The comments below are right insofar as I joined into Dr. Pat Deneen’s polemic against Fascism.

Nonetheless, it’s true that Brad Thompson does pretty much call Strauss and some Straussians at least something close to Fascists. The allegation amount to this: Anyone who promotes personal identification with the nation—or cultivates authentic citizenship—is a Fascist. I actually agree that some Straussians have been too much about national greatness and civic or political religion. But we wouldn’t call Churchill or Lincoln Fascists, would we? I wouldn’t call Plato a Fascist (although Brad certainly suggests that).

And I don’t deny the reality of progressivism having Fascist tendencies in past. You can see them in progressive eugenics, as I’ve said. But nobody is for eugenics for the benefit of the nation or the species or whatever now. Eugenics today has become personal. All of our trendy philosophy—Rawls, Rorty, etc.—is oriented around the perpetuation and flourishing of the person. Liberals globally are all about rights being the bottom line; the error of the past—the one that produced wars, oppression, religion, and such—was thinking of oneself as a part of something bigger or greater or more important than oneself. The individual or person has displaced the parent, the citizen, the creature etc. (see all the autonomy or emo personal self-definition stuff in LAWRENCE v. TEXAS, for example).

Obama is not a Fascist. McCain, in his most dramatic moments, is not a Fascist. National greatness Straussians aren’t Fascists. I’m sticking with those conclusions. The libertarians are winning folks.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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