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.