Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
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“Fascists,” “Brownshirts,” “jackbooted stormtroopers”—such are the insults typically hurled at conservatives by their liberal opponents. Calling someone a fascist is the fastest way to shut them up, defining their views as beyond the political pale. But who are the real fascists in our midst?
Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler's National Socialism and Mussolini's Fascism.
Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.
Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler's Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.
Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.
These assertions may sound strange to modern ears, but that is because we have forgotten what fascism is. In this angry, funny, smart, contentious book, Jonah Goldberg turns our preconceptions inside out and shows us the true meaning of Liberal Fascism.
here we go again Could the Great Depression happen again? Read why it MUST happen again, because we didn't learn... FDR's first inaugural address has so many parallel's with Obama's saying that only the government can solve our current economic problems, when it is the government that caused them, just as in the New Deal....more info
Fantastic Insight I found so many parallels to today's thinking, it's scary. It's all coming around again with the same old plays as 80 years ago. Informative and entertaining. ...more info
Drivel Just about as accurate as Bias, another poorly researched, poorly written book by the same author. His book would however be good reading in an English class where the teacher would give students this book, Google, and 15 minutes to come up with 25 instances of either misrepresented or blatantly made-up information.
To Cumbersome I purchased the audio version and I could not get through it. I found the book to be clunky and a PHD version in the study of facism. Not what I thought it was going to be which was disappointing because I love Jonah.
It kept moving from the 20's to the 90's and then the 40's - it was confusing and I had to give up on it. ...more info
The most important book I've ever read. This book is a warning to everyone: LEARN YOUR HISTORY!!! The selective history we have been spoon fed by textbooks and the media can only be overcome by sharing the research of authors like Jonah Goldberg. Get one for yourself and two for friends and tell them to do the same. Spread the word. History is being repeated. ...more info
Just because you label yourself one thing, doesn't make you one Mr. Goldberg starts off with a strong idea: Liberals (in particular Socialists) have a historical precedent for turning into Fascists. The problem for Mr. Goldberg is that just because one says one is a duck, doesn't make one a duck. This is the problem with American politics in particular, and possibly politics in general the world over: Labeling complex. The innate need to label your opponent as something evil. Still, it is Mr. Goldberg's flawed hypothesis based on historical fact.
The latest example of this flawed hypothesis from Mr. Goldberg is the "Socialist" Hugo Chavez. Declaring yourself a Socialist, but engaging in the behavior and actions of a tyrant, while tossing out crumbs makes one a tyrant, no matter what label you choose for yourself.
Herein is where Mr. Goldberg's treatise falls flat. He simply, and quite succinctly, takes the labels other gave themselves as justification for declaring the whole. That would be like judging the entire Republican party (born in Wisconsin, my home) from the actions of Reagan, Gingrich, Limbaugh, G.W. Bush, et al. Those men, and indeed Mr. Goldberg, do not represent my Republican party. They represent the party of anti-intellectualism (which is ironic), victimization complexes, gut based decision-making, and socially intrusive government.
Mr. Goldberg is apparently a child of the "Reagan Revolution" and as such displays all the foul temperaments associated with it in this book. As a true conservative, I must disavow this book as I disavow the majority of AM Radio personalities.
Mr. Goldberg's title was designed to draw inflamed response, just as many other conservative titles have done, from the left. In this he is no different than Ann Coulter, or many others, seeking to justify the fears and prejudices of the buying public they are supported by. His logic is extremely tenuous (in the best of circumstances) and leaves us with this vague feeling of cotton candy for "conservatives." Indeed the marketing to faux conservatives is so thick throughout the book, as to leave a sugary smell that permeates the dust cover.
In the end, that's all the book is, a feel-good treatise for his target audience. This book is fine entertainment, but that's all it truly is. There is no true historical perspective here, but one is not expecting a shill for either side to do honest fact checking in any case....more info
Fascism and Liberalism are far more similiar than you may know... There are many great comments about this fine book by many here (at least by those that have actually read the book and don't have a political axe to grind) so I will keep my comment short. Jonah Goldberg has written a brilliant and revealing book that should be read by everyone who has wanted to learn more of the history of the Progressive and Liberal movements in the U.S. and Europe. Note that such a topic would nary be readily available as a course at university since you would be hard pressed to find such a course in our very liberal institutions of higher learning. The historical details Goldberg traces through the book are a real eye opener (particularly the similarities between Fascism and modern day Liberalism) and also helped to fill in some historical gaps I have always wondered about concerning the American Progressive movement.
The section titled "Green Fascism" (In the chapter "The New Age: We're All Fascists Now) which details the concrete parallels between Nazi environmentalism and the current "crisis" of climate change championed by Al Gore is enough of a reason to read this great book.
Liberal Fascism It's a very eye opening book. The American left is here more than people thank it is. America needs to read this book. ...more info
An Academic Masterpiece Jonah Goldberg (et al) did himself proud in this well written fastidiously researched historically accurate and humorous book. If you wonder why liberal mumbo jumbo always seems to make no sense has no logical flow or doubles back on itself you will have it figured out after reading this. If you wonder what happened to our school system, our political system, our representative republican form of government then you will find the answers in this book... You won't like them, but you'll find the truth in these pages.
Jonah provides not only an accurate history of fascism but Nazism and why back in the day they were so popular even in America and why today our government is 'chock a block' with socialist and progressive fascist programs and an endless democrat support for it providing names and examples using present day government policies and supporters. You'll be able to identify fascist techniques being used every single day in the news and in politics by your government officials, special interest groups and 'news' providers.
If you are like I was, you can't figure out why government seems to contradict itself, can lie directly to your face like God Himself never spoke truer words, when you know it's false, why the gears of news and information just don't seem to mesh with actions by government it's in this book. A true academic masterpiece. Thank you Mr. Goldberg!...more info
A "Must Read" This is a must read. Buy copies for your parents and for your kids. READ IT and spread the word. A ...more info
Liberal Fascism The author's reasoning is immediately sensable and well researched. The difficulty, as poiinted out by Jonah Goldberg, is that the term "fascist" is used for the enemy or adversary from many points of view. This allows the Liberal to skate, almost unnoticed....more info
Liberal Fascism Looking at Liberalism from a different perspective, Jonah Goldberg has written Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (New York: Doubleday, c. 2007). Goldberg's title (and treatment) are almost deliberately incendiary, designed to anger American liberals who have routinely insisted that "fascism" is a conservative trait! Here they ape "Stalin [who] stumbled on a brilliant tactic of simply labeling all inconvenient ideas and movements fascist" (p. 10). With Stalin they deny, for example, that Hitler was a man of the Left, whereas he was a doctrinaire socialist--though of a national, not an international, variety.
So, for clarity, Goldberg provides this definition of fascism: "Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by fore or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the `problem' and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism" (p. 23). Consequently, he points out remarkable correlations and draws intriguing conclusions that make his treatise quite thought-provoking. Historically, the argument he endeavors to prove is this: "Progressivism was a sister movement of fascism, and today's liberalism is the daughter of Progressivism" (p. 2).
