Liberal Fascism – Book Review
Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg
Written ten years ago, this book is incredibly relevant today, and I expect will continue to add value to political discussion for many years.
This is a history book. But the history it outlines is different than what I learned in school: Communism = Left | Fascism = Right. While Communism certainly is a Leftist ideology, Fascism is only slightly less left than Communism.
Fascism is really a brand of Socialism.
Fascism isn’t right-wing, Libertarianism is. Fascism was a label created by Socialists against other Socialists who went patriotic and pro-military. Fascists originated as Socialists with a taste for Nationalism. And once a political party splits, the insults start flying because… politics.
Judging this book by its cover, one might be quick to conclude that the author must be calling out all Liberals as Nazis – turning the tables on political slander thrown at Conservatives today. However this is not the case. The author goes out of his way to say that today’s Liberals are not Nazis. What the author does show, however, is that modern day Liberalism stems from the Progressivism of the early 20th century, which in turn was part of a larger international movement of collectivism that expressed itself in different ways in each country depending on the national culture. While Italy had its style of Fascism, Germany had its Nazism, and the U.S. had its Progressivism, they all shared a common theme (something along the lines of): The greater good comes before the individual.
In short, the intellectual beginnings of today’s Liberalism share a foundation with Fascism.
But this doesn’t not imply that Liberals today are just as evil as Nazis or want to commit genocide. The Fascism espoused by Liberals today is much nicer, softer, and more maternal than its European counterparts. That doesn’t necessarily make it less controlling and totalitarian, it just means that it is a less violent form of collectivism. Mr. Goldberg has a great line in the book that puts it eloquently (in reference to Liberals’ adherence to the it-takes-a-village mindset):
“The village may have replaced the state, and it in turn may have replaced the fist with the hug. But an unwanted embrace from which you cannot escape is just a nicer form of tyranny.”
Mr. Goldberg covers so many different aspects of fascism in this book: Hitler, Mussolini, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, LBJ, George W. Bush, European Socialism, The New Deal, 1960’s political activism, big business, Eugenics, children’s rights, environmentalism, and more.
If you read the book and get angry because the author doesn’t fault Conservatives for some of the same ideological trappings as Liberals, you’ve missed the point. I’ve read many reviews now of readers railing on Mr. Goldberg’s neglect of calling out Republicans’ Fascist tendencies. These readers fail to grasp that while Democrats and Republicans differ on a few important points, most politicians agree on one thing: the growth and continuation of state power.
I think this book is a necessary read. It’s important for Americans to know our history. It’s also important to understand the intellectual foundation of our personal political ideology. This book contributes on both fronts. Give the book a try.