Yes, yes I realize that my summer break was a little longer than just the summer. While the excuses are many, the important thing is that I am back and ready to resume my own little battle in the war of ideas.
Despite my extended absence on my blog, I was not just sitting idly by. Beyond calling and emailing my particular congress critters, I have been doing a good deal of reading. So today, to mark my return to the blog, I will do what countless schoolchildren have had to recently do: recite to the class what they did on summer vacation. In my case, I am going to offer up a short review of each book – not all at once, but interspersed in with other posts as we go into the fall (and probably winter) of our national discontent.
First up is a book by a writer that I hope is not unfamiliar to most of you. If he is, do yourself a favor and start reading his articles. It is Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, who writes for the National Review. I realize that this is not a new book, however it is new to me and, well, its my blog. At any rate, as you can probably guess by the book’s title, Goldberg’s main proposition is that liberalism (with a big L) lends itself to, or even creates, fascistic movements. He then goes on to lay out the historical case for why this is, moving from the end of World War I and the rise of Fascism in Italy, through the radicalization of the Progressive/Liberal movement in the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s, up to today with the Left’s focus on political correctness, multiculturalism, and identity politics.
The most important thing that I gained from this book (and why I highly suggest you read it) is that it really turns many of the orthodox views in political history and political systematology on their head. Having spent a good deal of my education (both formal and self-imposed) in these areas, this book was really an “aha” moment for me. It isn’t so much that Goldberg revises history in a way that fits my worldview (although he is often accused of being a “revisionist”), it is that his re-telling of these historical events makes sense when placed in the political context of the late 19th and early 20th Century. For example, he points out, through primary documentation, that Mussolini did not consider himself right-wing at all. He was a died-in-the-wool socialist. National Socialism, hence, was not a right-wing or reactionary political movement, but a primarily socialist one mixed with totalitarian components such as such as worship of the state. Goldberg also does a great job of documenting the war between the communists and National Socialists in both Italy and, especially, Germany. His point is not that these were two political ideologies combatting each other from opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, it is that these were basically turf wars. They fought over the same piece of ground, ideologically speaking.
Here’s where Goldberg turns over an orthodoxy. Political Science 101 is that there is a spectrum of political ideologies that has the unique characteristic of being circular in nature. Think of a circle that starts and ends at the 6 o’clock position. This is where totalitarianism resides. At the 12 o’clock position is liberalism, it being the opposite of totalitarianism. Now, if you go around the circle to the right from liberalism, you arrive at fascism (or so the “experts” say). If you go to the left, you arrive at communism. However, either way, you have arrived at totalitarianism. The point is that fascism and communism are really the same ideology, just one is “right wing,” the other left. Goldberg points out the fallacy in this argument by his fairly thorough examination of fascism as a socialist movement. To Goldberg, the political spectrum is not a circle, but a line, and both fascism and communism are well to the left of the center.
Goldberg also details the Left’s love affair with National Socialism, and Mussolini in particular, in the United States. Quite frankly, this is not the sort of history you get from your average U.S. History class. He shows how both were looked upon father favorably until the onset of the Second World War. Many on the Left saw National Socialism as the next logical step from the vast amount of planning that had been put in place during the New Deal (a topic we will cover in another review). He also shows how the Left was able to manipulate the view that Fascism was not a left-wing movement, but a right-wing one during the post-War years, in order to distance itself from a political ideology that was now inextricably tied up with genocide.
Goldberg also does a good job of exposing the skeletons in the Left’s closet, such as eugenics. While this topic is generally swept under the rug in your normal history class, Goldberg draws a damning web between progressives and the eugenics movement that was alive and well in the United States until well after the Second World War. He also shows the direct line from the eugenics movement to that bastion of progressive ideology, the “pro-choice” abortion movement.
Quite frankly, I could go on, but my suggestion is that you read this book. Especially if you are as concerned about the direction the Progressives (read that Liberals, the Left, or the Democratic National Committee) are taking this country. As you can guess, Goldberg has taken a good deal of fire from historians in academia (since most of them are part of this very movement, or are at least supportive of its aims) (you can follow much of it, as well as his take on current events here – although the blog isn’t being updated as of August). However, it is hard to combat the prodigious amount of primary documentation he uses, especially on the whole National Socialist topic. This book also does a great job of filling in many of the holes that most have regarding U.S. History, especially this country’s political history during the 20th Century. Again, there is good reason, because it doesn’t make the Progressive movement look very good, and let’s face it, that’s who is writing the history (at least the textbooks).
So, do yourself a favor. Read the book, even if you consider yourself a “liberal”. It is hard to ignore the historical evidence, and it will give you a better understanding of the ideological conflicts in present-day America.