The Progressive Roots Of Fascism

Michael de Sapio, Intellectual Takeout

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini have become, for many of us today, mere Hollywood villains—generic personifications of evil or (in Mussolini's case) buffoonish authoritarianism.  Yet their ideologies were rooted in specific philosophical ideas—ideas which had many respectable adherents in their day.

One person who understands this is Jonah Goldberg, author of the 2007 book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.  Ten years on, the book still holds up.  Goldberg argues, provocatively, that fascism shared roots in common with what we call modern liberalism or progressivism.  People often argue over whether Hitler and Mussolini were “right wing” or “left wing.” More to the point is that both men's ideologies had roots in the Progressive movement of the turn of the 20th century.

The Progressive movement was closely tied to the philosophy of Pragmatism: the belief that thought is a tool for action and change.  In contrast to the ancient and medieval philosophers, for whom philosophy was the contemplation of reality, the Progressives were animated by the desire to mold reality and to harness knowledge for social betterment.  Many in the vanguard of progressive thought initially were enamored of Mussolini and even Hitler, considering their dictatorships a useful “social experiment.”

H.G. Wells, the popular science fiction writer, was one.  In a number of speeches and books he praised the militaristic social mobilization in the new fascist regimes: an entire society moving as a single unit under the rule of a Nietzschean superman.  Complete state control of all aspects of life was seen as highly pragmatic and scientific by many.  Nationalism and militarism—elements commonly associated with the Right—were actually key components of the Progressive Era, flourishing in particular under President Woodrow Wilson, as Goldberg documents.

Popular wisdom holds that Fascism and Communism were diametrical opposites.  Actually, the two ideologies were (and are) so similar that they had to define themselves in opposition to each other in order to survive. 

Read full article

You May Also Like:

Trump, Tariffs And The Protectionist Temptation Phil Gramm and Mike Solon, The Wall Street Journal

Trump Approves $1.3 Trillion Budget, Averts Govt Shutdown Jason Devaney, Newsmax

John Bolton Is The National Security Advisor Trump Has Been Waiting For Paul Bonicelli, The Federalist

Facebook Flap -- Don't Overreact With Regulation That Will Destroy Social Media Innovation John Fund, Fox News

Is California Governor Jerry Brown Mentally Ill? Lloyd Marcus, American Thinker

Utah Just Legalized “Free-Range” Parenting [Watch] Elise Solé, Yahoo News

Obama Harvested Data From Facebook And Bragged About It. Why Are We Only Freaking Out About This Now? Declan McCullagh, Reason

Roseanne Defends Supporting Trump To Jimmy Kimmel: 'You All Went So F***ing Far Out’ [Watch] Tre Goins-Phillips, Independent Journal Review

Gun Control Activist David Hogg Draws The Line At Backpack Control John Sexton, Hot Air

Citibank Explains Their Plan To Curtail Second Amendment Rights Kemberlee Kaye, Legal Insurrection

Not A Joke: Congress Is About To Give Itself A Bonus Benjamin Arie, Conservative Tribune

Steven Pinker On Enlightenment, Our Complex Democracy, And Hope For Humanity [Watch] Rubin Report

Obama-Era Regulations Are Ruining Our Merit-Based Immigration System. Here's How To Fix It Ron Paul, Fox News

Even Protectionists Agree That Tariffs Will Make Us Poorer Colin Grabow, Foundation for Economic Education

National Debt, A War between Current And Future Generations? James R. Rogers, Library of Law and Liberty

For More go to the Home Page >>>

Join Our Email List



FreeMarket Central

Some titles recent, all recommended -

Special Video Feature

FreeMarket Central

Voices From The 2017 International Students For Liberty Conference


In Search Of History

The Reagan Tax Cuts Worked

Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).


-- Daniel J. Mitchell,

Shadow Stats Snapshot

FreeMarket Central

ShadowStats alternate economic indicators are based on the methodology of noted economist John Williams, specialist in government economic reporting.

  • Unemployment:
    FreeMarket Central BLS: 4.14%
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 21.8%
  • Inflation:
    FreeMarket Central February Year-to-Year: 1.8% (CPI-U*)
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 9.9%

*[cpi-u is the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation rate for all urban consumers]