The Lockdown’s Reichstag Firefighters Are Fascist … in the NEGATIVE Sense
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. “Fascist … in the negative sense” is a line I used to drop on my way out of campus coffee shops. At my wits’ end — after hours of overhearing progressives’ oversharing, as they yawped moralistic jargon at full Yankee volume — I’d settle the check and get to the door with my friends. Then speak my line both casually and loudly, apropos of nothing. And I’d head for the hills, listening for the sound of heads exploding behind me.
I don’t know that it did any good. But it helped me keep my dignity. It was only while doing research for my book on the anti-Nazi hero Wilhelm Röpke that I learned the ugly truth. My line had a real application. There really was a time when some U.S. progressives saw fascism as an option. Architects of the New Deal cited Mussolini’s “progress” in Italy, and Franklin Roosevelt asked to meet “that admirable Italian gentleman.”
Elites were entranced by Il Duce’s robust control over business and centralization of power in the hands of appointed “experts.” They would “coordinate” and “rationalize” the “anarchic” forces of the market economy. Then enact a “scientific” plan that would trump the free decisions of millions of citizens.
Elites Want to Plan Our Lives for Us
In other words, they’d offer all the “benefits” of full-on socialism, while keeping the fig leaf of private ownership of property. That’s why in many senses it’s wiser to situate fascism on the left, just a few notches shy of Communism. Over on the right? You wouldn’t see “National Socialists,” but traditional societies with comparatively weak states. For instance, medieval monarchies and aristocratic republics, like the one our founders launched in 1776.
In the 1920s and 30s, elites got deeply intoxicated with the illusion that they could regiment human beings like machines on a factory floor. (See Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, for satiric critiques of that vision.) Collectivists didn’t realize that the price system organizes human cooperation with infinitely less waste and more robust information. It builds wealth and keeps us free without treating human beings — the image of God — like scurrying termites. Or cringing slaves.
Rule by Decree
Our elites today trust the common man even less than their forebears did in the 1930s. They’ve spent the past three years trying to overturn our votes for Donald Trump, via Deep State coup.
And now when we look to blue states, we see how eager they are to strip our liberties. This time their pretext is far more dangerous. It’s one thing when people try to close your business or silence you because of some “social justice” blather. You can argue against that and sometimes win. Your fellow voters, at least in America, know that the economy doesn’t amount to squabbling over slices of a fixed pie baked by the government.
Dissidents Are Like Viruses
Much more sinister is the new excuse used by the Reichstag Firefighters who have suspended our Constitution. It taps primal fears, and reawakens pre-civilized instincts of scapegoating and contagion. Those who employ it virtually erase the human personhood of citizens, and treat us with even less dignity than worker bees in a hive. More like mindless cells in some animal organ.
I’m talking about Public Health Totalitarianism. I first became aware of this while reading a book on the Second Amendment. If you haven’t seen it you need to.
Public Health Instead of Freedom
The title is First They Came for the Gunowners. The author, Mark Smith, points out that leftists who detest American individualism and distrust constitutional freedoms like to play bait and switch. They’ll take a social problem caused by free human beings affected by original sin, and pretend that it’s a disease, like those caused by microbes.
Then they’ll use the logic of quarantines, disease prevention, and medical precaution, to trample any questions about justice, freedom, or fundamental rights. So gun crimes go through this filter and get transformed into “gun violence.” (And the numbers get inflated, to include suicides, and legitimate self-defense or police shootings.)
Instead of gun ownership as a basic constitutional right, to be protected within sane limits, these think-tanks want us to see them as viruses. And gun rights advocates as Typhoid Marys, callously spreading a mindless and deadly illness through the population. Look at the abuse Dana Loesch took at CNN’s absurdly stacked, Soviet-courtroom style “Town Hall” after the Parkland shootings. (She endured death and rape threats for many weeks, which drove her from her home.) Dehumanize the enemy, treat him as a virus, and all bets are off.
Be Silent and Comply
Now the left is using that same rhetorical trick to dehumanize everyone who worries about crashing our economy and starving the Developing World. It worked pretty well for guns. Why not take it out for a test-drive, see if it can destroy capitalism too? And Trump of course. Orange Man Bad.
What gets lost when Public Health replaces liberty and the common good as the government’s focus? The individual dignity of every human being. Then a Left hungry for power goads panic among the population. Credentialed “experts” gain the power to censor their professional rivals, perhaps by getting their videos banned from virtually every medium. Politicians drunk with their newfound rule by decree scapegoat their critics. Pretty soon, those who dissent find themselves getting treated not just as virus-spreaders, but in fact as viruses themselves, instead of people.
You know, the way Hitler compared Jews to plague bacilli.