Closing Time

by Jonah Goldberg

Well, it was a nice run. But I think it’s time to turn out the lights on the Liberal Fascism blog. Alas, turning out the lights on liberal fascism might take a bit longer.

As only the most loyal readers may have noticed, I haven’t been updating the blog much this summer. I fell out of the habit while I was on the NR Cruise and never got back into it. One reason for that might be that if you wanted to read about the themes of my book, all you had to do was open a newspaper.

Let’s see. Off the top of my head, in the first six months of Obama’s presidency we’ve seen corporatism  and “state capitalism”   run amok, in the government takeover of two car companies and numerous banks. Labor unions have become increasingly indistinguishable from the government and the party that controls it. Herbert Croly  and the Progressives have once again been rehabilitated as founding fathers of the New Age. The entire liberal intellectual class is convinced that this the time for a new New Deal. Critics of statism are vilified by liberal elites as racists and fascists. (And those who refuse to get with the Gorian program are guilty of “treason against the planet“). When out of power, liberals lionized free speech and celebrated dissent as the highest form of patriotism. Now, they label dissent “un-American” and the president insists he doesn’t want to hear a lot of talking from anyone who disagrees with him. While the stench of eugenics and euthanasia do not quite sting the nostrils yet, the odor is detectable and the  liberal impulse for controlling the lives of others has been re-exposed.

Indeed, our own messianic president, who insists that we can create a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, also apparently believes that “we are God’s partners in matters of life and death” and that religious organizations that are true to their calling should rally behind a united front to expand the scope and role of government.  When the head of state says such things, it is hard not to be reminded of the Progressive concept of the God State, a major theme of Liberal Fascism. The “State is the actually existing,  realized moral life . . . The divine idea as it exists on earth,” Hegel declared in The Philosophy of History. The State, according to Hegel, was the “march of God on earth.” The progressives agreed.  Richard Ely, the founding father of progressive economics, proclaimed “God works through the State in carrying out His purposes more universally than through any other institution.”

It’s revealing, to me at least, that I wrote the book with Hillary Clinton as the stand-in for the fascistic ideas lurking inside contemporary liberalism. Here’s how I put it in the new afterword for the paperback edition:

….And then something funny happened. A self-proclaimed “transformative”  leader formed a self-declared “movement,” powered in large measure by a sense of historical destiny (“This is the moment!”),  yearning for national restoration (“We will make this nation great!”),  demanding national unity at all costs, and glorifying itself for its own youthful energy. At times his most conspicuous followers were blindly devoted to a cult of personality with deeply racial undertones and often explicit appeals to messianic fervor. This new leader of men—who earned his credibility from his work as a street organizer  and disciple of Saul Alinsky—vowed to restore the promise of American life in a vast new collaborative effort between business,  government, churches, and labor. His platform included mandatory youth service, a new civilian security force, and spreading the wealth around.

In short, Hillary Clinton, the indicted co-conspirator of this book’s original subtitle (“The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”), was defeated by Barack Obama precisely because he was better able than any of his opponents to personify many of the themes discussed in this book.

Needless to say, I could go on. And I will, mostly over at the Corner. I haven’t given up my argument. I just don’t think the argument is best served by this stand-alone blog, particularly since NR has techno-changes coming down the pike. The blog will continue to exist in the archives and if you bookmark it now, you can revisit it and poke around as much and for as long as you like.

Summing Up
The book’s success in every respect was more than I could have hoped. Long time followers of this project will recall that the book was attacked years before it even came out. The dismaying thing is that most of the attacks on the book from the left weren’t all that much more impressive or substantial even after the attackers had the opportunity to read it (many of whom did not avail themselves of that opportunity). In case you missed it in the print edition of National Review, I did write a brief response to some of the critics who did read the book. It will be familiar to many who’ve seen me talk about the book or who paid close attention to this blog. Regardless, I’ve pulled it from behind the firewall for those interested.

Also, in the current issue of NR I have a short item on the recent spate of “Obama as Hitler” epithets being thrown around by a few people on the Right (and a lot of idiot Larouchies). A link is unavailable but here’s the relevant passage:

The simple truth is that I do not think it is in the cards for America to go down a Nazi path. I never said otherwise in Liberal Fascism, either….

