Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change
a book by Jonah Goldberg
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that Fierce, funny, and controversial, Jonah Goldberg's #1 New York Times bestseller traces fascism back to its surprising roots--in liberalism.
“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?
A jackbooted stormtrooper
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.
As the USA began a crash program to teach women to smoke in the late 1920s, The Nazis declared war on smoking
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.
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
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.
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.
Liberal Fascism often conceals itself as authoritarianism cloaked as moral righteousness:
"'Censorship, wokeness, political correctness, it all points in one direction — authoritarianism cloaked as moral righteousness,' [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo added, noting the recent purge of voices on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook and restrictions on social media apps by Apple. 'This is not who we are, as Americans. It’s not what Voice of America should be,' he said. 'It’s time to put ‘woke-ism’ to sleep.'" (Source: Pompeo slams anti-American 'woke-ism' at Voice of America, U.S. broadcast outlets, Bill Gertz, Wahington Times)
“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
"Not only was Liberal Fascism a national bestseller, but its core thesis – that, 'properly understood, fascism is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left' – has become widely accepted conventional wisdom among American conservatives, and has played a significant role in the national discourse. Along the way, it morphed into the claim that the agenda of Democratic liberals, and particularly President Obama, was an innately fascist attempt to impose a totalitarian state, something Goldberg himself only intimated in the book, though he later confirmed it in a National Review article." (Source: Introduction, David Neiwert, History News Network)
The agenda of Democratic liberals, and particularly President Obama, was an innately fascist attempt to impose a totalitarian state, if not a monarchy
"In Goldberg's thesis, fascism and liberalism share a deep acceptance of the primacy of the power of the state over the individual, and a dangerously patronizing romantic belief that no one speaks for the oppressed quite as sympathetically and expertly as properly intentioned public officials." (Source: We're all fascists now, Geoff Pevere, the Star)
Goldberg says "Countless editorial boards. politicians, and pundits—including the
revered Walter Lippmann—called on President Roosevelt to become
a 'dictator.' which was not a dirty word in the early 1930s. and to
tackle the Depression the same way Wilson and the progressives had
fought World War I.
"Goldberg argues that during World War I, America became a fascist country, albeit temporarily. The first appearance of modern totalitarianism in the Western world wasn't in Italy or Germany. It was in the United States of America. How else would you describe a country where the world’s first modern propaganda ministry was established?" What did it do? "Political prisoners by the thousands were harassed, beaten. spied upon, and thrown in jail simply for expressing private opinions: the national leader accused foreigners and immigrants of injecting treasonous 'poison' into the American bloodstream: newspapers and magazines were shut down for criticizing the government!"
The first appearance of modern totalitarianism in the Western world wasn't in Italy or Germany. It was in the United States of America. Political prisoners by the thousands were harassed, beaten. spied upon, and thrown in jail simply for expressing private opinions
"Nearly a hundred thousand government propaganda agents were sent out among the people to whip up support for the Woodrow Wilson (a leader of the Progressive Movement) regime (1913-1921) and its WWI: college professors imposed loyalty oaths on their colleagues: nearly a quarter-million goons were given legal authority to intimidate and beat slackers and dissenters: and leading artists and writers dedicated their crafts to proselytizing for the government." This is a democracy? And right then (1917), the oligarchy took over control of the newspapers. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion, Propaganda and Media Control, Second Edition: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda.
Propaganda keeps us obedient, distracted, consuming, but never questioning the CW, the media, the authorities
"The reason so many progressives were intrigued by both Mussolini's and Lenin’s 'experiments' is simple: they saw their reflection in the European looking glass. Philosophically. organizationally, and politically the progressives were as close to authentic, homegrown fascists as any movement America has ever produced. "Militaristic. fanatically nationalist. imperialist. racist. deeply involved in the promotion of Darwinian eugenics, enamored of the Bismarckian welfare state, statist beyond modern reckoning. the Progressives represented the American flowering of a transatlantic movement . . . collectivism."
"The past shows unvaryingly that when a people's freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang but amid the comfort of being cared for."—Richard Weaver, 1962
By examining how the liberals have treated the right of free speech—especially the free speech of conservatives—it is easy to predict how their 'benevolent' undertaking (utopia) would turn out
Progressivism succumbed to the totalitarian temptation that it should "fix" this country, believing that there is a priesthood of experts capable of redesigning society in a "progressive" manner. The trouble with this ambition is obvious on its face. By examining how the liberals have treated the right of free speech—especially the free speech of conservatives—it is easy to predict how their "benevolent" undertaking would turn out. Remove their guns and then remove their rights and then fight off the bloody rebellion as people (e.g., Trump's base of 74,000,000 people) refuse to let go of guns, rights, and freedom. But the liberals kill the freedom fighters with a lusty abandon, with no guilt whasoever since the liberals KNOW they are right and they are only killing us FOR OUR OWN GOOD—the liberal motto. Progressive utopianists have always known that they know how you should live much better than you do, and they are willing to show it with coercion by any means.
