Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Liberal Fascism reviewed

Our friend Jon Schaff posts a generally favorable review of Liberal Fascism.

And there’s also this, from our own Steve Hayward, unfortunately available only to TWS subscribers.

Discussions - 8 Comments

WJ--Good point. If nationalists are fascists, then post-McGovern liberals aren't. Remember that THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE had its notorious recent cover with Giuliani dressed up like a fascist. But of course it's not being fascist to want to defeat communism or defeat "Islamofascism" (which also is not really fascism). The McGovern of acid, amnesty, and abortion and other forms of permissiveness ain't no fascist etc. I'm ok with connecting the Progessives with the fascists in certain ways and even certain New Deal tendencies. But after fascism was defeated in WW2...

What Goldberg probably should have written on and titled his book was "Liberal Authoritarianism". Not nearly as snappy and eye-catching though.

I think this strand of liberalism first surfaced in the works of JS Mill.

It seems to me that Jonah is well set up to go on the road with a kind of Jeff Foxworthy act. "You might be a liberal fascist if..."

JS's review is certainly excellent. It doesn't seem very positive to me, though. The idea of liberal fascism doesn't have much explanatory power, JS plainly says, as an account of American liberalism from 1960 onward.

I am with Peter that JS has written an excellent review!

As I say in the "update," I think Goldberg is more right than not about post 60s liberalism, but I do think he tends to exaggerate for effect. So I would not argue that the concept of liberal fascism has no explanatory value for contemporary progressives but that it doesn't explain as much as Goldberg claims.

JS, Our differences turn on the meaning of "much." Kennedy-not a fascist, Johnson-not really a fascist (despite some rhetorical excesses and dumb programs), McGovern-say what you will, nowhere near fascist, Carter--fascists don't have malaise, Clinton--fascists don't have humanitarian interventions, Gore--well, he's been about everything, but even though Hitler was his own kind of crunchy, the inconvenient truth isn't fascist,
Obama and Hillary, not fascists.

I have not yet read the book, though it has made it to my nightstand queue. I agree with JS and Peter about JS's helpful review. One question I have about Goldberg's premise concerns the issue of nationalism. It seems to me that the contemporary (post-1960's) liberals may love government but have a hard time loving the nation, or at least nationalism. (Did I just impugn someone's patriotism?) They seem comfortable embracing the European ideal of a world beyond national politics. How does Goldberg reconcile this with their alleged fascism?

I've read JS's review, though not yet the book. I don't think the distinction between "classical liberalism" and modern liberalism is quite as valid as he (and others) seem to believe. There is a reason why liberalism degenerated to what it is today, and the reason can be seen in it's original core beliefs.

But a fine review, overall.

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