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Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

4.0 111
by Jonah Goldberg

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“Fascists,” “Brownshirts,” “jackbooted stormtroopers”—such are the insults typically hurled at conservatives by their liberal opponents. Calling someone a fascist is the fastest way to shut them up, defining their views as beyond the political pale. But who are the real fascists in our midst?

Liberal Fascism offers


“Fascists,” “Brownshirts,” “jackbooted stormtroopers”—such are the insults typically hurled at conservatives by their liberal opponents. Calling someone a fascist is the fastest way to shut them up, defining their views as beyond the political pale. But who are the real fascists in our midst?

Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler's National Socialism and Mussolini's Fascism.

Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler's Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.

Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

These assertions may sound strange to modern ears, but that is because we have forgotten what fascism is. In this angry, funny, smart, contentious book, Jonah Goldberg turns our preconceptions inside out and shows us the true meaning of Liberal Fascism.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Brilliant, insightful, and important.” —New York Sun

“Well-researched, seriously argued, and funny.” —Publishers Weekly“Bold and witty… [Goldberg] makes a persuasive case that fascism was from the beginning a movement of the left.” —New York Post“Jonah Goldberg is the first historian to detail the havoc this spin of all spins has played upon Western thought for the past seventy-five years, very much including the present moment.” —Tom Wolfe

David Oshinsky
…the title of his book aside, what distinguishes Goldberg from the Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages is a witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults—no mean feat in the nasty world of the culture wars.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In this provocative and well-researched book, Goldberg probes modern liberalism's spooky origins in early 20th-century fascist politics. With chapter titles such as "Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left" and "Brave New Village: Hillary Clinton and the Meaning of Liberal Fascism"-Goldberg argues that fascism "has always" been "a phenomenon of the left." This is Goldberg's first book, and he wisely curbs his wry National Reviewstyle. Goldberg's study of the conceptual overlap between fascism and ideas emanating from the environmental movement, Hollywood, the Democratic Party and what he calls other left-wing organs is shocking and hilarious. He lays low such lights of liberal history as Margaret Sanger, apparently a radical eugenicist, and JFK, whose cult of personality, according to Goldberg, reeks of fascist political theater. Much of this will be music to conservatives' ears, but other readers may be stopped cold by the parallels Goldberg draws between Nazi Germany and the New Deal. The book's tone suffers as it oscillates between revisionist historical analyses and the application of fascist themes to American popular culture; nonetheless, the controversial arc Goldberg draws from Mussolini to The Matrixis well-researched, seriously argued-and funny. (Jan. 8)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
Fascism isn't a right-wing phenomenon at all, argues National Review editor-at-large Goldberg in this lively polemic. Contemporary liberals are the true heirs of Hitler and Mussolini, he says. To prove his point, the author looks back to the early-20th-century rise of two radical international movements: communism and fascism. Both promised the destruction of a corrupt elite and rule by no-nonsense patriots who knew what the people wanted and would usher in utopia. Both were considered efficient, modern successors to moribund 19th-century parliamentary democracy. The American Left's pre-World War II admiration of communism is old news, but most readers will blink to learn of the gushing adulation Mussolini received from Americans across the political spectrum. Goldberg contends that the principles espoused by fascist leaders were similar to those of American progressivism. Liberals remember progressives as do-gooders who cleaned up the food supply and improved working conditions, which they did-but so did fascists. Like them, American progressives were racists and imperialists, stridently patriotic and anti-foreign. The world's first fascist regime, Goldberg maintains, was led by America's greatest progressive, Woodrow Wilson. His administration jailed thousands of dissenters, censored mail and newspapers and sent an army of semi-official badge-wearing goons to disrupt meetings and assault anyone who opposed America's participation in World War I. FDR and LBJ also practiced a gentle form of fascism, Goldberg insists, and 21st-century fascism is represented by-was there ever any doubt?-Hillary Clinton. Conservatives cannot be fascists, says the author, because they espouse a small federalgovernment that avoids meddling in citizens' lives and businesses. Goldberg admits, however, that conservative presidents from Reagan to Bush have happily used federal power to promote their own meddling agendas, realizing that voters would not tolerate a major shrinkage of the government. A partisan but entertaining historical analysis.

