- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (January 8, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385511841
- ISBN-13: 978-0385511841
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 858 customer reviews
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- #169 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Fascism
- #710 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Conservatism & Liberalism
- #1445 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Political Science > History & Theory
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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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The premise of Liberal Fascism is that conservatism (properly, classical liberalism) is defined as limited government, free markets, property rights, low taxes, etc. It is the time honored and original intent of the Founding Fathers (page 290). Anything that differs or deviates from conservatism is heresy and, therefore, undesirable (p. 4). Fascism and liberalism both differ from conservatism and are heresy; they are interchangeable (p. 7).
Conservatism, on the other hand, is the party of the status quo (p. 59). Conserving the status quo should be the primary aim of government. According to Goldberg, “liberals are the aggressors in the culture wars” and it is the obligation of conservatives to defend “against the so-called forces of progress” (p. 360).
American fascism began in the Progressive era and is the basis of modern fascism (p. 2). He calls it smiley-face or “nice fascism” (p. 8). It gained momentum at the hands of Pres. Woodrow Wilson and Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt. We are living today with the fascist legacy they bequeathed us (p. 303). What makes American fascism so sinister, he says, is that the state has the right to mandate that citizens be healthy and decent and humane and good and happy whether we want to or not (p. 15, 19, 21, 23, 131). He derides “compassionate conservatism” (p. 399-401), and is unequivocal that the eight-hour workday (p. 15, 91, 95), child labor laws (p. 15, 69, 91) and universal healthcare (p. 95, 340-341) among others are all symptomatic of fascism.
As for totalitarianism, it, too, is “nice” and, by definition, “holistic” (p. 14, 15). Of course, “good totalitarianism” can easily descend into bad totalitarianism, the stuff of “nightmares” which I think is the fear that Goldberg wants to instill in the reader (p. 185, 350).
It seems to me that Liberal Fascism is a sort of conspiracy theory in which all shades of liberalism/progressivism are assumed to be striving to undermine or overthrow historical conservatism. By labeling beneficial government services (Social Security, Medicare, ACA, etc.) as fascist, Goldberg stigmatizes them and paints them with a conservative negative bias that is so pervasive in current Republican politics.
Finally, on page 211, Goldberg describes the “fascist playbook” and unwittingly gives a perfect description of Pres. Donald Trump. He says the fascist leader utilizes: “the creation of crises, nationalistic appeals to unity, the celebration of martial values, the blurring of lines between public and private sectors, the utilization of mass media to glamorize the state and its programs, invocations of a new ‘post-partisan’ spirit that places the important decisions in the hands of experts and intellectual supermen, and a cult of personality for the national leader.”
Goldberg first details the rise of Mussolini's Fascist party and the common tactics shared by its socialists kin, Hitler's National Socialist party (the Nazis) and Stalin's Communist party. Goldberg then explains how progressives have, over the years, inaccurately (for the most part) redefined Fascism to be associated with the right despite its origins on the left. Next, Goldberg recounts some of the most Fascist administrations in American History including, President Wilson and FDR. Finally, Goldberg also impartially describes how even some people on the right have and continue to use fascist tactics, but to a much lessor degree.