In a certain sense, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is long-overdue. The idea that Goldberg endeavors to debunk, namely that fascism was a right-wing phenomenon, has gone unchallenged for far too long. The Soviet propaganda that labeled any socialist not beholden to Moscow “on the right” has endured longer than the Soviet Union itself.
In another sense, Goldberg’s book has hit the shelves, and the bestseller list, at the perfect time. This election season illustrates just how much the ideologies that Goldberg examines have come to inform our politics.
A number of critics have made fools of themselves by sneering at Goldberg’s book based on the cover, inferring that it must be a shrill polemic that merely tosses the left’s favorite epithet back at them. This misses the point: Goldberg isn’t using “fascist” in the usual sense of “evil politics.” Goldberg insists that “fascism” has a meaning — an elusive meaning, but a meaning nonetheless.
Scholars have never quite come to a consensus on how to define fascism. Goldberg’s approach is to let the record speak for itself.
He begins by exploring the largely undiscussed history of the relationship between Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, and American Progressivism — a relationship that, he meticulously documents, was marked by mutual admiration and emulation — and draws out the threads that connect them as he traces the history of what came to be called “liberalism.”
Those threads include:
* The marriage of nationalism to socialism. This springs from the insight that, pace Marx, homeland trumps class: The proletariat feels more connected to their fellow countrymen than to the workers of the world.
* Totalitarianism, the idea of a state that encompasses all of society. Mussolini defined “totalitarianism,” a word that he coined, as “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State,” and he meant this in a good way: The state would take care of everyone. The corollary, of course, is hostility to individualism and classical liberalism.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?