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Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Paperback – 29 Jan 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; First Edition edition (29 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141039507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141039503
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Love it or loathe it, Liberal Fascism is a book of intellectual history you won't be able to put down - in either sense of the term (Tom Wolfe )

Deliciously amusing...witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults (The New York Times )

Brilliant, insightful and important (New York Sun )

Bold and witty...insightful and honest (New York Post )

About the Author

Jonah Goldberg is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and contributing editor to National Review. A USA Today contributor and former columnist for The Times in London, he has also written for the New Yorker, Commentary, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He lives in Washington, DC.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Stenberg on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Several conservative commentators have observed that left-wing politics has its basis in the idea that all (perceived) human needs can be satisfied. The conservative, on the other hand, intuitively understands that desires and obligations may be inherently conflicting --- sometimes even tragically so. Left-wing politics centers on a belief (statolatry) that the power of the state can and should be extended to the point where the (perceived) needs of all in society can be maximally satisfied. This faith in Progress, with a capital `P', according to Goldberg's thesis, is definitive of the left; its absence is equally definitive of the right. This understanding is however at odds with the ways in which the terms `left' and `right' are used in everyday political parlance, and Goldberg seeks in this book to realign debate with the proper understanding of the terms.

In addition to socialism, social democracy and communism, Goldberg's definition of the left also includes `centre' or `Third Way' liberalism and, most controversially, fascism or national socialism. (Goldberg uses `national socialism' without capitals to refer to a family of related creeds combining a socialist platform and nationalism. Used in this way, `national socialism' is a synonym for `fascism'. German National Socialism, or Nazism, was of course additionally characterized by aggressive anti-Semitism, but this is not a feature of all, or even most, groups whose politics can be described as both nationalist and socialist.) Goldberg nevertheless shows that these movements share an ideological commitment to the state as well as a common history. (This idea was earlier developed in the work of the remarkable Austrian thinker Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, whom Goldberg regrettably omits to mention.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By SkatertnyP on 7 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
This remarkable book has been a huge hit in the USA, less so in the UK as most of the potent examples Jonah Goldberg deploys in pointing up the explicitly authoritarian roots in much modern Leftism are primarily American.

The book's sheer density of grisly examples of 'progressive' oppressiveness is maybe a problem - after a while there is Just Too Much to cope with comfortably. But what gruesome and spectacular examples many of them are.

For me the best part of the book (apart from the gushing praise for the likes of Mussolini from so many seemingly clever people at the time) is the demolition job done on 60s radicalism in the USA. Goldberg nails down in convincing detail how these people managed to veil their openly vicious revolutionary drivel behind all the blathering about 'peace', and (worryingly) how a strain of their totalitarian thinking is still with us, mutating into ever more ingenious ways of extending state control over all aspects of our lives.

This for me is the main danger in the UK's current binge of Big Statism as inflated by unrelenting EU requirements.

Not just a sly erosion of responsibility and our freedoms. Much worse, erosion of the very idea of responsibility, of freedom as something worth having - and worth fighting for.

Arrangements of an astonishingly subtle sort which have helped define some of the highest standards for public life and process ever seen in human history might casually come to be dismissed as boring, old-fashioned - not part of the `contemporary narrative'.

Is there a point at which Liberal Fascism via Big Government wins?

Has an unrecognised tipping-point been reached - and (worse) been passed? When state-sponsored passive cynicism and attendant public spending are so enormous a part of our lives that instead of our owning the state, the bland state owns us?

How would we tell? Would we care? Read the book, think, and decide for yourself.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Cheese Messiah on 4 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Mr. Goldberg makes an excellent case exposing the progressive roots of both classical fascism and Nazism (aka National Socialism) and their connection to contemporary and later "liberal" and left wing ideology. In particular, he draws on the American progressive movement of the early twentieth century. Much is startling (though historically well attested and no historian has disproved Goldberg's facts) and shows that mid century fascism is not some "far right" perversion, but well in keeping with the ideals of the left at the time. One wonders why, since most of this information is quite easily assessible, and the obvious socialist leanings of the Nazis and fascists generally, it has remained obscure for so long. (Conservatives would say the leftist runnings of universities)

Goldberg does focus largely on a great deal of American characters who may be more well known to his US readers than those on this side of the pond. This may be problematic to some British readers. It would be interesting to trace the British connection to all this.

However, the book is full of invaluable information. Goldberg divides up the 20th century into 3 American 'fascist' (by which he means authoritarian/statist) periods. The first (and nastiest) was under Woodrow Wilson, the racist Aryanist Democrat president (he happily segregated the White House after years of blacks made inroads there, for example) who Goldberg considers the father of the modern Left/Liberal/progressive thinking. Next is FDR, whose New Deal (admired by the Left to this day) is strikingly similar to Nazi economics. Finally he looks at the youth movement of the 60s which founded the modern obsession (shared by fascist states) with environmentalism, identity politics, health living etc.
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