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Tilting at Windmills

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December 26, 2007

QUITE AN ENDORSEMENT....You've probably heard some of the subtle ridicule of Jonah Goldberg's soon-to-be-published book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. (My particular favorite came last week, when we learned Goldberg's book will argue that "Nazi attitudes toward homosexuality are a source of confusion.")

But never fear; Charles Murray thinks the book is great.

"'It is my argument that American liberalism is a totalitarian political religion,' Jonah Goldberg writes near the beginning of Liberal Fascism. My first reaction was that he is engaging in partisan hyperbole. That turned out to be wrong. Liberal Fascism is nothing less than a portrait of 20th-century political history as seen through a new prism. It will affect the way I think about that history — and about the trajectory of today's politics — forever after."

Well, in that case, it must be good, right?

In 2008, this book will truly be the gift that keeps on giving.

Steve Benen 9:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

Occam's Razor: the simplest explanation for this is that Jonah's a fifth columnist, working on behalf of the "liberals". If his mommy ever figures this out, he'll be grounded forever!

Posted by: alex on December 26, 2007 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Alex, he may not be a mole, but the I bet he's amazed at how well and how long he's been paid for doing this shit.

Posted by: Boronx on December 26, 2007 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

More wingnut welfare for the remaindered bins.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 26, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

I bet he's amazed at how well and how long he's been paid for doing this shit.

He probably was at first, but it's evident that at some point he started to believe he was a grownup with something valuable to say. Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: shortstop on December 26, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

May I call you Kevin? What? Oh. Sorry. Steve. Nice to meet ya, Steve.

Happy New Year!

Posted by: anonymous on December 26, 2007 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK
I bet he's amazed at how well and how long he's been paid for doing this shit.

He probably was at first, but it's evident that at some point he started to believe he was a grownup with something valuable to say. Pass the popcorn.


Nope. Your conclusion presumes that the Goldberg spawn is intelligent enough to form actual beliefs. In reality, he hasn't reached the point where he's able to do anything beyond mimicry. Reading him is like listening to a 12-month old make sounds: it may look like he's saying something, but he has no idea that the sounds he makes or words he types have actual meanings. Posted by: R Johnston on December 26, 2007 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Nazi attitudes toward homosexuality are a source of confusion."

Well, yeah. On the one hand, they rounded them up and put them in death camps. On the other hand, they rounded them up and put them in death camps. So, it's kind of a wash.

Posted by: Christopher on December 26, 2007 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Patriots are to the 2007 season what Jonah Goldberg is to stupid.

Posted by: Old Hat on December 26, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen,

A bit off topic. Mr. Benen, this is your eighth post today. Aren't you a bit tired? Are you going for a record or something?

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Fighting Words on December 26, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hat, you're too generous to Jonah. The Patriots are trying to do a good job. There's no evidence that Jonah is trying to be the most stupid published author, ever.

Posted by: freelunch on December 26, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Nazi attitudes toward homosexuality are a source of confusion."

Or on the one hand, they persecuted gays. On the other hand, some (many?) senior Nazis were gay themselves.

Anyone with capability for rational thought might wonder about the Republicans' seeming hate-love relationship with homosexuality, and wonder why Jonah even went down that path.

Posted by: Wapiti on December 26, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm following the progress of Liberal Fascism probably as much as anyone (at Sadly No, Yglesias, Ackerman's got some good stuff), and for my money, the best take on LF's likely reception by conservatives belongs to Daniel Davies

If it really takes off it will be like an infestation of herpes in the credibility of all sorts of leading right-wing commentators. The short term displeasure at seeing its author enriched is surely as nothing to the lip-smacking prospect, in four or five years' time, of being able to dismiss half the commentariat with an airy wave of the hand and a cheerful "yes, but didn't he write that embarrassing praise for 'Liberal Fascism'"

Posted by: kth on December 26, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

"this book will truly be the gift that keeps on giving"

If, by that comment Mr. Benen, you mean that conservative writers (if they praise this ridiculous book) will "out" themselves as completely amateurish, home-team-hacks, a la the Davies quote above, and thereby lose standing in the pundit community... I believe you are mistaken.

There will *always* be a place for people like Murray and Goldberg. No matter what the "left" says about them, they will always have a sinecure at the "Republican welfare" think tanks - and they will always be trotted out for talking head media shows as experts on something or other. They *can't* say anything stupid enough.

All the right wing think tankers have to do is say (1) regulation of business is bad, (2) taxes are bad, (3) Israel should be supported at any cost, and (4) when in doubt, Arabs should be killed...

... and they've got lifelong employment, and legitimacy in the media.