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Read an Excerpt

*  1  *
The Father of Fascism

You’re the top!
You’re the Great Houdini!
You’re the top!
You are Mussolini!
—An early version of the Cole Porter song “You’re the Top” (1)

IF YOU WENT solely by what you read in the New York Times or the New York Review of Books, or what you learned from Hollywood, you could be forgiven for thinking that Benito Mussolini came to power around the same time as Adolf Hitler—or even a little bit later—and that Italian Fascism was merely a tardy, watered–down version of Nazism. Germany passed its hateful race policies—the Nuremberg Laws—in 1935, and Mussolini’s Italy followed suit in 1938. German Jews were rounded up in 1942, and Jews in Italy were rounded up in 1943. A few writers will casually mention, in parenthetical asides, that until Italy passed its race laws there were actually Jews serving in the Italian government and the Fascist Party. And on occasion you’ll notice a nod to historical accuracy indicating that the Jews were rounded up only after the Nazis had invaded northern Italy and created a puppet government in Salo. But such inconvenient facts are usually skipped over as quickly as possible. More likely, your understanding of these issues comes from such sources as the Oscar–winning film Life Is Beautiful, (2) which can be summarized as follows: Fascism arrived in Italy and, a few months later, so did the Nazis, who carted off the Jews. As for Mussolini, he was a bombastic, goofy–looking, but highly effective dictator who made the trains run on time.

All of this amounts to playing the movie backward. By the time Italy reluctantly passed its shameful race laws—which it never enforced with even a fraction of the barbarity shown by the Nazis—over 75 percent of Italian Fascism’s reign had already transpired. A full sixteen years elapsed between the March on Rome and the passage of Italy's race laws. To start with the Jews when talking about Mussolini is like starting with FDR’s internment of the Japanese: it leaves a lot of the story on the cutting room floor. Throughout the 1920s and well into the 1930s, fascism meant something very different from Auschwitz and Nuremberg. Before Hitler, in fact, it never occurred to anyone that fascism had anything to do with anti–Semitism. Indeed, Mussolini was supported not only by the chief rabbi of Rome but by a substantial portion of the Italian Jewish community (and the world Jewish community). Moreover, Jews were overrepresented in the Italian Fascist movement from its founding in 1919 until they were kicked out in 1938.

Race did help turn the tables of American public opinion on Fascism. But it had nothing to do with the Jews. When Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, Americans finally started to turn on him. In 1934 the hit Cole Porter song “You’re the Top” engendered nary a word of controversy over the line “You are Mussolini!” When Mussolini invaded that poor but noble African kingdom the following year, it irrevocably marred his image, and Americans decided they had had enough of his act. It was the first war of conquest by a Western European nation in over a decade, and Americans were distinctly unamused, particularly liberals and blacks. Still, it was a slow process. The Chicago Tribune initially supported the invasion, as did reporters like Herbert Matthews. Others claimed it would be hypocritical to condemn it. The New Republic—then in the thick of its pro–Soviet phase—believed it would be “naive” to blame Mussolini when the real culprit was international capitalism. And more than a few prominent Americans continued to support him, although quietly. The poet Wallace Stevens, for example, stayed pro–Fascist. “I am pro–Mussolini, personally,” he wrote to a friend. “The Italians,” he explained, “have as much right to take Ethiopia from the coons as the coons had to take it from the boa–constrictors.” (3) But over time, largely due to his subsequent alliance with Hitler, Mussolini’s image never recovered.

That's not to say he didn't have a good ride.

