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National Review says Bernie Sanders is a national socialist

National Review writer Kevin Williamson has a hot take on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — he's a Nazi:

In the Bernieverse, there’s a whole lot of nationalism mixed up in the socialism. He is, in fact, leading a national-socialist movement, which is a queasy and uncomfortable thing to write about a man who is the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. But there is no other way to characterize his views and his politics.

One could say that this is a repugnant thing to say about a man who is not only not a Nazi, but in fact an old Jewish guy whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. But Williamson is actually well aware that Sanders's family was murdered in the Holocaust. He even says it makes him "queasy" to call Sanders a Nazi. "But there is no other way to characterize his views and his politics."

I think it's actually pretty easy to characterize Sanders as something other than a Nazi. You can accurately describe him, for instance, as a left-wing liberal and a loyal ally of American labor unions — for high taxes and a generous welfare state, but also skeptical of international trade deals.

But Williamson thinks there is no other way to characterize Sanders's views than to say he's a national socialist.

Something to be clear about here is that Williamson not only knows that this characterization is repugnant and inappropriate, but he's also perfectly aware that it's inaccurate:

A. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom notwithstanding, corralling off foreign-made cars does not lead inevitably to corralling off foreign-born people, or members of ethnic minorities, although the Asians-and-Latinos-with-their-filthy-cheap-goods rhetoric in and around the Bernieverse is troubling. There are many kinds of Us-and-Them politics, and Bernie Sanders, to be sure, is not a national socialist in the mode of Alfred Rosenberg or Julius Streicher.

In other words, when Williamson calls Sanders a national socialist, he doesn't mean he's a Nazi.

Lol. Instead the conceit here is that Sanders's views on trade policy are so exceptionally nationalistic as to be racist.

The reality is that while obviously the details of economic policy are always controversial, the basic idea that US economic policy should be in the interests of US citizens is really not especially distinctive. For example, Williamson once wrote an article titled "How to think about immigration" whose subhead is "The U.S. government is generally expected to act in the interest of the people of the United States" and that features this paragraph (emphasis added):

The United States, like any country, has many kinds of national interests: economic, military, cultural, etc. It is not chauvinistic, jingoistic, or yahooistic to recognize that fact and to expect that our national immigration policy, like our defense policy and our economic policy, is organized around those interests.

So even though Williamson:

  1. Acknowledges that Sanders is Jewish and his family was killed in the Holocaust;
  2. Acknowledges that Sanders is not, in fact, a Nazi; and
  3. Agrees with Sanders that economic policy should be organized around national interest and it is not chauvinistic to say so

He nevertheless thinks that there is no other way to characterize Sanders's views on trade policy and the welfare state than as national socialism.