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on November 15, 2015
Excellent history book! Jonah Goldberg does an excellent job explaining and proving the intrinsic and direct link between fascism in general, Italian fascism and the 20th or 21st century progressivism and actually other forms of socialism (nazism, hitlerism, communism, stalinism, etc.).
I'd highly recommend this book to everybody regardless of their political orientation. If you are a modern liberal (not a classic liberal) you benefit by better understanding who you are and what your ideology actually is. If you are an American conservative or libertarian (or a classic liberal) you will become more informed and be able to better debate a liberal.
Frankly, considering the importance of the information this book brings forth, I'd make it mandatory reading for seniors in high school or at least for for college students of journalism, political studies and related fields.
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VINE VOICEon January 8, 2008
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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VINE VOICEon August 30, 2008
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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on November 9, 2015
I found Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” to be extraordinarily informative and educational effort.

IMO, the most salient point, driven home repeatedly by Mr. Goldberg, is the notion that sporting the ‘Liberal’ label in the 21st century in no way suggests that the wearer advocates for “liberal democracy”. Mr. Goldberg clearly believes that the opposite is rather the case i.e. that many 21st century North American ‘liberals’ have more in common with Benito Mussolini and/or Adolf Hitler than he/she has with Thomas Jefferson.

The book’s analytical point of departure begins with the precursor of today’s ‘liberal’ era in that so-called era of ‘progressivism’ which first became prominent in the early 20th century. Goldberg devotes significant numbers of lines to examining the incipient underpinnings of today's liberal-fascism as they evolved during the Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt years. Published in 2008, Goldberg’s analysis therefore encompasses some 100 years of North American history, and I found his analysis to be both thorough and credible.

As mentioned at the top, IMO, this book is at once both informative and educational. That said, it is sufficiently, and thankfully, free of excessive academic pedanticism - which allows one to readily appreciate its content.
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on April 24, 2015
The most thought provoking book I've read in several years. I learned more about the first half of the twentieth century that ever before. It stimulated profound thinking and clarified my understanding of fascism and its history.
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on November 2, 2015
This is the best book on subject: it reviews the history, the reasons why they call fascism too many things today, the types of fascism (nazism, Moussalini type, Chile, etc.) and pretty much proves that the US had to become somewhat fascist in the 1920-1930's. A very interesting read just for yourself, not just for the sake of academic interest.
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on June 18, 2016
“Liberal Fascism” is really a history book, not the book of political analysis I expected it to be. I didn’t love this book (written in 2007—apparently a 2009 version is updated to include talk about Obama), even though it’s famous among conservatives. I’m not sure why I didn’t love this book. Maybe it’s because despite the book’s aggressive thesis, it is over-careful not to give offense. Maybe I think its thesis is overstated. Maybe it’s because the strain of combining a complete history, intellectual analysis, and polemic regarding the American Left for the past century shows, in lacunae in the book. Or maybe it’s because the style of writing, which I would call “unflashy expository,” just isn’t compelling to me. Nonetheless, I still think the book is very much worth reading, because the history it relates is valuable to know.

“Liberal Fascism” carefully charts the long and sordid record of liberal America’s wholehearted embrace of fascism—that is, of the all-encompassing and all-powerful State as the embodiment of human society. Goldberg writes largely as a corrective to the manufactured twin myths that liberals do, or ever have in the modern era, loved liberty, and that threats to that liberty in America historically originated on the right.

Of course, any educated person is well aware that state-centered leftisms, from Stalin to Fidel Castro to Hugo Chavez, are in most important ways identical to the prototypical fascism of Mussolini. Goldberg, however, locates the historical origin of modern American fascism not in Bolshevism, or Mussolini, but in Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives. This is the core thesis of the book—Progressives were fascist, and all American liberals since them have been their heirs and complicit in their fascist program.

Goldberg begins, as he must, with defining fascism. This is necessary because it’s hard to discuss who’s a “fascist,” or has such tendencies, without a clear definition. It’s also necessary because the definition has been deliberately muddied for nearly a hundred years, both by mere typological disagreement, and by those on the Left who use “fascism” as an all-purpose, protean, dismissive epithet for political enemies—first merely enemies of Communism, and now more broadly anyone on the political Right, regardless of whether their beliefs contain anything that is actually tied to actual fascism in some way. George Orwell noted this as early as 1946, when he said “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’” For those keeping score, that’s 70 years ago, and not much has changed.

So Goldberg’s definition of fascism matters. “Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure.” “Fascism, at its core, is the view that every nook and cranny of society should work together in spiritual union toward the same goals overseen by the state.” Using this definition, Goldberg draws a mostly straight line from Progressivism and Wilson, through Mussolini, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, and, presciently, Hillary Clinton—although he is often at pains, frequently too often, to characterize liberal fascism as “nice,” more “Brave New World” than “1984,” and therefore different than European fascisms.