Before the Holocaust, "when it never occurred to anyone that fascism had anything to do with anti-Semitism" (p. 26), many American liberals, including members of FDR's "brain trust" such as Rexford Tugwell, openly admired fascist efficiency. To New Dealers (pragmatists to a man) success validated the truth and goodness of ideas. Thus Tugwell praised Italian Fascism as "'the cleanest, neatest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I've ever seen. It makes me envious'" (p. 13). What Tugwell--and earlier Progressives including Woodrow Wilson--craved is what Goldberg calls "the totalitarian temptation--that with the right amount of tinkering we can realize the utopian cream of `creating a better world'" (p. 15). That longing still marks the rhetoric of "hope" (Barak Obama) and the "politics of meaning" (Hillary Clinton). The desire to create a perfect world, to make sure that everyone's cared for, to require everyone to live right, informed "the Nazi antismoking and public health drives [that] foreshadowed today's crusades against junk food, trans fats, and the like. A Hitler Youth manual proclaimed, `Nutrition is not a private matter!'" (p. 19). "'You have the duty to be healthy!'" (p. 389).
Nor was drinking left up to individual choice! American Progressives' crusade to banish alcoholic beverages (triumphant in the 18th amendment) garnered praise from Nazi publicists for its linking "moral and physical health." And many Prohibitionists applauded "the election of Hitler, a famous teetotaler. And while the racist undercurrent of Prohibition was always there--alcohol fueled the licentiousness of the mongrel races--in Germany the concern was more that alcohol and even more the despised cigarette would lead to the degeneracy of Germany's Aryan purity. Tobacco was credited with every evil imaginable, including fostering homosexuality" (p. 268). Hitler hated tobacco, holding that cigarette addiction illustrated the "'wrath of the Red Man against the White Man, vengeance for having been given hard liquor" (p. 388). "The Nazi war on alcoholism and the Hitlerite emphasis on organic foods slowly pushed the beverage industry away from beer and booze and toward natural fruit juices. Children were a special priority. In 1933 the Nazis banned alcohol advertising that was aimed at children" (p. 299).
Goldberg further finds fascinating parallels between the Environmentalism of today's liberals and "the Nazi cult of the organic." Along with Hither, many leading Nazis, "Himmler, Rudolph Hess, Martin Bormann and--maybe--Goebbels were vegetarians or health food fetishists" (p. 385). There was a back-to-the-earth agenda to much of the Nazi program, a celebration of the "natural" rather than the "artificial." Eminent Nazis proclaimed a commitment to "animal rights," and sought to enshrine them in legislation; Himmler even branded hunting as "'really pure murder'" (p. 386). He envisioned his SS troops eating strictly organic food "and was dedicated to making the transition for all of Germany after the war. Organic food was seamlessly linked to the larger Nazi conception of the organic nation living in harmony with a pre- or non-Christian ecosystem" (p. 389).
To rightly explain these totalizing aspects of Fascism, Goldberg gives careful attention to Benito Mussolini. "He was one of Europe's leading radical socialists in arguably the most radical socialist party outside of Russia. Under his stewardship, the journal Avanti! became close to gospel for a whole generation of socialist intellectuals, including Antonio Gramsci" (p. 36). Gramsci, importantly, is a major influence in leftist circles; he urged his followers to launch a long, slow march through cultural institutions (universities, media, churches) rather than rely upon revolutions to bring about a socialist utopia. Mussolini was clearly indebted to the "syndicalism" of Georges Sorel, and "without syndicalism fascism was impossible" (p. 36). Interestingly enough, "Sorel was deeply influenced by the Pragmatism of William James, who pioneered the notion that all one needs is the `will to believe'" (p. 37). Still more: Sorel replicated much of Rousseau and Robespierre and the radical ideas of the French Revolution, which "was the first totalitarian revolution, the mother of modern totalitarianism, and the spiritual model for the Italian Fascist, German Nazi, and Russian Communist revolutions" (p. 38).
Across the Atlantic, Mussolini's American contemporary, Woodrow Wilson, and the Progressives who supported him, were "at the forefront of the push for a truly totalitarian state," Goldberg argues (p. 80). "Wilson's view of politics could be summarized by the word `statolatry,' or state worship (the same sin with which the Vatican charged Mussolini). Wilson believed that the state was a natural, organic, and spiritual expression of the people themselves" (p. 86). Thus, as Rousseau had said, government continually changes to reflect the will of the people, and the Constitution must be considered a living document capable of endless expansion and alteration. In 1912 Wilson declared that "'all that progressives ask or desire is permission--in an era when "development," "evolution," is the scientific word--to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle'" (p. 88). Furthermore, just as the species, not the individual really matters to Darwin so too, Wilson insisted, "the essence of Progressivism was that the individual `marry his interests to the state'" (p. 96).
Within two decades, the Progressivism of Wilson moved seamlessly into the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the year FDR was elected, 1932, H.G. Wells "delivered a major speech at Oxford University to Britain's Young Liberals organization, in which he called for a `"Phoenix Rebirth"' of Liberalism' under the banner of "Liberal Fascism'" (p. 134). Wells had given up hoping the Fabian Socialism he'd earlier supported would work. So he envisioned a new approach to attain the transformation of society, rather resembling what was emergent in Germany and Italy. Wells highly admired FDR, frequently met him in the White House, and called him "'the most effective transmitting instrument possible for the coming of the new world order" (p. 135). In Goldberg's judgment, "it seems impossible to deny that the New Deal was objectively fascistic" (p. 158). It encapsulated "an ideology of power. So long as liberals hold it, principles don't matter" (p. 158). Thus, when Frances Perkins suggested that many New Deal proposals were unconstitutional, FDR blithely brushed away her concerns, ready to pack the Supreme Court or do whatever necessary to implement his plans. "In 1942 he flatly told Congress that if it didn't do what he wanted, he'd do it anyway. He questioned the patriotism of anybody who opposed his economic programs, never mind the war itself" (p. 158).
Consequently: "The apotheosis of liberal aspirations under FDR took place not during the New Deal but during World War II. Roosevelt in his 1944 State of the Union address proposed what he called a `second Bill of Rights.' But this was really an argument for a new Bill of Rights, turning the original on its head. `Necessitous men are not free men,' he declared. Therefore the state must provide a `new basis of security and prosperity.' Among the new rights on offer were `as useful and remunerative job,' `a decent home,' `adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health,' `adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment,' and `a good education.' This second Bill of Rights remains the spiritual lodestar of liberal aspirations to this day" (p. 223).
The world had barely recovered from WWII before fascism took "to the streets" in the 1960s. Remarkably resembling German youths in the 1920s, student radicals in the 1960s determined to overthrow existing authorities, beginning with the universities and their curricula. "The first task of any fascist reformation is to discredit the authority of the past, and this was the top priority of the New Left" (p. 172). Significantly, "In 1966, at a conference at Johns Hopkins University, the French literary critic Jacques Derrida introduced the word `deconstruction'--a term coined by Nazi ideologues--into the American intellectual bloodstream" (p. 173). The rest, as they say, is history! And anyone who witnessed (as I did) deconstruction's role in subverting the integrity of modern universities can attest to the power of Derrida and his views, for "Deconstruction is a direct and unapologetic offshoot of Heidegger's brand of existentialism, which not only was receptive to Nazism but helped foster it" (p. 174).
Goldberg provides extensive documentation showing the fascistic aspects of the New Left in America. Simply to understand the influence of Saul Alinksy's Rules for Radicals (influencing both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton!) is to see the parallel between America's New Left and European Fascism. To consider the heroes of the "movement" as it was called in the `60s is to understand much of its nature. In the nation's most prestigious universities, student "radicals" plastered their walls with "posters of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, and Ho Chi Minh" (p. 193). They celebrated the Black Panthers, overlooking the violence and corruption that pervaded its structures. And despite his demonstrably murderous record, Che Guevara remains a cult figure for multitudes of young devotees.