In 1923 the journalist Isaac F. Marcosson wrote admiringly in the New York Times that “Mussolini is a Latin [Teddy] Roosevelt who first acts and then inquires if it is legal. He has been of great service to Italy at home.” (4) The American Legion, which has been for nearly its entire history a great and generous American institution, was founded the same year as Mussolini’s takeover and, in its early years, drew inspiration from the Italian Fascist movement. “Do not forget,” the legion’s national commander declared that same year, “that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States.” (5)

In 1926 the American humorist Will Rogers visited Italy and interviewed Mussolini. He told the New York Times that Mussolini was “some Wop.” “I’m pretty high on that bird.” Rogers, whom the National Press Club had informally dubbed “Ambassador–at–Large of the United States,” wrote up the interview for the Saturday Evening Post. He concluded, “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government: that is if you have the right Dictator.” (6) In 1927 the Literary Digest conducted an editorial survey asking the question: “Is there a dearth of great men?” The person named most often to refute the charge was Benito Mussolini—followed by Lenin, Edison, Marconi, and Orville Wright, with Henry Ford and George Bernard Shaw tying for sixth place. In 1928 the Saturday Evening Post glorified Mussolini even further, running an eight–part autobiography written by Il Duce himself. The series was gussied up into a book that gained one of the biggest advances ever given by an American publisher.

And why shouldn’t the average American think Mussolini was anything but a great man? Winston Churchill had dubbed him the world’s greatest living lawgiver. Sigmund Freud sent Mussolini a copy of a book he co–wrote with Albert Einstein, inscribed, “To Benito Mussolini, from an old man who greets in the Ruler, the Hero of Culture.” The opera titans Giacomo Puccini and Arturo Toscanini were both pioneering Fascist acolytes of Mussolini. Toscanini was an early member of the Milan circle of Fascists, which conferred an aura of seniority not unlike being a member of the Nazi Party in the days of the Beer Hall Putsch. Toscanini ran for the Italian parliament on a Fascist ticket in 1919 and didn’t repudiate Fascism until twelve years later. (7)

Mussolini was a particular hero to the muckrakers—those progressive liberal journalists who famously looked out for the little guy. When Ida Tarbell, the famed reporter whose work helped break up Standard Oil, was sent to Italy in 1926 by McCalls to write a series on the Fascist nation, the U.S. State Department feared that this “pretty red radical” would write nothing but “violent anti–Mussolini articles.” Their fears were misplaced. Tarbell was wooed by the man she called “a despot with a dimple,” praising his progressive attitude toward labor. Similarly smitten was Lincoln Steffens, another famous muckraker, who is today perhaps dimly remembered for being the man who returned from the Soviet Union declaring, “I have been over into the future, and it works.” Shortly after that declaration, he made another about Mussolini: God had “formed Mussolini out of the rib of Italy.” As we’ll see, Steffens saw no contradiction between his fondness for Fascism and his admiration of the Soviet Union. Even Samuel McClure, the founder of McClure’s Magazine, the home of so much famous muckraking, championed Fascism after visiting Italy. He hailed it as “a great step forward and the first new ideal in government since the founding of the American Republic.” (8)

Meanwhile, almost all of Italy’s most famous and admired young intellectuals and artists were Fascists or Fascist sympathizers (the most notable exception was the literary critic Benedetto Croce). Giovanni Papini, the “magical pragmatist” so admired by William James, was deeply involved in the various intellectual movements that created Fascism. Papini’s Life of Christ—a turbulent, almost hysterical tour de force chronicling his acceptance of Christianity—caused a sensation in the United States in the early 1920s. Giuseppe Prezzolini, a frequent contributor to the New Republic who would one day become a respected professor at Columbia University, was one of Fascism’s earliest literary and ideological architects. F. T. Marinetti, the founder of the Futurist movement—which in America was seen as an artistic companion to Cubism and Expressionism—was instrumental in making Italian Fascism the world's first successful “youth movement.” America's education establishment was keenly interested in Italy’s “breakthroughs” under the famed “schoolmaster” Benito Mussolini, who, after all, had once been a teacher.

Perhaps no elite institution in America was more accommodating to Fascism than Columbia University. In 1926 it established Casa Italiana, a center for the study of Italian culture and a lecture venue for prominent Italian scholars. It was Fascism’s “veritable home in America” and a “schoolhouse for budding Fascist ideologues,” according to John Patrick Diggins. Mussolini himself had contributed some ornate Baroque furniture to Casa Italiana and had sent Columbia’s president, Nicholas Murray Butler, a signed photo thanking him for his “most valuable contribution” to the promotion of understanding between Fascist Italy and the United States. (9) Butler himself was not an advocate of fascism for America, but he did believe it was in the best interests of the Italian people and that it had been a very real success, well worth studying. This subtle distinction—fascism is good for Italians, but maybe not for America—was held by a vast array of prominent liberal intellectuals in much the same way some liberals defend Castro’s communist “experiment.”

