Scouted: The Reality of Red-State Fascism
The Reality of Red-State Fascism
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Year's end is the time for big thoughts, so here are mine. The most
significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely
unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state
bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the
Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist
nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the
circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and
adores the central state, particularly its military wing.
This huge shift has not been noticed among mainstream punditry, and hence
there have been few attempts to explain it � much less have libertarians
thought much about what it implies. My own take is this: the Republican
takeover of the presidency combined with an unrelenting state of war, has
supplied all the levers necessary to convert a burgeoning libertarian
movement into a statist one.
The remaining ideological justification was left to, and accomplished by,
Washington's kept think tanks, who have approved the turn at every
crucial step. What this implies for libertarians is a crying need to draw
a clear separation between what we believe and what conservatives
believe. It also requires that we face the reality of the current threat
forthrightly by extending more rhetorical tolerance leftward and less
Let us start from 1994 and work forward. In a stunningly prescient memo,
Murray N. Rothbard described the 1994 revolution against the Democrats as
a massive and unprecedented public repudiation of President Clinton, his
person, his personnel, his ideologies and programs, and all of his works;
plus a repudiation of Clinton's Democrat Party; and, most fundamentally,
a rejection of the designs, current and proposed, of the Leviathan he
heads�. what is being rejected is big government in general (its taxing,
mandating, regulating, gun grabbing, and even its spending) and, in
particular, its arrogant ambition to control the entire society from the
political center. Voters and taxpayers are no longer persuaded of a
supposed rationale for American-style central planning�. On the positive
side, the public is vigorously and fervently affirming its desire to
re-limit and de-centralize government; to increase individual and
community liberty; to reduce taxes, mandates, and government intrusion;
to return to the cultural and social mores of pre-1960s America, and
perhaps much earlier than that.
This memo also cautioned against unrelieved optimism, because, Rothbard
said, two errors rear their head in most every revolution. First, the
reformers do not move fast enough; instead they often experience a crisis
of faith and become overwhelmed by demands that they govern "responsibly"
rather than tear down the established order. Second, the reformers leave
too much in place that can be used by their successors to rebuild the
state they worked so hard to dismantle. This permits gains to be reversed
as soon as another party takes control.
Rothbard urged dramatic cuts in spending, taxing, and regulation, and not
just in the domestic area but also in the military and in foreign policy.
He saw that this was crucial to any small-government program. He also
urged a dismantling of the federal judiciary on grounds that it
represents a clear and present danger to American liberty. He urged the
young radicals who were just elected to reject gimmicks like the
balanced-budget amendment and the line-item veto, in favor of genuine
change. None of this happened of course. In fact, the Republican
leadership and pundit class began to warn against "kamikaze missions" and
speak not of bringing liberty, but rather of governing better than
Foreshadowing what was to come, Rothbard pointed out: "Unfortunately, the
conservative public is all too often taken in by mere rhetoric and fails
to weigh the actual deeds of their political icons. So the danger is that
Gingrich will succeed not only in betraying, but in conning the
revolutionary public into thinking that they have already won and can
shut up shop and go home." The only way to prevent this, he wrote, was to
educate the public, businessmen, students, academics, journalists, and
politicians about the true nature of what is going on, and about the
vicious nature of the bi-partisan ruling elites.
The 1994 revolution failed of course, in part because the anti-government
opposition was intimidated into silence by the Oklahoma City bombing of
April 1995. The establishment somehow managed to pin the violent act of
an ex-military man on the right-wing libertarianism of the American
bourgeoisie. It was said by every important public official at that time
that to be anti-government was to give aid and support to militias,
secessionists, and other domestic terrorists. It was a classic
intimidation campaign but, combined with a GOP leadership that never had
any intention to change DC, it worked to shut down the opposition.
In the last years of the 1990s, the GOP-voting middle class refocused its
anger away from government and leviathan and toward the person of Bill
Clinton. It was said that he represented some kind of unique moral evil
despoiling the White House. That ridiculous Monica scandal culminated in
a pathetic and pretentious campaign to impeach Clinton. Impeaching
presidents is a great idea, but impeaching them for fibbing about
personal peccadilloes is probably the least justifiable ground. It's
almost as if that entire campaign was designed to discredit the great
institution of impeachment.
In any case, this event crystallized the partisanship of the bourgeoisie,
driving home the message that the real problem was Clinton and not
government; the immorality of the chief executive, not his power; the
libertinism of the left-liberals and not their views toward government.