What's evident in all these individuals is what Goldberg labels the "cult of the state." The gigantic growth of government characterized the 20th century, and "for some liberals, the state is in fact a substitute for God and a form of political religion as imagined by Rousseau and Robespierre, the fathers of liberal fascism" (p. 201). And that political religion has powerfully shaped modern American liberalism.
The heritage of progressivism documented I picked this book up on a trip to NYC after reading about it online. I first realized this book might be controversial when trying to find this book in a NYC bookstore. Someone had hidden this book behind several larger books.
This book was an enjoyable read. Well documented, it chronicles the heritage of the left in the US and properly aligns fascism as a phenom of the left. For my progressive friends who have actually read this book, it has been an eye opener. While I have heard many rail against this book as nothing more than conservative propaganda, I have yet to read a reputable refutation of the author's thesis nor his sources. This is a truly exceptional piece of work and an excellent book. ...more info
Reading past the label. Some reviewers claim this is a difficult book to read. Nonsense; it's simple, well written, and straightforward. Its premise, though, is one very difficult to accept. Alas, the truth always is!
P,S.: Kudos to the editor: the hitlerian Happy Face on the cover deserves a Reuben Editorial Cartoon Award! ...more info
Just one thing to say and I didn't say it!! Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December 19, 1968) was a
> American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the
> Socialist Party of America.
> The Socialist Party candidate for President of the US ,
> Norman Thomas, said this in a 1944 speech:
> "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But,
> under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the
> socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation,
> without knowing how it happened." He went on to say: "I no longer
> need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party.
> The Democrat Party has adopted our platform."
Shallow Assuming all political positions must be plotted along a horizontal left-right x axis hurts the argument of this book. Rather, consider a four-sided model composed of x and y axes, where the familiar left/liberal and right/conservative positions are flanked on the north and south by libertarian/individualist and authoritarian/collectivist positions.
We can then account for the fact that both left and right can be guilty of so-called 'fascist' authoritarian/collectivist thinking in their ranks. We usually call it "totalitarian" when it occurs on the left, and "fascist" when it occurs on the right, for good reasons. Fascism was philosophically rooted in vitalism, rule by the physically better or stronger, where totalitarianism was supposed to be rule by the smarter or 'more rational'. So the right/fascist and left/totalitarian labels apply well to the distinctly different-flavored versions of collectivism on each side. Mr. Goldberg's argument then comes off as a pointless exercise in playground name-changing.
I agree the fanatical left is rightfully deserving of strong criticism, but Mr. Goldberg seems to be saying nothing more than 'I know you are, but what am I?' in response to frustration at being called 'fascist'. How does it contribute to public discourse in any substantive way to make a whole book around renaming the totalitarian tendencies amongst real leftists 'fascism' instead of the perfectly intelligible and useful 'totalitarian'?...more info
It's Just Facts I recently purchased this book a while ago and started reading it. This is just historic truth, so if you don't like it, get over it....more info
Facism This book was a very difficult read. Too much background and history about facism and comparisons to Nazism. I became confused trying to keep up with the writer and his views about facism, Nazism,Socialism and Communism. I don't recommend this book because it doesn't place enough emphasis on modern day examples of facism in our society today. People such as Barack Obama,socialist-communist-black liberation theologian, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, black liberation theologian,racist,propagandist, Rev. Lewis Farakahn, black Muslim, racist, Jew hater,etc. There are many modern day examples like these extremist people that should be reported about in this book....more info
A must read Jonah Goldberg's book should be required reading in all college freshman political science classes. It took me years of independent reading to "un-learn" all the wrong-headed and misleading political analysis of fascism that is 'common-knowledge'. The fact that Fascism in general is the child of Progressivism is fairly well known, but the chapter on the abuses of the Wilson Administration was a real eye-opener. George W. Bush never even imagined 1/10th of the anti-civil liberties measures that Wilson put into place and enforced. As expected, the writing is fresh, clear, concise, and has the inimitable Goldberg wit..
This book is extremely timely. Next year, when the new administration begins to praise "bold experimentation" and urges "unity" to save the nation, you will know what to expect.
Wash Post review? Having the Washington Post review this book is like having Hitler review the Torah. Amazon once again shows it's true colors....more info
Understanding Obama This is a fantastic book, both for a practical and academic understanding of political systems. It takes time to read, as it is very complete. It also appears to be well researched. If you want a better understanding of Obama and what his presidency holds in store, this is a must read. My copy was published in 2007 (pre-Obama); the author's definition of liberal fascist, with there use of words, ideas, and policies seem to dovetail Obama in many ways. The concept of "hope" mentioned in the book (it was even put into quotes) is almost frightening. I personally believe the book cover is dead on the mark. The book is very fair in the sense that it doesn't imply liberal fascists are Nazi's, etc, but it does do a good job explaining that they exist in the same family tree. After reading, you might understand your liberal friends better in the sense of understanding their motivations, etc. You will also be armed with well reasoned arguments as to why Obama is a bit frightening....more info
How very sad. What we have here is simply a "loser's squeal" from an opinion writer who is seeing the national consensus turn against him. Rather than accept this setback gracefully and lay the groundwork for a comeback, he rages against the winning side. It's a unfortunate commentary on the author and the point of view he represents that he can muster no better counterargument than this compilation of name-calling and bile. How very sad....more info
outrageous but thought orovoking. Somewhat over the top, but the author sticks pins into a lot of hypocritical balloons. Definitely worth the price....more info
Extraordinary Possibly one of the best political books I have ever read. Although it is in a different genre, it ranks with 1984 for its effect on my political thoughts. Folks who don't like this book just want to say Fascism = Nazism = Holocaust and my guess is they probably didn't read it. ...more info
History from a much-needed different perspective A startling look at 20th century American politics from a very different point of view. Never before - at least, not in a work of popular history - has anyone explored the Totalitarian Temptation on the left as thoroughly as it is done here, and the result is just eye-opening. While liberals continues to make - often wildly exaggerated - accusations about the totalitarian predilections of the right, this book exposes the long-hidden skeletons in the left's own closet. It argues quite convincingly that what we today call fascism, like communism, has its roots in the very ideas and policies advocated by the early progressives, and that fascism itself was born as a byproduct not of conservative values, but of progressive ones - indeed, many of the most prominent early progressives viewed fascism as another form of socialism. In essence, fascism is here viewed as a phenomena of the left, not the right. Counter-intuitive and unsettling for most modern day liberals, which is why so many of them dismiss this book without even reading it. But despite their objections, this book is becoming an increasingly important part of the political science curriculum being taught at universities across the country, used by both liberal and conservative professors. And it is the thoroughness with which Mr. Goldberg approaches his subject that is the reason why.
Oh, and Mr. Goldberg's wry sense of humor will have you in stitches. A bonus.
Read this book. When you are finished with it, read it again - because it is so dense with research that chances are you'll need to reread it just to digest it all. After that, buy five copies and give them to your friends. Believe me, they won't regret it.
Possibly the most important book on political science history released in the last few years....more info
Great Book The first impression of the title is mis-leading, but it is explained as you read through the book. Jonah basically describes how liberalism is truly fascist, which, considering the election that happened soon after it was published, makes it hard to sleep at night. Not a light read, but tremendously enlightening. Well worth the time I invested in reading it. ...more info
TERRIFIC!!! I purchased this book when it was first released, but only recently got around to reading it and I must say the historical light it throws on the subject is to be commended.