While academics debated the finer points of Mussolini’s corporatist state, mainstream America’s interest in Mussolini far outstripped that of any other international figure in the 1920s. From 1925 to 1928 there were more than a hundred articles written on Mussolini in American publications and only fifteen on Stalin. (10) For more than a decade the New York Timess foreign correspondent Anne O’Hare McCormick painted a glowing picture of Mussolini that made the Times’s later fawning over Stalin seem almost critical. The New York Tribune was vexed to answer the question: Was Mussolini Garibaldi or Caesar? Meanwhile, James A. Farrell, the head of U.S. Steel, dubbed the Italian dictator “the greatest living man” in the world.

Hollywood moguls, noting his obvious theatrical gifts, hoped to make Mussolini a star of the big screen, and he appeared in The Eternal City (1923), starring Lionel Barrymore. The film recounts the battles between communists and Fascists for control of Italy, and—mirabile dictu—Hollywood takes the side of the Fascists. “His deportment on the screen,” one reviewer proclaimed, “lends weight to the theory that this is just where he belongs.” (11) In 1933 Columbia Pictures released a “documentary” called Mussolini Speaks—supervised by Il Duce himself. Lowell Thomas—the legendary American journalist who had made Lawrence of Arabia famous—worked closely on the film and provided fawning commentary throughout. Mussolini was portrayed as a heroic strongman and national savior. When the crescendo builds before Mussolini gives a speech in Naples, Thomas declares breathlessly, “This is his supreme moment. He stands like a modern Caesar!” The film opened to record business at the RKO Palace in New York. Columbia took out an ad in Variety proclaiming the film a hit in giant block letters because “it appeals to all RED BLOODED AMERICANS” and “it might be the ANSWER TO AMERICA'S NEEDS.”

Fascism certainly had its critics in the 1920s and 1930s. Ernest Hemingway was skeptical of Mussolini almost from the start. Henry Miller disliked Fascism’s program but admired Mussolini’s will and strength. Some on the so–called Old Right, like the libertarian Albert J. Nock, saw Fascism as just another kind of statism. The nativist Ku Klux Klan—ironically, often called “American fascists” by liberals—tended to despise Mussolini and his American followers (mainly because they were immigrants). Interestingly, the hard left had almost nothing to say about Italian Fascism for most of its first decade. While liberals were split into various unstable factions, the American left remained largely oblivious to Fascism until the Great Depression. When the left did finally start attacking Mussolini in earnest—largely on orders from Moscow—they lumped him in essentially the same category as Franklin Roosevelt, the socialist Norman Thomas, and the progressive Robert La Follette. (12)

We’ll be revisiting how American liberals and leftists viewed Fascism in subsequent chapters. But first it seems worth asking, how was this possible? Given everything we’ve been taught about the evils of fascism, how is it that for more than a decade this country was in significant respects pro–fascist? Even more vexing, how is it—considering that most liberals and leftists believe they were put on this earth to oppose fascism with every breath—that many if not most American liberals either admired Mussolini and his project or simply didn’t care much about it one way or the other?

The answer resides in the fact that Fascism was born of a “fascist moment” in Western civilization, when a coalition of intellectuals going by various labels—progressive, communist, socialist, and so forth—believed the era of liberal democracy was drawing to a close. It was time for man to lay aside the anachronisms of natural law, traditional religion, constitutional liberty, capitalism, and the like and rise to the responsibility of remaking the world in his own image. God was long dead, and it was long overdue for men to take His place. Mussolini, a lifelong socialist intellectual, was a warrior in this crusade, and his Fascism—a doctrine he created from the same intellectual material Lenin and Trotsky had built their movements with—was a grand leap into the era of “experimentation” that would sweep aside old dogmas and usher in a new age. This was in every significant way a project of the left as we understand the term today, a fact understood by Mussolini, his admirers, and his detractors. Mussolini declared often that the nineteenth century was the century of liberalism and the twentieth century would be the “century of Fascism.” It is only by examining his life and legacy that we can see how right—and left—he was.

