Book Review—The Big Lie by Dinesh D’Souza

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Book Review—The Big Lie by Dinesh D'Souza

The sub­ti­tle of this book, Expos­ing the Nazi Roots of the Amer­i­can left, is the only thing I dis­like about this book. The state­ment is accu­rate but incom­plete because it is miss­ing the word mod­ern when refer­ring to the Amer­i­can left. Pro­gres­sivism in Amer­ica pre­dated the Nazi party and was more closely influ­enced by Ital­ian Fas­cism. Actu­ally, the fas­cism of Italy and the pro­gres­sivism of Amer­ica closely influ­enced each other and are very much related. That is well doc­u­mented in this book. A much more accu­rate sub­ti­tle would be: The inces­tu­ous rela­tion­ship between Amer­i­can Pro­gres­sivism, Fas­cism, Social­ism, and Nazism.

This book begins with a dis­cus­sion on trans­fer­ence which is accu­rate but dull. It gets much bet­ter after that. The open­ing chap­ter doc­u­ments the explo­sion of calls that Pres­i­dent Trump and con­ser­v­a­tives are Fas­cist and Nazis, and how these accu­sa­tions have been used as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for acts of vio­lence against Trump sup­port­ers at ral­lies and against speak­ers on the polit­i­cal right.

The Big Lie most cor­rectly points out that fas­cism, Nazism, pro­gres­sivism, social­ism, and com­mu­nism are all related and on the polit­i­cal left. D’Souza uses two authors that I have read exten­sively to back up this claim — FA Hayek and Jonah Gol­berg. Here are three quotes, the first is from page 23 and the other two are from page 24:

Hayek iden­ti­fied Fas­cism as a phe­nom­e­non of the Left, a cousin of social­ism and progressivism

Gol­berg traces innu­mer­able links between pro­gres­sivism and fas­cism, spelling out the left wing laun­dry list in both the plat­forms of Mus­solini and Hitler, and then show­ing their par­al­lel in mod­ern progressivism.

Hayek and Gold­berg are the start­ing point for my book. But I go much fur­ther and delve into areas of inquiry untouched by them.

D’Souza doc­u­ments how the Nazis actu­ally learned very neg­a­tive lessons from the Amer­i­can left. Here is one from page 27

Forced ster­il­iza­tion and euthana­sia aimed at elim­i­nat­ing racial “defec­tives” and pro­duc­ing a “supe­rior” Nordic race were two addi­tional schemes the Nazis got from Amer­i­can progressives.

Chap­ter 2 is devoted to the dis­tor­tion of the polit­i­cal spec­trum. D’Souza doc­u­ments how the polit­i­cal spec­trum used by most jour­nal­ists and the gen­eral pub­lic is mean­ing­less because it was based on seat­ing arrange­ments dur­ing the French rev­o­lu­tion, where those who sup­ported the ideals monar­chy sat on the right and those who opposed it sat on the left. He dis­cusses a more accu­rate polit­i­cal spec­trum which is based on the com­po­nents of the polit­i­cal philoso­phies and the effects they have on the size and scope of the gov­ern­ment that imple­ments them. Here are quotes from pages 31 thru 34 page which illus­trate the dif­fer­ences between con­ser­v­a­tives, which are on the actual polit­i­cal right, and pro­gres­sives, which are on the polit­i­cal left.

The Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion was char­ac­ter­ized by three basic free­doms: eco­nomic free­dom or cap­i­tal­ism, polit­i­cal free­dom or con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy, and free­dom of speech and religion.

By lim­it­ing state power con­ser­v­a­tives seek among other things to pro­tect the right of the peo­ple to keep the fruits of their own labor

The left in Amer­ica is defined by its hos­til­ity to the restric­tions placed by the founders on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. That’s why left­ists reg­u­larly deplore con­sti­tu­tional restraints on gov­ern­ment power, pro­claim­ing the con­sti­tu­tion woe­fully out of date and call­ing to adopt instead a liv­ing Constitution…

.„pro­gres­sives dis­trust the free mar­ket sys­tem and want the gov­ern­ment to con­trol and direct the econ­omy, not nec­es­sar­ily nation­al­iz­ing or tak­ing over pri­vate com­pa­nies, but at least reg­u­lat­ing their oper­a­tions and on occa­sion man­dat­ing their courses of action.

Also in this chap­ter D’Souza intro­duces read­ers to Gio­vanni Gen­tile of Italy, who was the father of fas­cism. His prin­ci­ples of fas­cism included: oppo­si­tion to indi­vid­ual rights, the belief that he State is far more impor­tant than the indi­vid­ual, there is no dis­tinc­tion between pri­vate and pub­lic inter­ests, and con­trol of busi­nesses through reg­u­la­tion. Dis­cussed in great detail is how Mus­solini imple­mented fascism.

