Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LIBERAL FASCISM by Jonah Goldberg

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, by super-conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, is part history of fascism, part liberal roast.

Liberals, Goldberg says, have a tendency to unfairly use the word “fascist” to describe conservatives. “Fascism” and “fascist” are terms that carry a great deal of social stigma, yet as Goldberg so freely admits, they are also very difficult to define concretely. And here Goldberg is, throwing “fascist” back the other way.

These liberal fascists, he says, are “friendly fascists,” not evil, but still bad. To the liberals, he says, every aspect of life is politically significant. On this point, Goldberg notes similarities in ideology and policy between these “liberal fascists” and the old-time fascists. But so what? Fascism, as he’s said, is hard to define, and is not inherently good or evil (and can in fact be used for good or evil), so who cares?

Here’s the list of fascists Goldberg discusses: Mussolini, Hitler, Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Hillary Clinton. While he gives a lot of factual information, Goldberg tends to overstate and over-simplify things to make his points more dramatic, and so we get some bad propaganda, along with some smears. He makes some legitimate arguments having to do with how the extreme left is trying to take the morality out of issues, but ultimately he’s so unabashedly biased as to be untrustworthy.

All of this continues to beg the question, “so what?” The ultra-left liberals certainly do crazy things and make crazy allegations, but so do the ultra-right conservatives. Why do we need a 400 page rebuttal to a ridiculous, silly position? Goldberg realizes that “so what?” is a legitimate question, and he addresses it at the beginning and the end, but never does a convincing job, and ultimately the book devolves into a slam on current liberals (Hillary) and a Bush apology. Don’t waste your time.