The liberal narrative represents what Orwell's 1984 would call rightthink while everything else was wrongthink, which the liberal fascist Thought Police intend to detect and abolish. You can see this in how radical leftists treat conservative thinking and First Amendment rights
Hitler declared that "every activity and every need of every individual will be regulated by the collectivity represented by the party" and that "there are no longer any free realms in which the individual belongs to himself." The utopianist collectivity in the warped minds of the radical leftists of 2021 plan to have us trade in our rights and individualism and freedom for being "taken care of" by a socialist state which knows how you should live much better than you do. You can label Hitler left or right, but neither he nor the radical liberal elites are interested in you having a mind of your own with your own opinions. To him, Naziism was right thinking and everything else was heresy. The liberal narrative represents what Orwell's 1984 would call rightthink while everything else is wrongthink, which the liberal fascist Thought Police intend to detect and abolish. You can see this in how radical leftists treat conservative thinking and First Amendment rights. This is an ugly portent of what is to come.
If the Founders could see the perverse, rapid degeneration of the USA from democracy to an ugly, sick socialist tyranny, they would turn over in their graves!
The progressive impulse may indeed have good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and liberals are infamous for social programs with good intentions but lousy results
Every time the social engineers do their thing, later we always realize we've been led down the garden path, failing to see that there's a sinkhole up ahead on this path—and it's miles deep
Utopia via political salvationism and social engineering? Reread 20th century history books! The progressive impulse may indeed have good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The guns, rights, and freedom the Trumpists refuse to relinquish are in our Constitution and us patriots all believe in fighting for our freedom and our country. The fascist, Marxist socialists of the left are a disgrace to our great country, and we would like them to love it or leave it. We have noticed that these fascists have been following a long, slow coup of political takeover and they managed to pull the wool over the eyes of academia, Hollywood, the media, and the Democrats so they have plenty of accomplices.
This book is a great read and it is timely despite the fact it was written in 2008, almost 10 years before the rise of Antifa (the modern fascist group ironically calling themselves Antifa—which is short for anti-fascists)
“Good totalitarianism” (liberalism with good intentions) can easily descend into bad totalitarianism, the stuff of “nightmares” which is the fear that Goldberg wants to instill in the reader. This book is a great read and it is timely despite the fact it was written in 2008, almost 10 years before the rise of Antifa (the modern fascist group ironically calling themselves Antifa—which is short for anti-fascists). The book is more about the history of early 20th century progressive fascism than about today's fascists movements.
According to Pew Research, over 30% of Democrats are for limiting freedom of speech with legal consequences for those who won't. This is the fascist impulse at work hidden under a caring, compassionate cover/facade. This is the wolf in sheep's clothing scam
Goldberg doesn't argue that the leftists are Hitler. Rather, he cautions the reader to beware of a government that seeks to fix all your problems or tells you what you must give up for the common good. For fascists, nothing is outside the state. For classical liberals (which are conservatives, not progressives), the impulse is for more of our lives to be conducted away from the control of the state. According to Pew Research, over 30% of Democrats are for limiting freedom of speech with legal consequences for those who won't. This is the fascist impulse at work hidden under a caring, compassionate cover/facade. This is the wolf in sheep's clothing scam.
Read Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change for the history, then read it again to learn the lessons of not repeating history
This book did more to explain the Nazis than any history class we've encountered. Read it for the history, then read it again to learn the lessons of not repeating history. For Goldberg, "fascism" is the totalitarian political religion determined to control through militarism and nationalism. He presents a similar definition for "progressivism." The siren song of "social justice" and appeals to "get beyond politics" lead to a dark place.
Liberal Fascists of today favor collectivism over individualism and emotion over reason, as did Hitler
Goldberg has produced a serious, well researched work—Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change—that explores the thesis that modern leftism/progressivism and the totalitarian movements of the 20th century (Nazism, Fascism, Communism) share the same root antecedents. They are all daughters of the Counter-Enlightenment in that they privilege collectivism over individualism, emotion over reason, and have all succumbed to what has been termed the "totalitarian temptation." This is the idea that if only we had a good enough plan, if only we had the right people, the people with the special insight, we could achieve perfectibility in Man. Utopia! Given that one man's heaven is another man's hell, the obvious first step on the road to utopia, then, is to get everyone thinking the same, believing the same, and feeling the same so that every man's heaven is like every other man's heaven. Uniformity, conformity, similarity (yawn). The conforming has to be to a common set of values. Enter the liberal narrative.