The much heralded "leave us alone" coalition had been thoroughly
transformed in a pure anti-Clinton movement. The right in this country
began to define itself not as pro-freedom, as it had in 1994, but simply
as anti-leftist, as it does today.
There are many good reasons to be anti-leftist, but let us revisit what
Mises said in 1956 concerning the anti-socialists of his day. He pointed
out that many of these people had a purely negative agenda, to crush the
leftists and their bohemian ways and their intellectual pretension. He
warned that this is not a program for freedom. It was a program of hatred
that can only degenerate into statism.
The moral corruption, the licentiousness and the intellectual sterility
of a class of lewd would-be authors and artists is the ransom mankind
must pay lest the creative pioneers be prevented from accomplishing their
work. Freedom must be granted to all, even to base people, lest the few
who can use it for the benefit of mankind be hindered. The license which
the shabby characters of the quartier Latin enjoyed was one of the
conditions that made possible the ascendance of a few great writers,
painters and sculptors. The first thing a genius needs is to breathe free
He goes on to urge that anti-leftists work to educate themselves about
economics, so that they can have a positive agenda to displace their
purely negative one. A positive agenda of liberty is the only way we
might have been spared the blizzard of government controls that were
fastened on this country after Bush used the events of 9-11 to increase
central planning, invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and otherwise bring a form
of statism to America that makes Clinton look laissez-faire by
comparison. The Bush administration has not only faced no resistance from
the bourgeoisie. it has received cheers. And they are not only cheering
Bush's reelection; they have embraced tyrannical control of society as a
means toward accomplishing their anti-leftist ends.
After September 11, even those whose ostensible purpose in life is to
advocate less government changed their minds. Even after it was clear
that 9-11 would be used as the biggest pretense for the expansion of
government since the stock market crash of 1929, the Cato Institute said
that libertarianism had to change its entire focus: "Libertarians usually
enter public debates to call for restrictions on government activity. In
the wake of September 11, we have all been reminded of the real purpose
of government: to protect our life, liberty, and property from violence.
This would be a good time for the federal government to do its job with
vigor and determination."
The vigor and determination of the Bush administration has brought about
a profound cultural change, so that the very people who once proclaimed
hated of government now advocate its use against dissidents of all sorts,
especially against those who would dare call for curbs in the
totalitarian bureaucracy of the military, or suggest that Bush is
something less than infallible in his foreign-policy decisions. The
lesson here is that it is always a mistake to advocate government action,
for there is no way you can fully anticipate how government will be used.
Nor can you ever count on a slice of the population to be moral in its
advocacy of the uses of the police power.
Editor & Publisher, for example, posted a small note the other day about
a column written by Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, in which he
mildly suggested that the troops be brought home from Iraq "sooner rather
than later." The editor of E&P was just blown away by the letters that
poured in, filled with venom and hate and calling for Neuharth to be
tried and locked away as a traitor. The letters compared him with
pro-Hitler journalists, and suggested that he was objectively
pro-terrorist, choosing to support the Muslim jihad over the US military.
Other letters called for Neuharth to get the death penalty for daring to
take issue with the Christian leaders of this great Christian nation.
I'm actually not surprised at this. It has been building for some time.
If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the
populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and
mass bloodshed for more than a year now. The militarism and nationalism
dwarfs anything I saw at any point during the Cold War. It celebrates the
shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new
ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the
US is God marching on earth � not just godlike, but really serving as a
proxy for God himself.
Along with this goes a kind of worship of the presidency, and a
celebration of all things public sector, including egregious law like the
Patriot Act, egregious bureaucracies like the Department of Homeland
Security, and egregious centrally imposed regimentation like the No Child
Left Behind Act. It longs for the state to throw its weight behind
institutions like the two-parent heterosexual family, the Christian
charity, the homogeneous community of native-born patriots.
In 1994, the central state was seen by the bourgeoisie as the main threat
to the family; in 2004 it is seen as the main tool for keeping the family
together and ensuring its ascendancy. In 1994, the state was seen as the
enemy of education; today, the same people view the state as the means of
raising standards and purging education of its left-wing influences. In
1994, Christians widely saw that Leviathan was the main enemy of the
faith; today, they see Leviathan as the tool by which they will guarantee
that their faith will have an impact on the country and the world.
Paul Craig Roberts is right: "In the ranks of the new conservatives,
however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently
worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives
who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into
idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are
prepared to kill anyone for George Bush." Again: "Like Brownshirts, the
new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his
policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy."
