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3,014 of 3,717 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made" - Franklin D. Roosevelt
And boy, does Jonah Goldberg have himself some enemies.

It was inevitable that the review section for Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" would degenerate into the Mother of all Flame Wars. The advance dislike for this book simmered for months, and now the floodgates for negative reviews are open. I'd advise all potential readers of this book to bear in mind how few...
Published on January 8, 2008 by David McCune

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240 of 329 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liberal Fascism
At this point, I'm only about two thirds of the way through Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. So far, I've found the book to be fascinating. Growing up thinking that "this is just how things are", or hearing the sanitized (or romanticized) versions of recent history, it's really good to see the origins...
Published on March 26, 2008 by Tom Anson


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3,014 of 3,717 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made" - Franklin D. Roosevelt, January 8, 2008
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This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
And boy, does Jonah Goldberg have himself some enemies.

It was inevitable that the review section for Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" would degenerate into the Mother of all Flame Wars. The advance dislike for this book simmered for months, and now the floodgates for negative reviews are open. I'd advise all potential readers of this book to bear in mind how few of the negative reviews appear to reflect a reading of the book.

For those willing to give Goldberg the chance, he offers the following thesis: that the label fascist has its roots in the governing philosophies of Italy's National Fascist Party and Germany's National Socialist (Nazi) Party. He argues that there has been a false duality created between the Soviet Socialists of the USSR and the socialists united under the fascists in Italy and Germany. He argues that the totalitarian impulse, the philosophy of state control of decisions taking priority over individual freedoms, is the core uniting principle behind these movements, and he argues that the ongoing home of such statism is in what has come to be known as the "liberal" politics of the modern progressive movement. As you can imagine, that doesn't sit very well with the targets of his argument (hence the rain of 1-star reviews).

I'd encourage open minded readers of all backgrounds to read Goldberg's book and address his arguments. I find his conversational and somewhat informal style to be witty and readable. That said, longtime Goldberg fans should know that this is not a book-length "G-File" (the hip and irreverent column he wrote for National Review Online). This is a serious scholarly work, and it deserves to be read and judged as such. Goldberg is attempting to right a historical injustice. This book is not attempting, as many seem to think, to say that all liberals are closet Nazis, but rather that, contrary to popular misconception, it is not conservatism, but liberalism, that traces its roots to the fascists. In some ways it is a book-length extension of the question conservatives sometimes pose to liberals: "If you leave out the parts about killing all the Jews and invading Poland, what specifically about the Nazi political platform do you disagree with?" (That platform is handily provided in the appendix.) After Goldberg's book, this question is much harder to simply shrug off.

Still, one doesn't need nearly 600 citations just to allow conservatives to say "I'm rubber, you're glue" the next time they are called a fascist. Goldberg argues that our focus on the atrocities committed by fascists in Germany obscures the fact that the fascist drive is, to a degree, universal in modern politics. The heritage and institutions of America lead it to manifest itself in a different form here. Whether it is the smothering embrace of the "It Takes a Village" mommy state or, to a lesser degree, the big-government, "compassionate conservatism" of Bush, fascism in the U.S. is well-intention, "smiley face" fascism, but it still looks first to the state, last to the individual.

In the end, that's what I liked best about this book. Yes, it's great to have a 5-pound rebuttal to the next person who tries to use "fascist" as an epithet to end criticism of a liberal program. However, what comes through in the end is not so much Goldberg's hatred of fascism, but his love of liberty. Fascism in all its forms is the enemy of liberty, and recognizing it for what it is will always be a prerequisite for stopping it. Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" clears away decades of obfuscation to allow that recognition in both the past and present day politics. Those who continue to fight for individual freedom will enjoy and appreciate this book.
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770 of 980 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally Someone Has Documented the Link between Wilson's "Progressive" Ideas and Fascism, August 30, 2008
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This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
First of all, allow me to say that I have purchased and read this book -- something I believe few, if any, of the negative reviewers have done.

This is an important work, tracing the intellectual development of the idea that the all-powerful people's State should always trump the individual and be in firm control of all aspects of the population's culture, education, defense or military expansion, information, health and economy, from its modern beginnings under Wilson to the currently epoused nanny state. One could go further back to the French Revolution or further to Thomas More, of course, but given the deplorable state of history knowledge in the US, this might well be counter-productive. Monarchies need not be considered as they are not states that derive their legitimacy from the people -- but rather from God and inheritance.

