Via a post by Jonah Goldberg about one of his critics, I found this big pile of crap at the History News Network: Poor Scholarship, Wrong Conclusions by Matthew Feldman
After a paragraph about Feldman's credentials, he opens with this:
"Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere," proclaimed Mussolini in his co-written The Doctrine of Fascism from 1932, for this is the century of authority, a century tending to the "right", a Fascist century. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the "collective" century, and therefore the century of the State. It is quite logical for a new doctrine to make use of the still vital elements of other doctrines.And he goes on and on calling Jonah Goldberg a dimwit for daring to notice that Mussolini would be called a Liberal and a Leftist today. The people Mussolini was "right" of were Stalin, Hitler and Trotsky. He might have been barely left of FDR, which is open to debate.
"But what did he know? Had Mussolini's co-author been a pugilistic journalist like Jonah Goldberg rather than a fascist intellectual like Giovanni Gentile, that keystone of texts on fascist ideology would have sounded more like this . . ."- Dr. Matthew Feldman
Perhaps the fine man of letters, an Oxford Research Fellow no less, did not make it all the way through the passage he quoted. This seems like a key bit: If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the "collective" century, and therefore the century of the State. It is quite logical for a new doctrine to make use of the still vital elements of other doctrines.
Update 11 June 2012: Even Wikipedia has this correct -
The term classical liberalism was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from the newer social liberalism. Libertarianism has been used in modern times as a substitute for the phrase "neo-classical liberalism", leading to some confusion. The identification of libertarianism with neo-classical liberalism primarily occurs in the United States, where some conservatives and right-libertarians use the term classical liberalism to describe their belief in the primacy of economic freedom and minimal government.What is the modern Liberal (Leftist) all about today? Collectivism! In the 19th century "Liberal" was about the individual, now every Liberal west of Iceland and east of the International Date Line calls for big government control of every aspect of our lives. Show me one American Liberal who wants to abolish the minimum wage and if you find one in the wild, go search for one in the United States Congress. They are all for legalizing marijuana as long as nobody makes a buck off of it, in stark contrast to the Liberty embracing libertarians who don't care if you grow it, smoke it, buy it, sell it, or use it. If you can manage to make a living from it, so be it.
Update II: 11 June 2012: How the Oxford English Dictionary defines the political Liberal (no entry for Classical Liberal) - Pronunciation: /ˈlɪb(ə)r(ə)l/
1 willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas:
Yes, Mussolini was squarely against that and so are the current self-identifying American Leftists (self labeled Liberals). In the USA, where Goldberg is from and his books are published, a British Liberal is known as a Classical Liberal. As David Horowitz says about people who call themselves Liberal in the USA, "The only things they are liberal about are hard drugs and sex." They have no tolerance for individual liberty and mentioning free trade to them is like feeding garlic to a vampire, just like Mussolini was his entire life.
- (in a political context) favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform: a liberal democratic state
American Liberals are Leftists and Statists. The current crop of American Liberals running the federal government are as corporatist as Mussolini. Just witness their General Motors antics and two terms, with a party swap, of showering car companies, 'green energy' firms, banks, investment firms, and insurance companies with bailouts. Real ones, not the 1979 Chrysler variety.
For evidence of Mussolini's consistency on Fascism being the opposite of individualism, see my page about Liberalism that includes the Fascist Manifesto.