Having gotten definitions out of the way, Goldberg takes us on a history tour, beginning with Mussolini (not Wilson), because Mussolini is what most educated people think of when they think of “fascism.” He places Mussolini in his historical and philosophical context. He covers the commonplaces: that Italian Fascism shared with Nazism its leftist nature, although differing in the Nazi focus on identity politics, and that Mussolini was wildly popular among American Progressives. Goldberg notes that Mussolini’s fascism was heavily influenced by the syndicalism of Georges Sorel and other Marxist variants, all of which were and are beloved of violence and force of will as the necessary drivers of political action (and have much in common with American thinkers like Saul Alinsky, beloved of Obama and Hillary Clinton). Goldberg nods to Rousseau’s general will and Robespierre’s direct action as progenitors of fascism. And, most importantly for his framework, Goldberg points out his other key thesis, using historical examples from Italy and elsewhere, that “Crisis is routinely identified as a core mechanism of fascism because it short-circuits debate and democratic deliberation.”

From here, Goldberg gets to the real meat of the book, which begins with liberal icon Woodrow Wilson. Wilson worshipped power and denigrated individual rights, seeing rights as corporate and expressed through the state, guided by the general will. To the extent Wilson has any specific currency in the modern mind, it’s for the League of Nations and its failure. But Goldberg shows that Wilson was, in fact, “the twentieth century’s first fascist dictator.” Wilson turned America into a form of police state, vastly beyond anything contemplated in the 1950s in reaction to the Communist threat, including putting people in prison for opinions criticizing the government stated in their own homes, along with economic controls and forced “cooperation” between business and the state that seem entirely bizarre to us today. This was accompanied by Wilson’s huge propaganda apparatus, harassment of the press, forced sterilization, and much more—all centered around the state superseding individuals, a focus on whom Wilson thought was outmoded.

As Goldberg points out, discussion of this era of America has been largely suppressed as inconvenient for today’s liberals. Nonetheless, all this was done and accomplished with the active participation and cooperation of the Progressives, and using the same philosophical justifications and motivations as Mussolini, before Mussolini (though Progressives loved Mussolini when he came to power). This was fascism through an American prism, exemplified by fascists such as Herbert Croly, who founded the New Republic magazine and was enormously influential in Wilson’s time. But Wilson could only do all these things because of World War I, so Wilson’s “successes” have set as the necessary Progressive requirement for “progress” finding a crisis that will allow demands to be made to expand the power of the state to accomplish goals that are the “moral equivalent of war.”

After Wilson, the Progressives wanted to continue in this “successful” crisis mode. But Americans rejected their demands, and instead returned to traditional views as embodied in Coolidge, anathema to Progressives. The Progressives had to wait for another set of crises, and another president, Franklin Roosevelt, to continue their push. Their wish was granted—Roosevelt gave us more of the same fascist “war socialism” in reaction to the Depression, including the usual propaganda, forced cooperation, suppression of dissent, and attempts to control private enterprise. As Roosevelt said, “We have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of the people’s government this power is wholesome and proper.” Roosevelt’s actions are better remembered today than Wilson’s, in part because they have never been rolled back, and are therefore correctly regarded by liberals as the foundation of modern America. Goldberg covers such Roosevelt allies on the left as Father Coughlin (now incorrectly cast as right-wing by the Left, in the usual way of whitewashing the inconvenient past) and H.G. Wells, who frankly and openly advocated “liberal fascism,” to be led by Roosevelt. And, of course, Mussolini spoke extremely highly of Roosevelt, until the late 1930s.

Goldberg then reviews the 1960s, a fictive history of which occupies most people’s minds. The “student progressives” were a small, but vocal and violent minority, motivated by the same basic philosophies as their 1920s and 1930s equivalents in Italy and Germany, aiming to overthrow existing structures and impose the general will through the action of the state. Similarly, Kennedy bought into the need for crises to push his agenda forward (although his personal agenda was less Progressive than the modern myth would have it)—but it was his death that was used to create the crisis that Johnson used to further liberal fascism, “transforming Progressivism itself into a full-blown mass political religion.” So that’s where we are today, from a political perspective, though Goldberg covers this entire era in detail where I’m glossing over his exposition.

And, of course, the Left still uses crises to grab power. From the 2007 financial crisis used by Obama (as Obama’s brain, Rahm Emanuel, said at the time, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”), to the frenzied attempts to ram through fresh gun grabbing in legislatures within 48 hours of any mass shooting, attempts to short-circuit the political process in order to expand the state are always with us.

