[Rushtalk] Why the Totalitarians Among Us Love Lincoln

Carl Spitzer Winblows at lavabit.com
Sat Dec 15 22:10:30 MST 2012

Why the Totalitarians Among Us Love Lincoln
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

"It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust
these clashing [political] interests, and render them all subservient to
the public good." -- James Madison, Federalist #10
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the
spirit of revenge . . . is itself a frightful despotism." -- George
Washington’s Farewell Address
"That government is best which governs least." -- Thomas Jefferson

One of the distinctive features of my book, The Real Lincoln, is that
unlike almost all other books on the subject, I portray the sixteenth
president as a real-life, flesh-and-blood politician. I quoted Murray
Rothbard, who described Lincoln as a "master politician" which, to
Rothbard, meant that he was a masterful liar, conniver, and manipulator.
I also quoted the Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer, David
Donald, as saying that Lincoln was "the master string puller" of
Illinois politics before he ran for president. He was just as motivated
by a compulsive quest for money and power as any other successful
politician, I wrote.

This drew an avalanche of condemnation and calumny from the Lincoln
cult, especially the "Straussian" neocons, who never seem to be able to
stop raising money to erect more statues of Lincoln on college campuses
and elsewhere. Even if Lincoln was a wily politician, they
condescendingly pontificated, one must first be a politician before
become a "statesman." 

All of this has changed. Various neocons are now celebrating the fact
that Lincoln was exactly as I portrayed him as being: a lying,
conniving, manipulating politician. In doing so they have finally
removed their masks and revealed themselves to be totalitarian-minded
fascists whose beliefs are patently un-American, if one compares their
beliefs to those of Washington, Madison and Jefferson as quoted at the
top of this article. The vehicle for the new neocon celebration of
Lincolnian political chicanery is Steven Spielberg’s new Lincoln movie.

Exhibit A of this totalitarian mindset is a November 22 New York Times
article by David Brooks entitled "Why We Love Politics." (Can you
imagine Washington, Madison, or Jefferson ever saying such a childish
thing?). Compared to the traditional American ideal of limited
constitutional government as espoused by the founding fathers, Brooks
continues to advocate virtually unlimited government by praising to the
treetops the "nobility of politics" that is portrayed in Steven
Spielberg’s new "Lincoln" movie. Rather than warning of "the violence of
[political] faction," as James Madison did, Brooks declares that "you
can do more good in politics than in any other sphere." Of course, "you"
can also create great "enormities" through politics, as George
Washington warned in his farewell address. The Holocaust and the South
African Apartheid system were both government programs, after all, to
name just two examples. Politics protected and even subsidized American
slavery for generations, let us not forget. It has plunged us into
myriad unnecessary wars, and all the death and destruction that goes
with it.

"Politics is the best place to develop the highest virtues," Brooks
argues, while denigrating "young people especially" who he sneers at for
being concerned more with community service than national politics. And
what are these "virtues" according to David Brooks? They are on display
in the Spielberg movie, he says, with all of Lincoln’s political
maneuverings. He heaps mountains of praise on Lincoln for being so
willing to "bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and
hypocritical;" to "take morally hazardous action"; to "ignore court
decisions, dole out patronage, play legalistic games," and
"deceive . . . supporters." The "highest virtues" indeed, New York Times

In The Road to Serfdom F.A. Hayek pointed out that a characteristic of a
totalitarian mindset, one that distinguishes it from individualism, is a
belief in the notion that "the ends justify the means." All of the worst
totalitarians of Hayek’s day espoused this view, from Stalin to Hitler
and Mussolini. To Stalin, the end of a "communist paradise" was said to
justify any means – even the murder of tens of millions of dissenters.
Petty totalitarians like David Brooks, who would probably never
personally harm a fly, also espouse this dangerous, anti-social ideology
and urge the rest of us to do so as well. Getting the Thirteenth
Amendment through Congress, the main theme of the Spielberg movie, is
said to have been "justified" by any means.

But the Spielberg Lincoln movie gets its history completely upside down.
The main story line is how Lincoln supposedly utilized every bit of his
political sleaziness to help get the Thirteenth Amendment through
Congress. This is a fiction. It never happened according to the
preeminent Lincoln scholar of our time, Harvard University’s David
Donald (See page 554 of his Pulitzer prize-winning biography of
Lincoln). In fact, the opposite was true: The genuine abolitionists in
Congress had to use their political powers to get Lincoln to voice his
support for the Thirteenth Amendment. Spielberg’s movie, based on the
book Team of Rivals by the confessed plagiarist Doris Kearns-Goodwin, is
an extraordinarily misleading work of fiction. (See my LRC review of
Goodwin’s book entitled "A Plagiarist’s Contribution to Lincoln

Lest the reader believe that I am exaggerating by using the word
"fascism" to describe the political views of neocons like David Brooks,
consider this: Among the defining characteristics of twentieth-century
European fascism were militarism; a worshipful attitude toward the state
and politics; the denigration of individual liberty, free enterprise,
and the civil society; dictatorial executive branch powers; and a
philosophy of "the common good before self interest." These are also the
defining characteristics of self-described "national greatness
conservatives" like David Brooks and William Kristol, and they explain
why they are such Lincoln idolaters.

"Politics is noble because it involves personal compromise for the
public good," Brooks writes in his New York Times column, echoing the
sentiments of Mussolini himself. "The fascist conception of life, Benito
Mussolini wrote in Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions (p. 10), "stresses
the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as
his interests coincide with the State." German fascism was based on the
identical philosophy of "the common good comes before the private good."
In German, "Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigenntz." Under fascism "the common
good" was defined for the public by politicians and their advisors. The
public never had any voice in defining what was supposedly good for it.

In a 1997 Weekly Standard cover article Brooks condemned genuine,
limited-government conservatives as being "besotted with localism, local
communities, and the devolution of power." He advocated an unlimited
expansion of the powers of the federal government for any reason
because, he said, "energetic government is good for its own sake." War –
any war – would be the most desirable way to create this "good"
according to neocons like David Brooks. All of this "greatness" is now
on display in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

In a 1997 Wall Street Journal article co-authored with William Kristol
Brooks advocated compulsory "national service" for all American youths;
a "mission" to Mars, and endless foreign policy interventionism. "It
almost doesn’t matter what great task government sets for itself," they
wrote. For "ultimately, American purpose can find its voice only in

This is an incredibly totalitarian statement, implying that there is
such a thing as one single "American voice." In reality, of course,
there are millions of different "voices" in a democracy where there is
never unanimous opinion on anything. That is why there is no such thing
as "the public interest" in the context of democratic politics. As
Ludwig von Mises wrote in Liberalism, one can argue that such
institutions as private property are in "the public interest" in that
they benefit the entire society, but this is never true of government
policy. The language of "American purpose" presumes the opposite – that
there is such a thing as unanimous political opinion. 

It is statements such as these that explain why all of the totalitarians
in our midst, i.e., those who wish to control our every behavior through
government, have such a wildly celebratory attitude toward the Spielberg
Lincoln movie. Left-wing propagandists like Doris Kearns-Goodwin, author
of hagiographies of Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedys, and Lincoln, and
right-wing propagandists like David Brooks and his fellow neocons, are
all part of a phony "team of rivals" who pose as political competitors.
In reality, they all are part of an establishment cabal that views those
of us who are "besotted" with ideas about liberty and freedom as their
true enemies and roadblocks to their own personal wealth and glory
disguised by the language of "national greatness" and mythical and false
accounts of American history.


ObombA did not win erection, Trotskite RINO Mitt Romney threw the
election.  -- Rush Limbaugh
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