In short, what we have alive in the US is an updated and Americanized
fascism. Why fascist? Because it is not leftist in the sense of
egalitarian or redistributionist. It has no real beef with business. It
doesn't sympathize with the downtrodden, labor, or the poor. It is for
all the core institutions of bourgeois life in America: family, faith,
and flag. But it sees the state as the central organizing principle of
society, views public institutions as the most essential means by which
all these institutions are protected and advanced, and adores the head of
state as a godlike figure who knows better than anyone else what the
country and world's needs, and has a special connection to the Creator
that permits him to discern the best means to bring it about.
The American right today has managed to be solidly anti-leftist while
adopting an ideology � even without knowing it or being entirely
conscious of the change � that is also frighteningly anti-liberty. This
reality turns out to be very difficult for libertarians to understand or
accept. For a long time, we've tended to see the primary threat to
liberty as coming from the left, from the socialists who sought to
control the economy from the center. But we must also remember that the
sweep of history shows that there are two main dangers to liberty, one
that comes from the left and the other that comes from the right. Europe
and Latin America have long faced the latter threat, but its reality is
only now hitting us fully.
What is the most pressing and urgent threat to freedom that we face in
our time? It is not from the left. If anything, the left has been solid
on civil liberties and has been crucial in drawing attention to the lies
and abuses of the Bush administration. No, today, the clear and present
danger to freedom comes from the right side of the ideological spectrum,
those people who are pleased to preserve most of free enterprise but
favor top-down management of society, culture, family, and school, and
seek to use a messianic and belligerent nationalism to impose their
vision of politics on the world.
There is no need to advance the view that the enemy of my enemy is my
friend. However, it is time to recognize that the left today does
represent a counterweight to the right, just as it did in the 1950s when
the right began to adopt anti-communist militarism as its credo. In a
time when the term patriotism means supporting the nation's wars and
statism, a libertarian patriotism has more in common with that advanced
by The Nation magazine:
The other company of patriots does not march to military time. It prefers
the gentle strains of 'America the Beautiful' to the strident cadences of
'Hail to the Chief' and 'The Stars and Stripes Forever.' This patriotism
is rooted in the love of one's own land and people, love too of the best
ideals of one's own culture and tradition. This company of patriots finds
no glory in puffing their country up by pulling others' down. This
patriotism is profoundly municipal, even domestic. Its pleasures are
quiet, its services steady and unpretentious. This patriotism too has
deep roots and long continuity in our history.
Ten years ago, these were "right wing" sentiments; today the right
regards them as treasonous. What should this teach us? It shows that
those who saw the interests of liberty as being well served by the
politicized proxies of free enterprise alone, family alone, Christianity
alone, law and order alone, were profoundly mistaken. There is no proxy
for liberty, no cause that serves as a viable substitute, and no movement
by any name whose success can yield freedom in our time other than the
movement of freedom itself. We need to embrace liberty and liberty only,
and not be fooled by groups or parties or movements that only desire a
temporary liberty to advance their pet interests.
As Rothbard said in 1965:
The doctrine of liberty contains elements corresponding with both
contemporary left and right. This means in no sense that we are
middle-of-the-roaders, eclectically trying to combine, or step between,
both poles; but rather that a consistent view of liberty includes
concepts that have also become part of the rhetoric or program of right
and of left. Hence a creative approach to liberty must transcend the
confines of contemporary political shibboleths.
There has never in my lifetime been a more urgent need for the party of
liberty to completely secede from conventional thought and established
institutions, especially those associated with all aspects of government,
and undertake radical intellectual action on behalf of a third way that
rejects the socialism of the left and the fascism of the right.
Indeed, the current times can be seen as a training period for all true
friends of liberty. We need to learn to recognize the many different
guises in which tyranny appears. Power is protean because it must
suppress that impulse toward liberty that exists in the hearts of all
people. The impulse is there, tacitly waiting for the consciousness to
dawn. When it does, power doesn�t stand a chance.
Larry Brennan - Bush said he hit the Trifecta last time. What do you call
it when four of your horses come in?
Ellen - The Apocalypse?
- On Fri, 7 Jan 2005 22:17:13 -0600, The Fool <kneem@...> wrote:
> <<http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/red-state-fascism.html>>I have been noticing that what I consider true conservatives and real
> The Reality of Red-State Fascism
> by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
libertarians are more fearful of the dangers of this current
jingoistic statism of the GOP.leaders than the typically disorganized
Democratic Party. Kerry was, of course, the wrong candidate to
attract much support from these strongholds of fiscal responsibility
Gary "anti-authoritarianism" Denton