Goldberg then jogs back to a review of the numerous specific horrors that can be ascribed to Progressives/fascists over the past century, noting that conservatives are constantly forced to acknowledge and atone for their dubious chapters (segregation, isolationism) but liberals wholly suppress theirs, such as mass racism, eugenics, support for Communism, and so forth. In another chapter, Goldberg describes as more of the same the syndicalism of modern America, in which large businesses cooperate with overweening government action, reducing free enterprise, enabling the Leviathan state, and simultaneously lining their owners’ pockets.

Finally, Goldberg rounds out the book with a prescient chapter (“Brave New Village”) on the liberal fascism of Hillary Clinton (glossing over Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II), in particular focusing on her obsessive desire to insert the state into all family relationships. And, in an Afterword, “The Tempting of Conservatism,” Goldberg comments on the fascist notes of both Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” and Buchanan-ite paleo-conservatism. He concludes with a plea to avoid all this, although he does not really say how that might be done.

In some ways, the thesis of the book is overstated. While it’s true that American liberals are much more focused on state action than conservatives, there are important liberal strains that are more liberty-focused than the Progressives and their descendants. A not-inconsiderable amount of American liberals fought against Communism and Communist infiltration, for example, although they were mostly sidelined by the 1970s. Or, earlier in the century, many Christians fought against eugenics and other racist Progressive measures—but many of them would have been considered otherwise leftist, certainly on many economic measures. The decades from LBJ to Obama, which as I say Goldberg glosses over, did not advance liberal fascism, though they did not roll it back either. And today, there are strains of anti-government philosophy in the supporters of Bernie Sanders—incoherent, perhaps, but still recognizing that Crooked Hillary is no lover of liberty, which is at least a recognition of the danger of liberal fascism. Therefore, I think Goldberg is wrong in positing American liberalism as a fascist monolith, although there is plenty of fascism on the American Left, no doubt.

But in other ways, the thesis of the book is understated. In the entire book, Goldberg bends over backward to give today’s liberals the benefit of the doubt. On nearly every page, hedging and conditioning statements are made to make clear Goldberg doesn’t think liberal fascists are as bad as all that. The cover of “Liberal Fascism” features a smiley face with a Hitler mustache. But it’s not at all clear the smiley face is justified. More likely the “nice” features of liberal fascism are not the result of uniquely American characteristics, as Goldberg would have it, but are merely a tactical mask: a snare and a delusion. Supporting this conclusion is that since Goldberg originally wrote, in the Age of Obama, the real face of liberal fascism has increasingly become evident, like Zardoz emerging from the clouds. We see the vicious attacks on anyone deviating from whatever today’s, or this afternoon’s, new sexual orthodoxy is. We see SWAT raids on political opponents like Gibson Guitars. We see the Two-Minute Hate directed at the latest liberal target. If liberal fascism were triumphant, it’s unlikely it’d stay as “nice” as it has (sortof) been. Instead, it would devolve into a European-type fascism, because that’s the nature of any utopian political philosophy—those who oppose the perfection that can be achieved, just over the horizon, must be eliminated for the happiness of millions. That hasn’t happened here because American liberal fascism has never had a free hand. And, perhaps, that suggests that conservatives would be better served with adopting the tactics of liberal fascism, to achieve victory, than merely analyzing liberal fascism in a book.
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on April 10, 2016
I actually haven't read ALL of this book yet, but I have read enough to respond to it. I am surprised that this book is so frequently referenced by news and culture commentators as a sort of popular, rather than academic reading. I wouldn't recommend it to more than a handful of people I know, because it is way more information than the average person can pursue. It's even overload for me, and this is a topic of intense interest that I've already read into deeply. I finished the first two and the last two chapters. Now I am putting the book on the kitchen table, where I will take the rest of the year to read the remaining six chapters a few pages a day over morning coffee.
I think the message of the book is telegraphed in the book cover image of the smiley face with a Hitler mustache. That's the bottom line, and for the details you'll need to invest some serious reading time. Those who are already familiar with twentieth century history and political philosophy will get through this book with a lot less effort than most of us.
The value of the book is to follow the progression of Leftist ideas from the French Revolution through permutations of communism, fascism, totalitarianism, progressivism to the present. "We're All Fascists Now," concludes Jonah Goldberg in the final chapter.
The full title of the book, "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning," hints at Jonah Goldberg's concern that we are at risk of exchanging our Constitutional Republic for an entitlement culture driven by ideas of the French Revolution, not the American Revolution. Published in 2007, the book would be great in a second edition with a new chapter on the national lunge Left during Barack Obama's two term presidency.
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on June 24, 2014
The warning that American progressivism has "fascist" tendencies is an important one: the obsession with economic fairness, inequality, and the power of capitalists and bankers was a core component of fascist ideology. The modern American left also shares other ideas and ideals with German fascism. However, that is not the whole story. German fascism also shares many aspects with modern American conservatism, such as a focus on the importance of the family and strong political support for Christian values (at least in speeches and money). You can dig through Nazi speeches and find sections that are key to Nazi politics and ideology yet fit politicians across the political spectrum.

