The New York Times reviewer, David Oshinsky, he basically just sort of starts by saying Goldberg becomes less persuasive when he talks about FDR. In other words, for the first 130 pages of the book, he implies I was somewhat persuasive.

HH: What’s he do with General…

JG: But no one’s really done…

HH: What’s he do with General Johnson and the Blue Eagle?

JG: He ignores it.

HH: Okay.

JG: He just minimizes it, and that’s what a lot of people do. They just sort of cherry pick these things, and say Goldberg’s wrong when he says this, and they make it sound like I hinge my entire arguments on very small things, rather than the fact that the thing they’re picking out is part of a much larger presentation of evidence and argumentation. And you know, that’s the nature of the beast, but it can be frustrating sometimes.

HH: Well, let’s dive in so that people get a sense of this. This is way…we’re going to spend two hours on Liberal Fascism, America, and you’re still going to have to go and get the book and read deeply in it. But it’s also wonderfully written and funny and witty, and full of a lot of substantive arguments that you haven’t seen before, and a lot of history you need to know. Starting with, I think, one of the revelations I’m going to make sure that my law students know going forward, and this audience knows, is that fascism does not necessarily include anti-Semitism. It has, but Spain and Italy, before Hitler, were fascist, and they were not anti-Semitic, and I think this clears up a lot of misunderstanding of what you mean when you talk about fascism, Jonah Goldberg.

JG: That’s right. I mean, fascism comes of age much like nationalism, and the two were intertwined. And nationalism brings out the characteristics of a given people at a given time. And so when I say there’s an American fascism around the time of World War I, it’s bringing out American qualities. It’s not going to look like German fascism or Italian fascism, because America is different than these places. And similarly, that’s one of the reasons why I go through Italy, and I point out that the Italians simply weren’t an anti-Semitic people, and Jews were in fact overrepresented in the Italian Fascist Party from its founding until 1938, when basically, the Nazis forced the Italians to kick their Jews out. And the story of Italian heroism, even after 1938, in trying to save Jewish lives, has been totally airbrushed from the popular understanding of the history of fascism and of World War II. Not a single Jew of any nationality was sent from Italy, or from anywhere under Italian control, to the concentration camps until 1943, when the Germans, in effect, invade Italy and take it over. And that’s when the bad stuff happens to Jews in Italy, and Italian-occupied areas. And in fascist Spain, nothing bad happened to the Jews. The safest direction to walk in Europe when the Germans start coming after the Jews is south, not north.

HH: When we come back…Jonah, we’ve got to take a break. We’ll be right back.

– – – –

HH: Jonah, when we went to break, we were talking about…there are a lot of walk-on parts in Liberal Fascism, whether it’s Sigmund Freud or William James. But I want to start with H.G. Wells, because everyone kind of thinks of H.G. Wells as the guy with the funny stories and the interesting science fiction, et cetera. But he’s really a fascist, and he’s an English fascist. Give us sort of the quick rundown of H.G. Wells’ contribution to your book, Liberal Fascism.

JG: Sure. Well, and we get the title from H.G. Wells. In 1932, H.G. Wells was asked to give a speech to the young liberals at Oxford, where he was asked to sort of describe his lifelong philosophy, and where he thought liberalism and progressivism and socialism should go. And people today, you’re right, just remember him basically for the science fiction. But he was in fact arguably the single most important left wing intellectual in the English speaking language in the first third of the 20th Century, hugely influential on the American social Gospel movement, on the American progressive movement. His writings on religion and politics were read from pulpits across the country. He was…he met often with FDR in the White House to sort of consult with FDR. He often referred to FDR as the living embodiment of what he called the world brain, this global governing institution. And anyway, so in 1932, he’s asked to give a speech at Oxford on the future of liberalism. And he says all his life, he’s been trying to figure out how to sort of summarize his philosophy, which always involved these supermen, these sort of Nietzschean supermen who parachute in and run society, and do social engineering, and in some of his stories, wipe out the sort of inferior races. H.G. Wells, like almost all the Fabian socialists, and most of the American progressives, was a soaked-to-the-bone eugenicist. Anyway, so he gives this speech, and he says what liberalism needs, what progressivism needs, is to have a phoenix-like rebirth of radicalism. What it needs to become is a new, liberal fascism. And he also says if that title doesn’t work, you know, what we could also call it is enlightened Nazism. And this was not seen, I mean, it was controversial, but it was not seen as oxymoronic. It wasn’t seen as self-contradictory, because then, fascism was still seen by most as a phenomenon of the left. And he admired it for that, the same reason George Bernard Shaw and the other Fabian socialists admired it.

