The blog war of the week is between Andrew Sullivan and Johah Goldberg on whether conservatives are fascists. To be exact, conservatives are not fascists, although they share many common traits. While Sullivan might technically be incorrect if he calls conservatives fascists, he wins the debate with Goldberg in showing some of the authoritarian traits of conservativism while Goldberg has no meaningful rebuttal. Sullivan wrote:
What American ‘conservatism’ has become fits closely within the definition of fascism: an intensely nationalist movement intent on defining membership in the ‘nation’ on linguistic, religious, and (increasingly) ethnic/racial criteria, accompanied by an unquestioning loyalty to (male) authority, enshrined in family leaders, business leaders, religious leaders, and especially, the leader of the nation, who is seen as embodying the Nation. Loyalty to the Party or Movement and its ideology is of great importance. Violence is the preferred means of accomplishing goals. Diplomacy, compromise, negotiation, are all identified with (feminine) weakness. The rule of law is also despised, because it lacks the immediacy of (violent) action, and its emphasis on balance and its concern with proper procedure is also seen as a sign of (feminine) weakness.
This is the outcome of the bargain the GOP made with the Devil back when it decided to go for the Wallace voters after the ’68 and ’72 elections. Kevin Phillips has repented a hundred times over for counseling the Southern Strategy, but too late. The GOP has discovered that when you sell your soul to the Devil, the only question is when does the Devil come to collect? Well, he’s come.
There are many other valid comparisons between fascism and modern conservativism which Sullivan left out, but this is only one blog post and he has addressed some of the others at other times. In conservativism we see manipulation of public opinion with mass propaganda. We see militarism, even when their military adventures ultimately undermine our national security. Creating a state of perpetual warfare has become more important than the effects of their adventures. The collusion between business and political leaders seen under the Republicans is also more a characteristic of fascism than capitalism, while the conservative propaganda machine labels those who support a restoration of capitalism as “socialists.”
Goldberg responds by arguing that “the conservative base is braying about how Bush has betrayed them and the party has lost its way” for his support of the immigration bill. Conservatives, who have generally backed Bush regardless of the damage he has done to the country, and regardless of his authoritarian policies, have placed their xenophobia above following Bush on this one matter. That’s hardly a meaningful defense of the authoritarian right.