….Indeed, while I don’t think it is remotely right or fair to call Obama Enhanced Coverage Linking Obama a crypto-Nazi (if by that you mean to say he’s a would-be Hitler), the real problem with all of this loose Nazi talk is that it slanders the American people. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen may have overstated his case in Hitler’s Willing Executioners, but he was certainly right that the German people were Hitler’s willing enablers. The overwhelming majority of the American people — in their history, culture, bones, hearts, souls, DNA, and carbon molecules — are not like that. That goes for American liberals and leftists too. The extent and depth of liberalism’s obtuseness on the subject of fascism (and much else) stews my bowels, but American liberals are still Americans, and Americans will not goose-step behind a Hitler, period.

As I make clear in Liberal Fascism, the obvious and pressing threat is not from a Hitlerite-Orwellian dictatorship but from a Huxleyan namby-pamby mommy state. That sort of system could seduce Americans into becoming chestless subjects of the State in exchange for bottomless self-gratification and liberation from the necessity of adult decision-making. Yes, there’s a danger that such a society could then be susceptible to some darker vision that lionizes the lost manhood of a half-forgotten past. But, by that point, this would be America in name only, if even that (“U.N. District 12″ has a nice ring to it).

I should note that I am not quite agreeing with David Frum’s recent broadside against conservatives who find relevance in fascism and Nazism.  David writes “can we get a grip here” and I certainly agree that if people think Obama will become a Hitler, or even a Mussolini, they need to do some more thinking. But I think this bit from David is a sort of sleight-of-hand I’ve encountered many times before. He writes:

Contra Rush Limbaugh, history’s actual fascists were not primarily known for their anti-smoking policies or generous social welfare programs. Fascism celebrated violence, anti-rationalism and hysterical devotion to an authoritarian leader.  

That’s all true, but misses an important point. What the fascists were or are primarily known for is not necessarily dispositive to the question of what they actually were. Speaking for myself, the relevance of the generous social welfare programs and anti-smoking programs is to point out that the Nazis weren’t exactly what we’ve been told they were. Sure, they were violent and hysterically devoted to an authoritarian leader, but they were also more than that and their popularity with the German people cannot be easily chalked up to those features either.

The Nazis did not rise to power on the promise of bringing war and violence. They just didn’t. They rose to power by promising national restoration, peace, pride, dignity, unity and generous social welfare programs among other things including, of course, scapegoating Jews. People forget how Hitler successfully fashioned himself a champion of peace for quite a while. Limbaugh’s counter-attack on liberals, specifically Pelosi, is exactly that, a counter-attack. He was saying that if liberals are going to call conservatives Nazis for opposing nationalized healthcare maybe they should at least account for the fact that Nazis agreed with them on the issue, not conservatives. If liberals want to have a fight over who is closer to fascism, I see no reason why conservatives should cower from that argument, particularly since the facts are on our side. But I reject entirely the idea that liberals today are literally Nazi-like, particularly if we are going to define Nazism by what “they were known for.” Liberals don’t want to invade Poland or round up Jews. As I’ve said many times, one naive hope I had for my book was that it would remove the word “fascist” from popular discourse, not expand its franchise. Alas, on that score the book is a complete failure.

The Scoreboard
But by other measures, it’s done far better than I hoped. When the book came out, its critics assured the faithful that it didn’t matter, wasn’t important and would be an embarrassment. That is still the party line for many, but the party line is increasingly disconnected from reality. The book has been translated into numerous languages, the latest being Romanian. Reviews keep coming out on blogs  and in scholarly journals. The Independent Review’s  critique was only recently put online [PDF ] and I’m told that the journal Interpretation has a review in the latest issue. I’ve spoken to college and graduate seminars and the book or chapters from it have been included on numerous syllabi. I’m still receiving invitations to speak at college campuses about the book. Predictions  that it wouldn’t sell as well major liberal books have proven unfounded. In both the US and UK it went into numerous printings. Aside from reaching #1 on the NYT and Amazon bestseller lists and being named the #1 history book by Amazon readers for 2008, it has sold (according to Bookscan) more than 135,000 copies in hardcover and, so far, over 35,000 in paperback. The paperback continues to sell at a rate of over 1,000 per week two months after its release.  (FWIW,  bookscan allegedly only captures about 70% of sales). It’s no Tom Clancy novel, but as far as intellectual histories go, that ain’t too shabby. I don’t know if it’s one of the most important books of the last quarter century,  but I am confident it will have a lasting impact and my thesis will gain respect, even if I don’t always get credit.