Few realize that Hitler and the Nazis were National Socialists - inherently left wing.
And while I'm sure most left wingers don't boast about their racism they should learn the history of their political leanings.
Some simple questions for your consideration First, for a lengthy and balanced review, check out the Washington Post's analysis.
Second, we can cut through a lot of this mumbo jumbo by looking at the attitudes of conservatives vs. liberals.
So, how do conservatives feel about gays? Be honest now.
How do conservatives feel about immigrants? No excuses.
How do conservatives feel about legislating "morality" (their version)?
How do conservatives feel about corporate interests vs. those of the individual? Not rhetorically, but in terms of voting behavior time and time again.
How do conservatives feel about the seperation of church and state? If left totally unchecked, would there be one?
Answer the above honestly, and the answer will magically appear! Warning, some cognitive dissonance my occur. Feel free to retreat into denial, shallow patriotism, and strident jingoism if the sensation is too intense.
An Amazingly Original Book & An Excellent Read Jonah Goldberg has written a book the has the rare combination of being highly informative, well documented, logically argued, and immensely enjoyable to read. If you desire a better understanding and a broader view of US political history, you'll do well to read Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. You'll be surprised, delighted, and possibly disturbed by this tome of important information that is infrequently taught within the normal academic world. ...more info
A wonderful, prescient book. Warning: This book was very, very dense. It was not easy to read (though not uninteresting), and it must be taken in small bits (say, 1/2 of a chapter at a time). I can't imagine how long it must have taken to write this book, let alone get the reading background necessary to be able to develop the author's ideas.
Just a few, very limited points (in the interest of brevity and readability of my review):
1. One of the most valuable things that this book did was to clarify the original meanings "liberal" and "fascist."
2. In many ways, this book complements/ develops ideas that were introduced in other classic books, such as "Knowledge and Decisions" (Thomas Sowell) and "The True Believer" (Eric Hoffer).
3. It is very insightful that Hitler was a person who was looking for a movment as a means by which to catapult himself to power and not the other way around (looking for power in order to carry out a movement). Anti-Semitism was (and is) just as likely to be a movement of the left as the right.
4. The book could have been made a bit easier to read, but one senses Goldberg's passion for the topic and his trying to put in as much detail as he thought that reader would be able to bear in order to make his case.
5. His discussion of the cult of personality VERY ACCURATELY foreshadowed the Obama administration and the dynamics that exist in present time. The chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel has said "Never let a crisis go to waste." Apparently, this line of reasoning is common to people who want to remake the world-- a state of crisis is a good reason to bend the rules to "get things done."
6. The research and level of detail in this book is STUNNING. There is also some formal economic reasoning here when Goldberg talks about the incentives of governments to have smaller numbers of larger businesses (rather than larger numbers of smaller businesses) and the mutual benefits (to governments and big businesses) of high compliance costs (=it will drive people out of business who can't afford the compliance costs and eliminate the competitors for the bigger businesses).
7. This book upgrades some ideas of "A Conflict of Visions" (Thomas Sowell) by actually dealing with the ideas of LIVING (or recently dead) intellectuals (Al Gore/ Susan Sontag) and giving us a step-by-step breakdown of the line of reasoning that goes into shaping their ideas....more info
Does the title of this book even make sense? Think about it. Liberal is a term on one side of the political spectrum, and fascism is on the other. It's like saying "left-winged right winger". See how that makes no sense?...more info
Goldberg Offers Refreshing Take on History Liberal Fascism opens with a scene from the television show, Real Time with Bill Maher. The scene briefly depicts a moment from the show in 2005 where Maher and his guest, George Carlin, were discussing a political point and began carelessly and recklessly throwing around the term "fascism." Both defined fascism as the act of government takeover by large corporations.
This brief excerpt from the show perfectly showcases the vast ignorance that exists in popular culture concerning the nature of fascism. Unfortunately, Maher and Carlin are not the only liberal dunces who are completely ignorant about what fascism is and isn't. While Bush was president, it was common to hear liberal pundits and know-nothing Hollywood celebrities decry his latest action or policy proposal as fascist or to compare Bush's rule to Hitler's regime. Indeed, in the current American political climate, it is all too common for conservatives to be labeled as fascists.
This is because a common myth persists that when liberalism is extended to a radical degree to the left the resulting government is communism but that when conservatism is extended to a radical degree to the right the resulting government is fascist. The perception, then, is that fascism and communism are philosophical opposites when the truth is that they are closely related; distant cousins at best. Despite all evidence to the contrary, this perception persists and Jonah Goldberg resolves to set the record straight in Liberal Fascism. Early in the book, Goldberg writes:
"Fascism, properly understood, is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left. This fact - an inconvenient truth if there ever was one - is obscured in our time by the equally mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites. In reality, they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space...In terms of their theory and practice, the differences are minimal."
In other words, as Rich Lowry writes of Liberal Fascism, "How we think of the ideological spectrum -- socialism to the left, fascism to the right -- should be forever changed." It was enlightening to discover that left wing liberals formerly embraced the term fascism; in fact, the progressive science-fiction author H.G. Wells was the one who first actually coined the term "liberal fascism." Indeed, if Goldberg's book serves no other purpose than stopping ignorant Hollywood liberals from calling everyone to the political right of Barbara Streisand a fascist, then Goldberg's time and effort spent in writing this work was well worth it.
Before Goldberg traces the twentieth century history of fascism, demonstrating the philosophical roots it shares with communism and modern-day liberalism, he gives us his own "working definition" of fascism:
"Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives."
Goldberg then devotes the rest of the book to argue that "contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism."
Beginning with Mussolini, Goldberg's book tours the major fascist governments of the last century, identifying hauntingly similar objectives and values those governments share with today's liberals. To prove that fascist governments occupied the left wing of the political sphere, Goldberg constantly examines their policies and the platforms they ran on during elections. For instance, Goldberg notes that when Mussolini first ran for office in 1919 his party's platform included an establishment of the minimum wage, a law sanctioning an eight hour work day, a large progressive tax on capital that amounted to little more than a vast redistribution of the country's wealth, an establishment of "rigidly secular" public schools and various other pro-labor measures.
It doesn't take a policy wonk to realize these goals almost perfectly mesh with the current platform of the Democratic Party. As Goldberg sarcastically notes, "Ah yes. Those anti-elitist, stock-market-abolishing, child-labor-ending, public-health-promoting, wealth-confiscating, draft-ending, secularist right-wingers!"
Hitler's Nazism was a different strain of fascism, as its focus on racism and "scientific" anti-Semitism was unique to Hitler's brand of fascism in Germany. Goldberg states that even Mussolini "considered anti-Semitism a silly distraction and, later, a necessary sop to his over-bearing German patron." Yet, many of Hitler's other goals and policies obviously come from the political left. Included in an appendix at the end of the book, is the Nazi's, or National Socialist's, party platform. There you will find calls for the profit-sharing of industries, nationalization of trusts, the expansion of "old age" welfare and the expansion of health services. Yep, sounds right wing to me.
