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229�From Kennedy's Myth to Johnson's Dream�THE GREAT SOCIETY: LBJ'S FASCIST

UTOPIA�Much like the Nazi movement, liberal fascism had two faces: the�street
radicals and the establishment radicals. In Germany the two�groups worked in
tandem to weaken middle-class resistance to the�Nazis' agenda. In the previous
chapter we saw how the liberal fascists of the SDS�and Black Panther movements
rose up to terrorize�the American middle class. In the remainder ofthis
chapter#and the�next#we will explain how the "suit-and-tie radicals" of the
1960s,�people like Hillary Clinton and her friends, used this terror to expand�the
power and scope of the state and above all to change the public�attitude toward
the state as the agent of social progress and universal�caring and
compassion.�Amazingly, Johnson was the only full-fledged New Dealer to�serve as
president save FDR himself. Indeed, in many respects LBJ�was the ultimate company
man of the modem welfare state, the personification of everything�the New Deal
represented. Despite�his�large personality, he was in reality the personification
of the system�he helped to create.�However, once elected, Johnson didn't brag
about his support for�the New Deal. He leamed from the defeat of the Texas
congressman�Maury Maverick that getting praise from East Coast liberals
didn't�help you much in Texas. When he heard that the New Republic was�going to
profile him along with other influential New Deal congressmen, LBJ panicked.�He
called a friend at the Intemational�Labor�Organization and implored her: "You must
have some friend in the�labor movement. Can't you call him and have him denounce
me? [If]�they put out that... I'ma liberal hero up here, I'll get killed.
You've�got to find somebody to denounce me!"48�When he became president in his own
right, he no longer had to�keep his true feelings secret. He could finally and
unabashedly come�out of the closet as a liberal. JFK's death, meanwhile, was the
perfect psychological�crisis for liberalism's new phase. Woodrow�Wilson used war
to achieve his social ends. FDR used economic depression and war.�JFK used the
threat of war and Soviet domination.�Johnson's crisis mechanism came in the form
of spiritual anguish�and alienation. And he exploited it to the hilt.�ohnson was
tasked with building the church�of liberalism on the rock of Kennedy's memory,
only he needed to�do so in the psychological buzz phrases of "meaning" and
"healing"�He cast himself#or allowed himself to be cast#as the secular Saint�Paul
to the fallen liberal Messiah. LBJ's Great Society would be the�church built upon
the imagined "word" of Camelot.�The Great Society is a�It is a place where the
citv of man�serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce�but
the desire for beauty and the hunger for community"49�It was an ambitious project,
to put it mildly. In the Great Society�all wants would be fulfilled, all needs
satisfied. No good thing would�come at the cost of another good thing. The state
would foster, nurture, and guarantee�every legitimate happiness. Even leisure
would�be maximized so that every citizen would find "meaning" in life.�It would
require the single-minded loyalty and effort�of every American citizen and the
talents of a new wave of experts.�But I do promise this: We are going to assemble
the best�thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find�those
answers for America."50 Johnson established some fifteen committees to answer�the
question, what is the Great Society?�'he renaissance in liberal ambition
transpired even as America's�ntrinsic antistatist antibodies were reaching a
critical mass. In 1955�National Review was bom, giving an intellectual home to a
heterodox collection of�thinkers who would form modem conservatism.�It's revealing
that while William F. Buckley had always been a classical liberal�and Catholic
traditionalist, nearly all of the�intellectual�co-founders of National Review were
former socialists and communists who'd soured�on the god that failed.�JjBi 1964
Senator Barry Goldwater was National Review's candidate of choice rather�than of
compromise. Goldwater was the first�Republican presidential candidate since
Coolidge to break with the�core assumptions ofProgressivism, including what
Goldwater called�"me-too Republicanism" As a result, Goldwater was demonized
as�the candidate of "hate" and nascent fascism. LBJ accused him of�"preach[ing]
hate" and consistently tried to tie him to terrorist "hate�groups" like the Klan
(whose constituency was, of course, traditionally Democratic).�In a speech before
steelworkers in September�1964, Johnson denounced Goldwater's philosophy of the
"soup�line"#as if free-market capitalism's ideal is to send men to the
poorhouse#and scomed�the "prejudice and bigotry and hatred and division"
represented by the affable Arizonan.51�Needless to�say, this was�a gross
distortion. Goldwater was a champion of limited govemment�who put his faith in the
decency of the American people rather than�in a bunch of bureaucrats in
Washington. His one great mistake,�which he later admitted and apologized for, was
