Sunday, January 13, 2008

Liberalism and fascism

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(An addendum to Carl's post below.)

Right-winger Ross Douthat of The Atlantic excoriates those critics of Goldberg's book who haven't actually read the book. Fair enough, although Goldberg's infantile views (and I know I'm being unfair to infants here) are well-known already, and the book has already received enough attention to warrant comment. Which is to say, we already know what's in it even without having read it. The very concept of "liberal fascism" is ludicrous. Liberalism is anathema to fascism, and vice versa -- and liberals have spent the history of liberalism fighting fascism in all its many variations. While conservatives were wading in isolationism (it's not our fight) and apologetics (they're not that bad) throughout much of the last century, for example, liberals were leading the struggle against authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Without liberalism, we would still be in the dark -- which, presumably, is where Goldberg would like us to be.

There is much to recommend Libby's take on this, from The Impolitic: "I can't help but think that the critiques give the book more credibility that it deserves. If everyone would just yawn and walk away, maybe Jonah would disappear like any other attention troll on the internets."

Of course, he won't disappear, and that's the problem -- and that's why we need to respond. There are simply too many like him, too many media outlets (and not just conservative ones) willing to give him a platform from which to spew his idiocy, too many on the right who get off on precisely this sort of nonsense, that is, who equate liberalism with fascism.

And yet there is only so much time. Why waste it on Goldberg?

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  • I gave that some thought, particularly in light of the dissection done by Sadly, No!

    I think ignoring it is too good a fate for it. As a commenter on S,N! says, we ought to expose this garbage for what it is: an attempt to rewrite history and twisting Newspeak into accepted orthodoxy.

    Well, Bill Moyers noted this quote from "1984":

    By the year 2050 — earlier probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron — they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

    So that's why I felt it was important to cut through the sarcasm and snark, and address the real truth that Jonah missed. For the record.

    By Blogger Carl, at 5:00 PM  

  • Right-winger Ross Douthat of The Atlantic excoriates those critics of Goldberg's book who haven't actually read the book

    Ironic, since Pantload himself admits he hadn't read many of the source books he cites in his "research", at least not recently enough for certainty of his attributions.

    By Blogger Carl, at 5:02 PM  

  • I haven't read the book, but I did see him speak on C-Span, and honestly, at least what he put forward in that lecture was a fairly reasonable historical argument about the relationship between socialism and fascism in the 1930s. It was not an argument that we should think of liberals the way we think of Nazis, and to the extent the book itself is characterized by the lecture it is not indefensible in the way the title is.

    In otherwords you actually do need to know what he is arguing to make a legitimate criticism of the book.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:01 AM  

  • Timothy,

    He equates fascism WITH socialism, which any historian will tell you is utter nonsense.

    In other words, he's saying that Hitler fighting Stalin was just a "family tussle".

    By Blogger Carl, at 11:09 AM  

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