*    *    *

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was named after three revolutionary heroes. The name Benito—a Spanish name, as opposed to the Italian equivalent, Benedetto—was inspired by Benito Juárez, the Mexican revolutionary turned president who not only toppled the emperor Maximilian but had him executed. The other two names were inspired by now-forgotten heroes of anarchist–socialism, Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa.

Mussolini’s father, Alessandro, was a blacksmith and ardent socialist with an anarchist bent who was a member of the First International along with Marx and Engels and served on the local socialist council. Alessandro’s “[h]eart and mind were always filled and pulsing with socialistic theories,” Mussolini recalled. “His intense sympathies mingled with [socialist] doctrines and causes. He discussed them in the evening with his friends and his eyes filled with light.” (13) On other nights Mussolini's father read him passages from Das Kapital. When villagers brought their horses to Alessandro’s shop to be shod, part of the price came in the form of listening to the blacksmith spout his socialist theories. Mussolini was a congenital rabble–rouser. At the age of ten, young Benito led a demonstration against his school for serving bad food. In high school he called himself a socialist, and at the age of eighteen, while working as a substitute teacher, he became the secretary of a socialist organization and began his career as a left–wing journalist.

Meet the Author

JONAH GOLDBERG is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and contributing editor to National Review. A USA Today contributor and former columnist for the Times of London, he has also written for The New Yorker, Commentary, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Liberal Fascism 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 111 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fascinating presentation of politics of the last century and the ideological pedigree of many current prominent individuals and organizations. A must read for any informed citizen.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
There are a few things that we've learned as kids and have since taken for granted: the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, the birds fly south in the Winter, and north in the Summer, there are four seasons, seven days in week, etc. One of these truisms that almost no one questions is that communism is a left/liberal ideology while fascism is a right/conservative one. And while communism to this day has maintained a certain level of respectability and even moral high ground in some circles, labeling someone a fascist is the lowest form of insult, and something that many conservative thinkers are constantly subjected to. Therefore it came as a bit of a surprise to me to discover that fascism is in fact, when looked at objectively and without the baggage that it has assumed in popular perception, a quintessential left-of-center ideology. Granted, "Nazi" is in fact a shorthand for "National-socialist," but for the better part of last seventy years hardly anyone thought to emphasize the "socialist" part of the label, only the nationalism by which it was widely known. In the light of that Jonah Goldberg's book comes as a revelation that has profound effect on one's perception of the world. It is equivalent to discovering that the sun rises AND sets in the East. I was at first rather skeptical of the premise of this book, but the exhaustive, detailed and persuasive historical evidence that was presented in the book put all my misgivings aside. It documented many of the fascist tendencies and full-blown policies of some of the darlings of American left: Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It shows that aside from the extermination of Jews, there are hardly any policies of German National-socialists that differ substantially from any other socialist movement of the time, or even today. And herein, according to this book, lies the greatest danger for the modern western democracies. By demonizing fascism as a phenomenon of the right, it leaves open the unimpeded encroachment to many fascist policies under the guise of socialist and other liberal movements. These movements don't necessarily want the full-blown fascist dictatorships installed, but they are certainly progressing in that direction. That's why they are referred to as "liberal" fascists - fascists with a smiley face. Jonah Goldberg does a remarkable job of presenting his ideas and impressions to the modern reader - always backed by facts, never overdoing the rhetoric. The book covers somewhat the similar ground as the legendary "The Road to Serfdom" by F. A. Hayek. This latter book was written in the middle of WWII, and had some of the same perceptions as "Liberal Fascism." Its thesis was to warn the Western democracies against implementing many of the social programs that led to the rise of fascism and communism in Europe at the time. It is sobering to see that many of those warnings are still relevant today, maybe even more so than in 1940s. We live in the world where both fascism and communism are rapidly recede in people's memory, and it is easy to think that what led to them could not possibly happen again. "Liberal Fascism" is a sobering reminder that the road to fascism is indeed sometimes paved with the best intentions. One final note: many of the current-events books out there don't age well, and their relevance diminishes almost as fast as that of many periodicals. This is certainly not t
