Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Liberal Fascism update

I loved this book. It reflects ideas I've been noticing in the histories of WWI, the 1920s and 1930s, etc. I've studied. I've always pointed out to my students the differences -- and vast similarities -- between Communism (international socialism)and Fascism (national socialism) as well as the Progressives in Europe and the U.S. in the early 20th century. The happy-face totalitarianism he outlines in Liberal Fascism is no less chilling to me -- a sort of menacing smile (like a Joan Cusack character or Kathy Bates in the film Misery).

Goldberg fleshes out that argument and documents it thoroughly. His chapter on Woodrow Wilson is both disturbing and revelatory. He is also balanced -- pointing out the fascist temptation inherent in some of GW Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" which seems to echo Teddy Roosevelt's muscular progressivism as well as Herbert Hoover's "Beneficent Hand". It's telling and ironic that liberals smear Bush as a fascist for his foreign policy when the danger lies in his domestic agenda. Once again his progressive critics prove they neither know what "fascism" is or the place it has in their own leftist intellectual history. Perhaps they'll read this book and learn something. One can hope.

It's a big book -- both intellectually and physically, but it reads like neither. He has written a big book where the big ideas are communicated with wit and clarity and a long book that reads quickly -- relatively speaking. Also catch his various book tour interviews as they clarify even more his inherent reasonableness and good faith.

My main critique is the sheer volume of caveats about how he is not calling Hillary Clinton or FDR "fascist", etc. I understand why he does so, but the logical conclusion to their policy agendas is totalitarianism. It does no good to gloss over that. His niceness does not hide that conclusion from any intelligent and fair reading of the book.

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