This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," April 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GLENN BECK, HOST: Tonight, a special "Glenn Beck Program": Destined to Repeat.
There are undeniable parallels between what has happened in the past on our planet and what is going on today. And tonight, we're going to cover a lot of them. I hope that you come away from tonight's program with a deeper understanding of how some of the most infamous events in history started with the best of intentions.
But first, I want to give you a warning: This show is not about Barack Obama. It's not about George Bush. It's not about the Democrats. It's not about the Republicans. Stop!
It's about learning from the past mistakes so we don't repeat them. Having said that, it is going to be remarkably easy to cut this show out, take it out of context, turn it on its head, and use it to claim that I'm making all kinds of comparisons. Did you hear he said Oscar the grouch was Hitler?
If you can't spend the next hour with me, I'm going to do something in television that I don't think people do very often, and that is — if you can't spend an hour with me, change the channel right now. There's something else you can watch for 15 minutes. This show, you cannot.
I don't — I don't want to play to the lowest common denominator. People have said to me, "Look, Glenn, you can't do this show. Please, people are going to take it out of context" — I'm fine.
Unlike most politicians, I think you're smart enough to understand what I'm saying. So, so long as it's in context, I think you do, so let's keep it there. Got it?
OK. If you haven't changed the channel yet, then I assume that you're in for the long haul.
So if you believe this country is great but those who don't understand history or remember it are destined to repeat it — then, come, follow me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: You may have seen Glenn Beck and his wild paranoia on your television. He crazily warned of a severe economic downturn two years ago and then outlandishly said that the solution to the downturn would be a socialist path of reckless spending over at nationalization and government control.
BECK: The global economy has broken down. We need to handle this financial crisis like it's a forest fire.
NARRATOR: Sure, he lucked out those two times. But now, he is talking about fascism? He says it's not Adolf Hitler-style fascism; it's the academic fascism — widely loved in the 1930s on campus and in the media.
BECK: Fascism is coming. Like it or not, fascism is on the rise. The government is a heroin-pusher, using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state.
NARRATOR: What does all of this mean? Well, some of you get ready to attack the messenger without listening to the message.
For everyone else, it's an hour of fascism, with a happy face, on a "Glenn Beck Program."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: All right. Our country is not being controlled by jackbooted fascists. But like I said, during George W. Bush's term, the groundwork is continuously being laid to take us there if the train goes off the tracks.
History shows us that it only takes two simple things for fascism to rear its ugly head, and it can happen virtually overnight: fear and hunger.
A temporary crisis is almost always a precursor to a much, much more permanent one.
So, with that in mind, let me show you the four main things that we're going to be talking about tonight. First, we're going to take you to Russia, where under communists like Lenin and Stalin, their revolution pitted peasants against the rich, the poor against the wealthy. They were basically saying, "Eat the rich! They did this to you! Get them! Kill them!"
These days, the comparison, demonstrators are rioting in front of the G20, unions protesting in front of AIG, an organized mob, buses showing up at the houses of the evil AIG executives. It's a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same — find 'em, get 'em, kill 'em! They did this to you!
Second, we're going to consider what the average person thinks about fascism. They believe it's ridiculous — all this could never happen in the United States of America. After all, nobody's going to go out and pull the lever for Adolf Hitler. You're right, but the secret we'll learn tonight is — fascism wasn't always synonymous with mass murder.
Progressives once had a love affair with it — particularly with Mussolini. I don't think this love affair has gone away, although the Mussolini part has. You may remember him as the guy whose, you know, body was hung upside-down with meat hooks and I think there was a piano wire involved. Civilians were throwing stones at his body.
But before that, he had lots of admirers over there and here as well, including Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and comic Will Rogers who said, "I'm pretty high on that bird," and even, surprise, surprise — "The New York Times" which wrote, "Mussolini is a Latin Teddy Roosevelt who first acts and then inquires if it is legal. He's been a great service to Italy at home."
He is also well respected abroad. Winston Churchill once called Mussolini "the greatest living lawmaker."