HH: You also recapture a lost bit of Western history, in that Mussolini was not greatly, greatly denigrated in England and the United States. In fact, he’s featured in a Cole Porter song, Sigmund Freud, as I mentioned, sends along a book that Freud co-authored with Einstein that inscribes to the ruler, the hero of culture, and he’s referring to Mussolini. Generally speaking, give us the summary of Mussolini’s rise, and how American and English elites responded to it.

JG: yeah, well, Mussolini starts…if Mussolini had stayed on the left, he would be remembered today as one of the great socialist intellectuals of Europe. He was born and raised a socialist. His father was a member of the same internationale as Marx and Engels. His father read him Das Kapital as a bedtime story. He…you know, the name Benito is not an Italian name. It comes from Benito Juarez, the revolutionary who murdered the Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. And so Mussolini’s raised as a socialist. He makes his name as a socialist. We all remember that Mussolini was called Il Duce…

HH: Yup.

JG: And what we forget is that he earned that title as a leader of the socialists, not as a leader of the fascists. And when he’s kicked out of the Italian Socialist Party in 1914 for supporting World War I, which he believed would save socialism, he says look, you can kick me out of your party, but I’m going to go to my death a socialist. Socialism is in my blood. I’ve spent twelve years giving my life to this party, and to socialism, and I’m never going to turn my back on it. And he was right. He traveled. When he was in Switzerland, you know, he arrives in Switzerland as a young man, as this rabble-rouser dissident chased out of Italy. He arrives, all he has is fifty cents and a medallion of Karl Marx in his pocket. And he ends up becoming friends with the same circles that surrounded Lenin. And there’s this argument about whether he ever met Lenin, but what we know is that he admired Lenin, and Lenin admired Mussolini, and it broke Lenin’s heart that Mussolini had given up on the Socialist Party in Italy to support World War I, because he thought he was going to be the guy, Lenin though Mussolini was going to be the guy to save the socialists in Italy.

HH: So we’ve got this fascist who breaks with socialism in order to go and seize power in Italy. But of course, that is after the war, that is after Wilson. So one of the first arguments is, since we view Franco and Mussolini as kind of the proto-fascists of Europe, how can you argue that Wilsonian progressivism has got fascist undertones to it?

JG: Well, there are a bunch of different arguments. I mean, basically, the fundamental argument is I argue that in Western civilization, there was what I call a fascist moment. And you know, if people don’t like the word fascist, we can put it aside for a second and call it a collectivist moment. But there was this moment where the idea of laissez-faire capitalism seemed to have died. The idea of liberal democracy and individualism seemed to have been discredited. George Bernard Shaw, Mussolini, all these guys, they referred to, they kept using the phrase ‘a putrifying corpse’, that the classical liberalism of the 19th Century was over, done with, and what was needed was a new era of statism. And this was the motivating passion of intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic. And deeply aiding this idea was the birth of philosophical pragmatism coming from William James. William James basically tries to marry…

HH: You’ve got to explain to people who William James is.