Utopia! Given that one man's heaven is another man's hell, the obvious first step on the road to utopia, then, is to get everyone thinking the same, believing the same, and feeling the same so that every man's heaven is like every other man's heaven. Uniformity, conformity, similarity (yawn). The conforming has to be to a common set of values. Enter the liberal narrative
Somehow these liberal fascists managed a remarkable feat. They got the schools, the media, Hollywood, and academia's professors all singing the same song, in a mass effort that utilized white guilt, multiculturalism, political correctness, and identity politics as levers to manipulate people. This had the built-in conformity-assurance mechanism of guilt about slavery as the tool of choice. The fact that no blacks alive today in our country had been slaves and no whites alive today in our country had enslaved people was beside the point, because by rubbing it in our faces long enough, we were supposed to absorb the ultimate truth of the liberal narrative, lock, stock, and barrel.
The fact that no blacks alive today in our country had been slaves and no whites alive today in our country had enslaved people was beside the point
Those who resisted were pressured in all kinds of ways, but when social pressure was found to be inadequate, the person was doxxed, harrased, expelled, fired, threatened, insulted, and—finally—canceled. In other words, the nonconformists were thrown under the bus, which told everyone that if they didn't sell out to the radical leftists their lives would be ruined. So you can see how liberals increased their numbers—threats and extortion. Conservative media kept warning people about this ugly outrage, but liberal media pretended that none of these things were happening, like the Hunter Biden story they all censored just before the 2020 election.
Those who resisted the fascist liberal narrative were pressured in all kinds of ways, but when social pressure was found to be inadequate, the person was doxxed, harrased, expelled, fired, threatened, insulted, and—finally—canceled
Conservatives were pressured as well, but many conservatives were just too smart to sell out to these fascists, They had/have pride, wisdom, courage, insight, and integrity enough to simply shake their heads sadly at the ugly Big Brother conformity brigades who were saying that freedom of speech was only for liberal conformists—conservatives should shut up and neither speak nor write opinions that questioned the CW, which at one time contained wisdom, but these days conventional wisdom contained merely the sick, racist, dehumanizing, damn-fool stupidity of the liberal narrative. This is the fascist aspect that socialism or communism or Marxism had in common with the ugly methods used by Mussolini, Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and many others. Act a certain way, or we will either kill you or—as in the obscenely WOKE cancel culture—kill your life, your career, your relationships, your future, and your hopes.
This nonsense is supposed to be the underlying basis for the fascist liberal narrative
History tells us one thing for sure: if a culture has already degenerated to this level of fascism, totalitarianism, and collectivism, it will soon dump freedom and brainwash citizens to be foolishly smiling conformists, goosestepping along in lockstep, repressing the slightest desire for freedom in order to psychologically cope with this devastating assault to their integrity and soul. If such a culture has a lot of power, the world will soon learn just how ugly the liberal elites in charge are willing to be to make it over according to perverse utopian dreams. Orwell's 1984 will soon seem like a big improvement to the robot-like existence under the rule of crazed-with-power liberal elites. Fascist thinking is sick, obsessed, power-mad thinking that leads to horrendous thoughts about how to force everyone to conform to the tyrannical dictates of the utopian plan, which obviously is utopia to the liberal elites in charge but dystopia to the citizens..
Harris and her sock-puppet Biden are in charge and there is a terrifying gleam in their eyes. Boy, do they have plans for you!
Folks, Harris and her sock-puppet Biden are in charge and there is a terrifying gleam in their eyes. Boy, do they have plans for you!
This book is a fascinating historical look at how dangerous socialism is and how Democrat and Republican presidents have advanced fascist policies. The difference between fascism and liberalism is slight. Goldberg shows the intellectual and philosophical roots that underlie the left ideas which really began to grow American government and steal away Americans rights and freedoms under the administration of Woodrow Wilson. Progressivism is fascist in nature, and brought us such things as loyalty oaths, involuntarily sterilization, eugenics, and internment under the Wilson and FDR administrations. Jonah Goldberg did himself proud in this well written fastidiously researched historically accurate and humorous book. If you wonder why liberal mumbo jumbo always seems to make no sense, has no logical flow, or doubles back on itself, you will have it figured out after reading this. If you wonder what happened to our school system, our political system, our representative republican form of government then you will find the answers in this book. You won't like them, but you'll find the truth in the book. This book is highly recommended.