Chap­ter 2 fin­ishes up with a dis­cus­sion how the orig­i­nal plat­form of the Nazi party resem­bled the plat­form cham­pi­oned by pro­gres­sives. Here is a quote from page 60.

The Nazi party at the out­set offered a twenty-​five point pro­gram that included the nation­al­iza­tion of large cor­po­ra­tions and trusts, gov­ern­ment con­trol of bank­ing and credit…universal health care and education.

Chap­ter 3 dis­cusses how Mus­solini tran­si­tioned from social­ist to fas­cist, which is com­mon because of the fail­ures of social­ism, includ­ing the fact that it did not hap­pen in wealthy nations

Chap­ter 4 doc­u­ments Amer­i­can pro­gres­sive ideas that inspir­ited Nazis. Dis­cussed and doc­u­mented is the fact that the Indian removal under Demo­c­rat Andrew Jack­son served as a model for the Nazi Leben­sraum. It was noted that slave plan­ta­tions in the Demo­c­rat con­trolled US South were sim­i­lar to Nazi work camps, but there was no doc­u­mented link.

Chap­ter 5 is titled The Orig­i­nal Racists. This chap­ter opens with the fol­low­ing quote. which is from Racism a Short His­tory by George Fredrickson.

it was with the pas­sage of the Nurem­berg Laws in 1935 that Ger­many became a full fledged racist régime. Amer­i­can Laws were the for­eign prece­dents for such legislation.

Here are two quotes from this chap­ter which are found on page 132 and 133:

Racism, of course, pre­ceded the Demo­c­rat Party but the Democ­rats, in a sense, invented polit­i­cal racism in the early 19th cen­tury to defend slavery.

Even after slav­ery ended , Democ­rats found racism to be very useful…They con­structed a whole ide­ol­ogy, and struc­ture of white supremacy in order to estab­lish their polit­i­cal dom­i­na­tion of the south.

This chap­ter also doc­u­ments the sim­i­lar­i­ties between the KKK and brown shirts includ­ing the fact that the Brown Shirts and Klan con­sid­ered them­selves to be cham­pi­ons of social justice

Chap­ter 8, Pol­i­tics of Intim­i­da­tion, illus­trates the Nazi roots of mod­ern Amer­i­can pro­gres­sivism. D’Souza doc­u­ments on page 202, that polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is the pro­gres­sive equiv­a­lent of Nazi Gle­ich­schal­tung, which was the “doc­trine of polit­i­cal uni­for­mity and social con­trol.“ The most damming evi­dence that mod­ern pro­gres­sivism has its roots in Nazism is cen­tered around this quote on page 204

Ever since the pub­li­ca­tion of his opus, Being and time, Mar­tin Heidegger’s phi­los­o­phy has been widely influ­en­tial. Specif­i­cally, it pro­vides intel­lec­tual ground­ing for a whole series of pro­gres­sive causes.

D’Souza dis­cusses how this work inspired the left­ist aca­d­e­mic move­ment called decon­struc­tion­ism. Hei­deg­ger was an envi­ron­men­tal­ist, anti– cap­i­tal­ist, and founder of iden­tity pol­i­tics. This work also inspired the belief that free­dom of speech is a myth and offen­sive speech should be met by vio­lence. As you can see, Hei­deg­ger, who was a Nazi, pro­vided the intel­lec­tual basis for polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and Antifa.

In the chap­ter Denaz­i­fi­ca­tion, D’Souza dis­cusses how the big lie, blam­ing con­ser­v­a­tives for the sins of left­ists, was cre­ated and spread by acad­e­mia, the news media, and Hollywood.

This book is extremely well doc­u­mented and well writ­ten. I have encoun­tered all of the sub­ject mat­ter many times before. I only take issue with sev­eral solu­tions to the Big Lie that D’Souza shares in the final chap­ter. His solu­tions are based a bit too much on anger rather logic and prin­ci­ple. It is a book most def­i­nitely worth buy­ing and read­ing more than once.

The subtitle of this book, Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American left, is the only thing I dislike about this book.  The statement is accurate but incomplete because it is missing the word modern when referring to the American left.  Progressivism in America predated the Nazi party and was more closely influenced by Italian Fascism.  Actually, the fascism of Italy and the progressivism of America closely influenced each other and are very much related.  That is well documented in this book.  A much more accurate subtitle would be: The incestuous relationship between American Progressivism, Fascism, Socialism, and Nazism.

This book begins with a discussion on transference which is accurate but dull.  It gets much better after that.  The opening chapter  documents the explosion of calls that President Trump and conservatives are Fascist and Nazis, and how these accusations have been used as justification for acts of violence against Trump supporters at rallies and against speakers on the political right.