JG: Sure. William James is technically the founder of American pragmatism, hugely important American philosopher. And pragmatism, basically, all it tried to do was say that all the old rules, all the old dogmas of classical liberalism, of Newtonian physics, all that, they could all be thrown by the wayside, and that truth was now relative, and that we could define truth by what James called cash value. And we now lived in a universe with the lid off, is what James liked to say. And what James and Nietzsche in Europe, and others, what they basically did was they were overturning the settled authority of philosophy, and basically saying that men could will any reality they wanted. And in many ways, what fascism is, is a marriage of James’ will to believe with Nietzsche’s will to power. And it’s not a coincidence that Mussolini often cited William James as one of the three most important philosophers in his life.

– – – –

HH: Jonah, at the risk of doing something that will have program directors across the United States screaming at me, I want to talk about Rousseau. This may in fact be the first time…

JG: (laughing)

HH: …ever on talk radio that Rousseau has been brought up. But I don’t know how you get to fascism unless you cover Rousseau to the French Revolution, and then on to the branches in Europe and America. And basically, it’s Rousseau’s radicalism which unleashed the whirlwind on the West.

JG: Right, I mean, and there are two ways to talk about this. There’s the intellectual history, which I think is what you’re getting at, where basically it goes French Revolution…the French Revolution, I argue, is the first fascist revolution. It merges nationalism with populism. It tries to replace God with the state. You have these intellectual revolutionaries who use terror and violence to remake society and start over at year zero. They create a secular religion out of politics, where they change the traditional Christian holidays to state holidays. And all of this gets replayed in Nazi Germany, and fascist Italy, and in the Soviet Union. But I think there’s an important point to be made, which is that this, it’s not necessarily that the fascists of Nazi Germany were inspired by Rousseau, it’s that the same thing was happening again, that they were following the same sort of Rousseauian path. And Rousseau, as a philosopher, he basically gives word to a desire that beats in every human heart, to create a tribe out of society, to create, to impose this notion of the general will, where anybody who deviates from what the collective thinks he should do is a heretic or a traitor, to sanctify politics. And that’s what inspired the French revolutionaries. That’s what they took from Rousseau. And in many ways, that’s what people like Mussolini and Hitler took from the French Revolution, is this same sort of burning desire to create a religion of the state. And we see the same thing that happened in the French Revolution replay itself in Germany, and to a lesser extent, replay itself in fascist Italy.

HH: And you know, it’s the same temptation over and over again, and it’s one abroad in the land right now, which is why I want to pause on this, which is Rousseau believed that man was good, you know, that the state came along, or that society came along and screwed things up, but that actually, that men were innately good. And that’s simply not a conservative view, Jonah Goldberg. It’s anti-conservative. It’s also anti-theology in most senses.

JG: Right. I mean, I think the fundamental difference, the difference that defines the difference between American, Anglo-American conservatives and European welfare states, leftists or liberals, is Locke versus Rousseau. Every philosophical argument boils down to John Locke versus Jacques Rousseau.

HH: Yup.

JG: Rousseau says the government is there, that our rights come from the government, that come from the collective. Locke says our rights come from God, and that we only create a government to protect our interests. The Rousseauian says you can make a religion out of society and politics, and the Lockean says no, religion is a separate sphere from politics. And that is the defining distinction between the two, and I think that distinction also runs through the human heart, that we all have a Rousseauian temptation in us. And it’s the job of conservatives to remind people that the Lockean in us needs to win.

HH: Yup. Now I want…we’ve got two more segments this hour, before you’re actually in the studio, and we’re going to plunge into…

JG: Yeah, I’m coming up close.

HH: That’s great. We want to spend some time talking about Hitler in these last segments, because obviously, we’ve been walking up to this. And Hitler, in many respects, seizes the fascist brand, and rebrands it to include anti-Semitism. But I want to repeat again, that’s not the case. Fascists can be there without being anti-Semitic. That doesn’t make them good, but it makes them not anti-Semitic. True point, Jonah Goldberg?

JG: Absolutely. That’s right. That’s right.

HH: You also write on Page 55, “What Hitler got from Italian fascism was the importance of an idea that would arouse the masses.” And you go on to just chart, he was a man of the left again and again and again, and he was also an anti-capitalist at crucial moments.

