The New Republic is increasingly silly. In The American Prospect, Matthew Yglesias takes the piss out of culture critic Lee Siegel’s alarms of “blogofascism”.
As Ron Rosenbaum explained in a classic January 2002 New York Observer article, Hitchens was, along with Andrew Sullivan, a George Orwell for our times. Coining the term “Islamofascism” was a “brilliant stroke . . . devastatingly effective in describing who the terrorists, the al-Qaeda/Taliban nexus, really are.” Yes, yes. Paul Berman did us the further favor, in his book Terror and Liberalism, of revealing that, despite appearances, not only were Islamic jihadists the same as Nazis, but both were also the same as secular nationalist Baathists. For that matter, despite decades of superficial rivalry, Syrian Baathism was the same as Iraqi Baathism. And, of course, as Hannah Arendt taught us long ago, if something is the same as fascism (as many things are these days) then it’s also the same as Communism.
This was all very enlightening, needless to say. But the threats of the past are now obsolete — since the liberation of Iraq, neither Islamofascism nor Baathofascism nor even Naziofascism need trouble us much.
The world, then, has recently been dangerously lacking in “-ofascist” (or perhaps O’Fascist, like in Ireland) threats. Thankfully, New Republic culture critic Lee Siegel has now uncovered the most insidious threat of all: Bloggers. “The blogosphere,” he told us last week, “radiates democracy’s dream of full participation” but is, in fact, “hard fascism with a Microsoft face.” Some thought Siegel was engaging in a little ill-advised overstatement. But no. The bold truth-teller was all-too-serious, as he revealed in his follow-up post, “The Origins of Blogofascism” — a work of Arendt-ian import, if not quite scale and scope.