Friday, April 18, 2008

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

While Steve and I were in the Bahamas earlier this month I finished Jonah Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. It was informative and entertaining, and I'm glad I happened to read a review of it by Thomas Sowell that recommended it as a good book that few people would probably read - but that many should read.

Mr. Goldberg writes:
"There is no word in the English language that gets thrown around more freely by people who don't know what it means than 'fascism.' Indeed, the more someone uses the word 'fascist' in everyday conversation, the less likely it is that he knows what he's talking about."

"... 'fascist' is a modern word for 'heretic,' branding an individual worthy of excommunication from the body politic."

"The American fascist tradition is deeply bound up with the effort to 'Europeanize' America and give it a 'modern' state that can be harnessed to utopian ends. This American fascism seems - and is- very different from its European variants because it was moderated by many special factors- geographical size, ethnic diversity, Jeffersonian individualism, a strong liberal tradition, and so on. As a result, American fascism is milder, more friendly, more 'maternal' than its foreign counterparts; it is what George Carlin calls 'smiley-face fascism.' Nice fascism. The best term to describe it is 'liberal fascism.' And this liberal fascism was, and remains, fundamentally left-wing."

Mr. Goldberg traces fascism - liberal fascism - in America starting with Woodrow Wilson and continuing to the present day with Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He explains thoroughly the differences between Nazis, the Italian Fascists, and American fascism, especially the events and policies during the presidential administrations of Wilson and Roosevelt.
He compares fascism to the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and believes that those Enlightenment ideals are those which should inspire and guide, a belief with which I strongly disagree. However, that's a minor point he makes, and the entire book is well worth reading.

(This is the only book that several of my children have seen me reading and exclaimed - more than once - "I want to read that book when you're through with it." So Tom and Joan, it's ready for you both to read now!)



Blogger Sherry said...

Hmmmm. It sounds like an Ann Coulter title, but if Sowell recommends it maybe it's a bit more balanced and intellectually rigorous than that. I think it's interesting that your young adults want to read it. Have they said why they're interested?

9:52 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Definitely more rigorous and balanced than an Ann Coulter book! And you'll notice that unlike many books written by political personalities, this one does not sport a picture of the author on the dust jacket.

Tom (20) and Joan (15) said they both are intrigued by the smiley face with the Hitler mustache on the dust jacket. But both have also enjoyed books by Thomas Sowell, so I think they'll find this book interesting and full of information they can use.

10:05 AM  

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