My thanks to everyone at NR, Random House, and most of all to my editor Adam Bellow for their support and help.

But, lastly, let me say how grateful I am to all of you who’ve supported the book, touted the book, used it in book clubs and sent it to relatives. Your encouragement has meant more than I can convey. Please keep sending me tidbits, insights and links to stories of the day that relate to Liberal Fascism (and if you have a time machine, please go back and send me some of that stuff when I was still working on the book!). Thanks so much for defending me and LF in the comments sections at blogs and elsewhere. Such efforts are not only appreciated but vital for the book’s long term success.

Oh, wait, sorry. If you made it this far I should let you know that I’m going to be starting an email newsletter in the Fall, at the Suits’ insistence. Expect book updates and arguments to appear there from time to time.  Be on the lookout for announcements in September.

So that’s it. Thanks so much for everything and look for me in the Corner where the conversation will continue, amidst all the other conversations.

Lebensunwertes Leben

by Jonah Goldberg

From the LA Times:

Reporting from Washington — President Obama suggested at a town hall event Wednesday night that one way to shave medical costs is to stop expensive and ultimately futile procedures performed on people who are about to die and don’t stand to gain from the extra care.

In a nationally televised event at the White House, Obama said families need better information so they don’t unthinkingly approve “additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care.”

He added: “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

There’s an interesting contradiction here. According to the pro-choice perspective, it’s outrageous for the state to interfere in a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. But it’s pragmatic and reasonable for the state to consider terminating a person, if some money can be saved.

This logic is nothing new.

LF & Godwin’s Law

by Jonah Goldberg

The editorial blog of the Baltimore Sun is accusing me of violating Godwin’s law, and some of the commenters are rushing to my defense.

Isn’t That Special

by Jonah Goldberg

From an AP story on the kerfuffle over Neo-Nazis signing up for the adopt-a-highway program:

Representatives of the National Socialist movement in Missouri did not immediately return calls seeking comment about the legislation Sunday. But a statement on the movement’s Web site calls the renaming “a lame attempt to insult National Socialist pro-environment/green policies.”

Misconstruing Mussolini

The LF Voxiversity Exams Continue

LF & Its Critics

by Jonah Goldberg

From a reader in response to my magazine piece from the last issue:

Hi Jonah
 
Just got around to reading your article on Liberal Fascism and it’s critics.  I read Tomasky’s review too and noted some of the same things, especially his religious claim that liberalism has something deep within it (a respect for individual liberty) that keeps it from EVER endorsing fascism.  That was one of the most hilarious claims ever printed and the most indefensible.
 
But it was on the subject of leftist historiography that I had a question.  You describe it as “team” based, but I would argue that it is more about ideology than you think.  However, it is about which ideology has power.  Read Foucalt, Derrida, Lacan, even Said- all center history around the question of who has power and what ideology they get to push.  So you are right when you say that it is about allegiances and coalitions, but using the term “team” is misleading, because Leftists intellectuals are pretty honest in their understanding of power as the driving force, and their willingness to team up with whoever they need to in order to consolidate and maintain power.  It is why they can team up with Islamofascists in Canada and sue Steyn.  It’s why they team up with all kinds of seedy fascists or tacitly support fascists- all the while calling us fascists. The team mentality is simply the surface.  The real issue is maintaining power for the team.

LF Quiz Part II

Nazis & Christianity Cont’d

by Jonah Goldberg

From pages 369-371:

…Just as the Nazi attack on Christianity was part of a larger war on the idea of universal truth, whole postmodern cosmologies have been created to prove that traditional religious morality is a scam, that there are no fixed truths or “natural” categories, and that all knowledge is socially constructed. Or as the line goes in The Da Vinci Code, “So Dark, the Con of Man.”

