Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: Liberal Fascism

I have written on here a number of times about the Red State Book Notes project. This project was created to discuss conservative idea's and theories. The first book of the project was "A Message to Garcia". The second book was Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Mr. Goldberg traces the history of fascism from Mussolini and Hitler to the modern progressive movement. Before my more liberal readers get up in arms, Mr. Goldberg points out that just because today's liberal movement share's a history with Hitler and others doesn't mean all liberals today would condone that action. However, many of the theories that today's progressive's support have been pursued before with deadly consequences.

As part of the Red State project, I wrote diary entries after almost every chapter. You can view those below this paragraph. Each of these posts discusses important ideas within each of those chapters. They are not intended to be recaps of the chapter, but only discuss an important point. I wanted to post these links to provide more information on the book, and to give you a flavor of the book.

The Good Tyranny

Liberal Fascism: Adolf Hitler

The Original Fascist: Wilson?

Liberal Fascism Chapter 5: We have to do something!

LF Chapter 6 and the Second Coming

LF Chapter 7: The Liberal Racist

LF 8: The Myth of the "Right Wing Business"

LF9: The Religion of Government

LF 10: The Fascism of the Green Movement

LF Afterword and My Final Thoughts

One of the most interesting things I discovered while reading this book is just how little I knew about the Woodrow Wilson presidency or JFK. For example, the first two chapters of the book go into detail about Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. After discussing why people view those governments as fascist, Mr. Goldberg then applies those same rules to President Woodrow Wilson. Mr. Goldberg argues that Wilson was actually the first fascist government in the world.

In the final chapter, Mr. Goldberg points out that liberals aren't the only people with fascist tendencies. He argues that some "compassionate conservatives" have shown fascist tendencies when they try to regulate behavior. However, this section is relatively small. Mr. Goldberg's book focuses in on the examples provided by liberals. He says, "In this book I have argued that modern liberalism is the off-spring of twentieth-century progressivism, which in turn shares intellectual roots with European fascism. " This sentence is a great summary of the book.

This is a great read if you are looking to explore the history of liberalism or progressivism. With more politicians on the left shunning the "liberal" label in favor of the "progressive" one, knowing exactly what this means is important to all voters.


the anonymous guy said...

Vegetarianism is fascism?

OMG, this is the stupidest stuff I've ever seen.

Andy D said...

I would like to respond, but I don't really understand what you're talking about. Can you elaborate a little?

the anonymous guy said...

Don't be coy, Andy. You read and promoted the book:

You tell us why it's important to understand the connections between vegetarianism and fascism.

But maybe you disagree with Mr. Goldberg on that carefully thought-out point.

If you don't understand what I'm talking about, you haven't read Goldberg's book very attentively. It is just mind-numbingly stupid--mostly by way of playing ludicrous guilt-by-word-association games.

Andy D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy D said...

Did you read the book anonymous guy? Was there any large "anti-vegetarian" theme through the book?

Goldberg does a very good job of laying out his case. You may disagree with it, but I think that just shows you need to be more aware of some of the history of the liberal / progressive movement.

the anonymous guy said...

So you're embarrassed by it? Seriously, bro. Lay out the case on vegetarianism's links to Hitler. Do you agree with Goldberg?

And this is just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce). There's a lot more of this kind of stuff in there. Are you proud of nonsensical guilt-by-association?

pack04 said...

I did a google books search for vegetarianism in his book. It looks like that word is mentioned on page 385 and 386. I don't have the book so maybe you could give those a look and put it in context. One of the pages it looks like the word is in a quote from somebody else.

Andy D said...

Anon, I'm not sure you actually made any points in your last comment. If you had one in mind, please elaborate a little.

Andy D said...

Since Pack looked this up on google, I decided to go back to the book for references to vegetarianism. From the index, "vegetarianism" appears on pages 19, 385-87, and 389. Not counting notes, the Hardback version of this book is 413 pages. I hardly think this makes this book about vegetarianism.

the anonymous guy said...

That's what I thought.

Again: I double-dog-dare you to lay out Goldberg's connections between vegetarianism/health food and Nazism.

Apparently, though, you're embarrassed by how insanely stupid Goldberg's argument is.

Andy D said...

Anon, you have really gone off the deep end on this one. You really think that references provided on a few pages in a 400+ page book lay out the entire book? I would encourage you to read the book, it might make you look at things from a different perspective for once.

not the anonymous guy said...

First time poster ;)

Hey I know that other guy's off the deep end, but I'm a vegetarian. Should I be worried that I have Nazi tendencies? It sounds like this book suggests that I might. Can you explain that?

Andy D said...

Neither I, nor Jonah Goldberg, claim that you are a Nazi if you are a vegetarian. If you decide to be a vegetarian, great. The problem comes if you decide to legislate that decision for everyone else. The references to "vegetarian" in this book revolve around the Nazi obsession with legislating healthy behavior. For example, the first reference in Goldberg's book is:

Hitler and his advisers dedicated hours of their time to discussions need to move the entire nation to vegetarianism as a response to the unhealthiness promoted by capitalism.

Goldberg argues that the desire by Hitler, Wilson, and today's liberals to legislate these lifestyle choices are fascist. I agree with him on this point. If you want to be a vegetarian, good for you. Don't write a law that forces that decision on me.

Anonymous Guy is particularly sensitive to this charge because he recognizes the same problems developing in the health care bill. If it's fascists to legislate my eating habits, then Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are on the cusp of doing something very similar with their health care bills.

the anonymous guy said...

I think I'm seeing more of your point, Andy. It's not really about vegetarianism, it's about *legislating lifestyle choices.*

So the cigarette tax is fascist, because it is trying to legislate lifestyle choices.

(Hitler actually did work for smoking bans in Nazi Germany. So OMG my local anti-smoking city ordinances have fascist roots!)

And seatbelt laws.

And laws against polygamy.

And taxes on soda.

And laws against using meth.

All fascist intrusions on personal lifestyle choices, right?