The most negative aspect of this book is its title, "Liberal Fascism." A careful reader will learn what is meant by the author, but the vast majority will simply see the juxtaposition of the two words, "Liberal" and "Fascism" and read into this anything their pre-conceived ideas suggest. Actually, the author meant to describe something like "Benevolent Fascism", "Soft Fascism", "Smiley-Face Fascism", or my favorite, "Fuzzy Fascism" (e.g. Fascism that will not hurt you.) The word "Liberal" is used to put a more moderate or liberal face on Fascism, something more appropriate to nanny-state fascism. If the reader misinterprets the title, then little rational discussion can ensue.

The strengths of the book are in its rediscovery of the truly disturbing policies of the Wilson administration in 1917 and 1918 whereby opponents of his administration and policies were brutally suppressed. One should review the repressive Alien and Sedition Act and the Espionage Acts that Wilson promulgated. Nor did he shrink from meddling in other countries' affairs and supporting leaders he favored. The reader is advised to study his backing of Carranza and his Vera Cruz expedition in Mexico. At any rate, the Progressive movement in the US really did bring many ideas into the mainstream of American political thought that were later used as cornerstones of fascist ideology.

The author traces the support of communist and fascist states by American progressives until World War II -- an historical fact that should not be denied today as an inconvenient truth.

He also argues succinctly that Fascism replaces a religion based on a supreme being (God) with a religion based on a supreme State. So does communism as a matter of fact. The new God becomes the will of the people as interpreted and enforced by the State's elite for the people's benefit. Hence the development of the nanny-state political philosophy is a direct descendent of Fascism and features many of its evils. Bill O'Reilly has coined the name "Secular-Progressive" to describe thie political philosophy, although I wonder if he realized the historical accuracy of his term. The missing part is the militarism and genocide associated today with Fascism, which were outgrowths of the core ideas of Fascism and may well yet develop in the nanny state. After all, what would there be to stop such a development? It should be remembered that one of Hitler's early steps was to introduce full gun control in Germany to reduce any possibility of internal resistance to his regime.

The argument that "it can't happen here" should be revisited in light of Wilson's actions, Roosevelt's creation of concentration camps for Japanese during World War II, and the more recent Patriot Act. Unfortunately, many turn to the ACLU for solace, but it must be remembered that this organization was founded to foster the spread of communist ideology, and consistently supports the all-powerful leftist and secular state against the individual and religion.

The book bogs down somewhat in the argument that fascism is a product of the left and not of the right (politically.) The author is correct here, but he is swimming upstream against a powerful current from the mainstream American media which is firmly leftist and committed to the creation of a nanny state. In addition, he is trumped by the educational industry, both in public schools and in universities which has consistently taught socialist ideology since World War Two under the rubric of liberal teaching. As of this date, we have had a steady diet of socialist propaganda in our schools and universities for so long than no national or local figure has escaped its pernicious effects. What was thought to be "far-left" in 1960 is now centrist -- so far have we gone down the road towards a fascist state.

Nevertheless, the use of terms that everyone interprets in their own fashion by the author colors this discussion so markedly that constructive dialog between liberals and conservatives over this work is highly improbable. That is a great loss to our democracy.

So what is the solution? There probably isn't one. Politicians eloquently espousing "change" and "hope" have already very effectively learned how to evade issues in favor of vacuous but thrilling demagogy to rise to power. It must be remembered that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama studied Saul Alinsky thoroughly, making him possibly the most important individual in the background of the 2008 election. Senator Clinton even did double duty traveling to California to study under an unrepentant Stalinist. Perhaps they do not understand the road on which they are traveling -- after all, they've never been taught anything different. (That's why home schooling and even charter schools are such threats.) I suspect that the US will survive anything they do in the short term, but they are harbingers of things to come. The trend is there from the days of Wilson, and the ultimate denouement is in sight with Europe cheering us on out of envy every day. Even the mass demonstrations so loved by fascism to demonstrate the power and popularity of the State and its leaders are now being copied.

