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UnavailableLiberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
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Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

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Currently unavailable on Scribd

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

ratings:
4/5 (13 ratings)
Length:
712 pages
10 hours
Released:
Jan 8, 2008
ISBN:
9780385517690
Format:
Book

Description

“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.
Released:
Jan 8, 2008
ISBN:
9780385517690
Format:
Book

About the author

Jonah Goldberg is editor at large of National Review Online and author of the bestselling Liberal Fascism. He is also a columnist for USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News.



Reviews

What people think about Liberal Fascism

4.0
13 ratings / 13 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Insightful and well researched. Clearly presents his arguments and his major assumptions.
  • (4/5)
    Goldberg presents a fascinating yet reasonably detailed presentation of his idea that fascism and liberalism sprung from the same intellectual soil. Fascism is therefore rightly identified as a problem of the left, not the right. The book is fairly easy to read though it does become tedious at times as the author strives to pound home his point with an overwhelming amount of evidence. In the end, I think that he is very successful in demonstrating the historical connections of the past as well as the philosophical connections of the present.In the beginning, fascism was not a discredited and abominable idea. It was quite frankly a more muscular version of the liberalism so common in America during the early 1900s. American authors and politicians openly admired the philosophy and those who practiced it, including Mussolini and Hitler. President Wilson in fact instituted fascism during World War 1 and was disappointed when the American people did not want to keep it beyond the end of the war. President Roosevelt picked up his mantle and practiced it once again. The world and fascism had changed significantly by 1945 however. It was now associated strongly with Hitlerism which made it unacceptable. Liberalism realized this and began the process of trying to connect fascism with conservatism even though they shared only the slightest thread of nationalism/patriotism. As Goldberg demonstrates, conservatism stands for everything against fascism. Though a definition of fascism is almost impossible to finalize, it must include the expansion of government, the prioritization of the corporate over the individual, and the ultimate rule of the state. Philosophically, these are very close to the goals of liberalism and completely at odds with conservatism. Goldberg makes his point well. Unfortunately, he will probably not receive the answer he deserves from liberalism.
  • (3/5)
    It has provocative thesis which is probably more accurate than its critics would give it credit for. Unfortunately it sometimes seems to be devoted to slamming liberalism rather than giving a balanced view (it attempts to account for similar conservative tendencies in a postscript, a rather unfortunate place since you have to get through the whole main text first). Because of this, it's unlikely to convince any current liberals. I still enjoyed it.
  • (4/5)
    Great historical info and illuminating of the Democrats (and some Republicans) of today. Flow was a bit off for me but that was a minor detail.
  • (4/5)
    Preaching to the choir, alas. Author Jonah Goldberg is a National Review contributor and Liberal Fascism reads like a greatly elaborated version of a National Review article: erudite, extensively researched and documented, and never read by the people who should. Goldberg falls all over himself apologizing; he doesn’t really think Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Barack Obama are Fascists, just that their programs have some things in common with Fascist programs. He’s rather handicapped here because the John the Baptist of Fascism, Benito Mussolini, didn’t really have any programs – Mussolini said “Our program is to govern”. This has historically allowed Leftists to define Fascism as “anything we disagree with”. Lots of Fascist/NSDAP goals and accomplishments – guaranteed employment, abolition of interest, confiscation of war profits, nationalization of trusts, profit sharing, old-age pensions (all these come from the NSDAP party platform) – would be counted as “progressive” if they had come from any other political entity. In fact, as Goldberg points out, they were counted as progressive at various times by Lincoln Steffens, H.G. Wells, and George Bernard Shaw and others with impeccable leftist credentials.
    Goldberg’s deconstruction of Woodrow Wilson is particularly enlightening and should be required reading for anybody who thinks George W. Bush was “the worst president ever”. The Wilson administration was responsible for the Espionage Act and Sedition Act, which allowed it to arrest anyone who criticized WWI. The Postmaster General was empowered to prohibit mailing any “seditious” publication (and did so for over 75), and the War Resources Board interdicted supplies of newsprint to any critical newspaper.