Guest More than 1 year ago
Contrary to the mindless, historically inaccurate negative reviews of this title on this site this book is a MUST read for any serious cultural historian. Backed up with extensive footnotes to his facts, Goldberg has surgically dissected the lies, distortions and fallacies of what is modern liberalism. Seeking respite in failed ideology, the left will loathe this book ardently because it exposes their corrupt and corrupting culture of hatred and lies. Absolutely one of the more important books of the early 21st century, this book will be viewed in the future as one of the larger truths written about the American way of life in the late 20th/early 21st century. The left howls when their own filth bites them, expect them to rail ceaselessly about this work. A+++.
Scott_for_Liberty More than 1 year ago
Anyone of the chapters in this book could serve as a primer for a complete history. I was initially worried that this would be a Republican talking points review. It is not rather a look back as to how we humans give up our freedom. This book isnt for anyone who likes either Republican or Democrat diatribes rather it is for anyone who loves liberty and is in search of its preservation. I feel sorry for those reviewers that found this book unreadable. Understanding let alone accepting some basic principles of this book could cause the reader to suffer the affects of ther political apostasy. It would be much easier to live a lie.
Ezekiel12224 More than 1 year ago
Liberal Fascism is well worth the price. If you are a conservative you will be equipped with many counterarguments to typical liberal talking points. If you are a liberal your ideology will likely be inconvenienced by this book but that should not stop you from reading it. I consider myself a staunch conservative but that does not stop me from reading books like Rules for Radicals. I believed this author used a tactic called cardstacking, which is when a person only chooses the historical facts that support their perspective, while leaving out any facts that hinder their argument, but that does not take away from the central thesis of this book. The point is to show the connection between progressive/ liberal ideology and the ideology of Hitler and Mussolini, which is strikingly similar in some areas. This book is original and very provocative. I highly recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am often asked by students why the modern-day 'political spectrum' positions Socialists on both the left and the right. If it does nothing else, this book will answer that question and show that the political spectrum begins on the far left where individual freedom is minimized and ends on the far right where individual freedom is maximized. This book helps to clarify the common misperception.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have long maintained that International Socialism (aka Communism) and National Socialism (aka Fascism)are simply 2 sides to the same totalitarian coin. After all what is 'Nazi' except a shortened term for 'National Socialist'. Goldberg proves what has always existed in our plain sight-that the Fascist movement of the early and mid 20th century was, in fact, a totalitarian 'Progressive' political phenomenon originating out of the utopian left, with a distinct 'Progressive' political agenda (i.e. minimum wage, public housing, worker protections, healthcare and even a proto-enviromentalism). It was never some reactionary reply of 'conservatives' to European Liberalism. With precision and scholarly detail he traces the early intellectual origins of Fascism in Italy and makes the vital point that Hitler and the Nazis were simply an anti-semitic strain of Fascism, unique to Germany, and that Fascism itself is not, per se, racially bigoted, but rather totalitarian, socialistic and communitarian. More importantly, Goldberg pulls the curtain back on the 70 year myth which former 'Progressives' (n/k/a 'Liberals')have constructed in America to hide their past sympathies with Fascism pre-WW II and, more importantly, to hide their adherence to Fascist methodolgy in the present-albiet with a gigantic federal government masked by a nanny state smile.(Goldberg's jacket cover of a big yellow smiley face with Hitler mustache is a riot and makes a devastatingly useful counter protest symbol-lets hope it shows up outside the Democratic convention in Denver this summer) Begining with President Wilson and thru FDR and even 1930's Hollywood, American Progressives of the era expressed an overt admiration for Mussolini's ability 'to make the trains run on time'. The Nazi death camps made such pre war intellectual associations politically poisionous in post WW II American politics. As a consequence, that association had to, and in fact, has been convieniently erased from the collective American historical memory post WW II by an all too compliant academia and media and, worse, dishonestly transposed upon the American Conservative movement without any historical basis. Such that today 'Fascist' and 'Nazi' have been