Liberal Fascism

Spiked On LF

From a reader:


I don’t know if you’ve come across this yet, of if anyone else has sent it to you, but here’s a review of your book from Spiked Online.

An interesting site, Spiked.  It was originally a print magazine called Living Marxism, which folded some years back.  Despite this dubious pedigree, I am on the whole a fan, because of the strong libertarian streak that runs through all their work (and because of their excellent track record of baiting environmentalists).

I’ve not yet read LF, by the way.  I can’t realy justify buying it at the moment.  This I would usually get around by reading it in bookshops until I could spare the cash, but needless to say even in central London LF isn’t to be found anywhere.

 Me: I hadn’t seen it.  I just read about the first half and then skimmed the rest. I’ll finish it later. So far, it seems that the reviewer has the same problems lots of reviewers have had. They don’t like what they find in my book and then make up a rationalization for why they don’t like it. Lots of asserting my book (or much of it) was written in bad faith, little proof of it. The fact that the Nazis worked with big business is not proof I’m wrong, it is evidence I muster to prove I’m right. Asserting that the Italian Fascists moved “rightward” after attaining power  is not a rebuttal to anything I’ve written. So did Stalin after he took power, becoming a nationalist. The Chinese have moved “rightward” in the same way Mussolini did, they’re still not of the “right” as we understand the term in Britain in and America. 

I did stop on this bit:

Goldberg’s suggestion that Buckley had no use for populism is ludicrous, but let that pass – the point is that Goldberg couldn’t step outside his tradition to try and think through transformed circumstances. He’s genuinely spotted something going on, but the tribal instinct of US politics draws him back into a conventional analysis rendered novel only by its extremism. 

Well, first I don’t believe I ever wrote that Buckley had “no use for populism.” I just searched through my PDF of the whole book and found no obvious passage saying as much. For the record, Buckley did have his uses for populism, because he detested the ruling elite far more than he distrusted the American people (hence his famous Boston phone book vs. Harvard faculty bit). But it’s fairly absurd  to suggest, as this guy seems to be doing, that Buckley was a populist.

More important, could it possibly be that an author writing for a quasi-Marxist Journal is the one caught in a conventional analysis all of his own? And while he clearly concedes vast tracts of my evidence, he sees bad faith (false consciousness) in any analysis that doesn’t ultimately confirm his own? 

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