Posted by: luci on December 26, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Note that Charles Murray cites a Jonah Goldberg quote from "near the beginning" of the book. We know why that is, don't we? It's all he managed to read.

Posted by: Zeno on December 26, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen, this blog entry is broken, it shows garbage characters instead of "smart quotes." This is what happens when you copy and paste from a website like NRO that uses "HTML Entities" for special punctuation. Yeah, it's a petty gripe, but it's easy to avoid if you know what is happening.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on December 27, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

I never paid any attention to Lucianne Goldberg, a shrill GOP relic left over from the Watergate era. Why on God's green earth should I start doing so with her son, a know-nothing, deeply closeted homophobe who somehow equates classic American liberalism with the rise of Benito Mussolini?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 27, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK
All the right wing think tankers have to do is say . . . (4) when in doubt, Arabs should be killed
Wingers acknowledge the existence of doubt? Since when? Isn't the entire basis of their "philosophy" the belief that doubt is sacrilege, and that empiricism, which is rooted in that close relative of doubt, skepticism, is therefore ne'er to be practiced? Posted by: R Johnston on December 27, 2007 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

I can't take the blas approach as recommended.

Seems a little strange to be rewriting US history that liberals are fascists and the Democratic Party is the KKK all at the same time.

If not the Republican Party, then the lunatic, right-think tank-running fringe have clearly set up their own Ministry of Disinformation, replete with Newspeak, set to reprogramme all their happy-to-be-led-by-the-nose sheeple.

Thanks to Faux News, their followers will soon be quoting this tripe verbatim and wanting it taught in schools.

After all, how many of them still believe Saddam bombed the Twin Towers?

Yep. There aren't many lessons that the Repugnuts did not learn only too well from the Nazis.

Posted by: notthere on December 27, 2007 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

I have not read the book and the title seems awfully provocative, but I think if you watch Goldberg with an open mind in a debate setting, you will see that he is a smart, honest, polite and respectful guy, even if you disagree with him. Or if you read his stuff at The Corner, you will read that type of person. He is a pretty good writer.

I also find it hard to see how you folks get so worked up and outraged over a book you have not and likely will not read. It seems you at least need to read it, if you are going to bast him for the book.

Posted by: brian on December 27, 2007 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

""Nazi attitudes toward homosexuality are a source of confusion."

Or on the one hand, they persecuted gays. On the other hand, some (many?) senior Nazis were gay themselves."

I thought it was only the guy running the brown-shirts who was gay. Anyone know the answer to this? Please let us know. I'd figure it out for myself, but I'm really worried about the results googling "gay nazis" might produce.

Posted by: DBake on December 27, 2007 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, what's not to like about a book with a title like Fundamentalist Christian Atheists? Goldberg throws the 'fascist' word around because it has sting and so he thinks it a useful spitball and he thinks he can fling this shit round willy-nilly at whomever. Problem for him is the word has meaning and can't just be spat out in any direction. Islamofascism was bad enough... but this, this is so mind-numbingly stupid it's no wonder brian thinks maybe there's something to it.

(for myself, I like Benito Mussolini's description of fascism as 'corporatism')

Posted by: snicker-snack on December 27, 2007 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

brian,

I get worked up because 30% of Americans will believe it.

I've read enough excerpts to see the ridiculous of it and it ain't good for America.

Posted by: jharp on December 27, 2007 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

The only people I know that are totalitarian, per their nature, are republicans and their supporters.

That's an observation.

Posted by: James on December 27, 2007 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

DBake,

Ask and you shall receive. Check out the following link:

http://www.leaderu.com/jhs/lively.html

And here is a passage:

"This strange brand of nepotism was a hallmark of the SA. By 1933 the SA had grown far larger than the German army, yet the Vikingkorps (Officers' Corps) remained almost exclusively homosexual. "Roehm, as the head of 2,500,000 Storm Troops," writes historian H.R. Knickerbocker, "had surrounded himself with a staff of perverts. His chiefs, men of rank of Gruppenfuhrer or Obergruppenfuhrer, commanding units of several hundred thousand Storm Troopers, were almost without exception homosexuals. Indeed, unless a Storm Troop officer were homosexual he had no chance of advancement" (Knickerbocker:55)."

I don't know how accurate this is. But it appears that in the early 1930's, a lot of the SA leadership (the Brownshirts) were gay (we're talking butch, Tom of Finland, leather gay). But after the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934, Hitler, and the SS, became more in control of the Nazi party and homosexuality was not encouraged.


Posted by: Fighting Words on December 27, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

DBake,

One more thing. The link to the above link was from a site called "Leadership U." I have never heard of this site before, and it looks like it might be some Christian website. The essay is by Scott Lively who wrote "The Pink Swastika: Homosexuals and the Nazi Party." It seemed well researched, but I just wanted to answer your question that there were several gay men in the Nazi leadership - at least in the early years (pre 1934).

