More than three years ago, I wrote a column right here at AmSpec that caused paroxysms on the left (and cowardice in some quarters of the right), with Chris Matthews putting my name and some (out of context) quotes on his screen and fulminating against me while Tony Blankley offered his sage assent to the idea that I was an extremist. Entitled “Il Duce, Redux: Fascism’s fascimile, as freedom starts to fade,” the column made the point that on an intellectual level, by very definition, much of Barack Obama’s economic platform was remarkably similar to that of Benito Mussolini’s Italy.
Just as Mussolini did (in slightly different words), Obama repeatedly talks about using government to “leverage” private investment for the greater good. And now, as of this week, he actually dared to force a private corporation, General Motors, to fire its CEO. Meanwhile, his close ally Barney Frank introduced a bill to give the Treasury Secretary the power to set all salary levels for all employees of any companies in which the government has a capital stake.
As George Will has written, Congress has delegated so much economic authority to the Treasury, the Fed, and the president that the Constitution itself has almost certainly been shredded in the panic.
In sober language, I went on to build my case, while offering this important clarification:
To be clear, none of this is to even come close to equating the Obama administration with Nazism. The conflation of Nazism with fascism is a gross misunderstanding of history; the original fascism and Nazism are entirely different breeds of vipers, with the latter being far more deadly.
I was nonetheless blasted on all the usual lefty Internet sites, while few conservatives rushed to my defense.
It is thus gratifying today to see the eminent and brilliant Thomas Sowell make the exact case I did three years ago; his intellectual credentials are such that I guarantee Chris Matthews won’t allow himself another public conniption fit.
What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector….
Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.
Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies. ….
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, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.
The left’s vision 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…”
To repeat what I wrote in 2009:
Since when was it government’s role, as Obama claims, to “invest” in all sorts of new technologies, and to “help our auto companies re-tool” while somehow making it “easier for the American people to afford these new cars”? And who is doing the insisting when Obama talks about “our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life”? Sorry, but if our public life — defined by the left, in the end, always as that part of life subject to government control — is larger, it means our private lives, our free lives, are smaller and more constrained.
The important thing here isn’t the label fascism. The important thing is the threat to liberty that is inherent in these sorts of policies. Even if the policies are well intended, they are antithetical to the American tradition and to the ideals that made, and still make, us great.
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