to vote against the�Civil Rights Act.�L^w liberals, then or now, would dispute
that the Great Societ^�was premised on love and unity. "We will do all these
things because�we love people instead of hate them ... because you know it takes
a�man who loves his country to build a house instead of a raving, ranting
demagogue�who wants to tear down one. Beware of those who�fear and doubt and those
who rave and rant about the dangers of�nronress," Johnson railed. Meanwhile, the
establishment worked�overtime to insinuate that Goldwater was an architect of the
"climate�of hate" that had claimed Kennedy's life. As befitted the newly
psychologized zeitgeist,�Goldwater was denounced as, quite literally,�insane. An
ad in the New York Times reported that 1,189 psychiatrists�had diagnosed him as
not "psychologically fit" to be president. The�charge was then recycled in
excessive "free media" coverage. Dan�Rather's colleague Daniel Schorr (now a
senior correspondent with�National Public Radio) reported on the CBS Evening News,
with no�factual basis whatsoever, that candidate Goldwater's vacation to�3ermany
was "a move by Senator Goldwater to link up" with neoNazi elements.52�Goldwater
Inst in a landslide. And given LBJ's monumental ego�as well as the hubris ofhis
intellectual coterie, it's no wonder that the�election results were greeted as an
overwhelming endorsement ofthe�Great Society proiect.�^ One of those aides was
Richard Goodwin, a golden boy of the�Kennedy administration (he graduated first in
his class at Harvard�n the summer of 1965 Goodwin offered what the New York Times
called "the most sophisticated�and�^ealing commentary to date" on the question,
what is tbe Great�Society? His answer lay in the need for the state to give
"meaning"�to individuals and "make the world a more enjoyable and above
all�enriching place to live in." "The Great Society," Goodwin explained,�"is
concemed not with the quantity of our goods but the quality of�our lives." Though
he didn't say so directly, it was clear that the�Great Society would offer the
opDosite of the "hate" that killed�Kennedy: love.54�But it was also to be a tough
love. Goodwin made it clear that if�the citizenry didn't want to find mearihg
through state action or�measure the quality of their lives on a bureaucratic slide
mle, such�reluctance would be overcome. But not necessarily via
persuasion.�Rather, it was the govemment's task "to spur them into action or
the�Katner, n was uic gu �</*"**## - -## -- -,-# .*��*.* uvuun �-'i
ui^�Goodwin declared that the Great Society must "ensure our people�the
environment, the capacities, and the social stmctures which will�give them a
meaningful chance to pursue their individual happiness."�Hs differed very little
from Dewey's version of state-directed�democracy. Dewey held that "[n]atural
rights and natural liberties�exist only in the kingdom of mythological social
zoology" and that�"organized social control" via a "socialized economy" was the
only�means to create "free" individuals.55�The religious character of modem
liberalism was never far from�of "great awakenings'�H^ new meaning that gave rise
to a tumultuous social and political�movement. The only difference was that this
awakening largely left�God behind. Paul Goodman, whose 1960 Growins, Up
Absurd�Thelefthas�always had an apocalyptic streak. Lenin argued "the worse the
better." Georges Sorel's�writings make no sense unless you understand�that he saw
politics as an essentially religious enterprise. The revolutionary vanguard�has
always demanded that destmction come beThe Futurists, anarchists,
vorticists,�Maoists, and�vanous other modemist and left-wing avant-gardes believed
that�hammers were for smashing first, building second. Hitler was, of�course, a
great believer in the social benefits of destruction (though,�as he often
explained, he understood that real power came not from�destroying but from
cormpting institutions).�We should also note the apocalyptic logic of
Progressivism gener^^ the wheel of history,�the state, is moving us forward to
the�kingdom of heaven, then anytime the "enemy" takes over, we are�|Bing in a
metaphysically wrong direction. This is never more�transparent than when the
mainstream media describe socialistic reforms as a "step�forward" and free-market
ones as "going backward"�or "tumins back the clock." And when non-progressives are
in�charge too long, the demands from the left to "tear the whole thing�The bom-
again spirit of reform�provided the dmmbeat for the "long march through the
institutions."�Fhe Stonewall riots, which gave�birth to the gay pride movement,
took place in the summer of 1969.�o^�Once again, the line between formal religion
and Progressive politics was blurred�beyond recognition. Once again, religious
leaders�in�thej"mainline" churches were seduced by radical politics.59
The�Methodist youth magazine motive # a major influence on the young�Hillary
Clinton#featured a birthday card to Ho Chi Minh in one issue and advice on�how to
dodge the draft in others. All of these political crusades were grounded in�a
moralizing fervor and a spiritual�yeaming for something more than bread alone.