Posted by: Fighting Words on December 27, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

I always vaguely thought, without putting it into words, that Jonah Goldberg is gay. But I see that he's married to some Jessica Gavora character. (Not that that means anything.) She's six years older than him and her father's name is VLAD Gavora??--that's rich.

(Databases credit Vladimir Gavora as also going by "Vlad." Of course, the NYT wedding announcement just calls him "Paul." Shouldn't adequately reported wedding announcements give the full name of each parent? And the NYT calls her mother "Donna," but that is her STEPMOTHER. To have given birth to her, Donna would have had to give birth to Jessica at age seven--a rather unlikely event.)

Jessica is horsefaced and masculine and Jonah is a big effeminate creampuff. No wonder they both like writing for the National Review, where wishes and dreams become reality if you just wish strong enough and clap your hands. The Goldbergs are heterosexual, Bush is a uniter not a divider, etc., etc.

Posted by: Anon on December 27, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

And Goldberg went to a crap school like Goucher? If he really had any brains, would he really have gone to a girls' finishing school? Couldn't he get into Vassar or Smith?

Posted by: Anon on December 27, 2007 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

"...writes historian H.R. Knickerbocker..."

It's interesting. But I hope you agree that 'historian H.R. Knickerbocker' is a bit suspicious.

Posted by: DBake on December 27, 2007 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

The author of The Bullshit Curve reviews a junior practitioner.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 27, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

When I first read Jonah's book, I just assumed he was black. It was that stupid. But later I realized that the 30% of whites who don't even register on my bell curve could be "led" in the right direction with Jonah's up-is-down-ism. Ah, the useful idiots...


Posted by: Charles Murray on December 27, 2007 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

It sounds alot like this book:

http://www.peikoff.com/op/index.htm

Posted by: Jonesy on December 27, 2007 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

Röhm et al were tolerated as long as the SA served a useful purpose. Once they were no longer needed, they got whacked.

Posted by: Thlayli on December 27, 2007 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

Little children think their parents are evil when they discipline them for saying naughty things or getting into mischief. Goldberg and his ilk on the far right act the same way. They think being told that it isn't polite to use words like "nigger" is fascism. Stupid.

In fact, using the words "liberal" and "fascism" together is pathetically ignorant of history, since liberals have routinely been the victims of fascist governments. People who can think are dangerous to real fascists.

Lucianne Goldberg, Jonah's hideous, chain-smoking mother, spent oodles of money and most of the 1990's trying to destroy Bill Clinton and his presidency. The fact she was not successful must be hard for the old scag to swallow. So, she has her pudgy, talentless son out trying to even the score.

Anyone who buys this book is a moron. The pages should be torn out and used to wipe your butt, instead.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 27, 2007 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

someone posting on this thread actually thinks the doughy pantload is a good writer ???

what fucking planet are you from ???

here's the scoop

Facisim and liberalism are diametrically opposed to each other

you can't be a tall short person, and you can't be a liberal facist

it just ain't possible

so the doughy pantload starts of with a mutually exclusive malaprop in his title

tell me again how he is a good writer ???

some people round here are nucking futz

Posted by: freepatriot on December 27, 2007 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

Goldberg is an archetype for paranoid projection.

The Bush family has a well documented history of bankrolling Hitler through the Union Bank in the early '30s and trading with the fascist enemy well into America's direct involvement in WWII via the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company and other Thyssen subsidieries.

Prescott Bush had also been involved in an attempt to overthrow the US government in the early '30s and establish a fascist administration. The coup came to light when the ring leaders attempted to enlist Marine Corp General Smedley Butler, who turned them in.

Bush43 harbors a fanatic hatred of everything that Roosevelt did as president, partly because Roosevelt had Bush family assets seized during WWII for violation of various "trading with the enemy" statutes.

Posted by: m on December 27, 2007 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Don't just leave your comments here. Amazon needs your comments and tags as well.
http://www.amazon.com/Liberal-Fascism-American-Mussolini-Politics/dp/0385511841/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198770408&sr=8-3

Posted by: reino on December 27, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

There is a big difference between Peikoff and Goldberg. From Peikoff's blurb:
"Conservatives who demand government control over our intellectual and moral life — prayer in the schools, literary censorship, government intervention in the teaching of biology, the anti-abortion movement, etc."

So Peikoff was paranoid and delusional like Goldberg, but he wasn't a hack like Goldberg.

Posted by: reino on December 27, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think that a book by anyone who thinks Mussolini was an American liberal is worth my time.