The “con” in question is, in effect, a conspiracy by the Catholic
Church to deceive the world about Jesus’ true nature and his marriage to Mary Magdalene. The book has sold some sixty million copies worldwide. The novel, and movie, have generated debates, documentaries, companion books, and the like. But few have called attention to the ominous roots and parallels with Nazi thought.
Dan Brown should have dedicated his book to “Madame” Helena Blavatsky, the theosophist guru who is widely considered the “mother” of New Age spirituality as well as a touchstone in the development of Nazi paganism and the chief popularizer of the swastika as a mystical symbol. Her theosophy included a grab bag of cultish notions, from astrology to the belief that Christianity was a grand conspiracy designed to conceal the true meaning and history of the supernatural. Her 1888 book, The Secret Doctrine, attempted to prove the full extent of the grotesque Western conspiracy that The Da Vinci Code only partially illuminates. Christianity was to blame for all the modern horrors of capitalism and inauthentic living, not to mention the destruction of Atlantis.  
Alfred Rosenberg’s Myth of the Twentieth Century, the second most important book in the Nazi canon, borrowed ideas wholesale from Blavatsky. Rosenberg lays out one Christian conspiracy after another. “Before it could fully blossom, the joyous message of German mysticism was strangled by the anti-European church with all the means in its power,” he insists. Like Blavatsky and Brown, he suggests the existence of secret Gospels, which, had they not been concealed by the Church, would debunk the “counterfeit of the great image of Christ” found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. “Christianity,” writes Hitler in Mein Kampf, “was not content with erecting an altar of its own. It had first to destroy the pagan altars.” It was “the advent of Christianity” that first unleashed the “spiritual terror” upon “the much freer ancient world.”13

Large segments of the cultural left today subscribe to similar notions.
For example, Wicca and paganism constitute the fastestgrowing religion and religious category in America, with adherents numbering anywhere from 500,000 to 5 million depending on whose
numbers you accept. If you add “New Age spirituality,” the number of Americans involved in such avocations reaches 20 million and growing. Feminists in particular have co-opted Wicca as a religion perfectly suited to their politics. Gloria Steinem is rhapsodic about the superior political and spiritual qualities of “pre-Christian” and “matriarchal” paganism. In Revolution from Within she laments in all
earnestness the “killing of nine million women healers and other pagan or nonconforming women during the centuries of change-over to Christianity.”14
The SS chief, Heinrich Himmler, was convinced that the antiwitch craze was an anti-German plot concocted in large part by the Catholic Church: “The witch-hunting cost the German people hundreds of thousands of mothers and women, cruelly tortured and executed.”15 He dedicated considerable resources for the SS to investigate the witch hunts and prove they were attempts to crush Aryan civilization and the true German faith. The SS put together what amounted to their own X-Files unit—dubbed Special Unit H (for Hexen, or “witches”)—to ferret out the truth of over thirty-three thousand cases of witch burning, in countries as far away as India and Mexico.
Indeed, most of the founders of National Socialism would be far more comfortable talking witchcraft and astrology with a bunch of crystal-worshipping vegans than attending a church social. Consider the Thule Society, named after a supposed lost race of northern peoples hinted at in ancient Greek texts. The society was founded as the Munich chapter of the German Order, and while its occult and theosophical doctrines were nominally central to its charter, the glue that held it together was racist anti-Semitism. Anton Drexler was encouraged by his mentor Dr. Paul Tafel, a leader of the Thule Society, to found the German Workers’ Party, which would soon become the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Its membership was a veritable Who’s Who of founding Nazis, according to Hitler’s biographer Ian Kershaw.