JG: That’s right. I mean, at some point, it seems entirely fair to take 50% of the name that makes up Nazi seriously. The national socialists were socialists. They believed in socialism. The speech that converts, that woos Adolf Hitler to the German Workers’ Socialist Party was titled “By What Means Shall Capitalism Be Eliminated?” Hitler talks about it in Mein Kampf. He explains the Nazi Party flag, which we’ve all seen in the movies as this giant red flag with a white disc in the middle…

HH: …of socialism. We’ll be right back with Jonah Goldberg on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

– – – –

HH: Next hour, we’re going to focus more on American history and the current situation of the Democratic Party and the left wing of the United States. But we’re getting there this hour. And we started with one of the reasons so much anger at Jonah is the fact that he’s replacing Hitler where Hitler needs to be on the ideological spectrum, not as a right wing dictator, but as a left wing dictator. Quoting now, “For decades, the left has cherry picked the facts to form a caricature of what the Third Reich was about. The very large and substantial leftist and socialist aspects of Nazism were shrunk to the status of trivia, the obsession of cranks and Hitler apologists. The Nazis,” Jonah writes, “rose to power, exploiting anti-capitalist rhetoric they indisputably believed. And for these reasons, Hitler deserves to be placed firmly on the left, because first and foremost, he was a revolutionary. Broadly speaking, the left is the party of change, the right is the party of the status quo. On this score, Hitler was in so sense, way, shape or form, a man of the right.” Now Jonah, this particular assertion on your part, how much of the opposition to your book has come out of this assertion?

JG: You know, a lot. I mean, there’s this real reluctance from people…the left loves having Hitler as a cudgel to use against the right. And so, you know, a lot of the response has been Goldberg can’t be true, because everyone knows that we get to use Hitler. And we get to use Hitler against our enemies, and it’s outrageous to sort of upset that apple cart. But I want to add one quick point about that, is that it’s not just…I mean, I think the socialism part alone should settle the argument in a lot of ways, but it’s important to point out it’s not just socialism. American conservatism, as you know, or Anglo-American conservatism, rests on essentially two points. On the one hand is the free market, limited government, anti-socialism belief in entrepreneurialism and all the rest. And the second part of it is an affinity for tradition, for traditional religion, orthodox religion, Christianity and the rest. And Hitler despised all of those things. He despised not only sort of the Manchester liberalism of free markets, but he also hated orthodox Christianity. He hated, he thought Christianity was a foreign import, that it ruined Germany, which had a more pure, pagan, Earth-bound faith. He hated…the one thing he liked the social Democrats for was that they got rid of the monarchy. He hated the aristocracy. He hated the established institutions at universities. He hated the experts, all of that. In every way, he was a radical that we would say, just as a Martian visiting Planet Earth, it would be obvious that this guy was on the left.

HH: You also write, he’s a nationalist, but not a patriot, which are very important, a very important distinction here.

JG: That’s right, and it’s an incredibly important distinction, particularly from an American context. Americans tend not to be nationalists. They’re patriots. You know, they’re attached to creeds and to ideas. Hitler was a blood and soil romantic. And he deified the race, he deified the land. But he had no sympathies for democracy, for the constitution, for the Weimer Republic, for any of that good stuff. He was, in the Nietzschean sense, a lover of German will and German power, and the sort of romance of conquest. But he had no attraction for any of the sort of redeeming things about German culture and German life.

HH: Now…so when we get to the end of the Third Reich, we’ve got an obvious split in America. People hate Hitler, they’re still not on to hating the Soviets yet, and they have to define Hitler. Is it because the Soviets, which we understood, everyone understood to be left, were at war with the Nazis, that they became right wing, Jonah Goldberg?

