Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review: Liberal Fascism

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great read of intellectual history. Defining fascism as essentially "a religion of the state", Jonah Goldberg traces core liberal ("progressive") commitments as well as those of liberals-masquerading-as-conservatives. In the process, he traces the thread that runs through the politics of Hitler & Mussolini, Woodrow Wilson, FDR & the New Deal, Kennedy, Johnson, as well as George W. Bush ("when somebody hurts, the gov't has got to move" & his 'compassionate conservatism'), Pat Buchanan, Hillary, and everybody's favorite, Obama.

Most people react emotionally to such a claim b/c fascism is usually associated with Hitler & Mussolini & their atrocities, but what is forgotten is the praise given to these leaders by the West before their atrocities. "Before the war, fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement...". Faciscm is a totalitarian political religion, and the mood at the beginning of the 20th Century was for social engineering, complete in some instances with eugenics, racial profiling, 'family planning,' moving beyond Christianity, etc. For example, the title of the book comes from HG Wells, who told the Young Liberals at Oxford in a 1932 speech that progressives must become 'liberal fascists' and 'enlightened Nazis.' It's hard to imagine anyone saying that after the war.

My view, all governments tend toward totalitarianism unless something prevents it from going there. In the absence trust in God, folks will trust in the nanny state for cradle to grave love & care & security. In other words, totalitarianism, or a holistic approach where nothing falls outside the realm of regulation--from what you eat to what you say to what you believe. In America, it takes the form of a 'smiley-face' fascism. As Goldberg contends,
"If there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.""
And again,
" America, where hostility to big gov't is central to the national character, the case for statism must be made in terms of 'pragmatism' and decency. In other words, our fascism must be nice and for your own good."
Goldberg closes with a quote from CS Lewis:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Overall, a good read & well documented. I learned much that I never even remotely learned in the university. In fact, when you read this book, everything going on in today's politics at the federal level becomes crystal clear.

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