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Paul Hayden

Moderation Mongers

August 29, 2011

John Huntsman has grabbed the banner of the ideological moderation and urged that Republicans cannot win without embracing centrism. The ideological spectrum is simply a convenient invention by those who would lull us into sleep so that they can manacle our hands and feet without a fight. Although many of us have come to believe that the true enemy of our values is the "far left," the real enemy is the mythical "center."

The history of the two most malign totalitarian systems in modern history reveal the toxin of "moderation." The term "Third Reich" was popularized by Arthur Moeller van der Bruck in his 1922 book of the same name. It was intended to be the "Third Way" or "Third Viewpoint," or something between Western democracies and Bolshevism.

Nazis were first elected deputies to the Reichstag in 1924. These Nazi deputies sat at the back of the chamber, deliberately stating in the political language of the time that the Nazi Party was neither right nor left. During the two years from 1928 to 1930, Nazi deputies sat with a cluster of other non-aligned parties, again signaling their independence of either part of the fanciful spectrum. Only in 1930 did Nazis choose to sit on the right side of the Reichstag. Even this was quickly repudiated within the Nazi Party, which consistently voted -- often as the only ally of the Communist Party in "no confidence" parliamentary votes.

In November 1931, Nazi propaganda was proclaiming: "Left and Right, outdated concepts! A new man forms a new ear" to a poster with a huge Nazi "We" standing behind the political parties of the notional left and right. In July 1932, Hitler campaigned against both the left and right. The 1934 book Hitler's Official Programme, by Nazi economist Gottfried Feder, states: "We know that neither the Left, with their false promise of 'Down with Capitalism,' nor the Right, with their phrases about the Fatherland, are capable of initiating a new world epoch, for neither Marxists nor reactionaries could alter anything in the nature of our economy."

Politically correct history asserts that after the Night of the Long Knives, the "leftist" group of the Strasser brothers and Roehm had been destroyed and the "right" now had taken power. Yet consider what Benns' textbook, written before the Second World War began, states: "Although the purge of June, 1934, had eliminated a Left group which threatened to embarrass the Fuhrer, in the succeeding years another Left group with which apparently Hitler was this time largely in sympathy had developed; led by Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Schutzstaffeln and Gestapo, Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Ambassador to Great Britain."

Consider also what Nazis were saying years after the Night of the Long Knives. The introductory chapter of the 1938 Hitler Youth book, The Life of the Fuhrer, notes that Hitler had opposed both conservatives and Marxists. Deuel Wallace in 1942 noted: "He [Hitler] denounced the right to the left almost as savagely as he denounced the left to the right." The Nazis expressed as much contempt for the "extremists" on the notional far right as against the Jewish-capitalist-Bolsheviks -- an expression, of course, which is baby-talk. 

What was true of the Nazis was also true of the Bolsheviks. Howard Fast, when he was a famous American communist, published Mainstream, which he described as "an American left-wing periodical." Lenin, after Bolsheviks seized power, penned Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. What is supposed to be "left" of communism? Yet here is Lenin, writing about the dangers of "Left-Wing" Communism. 

Years later, Stalin addressed the Presidium of Communist Party of the Soviet Union thus:

How are those workers to be raised to the level of political understanding of a Leninist Party? How are they to be rescued from the misconceptions that they now labor under due to the errors and prejudices of their "ultra-Left" leaders? There is only one method of achieving this, and that is the method of politically repudiating their "ultra-Left" leaders ... It should not be forgotten that the Rights and the "ultra-Lefts" are actually twins, that consequently both take an opportunist stand, the difference between them being that whereas the Right do not always conceal their opportunism, the Lefts invariably camouflage their opportunism with "revolutionary phrases."

In 1936, Lazar Kagaonvich, one of Stalin's most trusted and monstrous henchmen, proclaimed the purge of Soviet officials and Communist party members who were part of the "Right-Trotskyite Bloc." Trotsky was considered too far to the left for Stalin. "Right-Trotskyite" is baby-talk. The surreal madness of Bolshevik ideological language gets even more bizarre. In 1933, the Bolshevik Sultan-Zadeh was accused at the same time of both being a right-wing deviationist and of being a left-wing deviationist. The infamous Moscow Show Trials began 75 years ago. They first attacked Zinoviev "Leftists" and later Bukarin "Rightists."

"Moderation" in personal behavior is wise and virtuous. We should balance exercise with leisure, study with resting, quiet solitude with conviviality -- but that is not the "moderation" which politicians like Huntsman intend. Political "moderation" means cowardice and demands prostitution to some notional center. It is liberty, not moderation, which cherishes and defends toleration. It is the constant, divinely inspired moral system of Christians and Jews which provides generous and honorable society. Goldwater said it best in 1964: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Moderation in moral values and political principles crush the conscience and the soul. The end of those shuffling feet of moderates along the meandering road of their relativism is the horror of the Gulag. 

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Copyright ©2011 Bruce Walker

Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.