Most of the radicals�of the New Left later explained that theirs was really a
spiritual quest�more than a political one. Indeed, that's why so many ofthem
disappeared into the�communes and EST seminars, searching for "meaning,"
"authenticity," "community,"�and, most of all, "themselves"�For the 1960s
generation "self-actualization" became the new secular grace.60�th. On college
campuses today, adminis- --^rs#often living fossils from the 1960s#applaud�the
Kabuki�dance of left-wing protest as a central part of higher education. The�only
time they get worried is when the protest comes from the right.�But the most
important legacv of thft 1060s has to be liberal guilt.�Guilt over their inability
to create the Great Society. Guilt over leaving children,�blacks, and the rest of
the Coalition of the OpDressed�"behind." Guilt is among the most religious of
emotions and has a�way of rapidly devolving into a narcissistic God complex.
Liberals�were proud of how guiltv thev felt. Whv? Because it rnnfirmprl lihwere
proud of how�guilty they felt. Why? Because it confirmed�liberal omnipotence.
Kennedy and Johnson represented the belief that�an enlightened affluent society
could solve every problem, redress�every wrong. Normally you don't feel guilty
when forces outside�your control do evil. But when you have the power to control
everything, you feel�guilty about everything. Lyndon Johnson not only accelerated
Kennedy's politics of�expectation when he declared,�"We�can do it all; we're the
richest country in the world," but rendered any�shortcomings, anywhere, evidence
of sagging commitment, racism,�insensitivity, orjust plain "hate." Feeling guilty
was a sign of grace,�for it proved your heart was in the right
place.�Conservatives were caught in a trap. If you rejected the concept of�the
omnipotent state, it was proof that you hated those whom govemment sought to�help.
And the only way to prove you didn't hate�them#whoever "they" were#was to support
govemment intervention (or "affirmative action,"�in Kennedy's phrase) on their
behalf.�The idea of a "good conservative" was oxymoronic. Conservatism�by
definition "holds us back"#leaves some "behind"#when we all�know that the solution
to every problem lies just around the comer.�The result was a cleavage in the
American political landscape. On�one side were the radicals and rioters, who
metaphorically#and�sometimes literally#got away with murder. On the other were
conser^atives#hateful,�sick, pre-fascist#who deserved no benefit of�the doubt
whatsoever. Liberals were caught in the middle, and most,�when forced to choose,
sided with the radicals ("they're too impatient, but at least�they care!"). The
fact that the radicals despised�liberals for not going far enough fast enough only
confirmed their�moral status in the minds of guilt-ridden liberals.62�In this
climate, a liberal spending spree was inevitable. Like noblemen of yore
purchasing�indulgences from the Church, establishment liberals sought to expiate
their guilt�by providing�the�"oppressed" with as much swag as possible. Fear, of
course, played�an important role as well. Pragmatic liberals#while
understandably�reluctant tn arlmit it Dublicly#undoubtedly bought into the�and
govemment largesse. For others, the very real threat of radicalism provided
precisely�the sort of "crisis mechanism" liberals are always in search of. The
"race crisis"�panic sweeping through�liberalism was often cited as a justification
to dust off every statist�From cash payments to the poor to building new bridges
and community redevelopment,�the payout was prodigious even by�New Deal�standards.
