Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jonah Goldberg's new book: Liberal Fascism

One of the most frequent insults hurled by liberals at the right consists of labeling the latter group "fascists." Across the left's media spectrum, whether it's the diarists at Daily Kos or Air America Radio or MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, the epithet is used with an almost casual disregard.

Jonah Goldberg's new book turns this routine assertion on its head, carefully employing twentieth century history as a backdrop. The book Liberal Fascism lays out an impressive and well-researched argument that is sure to ripple through the punditsphere for months.

In fact, the reviews are stunning, as much for the reviewers as anything else.

Replacing manufactured myths with enlightening research, Goldberg begins by showing how the Italian fascism, German Nazism and American Progressivism (forebear of modern liberalism) all drew from the same intellectual foundations the idea that the state can create a kind of social utopia for its citizens. He then traces fascism's history in the U.S. -- from Woodrow Wilson's war socialism and FDR's New Deal to today's liberal push for a greater alliance between big business and government. Finally, Goldberg reveals the striking resemblances between the opinions advanced by Hitler and Mussolini and the current views of the left on such diverse issues as government's role in the economy, campaign finance reform, campus "speech codes," education, environmentalism, gun control, abortion, and euthanasia.

Impeccably researched and persuasively argued, Liberal Fascism will elicit howls of indignation from the liberal establishment...

* How fascism, Nazism, Progressivism, and modern liberalism are all alike in principle, in that all believe that government should be allowed to do whatever it likes, so long as it is for "good reasons"

* How, before World War II and the Holocaust, fascism was considered a progressive social movement both in the U.S. and Europe -- but was redefined afterwards as "right wing"

* How the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term "National Socialism") who loathed the free market, believed in free health care, opposed inherited wealth, spent vast sums on public education, purged Christianity from public policy, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life

* How the Nazis declared war on smoking; supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control; and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities -- where campus speech codes were all the rage

* Adolph Hitler, Man of the Left: how his views and policies regarding capitalism, class warfare, environmentalism, gun control, euthanasia and even smoking are remarkably close to those of modern liberals

* How Woodrow Wilson and the other founding fathers of American liberalism were far crueler jingoists and warmongers than modern conservatives have ever been

* How Wilson's crackdown on civil liberties in the name of national security far exceeds anything even attempted by Joe McCarthy, much less George W. Bush

* How Mussolini and Hitler both thought -- quite rightly -- that they were doing things along the same lines as FDR

* How, in the 1930s, FDR's New Deal was praised for its similarity to Italian Fascism -- "the cleanest, neatest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery," said an influential member of FDR's team

* How, just like modern liberals, Mussolini promised a "Third Way" that "went beyond tired categories of left and right" in order to "get things done"

* Mussolini's and Hitler's not-so-secret admirers: how many prominent progressives -- from W.E.B. Dubois in the U.S. to George Bernard Shaw England -- publicly praised German Nazism and Italian Fascism

* Liberal fascism and the cult of the state: how progressivism shared with fascism a conviction that, in a truly modern society, the state must take the place of religion

* How the modern heirs of the fascist tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood...

"'It is my argument that American liberalism is a totalitarian political religion,' Jonah Goldberg writes near the beginning of Liberal Fascism. My first reaction was that he is engaging in partisan hyperbole. That turned out to be wrong. Liberal Fascism is nothing less than a portrait of twentieth-century political history as seen through a new prism. It will affect the way I think about that history -- and about the trajectory of today's politics -- forever after." -- Charles Murray, author of Human Accomplishment and coauthor of The Bell Curve

"In the greatest hoax of modern history, Russia's ruling 'socialist workers party,' the Communists, established themselves as the polar opposites of their two socialist clones, the National Socialist German Workers Party (quicknamed 'the Nazis') and Italy's Marxist-inspired Fascisti, by branding both as 'the fascists.' Jonah Goldberg is the first historian to detail the havoc this spin of all spins has played upon Western thought for the past seventy-five years, very much including the present moment. Love it or loathe it, Liberal Fascism is a book of intellectual history you won't be able to put down -- in either sense of the term." -- Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities and I Am Charlotte Simmons...

It's available January 8th. My advice is to buy two. One for you; one for a progressive friend.

Hat tip: The Corner

Update: the morbidly obese James Wolcott -- writing at the morbidly moronic Vanity Fair -- is on a whining frenzy, what with Goldberg receiving positive reviews from Tom Wolfe and all. The envy is almost palpable and the sweat rolling from Wolcott's furrowed brow almost visible. One feels an urge to plug an IV into the rotund progressive, not to help his blood pressure, but instead to release some of the highly compressed gas circulating within his Mooreian frame.

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