After devoting chapters to Mussolini and Hitler, Goldberg turns his attention to America, where he says the first quasi-fascist leader the world ever saw assumed power in 1912: Woodrow Wilson. Goldberg writes, "Call it what you like - progressivism, fascism, communism, or totalitarianism - the first enterprise of this kind was established not in Russia or Italy or Germany but in the United States, and Woodrow Wilson was the twentieth century's first fascist dictator." Though it sounds heretical, Goldberg backs this seemingly outlandish claim with damning fact after damning fact.
Goldberg documents several of Wilson's policies to make his case that Wilson was a fascist leader but three, in particular, stand out: the commissioning of the War Industries Board (WIB), the establishment of the Committee on Public Information (CPI), and Wilson Sedition Act. Using World War I as an excuse, Wilson declared a time of crisis to move quickly to establish complete control of the nation and circumvent many of America's built-in check and balances.
The WIB was an attempt to nationalize different industries and businesses, bringing American business into "the loving embrace of the state." Groveson Clark, a former member of the board and historian, wrote years later, "It was an industrial dictatorship without parallel - dictatorship by force of necessity and common consent..."
The CPI, effectively Wilson's own ministry of propaganda, openly used fear as a tool to motivate American citizens to think and act in tandem with the government. George Creel, the head of the newly created agency, stated fear was "an important element to be bred into the civilian population. It is difficult to unite a people by talking only on the highest ethical plane." An army of former journalists set out to purposely manipulate the American public under this agency.
Finally, Wilson's Sedition Act banned "uttering, printing, writing, or publishing any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the United States government or the military." Goldberg writes:
The postmaster general was given the authority to deny mailing privileges to any publication he saw fit - effectively shutting it down. At least seventy-five periodicals were banned. Foreign publications were not allowed unless their content was first translated and approved by censors. Journalists also faced the very real threat of being jailed or having their supply of newsprint terminated by the War Industries Board. "Unacceptable" articles included any discussion - no matter how high-minded or patriotic - that disparaged the draft.
To further clarify when a publication could be banned, Goldberg quotes Wilson's Postmaster General Albert Burleson explaining that a periodical could be banned anytime it "begins to say that this Government got in the war wrong, that it is in it for the wrong purposes, or anything that will impugn the motives of the Government for going into the war." Wilson himself stated, "Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way." That wasn't just angry rhetoric. The Espionage Act of 1917, coupled with the Sedition Act of 1918, meant that any criticism of the government, even in one's own house, could earn one a trip to prison.
Throughout the book Goldberg gives further examples of fascist initiatives enacted in the United States by over-zealous liberals, effectively putting a stop to the revisionist history so often accepted as fact in American culture today. He takes a careful look at FDR's New Deal policies to mobilize society, showing that FDR copied more than a little from Wilson's playbook. Goldberg also writes scathing critiques of the radical student and interest groups of the 1960's, where terror and coercion were commonly used as a way to secure concessions and political gain.
The scariest section of the book, though, focuses on the shockingly similar intellectual defense put forth by progressives in the defense of eugenics in the 1920's and still used by liberals to defend abortion today. It is by exploring the links between liberal support for eugenics and abortion that the racist history of the left is finally revealed. Briefly, eugenics was a particular form of "science" popular in the early twentieth century which called for the sterilization of people and races deemed "unfit" to reproduce. The leading proponents for this brutal pseudo-science reads like a who's who of progressive intellectuals from the era including Woodrow Wilson, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood), John Maynard Keynes, Julian Huxley (founder of the World Wildlife Fund), Harold Laski, Oliver Wendell Holmes and even the Bull Moose incarnation of Theodore Roosevelt.
George Bernard Shaw, for instance, stated "The only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialization of the selective breeding of man." While Woodrow Wilson was governor of New Jersey, he founded a board that could decide when "procreation is inadvisable." Those declared to be unfit for procreation ranged from criminals and prisoners to the poor. H.G. Wells, one of the most influential progressive thinkers and authors, wrote in a chilling moment of clarity that "swarms of black and brown, and dirty-white and yellow people" would "have to go." Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wrote in a letter, "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population," while organizing the Negro Project, which aimed to stop blacks from breeding. Of course, it was the Germans' fascination with eugenics that led them to first exterminate the handicapped and mentally ill of their country and eventually led to their rationalization of the Holocaust.
Goldberg does a masterful job of tracing the philosophy within Progressive ranks from past support of eugenics to the current support of abortion. Today, a disproportionate amount of abortions are done to black and Hispanic babies. In the 1970's Jesse Jackson stated abortion was akin to the "genocide of the black race." He later changed his stance on abortion when he ran for president. In his book Freakonomics, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt wrote that "Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime." In 1992 Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that abortion would "save ourselves from being murdered in our beds and raped on the streets."
Goldberg then connects the dots:
"The issue here is not the explicit intent of liberals or the rationalizations they invoke to deceive themselves about the nature of abortion. Rather, it is to illustrate that even when motives and arguments change, the substance of the policy remains in its effects. After the Holocaust discredited eugenics per se, neither the eugenicists nor their ideas disappeared. Rather, they went to ground in fields like family planning and demography and in political movements such as feminism."
"So forget about intent: look at results. Abortion ends more black lives than heart disease, cancer, accidents, AIDS, and violent crime combined. African-Americans constitute little more than 12 percent of the population but have more than a third (37 percent) of abortions...Revealingly enough, roughly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood's abortion centers are in or near minority communities."
It should be pointed out that throughout Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg takes pains to ensure his readers that he is not comparing today's Democrats to Nazis. He readily concedes that Nazism under Hitler's leadership was unique in how extreme it carried out its fascist philosophy, especially the brutal crimes the Nazis committed in the Holocaust.
Goldberg concludes his look with a scathing look at the modern day Democratic Party and popular American culture and a timely warning for conservatives. Indeed, it is these closing chapters that Goldberg's familiar wittiness and humor is on full display after the more academic nature of the book's earlier chapters. One such example, while explaining why he felt the need to write this book:
"Ever since I joined the public conversation as a conservative writer, I've been called a fascist and a Nazi by smug, liberal-know-nothings, sublimely confident of the truth of their ill-informed prejudices. Responding to this slander is, as a point of privilege alone, a worthwhile endeavor."
Those familiar with the works of other conservative writers such as Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin need to be warned: this book is deeper, longer and more scholarly than their typical writings; less one-liners, more substance. Goldberg digs deep in the annals of history to uncover popular myths and the revisionist works of liberal academics to show that it is not conservatives who are in danger of turning America in a fascist direction, but liberals. All in all, Liberal Fascism is a book that meets an immediate need; not only within conservatism, but for all Americans. It is time to take a closer look at our past to better understand where today's political leaders want to take us in the future. Liberal Fascism does just that.
altogether satisfactory The product seemed a little long in coming, but otherwise was completely satisfactory in other respects....more info
A Well Researched Piece The author has really done his homework and writes an interesting book. At the very beginning he goes on a little long with an introduction, but then the book moves along at a better pace. Herein is illuminated a clear articulation of a modern conservative perspective. If you want to have some great discussions about world views this book would be a springboard, or if you are a history buff you will find illuminations on past events that may cause a personal paradigm shift. Personally, I didn't care for the reader. I've listened to a lot of books and I didn't like the way he pronounced some of the words, but then he is from Great Brittan. Overall, I was very glad I read this book, and I recommend it....more info
Liberal Fascism Excellent analytical non-fiction political science work.
More Americans should be interested enough in our Nation's future to take the time to read this book.
