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No Left Turns

Jonah’s big day

You thought that today was all about New Hampshire, but it’s also the day that Jonah Goldberg’s first book, Liberal Fascism, is available in better bookstores everywhere.

Jonah shows, quite exhaustively and persuasively, the leftist provenance of fascism and explains the affinity that many of the icons of American progressivism felt for the European movement before its German branch revealed its murderous side. If the book gains a wide readership, as it should, thoughtful liberals would do well to eschew the terms "progressive" to describe themselves and "fascist" to describe people and positions (usually conservative) they don’t like.

I’ll provide a fuller accounting of my view of hte book once I’ve finished it and gathered my thoughts.

In the mean time, you’ll have to be content with Rich Lowry’s appreciation, this audio interview, this interview transcript, this review from Books & Culture, this piece by Daniel Pipes, another interview here, and aa blogsite devoted to the book. You can also catch a glimpse of Jonah’s argument in his USA Today column.

Expect more in the days to come, some of it less laudatory than most of what has come out so far. I wonder, for example, whether the NYT and the TNR (whose past Jonah regards as not altogether savory) will review it and who will do the honors.

Jonah will be on Michael Medved’s show this afternoon and will speak at the Heritage Foundation tomorrow. And he’ll be speaking at my institution, accompanied by a cast of thousands, on Wednesday, February 6th. The details for that event are almost all firmed up, so I expect some spirited and interesting conversation.

Update: I missed the NYT review, which basically argues that Republicans are fascists (too?).

Discussions - 4 Comments

There are definitely elements of Fascism that are not leftist, but the Fascist conception of the state is entirely modern and leftist. The problem is that it is a conception of the state that is similar to the view of the state held by modern nationalists.

I hope Jonah was careful with his use of terminology and isn't just using "Fascism" as an all purpose smear word.

On the contrary, he was trying to achieve some precision in its use, preventing it from being "an all-pupose smear word."

Joe K, something tells me that you found the book "persuasive" long before you held a copy.

David Neiwert, who has written fairly extensively on the exact nature of fascism, the use and abuse of the term, and how the term does (and, importantly, doesn't) apply to various aspects of the American right, has a very interesting review of Goldberg's tome over at The American Prospect. He is noticeably less kind than Oshinsky was in the NYT, as he essentially charges Goldberg with historical revisionism and seems to think that the book is rife with instances that he describes as "almost comical upending of reality."

But I'm still going to give Jonah G a chance - I've reserved the book at my library.

O.K., Craig, I read the review, which conveniently doesn't deal with many of the arguments Jonah makes, especially regarding the "progressive" admiration for Mussolini in the 20s.

Yes, there were genuine conservative fascists in America, and Jonah doesn't deny it. But he wanted to shed light on a different phenomenon.

For the record, I'm not persuaded by everything he has to say, but it's hard, especially, to overlook his account of the unsavory elements of progressivism that folks on the Left would just as soon forget.

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