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Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Hardcover – January 8, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In this provocative and well-researched book, Goldberg probes modern liberalism's spooky origins in early 20th-century fascist politics. With chapter titles such as Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left and Brave New Village: Hillary Clinton and the Meaning of Liberal Fascism—Goldberg argues that fascism has always been a phenomenon of the left. This is Goldberg's first book, and he wisely curbs his wry National Review style. Goldberg's study of the conceptual overlap between fascism and ideas emanating from the environmental movement, Hollywood, the Democratic Party and what he calls other left-wing organs is shocking and hilarious. He lays low such lights of liberal history as Margaret Sanger, apparently a radical eugenicist, and JFK, whose cult of personality, according to Goldberg, reeks of fascist political theater. Much of this will be music to conservatives' ears, but other readers may be stopped cold by the parallels Goldberg draws between Nazi Germany and the New Deal. The book's tone suffers as it oscillates between revisionist historical analyses and the application of fascist themes to American popular culture; nonetheless, the controversial arc Goldberg draws from Mussolini to The Matrix is well-researched, seriously argued—and funny. (Jan. 8)
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“Brilliant, insightful, and important.” —New York Sun
“Well-researched, seriously argued, and funny.” —Publishers Weekly“Bold and witty… [Goldberg] makes a persuasive case that fascism was from the beginning a movement of the left.” —New York Post“Jonah Goldberg is the first historian to detail the havoc this spin of all spins has played upon Western thought for the past seventy-five years, very much including the present moment.” —Tom Wolfe
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In addition to describing the roots of fascism, it's also a great book to think about how the modern political left veered away from classical liberalism and developed into what it is today.
The 'people' become god. A 'person' becomes nothing. Amazing! Astounding! Appalling!
''Accordingly, they declared war on Christianity, attempting to purge it from society and replace it with a “secular” faith whose tenets were synonymous with the Jacobin agenda. Hundreds of pagan-themed festivals were launched across the country celebrating Nation, Reason, Brotherhood, Liberty, and other abstractions in order to bathe the state and the general will in an aura of sanctity. As we shall see, the Nazis emulated the Jacobins in minute detail.'' (235)
Robespierre, a French lawyer, was the original 'terrorist'.
Goldberg uses 'fascist' as meaning -
''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. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the “problem” and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.''
Introduction: Everything You Know About Fascism Is Wrong
1. Mussolini: The Father of Fascism
2. Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left
3. Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of Liberal Fascism
4. Franklin Roosevelt’s Fascist New Deal
5. The 1960s: Fascism Takes to the Streets
6. From Kennedy’s Myth to Johnson’s Dream: Liberal Fascism and the Cult of the State
7. Liberal Racism: The Eugenic Ghost in the Fascist Machine
8. Liberal Fascist Economics
9. Brave New Village: Hillary Clinton and the Meaning of Liberal Fascism
10. The New Age: We’re All Fascists Now
Afterword: The Tempting of Conservatism
''The answer resides in the fact that Fascism was born of a “fascist moment” in Western civilization, when a coalition of intellectuals going by various labels—progressive, communist, socialist, and so forth—believed the era of liberal democracy was drawing to a close. It was time for man to lay aside the anachronisms of natural law, traditional religion, constitutional liberty, capitalism, and the like and rise to the responsibility of remaking the world in his own image.''
''God was long dead, and it was long overdue for men to take His place. Mussolini, a lifelong socialist intellectual, was a warrior in this crusade, and his Fascism—a doctrine he created from the same intellectual material Lenin and Trotsky had built their movements with— was a grand leap into the era of “experimentation” that would sweep aside old dogmas and usher in a new age.''
Which, of course it did. Devastating wars, horrible genocides, etc..
This work provides a historical analysis of the overriding worship of political power that started with the French Revolution and accelerated with Woodrow Wilson, Mussolini, Hitler and is still present. Goldberg provides detailed evidence for his argument.
The current overwhelming impact of political power, political thought, political influence, is obvious. Nevertheless, Goldberg leaves reader somewhat puzzled. What is he proposing as an alternative?
He casually mentions the old liberal, enlightenment thinkers - Adam Smith, Locke, and a few others. However, this work seems more focused on defending himself from those who attack him as a 'fascist', than presenting his own thinking. After reading, we know what he is against - but we don't understand what he is for.
(In contrast, Herbert Butterfield, renowned for his synthesis of these ideas, is cogent, clear, and presents his alternative . . .
''Christianity conducts the battle on behalf of righteousness in a manner that is its own, not in the manner of the men of the world. Our fight is not against blood and flesh, but, to use the New Testament phrase, Principalities and Powers - meaning by these not states or political bodies, and certainly not human beings, but pervading systems.'' (57)
''Modern secular humanism has repeatedly confessed its bankruptcy in the twentieth century, and modern humanitarianism provided no guarantees against the terrible cruelties. Modern science, running on its own momentum and escaping all directing control, dictates to the human race the way in which it should go and opens vistas to new kinds of inhumanity.''
''Here is one of the reasons why it is well for us if we hold fast to Christ and to spiritual things while retaining great elasticity of mind about everything else.''; CHRISTIANITY IN EUROPEAN HISTORY. The Riddell Memorial Lectures 1951 by Herbert Butterfield)
About five hundred footnotes (links worked on iPad). No bibliography.
So much detail that sometimes slides into redundant repetition. Closer to textbook than essay.
(See also, ''Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era'', by Thomas C. Leonard. Covers similar history; also ''The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies'', by Ryszard Legutko. Amazing conclusion!)