JG: That’s a big part of it. I mean, you’re right. There is this weird notion that we get when…when I say oh, well, the Nazis were on the left, they say that’s ridiculous. They were fighting the Soviets, that the Soviets hated them. Well, you know, first of all, the Brown Shirts versus the red shirts was an example of sort of Coke versus Pepsi. It wasn’t an example of opposites. The Nazis appealed directly to the communists in Berlin, in Germany, and won them over almost wholesale to the Brown Shirt cause. And one of the reasons why we get this idea that fascism and Nazism are right wing is because Marxist prophecy said well, there’s going to be a force that’s going to get in the way of a proletarian revolution, and it’s going to be defending the ruling classes. And so when they saw Nazism and fascism come along, they said a-ha, this must be it. And the propagandists declared that, the Soviet propagandists realized that the national socialists were just simply eating the lunch of the international socialists, that people wanted to be nationalists, they wanted to love their country, they wanted to be part of their own culture, but they still wanted to be socialists. And that was a much more appealing pitch. And so what Stalin declared was that basically, any group that wasn’t loyal to Moscow was fascist, and objectively right wing. And so during this period, from 1928 until about 1932, FDR, according to Stalin, was a fascist. Norman Thomas, the head of the American Socialist Party, was a fascist. And this notion of sort of objectively right wing comes out from this analysis of national socialism as right wing socialism, which I think is a perfectly fine way to describe it. It was right wing socialism, but it was still socialism.

HH: So Jonah, what is the essential difference between Stalinism and Hitlerism?

JG: I’m sorry?

HH: What is the essential difference between Stalinism and Hitlerism?

JG: Very, very little.

HH: That’s it. That’s exactly right. Yup.

JG: I mean, I think you could come up with something about, you know, the socialization of private property comes along a lot faster under the reds than it does under the browns, but look, you know, if Nazism is nationalistic socialism in one country, well then Stalin becomes a fascist by World War II, because you know, he’s fighting not for workers of the world, he’s fighting the great war for patriotic Mother Russia. That was nationalism, and it was socialism.

– – – –

HH: Jonah, is it in Europe yet?

JG: No, it’s not. I’m looking forward to that, though.

HH: That’s going to cause a little bit of heartburn over there. Okay, as the bridge to next hour, we’re going to be talking about Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and the radicals of the 60’s. Let’s start with the American intellectual movement that is known as progressivism…

JG: Okay.

HH: And generally, we’ve got just two minutes in this segment. What did the progressives want to accomplish? Obviously, it was a lot, and they were willing to use the state to do so.

JG: Right. The progressives were essentially Christian, Siegelian millennialists, which sounds very complicated, but basically, what they wanted to do is they wanted to use the state to create a kingdom of Heaven on Earth. They believed in crushing laissez-faire capitalism, crushing individualism, expounding on a new, nationalistic collectivism. Woodrow Wilson, in many ways, becomes the sort of apotheosis of all of this, where he is the first president to openly disparage the U.S. Constitution, saying we no longer need it, and we need a new living Constitution. And the reason why so many of the progressives support World War I is because they see it, going back to the stuff about William James, as the perfect opportunity to find these moral equivalents of war, to form the American people into one cohesive whole, to get them into what John Dewey calls the social possibilities of war, organizing the masses to rally around the state. Woodrow Wilson defines progressivism as the need for the individual to marry his interests to the state. And that’s what the progressives believe.

HH: And did anyone notice? The seachange, was there a conversation among intellectual elites that this was a radical departure from the framers’ approach to limited government and to the Lockean vision of the world, which is you keep the government small, and personal responsibility large? Or did it just happen because of the times?

JG: No, I think there was an expressed…they really saw that the new explosion of understanding that comes from Darwin, that came from Einstein’s theory of relativity…you know, Paul Johnson’s Modern Times has a great opening, where when Einstein’s theory of relativity is confirmed in 1905, everyone goes crazy, because they think it’s one more scientific proof that everything is relative. And that was a phrase that was being used a lot of the time, you know, that everything is relative, that all morals are relative, and that all of these old dogmas that are associated with the Constitution, with classical liberalism, just need to be thrown aside. They’re no longer relevant.

– – – –

HH: Jonah, it’s good to have you actually here in person.

JG: I’m delighted to be here. It was getting a little hairy out there.


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