People Who Know What They’re Talking About

After my post last week on the need for columnists who know something about the history of political ideology, it is refreshing to see these two pieces in the Boston Globe.

The conservative cries of fascism…:

Make no mistake, however: Cries of fascism are fast emerging as the favored conservative criticism of the Obama administration. You can see why: Given its inextricable link to Mussolini and Hitler, fascism carries no end of unsavory connotations. And, of course, charges of socialism haven’t stuck to Obama.

But wait. Where is the extreme militaristic nationalism that the Encyclopedia Britannica tells us is fundamental to fascism? The contempt for electoral democracy and cultural liberalism? The effort to subordinate the individual to an authoritarian state?

Those are matters an intelligent commentator would want to consider before invoking the term.

…and socialism:

Still, branding someone as a socialist has become the slur du jour by members of the American right, from Newt Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh. Some, like Mike Huckabee, intentionally blur the differences between socialism and communism, between democracy and totalitarianism.

If we could get beyond such nonsense, I think this country could use a good debate about what goes on here compared with places with a long social-democratic tradition like Sweden, Norway, and Finland, where, by and large, the middle class has a far higher standard of living.

Kudos to the Globe for a healthy dose of realty in an unreal debate (and, of course, to Bernie Sanders for speaking unpopular truths).

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