The Big Lie most correctly points out that fascism, Nazism, progressivism, socialism, and communism are all related and on the political left.  D’Souza uses two authors that I have read extensively to back up this claim – FA Hayek and Jonah Golberg.  Here are three quotes, the first is from page 23 and the other two are from page 24:

Hayek identified Fascism as a phenomenon of the Left, a cousin of socialism and progressivism

Golberg traces innumerable links between progressivism and fascism, spelling out the left wing laundry list in both the platforms of Mussolini and Hitler, and then showing their parallel in modern progressivism.

Hayek and Goldberg are the starting point for my book. But I go much further and delve into areas of inquiry untouched by them.

D’Souza documents how the Nazis actually learned very negative lessons from the American left.  Here is one from page 27

Forced sterilization and euthanasia aimed at eliminating racial “defectives” and producing a “superior” Nordic race were two additional schemes the Nazis got from American progressives.

Chapter 2 is devoted to the distortion of the political spectrum.  D’Souza documents how the political spectrum used by most journalists and the general public is meaningless because it was based on seating arrangements during the French revolution, where those who supported the ideals monarchy sat on the right and those who opposed it sat on the left.  He discusses a more accurate political spectrum which is based on the components of the political philosophies and the effects they have on the size and scope of the government that implements them.  Here are quotes from pages 31 thru 34 page which illustrate the differences between conservatives, which are on the actual political right, and progressives, which are on the political left.

The American Revolution was characterized by three basic freedoms: economic freedom or capitalism, political freedom or constitutional democracy, and freedom of speech and religion.

By limiting state power conservatives seek among other things to protect the right of the people to keep the fruits of their own labor

The left in America is defined by its hostility to the restrictions placed  by the founders on the federal government.  That’s why leftists regularly deplore constitutional restraints on government power, proclaiming the constitution woefully out of date and calling to adopt instead a living Constitution…

.,,progressives distrust the free market system and want the government to control and direct the economy, not necessarily nationalizing or taking over private companies, but at least regulating their operations  and on occasion mandating their courses of action.

Also in this chapter D’Souza introduces readers to Giovanni Gentile of Italy, who was the father of fascism.  His principles of fascism included: opposition to individual rights, the belief that he State is far more important than the individual, there is no distinction between private and public interests, and control of businesses through regulation.   Discussed in great detail is how Mussolini implemented fascism.

Chapter 2 finishes up with a discussion how the original platform of the Nazi party resembled the platform championed by progressives.  Here is a quote from page 60.

The Nazi party at the outset offered a twenty-five point program that included the nationalization of large corporations and trusts, government control of banking and credit…universal health care and education.

Chapter 3 discusses how Mussolini transitioned from socialist to fascist, which is common because of the failures of socialism, including the fact that it did not happen in wealthy nations

Chapter 4 documents American progressive ideas that inspirited Nazis.  Discussed and documented is the fact that the Indian removal under Democrat Andrew Jackson served as a model for the Nazi Lebensraum.  It was noted that slave plantations in the Democrat controlled  US South were similar to Nazi work camps, but there was no documented link.

Chapter 5 is titled  The Original Racists.  This chapter opens with the following quote. which is from Racism a Short History by George Fredrickson.

it was with the passage of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 that Germany became a full fledged racist regime.  American Laws were the foreign precedents for such legislation.

Here are two quotes from this chapter which are found on page 132 and 133:

Racism, of course, preceded the Democrat Party but the Democrats, in a sense, invented political racism in the early 19th century to defend slavery.

Even after slavery ended , Democrats found racism to be very useful…They constructed a whole ideology, and structure of white supremacy in order to establish their political domination of the south.

This chapter also documents the similarities between the KKK and brown shirts including the fact that the Brown Shirts and Klan considered themselves to be champions of social justice

Chapter 8, Politics of Intimidation, illustrates the Nazi roots of modern American progressivism.  D’Souza documents on page 202, that political correctness is the progressive equivalent of Nazi Gleichschaltung, which was the “doctrine of political uniformity and social control.“   The most damming evidence that modern progressivism has its roots in Nazism is centered around this quote on page 204

Ever since the publication of his opus, Being and time, Martin Heidegger’s philosophy has been widely influential.  Specifically, it provides intellectual grounding for a whole series of progressive causes.

D’Souza discusses how this work inspired the leftist academic movement called deconstructionism.  Heidegger was an environmentalist, anti- capitalist, and founder of identity politics.  This work also inspired the belief that freedom of speech is a myth and offensive speech should be met by violence.  As you can see, Heidegger, who was a Nazi, provided the intellectual basis for political correctness and Antifa.

In the chapter Denazification, D’Souza discusses how the big lie, blaming conservatives for the sins of leftists, was created and spread by academia, the news media, and Hollywood.

This book is extremely well documented and well written.  I have encountered all of the subject matter many times before.  I only take issue with several solutions to the Big Lie that D’Souza  shares in the final chapter.   His solutions are based a bit too much on anger rather logic and principle.  It is a book most definitely worth buying and reading more than once.