In my last column, I offered a handy, pocket definition of fascism as exhibiting three main traits: extreme nationalism, authoritarianism, and a state-run economy. Basically, I was laying a foundation for this essay, in which I argue that the Left’s response to COVID-19 is literally fascist.
Several readers wrote to suggest additional markers of fascism, like disdain for individual rights, obsession with security, suppression of information, and glorification of the military. Most of those are either subsumed under my original list or else characteristic of all totalitarian regimes, or both. After all, fascists have no monopoly on nationalism or authoritarianism. Just ask the ChiComs.
Perhaps that’s because fascism is close kin to both socialism and communism, the third of Karl Marx’s hideous ideological offspring. Like those other evil –isms, it is based on a collectivist approach to governance that puts the interests of the state ahead of those of the citizen. That, of course, is in direct conflict with the liberal (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) belief in the sanctity and sovereignty of the individual, which is the foundation of Western culture going back at least to ancient Greece.
In a fascist economy, however, rather than owning the means of production (as in communist countries), the state “merely” controls the means of production by dictating to the ostensible “owners” what they can and can’t do. Essentially, under fascism, the government picks economic winners and losers. Authoritarianism then arises naturally from the fact that people don’t like being dictated to, as is historically the case with all forms of leftist state control. Leaders can exercise unchecked power over an economy — which is to say, over people — only, ultimately, by force.
Using my definition, then, under which the American and European left meet at least two of the three criteria — a lust for state control over the economy and a penchant for authoritarianism — their response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a textbook example of fascism at work.
First, as implemented by Democrat governors across the nation — and as promised by our newly-installed president — leftist COVID-19 policy has been undeniably authoritarian, with forced lockdowns, mask mandates, church closures, limits on family gatherings, etc. In fact, in many locales (although thankfully not where I live), those measures have crossed the line from merely authoritarian to actually totalitarian. Witness the fines, arrests, and calls for neighbors and family members to rat each other out — all conditions you would expect to find in a communist or fascist dictatorship but not in the United States of America.
But of course, it’s all for our own good, right? Maybe. Personally, I’m not convinced any of those extreme measures actually have much benefit — and the real science appears to bear me out, as the highly-credible, impeccably-credentialed authors of “The Great Barrington Declaration” make clear. Even the leftist media suddenly appears to be at least entertaining the idea that lockdowns might not work. Hmmm. Why the sudden about-face?
But I digress. More to the point, everything dictators do has always been “for the greater good,” at least according to them — although the millions slaughtered as a result of their “benign” policies in Nazi Germany, the USSR, China, Cambodia, and Cuba might disagree.
Beyond that, the left’s COVID-19 policy is demonstrably fascist in that it exerts government control over our economy, decreeing which businesses can stay open and for how long, which ones must close, how many customers they can serve, and when. Essentially, under the guise of protecting us from a disease most of us won’t get, much less die from, left-leaning pols and unelected bureaucrats are gleefully sorting out economic winners and losers.
And who are the big winners in the COVID-19 sweepstakes? Why, those businesses whose leaders have made it clear that they are totally onboard with leftist rule: Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Walmart. The losers, meanwhile, are small businesses that tend to be more conservative and in any case don’t have the clout to promote favored policies.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?