wrongly conflated into 'Republican' and 'conservative' for the intelectually lazy and simple minded. Goldberg demonstrates how this modern misconception can only stem from a severe ignorance of the history of ideas in America and Europe and, specifically, from a complete ignorance of the roots of 'Fascism'. Goldberg also lays out how contemporary echos of this Fascism prevail within the the Liberal movement today, most particularly in the modern Democratic party's ceaseless effort to construct a cradle to grave nanny state-all for 'your own good'. From Hillary's Universal Healthcare to Al Gore's Global Warming zealotry Goldberg shows how today's Liberal Fascists seek to aquire political power so as to construct a 'Brave New World' of socialist utopia all for the 'collective good' but, unfortunately, at the expense of the individual freedoms bestowed to us all by the founding fathers in the US constitution. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the truth of where the Progressive/Liberal movement has been and where they would like to take us-all the while with a smile of course!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Goldberg does a great job of explaining a very hard to understand topic. You can learn something on every page. His writing style is very readable.
seraphim24 More than 1 year ago
I started out left of center when I left High School. As I've grown older I've been mgged by reality and have been forced to the Right. This book was alarming, disturbing, shocking and enlightening. It woke me up to a sorry reality we face in America, that what we are being taught in school may not be the whole truth, but is, in fact, Liberal spin designed to indoctrinate, rather than educate. I found Goldberg's notes and biblyography (Which takes up a huge chunk of the book) to be thurogh and his facts well documented and hard to ignore.
The reality is that this is the gateway book for other eye opening books I have since read which have confirmed what Goldberg has stated in his book. Fascism and Communism are essentially the same thing, whether the totalitarian loons on the left want to admit it or not. Naturally those fully indoctrinated will reject this book. I would be suprised if any of them honestly read the book or if they just said they did so they could attack it with red herrings and ad homenum attacks. If they doubt the truhfulness of it all there's a massive bibliography to sort through. You can check his sources yourself, I did, and it has made me fully aware of the crisis we now have in indoctrination... I mean education. Next on your list of books to read should be Cleon Skousen's The Naked Comunist. There is no Utopia on the left, only 100 million dead bodies and totalitarianism, and whether by National Socialism, or International Socialism totalitarianism is totalitarianism. After all A German Shepard is not a Malamute, but they're both dogs nontheless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Goldberg does a decent job of discussing the Leftist origins of Nazism and Fascism. The book is hurt however, by Goldbergs well known Conservative status. For a scholarly look at the same subject matter, from a man outside of the American Political system read 'Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933--1939' by Wolfgang Schivelbusch.
Cai-Feng More than 1 year ago
Unlike 5860277 I actually understand the translation from German of NationalSocialist Deutsche Arbeiterspartie: "National SOCIALIST German Workers' Party." Goebbels said "When we defeat those Bolsheviks, we'll show those Russians how to do real socialism." By the logic of 5860277, lions are vegetarians because they kill cheetas and hyenas. Like lions, Nazis killed communists not because Nazis weren't socialists too, but because they were competing for the same turf. Goldberg explained this, and 5860277 still didn't get it. Maybe he (she?) can't actually read.
drstork More than 1 year ago
Great book. I thought it would be cheap, trendy crap when I first saw the cover, but it changed by understanding of the world. When I was in sixth grade I never understood why they called fascism right wing. I argued with the teacher it seemed left wing to me. This is another great example of important things you did not learn in school. I have recommended this book to liberals and conservatives and ALL said they learned a great deal. The fabric of the world was remade by these progressives in the 1930s and then they tore the fabric of the world apart. Are we marching in step with history? Will our modern progressive politicians rip the fabric of the world apart because they know what is best for us? Or, is this a new, better fabric that we will feel good in? More important will our grandchildren be dressed in rags paying for our fabric? Read it and communicate with others from a new perspective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, our wonderful professors have managed to do to our. nation what Hiss could only hope for...Happy Times in socialist utopia. Everyday there are examples of the Nanny State pushing and nagging. We have finally gotten Socialism with a smiley-face. Much better than the swastika or hammer and sickle...don't cha think? Buy several copies of this landmark book and give them to young folks who aren't complete ruined.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great summary of the real evolution of the modern left, as opposed to the Orwellian version foisted on us by academia. Excellent sourcing throughout the book.