    There are a lot of eyebrow raising quotes here. Cole Porter: “You’re the top, You’re the Great Houdini; You’re the top, You are Mussolini!” (original version). Woodrow Wilson: “I am an advocate of peace but there are some splendid things that come to a nation through the discipline of war”. Clarence Darrow (speaking of Wilson and WWI): “Any man who refuses to back the President in this crisis is worse than a traitor.” Walter Lippmann (speaking to FDR): “The situation is critical, Franklin. You may have no alternative but to assume dictatorial powers”. Völkischer Beobachter (about FDR): “A man of irreproachable, extremely responsible character and immovable will.” Mussolini: “Roosevelt is moving, acting, giving orders independently of the decisions or wishes of the Senate or Congress.” (They meant that as a compliment).
    This just skims the surface of a 400+ page book. Every quote and claim is documented. The problem is nobody who needs to is going to pay any attention to this. This isn’t Goldberg’s fault; it’s just the way things are. You can explain all you want that Hitler was a Socialist, and what “Nazi” is short for, but all it invokes in the typical liberal is cognitive dissonance.
    I have some gripes. From time to time Goldberg blames various liberal excesses on “Darwinism”, as if that were a political philosophy (what he actually means is “Social Darwinism”). And Goldberg goes a little overboard when he comments on McCarthyism: “…under McCarthyism a few Hollywood writers who’d supported Stalin and then lied about it lost their jobs in the 1950s.” – the problem being that they shouldn’t have been forced to lie about it in the first place. But on the whole, recommended.
  • (2/5)
    The interesting ideas are drowned in a sea of skewed logic. There are some genuinely good arguments and I believe this book deserves a read (if only to hone your argumentative skills). I couldn't read it again.
  • (2/5)
    I read the first few chapters and that's about all I could take....The authors argument that liberals are more fascist than conservatives is ridiculous. Under Wilson he talks about the government taking away privacy and spying on neighbors...and calling sauerkraut "liberty cabbage". That all sounds similar to the PATRIOT Act and "freedom fries", which happened under a conservative POTUS. The liberal examples he uses, such as health care, are true, they are "fascist", but that's because fascism is a radical take on SOCIALISM! I feel the author couldn't get anything else published so he wrote a book full of ridiculous theories.
  • (5/5)
    Reading this book helped me understand 20th century politics and culture like few others have.
  • (5/5)
    Surprisingly less inflammatory than the title seems to suggest, this is the missing history of the 20th century. Documents shocking happenings during the Wilson & FDR administrations while judiciously identifying parallels in modern liberal thought. Much better place to read a critique about liberalism than Levin's incendiary (and sadly popular) Liberty and Tyranny.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    The information presented highlights the ongoing struggle over the past one hundred plus years between individualists and collectivists. The author's keen insights were much appreciated. Unfortunately, reading this book was a labor of love for me. I enjoyed the information but not particularly the read.
  • (5/5)
    Given the crisis in our Canadian culture, where our high school students are subjected to overt leftist thought in a radically dark effort at social engineering, and where the CBC has deteriorated into an absurd caricature of the press as it swallows every loony left idea it's college educated journalists can find - and spit out again - this book is a wild and enjoyable relief. It's also solid academic work. It defines well what we're facing, and I can only dream that enough people will read this book and so wake up to beast we're allowing to grow right in our midst. May we return to that time when the role of the state was to protect me, the individual, from every well-intentioned quack who's bent on controlling other people to their chosen ends.
  • (5/5)
    This has been a long time coming, i.e. an accessible-but-soundly-researched, readable, up-to-date account of how communism and fascism are socialism's equally monstrous fraternal twins, and how both inhabit the opposite end of the political/philosophical spectrum from true conservatism. Liberal Fascism meets this criterion beautifully, and also does an excellent job illustrating how the mindset and mores of fascism creep into politics and culture, over and over, from the late 19th century up to this very day.I recommend this book to both conservatives (who will find it a breath of fresh air) and liberals (who are going to be hearing some unpleasant things their teachers and college profs have long swept under the moldy rug of historical revisionism. The only flaw here is stylistic: Goldberg is so obviously anticipating waves of obloquy (which he certainly received upon publication) that if anything he over-sources and documents his points. The book exceeds a bit what might have been its most effective length.