Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Liberal Fascism

Liberal Fascism is a new book by Jonah Goldberg, a writer for National Review.

Goldberg examines the concept of fascism. Fascism is an ideology of a unified third way merger of left and right, a "pragmatic" program, the cult of the leader, and the overturning of traditional morality, capitalism, and traditional religion. Properly understood, it is clearly an ideology of the left, not the right.

This was widely understood at the time when Mussolini came to power. He was widely revered by America's liberals of the day. Fascism was only seen as being on the right due to communist propaganda during and after World War II.

Hitler was also a "man of the left", an atheist who hated traditional religion, a socialist who hated free market capitalism, a vegetarian, environmentalist, animal rights supporter, "health Nazi", pro-abortionist, gun-banner, and statist. Even Hitler had American liberal admirers before the war.

Goldberg shows that the American progressive movement was an American version of fascism. It was racist, eugenicist, nationalistic, imperialist, socialist, and hostile to tradition. It was fascism with American characteristics.

Goldberg recounts the tyranny of Woodrow Wilson's war socialism, complete with jailing political opponents by the thousands. FDR enacted similar policies, including economic policies copied from Italian fascism. He also suppressed political dissent.

In perhaps the most valuable chapter of the book, Goldberg shows that the eugenics movement was a project of the progressive left. It was hailed as the progress of science, and opponents were accused of opposing science, just like opponents of abortion and embryonic stem-cell research are today. Eugenics was opposed by traditional conservative, including the Catholic Church. This is a great answer to liberals who attack religion as harmful and laud "science".

Fascist economics can be called state capitalism, or corporatism, which is defined by "public-private partnerships" between government and big business that benefit both at the expense of small business and consumers. But this is exactly what liberals today support when they demand licencing schemes and restrictive regulations that hurt small businesses more than big ones.

The later chapters of the book are somewhat weaker. Goldberg discusses "liberal fascism", which he defines as a milder, nicer version of the same fascist phenomenon. He discusses JFK, the 1960's, and Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village and politics of meaning in this context.

There are two serious flaws in the book, which consume only a few pages. The first is criticism of Senator Joe McCarthy, which is entirely based on the conventional wisdom, without any documentation. The truth about McCarthy can be found in the book Blacklisted by History by M. Stanton Evans.

The second flaw is a gratuitous attack on Pat Buchanan, which seems to be part of the contract for National Review writers.

Despite these flaws, Liberal Fascism is a very interesting book with lots of good information on liberal icons, the progressive movement, and fascism.

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