Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Y’all come reminder: liberalism, conservatism, fascism?

Jonah Goldberg, ably supported (and perhaps also contradicted) by our own Peter Lawler, Jay Cost (of RealClearPolitics), Jon Schaff (of South Dakota Politics), Matt Franck (of Bench Memos), Susan McWilliams (friend of our friend Patrick Deneen of What I Saw in America), Alan Abramowitz (of The Democratic Strategist), Bryan McGraw (friend of many of our friends), and Jay Bookman (of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) will be speaking at Oglethorpe University this Wednesday (the day after Super Tuesday...or is it Not-so-Super Tuesday?). The topics will be liberalism, conservatism, and fascism(???).

Festivities get underway at 11 a.m. with a student panel, continue through two afternoon roundtables, and culminate in Jonah’s keynote at 7 p.m.

All the events take place in Lupton Auditorium on the Oglethorpe campus. All the sessions are free and open to the public.

Discussions - 10 Comments

Lawler is 100 times the thinker that Goldberg is.

Liberal Fascism is the worst book from the Right since Dinesh D'Souza's foray into ending his own intellectual career with The Enemy at Home.

"Paul,"

Have you actually read the book, or do you disdain Jonah on principle?

Nope. No interest. I base all of my claims on the performances of the authors on the Colbert Report and Daily Show. I'm not kidding.

Why the quotes around my name, Joe?

I find that people who don't give email addresses often use pseudonyms.

And I find it hard to take seriously pronouncements about books by people who haven't read them. To your credit, at least you admit to not having read Liberal Fascism.

It sounded at best wildly exaggerated if not utterly unsound or at least unsound with regard to any touchstones of the contemporary American liberal movement, and that sounded to me like something I have no interest in reading. Would you disagree? The comments on this blog even seem to say that Goldberg is completely missing the mark with regard to the contemporary liberal scene. Whatever historical artifacts he may have dug up linking the organic foods movement to fascist Germany and other such frivolous knowledge, I see little importance to the grand scheme of political discourse--historical or philosophical.

Whatever its flaws, the book has more substance than the caricature you've painted. JG takes after the notion of a "national community," and after the results-oriented pragmatism that aims at producing it. He's onto something there.

And, practically speaking, even if he simply made using the epithet "fascist" more fraught with difficulty, that would be a good thing.

Am I safe in saying that D'Souza's book was trash at least?

Haven't read it. Have you?

You should know me by now, Joe.

Joe K - Your concern with critics actually reading books appears to be depend on which end of the political spectrum the book at issue resides. Regarding Chris Hedges' book, American Fascism, you dismissively suggested to readers on your blog at GoodWillHinton that the title of THAT book "tells you almost all you need to know." Here at NLT you appeared to do two small second-hand reviews of the book based on reviews found elsewhere, and the Simon & Schuster synopsis page. I'm only a bit curious if you have actually read either Hedges' or Michelle Goldberg's book.

I'm slightly more curious if you've read Jonah Goldberg's (wonder if he & Michelle are secret cousins - what a scandal that could make) bestseller yet, given your willingness to defend it. Apparently the gratuitously provocative cover of Mr. Goldberg's book (Hitler and a hippie icon blended, modern-day fascist is a school teacher from Swarthmore, etc.) does NOT tell us all we need to know about that book.

Well, regardless of all that, I think we're long overdue to dispense with the notion that NOTHING remotely intelligent can be or should be said about a book until one has read it. Of course, a review will probably be much better, more interesting, and more insightful if one has completely read the book being critiqued, but still, there are valid - or at least arguably sound - judgments to be made of books merely based on their covers (and dustjacket flaps). I would bet that you would be willing to offer an educated guess about the worthiness of the substance of a book like, say "What Liberal Media?" or Naomi Wolf's most recent without reading them beyond their covers. You may even be able to make some good arguments against the books' theses.

My guess is that many on the right have few qualms with a list like this one from Human Events, warning us of dangerous books. I would also guess that many haven't read those books, or even more than a synopsis of them written by a fellow conservative. Fine.

That said, the discourse surrounding any book is surely better when all parties have read it.

Considering how good of a friend Jonah Goldberg appears to be to you, and to Ashbrook, I'm doubting that you'll be anything more than superficially critical of his work, unlike some conservative reviews I've seen (and others that are also superficial, but still rather critical).

I doubt that ISI would have paid for bringing in some serious challengers to Goldberg (not sure I see any on your current list), but it might have made things more interesting if you could've put Naomi Wolf, Chris Hedges, Michelle Goldberg, or Michael Mann on your panel. Or heck, even Austin Bramwell or David Gordon from The Mises Institute.

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