Glenn Beck has a special "documentary" he's going to show his audience today on Fox News titled "Live Free Or Die," and what's evident is that the entire show is going to be predicated on expanding on Jonah Goldberg's fraudulent thesis in his bestselling book, Liberal Fascism, namely, that fascism is "properly understood" as "a phenomenon of the left."
What's apparent is that Beck intends to leap from this fraudulent beginning to the bizarre conclusion that the progressive movement has always produced genocide -- mostly by equating fascists with communists with progressives, which is part of the underlying illogic of Goldberg's thesis. It seems he will be promoting the conclusion that President Obama is leading America on a path to genocide as well.
Indeed, anyone who's been watching Beck's show the past year is aware that his continually building thesis about Obama -- that he is secretly a black radical Marxist/fascist/socialist/whateverist intent on creating a totalitarian regime in America -- is largely built on Liberal Fascism and its thesis. Beck has
had Goldberg on numerous times to promote the fraud. And his long-running attacks on the progressive movement as the "cancer" destroying the country -- which has been the entire point of Beck's show this week, including the conclusion that progressives may try to assassinate Obama if he moves to the center -- have been nakedly drawn straight from Goldberg's Planet Bizarro version of history. (The giveaway has been Beck's running insistence that Woodrow Wilson is at the root of this evil.)
Towards the end of yesterday's segment, Beck fretted that "the academic wing" of the progressive movement was going to attack him viciously for his "documentary." Goldberg notes that he's faced the same for his book -- though in reality, academics have been largely silent on the subject of Liberal Fascism.
That, however, is about to end.
I've already explained in some depth exactly why Goldberg's thesis is so profoundly dishonest, especially when it comes to the mountain of historical facts that contradict his claims, which he simply elides. But I'm not an academic -- just a journalist who has real-life experience writing about real American fascists.
Academic historians, in fact, have tended to shy away from tackling Goldberg's book, precisely because it is such an obvious work of propagandistic polemics, and his methodology so shabby, that they haven't considered the work (such as it is) contained therein to be worthy of academic consideration.
But because Goldberg's fraudulent thesis has now become conventional wisdom on the American Right -- and particularly among the Tea Party set, where signs equating liberals to fascists and Obama to Hitler have become commonplace -- many historians, especially those who have specialized in the serious study of fascism, have come to the realization that calling out Goldberg for his fraud is long overdue.
To that end, I began organizing last fall a series of essays from academic historians and political scientists critiquing Liberal Fascism. The essays are now ready, and this Monday, Jan. 25, they will be presented at History News Network.
In addition to my introductory essay, there will be essays by four widely acknowledged experts on fascism:
-- Robert O. Paxton, professor emeritus at Columbia University and the author of The Anatomy of Fascism.
-- Roger Griffin, professor of political science at Oxford Brookes and the author of The Nature of Fascism.
-- Matthew Feldman, professor of history at University of Northampton, and a co-editor of several academic texts on fascism.
-- Chip Berlet, senior researcher at Political Research Associates and the co-author (with Matthew Lyons) of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort.
Beck will probably believe this response from academics is inspired by his show today, but only in a purely accidental sense: It's been in the works for some months now, and was more inspired by the broad absorption of Goldberg's thesis as conventional wisdom -- of which Beck's constant promotion of it is a not-insignificant part. Let's just say the timing will indeed be serendipitous.
Incidentally, Beck gave us a little preview of the "documentary" on his Tuesday show:
This is going to be such a vicious and historically skewed misrepresentation of "the progressive movement" that it looks like it will go down in the annals of fraudulent history.
I especially got quite a chuckle out of the chryons Beck's show displayed during yesterday's promotion, such as this one:
Talk about projection.
I've previously discussed what Beck leaves out when it comes to the history of the progressive movement and its real historical impact:
The United States has always been an essentially capitalist economic system. However, we have experienced periods in our history where this system has seriously malfunctioned, and we've made adjustments accordingly that have largely worked well making things better.
One of those dysfunctional periods came at about the turn of the last century, when McKinley was president, corrupt robber barons ran Congress, and the latter-day version of "strict constructionists" ruled the courts. "Laissez faire" capitalism ruled, and America was functionally an oligarchy.
Squeezed out were the working people: the average workweek was 80 hours, there were no weekends, no vacation, only a few holidays, and the barest minimum of pay. Benefits and health care were unheard of. Child labor was the rule.
What happened between then and now? "Progressives" began agitating for better working conditions, and began organizing as labor unions. After a long period of violent repression, these reforms gradually became government policy -- especially in the 1930s under FDR. Americans began getting 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, paid vacations and benefits.
Probably the most significant and lasting legacy of this period of "progressive" innovation was the progressive tax code. It has been a feature of the income tax since its institution in 1913. Who was one of its original champions? Theodore Roosevelt.
The fact is that the United States -- like nearly every single Western capitalist democracy -- is a variable blend of socialism and capitalism, free-enterprise economies with regulatory restraints and modest income redistribution. The result of those "progressive" reforms from 1900-1940 was the birth of the great American middle class and the quality of life we have enjoyed so long we've forgotten what it was like not to have it. People like Glenn Beck seem never even to have learned.
Indeed, when right-wingers like Beck and Goldberg attack "evil progressivism," it sounds a lot like they want us to return to the bad old days under McKinley, when American workers were indentured servants to the wealthy.
Of course, maybe now that they're both wealthy men, there's a simple explanation for that.
I think I can pretty much guarantee that Beck's "documentary" shows none of this history.