Third, we'll show you how Woodrow Wilson moved from the Founding Father's principles and values. You know, we wonder today, how did we get here? Well, we'll show you tonight.
Today, those who disparage the strict constructionists as worshipping old men in wigs, all those Founding Fathers — they were nuts. They are building on what the progressives started at the top of last century.
And fourth topic tonight is the Great Depression. The world was starving, hunger and fear. And when the world goes into darkness, it's always based — almost always — on several small events followed by one cataclysmic event. Hitler used the world economic crisis as a pivot point. He said, "We're going to protect the common man," and people rallied around Hitler.
But before I go through all of these sometimes scary parallels, I want to start by talking about happy fascism. Robert Gellately is with us tonight. He is the author of "Stalin, Lenin and Hitler." And we have Jonah Goldberg; he's the author of "Liberal Fascism." And Amity Shlaes, author of the "Forgotten Man."
Also, one other person, R.J. Pestritto. He is the author of a great book, changed my perspective on — in fact, all of these people helped change my perspective on things, I hope they do the same for you — "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism."
Hi, guys. Let's talk fascism.
First of all, I guess, Jonah, I want to start with you. Your book is "Liberal Fascism," and it's really kind of the first — the first voyage into this world for me. We don't even know our history. George Carlin said, "Fascism will never come to the United States unless it has a happy face." So, tell me about liberal fascism or the happy face fascism.
JONAH GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, "LIBERAL FASCISM": Right. Well, I mean, I think, first of all, it's important to remember that you're right. That we associate fascism with genocidal racism, right?
GOLDBERG: The Holocaust. And I would not want to diminish the moral power of the Holocaust in the slightest. But what we tend to do is play the movie backwards. And we seem to think that everything that came before the Holocaust is really associated with it.
And the reality is, for example, and I'm not saying this to defend Mussolini or tie him to fascism, I don't like either, but, you know, Jews were overrepresented in the Italian Fascist Party from its founding until 1938 when the Nazis had basically to bully the Italians into dropping them. Mussolini denounced Hitler-ite fascism as 100 percent racism, saying that, you know, we could never have anything to do with it.
BECK: He hated him.
GOLDBERG: Right. And so, the idea that fascism means racism is really a glossing over.
BECK: My Uncle Leo, he's — I think he's 91. He is from Italy. The family saw what was coming, and so they sent him, he was the only one they send over to the United States. He fought on our side.
He was always at the front of the boat. He landed on the beaches on D-Day. He was always on the front of the boat because they always wonder he's probably a spy because he was just off the boat.
He told me — this was about a month ago. We were in a restaurant and we're talking about fascism. And he said, "Let me tell you, I don't care what anyone says. Mussolini was a good man."
BECK: I'm like, "Uncle Leo, keep your voice down, will you?" I mean, the people in Italy liked him. Why?
GOLDBERG: They loved him. They thought he — well, they thought he was the savior of Italy in many ways. Italy was in a world of chaos. He was one of the first serious youth leaders on the world stage. The Italian fascists considered themselves a youth movement much as the Nazis did. He was an international...
BECK: What do you mean "youth movement"?
GOLDBERG: A youth movement. They considered themselves leaders of a new generation that has come up, that were — you know, they were the Pepsi generation of their day.
GOLDBERG: And Mussolini was astoundingly, I think, from our standards today, a sex symbol. When the government needed gold from the people, I think, a quarter million housewives send their gold wedding rings in to be melted down. They were so devoted to the man.
And in terms of happy fascism, I think the point here is that fascism — you know, today we seem to think of fascism that — oh, well, you know, during World War II, there were a bunch of people that decided to be villains in World War II movies for the rest of time and they were the bad guys. But fascism was not seen as that. It was seen as what Anne Morrow Lindbergh called "the wave of the future." It was seen as the new model, the new paradigm that can deal with the problems that capitalism and liberal democracy will no longer capable of dealing with.
BECK: Let me — let me show some of these things. This is "Time" magazine. It's the cover of "Time" magazine. There is Mussolini. They loved him. Here's Mussolini, not behind bars, you know, like, hey, he is a criminal nutjob, they loved Mussolini.