Socialism is a failed governmental-economic system and we are stupid and nieve to believe it will solve our problems....more info
Challenging read If you are looking for a book that will challenge your understanding of recent history, then I recommend this book. If you want something that reconfirms your beliefs and understanding, then don't read it. The author not only provides plenty of evidence for his conclusions, but he also points out the philosophical underpinnings. It is thought provoking reading! Even if you don't agree with the author, it will make you think.
I've seen the negative comments. The book isn't "newspeak". The concept of "newspeak" is that it is a language that gets smaller by restricting vocabulary thereby restricting thought. If anything this book is the exact opposite. ...more info
Liberal Fascism This is a must read because one would not be taught this in school.
Pick it up new or used and share with all you know....more info
Neo-Conservative Garbage This book is simply Orwellian doublespeak from cover to cover. It's a psychotic projection of Goldberg's own neo-con, neo-fascist political orientation onto those of liberal democratic orientation.
The fact of the matter is that the Wall Street and City of London international banking syndicates have used both US political parties at different times and in different ways in order to advance their totalitarian new world economic order, almost exactly as Orwell prophesied in his classic book, "1984". He was only off by a few decades.
The author grossly distorts and misrepresents the meanings of both of the words in his chosen title. "Liberal-Fascism" makes as much sense as a "heavenly hell", or a "nightmarish utopia" or "democratic totalitarianism". They are self-contradictory terms.
The word "fascism" has a meaning. Mussolini coined the term, and he defined it. It means a joining or merging of state and corporate power under a strongman leader of extraordinary willpower.
The word "liberal" also has a meaning, although the ultra-right has done their best to distort that meaning. It means GENEROUS, bountiful, broad-minded, open-minded, inclusive, and has always been opposed to authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and unchecked power from any source.
Of course this is the kind of book fascists would love, because it totally deceives the reader about the real meanings of fascism and liberalism. It stands the truth on its head. Goldberg claims he wrote the book because he was tired of being called a fascist. This book proves those who said that spoke truthfully.
This book is the worst possible kind of divisive political propaganda. It is a distortion of fact and reason and therefore poison for the mind and soul. ...more info
Truly Eye Opening "The Secret History of the American Left" is right! But this isn't your typical conspiracy book.
I, like Mr. Goldberg, have found it difficult to find a clear description of what liberals mean when they call conservatives "fascist," as they have obsessively done since the Reagan administration. I've also wondered how the left became identified with the "liberal" label, which originally referred to those who believed in individual and economic freedom and restricted government, clearly at odds with what the Democratic party has stood for since the New Deal. Third, I've wondered as well why the Nazis and the Italian fascists have always been associated with the right of the political spectrum when they had so little in common with conservatism, and so much in common with Communism. The conventional explanation that left meant internationalism while right mean nationalism just didn't make any sense.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find all three of these questions addressed by Jonah Goldberg's book. I admit I haven't had a good grounding in modern American history, but I had heard of the Progressive Movement, which I associated with Wisconsin, Robert La Follete and populism.
This is not the history you'll learn in high school, and it certainly undercuts all the claims of the left who, having fouled the name of liberalism, are now calling themselves progressives once more. Goldberg demonstrates convincingly that all of the current movements built around government planning and control, whether called Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Liberalism or Populism, stem from the so-called populist and progressive movement beginning in the 1800s and resulting in most of the misery and death during the late Nineteenth and the Twentieth Century.
What is even more unsettling is the current influence of the ideas of radical guru Saul Alinsky on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
I found the organization and narrative of the book to wander somewhat in the second half, seemingly from an overabundance of evidence bearing on all versions of the progressive, or more honestly, the "government knows best" movement. Conservatives can be compassionate. Government can't. When it tries, it ends up making it a legal right to live on other people's earnings and destining the poor to remain so for generations.
I'm currently reading a book on Postmodernism, which repeatedly makes the point that rationalism and other elements of the Enlightenment have failed. Yet, our elites never seem to have gotten the message, which might account for pomo mumbo jumbo. ...more info
If everybody read this book... our country would not be in the mess that it is in. Instead, we are saddled with economic crises even while our fascist dictators, e.g., Comrad Peloski, Comrad Doddski et al. continue to push policies that will have no other effect other than increased fascism and economic destruction. ...more info
LIBERAL FASCISM Liberal Fascism, a book by Jonah Goldberg, is a must read for all prophetic seekers of Christ's Second Coming! This book is officially endorsed by The Ignorant Fishermen blog. Liberal Fascism historically documents the outworking, mindset and strategic game plan of the ideological phenomenon of liberal socialistic fascism in both the past and present. This insight is absolutely key to understanding present moods and trends on both a national and global scale. As prophetic events are unfolding right before our eyes, we who know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior understand that greater things are at work than the ambitions of power crazed politicians. The Bible - Almighty God's Word - states: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:12).
Myths Exposed~~~~ This book is like a great mystery novel. I have a hard time putting it down!
It presents history in a perspective that is astounding, and frightening. ...more info
Fascism has already been here! America was once under the rule of a more or less fascist dictator. He locked up thousands of political prisoners during the war, created a propaganda agency, sent out thugs to beat people up in the streets, and more. Surely I must be talking about the Bush/Cheney dynasty? Nope. I'm actually talking about President Woodrow Wilson.
Liberal Fascism is difficult to put down not only because you'll learn things you never knew about, but you will probably be chilled and horrified by what you learn about. I know I certainly was. Did you know that many of FDR's closest advisers and aides spoke gushingly of Hitler's and Russia's "experiments"? Did you know how adored Mussolini was by people in the American press? Did you know that Nazi doctors in concentration camps took much of their inspiration from some of America's "progressives" and their eugenics programs? Did you know that America's supreme court in the 20s, which included the legendary Oliver Wendell Holmes, fully endorsed and authorized eugenics right here in the US? Did you know thousands of innocent people were sterilized in our country to rid society of 'imbeciles?' One has to wonder where the muckrakers were all these years!
I picked up the book last year after seeing Goldbeg on Glenn Beck's show. The title obviously caught my attention, but the truth of the matter was that I wanted a better understanding of what fascism really was. George Orwell, after fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side, bemoaned the fact that fascism had ceased to be a meaningful word, and simply meant anything you didn't like. Conservative as I am, that was roughly my understanding of it before I read Liberal Fascism as well. I just kind of assumed it was right-wing like everyone says it is. (Great job high school history classes)
It makes sense to think that since communism is left-wing, then fascism must be right-wing. I mean they fought each other so much, so that makes sense, right? Wrong. Well, actually...left! As Goldberg points out in the book, when you look through history and even up to the present day, some of the most hated rivals are actually fairly similar to one another. Catholics and Protestants. Sunni and Shia. And yes, communism and fascism. They all have their differences of course, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are opposites either.
One of the biggest things that sticks out to me in this book is just how "nice" true fascism can seem. Much like Huxley's "Brave New World," the American brand of fascism has taken on a slightly more motherly sort of style. We haven't had, as Jonah might say, "mustache-twirlers with British accents" type of bad guys; the typical storm troopers/Gestapo/death camps, or what have you. Instead, we've opted for a more loving, caring, and parental fascism; a nanny state that knows no limits and will take care of us from cradle to grave. True fascism in fact has little to do with concentration camps or militarism. In fact, fascism is very appealing and popular to most people because it seems to offer so much, which is why it is so dangerous.