But such details aside, there is one simple reason it's hard to assign the blame for fascism to the political left: the political left voted against and fought the Nazis, while German conservatives and Christians supported them and cooperated with them politically; the cooperation was perhaps grudging, but it was voluntary and essential to the success of Nazism and fascism in Germany. But this is hardly exculpation for the American political left, because the American political left is neither socialist nor communist nor working class, it is progressive, populist, educated, and middle class.

What fascism really was was quintessentially anti-individual and anti-freedom, and unfortunately, we find these tendencies in both major parties in the US today. Whether it is American progressives or American conservatives, both want to use the federal government to realize their social, moral, political, and economic visions, overriding individual choices and individual liberties. Technically, it is probably true that the American left tends more towards ideologies similar to German fascism. But the American right (meaning, social conservatives), if not tending towards fascism, tend towards theocracy, an ideology that has historically been just as corrupt, destructive, and genocidal as fascism, if not more so.

The book has a lot of valuable observations and insights. In particular, the message that there is a disturbing degree of commonality between the economic agenda of American progressives and European fascists of the 1930's is an important one. But ultimately, that important message is lost because the author pursues a partisan agenda. That means that the people who really need to understand this, namely the American left, will not listen. And churches and social conservatives, who were also a big part of the rise of fascism in Germany, get largely a free pass. Sadly, despite making many important observations, due to its political partisanship, this book will serve to educate few and change few minds. We need books that persuade both American liberals and conservatives to remember the importance of liberty, not a book that serves as further ammunition in their petty ideological wars with each other.
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on July 24, 2016
This book is a must read for any conservative who does not know that liberals used to be progressives. I suspect, however, that the author is what he calls a “classical liberal.” This means, in my mind, he is just as irrational and any of the liberals, progressives, fascists, communists, etc., that he criticizes because he defends and seems to admire the nut job who wrote this:

"It seems hard that an unskillfulness which with all his efforts he cannot overcome, should entail hunger upon the artizan. It seems hard that a labourer incapacitated by sickness from competing with his stronger fellows, should have to bear the resulting privations. It seems hard that widows and orphans should be left to struggle for life or death. Nevertheless, when regarded not separately, but in connection with the interests of universal humanity, these harsh fatalities are seen to be full of beneficence—the same beneficence which brings to early graves the children of diseased parents, and singles out the intemperate and the debilitated as the victims of an epidemic." 

Herbert Spencer is suffering from cognitive dissonance. His belief that life ends in the grave conflicts with the reality that all religions, east and west, say we pay for our sins when we die. This causes him emotional and mental stress and he makes himself feel better by thinking irrationally. Instead of thanking God that he has plenty to eat, he imagines some benefit to letting poor people die of hunger.

There came a time, of course, when such irrationality stopped satisfying the emotional and mental needs of the likes of Spencer. This is when humanists stopped being classical liberals and became real liberals.

There is, of course, no evidence that there is life after death. One can reasonably say that belief in God is irrational, as long as it is understood that revelation is another source of knowledge and that there are reasons to believe in life after death. If this is true, our lives have meaning and we can be rational in explaining why we do what we do. When I do a good deed, I explain this be saying, “I’m storing up treasures in heaven.” If I lie to my boss, I can say I was following my conscience. If a judge orders the execution of a criminal, it is for the sake of justice.

Without faith in God, you can only muddle through life. You can’t say your purpose in life is to be happy because everyone knows millionaire playboys are miserable. You can’t say your purpose in life is self-realization because you can fulfill your potentials in different ways. The problem of life is deciding how to realize your potentials.

Liberalism, classical or modern, began with Niccolò Machiavelli. “Old Nick” is the name for the devil because Niccolò Machiavelli was an atheist:

"From this it may be concluded that men should either be caressed or exterminated, because they can avenge light injuries, but not severe ones. The damage done to a man should be such that there is no fear of vengeance."(The Prince and Other Writings (Barnes & Noble Classics))

Up until that time, politicians believed in the 5th commandment. They killed their political enemies for the sake of justice. Machiavelli said you could kill your political enemies for reasons of state. I apologize if I am wrong, but I think Jonah agrees with Machiavelli.
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