Before I receive thousands of hate comments from Obama supporters, allow me to state that the epithet "Fascist" does not fit Barack Obama in any way, shape or form. But the parallels I noted should not be overlooked in a study of the historical sweep of events and the acceptance of ideas. There is no question that the US has taken many steps on the road to the author's fascist nanny state, and opposition to this trend is fast being suppressed.
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240 of 329 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liberal Fascism, March 26, 2008
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This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
At this point, I'm only about two thirds of the way through Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. So far, I've found the book to be fascinating. Growing up thinking that "this is just how things are", or hearing the sanitized (or romanticized) versions of recent history, it's really good to see the origins of "liberal" or "progressive" thought, its connection to the fascist or Nazi world view and the context of certain events -- like the unrest and the Great Society agenda of the 1960s.

The author approaches the subject of Liberal Fascism with considerable thoroughness. That is good, because you can get a very good sense of how things fit together, looking at things from several different angles and in different contexts. However, by the time I got halfway through the book, a lot of things were starting to sound very familiar. Since I'm not an historian, I almost wish I had waited for the Readers Digest version to come out.

The author also makes very strong links between the progressives of the early 1900s and the liberal politics of today. And, while you can draw a straight line through these respective agendas, I think the author might be overstating the links. However, as he states, "even when motives and arguments change, the substance of the policy remains in its effects" (p. 276).

All-in-all, I think this book is well worth the time it takes to read it. Certainly, anyone from the Right would gain insights from this book; but, those from the Left could also benefit from the historical perspective of his or her own political view. I think this book would be a great textbook for a college course on political history, and would provide valuable insights into a study of 20th Century American History.
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58 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden History Of Our Times, September 9, 2008
This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
A lot has been written about this book, and I'm not inclined to add much to the debate. If you read LIBERAL FASCISM as providing a grand unified theory of contemporary history you will be able to find some flaws (like most books of the genre). Yet if you read the book to get a quick overview of recent history, I think you will learn a lot. Most people don't know about the importance of eugenics in US history, how "progressive" the Nazis were, the left's infatuation with Communism (and fascism), and many other facts that are brought out in the book.
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82 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I'd expected, March 13, 2008
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This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
I have to admit that I had not planned to read this book; the title and cover, as well as some of the reviews in the major media, led me to believ that this was a screed of the Ann Coulter sort, long on invective and short on fact and reason. But I received a copy as a gift a few days ago, and I was surprised to learn that it is anything but.

Goldberg goes to great pains to say that this book is not an attack on liberalism, nor is he saying that liberals are fascists. What he is doing, rather, is uncovering the hidden intellectual antecedents of the modern liberal movement in the Progressive anbd Fascist movements of the past. Now before you jump to conclusions claiming (as some reviews have) that Goldberg is equating liberalism with Nazism, consider that Fascism as a movment long preceeded Nazism by a good 15 years, and that in the 1920 Mussolini was greatly admired by progressives for his social programs. Western intellectuals looked at Fascism as a model for modern progressive government, with its emphasis on social services and cradle-to-grave goverment care. Nazism took these ideas, along with the Fascists' rejection of the Internationalism of the Communists, but added to that his own veneer of antisemitism.

Not that the American Progressives were any less guilty of racism and nationalistic fervor; during the Wilson era, which modern liberals point to as a time of great social progress, this country saw newspapers and magazines shut down for printing dissent, people imprisoned for expressing opinions contrary to government policy in their own homes, and the infamous Palmer Raids, in which suspected radicals- foreigners- were rounded up and imprisoned and expelled.

Those who still think of the McCarthy era- a brief period of history in which a group of Hollywood party members became martyrs for lying to congress- was the time when fascism came to America should really read about the Wilson era- or, for that matter, FDR, who, despite being a great wartime leader, imprisoned and confiscated the property of thousands of native born Americans because of their race, and attempted to stack the Supreme Court in violation of the Constitution.

The legacy of the Progressives is no mere historical artifact. Today's liberal offspring of the progressives often complain of government abuse of power, and yet too often they endorse sweeping government powers in support of their political aims. Consider the great "urban renewal" experiments in social engineering of the 1960s, in which neighborhoods were destroyed, property seized, and populations rounded up into housing projects. Or the famous "HillaryCare" initiative, in which a complete nationalization of health care was dreamed up not in the public forum, or even in Congress, where it could be debated, but behind closed doors.