Liberal Fascism A must read for any student of modern political history with an open mind. Goldberg offers us a great deal of insight based on well researched material and uninhibited by the usual revisionist agenda. Having read this book, I feel I have a far better understanding of the current struggle for America's political soul; and the left's intent, modus operandi, and end-game strategy. ...more info
Submission to authorities are the problem The problem with Goldberg's book is that it ignores the fact that fascism isn't a product of liberalism, but those of an authoritarian bent. Those who wish to submit themselves to authorites and say the government cannot be wrong and that to criticize one's leaders or government is unamerican have been fascist or communists or in betwen. The point being, they believed that the government and authorities must be followed. There is an excellent book by John Dean on this very subject. Unfortunately those on the right are much more likely to fit this criteria then those on the left though they don't have a 100% monopoly. I urge readers to look up his name on amazon search....more info
Abundance of research Mr. Goldberg did an enormous amount of research to make his point. I don't know how anyone could argue with his conclusions given all the facts he uses to back them up. This is not an easy book to read. I think Mr. Goldberg had so much to say it comes tumbling out in vast amounts of facts and personalities. It is fascinating reading, nonetheless, and makes one wonder why we keeping buying what the liberal fascists are selling. Those who want to deny what's happening should take an honest look at why and determine whether they want to trade our Constitutional Republic for a national socialist existence. It hasn't worked, it won't work, and may be hard to reverse once we go too far in that direction....more info
"Facts are stubborn things" The reviews submitted so far are wordy and already include a lot of information. I think three things need to be said to those interested in this book:
1.) The label "liberal fascism" is not Goldberg's. He fully gives credit to H.G. Wells, a contemporary of the American Progressives and German Fascists, who like many at the time saw a distinct commonality. The title is NOT some crass attempt to sling mud.
2.) This is one of the best researched books I have ever read.
3.)Liberals beware. Facts are stubborn things after all, and the facts contained within this book will shatter your dearly held notions about the American Left's approach to politics....more info
Best political history In eight years of full time university work specializing in the subject, including grad. school (MA in history), this is the best volume of American political history for the modern period that I have seen. A remarkable achievement, and well researched and documented throughout. The author's evaluation of Wilson and the progressive era is particularly revealing. A must read. The reaction of the liberals to the book is yet one more vindication of the author's theory. ...more info
No Godwin's Law Here I am a strong adherent to Godwin's rule: Once Nazis are referenced, the discussion is over.
Therefore, I initially resisted picking up this book when it first came out for, while I like Jonah Goldberg as a snarky commentator for the National Review and other outlets, I was not interested in a partisan screed equating liberals with Nazis.
I admit now, that I was under a serious misapprehension.
Goldberg has produced a serious, well researched work that explores the thesis that is at once both obvious and rarely observed; that modern leftism/progressivism and the totalitarian movements of the 20th century (Nazism, Fascism, Communism) share the same root antecedents. They are all daughters of the Counter-Enlightenment in that they privilege collectivism over individualism, emotion over reason and have all succumbed to what has been termed (not by Goldberg) the "totalitarian temptation"; the idea that if only we had a good enough plan, if only we had the right people, the people with the special insight or occulted knowledge, we could achieve perfectibility in Man.
Therefore, the common wisdom that fascism is a phenomenon of the "Right" vice communism as a phenomenon of the "Left" is actually misleading. Both movements share a common ancestor in the Counter-Enlightenment and are thus better understood as different branches of the same family. Goldberg makes a good argument that the received wisdom as it stands today is the result of a propaganda coup by the Soviets wherein they labeled all competitors to the Soviet Empire as "fascist" (even though fascism and communism were philosophically and functionally similar.) Thus, today, any philosophy of the Right (conservatism or classical liberalism) is parodied as "fascist" or "crypto-fascist."
Goldberg writes a strong history of European fascism and how the American Progressive movement of the first half of the 20th century bore an eerie resemblance to it. Anyone worried about the creeping fascism of George W. Bush would do well to read Goldberg's narration of the Woodrow Wilson/FDR eras. It is compelling reading that will make your hair stand on end.
Less compelling to an extent is his later discussion of modern liberalism, but his argument is well taken; modern Leftism traces its lineage directly from the Counter-Enlightenment and thus shares more than a gene or two with historical fascism.
Note that Goldberg is *not* saying that liberals are fascists, and certainly not Nazis (he feels compelled to constantly highlight the distinction throughout the book - for good reason.) However, because these two movements do share the same philosophical roots, it is imperative that we, as Americans who have largely been defined by our classical liberalism, understand that the siren song of "social justice" and appeals to "get beyond politics" lead to a dark place.
Essential reading for an understanding of the current global struggle between the Enlightenment and its discontents.
You NEED to read this book, but you don't HAVE to! "Liberal Fascism" is an interesting take on what Goldberg calls modern liberalism. He delves into the problem with political labeling (something I explain with a unique twist in my book "Everyone Agrees") and lashes out against those who call Bush and the neo-cons "fascist" when, in fact, the true fascists are the post-Progressive Democrats.
Goldberg provides a fascinating history of fascism from Mussolini to Kennedy and reveals the roots to modern politics in "fascist" government programs like those Hoover and Roosevelt pushed during the Great Depression. Goldberg also outs Wilson for his unconstitutional behavior arresting dissidents, propagandizing, and launching the country into war.
Goldberg gets into trouble, however, as he attempts to point the finger of fascism solely on Democrats. What the author claims about Roosevelt and Clinton is true, but he fails to admit the fascistic tendencies of Bush and his administration. While Goldberg acknowledges the problem with labels, he succumbs to the same faults as finger-pointing Democrats. Goldberg's use of "right" and "left" as if those terms mean anything and his insistence that the arbitrary left is completely at fault is tragic in an otherwise enlightening book. Fascism(as Goldberg defines it) can hit us from both sides of the Congressional aisle and the fact that prominent authors fail to realize this is the main reason fascism is succeeding today.
Regardless of the shortcomings, this book is highly recommended. You NEED to read this book, but luckily, we don't live in a fascist society as of yet and you don't HAVE to....more info
Deconstructing a great modern myth Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism" is long overdue. This should be evident to anyone who rejects the party line of the reigning collectivist orthodoxy in America. Such a person will have had the experience of being labeled a "reactionary" or an "ultra-conservative" and of being informed that his opinions, if taken a bit further, would make him a fascist.
This charge, as inevitable as death and taxes in a debate with a hard-core Leftist, leaves its victim stunned and confused, like the proverbial deer in the headlights. "But, wait..." stammers the besieged advocate of free markets and limited government. He replays in his mind the famous film clips of Hitler addressing the Nazi mass rallies, and thinks, such a thing could not be further from my heart. Yet he fails to utter a satisfactory rejoinder to his accusers.
Along comes Goldberg and unravels the myth of the "conservative fascist," one of the pre-eminent Big Lies of the post-War era. Not content to debunk it, he turns the tables, offering conclusive evidence that the contemporary American "liberal" (as opposed to the classic liberal of yesteryear) subscribes to an ideology that is a patchwork of the twentieth century's anti-democratic experiments: statism, collectivism, racialism, and nihilism--in a word, fascism. Today, it is a "feel-good" fascism; fascism with a caring face. But it is the same road to serfdom (to borrow Hayek's phrase), and it leads to a place where freedom, liberty, and the human spirit have been eliminated.