Then things started going wrong, and this is when Hitler really did trap him in there. Hitler was — Hitler was crazy from the get-go. But there was also — I want to go to another kind of parallel here, because I personally think that we are — my Uncle Leo would tell you until the end — until the end with Mussolini, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, I think we have when you — when you add people looking for a savior, when you add people looking for somebody who can save us and has the answer, you can easily go to somebody who is a sex symbol, who is good — you know, good looking, great communicator, et cetera, et cetera, and not really listen to what they're doing.
Let me go to Robert Gellately.
I want to bring in this parallel here on — Robert, let's look at some of the stresses that had, in Russia, that we're seeing now that I think are real parallels that I have read in your book that I find striking. For instance, the "eat the rich" movement, the using of classes to tear a nation apart and pit neighbor against neighbor. Can you give some of the...
ROBERT GELLATELY, AUTHOR, "LENIN, STALIN & HITLER": Well, in...
BECK: Go ahead.
GELLATELY: Well, the Russian Revolution came at the end of disastrous First World War, and the people were hungry and there was a great desire to get out of the war. Lenin came back to Russia — brought there by the Germans, incidentally — to try to bring about a revolution, and he did it cunningly by offering poor peasants land, people bread, and the army peace. And with those three slogans, he managed to obtain rather quickly and easily victory for the Bolshevik Revolution in October — old style, October 1917.
Now, what happened after that, of course, is that there was a war was in the countryside and basically he promised the land to the poor peasants, who were then invited to take land from the churches, from nobility that were better off. And what they did, of course, was think actually that the communists were going to let them keep the land. So, they became firm backers of the Russian Revolution, the poor peasants believing that now the land that they thought was rightly theirs for so long now was theirs finally to keep.
But of course, that was complete illusion, and within no time at all, the situation went from bad to worse.
BECK: OK. So...
GELLATELY: So, think what would happen if you draw off the best farmers, you kill off the best farmers — what do you think is going to happen next? What happens next is a...
BECK: What — starvation.
GELLATELY: A famine.
GELLATELY: A famine — exactly.
BECK: And that's exactly what happened. And I see this parallel with AIG and then the bankers and everything else — hate them, hate them, they did this to you, you've got to get them, you know, kill them off, put them in jail, take their money, whatever. Who is going to run these things? There are — they have expertise that most don't.
Let me — let me go to Amity. Do you have any or anybody — is anybody watching the news today and seeing things that don't have to repeat
— we don't have to repeat the past? But when you, as a historian, and you know history, don't you look at today and go — wait, wait, wait?
Everybody knows what we're doing, right? Everyone is aware this is dangerous territory that we're — that we're walking down.
AMITY SHLAES, AUTHOR, "THE FORGOTTEN MAN": Yes, Glenn, there is a variant of what you said before — politicians who can't remember the past condemn the rest of us to repeat it.
SHLAES: And — so, you get the feeling in Washington, they haven't thought about what government can do before. I prefer to call it "statism," the ever-expanding state what we're talking about, which then corrupts, when then sometimes leads to war. And yes, I see, when we look at companies and blame them, no good outcome because those companies are also often the source of our prosperity and our return to prosperity.
So, you can be mad at certain AIG executives that they didn't forego their bonus or that they were too lawyerly in writing it all out this winter and tricking people with Congress. And yes, there are bad people at all companies, but if we blame AIG, we also hurt a lot of other companies.
SHLAES: If we blame bonuses, we hurt those who will carry our republic.
We are just — we're going to a place, R.J., that a lot of people say that America could never go down this road, never, ever go down this road. Most people don't — and I didn't either, until I really started reading everybody's books here, everybody involved.
We've already been down this road — and we're going to get into that a little bit later, but I want to ask you, the turning point seems to be a guy that everybody, you know, so many people say, "Oh, Teddy Roosevelt, he was fantastic."
R.J. PESTRITTO, AUTHOR, "WOODROW WILSON": Right.