Liberals are forever accusing Conservatives of being the intellectual heirs to Mussolini and Hitler, but the historical record tells a very different story. I've touched on just a small part of this book; there's a tremendous amount of well-researched history that should be of interest to anyone, whatever their political preferences, if only to see a very different view of history from that written by the Progressives and their followers. Of course, I'm sure this review will get the usual collection of ignorant responses that many other positive reviews have received, mainly by people who have not read the book, and many of whom have, in their comments, opined that it should be burned, or never have been printed. And that is very telling in and of itself.
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89 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington Post Editorial Review on this site/book is "Telling", September 9, 2008
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This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
The fact that a "Washington Post" writer provides a very lengthy rebuttal...not commentary, that poorly masquerades as an offical Editorial Review in this listing, is quite telling. The many truths and rational connections Mr. Goldberg has provided in this expose have rubbed more than a few nerves.

Many of extreme left vs. right, right vs. left books on the market represent nothing more than self-indulgent "tirads on parchment."
This book is different. It is relatively well researched. You will not be able to put it down.

Highly recommended.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than it sounds, December 19, 2013
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When I first picked up this book I was more than a little skeptical. The title - and premise of the book - appeared at first glance to be little more than an attention grabbing gimmick, in line with the many hyper-partisan but generally empty popular books put out by pundits and armchair politicians on both sides of the political divide. This is not one of those books. Goldberg provides an interesting and very readable history of progressivism and totalitarianism. His actual thesis is a bit less incendiary than the title would suggest, but also more plausible. Liberalism and totalitarianism - including the Fascist variant of the latter - are not at all synonymous, Goldberg writes, but modern liberalism's progressive origins do share common roots with totalitarianism. While the methods used are different, the more fundamental ideas, ideals, and mindset central to both have some striking similarities. Rather than being another bombastic, over-the-top piece of mindless partisan rhetoric, Liberal Fascism is a fascinating re-examination of late 19th and early 20th century history highlighting some important ties between contemporary liberal ideology and a number of failed European ideologies.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's Wrong With Being A Liberal?, January 16, 2013
This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
Question: What do Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR have in common? Answer: More than you think! Jonah Goldberg in this well researched, detailed, and introspective look at the history of Progressivism, Liberalism, and Fascism, and how there are similarities is an eye opening look at not only the European past but our own American background. Goldberg, if one is familiar with his columns and his interviews, displays humor and a lot of witticism in his relaying of various examples of how government both local and national in their endeavors in looking out for everyone's well-being invariably overreaches and interferes with citizens' rights. Some of the examples are funny but some of them are a bit scary. My favorite example was the progressive daycare in Seattle where LEGOS were banned because "children were building assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." Supposedly the teachers wanted a playtime that reflected "collectivity" not something that "mirrored a class-based,capitalist society." Really? What happened to creativity here? I thought that's what LEGOS were meant to do--encourage children to use their minds and develop dexterity. Not everyone will like this book but I think most people would at least embrace the history aspect of it. I learned a lot of information that I wasn't aware of.
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74 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important reading..., September 5, 2008
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This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
Goldberg's book wanders from time to time and there are parts that are hard to follow because of this. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book. Goldberg correctly identifies fascism as a left wing movement, a fact that most do not seem to recognize. He exposes the continuity of thought from the so-called progressives a century ago to the so-called progressives today. While identifying similarities between fascism over the last 100 years and today's liberals, he takes pains to insist that he is not saying that today's liberals are just like Nazis (in contrast to some of the other reviews you may read). This is a thought-provoking and enlightening book. Hopefully the skeptical will be motivated to learn the truth.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget What You Think You Know, September 3, 2013
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Are you a conservative? More importantly perhaps... are you a liberal? This book is for everyone. Although not an easy read, Liberal Fascism explores the origins of many 'ism's and tries to distinguish the finer points of each philosophy. Goldberg hits the nail on the head with regard to uncovering the source of today's "I know what's best for you" liberal culture, and all the ways it's screwing up a once-great country. Until you read this book, stop throwing around the word "fascist"!!
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