The book takes us on a journey through the ideological swamps of the American Left, featuring such highlights as pre-WWI Progressivism; Woodrow Wilson; the New Deal; the radicals of the 1960s; the Clintons; and Al Gore. In each case, Goldberg shows us the uncanny resemblance between the icons of the Left and the ideology and/or methods of the self-declared fascists--be they German, Italian, or some other variety.
We learn how Mussolini and the Nazis were first and foremost socialists, pure creations of the Left. Goldberg presents reams of testimony to highlight this seldom-discussed fact. For example:
"The Nazi ideologist--and Hitler rival--Gregor Strasser put it quite succinctly: 'We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today's capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!'"
Likewise, the original Nazi Party platform of 1920 was nothing if not a description of a Leftist nirvana. Explains Goldberg:
"The most striking thing about the platform was its concerted appeal to socialistic and populist economics, including providing a livelihood for citizens; abolition of income from interest; the total confiscation of war profits; the nationalization of trusts; shared profits with labor; expanded old-age pensions; 'communalization of department stores'; the execution of 'usurers' regardless of race; and the outlawing of child labor."
The similarities between the Nazi belief system and much of our own political correctness is chilling. Hitler and his cohorts were super-environmentalists, obsessed with animal rights and organic food. They had a well-developed cult of Mother Earth, which fed into their fantasies of a pagan, pre-Christian Germanic race. They waged fanatical anti-smoking campaigns, part of an overall focus on public health and care for the body. Sound familiar?
Mussolini and his followers were cut from the same Leftist cloth. We read that Mussolini's
"reputation as a radical grew slowly and steadily until 1911. He became the editor of La lotta di classe (Class War), which served as the megaphone of the extremist wing of the Italian Socialist Party...in a speech in Forli he called on the Italian people to declare a general strike, block the streets, and blow up the trains...He emerged from prison as a socialist star. At his welcoming banquet a leading socialist, Olindo Vernocchi, declared: 'From today you, Benito, are not only the representative of the Romagna Socialists but the Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy.' ... Mussolini joined the formal leadership of the party and four months later took over the editorship of its national newspaper, Avanti!, one of the most plum posts in all of European radicalism."
Mussolini enjoyed an immense popularity among the Leftist intelligentsia in Europe and the U.S. (and in many other sectors, as well). His long list of admirers included the New York Times, Lincoln Steffens, Columbia University, the Saturday Evening Post, and Sigmund Freud. How could they all support one of the world's premiere fascist dictators?
"The answer resides in the fact that Fascism was born of a 'fascist moment' in Western civilization, when a coalition of intellectuals going by various labels--progressive, communist, socialist, and so forth--believed the era of liberal democracy was drawing to a close. It was time for man to lay aside the anachronisms of natural law, traditional religion, constitutional liberty, capitalism...This was in every significant way a project of the left as we understand the term today, a fact understood by Mussolini, his admirers, and his detractors."
Another misconception that Goldberg deconstructs (if I may borrow a term invented by the Nazis), is that fascism is a derivative, or extreme version, of capitalism. Related to this is the myth that Hitler was catapulted into power by "big business," just as the big, bad corporations of today allegedly salivate at the thought of enslaving the masses and putting dissidents into concentration camps. This fabrication was as preposterous then as it is today. Fascism is virulently anti-capitalist, and the contemporary large corporation in America tends, if anything, to be aligned with the Left.
"If big business is so right-wing, why do huge banks fund liberal and left-wing charities, activists, and advocacy groups, then brag about it in commercials and publicity campaigns? How to explain that there's virtually no major issue in the culture wars--from abortion to gay marriage to affirmative action--where big business has played a major role on the American right while there are dozens of examples of corporations supporting the liberal side? Indeed, the myth of the right-wing corporation allows the media to tighten liberalism's grip on both corporations and the culture."
Today we face what Goldberg calls a "liberal fascist kulturkampf." Our own fascistic Left seeks to overturn the classic liberal democratic society. We are confronted by many of the same sentiments that propelled the Nazis to power: disenchantment with Western culture; the morbid fascination with race; the hatred of Judeo-Christian morality; the expectation that the realm of politics provide "meaning"; worship of the environment; attraction to paganism; and a puritanical spirit that is manifest in the obsession with public health.
The parallels do not end there. "The white male," says Goldberg,
"is the Jew of liberal fascism. The 'key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race,' writes the whiteness studies scholar and historian Noel Ignatiev. Whiteness studies is a cutting-edge academic discipline sweeping American higher education. Some thirty universities have WS departments, but many more schools teach the essentials of whiteness studies in other courses...The journal Race Traitor (ironically, a Nazi term) is dedicated 'to serve as an intellectual center for those seeking to abolish the white race'."
"Liberal Fascism" is an excellent work, but unfortunately it suffers from two defects. The first is an exaggeration of the fascistic tendencies of certain American leaders. In the case of Hillary Clinton, the argument is airtight. But when it comes to President Lyndon Johnson, I do not believe that the evidence presented supports Goldberg's assertion that the Great Society was "LBJ's fascist utopia."
The second defect is the organization and flow of the book, which is a bit erratic. In a few spots, the subject matter jumps back and forth chronologically and substantively, causing one to lose the thread of the argument.
Despite these shortcomings, Liberal Fascism is a devastating, meticulously documented indictment of the American Left: its methods, its ideology, and the myths it has manufactured to disguise its true nature and intentions. The book is a call to action for all concerned with the systematic destruction of our culture, perpetrated using the tools of feel-good totalitarianism....more info
amazing information The info in this book is amazing, I had no idea our history was so different than we were taught. ...more info
A refreshing new perspective The WaPo reviewer takes Goldberg to task over some definitions, and some omissions, and I do not fault him for that. However, the point of the book remains true: today's distinction between the Right equalling fascism, and the Left equalling socialism/communism etc. is absolutely hokey, propaganda, BS with a capital B and a capital S. And Mr. WaPo is wrong claiming Hitler was no socialist - it IS called the 'National Socialist Party' after all, and his F¨¹hrership certainly started out as a leftie (and ended as one, which we're not supposed to acknowledge).
For those who doubt all this, here's some basic thoughts: if 'right' means conservative and 'left' means progressive, then the most conservative is a Royalist, a man who believes in the hereditary right of kings, of nobility, of people holding title to lands and being natural superiors to the serfs/peasants tilling their fields. The progressives are those who strive away from that, which means chiefly the abolition of privilege, an end to the landholder/peasant society, along with various social 'reforms', from voting rights to legalized usury.
So, where did Hitler or Mussolini try to restore the old aristocratic privileges? The peasant society? Were they not heavily into industrialism, armored warfare, sweeping social and government sponsored work programs (Autobahn, anyone?)
I would argue that even capitalism, built on Bentham's ideas, is part of the new 'radicalism' and not a conservative movement at all. It certainly has in common with fascism and socialism (fascio-socialism might be an appropriate word here) the intent to create a new and better society in the here and now and based on secular principles. Aristocrats, monarchs and the like were in theory considered God-willed and oftentimes God-appointed rulers whose chief duty was toward God rather than toward their subjects. ...more info
Makes one re-evaluate how one views Liberalism Jonah Goldberg did a great service by showing Liberalism's underlying dark history and its happy face covering something not so pretty even by its own stated values. Just look at the visciousness of the attacks on conservatives. If you are not a liberal your very humanity is questioned. But then they claim to support diversity -- but its only as long as you are not on their enemies list. Read it with an open mind. And think about its implications. You will not see modern Liberalism the same way you do now....more info