Saturday, December 29, 2007

Liberal Fascism

I lift the following from Instapundit:

HEIL, WOODROW! That's the title of David Oshinsky's surprisingly positive review of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism in Sunday's New York Times. Excerpt:

Coming of age in the 1960s, I heard the word “fascist” all the time. College presidents were fascists, Vietnam War supporters were fascists, policemen who tangled with protesters were fascists, on and on. To some, the word smacked of Hitler and genocide. To others, it meant the oppression of the masses by the privileged few. But one point was crystal clear: the word belonged to those on the political left. It was their verbal weapon, and they used it every chance they got. . . .

Leftists still drop the “f word” to taint their opponents, be they global warming skeptics or members of the Moral Majority. The sad result, Goldberg says, is that Americans have come to equate fascism with right-wing political movements in the United States when, in fact, the reverse is true. To his mind, it is liberalism, not conservatism, that embraces what he claims is the fascist ideal of perfecting society through a powerful state run by omniscient leaders. And it is liberals, not conservatives, who see government coercion as the key to getting things done.

“Liberal Fascism” is less an exposé of left-wing hypocrisy than a chance to exact political revenge. Yet the title of his book aside, what distinguishes Goldberg from the Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages is a witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults — no mean feat in the nasty world of the culture wars.

Read the whole thing. Our podcast interview with Jonah is here.

The boldface is mine.

Update, 12/30/07: Here's more on the book. Apparently some lefties don't like this book and want to try to Googlebomb it. This first two comments pretty much sum up my views:
  • Doesn't the fact that Kos is trying this tactic prove the thesis of liberal fascism?
  • "How dare he call us fascists. Let's crush his dissent!"


Ellen K said...

This is an idea I have been discussing with my own kids and with friends. If we cannot freely express ideas that are opposed to the status quo, then do we have freedom at all? I know that I quit Journalism as a major due to the idea that the printed word should be used to manipulate rather than report. It was interesting and I am sure that the "progressives" are doing what they tried to do with Glenn Beck's book and hide it from the shelves.

Unknown said...

Irony is totally lost on some people. I wonder if there's a psychological explanation for that...?

J said...

Quite a few writers have interpreted liberalism as a type of fascism. I have read a bit of Goldberg and agree with some of his assertions, though I think he misreads statism and nationalism as types of liberalism. The jargon and ism's become tiresome, but I don't think the rights outlined in the Constitution are fascist; that is classical liberalism, which many modern statist leftists (called liberals, somewhat erroneously) overlook or misconstrue. Some people refer to Hillary as a liberal, but she's really more like a statist-socialist (as her health care plans indicate). The nazi government had some socialist aspects, but of course they did not allow for rights or Due Process or a free press as the US or most liberal democracies do. Nazis like Goering--a real monster, and probably as responsible for the 3rd Reich as Hitler was--- also enjoyed playing the part of aristocrats as well.

The more relevant similarities seem to hold between say a marxist-state (like Stalinism) and the nazi state, though of course the nazis detested the bolsheviks. And marxists like fascists both follow the Hegelian system--Hegel perhaps the great prophet of totalitarianism. Both regimes denied rights, and practiced racial policies and a grand scale. The American "liberals" (really more socialist, even starting with FDR) tend more towards that soviet-statist model, then towards fascism, which was very macho and romantic, and of course bloody. But even Il Duce (who probably did not know the extent of the nazi crimes) made the trains run on time, and made some economic progress. Il Duce was a bit of statist and a tyrant: nothing compared to the Stalinists--.