Posted by: AJ on December 27, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

It's likely that the title, "Liberal Fascism," refers to the H.G. Wells work of the same title. In the 1930s, Wells theorized that an authoritarian "vanguard" (either communist or fascist) might eventually lead to a liberal utopia. Not too different from some Marxist theorizing, though Wells eventually rejected the fascists of the day.

Using the title today is rather more imflammatory than it would have been in Wells' time, if for no other reason than few people are at all familiar with the intellectual constructs of fascist thought.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 27, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK
I also find it hard to see how you folks get so worked up and outraged over a book you have not and likely will not read.

--brian

Actually, several liberal blogs have advanced copies of the book. Thus, we've been treated to some of the dumbest, most ridiculous, historically-ignorant, detached-from-reality crap ever published.

The fact you believe him to be a good writer shows how little you know about good writing. As a professional writer, when I set aside my liberal tendencies and just look at the text of Goldberg's work, I see someone with a flimsy grasp of style, horrible pacing, and conclusions grounded as far away from logic as possible.

In short, the writing itself is horrible. Add in the absurd points he tries to make and flat-out lies he puts in print, and you get something that sucks sweaty donkey balls.

But I guess if you're into that kind of thing ...

Posted by: Mark D on December 27, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
….the title, "Liberal Fascism," refers to the H.G. Wells work of the same title….Trashhauler at 12:41 PM
Oh, really? Perhaps a review of H. G. Wells would help you.

…Wells called his political views socialist, but he occasionally found himself at odds with other socialists. He was for a time a member of the Fabian Society, but broke with them as he intended them to be an organisation far more radical than they wanted. …His most consistent political ideal was the World State. He stated in his autobiography that from 1900 onward he considered a world-state inevitable. The details of this state varied but in general it would be a planned society that would advance science, end nationalism, and allow people to advance solely by merit rather than birth. He also was consistent that it must not be a democracy…

Posted by: Mike on December 27, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Oh, really? Perhaps a review of H. G. Wells would help you."
__________________

I'm not sure how, Mike. The facts of Wells' life and beliefs are pretty well known. The little piece you cut-and-pasted is entirely consistent with what I wrote.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 27, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK
Or on the one hand, they persecuted gays. On the other hand, some (many?) senior Nazis were gay themselves.

Anyone with capability for rational thought might wonder about the Republicans' seeming hate-love relationship with homosexuality, and wonder why Jonah even went down that path.

Attack your enemy where you are weak. That way, when they try to attack you there, its all something tired and old that the publics heard before. Remember that the public follows headlines (and only poorly at that) and rarely tracks details.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 27, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK
I'm not sure how, Mike.

The first link went directly to a complete list of Wells' works, on which "Liberal Fascism" does not appear, because while Wells described himself as a "liberal fascist", he wrote no work titled "liberal fascism", so your claim that the title is a reference to his work of the same title is, well, hard to maintain. (There is also, one might note, a difference between proposing an idea of liberal fascism, as Wells did, and proposing the idea that liberalism is fascism, as Goldberg seems to be doing, and the latter is fundamentally more inflammatory, social context aside.)

Posted by: cmdicely on December 27, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how accurate this is.

Maybe this phrase will give you a clue:

...a staff of perverts.

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on December 27, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:

[W]hile Wells described himself as a "liberal fascist", he wrote no work titled "liberal fascism", so your claim that the title is a reference to his work of the same title is, well, hard to maintain.
__________________

Ah, I see. The problem is the word "work," instead of "concept." Apologies, cm, it was my error.

Wells first coined the phrase "liberal fascism" in a speech which was later printed in "After Democracy."

I have no idea whether Goldberg is equating liberalism with fascism. If so, he is as wrong as those who equate conservatism with fascism.

Posted by: trashhauler on December 27, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK
Ah, I see. The problem is the word "work," instead of "concept."

Yes, the problem is a rather serious factual misrepresentation.

Wells first coined the phrase "liberal fascism" in a speech which was later printed in "After Democracy."

Yes, I'm aware of that. I'm not the one who claimed he had a work titled "Liberal Fascism" from which Goldberg drew his title. Using a phrase in the body of a speech articulating an idea is different than titling a work with the phrase.

I have no idea whether Goldberg is equating liberalism with fascism.

I would suggest the quoted sentence from "near the beginning of the book" should give you a clue: "It is my argument that American liberalism is a totalitarian political religion". While it might, generously, leave room for some miniscule doubt on that matter, it certainly takes an unusually hesitant mind to be aware of that and the title and still have no idea of whether an attempt to equate liberalism and fascism is being made.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 27, 2007 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah's little emission demands to be Google bombed.

May I suggest:

Liberal Fascism.

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