THE BIG LIE: EXPOSING THE NAZI ROOTS OF THE AMERICAN LEFT
By Dinesh D’Souza
Regnery Publishing, $29.99, 256 pages
If you look at a political spectrum, the far right is normally associated with the Italian Fascists and German Nazi Party. Yet, the former’s leader, Benito Mussolini, started off as a socialist — and the full name of Adolf Hitler’s outfit, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, contained left-wing themes.
That’s why some conservatives have long argued the left has fascist and Nazi roots. Ronald Reagan famously told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 1975, “If fascism ever comes to America, it will come in the name of liberalism.”
Liberals and socialists refuse to acknowledge a fascist/Nazi connection. Dinesh D’Souza’s intriguing new book, “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left,” may force the left to finally come to terms with the fact that, in certain cases, this unusual connection exists.
“Mussolini and Hitler both identified socialism as the core of the fascist and Nazi weltanschauung,” writes the author. That’s a historical fact, but left-wing thinkers didn’t want this association to become part of general discourse. “Taking a cue from Marxists,” Mr. D’Souza notes, “the left resolved as early as the 1960s to suppress altogether the fact that fascism and Nazism were systems of thought.” This made it easier for the American left to facetiously claim the American right are “twenty-first century fascists and Nazis.”
It’s not accurate. The right supports the American Revolution’s three fundamental principles: “economic freedom or capitalism, political freedom or constitutional democracy, and freedom of speech and religion.” Conservatives, libertarians and other right-leaning individuals are, therefore, the true champions of small government, low taxes, and more individual rights and freedoms.
The left, on the other hand, “regards the federal government as the friend and securer of rights.” Progressives also “distrust the free-market system and want the government to control and direct the economy,” and “seek government authority to enforce and institutionalize progressive values like federally funded abortion and equal treatment of gays and transsexuals.”
In Mr. D’Souza’s view, it’s the left, as represented by the Democratic Party, who are the “real fascists in American politics.”
“The Big Lie” includes many interesting (and controversial) examples that tie the left to Nazism and fascism. Chapters on Hitler and Mussolini expose their socialist credentials and surprising admiration for Democrats. The author argues “Hitler’s specific program of Lebensraum,” which guided his ambition to wage war and expand his territory, “appears to have been inspired by the nineteenth-century policies and practices of the Democratic Party in America.” In particular, President Andrew Jackson’s support for genocide and slavery.
Meanwhile, the roots of Hitler’s anti-Semitism were triggered after he “attended a lecture by the German leftist economist Gottfried Feder, who later became a National Socialist.” Feder’s distinction between productive capitalism (“making things that have actual value”) and finance capitalism (“based on usury, which is to say, on fraud”) intrigued Hitler. Moreover, he had “added enthusiasm” because “Feder associated productive capitalism with honest Germans and finance capitalism with nefarious Jews.”
With respect to Democrats, Mr. D’Souza describes Franklin D. Roosevelt as “the inventor of American fascism,” and Woodrow Wilson as his “proto-fascist predecessor.” While many call FDR “the forerunner of today’s self-styled progressive anti-fascists,” he believes “FDR and his modern-day progeny are far closer to fascism and Nazism than they care to admit.” In his view, “FDR is the one who set the modern left on its fascist road.”
Alas, it’s true some progressives and Democratic supporters (of Wilson and FDR) either respected or admired Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s. This included Gertrude Stein, who felt Hitler was the “most deserving candidate” for the 1937 Nobel Peace Prize, and W.E.B. DuBois, who believed Hitler’s dictatorship style was “absolutely necessary to get the state in order.”
There’s more. FDR “worked closely with the racists in the Democratic Party to advance their agenda even as they helped him advance his.” He appointed Hugo Black, a former Ku Klux Klan member, to the Supreme Court. He blocked anti-lynching bills brought forward by Republicans, “cut blacks out of most New Deal programs including Social Security and unemployment benefits,” and kept 120,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.
No one is obviously suggesting the entire Democratic left were, and are, fascists and Nazis. But it’s time for them to realize these historical links did exist in their party and movement. Maybe they’ll even agree Fascism and Nazism aren’t as perfectly suited to the far right as they either thought or hoped.
• Michael Taube is a contributor to The Washington Times.
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