Hitler & Christianity II

by Jonah Goldberg

From pages 364-365 of my book:

Like the engineers of that proverbial railway bridge, the Nazis
worked relentlessly to replace the nuts and bolts of traditional
Christianity with a new political religion. The shrewdest way to accomplish
this was to co-opt Christianity via the Gleichschaltung
while at the same time shrinking traditional religion’s role in civil society.
To this end, Hitler was downright Bismarckian. The German
historian Götz Aly explains how Hitler purchased popularity with
lavish social welfare programs and middle-class perks, often paid for
with stolen Jewish wealth and high taxes on the rich. Hitler banned
religious charity, crippling the churches’ role as a counterweight to
the state. Clergy were put on government salary, hence subjected to
state authority. “The parsons will be made to dig their own graves,”
Hitler cackled. “They will betray their God to us. They will betray
anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes.”5
Following the Jacobin example, the Nazis replaced the traditional
Christian calendar. The new year began on January 30 with the Day
of the Seizure of Power.6 Each November the streets of central
Munich were dedicated to a Nazi Passion play depicting Hitler’s
Beer Hall Putsch. The martyrdom of Horst Wessel and his “old fighters”
replaced Jesus and the apostles. Plays and official histories
were rewritten to glorify pagan Aryans bravely fighting against
Christianizing foreign armies. Anticipating some feminist pseudo
history, witches became martyrs to the bloodthirsty oppression of
Christianity.

Under the progressives, the Christian God had been transformed
into the God of lower food prices. Under the Nazis, the Christian
God would be transformed into an Aryan SS officer with Hitler his
right hand. The so-called German Christian pastors preached that
“just as Jesus liberated mankind from sin and hell, so Hitler saves the
German Volk from decay.” In April 1933 the Nazi Congress of
German Christians pronounced that all churches should catechize
that “God has created me a German; Germanism is a gift of God.
God wills that I fight for Germany. War service in no way injures the
Christian conscience, but is obedience to God.”7
When some Protestant bishops visited the Fuhrer to register complaints,
Hitler’s rage got the better of him. “Christianity will disappear from Germany just as it has done in Russia . . . The Germanrace has existed without Christianity for thousands of years . . . and
will continue after Christianity has disappeared . . . We must get
used to the teachings of blood and race.” When the bishops objected
that they supported Nazism’s secular aims, just not its religious innovations,
Hitler exploded: “You are traitors to the Volk. Enemies of
the Vaterland and destroyers of Germany.”8

In 1935 mandatory prayer in school was abolished, and in 1938
carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely. By 1941 religious instruction
for children fourteen years and up had been abolished altogether,
and Jacobinism reigned supreme. A Hitler Youth song rang
out from the campfires:

We are the happy Hitler Youth;
We have no need for Christian virtue;
For Adolf Hitler is our intercessor
And our redeemer.
No priest, no evil one
Can keep us
From feeling like Hitler’s children.
No Christ do we follow, but Horst Wessel!
Away with incense and holy water pots.9
Meanwhile, the orphans were given new lyrics to “Silent Night”:
Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright,
Only the Chancellor steadfast in fight,
Watches o’er Germany

Hitler & Christianity

by Jonah Goldberg

I’ve been so incredibly swamped since the von Brunn shooting I haven’t had a chance to post a few things on Hitler and Christianity that I think are relevant given all of the “he’s a rightwinger talk.” Remember von Brunn subscribes to the view that Christianity was a Jewish conspiracy against European-Pagan vigor. This email reminded me:

Dear Jonah:

The current issue of MILITARY HISTORY QUARTERLY (summer 2009)includes an article by John H. Osborne Jr. entitled “Greek Trajedy” It is a short history of Mussolini’s botched invasion of Greece which drew in the British to keep out the Germans in one of Churchill’s Mediterranean side-shows. The British were then promptly ejected by the Nazis who took all the credit for the victory because they had essentially no help from the incompetent Italians This WWII theatre of operation is largely forgotten although it devasted Greece.

The LF nature of the following passage — which quotes Goebbel’s diaries (?) — struck me so I wanted to share for purposes of your research notes in case you never have seen this before. It describes Hitler on the occasion of the German victory over the Greek army.

’While Mussolini had raged and moaned, Hitler’s enjoyment at Churchill’s new Greek travails was marred by regret over having to devastate the country. “Athens and Rome are his meccas,” his ranking diarist, Josef Goebbels, wrote. “The Fueher is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity …. What a difference between the benevolent, smiling Zeus and the pain-wracked, crucified Christ …. What a difference between a gloomy cathedral and a light airy ancient temple.” ‘ page 86 (ellipses in original passage in MHQ).