BECK: But he captured the Republicans, where Woodrow Wilson and FDR captured the Democrats for this progressive movement and took us fundamentally off the tracks that our founders had built and moved us into another direction. True or false, and can you explain?
PESTRITTO: Yes, I think that's very true. And you have to remember T.R. — every difficulty with T.R. is he is such a likable fellow and he's a great American character. Many people who consider themselves to be conservative and patriotic are attracted to his military heroism. This is a guy, you know...
PESTRITTO: ...who, of course, was shot giving a speech in 1912 and insisted on staying for the full 90 minutes and finishing his speech. It's hard not to be attracted to a guy like that.
You know, the problem is, that T.R., as you said, was an ardent progressive in his understanding of government. Just to give you a couple of examples, in "The New Nationalism" speech that he gave in 1910, which set the theme for his later run again at the presidency, T.R. was very clear. He said that the national government must be able to sit in judgment of the earning of private wealth. The national government must be able to sit in judgment of how private wealth is used.
Later in his autobiography, he talked about what we've called the stewardship theory. And what he said there was that the national government and that the executive branch of it, in particular, has to be the steward of the people, the steward of their needs, and has to understand that its role is to respond to any need that the government perceives they have.
BECK: Right. The interesting thing — because I was reading your book last week, actually the one on American progressivism which is — it's just fantastic, and I'm reading it and I'm reading the words of Teddy Roosevelt and how they viewed the president of the United States that he had the power of the people. He was the one. He should have this cleared out power to be able to respond in a democratic fashion, democracy, not republic — democracy had the people behind him.
It was like two days later that I read that, you know, Obama had fired one of the CEOs over at General Motors, but Michael Moore posted and said, "People are saying what can we do about it. Nothing. You can't stop him because Obama has the power of the people, and we have given him the right to do whatever he sees fit." And I thought — that's it, progressive fascism. It's here.
OK. Back in just a second.
BECK: The music that you're listening to, that's called Cole Porter song, "You're The Top." That was from 1934.
A lot of people know that song, but a lot of people also, what they don't know, is that the early version had these lyrics, "You're the top.
You're the great Houdini. You're the top. You are Mussolini." During the 1920s and '30s, some in the media had an absolute love affair with fascism and Mussolini.
We're back with author Robert Gellately, the author of "Lenin, Stalin and Hitler"; Jonah Goldberg, author of "Liberal Fascism"; Amity Shlaes, author of "The Forgotten Man"; and R.J. Pestritto, he is the author of "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism."
If you watch this show and you ever wonder how did Glenn Beck ever come up with those four books — and correct me if I'm wrong because you've all had individual experiences with me where I've gone, "Oh, my gosh, thank you for your book" — these four books have been instrumental in shaping my understanding of the history.
OK. I want to go first, and Robert and Amity, I kind of want to go to you guys here on this, on the things that are needed for the breeding ground of fascism. Does it — can it just slowly creep in, or do you need an event, Amity?
SHLAES: Oh, you need an event.
SHLAES: You need some fear. You need some hunger, as you said, and I don't see fascism in the past in the U.S. in the way that Jonah does, but I do see statism and — in a way, we look at the crash in '29 is causing the depression, but the activities of the New Deal were an accident waiting to happen. The progressives of that period were looking for an occasion, a disaster, to act. So, I see also a component, someone who wants the government to be bigger and is waiting for an economic crisis.
BECK: OK. Hold on just a second.
Can you give me full screen number three, please? I love this one.
Rahm Emanuel, "You never want a serious crisis to go to a waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
SHLAES: That's why we woke up and when we heard that quote. The U.S. tends to temper itself so Congress comes along and says, "Whoa, that's what happened with President Clinton...
SHLAES: ...when the new Republican Congress came in, when he took a look at the bond market."
That "whoa" moment may will yet come now, but the arrogance where you say, "I'm going to use my whole progressive agenda on the occasion of this economic crisis," that was something that the New Deal has done.
