Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left Hardcover – 19 Jan 2008
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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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 of London, he has also written for The New Yorker, Commentary, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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First, he examines Mussolini, a favorite of the New York Times, New Republic, Hollywood and many intellectuals until his invasion of Ethiopia in 1934. This chapter includes sections on Jacobin Fascism with observations on the French Revolution, JJ Rousseau, Georges Sorel and Napoleon, and War, which deals with populism and pragmatism as forms of relativism. National Socialism predated Hitler, competed with communism for the same support base, used identity politics and was not identical with Italian Fascism as Goldberg points out in the 2nd chapter. Further information on the similarities, differences and the danse macabre of shifting alliances in 1930s Europe is available in Sinisterism by Bruce Walker.
There's selective amnesia as regards Woodrow Wilson during whose presidency censorship, economic regulation, militarism, propaganda & corporatism dominated the USA. Unimaginable crackdowns on the media, restrictions of civil liberties & other outrages took place. During Roosevelt's New Deal the term Liberalism replaced Progressivism; it was the leftist author HG Well's who first promoted 'liberal fascism.' Goldberg shows how closely the programmes of Roosevelt, Mussolini & Hitler resembled one another.
The third fascist movement exploded in the 1960s with the student riots, assassinations and terrorism of groups like the Weather Underground & Black Panthers. This tumult flowed from the writings of European academics like Paul de Man, Herbert Marcuse, Michel Foucault, Carl Schmitt and Derrida whose 'deconstruction' was a direct offshoot of Heidegger's variety of existentialism. The Reckless Mind by Mark Lilla takes a closer look at these intellectuals and what they promoted. They in turn influenced Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin & Hillary's mentor Saul Alinsky. A wide chasm separates the aforementioned from the classical liberal, conservative or libertarian thinkers like Adam Smith, Montesquieu, Burke, Locke and Hayek. Classical Liberalism focused on the individual whilst its collectivist opponents favored the group, whether based on race, gender or whatever. Identity politics, in other words, Multiculturalism.
The author traces the seeds of the 'god-state' idea from Hegel, Darwin and Bismarck's Prussia through the Frankfurt School and the marriage of psychology & Marxism through to Adorno, Marcuse & Fromm. Its chief propagandist was Richard Hofstadter. The Kennedy Myth underpinned Lyndon B Johnson's idea of the 'Great Society.' In truth, the 1960s tumult was a spiritual phenomenon that transpired simultaneously on campus and in government with its vast spending sprees that resulted in family breakdown, the escalation of crime and street violence. The notion of 'unity', neutral in itself, is easily hijacked for the purpose irrational groupthink.
Earlier in the 20th century, Eugenics was promoted by progressives like the Fabians, George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells & Maynard Keynes and opposed by traditionalists like GK Chesterton. The author quotes Nietzsche on eugenics and investigates Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood & the birth control movement. In the economic sphere, the Italian & German collectivist states enforced corporatism (co-ordination) and the New Deal was the same. Government meddling, regulating and corporate lobbying limit competition, are detrimental to small businesses and consumers, and resemble the corporatism of the European Axis powers and Prussia before that. Hillary's 'politics of meaning' is a theocratic concept since it claims that the collective can solve all problems via the state, leaving no room for voluntary associations.
Today's culture wars echo Bismarck's Kulturkampf, with liberals as the aggressors. Then as now, the enemy is traditional religion and the battlefields are identity, morality, the family and nature, including environmentalism and the cult of the organic. By undermining truth, tradition and reason, ideologies like deconstruction, existentialism, postmodernism, pragmatism and relativism pave the way toward dystopia as Stephen Hicks argues so eloquently in Explaining Postmodernism. Liberalism in the USA is really Leftism, a secular salvationist ideology. No matter how 'nice' it appears on the surface, it has been subverting Enlightenment standards for many decades. And without those standards, society decays into the Nietzchean where brute force supplants reason.
In the Afterword, Goldberg looks at the tempting of American conservatism which is a blend of cultural conservatism and classical political liberalism. The most notorious champion of tribalism on the Right is Patrick Buchanan, whose writings are examined. The author also looks at 'compassionate conservatism,' a well-meant policy that nevertheless extended state powers. Finally, Goldberg observes that transforming the USA into a European welfare state is not the end of the world (although there's plenty of evidence that the real thing is unsustainable, nearing implosion and civilizational collapse). He warns against what might come beyond a welfarist America. The Western European utopias so beloved of American liberals will show the way in the next two decades. Claire Berlinski's Menace in Europe and Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept offer intriguing glimpses into the continent's current mindset & possible future. The causes and undesirable trends are highlighted by the philosopher Chantal Delsol in her illuminating books Icarus Fallen and The Unlearned Lessons of the Twentieth Century.
This well-researched and brilliantly argued book concludes with an appendix (The Nazi Party Platform), 54pp of bibliographical notes and an index. For further reading, I recommend United in Hate by Jamie Glazov and A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel Flynn.
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