Right, but Nazis were Christianists and Christianists are Nazis.

Remember this from Jesse Jackson: “In South Africa, we call it apartheid. In Nazi Germany, we’d call it fascism. Here in the United States, we call it conservatism.” Or his statement that the Christian Coalition was a “strong force” in Nazi Germany?

Rightwing = Bad Dept

The LF Quiz, Pt 1

Reihan In the House

by Jonah Goldberg

First, in case you didn’t know, Reihan Salam is now a blogger for NRO. I think this astoundingly good news.  Now, on to business. He writes:

Earlier this week, Will Cain very kindly asked me to participate in a series of online debates with Chris Hayes of The Nation, a leading left-of-center thinker. To his credit, Hayes describes himself as a social democrat, a political tradition that remains obscure in U.S. political discourse. Unlike left movements in Europe, the American left has traditionally had a strong individualist streak, hence the resonance of the “liberal” label that many center-left Americans now eschew in favor of “progressive.” The best book I’ve read on the origins of social democracy is Sheri Berman’s The Primacy of Politics: Social Democracy and the Making of Europe’s Twentieth Century, a sympathetic account that describes the movement as an outgrowth of the various revisionist movements that emerged in tension with and in opposition to Marxist orthodoxy. Another movement that emerged from the intellectual ferment of revisionism is, of course, fascism, and Jonah Golderg has vividly described the awkward relationship between these traditions at great length. Though it should go without saying that egalitarian social democracy and racial fascism are deeply different, both see the creation and cultivation of social solidarity as vitally important.

He goes on to make many fine points. I just want to offer a slight — really slight — dissent. I agree that social democracy and racial fascism are deeply different (a point I make several times in my book). And I’m grateful that Reihan actually recognizes a distinction between fascism and “racial fascism.” In the 1920s, Mussolini’s fascism was not racial (it became racial in the late 30s when Mussolini wanted to justify his North African adventures and, later, when he fully became Hitler’s stooge). The question is, how different are social democracy and non-racial fascism? The problem for many people is that they cannot imagine the possibility that fascism isn’t shorthand for racial fascism, never mind get their heads around the idea that Nazism was — and was understood at the time as — racial socialism. The word “fascist” appears twice in Mein Kampf and neither time as a meaningful label for National Socialist ideology. Meanwhile the word socialist appears nearly 200 times, if memory serves, and it is often used as an accurate description of Hitler’s preferred policies.

Regardless, I will concede that non-racial fascism and social democracy  are still different, just as social democracy and, say, Leninism are different. But few eyebrows would be raised were one to note that Leninism and social democracy share common roots and more than a few common aspirations. But when one says similar stuff about fascism and social democracy, teeth are gnashed and cloth rent.

Tales from the Front

by Jonah Goldberg

From a reader:

Jonah,

I bought your book tonight from Borders (I plan on completing Voxiversity III).  Considering how well it is selling, it was pretty tough to find–I found one paperback copy under “Political Science” not in the prominent “New In Paperback” displays.  I’ve never had a checkout woman look at me so strangely, either, but maybe because I purchased one other item, a collector’s edition of the new Rancid double CD.  I’m guessing not too many people buy this combination.

Looking forward to reading,

Fan Mail

by Jonah Goldberg

I like this one:

Mr. Goldberg – There are not words that adequately express what a complete a**hole you are – what a dishonest, right-wing fraud you are .. Your sole purpose in writing the ludicrous “Liberal Fascism” is to scare people away from the laudable and constructive policies President Obama is trying to implement to improve and fix this country after the 8 years of disastrous misrule by your people .. The only danger of fascism in this country comes from the right-wing of the Republican Party – your people. Under Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bolton-Rove-Gonzales et.al., this country came as close to fascism as it ever has, and, hopefully, ever will. You are merely trying the alarm and scare tactics that the right-wing invariably turns to ..

