The Temptation of Totalitarianism

As we come to the end of Liberal Fascism, Goldberg first provides us a quick review before providing a warning to Conservatives. There are two passages that, to me, sum up both how we got here and the dangers involved.

Here is the first:

[L]iberalism in this country succumbed to the totalitarian temptation: the belief that there is a priesthood of experts capable of redesigning society in a “progressive” manner. That progressive priesthood brooks no opposition, and it is in the ascendant today on many fronts.

We can readily see the truth in this when we examine the actions of progressives on a myriad of issues. Whether it is Climate Change or Health Insurance, progressives have a plan, whether you like it or not. To disagree, is to admit to being a lower being, a denier, a regressive monster.

For the second, Goldberg paraphrases Chesterton:

[T]he danger of an America which stops believing in itself isn’t that it will believe in nothing but that it can believe in anything. And that’s where the darker dystopian visions start becoming plausible. Like useful idiots of yore, todays liberals want nothing but the best, but by pushing open the door to get it, they may well let in something far worse.

We see this lack of belief in America on display almost daily in the statements and actions of those on the left, and to an extent, the right. For those of us who still believe in America, we must be on guard not to fall to the temptations that other ideologies have.

Goldberg identifies three temptations that conservatives, more so moderate Republicans, must be vigilant against. Nostalgia, me-to conservatism and identity politics.

Nostalgia within Republican and conservative ideology must be held in it’s proper place. Traditional virtues and family values are necessary for a functioning nation, lest we allow rot to spread from within. At the same time, as Goldberg correctly points out, “conservatives get in trouble when we try to translate these sentiments into political programs at the national level“.

Now, I know some So-Cons might get their dander up at that statement, but the reality is that too many issues have become Federal issues. This isn’t to our advantage. Once we yield power to the Federal government it’s rarely yielded back. Additionally, I truly believe that So-Cons would see more wins at the State level, as we saw in CA with the Prop 8 battle.

Next we have me-too conservatism. Me-too conservatism is best represented in today’s politics by none other than the 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, although in many ways Pres. Bush is a very close second. I am not going to spend a whole lot of time proving this point, if you haven’t caught on to this by now then you haven’t really been paying attention. Suffice to say, as Goldberg did, me-too conservatism is no kind of conservatism at all.

Lastly, identity politics. Back during the heat of the 2008 general election campaign, we saw many comments here on RS from members who have since moved on, or at least stopped commenting, about how we must cater to this group or that group. All of them were and are wrong. There is no reason to cater to any group if the benefits of the ideology you espouse isn’t limited to any one group. Such is the case with conservatism.

As we enter the 2010 campaign season in full force and begin reviewing candidates and potential candidates, please remind yourselves of these pitfalls.

I will end this with one more quote from the book, in which Goldberg does his best Buckley impression:

For at some point it is necessary to throw down the gauntlet, to draw a line in the sand, to set a boundary, to cry at long last, “Enough is enough.” To stand athwart “progress” and yell, “Stop!”

Aaron B. Gardner