ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" at First Blush - A must Read

Normally I would not write anything about a book under review until I had finished it, but this book is the exception.

I bought Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism a week or so ago, but have found myself busy and have been slow to get into it. But I finally got a chance yesterday. My family did not hear from me for hours. I was totally absorbed.

"It can't happen here," is a commonly heard expression when it comes to fascism in the United States. Goldberg demonstrates that not only can it happen here, it has happened here. The adminstration of Woodrow Wilson is the case in point.

The chapter is hair raisng.

Goldberg starts with tracing the routes of fascism to the Progressive Movement of people like Robert LaFollette, John Dewey, H.G. Wells et al and periodicals like the New Republic and it's first editor in the late 1800s and early 20th century. These people inspired not only men like Wilson but also later Mussolini in Italy. They were folks who stood foresquarely for the proposition that individual rights were secondary to the common good.

World War I provided Wilson with the rationale they needed to implement this collectivist/statist philosophy. Oh brother, did they ever. The infamous "Palmer Raids" were only the surface evidence of this totalitarian state. Police state tactics, suppression of free press, propaganda and more flourished. Of course it was all done for the common good in the eyes of these Progressives.

I was a history major in college and have continued my studies throughout my 60 years. I fancy myself as something of an expert in U.S. history. Not so much. I have had my eyes opened by Goldberg, I have a lot more to learn... and to be wary of.

The echoes of that time are ringing loudly today as we listen to election year debate. On the Left we are hearing the same old stuff and it again seems to be resonating, particularly in the voice of Obama, but also, more faintly, in others.

It is interesting the modern Liberals seem now to prefer being called "Progressives." I wonder if they knew what was comitted in the name of Progressivism whether they would be so eager to take on that title. I rather doubt it. But then again, history has been so sanitized, maybe they would.

I will be writing a complete review of the book, but I did want to get something out while this initial impact was fresh in my mind.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Comments (7)
Desert Rat said...

I will always remember Hillary screeching to a cheering crowd of supporters, "We're going to take things away from you for the common good!" She articulated the very essence of fascism.

Anonymous said...

or this:

“Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you
shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out
of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you
push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never
allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”

-Michelle Obama

Monterey John said...

Anonymous just about ruined my day! Geezers!

Chad said...

And of course with every fascist movement like our current "progressive" candidates, a huge group of the population cheers them on!

Lotta Splainin said...

Goldberg's is the first popular political book in ages that is going to "make a difference". Conservative readers will be able to articulate exactly what fascism really means and how closely its principles match those of American liberalism.

What's more, some libs have written Goldberg to say that they too have had their eyes open as to the nature of "progressivism" as practiced by their 20th century heroes and how many of its guiding principles have lingered on to this day.

Not that they will abandon their political philosophy, just that they recognize that the charge of "fascism" raised againt conservatives favoring LIMITED government is intellectually incoherent.

Thus LF is truly redefining American political discourse.

Bravo Jonah!

S Robert said...

Lotta Splainin is right, this is an important book for Conservatives to read, it really helped to confirm many things that I always believed. Augment this awesome read with Amity Shales The Forgotten Man and really see FDR's legacy through clear eyes.

St Wendeler said...

I too loved the book and agree that it is a cautionary tale.

One concern of mine is not that the modern-day Progressives seem to be unaware of their pedigree, but that many pols & supporters on the right fail to recognize the direction that we are heading in. Anytime I hear a GOP candidate discuss how the federal government can solve this or that problem, I want to scream.

When I read Hayek's Road to Serfdom, a light bulb flipped on in my head. When I recently read Jonah's Liberal Fascism, I connected Hayek's call to post-War Britain to our current situation and the return of progressive politics.