The civil rights movement, which had captured the public's sympathies�through
King's message of equality and�color blindness. auickly degenerated into a riot of
racially loaded entitlements.�George Wiley, the president of the National Welfare
Rights Organization, insisted�that welfare was "a right, not a privilege."
Some�even argued that welfare was a form of reparations for slavery.�Meanwhile,
any opposition to such programs was stigmatized as evidence of bigotry.�The War on
Poverty, affirmative action, community redevelopment, and the vast panoply�of
subsidies that fall under the mbric�of�welfare#Aid to Families with Dependent
Children, housing grants,�Medicare, Women, Infants, and Children benefits, food
stamps#�were chumed out by a massively increased administrative state on a�scale
undreamed of by FDR. But most on the left were not satisfied,�in part because
these programs proved remarkably ineffective at creating the Great�Society or
defeating poverty. While even FDR had�recognized that the dole could be a
"narcotic... of the human�spirit," in the 1960s such concems were widely dismissed
as mbbish.63 The New Republic�argued that Johnson's antipoverty program�was fine
"as a start" but insisted that there was "no altemative to�really large-scale,
ameliorative federal social welfare action and payments.'�(hiojh proclaimed that
the state should�
as a matter of right." The committee lamented that Americans were�"all too
confused and frightened by a bogey we call the 'welfare�state,' [a] tenn of nride
in most parts of the world.'�Recipients weren't the only ones hooked on the
narcotic of "relief"; the pushers�were, too. Like a man determined to pound
a�square peg into a round hole, establishment liberals kept insisting�that just a
little more money, a little more effort, would produce the�social euphoria of the
elusive Great Society. As Mickey Kaus argues�in The End ofEquality, the liberal
response to every setback could�be summarized in one word: "more."65 When welfare
seemed to�cause fathers to abandon their families, liberals responded that
payments should�be extended to families where the father remains at�home. But this
in tum encouraged recipients to stay or become unemployed. The answer�to that?
Give money to employed poor�fathers, too. But this in tum created an incentive for
families to split�up the moment the father moved out of poverty, so they
wouldn't�lose their benefits. Meanwhile, ifyou criticized any ofthis, you were�a
fascist.�H^e unintended but inevitable consequences of liberal utopianism�spilled
forth. From 1964 onward, crime in America grew at about 20�percent per year.66
Liberal court rulings, particularly the Supreme�Court's Miranda decision, caused
clearance rates to plummet in major cities. Welfare had the tendency to encourage
familv breakdown,�illegitimate births, and other pathologies it was designed to
cure. The�original civil rights revolution#which was largely based on a
classically liberal concepdon of equality before the law#failed�to produce the
level of integration liberals had hoped for. In 1964 Hubert�Humphrey#"Mr.
Liberal"#swore up and down in the well of the�Senate that the Civil Rights Act
could in no way lead to quotas and�if anyone could prove otherwise, "I will start
eating the pages one�after the other, because it is not there" Bv 1079. the
Democratic�Party#under the guise of the "McGovem rules"#embraced hard�quotas (for
blacks, women, and youth) as its defining organizational�pnncipJe.67 And it should
be no surprise that a Democratic Party detemiined to do anything it could to make
itself "look like America"�would in tum be committed to making America look like
the�Democratic Party. And if you criticized any of this, you also were
a�fascist.�Indeed, even as quintessentially fascist street violence empted
in�American cities, white liberals responded by basking in guilt and�blaming the
right. The Watts riots in 1965 were the real tuming�^| only was the collective
liberal intelligentsia determined to�blame white America#"the system"#for the
violence, but the violence itself became morally admirable "rebellion." Johnson
commented that such behavior was to be expected when "people feel�they don't get a
fair shake." Hubert Humphrey said that if he'd been�bom poor, he might have rioted
also. An entire "riot ideology" unfolded that, in the words of the urban historian
Fred Siegel, became�a new form of "collective bargaining." Destroy your
neighborhood�and the govemment will buy you a better one.68�The extent of liberal
denial was put on full display when Daniel�
itridk Moynihan, then an adviser to Richard Nixon, advocated a�po^y of "benign
neglect" on racial issues. The subject of race,