Jim787 More than 1 year ago
Look - don't fall for the one star reviews - they're political. The first thing they say is everything bad is right wing and everything good is left wing - it's very tiring and very untrue. Right wing attitudes can be traced back the European nobility and families of good social standing. Right wing attitudes were embodied in Germany within the officer corps, they eventually tried to kill Hitler - something the left seems to skip over. The French revolution actually gave us the terms right and left for political persuasion. The left would have you believe Hitler was a right wing guy - however this runs up against a brick wall when you read Hitler's speeches and his socialist mandates. The book has been well researched and is so complex and complete that you will end up reading it two or three times - all this means is that it's very complete and intricate in the analysis.
Sewing-Mom More than 1 year ago
Goldberg takes issue with the vocal left who today hurl accusations of "fascism!" at anyone they don't like. By tracing the origins of the dogma of fascism, his in-depth research traces the progressive movement world wide, revealing the 'any means justifies the end' mentality of those who would manipulate and force their view of the perfect society onto Americans in defiance of the will of the citizenry AND THE CONSTITUTION. The actions of the current administration and congress make sense in context of the historical progressive movement. This book ought to be read not only by every high school and college student but by every citizen who treasures his constitutionally guaranteed liberty.
B1D9C_1991 More than 1 year ago
Jonah Goldberg's research about the origins of fascism and how it applies to modern day politics makes this a "must read" for the political junkie. Whether you describe yourself as a conservative or a liberal, this book is very thought-provoking and fascinating. It's an appropriate read for anyone who is interested in an honest account of American and European politics, spanning from the early 1920s to today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just spews hatred. I want to read how these conserative writers would "fix" america rather than their childish views over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Goldberg carefully defines his terms and takes many pages to define what fascism is and is not (it is not Nazi-ism, for example, but rather had many flavors, of which Nazi-ism was just one) before turning to his main task. He repeatedly reminds readers that the American left are NOT Nazis, provides an abundance of source documentation (much of it from people who would themselves identify with the left), and takes to task people and trends on the right which also reflect fascist themes. The book is intentionally provocative, but the author explains his motives and produces about as balanced a book as one is likely to come across in the "culture wars." Goldberg demonstrates a substantial historical over-lap in the ideals, goals, assumptions, and strategies of fascism and the Progressive left. He emphasizes that the American left is NICE (hence the smiley face on the cover), and why niceness, in itself, creates and masks problems. I teach college history, including courses in WWI and WWII, and Goldberg's descriptions of fascism and the European context are fairly congruent with what other historians such as George Mosse (Crisis of German Ideology) and Modris Ekstein (Rites of Spring) have written. Less familiar with the history of Progressivism in the US, I would have liked more documentation there, but authors can't include everything and what he does include seems sound. 4 stars because the discussion is sometimes tedious, sometimes over-generalized, and occasionally lacks enough evidence. On the other hand, Goldberg missed a gold mine of evidence for his thesis by over-looking Wilson's chief advisor, Colonel House, and his novel, Philip Dru: Administrator. The "1 star" reviews that do address specifics in the book either misunderstood/misrepresent the author's point or reacted without having read it. Altogether, their responses tend to confirm Goldberg's thesis rather than contradict it.
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I own the paperback version of Liberal Fascism, but I only read through the second chapter before shelving it. I ordered the MP3-on-CD version to listen to in my car during my long commute to work each day. The MP3-on-CD version is excellent because the unabridged book comes on just two discs. I transferred the files to a USB drive, and I listened to the whole book in two or three weeks. Something I should note is that the MP3-on-CD version has the original afterword of the hardcover edition while the paperback edition has a new afterword. Regarding the actual contents of the book, I believe Liberal Fascism is a book everyone should read. It is packed with insight into the historical backgrounds of the left and right wings of politics. It discusses the political left for the majority of the book, but the conservative side is not ignored entirely.
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