Your points are ludicrous nonsense: our best and closest allies in the Western tradition, including Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, most of Western Europe, Canada, and most of the industrialized world, are far more “liberal” – indeed socialist – than could ever happen in this country: and not a one of them is in any danger of fascism: you are quite simply full of sh*t on that point .. It was the great liberalism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that brought us out of the Great Depression, while it was those of your ilk, your pathetic Republican predecessors in the ’30’s, that opposed the New Deal every that eventually lifted us out of that crisis. There have been countless successful exercises in the liberalism that you speciously and fraudulently try to link to liberalism. But your Dick Cheney is the closest thing to an American fascist as we’re ever produced; if wasn’t your other ancestor – Joseph McCarthy ..

Your scare tactics, your histrionic alarmism are pathetic. The only winder is how such right-wing garbage as your book gets published at all – you should consider yourself very lucky ..

Me: Any bets that this guy hasn’t read a single page of the book?

Update: Oh, I should have said that the asterisks are mine. This is a family website.

I should have also have mentioned that I started this book when Barack Obama was an obscure Illinois state senator. So I deserve every success simply for the quality of my prescience.

Reunited And It Feels So Good

by Jonah Goldberg

I’m delighted to announced that the paperback of Liberal Fascism will debut at #5 on The New York Times besteller list.

Because the list works on a weird time-delay, it will appear a week from this Sunday.

Thanks again to everyone, including the knee-jerk critics, for making it a success.

Why Does it Matter? Cont’d

by Jonah Goldberg

From a reader:

Jonah,

While I’m obviously generalizing, I think the following mental calculation describes the perspective of a great many liberals/leftists:

Political thought can be described as a straight line with communism occupying the far left position, fascism the far right.
While I’m in agreement with a lot of its positions I’m not a socialist. For instance, I think some income inequality is probably necessary. And while there are parts of communism that I agree with, there are also parts that I have significant misgivings about, like the relative lack of press freedom and free speech.
There is almost nothing I find appealing or I’m in agreement with when it comes to conservatism.
My own views are pretty centrist. I may lean a little to the left but there isn’t anything extreme about my politics, and besides most of the people I know have similar opinions so I must be pretty solidly in the center.

Conclusion:

If I’m in the center, and can find more common ground with communism than conservatism then conservatism must be pretty far to the right; if not exactly fascist very much in the same neighborhood.

Update: Quite a few readers wondered why I didn’t contest this. I think the reason is that I basically agree with it. I think the confusion stems from the fact that the emailer was referring to the liberal-leftist mindset rather than his own.

But I think he’s absolutely right. Liberals start from the assumption that fascism is on the right and then they fit their own biases to the political spectrum. What I Don’t Like becomes “fascist.” Things I Have Sympathy For, in whole or part, becomes left.

Update II: From the reader himself:

Jonah,

Thanks for posting my e-mail (a Navin Johnson moment!).

I think you read me correctly. I was trying to get at how pernicious the template of left (communism), right (fascism) is given that most people will tend to place themselves in or near the center (We make $750,000 a year, so we’re middle class). From that orientation a calculation of relative distance leads inevitably to placing any vigorous conservatism on the far right of the spectrum, which makes it fascist or quasi-fascist. The search for substantive differences with socialism and more serious differences with communism is a way of substantiating their position as being centrist. Hence the frequently observed denial of being a socialist despite espousing socialist views that you pointed to last week.

The above is in part why I think Oakeshott’s enterprise association/civil association categorization is so valuable (a brief explication of which can be found in the Hunter College address given for NR’s 25th anniversary and available on the archives)

Update III: It is very strange, but readers keep thing the above correspondent is talking about himself when he says “we make $750,000 …” He doesn’t. He’s characterizing a mindset.

Kesler on Progressivism

by Jonah Goldberg

I have every confidence that fans of my book and those otherwise interested in the issues raised by it, will find Charles Kesler’s discussion of progressivism both familiar and enlightening. Kesler overdosed on smart pills years ago, and he’s never recovered.

Update: I take issue with my friend Peter Robinson here.

Those “right wing” Fascists, Cont’d

by Jonah Goldberg

Michael Moynihan has a very useful post. I’m not sure I agree with every angle of it, but I am very reluctant to disagree with him on contemporary European politics as he knows a lot more about such things than I do.