BECK: OK. I want you — please, if you're watching the show today, you got to watch it until the end. I'm sorry, that's just the deal, you're trap, unless you leave right now — because you have to understand this in context. And I want to — we're going to show the progressive agenda and how the country went off the tracks 100 years ago.
Everybody says, "Oh, Glenn Beck is saying this about Barack Obama."
No, I'm not. Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, that's who I'm saying it about.
Robert, let me go to you. Let's talk a little bit about — I'm very concerned about the money supply, hyperinflation, and I had a guy who is — I call him my deep throat. He has been a guy who is very high up in this whole situation with the banks and the Treasury and the Fed and everything else, and he said to me about a year ago, he said, "Glenn, read about the Weimar Republic," because that's what's coming.
Whether or not that's true or not, I don't know. But I have read about the Weimar Republic, and there are a lot of similarities on what they did and what we did to the money, and that was one of the real breeding grounds. Do you want to go into that a little bit?
GELLATELY: Well, it really was. I mean, if you look at 1923, we had inflation which is the greatest inflation in world history. The — what was a dollar — it would buy you four marks in 1914, say, at the beginning of the war, now could buy you two trillion marks. A loaf of bread would cost you a trillion marks. If you wanted to have subsistence living, a family of four would cost 500 trillion marks a week.
This is the greatest inflation and it's impossible to imagine. You can just contemplate for a moment people who are really honest citizens, people who saved their money for their daughter's dowry, for example. They had been long saving in all — the dowry, of course, was completely useless.
People who are on fixed incomes, people who had bonds, these bonds were absolutely useless. They had invested in their country, for example, in 1914 or 1916 in a 5,000 mark bond, that 5,000 mark bond now in 1923 wouldn't buy a single match, never mind a package of cigarettes.
BECK: Right. Now, here's what...
BECK: Here's where I'm worried — because if this happens, and hopefully it doesn't but what we're doing now has never been — has never been tried and succeeded of monetizing your own debt without hyperinflation. This is the key here, and I think, with Germany, is when the average person felt hopeless like, "Wait a minute, I've played by the rules, I've done everything I was supposed to, and now, everything I have is worthless" — that's when there was real trouble. True or false, Robert?
GELLATELY: Well, it's interesting that in 1923, Hitler tried to take power violently in November through a so-called "beer hall putsch," on the 9th of November. And this didn't work. There was — in spite of everything, the German people were not willing to give up totally on the Constitution, on the way things were, though none of them very much liked the Weimar Republic.
The Weimar Republic was a young democracy. It was not anchored in the people. They were not happy with the way the war turned out and the way the new democracy was created. So, Germany was ready for something in 1923, it seemed.
Hitler is betting that he could copy Mussolini what Mussolini had done almost exactly a year before in Rome. He was hoping he could do in Munich. It was a catastrophe, Hitler was captured. The thing fizzled out. They brought in a new currency and things seemed to go away.
Hitler was sent to jail, but what happened is that this was really the first earthquake in Germany. It wiped out the middle-classes, the honest hard-working individuals. The real trouble then came, of course, and I know you want to talk about that later, is when the Depression hit in 1929, because now you have the second wave, a sort of a second tsunami coming.
GELLATELY: And this is the one.
BECK: We're going to turn to that here in just a few minutes, Robert. Hang on just a second, because we are going to go to the Depression and the parallels here on the Depression and what we need to look out for.
But when we come back, if you're an average American, if you're like me, you may have said at some point in your life, "How the heck did we get here? How — wait a minute, what's going on with our country? What are they doing in Washington? How did this happen?"
We're going for take you there. And then I'm going to — I'm also going to show you not only here, but we've asked R.J. Pestritto to talk a little bit about, in my newsletter, the history of modern progressives, the American progressivism movement. What does it mean? How did it happen?
We will have that in my free e-mail newsletter. You can sign up for it right now at GlennBeck.com. It will happen all next week so you be able to see it for yourself in short bytes, and then I invite you to buy all these people's books because really, truly, your eyes will be opened and we are not destined to repeat it if we know history.
All right. Coming up in just a second.
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